Time to be real. In order to explain the full ramifications of the trigger episode that sent me back into therapy we need to explain the truth of what it’s like to be married to me. Although some of these behaviors have beeneliminated others still linger. This is mostly my husband’s words (modified for clarity) and an honest perspective of his life with me the last 24 years (since we started dating).
I asked him the following question: What behaviors have been the most harmful to you?
I felt blamed for what happened, like you made me into the perpetrator. You did not trust me, not with sex, but me, my ability to take care of you. I felt like I could never give you the right place to the live. You made it known that I couldn’t provide you with a sense of security. I was not performing enough to give you what you wanted. Not a good enough husband. No matter what I gave you, it was never enough. I was not enough for you.
I never could feel a sense of security. I was so desperate to be safe, protected, loved. Ultimately I required of him to be my Savior. No human can ever do that. I didn’t need a husband, I needed Jesus.
You would not be a woman/wife. You acted like a little girl. Very immature. You would get angry with people and then be upset when I wouldn’t join you. You didn’t take care of yourself: wore frumpy clothes (In my defense, that’s not entirely fair considering that I was not allowed to wear anything other than frumpy), didn’t workout, didn’t eat, didn’t take showers, do your hair, wear make-up. You were an insolate person. When we went to my parent’s house you would curl up in a ball, read a magazine and not talk. If we met people in public you would put your head down and avoid them. It was hard to say, “This is my wife.”
If you want to know if a girl has been sexually abused, please read this paragraph again. These were screaming red flags that something bad happened to me. Unfortunately there was no way to make me talk, because of the fear and the cult environment I was raised in. I didn’t take care of myself because if I did, people would rebuke me for taking care of myself. I didn’t eat because I learned to ignore my hunger and not eat. I can still hear my mentor tell me I was a burden to my parents because they had to feed, clothe and house me. I contributed to our family’s poverty…by my mere existence. (This was said when I had Strep Throat and my parents had to pay for a 2nd and VERY expensive antibiotic since I’m allergic to Penicillin.) I grew up with no food at times, on food stamps. There was no money for luxuries like vegetables, expensive fruit, healthy meats. Healthcare was non-existent. I learned to survive in my environment and when I married my husband I didn’t know how to stop my survival techniques. I didn’t want to be a burden to him. I was intimidated by his parents and his sister and I never felt I was liked or belonged, so I shut down. It kept me from the pain of trying to figure out how to hold a conversation and the pain of rejection. When we met people in public I put my head down, because I knew he was embarrassed by me.
I was embarrassed by your screechiness.
I’m just loud. I’m loud and when I get excited or upset I get even louder. I used to squeal and scream and be quite childish in the beginning. I just let him own this. I didn’t do anything other than be myself.
You jumped around to fields of interest. You would never stick with one thing. You’d obsess over something, spend a lot of money and then drop it when you were bored and moved on to something else.
I don’t think this has anything to do with the abuse and everything to do with my upbringing and my ADD. I still have the urge to do this but I’m too tired.
There’s the friend thing. Whenever you get a new friend it changes the way you treated me.
I’ll see if I can explain. When I first met my friend Angie I desperately needed someone like her in my life. She became my life line. When I met her I wanted to go to see her. Not in an obsession way, but enough that I told the husband I was going to see her whether he liked it or not. One day we were at the beach and when she showed up I went over and sat next to her, I guess too close. So as we giggled and talked and enjoyed the sunshine, the husband sat there feeling like a third wheel. When he picked me up from a mutual friend’s house that night he was angry. He accused me of being a lesbian and I just about killed him. But in his mind, my time, my affection, my needs would be met by whoever my “new best friend” was. I didn’t give him any affection, attention or trust him. He was right. I was myself around my best friends. But the husband…others…I kept myself safe from them.
You would make unilateral decisions that were not family-oriented. Decisions that did not benefit us and would actually cause us harm. I couldn’t tell you no because you’d explode.
I still do this. I have this incessant need to have the ability to spend what I want, go where I want and do what I want when I’m in certain moods. It drives me crazy and I’m working hard with my therapist on fixing this. Also, I still explode. It’s my worst character trait.
You were careless with our resources. You’d spend money on stuff we didn’t need and it would never be used and you’d sell it.
I will spare you details, but I probably wasted about $100,000 over the course of our marriage. In all fairness, I bought junk, he bought houses. Mercifully we have both outgrown this phase and currently carry no debt other than our camper.
Sex. You didn’t enjoy it and grimaced.
I’m not going into details because we have an entire interview about this and I think it would be better shared later.
And then there’s your addiction to Erotica/Pornography
Let’s not rehash that shall we? I will share the process of getting that little addiction out of my life when I’m ready. For now, we have agreed this issue is only discussed with a therapist.
This is just a TIP of the iceberg of what he dealt with. He didn’t mention the emotional affair, the frequent suicide threats, the silent treatment or the fact that at one point our insurance threatened to drop me. He didn’t mention the times he sat up all night to be sure the entire bottle of medicine I took didn’t kill me. He didn’t mention the pressure he had to perform for his abusive boss while I told him that if he didn’t stay home I was leaving or I’d threaten to kill myself, depending upon which worked. He didn’t mention the hours he would worry that I would do something to hurt our kids. He didn’t mention the way he would feel I was getting better, he’d let his guard down and I’d hurt him. He didn’t mention how I would lie or manipulate or make him feel like he was the crazy one.
Not all my behaviors can be attributed to the sexual abuse. I also have also experienced spiritual, physical, emotional and mental abuse, neglect, trauma and distorted theological world-view. I have anxiety, depression and ADD. At one point my psychiatrist considered a personality disorder. I also probably have some undiagnosed PTSD. And some of this is just my personality.
If you are experiencing this, please know there is hope.
It’s not easy. It will require work. Both spouses need therapy. Changes must happen and expectations need to be dropped. A spouse may have to sacrifice plans, goals, dreams, hobbies, certain relationships in order to help a victim recover. In my case, we had to leave the church where we met. We had to accept our marriage for what it is and the limitations that it has. My husband had to become my protector and I had to let him be my protector. Our sexual relationship, although healthy, has limits. He knows that I love him and I know he loves me but he also knows that I will ask him at least once or twice a week if he loves me, why he loves and is he REALLY sure he loves me. And he’s learned to not be irritated and just keep reassuring me.
There is life after abuse. You can love a sexually abused girl traumatized by her past. You can love her and one day she will love you back. And it will be a love so fierce, so deep that you will never be the same.
Yes, my friends…there is always hope.