STRONG PEOPLE STAND UP FOR THEMSELVES, BUT STRONGER PEOPLE STAND UP FOR OTHERS.
My own painful and destructive relationship with my mother began in my childhood, but it did not stop when I grew up. When I was eight years old, my parents went through an ugly divorce. My younger sister, brother, and I went to live with our mother. After years of enduring mom’s alcoholism and abusive behavior, my father finally gained custody of us. My mother remarried and eventually moved to another state. She chose not to stay closely involved with her children.
For more than fifteen years, during my adulthood, I didn’t see or speak to my mom. Before that time, my contact with her was sporadic and always tense. She didn’t attend my wedding, nor was she present when my son was born or my daughter was adopted from Korea. She never shared Christmas with us or invited my family to visit her.
The helplessness, confusion, frustration and hurt can be overwhelming at times. It can be tricky, and sometimes risky, to navigate through it in a God-honoring way.
Even as a Christian counselor, I struggled with how to honor my mother without losing myself.
I eventually learned
- how and when to set appropriate boundaries
- how to confront and when to forbear
- how to overcome evil with good
- and how to let go of all those negative messages swirling around in my head.
But this problem is bigger than me and you. My mission is to bravely stand up for those who suffer in the shadows.
The Church has been rather slow to acknowledge the validity of emotional abuse, especially in marriage – and real change can only start if pastors, lay leaders and other counselors start to see the reality that many people face.
Leslie Vernick is a popular speaker, author, and was licensed in Pennsylvania as a clinical social worker where she maintained a private practice for 30 years.
She is the author of seven books, including the best selling, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship and her most recent The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.
Leslie has been a featured guest on Focus on the Family Radio, Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey, Moody Mid-Day Connection and she was a regular contributor to the WHOA Women’s Magazine. Internationally, she’s spoken in Cuba, Canada, Romania, Russia, Hungary, the Philippines, British Virgin Islands and Iraq.