When it comes to abuse, it’s very difficult for me to share my heart. I can state the facts all day long as long as I can remain somewhat distanced from it all; what happened to me, what happened to them. What abuse is. That’s easy: black and white, cut and dry. Abuse is sin and sin is wrong. Case closed.
Or maybe not so closed.
See, all that black and white is easy to discuss when you’re only talking facts: even saying this happened to me is easy as long as it’s from a distance, as long as my heart can stay divorced from it. But it doesn’t want to. Not anymore. Abuse has affected me; at times it’s threatened to destroy me. It affects my children. My family history is full of stories of abuse. I’m rather sick and tired of it. My heart has finally gotten brave enough to let me share peeks inside it without worrying about what others are going to think so I’m going to do just that. So no more distancing myself.
It’s time to jump into the fray and join the discussion. Not only about abuse but about feelings about being abused. One of the things I’ve found to be true in my dealings with abusive people is they never want you to feel, they certainly never want you to tell the truth about what you feel. It’s time to feel anyway. It’s time to tell the truth anyway.
So I’m going to start doing that and open up this perhaps one-sided conversation. This is what I’m feeling; these things are my truth:
I’m tired of being one of “those” families, the ones other “good Christian” families look down on, the ones pastors want nothing to do with. I don’t deserve that distinction. My children don’t deserve such distinction, either. We’re only one of “those” families because of the actions of some very cruel, very selfish, very non-Christlike people who have passed it all on from one person to another without ever stopping to think what they’re doing. My parents didn’t think. Folks behind them didn’t either. Folks on my husband’s side didn’t think. It’s for sure my husband never thought. Still isn’t thinking for that matter.
I’m tired of feeling “less than” because someone in the church can’t quite grasp that I haven’t done anything to deserve being mistreated. I’m tired of looking over my shoulder wondering what some “good Christian” man or woman is going to think of me or of my children because we aren’t quite like them. No, we’re not and, what’s more, we’ll probably never be. I’m thinking that, abuse aside, not being like them may be a good thing, considering how some “good Christian” folks I know act.
I’m tired of pastors who tell abused women to “submit more”, “pray more”, “show more respect”, “love him more”, “fix his favorite dinner” yada, yada, yada. As if we haven’t thought of all of this and tried all of this only to have it all fail. I’m here to shout from the rooftops that I have done all of this and more (far, far more than most of you can imagine–unless you’re a woman in my shoes and then you know all too well) and it didn’t make a dimes worth of difference. Didn’t make a penny’s worth of difference actually. It did give the hubby more reason to walk on me. I’m thinking he thought he had my approval.
Also, and this is really important, I don’t want to be thought of as a victim of abuse; I’d rather be thought of as a survivor. A thriver, even. 🙂
More important than anything is this: I may have been raised in abuse, may have married an abuser but this doesn’t define me. I am more than an abused woman. More than a survivor or thriver, even. I am the proud mother of nine beautiful children. I am a lover of words, of beautiful music, of creativity. A pretty good cook. A sometimes crazy woman who actually loves housework–as long as it is accompanied by the sounds of children’s laughter, much prayer or really good music. Oh, and this: I can’t turn away a stray (I’m pretty sure animals know this). Best of all, though, and the thing that actually defines me is this: I’m a child of God; a daughter who is undeserving of God’s tender grace and mercy but oh-so glad to be blessed by it.
I’m tired. But I’m here and I’m fighting. Against being labeled by “good Christian” folks who don’t have a clue what I and others like me have gone through, against false accusations–by husbands, by family, by the church–that have far too often fallen on me and my sisters by folks who have no clue what they are talking about. Against passing this madness on to the next generation. Against abuse in all it’s forms. In all it’s evil. So, to that end, I’m here to share my heart, my story, the truth about what we’ve endured and who we are and I’m going to listen as others do the same.