I never thought I’d be typing these words, but here I am…as hard and as humbling as it is.

For nearly 10 years, I’ve been in an abusive marriage.

It’s been physically abusive a handful of times, but mostly emotional.  And to be perfectly honest, I think in many ways, emotional abuse is harder to endure.  It’s almost as if you’re living under some cloud of confusion, always second guessing yourself while knowing deep down something isn’t quite right.  I began to feel worthless, lost, confused, and most of all, alone.  The church world doesn’t seem to talk/teach often about these topics – which doesn’t help.

As I took on shame (that wasn’t mine to carry), it slowly wrapped itself around me like a devious python.  Being a victim of his minimizing, blame-shifting, *incredibly skillful* manipulation, and blatant lying became my new normal.  Even as a writer, I couldn’t seem to find the words to describe what was happening to me, despite the warnings my body tried to send me—and there were many.   As I began to learn and grow through my own issues (still a lifelong process), I encountered a new level of self-worth.  In that self-worth, I realized I was being abused and that narcissism was at the root of it all.  For a week straight, I cried every time I used that ugly word.

Abuse. 

And narcissism?  It was so spot on, it cut through me like a knife every time I mustered up the strength to learn more about it.  I wondered how do these people behind all these books and videos know MY husband so well?  Have they been spying on us?  All those years, like clockwork, I came to his defense.  ALWAYS.  No matter how hard he worked to make me out to be the bad guy to others, I was consistently for him and our marriage.  But then…  my eyes opened and once I gathered all the facts, I realized I was standing in that place alone.  Where I wanted unity and openness in our marriage, he leaned toward division and deception.

The word narcissist is not a word to be loosely thrown around, by the way.  It’s not simply a self-centered person.  When you’re living with one, it’s debilitating, mentally crippling, and it’s downright scary at times.  Under it all, it’s DEMONIC.  The methods by which narcissists operate are extremely similar to Satan’s schemes when you look very closely at the behaviors.  (Satan is real and demons are too – whether or not some people believe in them).   Everything is connected to the spirit realm, and in these crazy times we are living in, it’s becoming more and more evident as biblical prophecy unfolds.  Even as a Christian, I’ve seen and experienced certain supernatural things these last few months that I honestly never thought I would witness.  Talk about having to put your faith into action.  That conversation is for a whole other time though.

Nevertheless, in our human selfishness, we can all exhibit narcissistic tendencies here and there …  but to this extent was just at a whole other level.  I felt like a child, who was always getting punished when I didn’t meet his standards for the perfect wife.  Time after time, I couldn’t “relax” until things were back to normal… until I realized our “normal” wasn’t healthy.  There was no empathy, or compassion.  It felt like pure dictatorship.

I have my own issues as well as many, many regrets concerning how I’ve handled some of these situations before I realized what was happening.  In fact, some of my controlling actions in the past could even be considered abusive as well.  Despite trying to protect my own heart from more wounds, I own it.  Consumed by pain and confusion, I lashed out (emotionally) pretty often.  Add my childhood abandonment and other issues on top of all that, and it was a recipe for disaster.  Wrong is WRONG and plenty of times, I was wrong.

Even still, those who know me well know I’m the first to admit and work on my flaws.  Whether it’s reading, talking to my counselor, praying extensively for my heart and mind (all the above), whatever—I’m all in.  In fact, all I used to see were my flaws, which is how I stayed for so long.  I’d excuse, forgive, and cover for him again and again because well, I wasn’t perfect either, you know.  I wallowed in my mess as I sat under the pressure and responsibility of single handedly holding our marriage up.  In my own dysfunction, I also failed to realize that the Lord was perfectly capable of fighting my battles.  Another issue of mine.

Sadly, the seat that should have been reserved for God in my heart, was occupied by my husband because my world revolved more around him.  Obsessive thoughts plagued me…why can’t he just love me like a husband should? What mood will he be in today?  How will he treat me?  Uh oh, he didn’t get enough sleep, watch out.  Is there anything he’s going to find a problem with around the house? What will he complain about today?  Why can’t he ever just be grateful?  Why does he always seem to have a motive behind things instead of just doing the right thing just to do it?  The list goes on.

Over and over and over again , everything was constantly centered around him as I tried to make sense of the “whys,” always trying to keep him content (which I later learned was an impossible task).  And unless you’re living in a situation like this, you couldn’t possibly begin to understand what it’s like.

I’m sure many of you are surprised, and some may even disagree with me posting this.  How dare I get so personal, and oh my gosh, on social media at that?  With all due respect, people should know by now (and even through my books), that I don’t mind being vulnerable … especially if it can help someone else.  Some may even call me stupid for staying so long.  That’s fine.  I used to be the type of woman who would tell her friends to leave a man if he so much as grabs her arm.

So how did I end up here?  To be perfectly honest, I’m not so sure.  Before I got to “this” point, I had to first be honest with myself, because I truly wasn’t.  My eyes were closed sometimes to issues that arose, and he worked overtime to make me feel like they were all my fault somehow.  I subconsciously believed it and chose to focus on the good in him.  The good, the good, the good… think about the good. Buy him a gift, cook him a special dinner, send him a nice text instead of bombarding him with more texts about my feelings, write sweet words in a card, go above and beyond for his birthdays...   Then it was, oh look, there! Is that a little sign that he’s changing?  Sadly, the good was a delusion that I desperately wanted to be reality.  To him, maybe it came across as all bad (which I can understand). I practically went crazy trying to get him to just “see” me. I was an emotional wreck, truly. I roared like a ferocious lion at times, even though I felt absolutely terrified to my core on the inside – my stomach in knots.  Knowing we needed to have a hard conversation that could potentially anger him, made me feel physically sick.  Every single time.

Like I said, I have a billion and one regrets and buckets of moments I wish I could take back.  I was my own hot mess before I even met him so again, by no means am I saying I never contributed to any of our problems.

For the record, God never condones any form of abuse.  It crushes Him even more than it hurts and confuses the victims. When it comes to marriage, His heart is for all wives to be cherished and valued by their husbands… to be loved as Christ loves the church.   My heart was dried up in the desert; I had to completely let go of the idea of being fully loved and treated gently by my husband.  Feeling emotionally secure and protected by him was never a thing.

Some of you have been around him and wouldn’t even believe some of the terribly disturbing stories I could share.  That’s completely fine.  God saw, HE knows, and His heart broke even more than mine as the cycle continued.  And in His Fatherly love and heart full of mercy and grace, His heart breaks not only for me, but for my husband too— over his extremely broken childhood that led to such a selfish, survivalist, and toxic way of relating to the world around him. He’s a good Dad (and our littles were not subject to the ugliest of situations), despite not scoring so high in the husband department.  Not to mention, his life is still filled with so much potential, too. The problem was, I let those things blind me.  I lived off of the little crumbs while he feasted off of the entire loaf of our marriage.  My heart aches so much right now.

Then there are those of you who have walked through this journey WITH me— literally moment by moment.  Some of you tried to explain things to me I wasn’t ready to see, but you sat and waited patiently. If you’re one of those people, I love you and am so immensely grateful for you. Thank you for holding my arms up in the moments when I simply couldn’t.  Thank you for drawing me back to reality and God’s truth when I allowed my circumstances to cloud my vision.

With all that said, this post right here, right now, is about having courage.  It’s about boldness and faith.  Even as my hands shake through typing this and my mind fills with “what ifs“, I will choose to trust God. I simply can’t hold it in anymore.

Writing this is also about welcoming prayers for the kids and me (as well as for James and all men who’ve experienced devastatingly traumatic childhoods.  Childhoods that have emotionally crippled them from being who God calls them to be behind closed doors.  Childhoods that set the stage for all kinds of open doors that lead to chaos and suffering.  However, God can still do the impossible in the lives of all men and women, so we must never stop praying).

My intention in sharing this is not to hurt my husband (despite what he may think, or however he might retaliate against me for this) but it’s to heal.  I may be his enemy, but he’s not mine.  I’ve prayed more prayers than he will ever know and I won’t stop now, or ever.  He’s my children’s father.  At the same time, I’m learning to have balance.  After all, it’s been about him this whole time, and I’m learning it’s okay to focus on myself and what I need for once.  Life is too short, and by clicking post, I’m essentially saying today, I choose not to live in fear another moment longer.

To any women out there who are currently in a similar situation, let this lead you to your moment of liberty too.  You are stronger than you realize, in Christ.  He adores you, my friend and His love is tender, selfless and unchanging.  It doesn’t come with conditions and even the greatest husband in the world can’t satisfy our hearts the way He can.

We must keep our eyes on Him no matter how big these waves get.

In all honesty, I have no clue what the future does or doesn’t hold, but I know Who holds the future and I know that He is 100% trustworthy.

Lastly, this post is about asking for help.  I could have chosen to stay in our house, but unfortunately it was becoming way too complicated.  So I decided to go, and I did. I left most of our belongings in our ‘shared’ home so the kids will still have some stability/familiarity during their time with him, but I am starting fresh in our new place.  We are in need of some major household appliances/items, so please keep an eye out for free and inexpensive things.  If you message me, I can share the list of needs we have to ask around for.  Plus, if you wouldn’t mind, please say a quick prayer over the list!  I know God will provide.

*Sigh*

Deep breaths…….I did it.

I have no happy signing off words, not this time.