Good morning, my friends! Thank you for stopping by. Take a load off for a few minutes; enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, or maybe something cold on this last day of August. I’ve been reading more lately, and it’s like finding an old friend. Reading for pleasure has often taken a back seat in my busy life. I’d forgotten how easy it is to get into a good story!
The other night, I was reading to my daughter before bed. The story she chose was “Rapunzel.” Most of you are familiar with that one…the beautiful girl, locked in a tower, with her hair as the ladder for the mean woman who locked her there. She was not allowed to see, talk to, or be with anyone else. The wicked woman becomes incensed when she learns that there has been a visitor to the tower. In fact, one of the versions says, “I thought I had separated you from all the world and yet you have deceived me.” I am not certain why this is considered a children’s story; rather it is a story of abuse, due to the selfishness of one person.
This story has prompted me to share a little bit more of my own story. I have hesitated to do so, for many reasons. However, I saw a quote the other day that said “God wants you to use your past to help someone in the present.” So, here goes.
I have alluded to a difficult marriage in my other blogs. It was more than difficult; it was emotionally and verbally abusive. However, it did not start that way. He was charming, nice, funny, thoughtful, caring, honest, talkative, all the things I had looked for in a man. Though we met at a wedding in another state, our conversations and letters led me to believe we had a great friendship. His decision to move to California rather quickly seemed as if he felt the same way. I always thought it big of him to move from family, friends and his hometown to be with me. I had no idea that the many hours he spent pouting, in a room alone, over the fact of moving, was the beginning of trying to isolate me, but that’s what he eventually did.
I was used to meeting friends for dinner, at the gym, at church, having friends over, but now I was forced to choose. Did I “really love” him? If so, why was I doing those things now that he was here? If he did meet with family or friends with me, he would find fault with one or more of them and refuse to ever see them again. I found myself doing things alone, yet feeling guilty for leaving him even though it was his choice not to participate.
I knew something was wrong but I could not put my finger on it. At times I’d speak up, with tears or with anger, begging to understand. I remember once I said I could not understand how I could get along with everyone else, yet it was a daily struggle with him. His answer “They don’t live with you.” Many times I asked him to come home from work earlier so we could have a date night…the response was, “If you were a pleasant person to come home to I might.”
I began believing I was the problem, the cause. I felt isolated and alone. I went through a period of major depression, to which I was told I was the most depressed person he had ever met. Though he greatly disliked my family, he told me for years that each of them had come to commiserate with him for having to live with me. He’d be unusually nice to some people, which led to further confusion on my part. Once I offhandedly remarked that I had thought we were good friends and he snapped back, “You’re not my friend; you’re just my wife.” During five years of infertility, I’d hear remarks such as “You don’t give me enough sex to actually get pregnant,” or “You act as if you’re the only one who’s ever had to go through this.”
Abusive isolation comes in many forms. Words meant to tear down self-worth, insinuating that others think poorly of you too; hints that you’re not showing your love by doing this, or that, or comments that make you question yourself. “If he sees this, maybe everyone does.”
Trusting others becomes nearly impossible. None of this happens quickly. It’s more like a dripping faucet that suddenly causes a flood.
I always thought of abuse as physical or sexual. That is what we hear of most often. At this time, there is not as social recognition of verbal and emotional abuse as there needs to be. I pray for the day when that will change, because it is just as damaging. This is one reason I choose to share; I want to make a difference.
I thank God for rescuing me from the tower of isolation. Yes, “I am His workmanship, created in Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that I should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10.