a list of words

through a fence

Negative things Kurt said to me

You are too emotional
You are too sensitive
You shouldn’t be so sensitive about the things I say (I’m being funny and you should know that)
You are the Queen of Assumption
You aren’t very tactful, you say insensitive things to me
You are not soft and sweet
You nap too much
You are too busy
You don’t take enough walks with me
You are a selfish bitch
You aren’t feminine
You ar not a team player
You are headstrong and independent
You are too lenient with the boys
You coddle the boys
You need to be more tender and nurturing with the boys
You need to be a hard-ass with those boys
You get too engaged in debates with the boys
You should make money, get a job, other women do it, why can’t you?
You care more about the boys than about me
You are not submissive like a proper Christian wife
I talk to my sons like a man talks, it’s none of your business
Your feelings are incorrect, you have too many feelings
You are kicking me in the nuts
You do not respect me
You don’t trust me
You take life too seriously
You are manic-depressive
You are too “heavy”, you need to keep things light
You push all my buttons on purpose
You have the life of Riley
Your forehead is wrinkled
You make me get angry
This pain in my chest is from the stress you cause me
You are not my soulmate
You are not easy
You laugh too loud, it’s weird
You are abrasive
You are too opinionated
You don’t need me, you’re too strong

Messages that I internalized

I’m not loveable
I can’t trust someone to stay, be committed
I can’t trust love
I have to behave a certain way to keep someone around
I shouldn’t have strong opinions, it’s not attractive
I’m not okay the way I am
Being strong and capable is not feminine

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born as a human being

nativity ornament

Jesus came as a helpless baby. He arrived in squalor and poverty, but within a family that sacrificially and faithfully chose love and obedience. His companions and associates emerged from the common masses of a Roman-occupied territory that was regarded with contempt. He showed love and compassion to the crippled, the anathema, the beggar, the thief, the immoral and the greedy.

Do you know who he showed contempt for? The prideful, the arrogant, the elitist… those who, in their own self-sufficiency, did not recognize him or their need for him.

He healed a man, blind and mute, possessed by demons. He spoke gently to and forgave the sins of a woman caught in adultery. He brought an extortioner into his closest circle, his own disciples. He associated with those who were immoral and dishonest. Yet the men who held to the strictest moral and religious laws, those he called a “brood of vipers” and hypocrites.


A couple of years ago, my former husband and I were making a last-ditch effort to salvage our marriage. I was already out the door, sleeping in a camping trailer in our driveway, but he “didn’t want me to leave.” We were seeing a counselor.* He asked me to make a list of 20 things Kurt could do to make me feel loved. I thought this list was ridiculous, but I worked on it…

1. don’t ridicule me, belittle me or call me names
2. hug your sons at least once a day
3. find at least one of my weaknesses endearing, not something to criticize
4. don’t ask me to engage in anal sex
5. i feel cared for when you pay attention to what is important to me
6. be more merciful and less judgemental/critical when i/boys don’t meet your standards
7. don’t yell or put others down
8. give gifts of service and take care of our house more
9. i appreciate that you’ve been accepting my less-than-usual cooking and cleaning lately since i’ve been in school
10. accept more responsibility for keeping your family cared for, protected, loved
11. don’t kick the dog
12. talk pleasantly to our children
13. go away
14. don’t disrespect me
15. have the same standard for yourself as others
16. fuck yourself
17. listen… pay attention
18. take care of the yard, vehicle, roof, etc.
19. go away
20. stay away

In my eyes, in my heart, this man who I married in love, had never genuinely expressed the love and acceptance I dreamed of, longed for. Very quickly the relationship became some sort of bad dream in which he treated me with a disrespect that I never witnessed while we were dating. There was a sense of control and ownership. An element of male privilege. An air of superiority and demand. It wasn’t a mutual love and affection, reciprocal need and nurturing, vulnerability and trust. It was manipulative and domineering. Arrogant. PRIDEFUL.


What we see in Jesus, the one who came to us in abject humility, who lived with us in such acceptance, who wooed us with unconditional love, is the unspeakable beauty of grace. Grace in all its amazing perfection. Grace does not deny truth or sin, but embraces it and corrects it with tenderness. Grace can only come from a position of absolute authority, but never condescends or belittles. Grace raises us. It opens our eyes to our best and encourages us to reach further.  Grace shines the light on our filth and washes us with mercy. Our response is not scripted or compelled, but a genuine abandon. When we experience such unutterable favor in the arms of God, we have nothing but joy.

My husband’s lack of acceptance, his arrogance, his pride, destroyed us. Please take notes.

Jesus shows us how to lead. How to live. How to love.


You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.

Though he was God,

he did not think of equality with God

as something to cling to.

Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;

he took the humble position of a slave

and was born as a human being.

When he appeared in human form,

he humbled himself in obedience to God

and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

~ Phillippians 2:5-8


* My advice is that a couple with an abusive spouse NEVER EVER go to couple’s therapy or counseling. It is extremely toxic for the victim. Our counselor should have known better.

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.

i want out.

inkidaho

In January of 2004 I packed up the car and took me and both of our boys to my parents’ house. We stayed for over a month. This was not the first time I left, but it was the longest to date. I was homesick and missed my friends and the boys missed their friends. Kurt promised that he had realized that I was serious, that we needed to go to counseling. We went back in February.

Nothing changed.

That summer I wrote in my diary…

7-13-04

I have gone through so much and tried so hard to change my attitude toward him over the last 7 months. I came home in February, with what I am sure was the understanding that we were going to go to counseling and that we would really be working on correcting the things that are SO dysfunctional in this family.

Fuck you, Kurt, I just don’t fucking believe anything you tell me anymore… you want everything on your own terms, you have NO idea how to deal with a wife, and I don’t get the feeling AT ALL THAT YOU CARE TO SPEND ANY TIME OR EFFORT WORKING ON GIVING UP YOUR OWN SELFISH, IDIOT WAYS.  I WISH I COULD LEAVE YOU!!!!  I WISH I COULD LEAVE YOU. I WISH I COULD LEAVE YOU. I DON’T LIKE YOU! I DON’T LIKE THE WAY YOU TREAT ME!

I want out.

I’m so angry and heart broken that you make everything SO screwed up.

You don’t know how to love.

I want out.

I want out.

I want out.