angry becomes empty

branches

I’ve been thinking about how I used to feel around my former husband. Since we are focusing on anger in my divorce recovery group, I am looking at anger in my life. I’m not often angry anymore. Someone treating me unjustly… that’s what makes me angry. Makes anyone angry because it’s not right. That’s what anger is. A signal that something is not right. And the best response is to speak to the person about their behavior and what you are willing to accept. A respectful person would listen to that and respond by adjusting their behavior or letting you know that they are not willing to adapt for you. Then you choose whether to remain around that behavior or not.

But I was married to someone who did not believe it was his responsibility to adapt his behavior. And he did not respond politely, but with either arrogance or hostility. At the same time, he believed, that as his wife, I was not entitled to decide to not accept or endure whatever behavior he chose to dish out. It was my place to deal with it and actually embrace it.

He worked diligently at retraining me, stubborn as I was, to believe that his male priviledge included the authority to dictate what I should or should not think, how I should feel, and to accept his decisions whole-heartedly without question. It was his conviction that as head of our family, his beliefs and opinions were the default truth and were not to be challenged or questioned.

I remember one instance of this idiocy when my oldest son was in high school. He had a black argyle sweater that had purple diamonds. Kurt was of the opinion that straight boys do not wear purple. I thought that was downright stupid. I didn’t express my thought, but he did know that I had helped chose and purchase this sweater. Kurt whispered to me that I needed to back him up on this, that it was really important. He proceeded to tell both boys how purple is a color, like pink, that only girls and gay boys wear and that if they ever wore those colors, it was a declaration to the world of their sexual preference for males. He then turned to me for my confirmation of this fact. What did I do? What would you do? Do you know what the consequences for having or expressing anything other than complete and unequivocal agreement would have been? Do you think this made me feel kind of angry?

As a general contractor, he was responsible for finding his next job. He often would have the opportunity to bid several jobs, and if awarded, could schedule them several months out. But he also like to have time off. So, frequently, he would take several months off in the winter. He spent a great deal of that time, while I was home schooling the boys, sitting on his computer, surfing the internet. The boys, who were of junior high age, still had very limited use of any computer or electronic device. My youngest son had saved up enough money to buy himself, with our permission, an iPod touch. This is not a phone or anything with internet capability, just music. Kurt resented that thing like Satan. He would restrict our son’s time using it, take it away as a disciplinary measure, and he also opposed their use of the computer that we had gotten for them. It had all the parental controls on it, but Kurt just couldn’t abide any leisure time they spent on it. He was constantly taking the monitor away so they had no access to it. Okay, so, in my mind, if you are going to set down such standards for your children, then you should set the example and limit your own leisure time on your computer. Nope. Hours and hours he would sit there watching YouTube and Wimp and useless stuff. He actually even told them not to use him as an example. So I’m just really not respecting this leadership. I’m biting my tongue, but inside I’m feeling pretty angry.

So, if you are spending years and years of your life with this internal anger, how do you cope? It will eat your insides up. You can keep giving it over to God to take care of the mess, the injustice, but when it goes on and on and on… you start to give up. There’s no hope of it getting better. I did keep reaching out to other people, but nothing ever changed, so I just had to let a lot of my convictions go. I chose to accept behavior that I found unacceptable in order to maintain peace. And when you do that over and over and over, you begin to lose your sense of who you are and what you believe. It is a kind of numbing and brainwashing. I felt empty.

But there remained a voice inside that insisted on being heard. It kept prodding me, “Not right… this is not right. ” And I whispered back, “Go away”, but I could still hear it. And, feeling a stinging need to do something about this voice, I sought counseling.

January 2006

Talked to Lupe tonight. Lord, you seem to be confirming through her that this is not what a marriage is. It is not what you want for us. How can I save this marriage? What can I do? I can’t bear this. I don’t want to chose divorce. Lupe said, “Divorce starts in the heart.” I need to think about that.

Lupe asked, “Are YOU the one responsible for making the marriage work?”

I do not feel like one flesh. Isn’t that what marriage is?

I feel betrayed

despised

unloved

manipulated

abused

emotionally molested

My friend said “reign of terror” about her chidhood abuse.

Is that where I leave my children by doing nothing?

Lord Jesus, convict me, if not for myself, of what is happening for my sons. Show me in your perfect truth where they are in this. What is this like for them? What do they need?

Strengthen me and show them your love through me. My love is insufficient and pathetic.

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