Trauma Response

I read a great quote the other day:

There have been times during this divorce process I have felt ashamed for my actions. Things I’ve done that were ways of coping.

One of the hardest things is that I have learnt to shut down. I have done things in order to escape the pain. I have isolated myself.

The truth is that right now I’m a bit of a mess. My counsellor asked me the other day to write down the times I stood up to my husband. I can count very few. Once was when he was going to hang himself (manipulation), and I told him that he could do it just not in the front yard where my kids could find him. He stopped threatening that for a long time. The next time was after he had smashed a door and I made him leave for two weeks. Another time was when he wanted a threesome with my friend and I refused and he wouldn’t speak to me, but I didn’t care. Lastly was probably when I left him.

It wasn’t that I didn’t try. It’s that it so often felt useless. He would bully or manipulate his way no matter what I said.

Since the separation it has been hard. Looking back on so many times I have given in for years to his suicide threats. I gave in for years to his control. The days on end he wouldn’t speak to me while I tried to ‘fix it’. Walking on eggshells so I don’t upset him. I slowly did get stronger and learnt to ignore the moods, but it didn’t hurt any less.

I was stuck. Trapped. In a country I wasn’t entitled to welfare, I was a SAHM and had no job and no financial support.

He would create a fight every time I went to a woman’s night. He would distance me from my friends. He even changed our phone number once so my Mum couldn’t call me. If he didn’t get sex he would create an argument until 4am until as a tired Mum of five kids I would finally relent. #coercedconsentisnoconsent . He would want anal sex, and every time we had sex (it was a lot) he would try to make it anal and I would constantly have to be redirecting him. I would wake in the night to him on top of me having sex with me. #unconciouspeoplecantgiveconsent ! He wanted a threesome with my friend and I said no, then one day woke up to already being in the middle of one #nomeansno

At the same time I was raising five kids. I was carrying the entire mental load of the family, while dealing with his constant mood fluctuations and demands. He wanted a servant, not a wife.

The problem is when you put up with things, they never change. You learn to live in the boiling pot until one day you are so defeated, so tired from fighting for your marriage, for your kids, for your own headspace that you break. And I broke. My breaking included having an emotional affair. I escaped into a world where someone was kind. Where they saw me. Where I was noticed.

The truth is, while it seemed this broke us up because I wanted someone else, the truth is that it broke us up because it finally gave me the strength to say enough.

But going through the divorce is really no different. I’m still carrying the mental load. I’m still backing down to ‘appease’ him. Because I want a harmonious family for my kids.

When he was here staying (he is living in a different state) I backed down and allowed him to sleep in my bed due to lack of room. I allowed him to cuddle me. I allowed him to massage me a couple of times – until I realised it wasn’t about me, but his own sexual gratification. I allowed him to kiss me even though I hated it – because I am always trying to keep the peace due to the repercussions being harder than putting up with something. When I woke up to him getting me off, I didn’t say anything even though I felt sick to my stomach – firstly at him for touching me while I was sleeping and secondly for my body betraying me and orgasming.

I’m still carrying the mental load of our kids. I’m still carrying the mental load of renovating so we can sell the house. On top of that I’m realising so many of his behaviours were abusive, and having to deal with the emotions I kept buried for years in order to ‘get through’.

After the separation I did quite well, until the other man pursued me to have an affair with him. To be fair I considered it, then rejected it. I am worth too much to be someone’s bit on the side. His wife is worth too much for him to cheat one her – as a side note, he still contacts me. I’m going to send my boys to see him this week to let him know they know and it ends now. But after that I was so devastated at the let down I escaped into smoking again. I escaped by spending almost every night at my neighbours – it was the one place I could go and watch tv, or listen to music and not think. My mind is tired. I’m tired. I also escape my sleeping. I believe I escaped in our marriage by overeating.

One thing I have realised in the last week is that I am so drained by carrying all of this. The guilt, the decision to end the relationship and the weight that holds, the house, the kids. I’m exhausted. I need help. Counselling has been great and also incredibly painful as it brings up so many emotions. Like why did I not stand up to him more? Why do I still always try to ‘keep the peace’. Why do I ‘shut down’?

But it’s time to stop escaping. It’s time to get this journey done and dusted. I’m having my kids over for dinner in a couple of days and I’m asking for their help. For them to step in where I am unable.

1. I want it clear there will be no reconciliation

2. I want them to understand where I am at

3. I want it clear when ex moves back in three weeks I will not visit them, but my door is always open

4. I want them to understand I won’t do ‘family’ birthdays.

5. I need them to help me finish the house.

6. I want my boys to go sort other married man out (non violently)

7. I need their help. I don’t just want it, but I need it. I’m scared of my future – of being homeless due to lack of housing. I’m scared of buying and making a mistake. I’m scared of being alone forever even though I know I’ll cope.

Trauma binds us. It traps us. I refuse to stay trapped in trauma or in a marriage that is abusive. I will move on from this. I will learn how not to shut down, escape, or freeze, or stand up for myself. Because I need to. I cannot become emotionally healthy without it.

The future has so much hope. By 2022 I want my life to be mine, I want to be on a journey where the trauma is healing, where I am not afraid, and where I have confidence and faith in my own decisions.

Healing

Healing can be a painful process. Sometimes you cut deep. Sometimes you are surprised by the truth you find when you search for it.

Healing means being brave enough to feel the emotions and strong enough to allow yourself time to process them. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. It is a journey. It’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to be honest with yourself. It’s ok to grieve, to cry, to be angry. It’s ok to feel defeated.

You only have to put one step in front of another. Take one moment at a time. Show yourself tenderness. Be kind to your soul. Keep walking. Trust God even when you can’t.

One day you will think you have healed, another day you won’t be able to see past your puffy eyes. But… healing will come and you will be changed…. a little lighter, a little more compassionate, a little more raw, open and kinder.

Embrace the season through your pain because your journey becomes your story.

Dear Christian Friend…

I value you, or I wouldn’t have shared my story with you. I love you because of your beautiful heart and love for God. I treasure you because you make me feel known by you. Or you did. Until now. Until I told you I left my husband.

I shared my story, I poured out my heart and you said you would pray for us. I knew you would, but please don’t pray for reconciliation. There will be none. My only prayer is this does not happen. I am scared of being forced back into a marriage of loneliness, control and where my soul dies every day.

I thought you knew me, but I find myself wondering. You send me words and yes I hear your beautiful heart for Gods best – but don’t you think that is what I have searched for? What I have strived for? The reason I have put so much energy and so many years into this marriage?

Do you think I have left him on a whim? Do you think I haven’t spent 25 years hoping God would truly be the foundation of our marriage? Do you think I haven’t used up 100% of my emotional, mental and spiritual energy?

Friend – I am exhausted. I have been bullied, disrespected, unloved, and made to feel invisible. I am giving by nature. Do you not think I have given all I have and more to this?

Dear Christian Friend – when you say you pray we get back together I hear you saying it’s ok for me to be treated badly. You are saying it’s ok for my health to suffer. You are saying it’s ok for me to be unloved. When you say God wants us back together, I hear it’s ok for me not to matter, and it’s ok to live a lie.

Why is that? Is it because if we stayed married it makes you feel better? Do you think it will make God love us more? Or does he love me less now? Does it make us better people because we ‘hung in there’. Do you believe that God can restore me as an individual or will I forever be a let down because I will be divorced?

I know you mean well, but dear friend, please do not heap more shame, guilt and failure upon me. I have put enough on myself. I do not need your judgements or your ‘Godly’ advice because my heart is broken that God was only talk and not action for the past 25 years in my marriage. Do you not think I want to honour God too? Why does it appear to bring more honour to God by living a lie, than it does by being honest?

Dear Christian Friend, I can acknowledge my own failings. I acknowledge I am not perfect and I have messed up more times than I can count. But right now, I stand in front of you a shell of the person God created me to be. I stand in front of you tired and worn down. I stand here without hope. I stand here needing your loving kindness, not your ideals.

So dear friend – please change your language. Please try a different way to communicate with me. Maybe say:

‘I know if must have taken a lot for you to get to this point. I am sure it has taken massive amounts of courage for you to make this call. My heart breaks for you. How can I be of most help to you? How can I pray for you?’

My friend, I love you. And right now I am sensitive and vulnerable. I need your support. I need you to show me that God still looks at me tenderly. I need your prayers. More than ever I need you to pray for healing and gentleness for me, my husband and my children.

My Dear Christian Friend…. I have been you. I know you mean well. But you are hurting me. You may not be able to walk a mile in my shoes, but please, please open your arms with gentleness and love. Please love with tenderness and compassion.

Your reaction is more important than you know.

Love me,

Your friend who is separated and searching for God in the shipwreck. ❤️