Pastor #3 – COLORADO
You’ve heard the term Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde? From the book by Robert Louis Stevenson? When I hear the term, it usually refers to a person with strong personality/mood changes, like two different people, one kind (Jekyl), one cruel (Hyde). I married Dr. Jekyl.
I loved Peter. He was warm, funny, intelligent, wise, and positive. He had a past, but had earned my respect for the way he was making a good life, with focus and determination. Again, I loved him and I believed in his worth and goodness. The day after our wedding, I got a glimpse of Mr. Hyde, his evil twin. I met Mr. Hyde in person the day we returned from our honeymoon. Not uncommon; abusers often seem attentive and loving , to change abruptly shortly after a wedding. But I had never been exposed to this information.
So here we were, 10 years later, in a new state, in a new town. I hoped that it would be a new start. After years of never knowing when he would switch from Jekyl to Hyde, I hoped Dr. Jekyl would be back to stay.
Our first night there, Peter had a few beers and started to urinate in the closet. Not abusive intentionally, but still weird, disorienting, lonely, RIDICULOUS. It was an issue we had discussed before – but rather than admitting how sick it was, he made a joke out of it (which IS abusive). An intelligent, well esteemed, professional man, refusing to recognize the degree of weird this behavior showed. (Weird that didn’t usually show outside our family). I felt stunned, enraged, frustrated…..and also shut down, isolated. Can’t figure out that set of emotions! I invoked the D word (divorce) for the third time in our marriage. (Funny thing, he was suddenly able to locate the bathroom after that.) That issue solved; no divorce.
During the next couple of years, it was the same old, same old. Except that I was getting tired, losing my resiliency, and wondering (again, more) if God either didn’t hear my prayers or didn’t care. And still wondering how to deal with all of it for the best outcome. I prayed for guidance, wisdom, discernment, faith, help with my unbelief, healing for him, healing for me, protection for the girls, strength, or a whirlwind or telegram or still small voice to tell me His will.
Matt 7:7-11 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
I attended church, secular counseling, a codependency support group (awesome), Al-Anon, and took antidepressants. Eventually, when Peter was out hunting, I prayed for God to either heal him or “take him home.” I didn’t want him to come home. For a while I quit praying, because I was tired of flapping my jaws to a white ceiling. Of course, I started praying again, just like I always started hoping again in my marriage. Faith, hope and love.
The girls and I watched him fall down stairs, stagger, bully, and just be strange – alternating with being fun, wholesome, and affectionate. I forcefully took keys to drive home from “family outings,” playing the family police I didn’t want to be. He called me “no fun Diane.”I told him that if he didn’t stop drinking, I would leave. And, terrified and defeated, I contacted a divorce attorney.
Counseling, he said, so we trotted off to charming Pastor C, who had a plan. He would find a mentor for Peter, someone who could support him and hold him accountable. Peter was all for it. I was hopeful…again.
But…. IT NEVER HAPPENED…. again. Pastor C apparently forgot or had other things to attend to, because there was no more communication. I felt the moment was lost. Peter didn’t pursue it. Pastor C didn’t pursue it.
Why didn’t I pursue it? What had I ever, EVER said, that influenced what he did? What more could I say to the Pastor? Shame him into acting? Remind him? I felt powerless. I felt I needed higher power, higher authority, male influence to speak for me. Humiliatingly, embarrassingly sad in this “modern age,” but not UNUSUAL. Pretty common, in fact.
Peter pretended not to drink any more. (Years later, my father and brother told me he did drink, proudly, when he was with them.) His abusive style was pretty much the same. But he stopped falling down stairs, staggering, slurring, and urinating in strange places. I thought he had stopped drinking. Overall, it was an improvement. And I still wanted the girls to be safe and in as healthy an environment as possible given our reality. I didn’t want to keep them from their dad, especially Dr. Jekyl, but didn’t trust the courts to not allow unsupervised custody, which could leave them alone with their dad, Mr. Hyde. And I was still trying to walk by faith and not by sight, and not displease God. Just enough improvement. I didn’t divorce.
Pastor’s Mistake: Existing? No…too harsh. Just lack of follow through.
Prov 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
As Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”
Good article from Focus Ministries on Jekyl/Hyde Psychological Abuse, 1998: http://www.focusministries1.org/brochures/DrJekyllandMrHyde.pdf
Which verses apply, and how?
1 Cor 5:11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an -idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.
1 Cor 7:10-11 To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife.
Prov 31:12 She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.