Wednesday, March 14, 2012

EMDR and moving on with life

We just got back from a family vacation.  It was so nice to have both of my children and my husband with me, enjoying the relaxing days and nights.  It was also something of a milestone.

Two years ago on vacation, my husband was  not the man he is today.  He was (had been) an abusive bully for many years, but I was just waking up to it.  I was only beginning to read  Passive-Aggression: A Guide for the Therapist, the Patient and the Victim and visit web sites about domestic abuse, putting it all together.  For years I had been accommodating my husband's behavior (I am such a forgiving person) and putting it all behind me, only to have new painful letdowns occur every few weeks.  Since he had only been physically violent once, I was still unsure that what I was experiencing was abuse.  In fact, this blog is the story of my awakening to that fact, and how I have chosen to respond in light of this knowledge.

Two years ago, he engaged in behavior that was unmistakably, straight off of the checklist, abusive behavior. When I was terrified, confused, and shrinking against the wall, crying and praying, he snuck up next to me and snarled a loud "BOO!" in my ear.

I had my answer. No question about it: this is clearly intentional emotional abuse.  Who DOES that to someone they love?!

Now two years later, I have good news.  My husband lived a life of love and self-control on our vacation.  Any request I made, he happily complied.  Any time I was concerned about anything, he listened and adapted.  We actually had a very good time together, all the time, the whole week.  And now that he's home?

Still good.

What are the factors to his healing/improvement?

Well, I am more independent in every way.  I am well on my way to achieving my career goals.  I was accepted into the school to which I applied (I was told only 15 are accepted out of 500 applicants).  I am maintaining a high GPA.  I am in therapy, on the final stages of EMDR and soon to be done with that.  I think this determination to take care of myself, and not be dependent on my husband for anything is key.  I don't need him emotionally.  If I go to talk to him and he is aloof, I just stop what I'm saying, get my inner bearings straight, and walk away without a word.  Sometimes he apologizes and chases me down, wanting to know what I was going to say.  The thing is, it doesn't hurt me anymore.  I really don't care if he wants to be there for me or  not.  I am well capable of hashing out my thoughts on my own, or with a friend. I don't NEED him to be there for me.  Oddly enough, this inspires him to be there for me.  Weird, huh?

He is in trauma therapy and on anti-depressants.  He is getting healthier, and while it may have all started out as a mere attempt to save the marriage, now it is to save himself.  This makes both of us very happy.  He has stopped jumping when his parents call, and we don't go to church anymore.  I think these last two are milestones in his healing at this point.  When he sees his parents next, it will be on his terms.  When he goes to church again, if he ever does, it will be because he wants to, not because he should or as proof he is a good person.

Every night we read together.  Right now we are reading Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer.  He plays golf, something he does for himself.  I study, something I do for myself.  I also do yoga now, which I love.  I started out with Brooke Boon's Holy Yoga and am exploring the discipline from there.

Some things are sadder.  No one in my family goes to church now.  So much for the home school promise of daily devotions turning out model church-going Christians.  Lolz.  As far as the Christian part goes, though, everyone in my family has a genuine faith and a personal relationship with Jesus.  We are just each and all so burned by organized American Christianity that we are not in church right now.  Prove everything, hold fast to that which is good.  =D

I wish I had a fellowship of believers to take communion with, and to spur one another on to love and good works.  If it's out there, though, the Holy Spirit will have to lead me to it as I live my everyday life.  Visiting churches is such a bummer so much of the time.  So, we'll just see where it all goes from here.

I like where we all are now.  I love my daughter.  I love my son.  I love my husband AND it even looks like he might be fit to live with, not just for the time being, but for some time to come.

This makes me very happy.  Namaste, ya'll! (Loosely translated: the light in me honors the light in you- a yoga version of the song we used to sing in Charismatic church while holding hands and looking into each other's eyes:  "Yes I love you with the love of the Lord, yes I love you with the love of the Lord, I can see in you the glory of my King, and I love you with the love of the Lord."

Peace and good will,


  1. It's good to hear that healing is continuing, and beginning to be so palpably felt. Even if there are setbacks, you are moving forward. So glad for your family.

  2. Thanks.

    Like Sandra added on one post, my husband may never be completely free of the depression from being abandoned to a missionary boarding school. All of those stress chemicals flooding his young brain on a daily basis affected the growth and development that made him who he is today. EMDR is helping to clear out all those direct lines to "danger! high alert!" cortisol dumps that made him so aggressive, and helping to build and strengthen new synapses to peaceful, confident states of mind. The antidepressants enhance the process.

    One thing that the fundamentalist missionary life ruined for him (so far) is the love of God. This man who grew up with daily devotions several times a day and lots of scripture memory has never FELT the love of God. He has never FELT that God loves him. In fact, the whole "God loves you and we love you so that's we are abandoning you because God wants us to share his love with the Indians (over you) because if they don't convert this same God who loves them will burn them in hell for all eternity" mindf*** has built a huge barrier between him and knowing God experientially.

    Of course, fundamentalists don't mind this. They don't believe in the direct action of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life. It's all head knowledge, things you "believe" because "the Bible says so". You only know you've been born again because you said the sinner's prayer (write down the date in your pocket New Testament as proof!). No mystery to it all (Sorry Jesus!). More like a spell than a reality. You say the words, and presto chango. Doesn't seem like anything's changed? Must be YOUR problem!

    Now, it really is as if my husband is being born again into a new life. I can't tell when it happened exactly or how, but I see the effects. It looks a lot more like what Jesus described and a lot less like what Dallas Theological Seminary proscribed. And I'll take Jesus over a fundamentalist any day!!

  3. I really miss our church in Charlotte...there are only a few like it in the world, from what I can tell. Jacksonville, London, Auckland, and a few more.

  4. Good work with EMDR! I am currently utilizing this form of therapy to recover from childhood abuse and PTSD. I haven't "met" anyone who's used EMDR, much less really knows what it is and how it works. I am so glad it has helped you. It has done uh-maz-ing work in my life.