Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Dream

Last night I had a dream. When I woke, I immediately knew what my dream represented in my life. I was not afraid or upset or angry, though the scenario was very upsetting in itself. The only thing that might pass for an emotion was certainty, if that is an emotion. I woke up with awareness of what it meant and certainty about what it represented. Here is the dream:

I was in danger. Everyone was in danger. The country was under siege from some nefarious force and it wasn't safe to stay. It was imperative that we all escape. Escape or perish.

Somehow I heard that if I got to the docks, I could find a way of escape. I don't remember a voice telling me, but then you know how dreams are. I headed for the docks with determination and focus.

When I got to the docks, there were people there ahead of me. The boats that would take us to safety were a ways from the dock. You had to jump into the water and swim out to the boats. When you got to the boat, people would help you in. There were people on the docks keeping order, sort of in charge, making sure that people stayed in line and didn't all go at once? At any rate, they were in charge of the process.

The water was dark and murky. Underwater visibility was probably six feet or so. The distance one had to swim was probably ten or fifteen yards.

A little girl was in line in front of me. She was older but still pre-adolescent, a beautiful girl with big dark eyes and long dark hair.

She jumped into the water as told, but immediately she began to flounder in the water. She obviously could not swim. She was splashing around in terror, plainly in distress.

I waited for one of the people in charge to jump in and help her, but no one came to her aid. I couldn't believe that no one in charge cared whether she made it to safety or not!

Finally she started to sink, and I jumped in to try to save her. The water was too murky and I had waited too long, thinking others besides me would do something. I couldn't find her, though I dove as deep as I could.

As I was coming up for air, I knew. I knew the people on the boat were not going to take me to safety. They were going to make me a slave.

I knew that they didn't care that the little girls were drowning, and they planned to make slaves of all the women who got into their boat.

And then I woke up.

The country being in danger and everyone who stayed being destined for destruction represents the human condition. The salvation that I heard about was the gospel.

So I headed resolutely to Jesus, embracing the way of salvation.

But when I got near, I saw the fundamentalist/patriarchal/evangelical church that told me about salvation, was actually a fraud.

They don't care if their false doctrine destroys little girls and enslaves women.

I wish my dream had gone on a bit longer. I would like to know if I was able to escape, and if so, did I take any little girls with me? I wonder if I would've dreamed I swam away on my own, or if I would have climbed back up onto the docks to warn the other women. I don't know.

I just woke up knowing the truth about the church I was raised in.

Powerful stuff, truth.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Can Take Up for Myself

I can take up for myself. This makes me so happy.

That's one of the positive truths about myself that has been strengthened by EMDR therapy. I have to tell you, this EMDR therapy is amazing! I am so glad I started therapy. It is one of the smartest moves I have made in a long time.

I made another smart move yesterday. It was not my original idea. I first heard of this concept at Joel and Kathy Davisson's Marriage Intensive two years ago. It seemed harsh to me at the time, and I quickly decided it wasn't for me. But, I have a girlfriend (don't you LOVE your girlfriends?) who has used this technique to great effect, and when I called her yesterday about what had happened Sunday evening, she reminded me how well it had worked for her.

Since I had been reading all morning off and on in Kantor's book, I better understood the how and why of her solution, and for the first time it seemed like a smart plan. Her plan was that I demand an apology, in writing, or kick my husband out of our bedroom until I got one.

In my husband's family, they just never talk about anything. Apologies are rare and weak. Someone might mumble an apology but without ever mentioning what they are apologizing for. Mostly they say nothing. They just carry on with the attitude that nothing is wrong or ever was wrong and the family just plays along. Of course then there is no real resolution, and there is sure to be a repeat offense.

My husband did call me from work the next day and offered a blanket apology like that, but when I wanted to talk details he quickly became offended and rude again. This was not satisfactory to me at all. I had no closure and no reassurance that it would not happen again. He said we had talked about it already for hours and he didn't want to talk anymore.

My girlfriend suggested that since he did not want to talk, I should write him a note, read it out loud to him twice, and then let him respond. This technique of reading twice and then responding is from Marriage Encounter. (Yes, we've been to pretty much all the Christian marriage seminars.)

From the Joel and Kathy books came the content of what I should write. I should write exactly what I wanted from him- a detailed apology. His apology should include what he did that was cruel, not leaving out a single one of my points. It should show that he understands how that made me feel, why it was wrong and a commitment to stop treating me that way.

The consequences, straight out of Joel and Kathy's advice, was that if he chose not to apologize, he could move into the guest bedroom. I would not accept being treated poorly and if he chose to behave in ways that hurt me then he could not sleep in my bed.

Now in the past I was so used to subjugating myself ("submitting" in Christian parlance) that this consequence sounded over the top, cruel even. In Kantor's book I read, "Since passive-aggressives select mostly dependent victims as their targets, many victims of passive-aggressives, taking their own dependency and neediness into account, think twice about removal and vengeance and go on to depressive forgiving and accommodating...Victims who deal with passive-aggressives not by fight or flight, but by forbearance, may avoid viscous cycling- but NOT A REPEAT OF THE ORIGINAL ABUSE (p. 97, Passive-Aggresion, Kantor." (I added the caps.)

Since going to EMDR, I am really starting to believe that I can take up for myself. I always thought of myself as a very confidant, strong woman. But in reality, I am always yielding to others, even when it is unnecessary or even counter-productive. It was time to say "no more". If I didn't demand accountability, I was just perpetuating a repeat of the original abuse. I had to take a stand.

He came home, and told him that I knew he didn't want to talk which was why I wrote him a letter. I told him that I would like to read it to him twice, then he can respond and I will not say anything more. I asked him if he wanted to take a nap or anything before I read this letter to him.

He took a few minutes to relax, and then said he was ready to listen. I read the letter through twice, my voice cracking in a few places but mostly I stayed strong. He said nothing. I asked him if he had chosen how he was going to respond. He started a tangential argument, but I called him on it and brought him back to the point. His face remained expressionless and his voice flat, but he said he would write the apology.

I was enthusiastically appreciative, left him with my letter, a notebook and a pen and went for a walk. I walked for about an hour. I was not stewing or hurt but I really enjoyed my time with God. I felt strong.

When I got back, typical of PAPD, he was sitting in the easy chair with his eyes closed. As soon as I realized he had not written an apology, I said that it was obvious he had made his choice then and he needed to move into the guest bedroom.

"Alright, I will." He defiantly stared me down, but said nothing further and didn't get out of the chair.

I am so proud of this part- I turned and went downstairs and made dinner. I was mad, but not surprised and not hurt. I was not in any kind of emotional turmoil. When dinner was ready I went up to get him, and he said he was coming but then murmured a rude comment as I was leaving the room. "Then you're NOT welcome." I answered.

He told me that was fine with him, grabbed a few things and headed to the guest room. I did not chase after him or speak to him. I finished dinner, and then left to pick up my son.

It was about an hour there and back to pick up my son. When my son got in the van, I explained what was going on and asked him to help me stay strong. I knew that my emotions usually compelled me to be reconciled, and I would go back for more abuse in an effort to make peace. But this time, I was not going to accommodate abuse any more. I asked my son to stop me if he saw me starting to beg for understanding or anything weak like that. My son promised to look out for me and help me stay strong.

When we get home, I knocked on the guest bed room door. To my happy surprise, when my husband opened the door he had a letter in his hand. It was a sincere apology. He read it out loud to me, all emotional, and I thanked him, embraced him and told him that I forgave him.

I took up for myself and it worked! 0.0

You'd think I'd be thrilled right then, but that night I was too surprised to be happy. I was happy that my husband had turned around, but stunned that I had taken up for myself and it actually worked.

However this morning I am very happy. n_n

In Kantor's book, victims of PAPD are said to cycle through six responses: 1) denial; 2) getting emotionally ill (blaming themselves, depressed); 3) mounting ange;r 4)overt anger; 5)forbearance (forgiving and accommodating); 6)repetition.

This time I managed to stop the cycle at four, take a step back, and try something completely different. I know I wouldn't have been able to do this without the weeks of therapy I have been through. I am so happy with this turn of events. EMDR is worth every penny.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Where Did That Come From?

In order to be an honest account of whether or not God truly heals my crappy home school marriage, I must leave a post this morning. I don't want to, wish that I could write something totally different.

I wish I could write that my husband is walking in the Spirit, living the life of love that Jesus called him to live. I wish I could write that he nourishes my heart, and cherishes our relationship. I wish I could write that in all lowliness of mind he esteems me higher than himself for Christ's sake. I wish I could write that his commitment to live a life of love is unwavering, steadfast, admirable in every way.

I have certainly read enough marriage books that left me with that impression. But I am all about transparency and integrity, so I must tell the truth.

For no reason I can see, out of nowhere, my husband returned to being abusive to me emotionally and verbally. He has not spoken with his parents. He says he has not been reading anything about child abuse. He just turned the switch on the inside and became the old man, the cruel self-righteous jerk, without informing me.

Classic PAPD. He never said he was angry, or feeling out of sorts. I had no reason not to expect him to be the best friend and lover he has been most of the days we have spent together lately.

Neither was I silent about my needs. I told him of my need, and asked him to help me get it met. I was not on guard. I was weak and tired, literally I mean. I'm not putting myself down. I was just in a place where I needed his companionship and had no reason not to expect it, after all the love that we have shared between us this past week.

I was expecting the new man, the man of the Spirit, and so I fell headlong into a three hour PAPD episode of cruelty. All the classic symptoms were present but I missed it. The resistance, foot-dragging, shitty apologies (i.e. not "I'm sorry! I totally last track of time!" spoken with heartfelt emotion but "I'm sorry I didn't do exactly what YOU wanted, WHEN you wanted." spoken in a flat loveless monotone), seemingly sincere attempts at reconciliation that when accepted in good will by me are then followed up with a wicked back-stabbing comment that proves beyond the shadow of any doubt that he is a liar and a cruel man.

Anyone familiar with abuse will recognize the pattern. I was exhausted, and asked him to come to bed with me. After last week's epiphany, I was kind yet clear that I needed to get some rest. He told me he wanted to open up his laptop and check the football scores first. I reiterated my need, using the word please. He told me it would only take a little while. I accepted that as honest (though it turns out it wasn't) even though there was no sign, looking back, of any kindness for me.

It was a commitment that we made to each other as part of healing our marriage, that we would go to bed together. It was no surprise to him. He had known since morning that I had not slept well the night before. If the roles were reversed, I would have prayed for his rest to be sweet. I would have been gentle and kind with him,. I would have loved him, and done all I could to make sure he had the best environment for sleeping. I have done it before. I'm compassionate that way, like Jesus is. =)

But if you know PAPD, you know what happened. It did not take "a little while". I did everything I could possibly do to get ready for bed, including little things to make life easier for him. But because this was not a simple situation, where a man of good will just wanted to check the football scores and would be right up, you should be able to guess how long it was before he came upstairs.

If you guessed that no matter how patient I was, he would absolutely not even start coming to bed until I came back down to speak to him, you are right. The point was to resist my need, not check the football scores. If you are familiar with PAPD, you'll know why I had to come down twice more before he would start up the stairs. That's right, I was kind and forgiving the first two times, assuming he had lost track of time. He would only begin to keep his promise after I got the message that I was not worth any effort on his part.

This is because once I was irritated and upset at his repeated failure to keep his word, to be a man of integrity and to live the life of love he promised to live- then he could blame me for being a demanding bitch. And on and on it went. It went on for three hours before I walked out on him and went downstairs to the guest bedroom.

Damned if I do, damned if I don't. That's what it is to try to be in a love relationship with a PAPD. He wants to vent his anger- anger he won't admit to feeling. But since anger is a sin in his world, he has to provoke a situation that he can feel justified about venting the wicked thoughts that have been stewing in his head. What a hypocrite. There you have it, the end result of fundamentalist Christianity: an emotionally sick person for whom self-justification matters more than anything. It matters more than anyone's heart, more than his relationships, more than integrity, more than Jesus. It is not authentic love that he was raised to desire. It was self justification. That is the end result of all those years of hypocrisy. A sick puppy.

The seeming answer: completely detach and not look to be in any kind of relationship with him, works short term IF I CATCH WHAT'S HAPPENING AT THE BEGINNING. This time, in my state of exhaustion, I didn't catch on very quickly. I was vulnerable and tired. I want, above all, authentic love and reconciliation. Had I understood that he was incapable of that at the time, I wouldn't have kept getting pulled into the cycle of doing and undoing.

By the time I walked away, I was once again sobbing. Sobbing because I know that there is nothing I can do to make things better between us. Sobbing. Sobbing from the depths of knowing that in spite of all this therapy, in spite of the Divine Nature of God right there with us, able to help at anytime my husband reaches out to Him in sincerity , my husband chooses abuse.

Once I walked away, it was over. About five minutes later my husband came downstairs, where I was sobbing and steeling my heart for reality by reading Kantor's book in the guest bedroom. Finally he had awoken out of his bewitchment.

But the trust between us is damaged. I am very wary, and I do not like what I am not seeing and hearing. I am not hearing a man whose heart is a heart of worship. I am not seeing a face lit up with the joy of fellowship with God. He is flat-faced and silent when I come downstairs this morning. He apologizes, but there is no life of God in him that I can see. Remorse is not the same as repentance. I am not safe yet.

My verses for today:

2 Thessalonians 3:1-5
1Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. 3But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. 4We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. 5May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.

Honesty. Good for me, to stay clear-minded and sober about the real progress or lack of progress we are making. Good for those with crappy marriages reading here, so that they understand this is a messy and long process.

If I wind up leaving because the abuse never truly ends, just goes into hiding and ambushes me in my moments of need, then this blog will strengthen my resolve. It will also serve as a witness that I did all I could to to be the best friend and ally my husband could wish for, but in the end what he really wanted was not a wife but an emotional punching bag on which to vent the negative emotions he was never man enough to own and process in a healthy way.

But I am still hoping that this blog will instead be a witness of how God changed a crappy home school marriage into a house of healing for everyone involved.

note: "Wicked" in NIV; "unreasonable" in KJV in above verses means "not in a good (or proper) place" 824 Strong's Concordance. "Evil" in NIV is 4190 in Strong's and means "diseased, hurtful in effect or influence"- does NOT mean intrinsically evil or once healthy but deteriorated. Interesting trivia.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Waves Crashing Over Me

I have (for the most part) really been enjoying my husband's company lately. The changes that have come over the past two years have been painfully, incrementally slow, but they are adding up. They are adding up to a romantic friendship that I am beginning to be able to relax and enjoy. Every day I am learning new things about my husband, my relationship with him and my self.

Last weekend we had an unexpected opportunity to spend the weekend alone together at the beach. It was a surprise gift from our neighbor, and a delight. We weren't even unpacked from the wedding in the mountains the weekend before, but the hotel was free so we couldn't say no. We traded out the dirty laundry in our suitcases for clean clothes, threw in some swimsuits and beach towels, and off we went.

We enjoyed the sun, the relaxation, the pool, the privacy. Part of the time we caught up with our neighbors who invited us, enjoying their company and visiting the places familiar to them from family vacations past. We slept in Sunday, a rarity, and had a pleasant morning together before starting on our day.

My husband and I enjoy the beach in very different ways. He is a former surfer, and he loves the waves and the power of the ocean. I am a nerd and a sun bunny. I love to stay warm and dry on land reading a good book, while he body surfs, boogie boards or snorkels. My fondest memory of our honeymoon is one where I am poolside, sunning and he is snorkeling nearby. Every so often he would surface near the pool with some new treasure of the ocean to show me. I remember the joy on his face that day and it makes me smile.

Sunday afternoon came, and all I really wanted to do was stay clean and dry and finish the book I had started the day before. He wanted to go body surfing. Since he knew I didn't want to go body surfing, he invited me to go walk on the beach with him.

Inwardly I contemplated what that would mean. I had on my socks and shoes, and if I took them off to walk on the beach my feet would be wet, sticky and sandy when I went to put them back on. Even after rinsing them in the showers, they would still be wet and sandy. I didn't really want to feel that, ewwww. BUT...

I'll go, I decided inside. Without even thinking about what I was thinking, I decided to submit my desires to my husband's. I have internalized that teaching so thoroughly that I made the decision subconsciously. I still felt somewhat uncomfortable about it, but I took his hand and stepped out the door toward the beach. I kept my socks and shoes on though, and determined to walk far enough up the beach to avoid the tide.

We had not gotten far down the beach when we were stopped by a drainage pipe leading to the beach. It had been raining all morning and so what was usually a mere trickle of water was a stream five feet across. I stopped. He stopped.

I said, "You know, why don't you go on by yourself? I don't really want to get my feet wet and sticky." This was a true reflection of my desire all along. I did NOT want to get all wet and sticky.

"Come on," he pleaded. "I want you to go with me." He smiled and held his hands out.

"You can go alone. I'll see you later." I offered one last time, a very wishy-washy passive way of trying to say that I did not want to go.

"I'll carry you," he offered. I protested some more, this time saying I did not want to hurt his back (true but not the whole truth). After a little more needling on his part, I didn't see how I could refuse. He jumped into the stream (he was barefoot) and I climbed on to his back.

We were about half way across when a bigger wave came in on the tide. At the point where the incoming tide slapped against the outward rushing rain run-off, the water piled up up in a four and a half foot wall, high-fived, and relaxed back down into the stream as quickly as it had arisen.

We were standing between the palms of the high-five, of course. The entire land side of my body was soaked in sticky, salty, sandy water. Not merely my feet, but now my whole right side from head to toe. My cell phone was in my soaking wet pocket. I was utterly defeated by this unexpected drenching.

My husband was all apologies as he set me down on the other side of the stream. After drying my cell phone off with the dry half of my shirt and putting it in my dry pocket, I took a few deep breaths. I walked away rapidly, not understanding the waves of emotion that replaced the physical wave I just encountered. Unlike that wave of Atlantic ocean water, the emotional wave did not recede. It kept coming.

All of the many times I had subjugated my will, my wants, my preferences, my desires to my husband's whims; all of those many, many times I had done so and it turned out badly for me; all those times came flooding back into my brain. I was soaked through and through with the memories of those times.

Luckily, both my husband and I understand PTSD. He was walking beside me, all apologies, when I started crying. He apologized all the more profusely, and I cried all the more profusely. Eventually through my sobs I was able to tell him that I was not mad at him, but nevertheless I couldn't stop crying.

We went back to the hotel, where he held me and I cried. He handed me Kleenex's while I recounted to him all I was remembering and all I was feeling. He listened with love and patience as I eventually wrapped it all up and was able to set it aside. It took awhile.

I won't recount the memories here. They are personal and the details are irrelevant anyway. It's what I understood about them on the beach that I want to relate. I understood that many of those hurtful times, times I subjugated my thoughts, feelings, desires to my husband, WERE MY DOING.

I did that to my self.

My husband is not a monster. He did not demand I subjugate myself. He did not demand I walk on the beach. I could have said, "Sweetheart, I want to spend time with you too but I really, really don't want to get sticky and sandy this morning so we will have to find another way to enjoy each other's company."

It was my doing. I am the one who discounted my own opinion, my own desires, my own feelings. I did that internally to my own self. Wow.

I had not realized how much responsibility I BORE for those bad experiences. I had believed the teaching that if a wife lets a husband make the decisions, God will see to it that all works out well in the end. I put it into practice, and I found out by hard experience that it is NOT TRUE.

This I already knew: abdicating responsibility to my husband when he did not care as much or have as clear an understanding of what was at stake as I had at the time was stupidity on toast. See the entry Poison for my Marriage.

The epiphany Sunday was how automatically I still slipped into the "subjugate yourself" mode. The epiphany was how unfair it always was to my husband, who is no mind reader and can only judge the depth of my convictions by how forcefully or not I stick by them. He apologized over and over for my soaking, but I was the one who climbed onto his back even though I didn't really want to.

We have hosted several foreign exchange students before, and one year we had a wonderful Japanese student. In Japanese culture, it is considered rude to turn down an invitation. The onus is on the one offering the invitation to carefully consider ahead of time if this will be an inconvenience to the person you are inviting.

Of course, we are Americans see things differently. In America (or at least my version of America =) invitations are a sign of approval and inclusion. So I invite people to go with me every single time I leave the house. If no one wants to come, it is -as we say in Oklahoma- no skin off my teeth. I just want them to know they are loved.

My Japanese student did not know this. No matter how poorly timed or downright intrusive my invitations were, she accepted. This was not good for her school work or our family relationships.

This student was taking private English lessons at the time, and the day came when her entire hour-long lesson centered on only one word- the word NO. She practiced over and over again the whole hour with her tutor. She gained courage with each passing minute.

The next day after her lesson, I was getting ready to go to the store. I called up the stairs and asked our foreign exchange student if she wanted to go. She came out of her room, looking a bit scared, made her hands into fists as they hung at her side, and very forcefully said, "NO!" She then winced a bit as she steeled herself for the negative reaction she expected.

My face broke into a huge grin. I clapped my hands together and exclaimed, "Good for you! You said "no"! I am so proud of you." My own kids came out of their rooms to congratulate her and give her their approval. She beamed.

I guess I need some practice saying "no" myself. I am going to do my best to stop this automatic self-subjugation. I choose to believe that the people who love me want to know what I really think, how I really feel, and what I really want. My husband was hoping for emotional intimacy on the walk, but how could we have that while I was not even being honest about my heart's desires while we walked?

Next time I hope that I can be honest and open about my wants too. Instead of having to choose one person's desires over another's, I am guessing we can find some middle ground on which to meet. Dry middle ground. Clean and dry and smooth middle ground, with no waves. Poolside, maybe? =)

Peace and good will to all who read here, SS

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Finally a Wedding to Celebrate

Sorry it has been so long since I updated the ongoing saga of my healing home school marriage. We have been doing a lot of traveling recently, plus school has started for another year. Those of you home schooling know that a new school year means a time of adjustment: planning, scheduling, and the inevitable lack of sleep as we start getting up again at the same time every morning after a summer of sleeping in.

Two weekends ago I went to another wedding. After the last two weddings I attended, I was wary. The last two were heavy on the patriarchy women submit themes, so much so that I fear both marriages are doomed. See this post for why I am so pessimistic.

Thankfully, this wedding was far more grace-filled than the last two. The scriptures my niece and her groom chose to read at the wedding were wonderful discourses about how to live together as Christians- loving, encouraging, exhorting, speaking truly, praying for each other. The vows they personally spoke made no mention of submission/authority. They vowed to love and mutually support each other, as well they should.

The pastor just had to stick in the word submission somewhere, though. *mimes sticking finger down my throat* He actually said to the groom that he might at times find it difficult to love his wife, yada yada yada. Then to the bride, she at times might find it difficult to submit to her husband, yada yada yada. I was greatly encouraged that none of this poisonous talk came from the bride's or groom's own lips, at least. =)

Then came the reception, and it was F-U-N. They had a band, with dancing (!) and an open bar. When it came time to toast the young couple, my husband had the courage to go to the bar and get us wine. His Plymouth Brethren brother saw us, but my husband didn't flinch a bit.

After the toasts were done, since my feet hurt, we went back to the hotel. My husband put some Al Green on the computer, and we danced and danced together in our stocking feet. Dancing was strictly forbidden growing up, and attending dances in college was one of his first acts of freedom as an adult. =) After that, we went across the street to sit a spell in the rocking chairs on the porch at Cracker Barrel. It was a charming way to spend the evening.

The next morning we spent some time at breakfast talking to his relatives, since we all lodged at the same hotel. Then we drove home, stopping several times for scenic walks like we used to do in the early days of our marriage, before kids. All in all the weekend was healing, relaxing, playful, fun.

He did have trauma reactions twice. Once on the drive up to the wedding. The therapy/training I have been getting in recognizing abuse and maintaining strong boundaries helped. After briefly and futilely trying to reason with him, I stopped talking. My final statement was "I shouldn't have come. I wish I had not come." Then I remained silent with tears streaming down my face. After several minutes of silence, my man came to his senses and apologized for what he had just done.

What was that? The typical PAPD stuff. I don't remember the particulars now. I do remember that it followed more or less the same old pattern. He either does things that he knows will annoy me (like erratic driving or rude comments) or does not do things to annoy me (ignoring a question, failing to keep his word in some area I am relying on him for) until I, in frustration, take up for myself. (By now this is all so wearily familiar for long time readers of this blog, but I explain for any new readers.)

Taking up for myself in any way is construed by him as "nagging" or "telling him what to do". At this point, he can feel fully justified in venting his resentment and anger at me. I am, after all, reprimanding him just like mommy would and all of the pent-up anger at his parents can flow out towards me- and he doesn't have to feel guilty about it.

He is not being a bad, rebellious child for being angry at his fundamentalist missionary parents' neglect and outright abandonment. He is being an indignant husband. It was always totally acceptable in his missionary culture for a man to be ugly to his wife, as long as he doesn't cuss or resort to violence. So he can vent his unresolved anger on me guilt-free- if he can just goad me into being the first to bring up an offense.

Ugh. Just typing it out is wearisome. Anyway, that Saturday morning when I stopped cooperating with this tiresome game he/we play(s), it was hard. I wanted to take up for myself. I did not want to go through this AGAIN. But, by refusing to take up for myself or accept his blame, the conflict was over.

Honestly, if he did not pull over and humbly apologize, admitting he had initiated the same old ugliness, I don't know what I would have done. Gotten my own room at the hotel and refused to attend the wedding with him? I was considering that.

Thank the Lord Jesus Christ that my husband is truly wanting to be healed and happily married, and once I stopped responding (and that is HARD for me!!), he was able to come to his senses.

I already wrote about how wonderful Saturday afternoon/evening and Sunday were. On Monday he reverted back to hiding in his shell, only to come out swinging barbs at me when I poked around asking if he was okay. Putting into practice skills from counseling, we worked to resolve his unhappiness pretty quickly. Once he identified that he was feeling something, and what he was feeling, and then identified the real reason behind his feelings he was able to deal with it.

"It" was the realities that a) his family/parents didn't know the real him, b) they made no effort to know the real him, and c) he was pretty sure if they did know who he really was, what he believed, how he felt, etc.- they would not accept him. This truth was heart-breaking.

But it helped so much to have some one bear witness to his truth. Of course I also pointed out how wrong they were. They are missing out on knowing a wonderful human being. They should be proud of my husband for who he is. Instead they are only proud of him as long as they believe he is exactly who they raised him to be- conservative, evangelical fundamentalist. I also told him over and over that their rejection of his real self is NOT HIS FAULT. Their eyes are too blinded by their religion to see reality.

It was a very emotional evening for us both, but finally the true source of the depression and anger was getting the blame, not me. And instead of numbing out the pain through compulsive behaviors, he was able to actually release it and let it go. I am very happy for him.

Well, that was two weeks ago. Last weekend we got a chance out of the blue to go on a free weekend to the beach. That will be for another post. I am out of time and I have other things to do, so I can't tell all now. But I do want to come back to that weekend, because *I* had a PTSD moment, and I think that by sharing it I may be able to help other wives in crappy (or formerly crappy) marriages out in some small way.

Peace and good will to all who read here. SS

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Out of Town/3rd Times a Charm?

I am heading off to yet another wedding, the second this summer. I am hoping that it is not a patriocentric affair. We shall see. Have a great weekend. =)