The Day I Figured It Out (contains obscenity, possible trigger)

 

Abby and Emily looked like this at the time of this story.

Abby and Emily looked like this at the time of this story.

“Peter” strode into the kitchen, cornered me and announced: “You’re a fucking asshole bitch, you know that? ” He raised his hand to squeeze and rotate my face, then neatly stepped beside me and kicked me in the butt.

Abby and Emily were happily coloring at the table, several feet away. All was happy, peaceful.

My counselor had told me to use “I feel” statements. So, I said, “I feel bad when you do that. I want you to stop.”

He sneered, repeated “You’re a fucking asshole bitch,” squeezed my face, and kicked me in the butt.

I said, “I want you to stop doing that.”

He sneered, repeated “You’re a fucking asshole bitch, ” squeezed my face, and kicked me in the butt.

I said, “You know, when you act like this, you put me in a really difficult position.”

“Oh, yeah…how’s that?” he mocked.

“Yeah.” I said. “If I allow you to treat me like this, then I teach those little girls at the table to buy into the same thing for their marriages. If I divorce you to make you stop, then they are trashed by divorce.”

He didn’t say a word, but seemed to tire of the game, and left the kitchen.

The girls happily colored and chatted at the table, oblivious.

OUT OF THE BLUE. I hadn’t done anything “wrong,” there was no prelude or issue. I suddenly understood something.  I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING. THIS HAD TO DO WITH HIM, NOT ME.  He wasn’t being picky, he was being ABUSIVE. For five years it had been eggs overdone or underdone, toast overdone or underdone, shirts not hung correctly, using the wrong word, wrong tone of voice, wrong route on the road, sausage overdone or underdone or “consolidated.” This time….it was nothing. Just because he felt like it.

A note on denial and crazy-making: I waited a couple of days, until Peter had changed back into Dr. Jekyl, and asked him about the incident. He didn’t know what I was talking about! I described in detail what he did and said. He looked at me as though I was insane, and said, “Why do you keep making up things to get mad about?”  I never knew whether he really didn’t remember, or if he was just not copping.

Over the years, he has told me how cruel I was to control him with threats of divorce (four times over 19 years – this was the second).

Now, I wonder what is going through your mind as you read.

My first guess is that you are confused about why I didn’t walk out of the kitchen, but stood there and “took it.” (He was blocking my way – it would have required a shove or physical body block to get out – which could provide an excuse for physical violence – escalate).

You wonder why I didn’t just INSIST he stop. (Because I knew that raising my voice or using what he called a “pointed tone of voice” would make him ANGRY and loud – escalate – and alert the girls of the ugliness in front of them).

You may wonder why I had seen a counselor alone. (Because, for him, it was MY problem. I guess, for me, it was my problem, too. I had to learn to cope better, because I was sinking).

Or why I hadn’t left long ago. (Didn’t want the court system to give him unsupervised partial custody, or for him to be more angry and with partial custody, hope for healing and that the “real and nice” Dr. Jekyl version of Peter would come to stay, honoring and fearing God as I understood Him, love for kids and him, no way to prove his actions, eroded confidence, financial inferiority, no one else seeing the problem – and more).

Or what did I do that might have provoked him? (ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, or heck if I know).

If so, you are responding typically, by focusing on WHY THE VICTIM STAYS. Which is just a gentler way of blaming the victim. Which maintains the status quo in public opinion about domestic abuse.

Did you also wonder:

What motivates him to abuse?

What would stop him from doing that?

What is his brokenness that needs to be healed, and how can that be done?

What can she do to protect herself and her kids?

What would she need for proof in a court of law?

How are his actions affecting the kids?

What recourse does she have?

How can he be held accountable?

How can I strengthen her and widen her options?

If you were wondering these things, you are FOCUSING ON THE ABUSER ALSO, which is right. And on stopping the abuse. And on practical, proactive steps to empower the woman/children to greater safety and health. And you are one person who can nudge public opinion in the right direction.

This doesn’t seem like such a hard change in perspective, once it has been explained. A Christian, however, may experience some conflict with scripture as he/she understands it, and some challenge from other Christians for focusing on the types of questions above, rather than more scriptural options.

Such as:

Wives and submission (the Bible tells me so)

No divorce (only half of the verse….)

Causing him to commit adultery (a man has needs)

Causing him to stumble (poor guy)

Not acting in faith (God is saying yes, no, or wait….wait for it…..wait for it)

Giving way to fear (God won’t be pleased)

God’s ways are not our ways (so don’t think for yourself)

God won’t test you beyond what you can bear (so you must be able to bear it)

Etc.

Not everyone expressed these views. They were just out there….for consideration and confusion.

So….. I figured out it was abuse. But I still didn’t know what I was allowed to do about it. As a Christian wife, that is.

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16 thoughts on “The Day I Figured It Out (contains obscenity, possible trigger)

  1. Summerseth January 10, 2013 at 12:50 pm Reply

    Just stumbled through this particular post on your blog and I say….

    When you say: “If I allow you to treat me like this, then I teach those little girls at the table to buy into the same thing for their marriages. If I divorce you to make you stop, then they are trashed by divorce.”

    I just admired your response since not all wives would react like that.

    • ranthegauntlet January 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm Reply

      Thank you for the vote of confidence! I guess I had learned to respond that way since anything else seemed to make it worse. Thank you for stopping by my blog…I will visit you soon as well.

      Blessings!!

      Diane

  2. pamelabelmontthy December 31, 2012 at 3:52 pm Reply

    Second time today I am blown away by the heart-thumping reality/familiarity in what you have written.I am working up the courage to write with this kind of authenticity and truth. You are an inspiration from one who, three years after my husband’s suicide (the day he assaulted me and I finally got fed up and asked him to leave) still cringes when a tall man bends over me. I hope your girls are well and that you are healing.

    • ranthegauntlet January 1, 2013 at 12:20 am Reply

      Pamela:

      You already write with authenticity and truth. I have tears in my eyes and an ache in my chest.

      Certainly you have been told, WITH FEELING, that the abuse, your husband’s suicide, and your continued fear IS NOT YOUR FAULT IN ANY WAY – but in case not, I’m saying it! LOUD. I recommend these blogs: http://jumpingonclouds.com/ and http://inspired2ignite.com/.

      My girls are 30 and 27 now and doing well, though not real big on marriage or religion. We are all dealing with things in our own way. My divorce was 12 years ago, and I thought I was healing very well, but still find surprise vulnerabilities that trip me up. But I hear from those who have been there that there is so much hope and joy ahead.

      I wasn’t able to locate your blog, but from your avitar I gather you have dreams and focus. And are a mom. Your children? Please give me your blog address if you have one!

      Blessings!

      Diane

  3. Denise Hisey December 30, 2012 at 1:22 pm Reply

    Hi Diane,
    You always have such a wonderful way to give a picture to the situation. I felt myself in the kitchen with you and the girls, wondering what to do, what to do? I remember being on eggshells with my dad’s temper/violence. It was impossible to Do The Right Thing, because the problem isn’t the victim.

    None of us can judge you for your decisions, because we were not in your shoes. Peter obviously has huge issues and took out his anger on you. It is a hideous truth society tends to blame the victim, even when the victim is a child. “Why didn’t you tell” “Why didn’t you leave” instead of dealing with the abuser.

    • ranthegauntlet December 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm Reply

      Denise, Hello!!! Thank you! Good to see your picture popping up here! You’re right about the victim blame thing…jeepers. I’ve read a little about that…it seems it is a very standard response when trauma issues involve people; for natural disasters this doesn’t occur! Isn’t that odd? If someone is nailed by a tornado, it’s all sympathy. If by an assailant, it’s “what should you have done to avoid this.” Question: Do you over-react to anger in others? Or shut down? An issue I’ve had and wonder if it is from holding it in to, as you say, do the right thing. And, another question: given that my blogging goal is to create empathy and un-oversimplify abuse situations for those who haven’t been there but tend to advise…do you think I come off too heavy or negative? Should I focus more on positive strategies for dealing with abuse and recovery?

      Lovely hearing from you!!

      Diane

      • Denise Hisey December 30, 2012 at 8:25 pm Reply

        Hi Diane,
        I think giving your perspective provides a window for those who want to see. People who don’t want to, won’t -no matter if you sugar coat or give a heavy hand.

        Some of your posts show your anger more than others, but for me it’s simply a reflection of who you are and what you’ve been through.

        Happy New Year!

  4. mybroom December 29, 2012 at 12:48 am Reply

    Diane, the legalist will beat you up with scriptures about what YOU should or shouldnt do – this drama is only about you in-so-far as you are the victim of a rotten man – I dont believe God is waving any rule book over you, its not about rules – its about knowing that in spite of everything you are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus, big hugs, your friend from Oz.

    • ranthegauntlet December 29, 2012 at 11:51 am Reply

      Hi, Graeme! Oh boy….too many legalists out there. And they do so much damage!! But they, and even my ex, are just people in pain and with flaws, who, as you say (I paraphrase MY understanding of what you said) in your blog and comment here, are not able to rest in, BE the completed work done by Jesus, so they can FEEL and KNOW they are safe and OK beyond law. If they were really IN Christ, there would be no urge to be legalistic, would there? And the pain that motivates people to abuse would not be there. Seems to me that is a (the?) core issue. See, your writing is affecting my thinking. 🙂

      Blessings!!!!!

      Diane

      • mybroom December 29, 2012 at 3:41 pm Reply

        Have a great New Year Diane, hope it’s a year of discovery of a new joy and rest in Christ, cheers G

  5. joepote01 December 28, 2012 at 1:17 pm Reply

    Diane, I know this is just a very small snippet of what you endured, but it is truly heart-breaking.

    Thank you for sharing it in such a way as to show others the need to look past first impressions…to do as Jesus modeled for us…to see and have compassion.

    • ranthegauntlet December 29, 2012 at 11:34 am Reply

      Hi, Joe – good to hear from you! Thank you so much for understanding my intention! These instances are in the past, and can’t hurt me or my girls now, except for the residual emotional/psycological/physical/spiritual effects we cope with now. I relate these ugly incidents to give a view from the inside, to will hopefully create empathy and wisdom when people attempt to lend support. So they can truly help, not just add abuse to abuse. Like you have done with the analysis of scripture in your book, which I have just started to read, and am finding it to be clear, calm, kind, sincere – highest praise coming from where I sit.

      I don’t know if I am choosing the right approach for the goal, via blog or book.

      Blessings!

      • joepote01 December 30, 2012 at 8:20 pm Reply

        Based on my perspective, the blog and the book tend to compliment each other…and all the “experts” say it’s best to start with the blog…

        Either way, I love your voice and hope you keep speaking out!

        Blessings to you!

  6. jumpingonclouds December 27, 2012 at 1:12 pm Reply

    I just want to hug you. I’m so sorry you went through such abuse. Hopefully we’ve all learned enough about our own journeys to not judge anyone else. No one should judge you. You were put in an awful position with terrible choices and you’re healing from all of it now. Your picture breaks my heart. It must have broken yours a hundred times. I’m so glad you’re safe now an able to process all the emotions. Your experience will help others for sure. Love to you. Keep going, Diane. This is sacred stuff.

    • ranthegauntlet December 27, 2012 at 3:17 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Lori. Your words always encourage me, and I learn so much from you. Knowing I need to process to move on is a new revelation – partly from you! I sure hope my experience helps someone – it’s kind of the universal way to deal with suffering – give it a purpose. I hope that through your story, my story, others stories, those who judge will get a glimmer of understanding that it isn’t so simple….not an easy choice between good and bad, but between a bad known and a potentially good, bad, or worse unknown. And learn that judging and blame are pointless. Then they can help others, too.

      Love to you, too!

      Diane

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