Recently I had been contemplating writing a fictional story based on Danny Gokey’s song, “Tell Your Heart To beat Again” but, through a series of events, God spoke to me. “This is YOUR story and you need to tell it.”
Some things tend to creep up on you. Satan is one of those things and he’s pretty good at it. You might say that he is the King of Stealth.
My husband and I were married almost twenty eight years ago. We were both raised in conservative homes and went to conservative churches (Mennonite/Church Of The Brethren) where we were basically taught women have no value. Men had all the power.
That being said, that type of atmosphere is fertile breeding ground for emotional and verbal abuse.
When we were married, you might say I was wearing blinders but certain practices soon became so commonplace that I just thought it was normal. I was a stay at home mom with no one but kids to talk to for over twenty years. My life was also spent supporting my husband’s hobby. It was what I thought a good wife did. Anything that interested me was rendered unimportant. I went through infertility, secondary infertility and miscarriage. I was convinced I was a bad mother even though God did see fit to bless me with three children.
By midlife, I was having some strange symptoms that kept getting ignored. Finally, in the autumn after I turned forty, I was finally heard resulting in an Ovarian Cancer diagnosis. My husband never left my side…. to the point of inundation. My blog suddenly picked up interest overnight which swiftly captivated him …. to the point where I was forced to change it from “me” to “we” all while imparting accolades of his benevolence. By the grace of God, I survived three months of chemo and cancer.
In 2011 we experienced another life altering change when flood waters from a hurricane destroyed a large part of our home and we were forced to flee and seek shelter. Homeless, we were gifted with a house as well as many other things. God never left a need unmet. We moved back into our house six months later.
With the homelessness and rebuilding, we incurred a lot of debt and we could never seem to crawl out from underneath it. The quandary was recognizing the difference between needs and wants. It does not matter any more who did what, but the debt incurred an incredible amount of stress. I often found myself cowering from the explosions of rage, accusations and insults. I was made to feel guilty for, what I found out later, normal reactions. It was not a pleasant experience. My interests were discouraged. Any positive attention I received caused annoyance.
Through all of that, I began to sink into a bottomless pit of despair. My counselors diagnosed me with depression and sent me to my family doctor. I began to engage in behaviors attributed to anxieties like hair pulling and body mutilation. The anxiety attacks which had worsened since my cancer became uncontrollable. My memory suffered. I often felt like I was wandering about in a fog. The chemo induced fibromyalgia quickly became unbearable.
Depressed people often use humor to mask their depression. Take a look at Robin Williams. He was one of the funniest men to walk this earth, but all one has to do is look at his eyes. The gaiety did not reach his eyes. Almost every photo I have found of him, his eyes had a look of weariness and sadness and, staring at those eyes, I totally got it. I knew how he felt. He had the same eyes I saw in my reflection every morning.
“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anyone else to feel like that.” – Robin Williams
My battle took a downturn as I often thought about death. I had no plans for suicide because I did not want to leave my children to endure the abuse alone…. plus, because of my upbringing, I felt that, even though I was considered mentally ill, I would damn myself if I ever did anything so rash.
Then, in November of 2015, an issue with finances arose and there was an insinuation that I could never be a money-making author. It was that slap in my face that ultimately opened my eyes to just how much defamation and disrespect I had endured since before we were married. The family patriarch had accumulated over 100 pounds since my cancer affecting our marriage and, between weight gain and the abuse, resentment and bitterness began to take root. Anger fueled my depression along with feelings of irrevocable hopelessness. It seemed so dark and it was almost impossible to see or feel anything. I visited numerous sites and groups on Narcissism, Survivors of Narcissism, being married to an abuser, escaping an abusive relationship, etc. etc. etc. I did learn a lot but my depression continued to spiral.
“You’ve lost your joy,” my counselor told me.
It was around the summer of 2017 that we started meeting with an older couple (older than us) who agreed to mentor us. I cannot thank God enough for this couple but it was awhile before they began to see the abuse rendered to me. Once they realized it, things changed. They knew what I was talking about because of experiencing it within their family. She and I often met over breakfast and her encouragement meant a lot. She had given me a bracelet that said “Hope” as a gift to inspire me.
Personally, I did not have a whole lot of hope for this relationship and I was not sure if I even wanted to. It was at one point a counselor recommended a therapeutic separation. I researched it and found it to be quite interesting. When I left for a vacation in September with the kids, I told my husband that I wanted one. He, of course, was not in agreement and it was several months before it actually materialized. Our mentors found a small apartment for him to live and he moved out in January. For almost six weeks I wanted nothing to do with him, but God was working with my heart. He knew He could reach me best through music and I had further developed a playlist. When my husband left, the song by Tenth Avenue North featured on the movie, Grace Card, called Healing Begins, kept going through my head.
This is where the healing begins, oh
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you’re broken within
The light meets the dark
The light meets the dark
Around six weeks I was going to present my husband with a letter during a joint session asking for more time of No Contact. The previous six weeks had been serene and restful to my soul and I had started fighting my depression.
I would often command the darkness to leave in Jesus’ name or I would pray for deliverance.
However, though God had been speaking to me through his Word, special speakers, talking with my counselor and with my mentor, I felt that I should be focusing on the positive. I realized that it was a lot of the negative things that were a huge part of me staying in that pit and that every time I read something in those forums or emails, I felt worse. A lot of the boards and groups that I was a member of were extremely negative. There was nothing positive on them at all and those were the ones I started taking myself out of. Many of them weren’t Christian sites.
And then I started feeling uncomfortable with the ones that were called Christian married to a narcissist. I realized that, while they did have some positive things, they also had many negative things.
As I was reading the Word more and focusing on praise songs I started to feel myself being lifted out of that pit. I even to took part in a blogging Challenge from a blogging group I was in to write on a certain book of the Bible. The Challenge was called Blogging Through the Bible. I chose to focus mine on Philippians and later I went through 1 John.
The day there a gun threat or something of violence at the middle school, I texted my mentor to ask her if my husband was there and I explained why. She asked me how that made me feel. My first thought was “This sounds like a therapy session.” I told her that I was concerned because I did care for him yet.” Then I made all kinds of pointless statements about how I also cared for my children, parents and siblings. But she wasn’t fooled and replied, “Just checking.” I could imagine her saying that with a little mischievous smirk on her face. I started thinking more about things and I realized that I wasn’t as angry anymore as what I had been, but I still was hesitant, until God placed the song by Danny Gokey, in my mind called, “Tell Your Heart To Beat Again.”
Tell your heart to beat again
Close your eyes and breathe it in
Let the shadows fall away
Step into the light of grace
Yesterday’s a closing door
You don’t live there anymore
Say goodbye to where you’ve been
And tell your heart to beat again
Through tears, I realized that I still loved him. I went through then and pulled myself out of the rest of the groups about Christians married to abusers and decided to only remain in the positive groups that were encouraging those with depression. I also started unsubscribing to some of the emails that I have been getting about being married to, escaping from and dealing with an abuser.
That was the first night since he left that I cried. It was also the first I missed him.
To Be Continued!