I told a friend once that if anyone ever found one of my old journals, they might assume I only had two emotions- really happy or really upset. That's not true, of course, but what is true is that I only write in my journal when I am full of emotion.
I am a talker, so usually when I am full of emotion I will talk to someone- my husband, a close friend, my children. If I am full of joy, I may even talk to total strangers at the grocery store or post office! That particular facet of my personality used to really annoy my introverted daughter, though my little otter son was always right there with me. Thanks for putting up with me in public, both of you. n_n
There are some things, though, you just can't talk to anyone about. They are just too personal to share with the world, even for me. (Go ahead and express shock and surprise, daughter! ;-) Those things go in my journal. And it is one of those entries I came across this weekend.
I saw one of my old journals on a book shelf and though it might be interesting to see what I was thinking at that time. As I opened it, a rectangle of folded sheets from a spiral notebook fell out. I unfolded them, smoothed out the wrinkles and began to peek at the past through the words on the page.
What I read was very encouraging, but not because the words were encouraging. It was a lament about the state of marriage, the way my husband was treating me and how I felt about it. What was encouraging, was that things have changed since then. Not as much as I would like, and not as fast as I would like, but they have changed.
Or should I say are changing? Have changed AND are changing. That's what I should write.
In fact, I was able to list of about a dozen concrete changes for the better since 2005. Really, all of those changes have taken place in the past year and a half. It was very encouraging.
I needed encouraged. There was one particularly rough day last week. I wish all the hard days were over already, but life doesn't work that way. Healing is a process. Growth is a process. Transformation into the image of Christ is a process.
So, even though I am not about to spill the beans as to what was so private it was journal-only material, I will cryptically say that this particular area of difficulty is getting obviously better. I know my friends will rejoice with me.
The good news? I can recount a lot of it, so here goes.
*My husband realizes that his past behavior has been abusive. That's pretty huge, really. Joel and Kathy Davisson's book and Marriage Intensive had very much to do with his coming out of denial. We will both be forever grateful for that.
*He is getting better at recognizing when his current behavior is abusive, though slower than I would like. I am looking forward to the day when he realizes his thoughts are leading to abusive behavior, and change the direction of his thoughts before it manifests in words and actions we will both regret.
* He has sought real help. Some of it has been truly useful (Life Skills 26 week program, certain books, prayer with trusted friends). Some of it not so much (forums/phone calls with Joel and Kathy's ministry, some other books, a counselor who promised help but delivered none). But the bad didn't deter him from continuing to seek useful help! That is also a big thing.
*He is coming to terms with the reality that his childhood was not even close to normal. This is important as most of his unhappiness stems from unresolved hurt and anger from events that took place long ago. When you are told that these painful things are Gods will, and therefore you can't question them, it adds cruelly to the injury. It takes a lot of courage to face this. I really respect him for this.
*His walk with God is much more intimate. He isn't just reading his Bible and praying perfunctory prayers. He is pouring his heart out to God, truly worshiping the Lord on his own, and actively renewing his mind to the truth. He makes time for this almost every morning now, not because he "should". It's no longer a religious observance that good boys keep, as it has been for so long. He truly wants to spend time with Love. This also is a wonderful, powerful change.
*He is exhibiting greater self-care. One of the family rules he needed to break was the idea that perfect people don't have medical issues. I am happy to report that he is able to admit he has needs and actively seek to meet them in many areas of his life now! That used to be a huge no-no. I am really happy for him about this. I can think of five specific ways he is now caring for himself that he used to ignore.
It was a real encouragement to me to be able to list how things are today and compare them to what was causing me so much pain five years ago. I'm happy I opened that journal this weekend.
But there is still much more to be healed, to mature, to be transformed. And so I ask for your specific prayers for me and my husband. We need to find a counselor who can help with passive-aggressive personality disorder. We need someone who understands the root causes of this wrong way of thinking and treating people, and who is able to facilitate lasting change.
That is a lot harder than it sounds. Just because someone has a degree doesn't mean that they can help in our particular situation. Been there, done that.
Beyond that, there needs to be a trust and a connection between therapist and patient. Obviously it does no good to talk to someone who you don't fully trust. So personality matters.
Finally, a good therapist should be able to help anyone, regardless of their spiritual beliefs. We are looking for someone who can respect, if not share, our faith in God.
So please pray for us, that we will come across the right person at the right time and not have to waste a lot of time and money on the search. Mother's Day is coming up, and interestingly enough it coincides with the one year anniversary of the scariest night of our marriage. Ideally, I would like a client-therapist relation in place for my man before then.
But if not, still pray that I can enjoy a safe and happy Mother's Day. I pray the same for you, dear readers. Safety and happiness in all you do, comfort and triumph when that is not possible. May the presence of Jesus be with you always, in ways that you can experience and understand in the depths of your being. God loves us and wants us to live loved. Let's do it!