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Author Topic: Part Two: My husband's abuse.  (Read 951 times)
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« on: July 30, 2019, 04:39:52 am »

Of all the things that are hard to swallow, this part is the hardest for me.

I grew up in an abusive home. My parents struggled with alcoholism from the time I was a little girl. They were severely depressed, and they coped with various vices: anger, shopping, alcohol. It was confusing and painful, and truth be told I don't remember much of it. It's like an on/off switch. School, friend's house, neighborhood play dates: on. Home: off. Zilch. I reacted to the neglect by becoming "the Lost Child," which, unfortunately, prepped me for abuse by the church. DCF was called on my parents at least three times. My teachers knew about what was going on at home, and though they had no real answers, they were sympathetic witnesses.

My husband grew up in an abusive home. His parents struggled with legalism and a god complex from the time he was a little boy. They served in church 24/7. Ministered to people, counseled to people, gave their life to the church plant that they had helped build. Their vices were control, anger, authoritarianism. They preached rules and expectations from a system that ignored God's word except when it benefited them. They never spoke to him about grace. But man, they were heroes. What an example! What a man, what a wife. God has gifted this congregation with faithful people such as this.

So when I was thirteen and I first heard of God's grace - I understood. It was crystal clear to me. Sin? Sin is what I've seen my entire life. Brokenness? That's what my parents and I have. Holiness? Perfection? Truth? Faithfulness? Steadfastness? Perfect love? It makes sense that only God truly has those things. And God is unlike anyone I've ever met; unlike anyone I'll ever meet. God is God. No one else is.

I wonder if my husband ever had the same opportunity. It must have been confusing to be told your dad is great when he is emotionally detached, a workaholic, and unkind to your mom. Difficult to discern when you're a young child and everyone is talking about how amazing your mom is, though she just exploded at you and then made you stay in your room for hours.

The way my husband phrases it, he never had an escape. The church was abusive and his home was abusive, and those were non stop. He was homeschooled by the same abusive system. There was no sympathetic witness. No one to say, "Man, that's messed up." No one to validate, only applaud his parents and eventually his siblings, when they fell in step with what the system expected of them. My poor guy never stood a chance.  A natural rebel, outspoken, with a strong sense of justice and a hatred for double standards. Always marching to the beat of his own drum. Always asking why. Never desiring the things the church claimed were the right way, like leading a small group.  Bullied for his difficult feelings - for being able to smell that something was off.

He struggles with depression. For as long as I've known him, he has struggled with believing he isn't enough, and hating himself for not being what he wants to be. No accomplishment is enough for him. For a long time, he coped by being "The Mascot." Eventually, he became "the Scapegoat."

At our wedding, I promised my husband two things; I promised to seek the Lord, and I promised to see him the way God does. (I didn't want to promise anything else, because man do I have performance anxiety and a fear of failure. That's another story, though.) I think, ONLY by God's grace, I've been able to keep that promise. The Lord made him to be a go getter. Motivated, a dreamer. Questioning, discerning, intelligent. Kind and compassionate. He is not, and has never been, a bad man.

Our first year of marriage, the Lord broke my codependence issues through my husband's depression. It was so bad that sometimes he would just lay in bed and not move, much like my parents did when I was a girl. The Lord taught me to cling to Him, and to function even if my husband couldn't. It was really confusing for both of us - we had no idea what the root issue could possibly be.

At the end of that year, the Lord gifted my husband with hope. He started to get excited for the future, for finding his purpose. A lot of monkeywrenches happened, and then the Lord showed my husband that my husband is capable. Capable of providing, and capable of functioning, and capable of getting better - at least externally. My husband asked for help a lot. This is the part that for me, is the hardest. We were still attending the other church, and my husband opened up and described the depression and the self-loathing and the feeling far from God. Unfortunately, he was met with a lot of shaming. "What are you doing about it?" "Well, are you reading your bible every day?" "If you don't seek God you'll never get better."  Only one person ever suggested for him to see a professional counselor, but we were so embedded in the system that he wasn't willing to take the advice at that time. Though he asked and asked for help, no one was really willing to give it. To just be with him as he felt this pain.

After we left, my husband did what I had quietly been expecting for some time. He said he didn't know if he believed in God anymore. He said he'd bought into a system for a long time thinking it was right, and he ended up being horribly wrong. How can he flippantly continue to believe in God without really, strongly questioning it?

What the Lord has shown me, since even before I was married to this man, is that this man - this strong willed, independent, fiery, spirited, lovely man - he needs God to father him. I long for the day my husband's smile will return permanently. My prayer has gone from, "Lord, bring him to you" to simply, "Lord, help him to heal." I genuinely just want him to be okay.

God has strengthened my heart and instructed me to let the guy be. Let him be angry, let him question things, let him find his path and work hard and exist without any expectation. Simultaneously, God has instructed me to hope. I have no idea what that means. I don't know that my husband will ever get to know God for who He actually is. What I do know is that he is God's gift to me, and that I am insanely in love with him, and that this marriage is a good one.

And I know that my God is in control.

(resource on roles in abusive homes: https://www.outofthestorm.website/dysfunctional-family-roles)
« Last Edit: July 30, 2019, 04:44:30 am by Wingless_Butterfly » Logged
Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2019, 05:55:59 pm »

Wingless Butterfly,

As you can see, many people are reading your story.  I think there are more people who can identify with either of you than you might imagine.  I think there are a slew of children, especially in GCx who were raised more with rules than relationship.  As a result they tend to see God that way toward them rather than an endearing relationship.  I did that some myself with my own child because of what was modeled to me by many parents in GCx for over a decade.  Fortunately, he was able to tell me how it hurt him when he was still young and I had a wake-up call to tearfully apologize to him.  I privately and most remorsefully threw myself at Godís feet.  I begged him to help me and change me.  He gave me the most compassionate promise for my future with my son.  I clung to that and claimed it repeatedly.  I watched him HEAL a broken heart and mend a torn relationship.  

There are a LOT of fractured relationships with children especially among GCx families.  Parents sorely need to humble themselves and ask their children how they might be hurting as a result their parenting behavior.  They need desperately to GENUINELY APOLOGIZE with heartfelt remorse.  They need to sincerely ask God to change their attitude and behavior; and to heal their precious children even as adults.  Not every adult child will trust their parent immediately, so they must prove their unconditional acceptance and love through claiming Godís power and promises.  It will likely be a process of renewal.

In the meantime, pouring out our broken heart and great disappointment to God, and asking him to comfort us through his word and his promises.  The promises of his unconditional acceptance and forgiveness toward us are crucial to rebuilding a foundation of our ďsinlessĒ identity in Christ.  This is where acceptance of ourselves begins regardless of how others may treat us.  This is where joy releases and gratitude is often a state of being. Wingless Butterfly, I believe you have found this.  Keep walking in it. What a gift you are to your husband and he to you. God loves you both so much.  So glad you are not demanding toward your husband as it seems his parents were. How loving of you to practice the REAL GRACE of GOD toward him. How helpful this may be for others to follow your example.

I am SO sorry for the environment you both had to grow up in.  It would seem depression and loneliness could surely be a product of those environments.  Iím glad God has provided you with each other to give some healing to those wounds, and His relationship with you to overcome wrong thinking about yourselves.  I still find it so refreshing and motivating to meditate on the facts about our relationship with our Heavenly Father found on here under ESSENTIAL AFFIRMATIONS in the Healing Section.  Will be praying for your continued journey in recovering.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 03:38:41 pm by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
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