I remember a story my mom always used to tell me. She said,” Diana, how do you boil a frog?” I said, ” I don’t know.” She said, “A little at a time.”
You see when we put the frog in the water it was cold water. It wasn’t hot, no reason to jump out. That’s what an abusive relationship starts out as – a cold pot of water. Then, after a time, the abuser lights the stove. His behavior starts to change. This may be accentuated with alcohol or drugs. Then the water starts to boil, as his actions become more and more controlling. First he doesn’t want you to see your friends. Then he cuts you off from the family for some reason or another. Then he won’t let you work. Then he takes away the car, and the money. And the water is so hot by then you can’t even imagine getting out. So you don’t even try.
By this time, you are afraid when the sun goes down. You are constantly on edge trying to please “His Highness”. Anything to avoid a fight. Especially when you have small children. He says he wants the house clean and dinner ready by the time he gets home. So you do exactly as you are told. You tell yourself to “be the good wife” and not rock the boat. You pick up after the kids all day, have the house clean, and a great dinner – but then he doesn’t come home. Until after 2am. You pace around all night, scream at the kids because you are so angry, and finally get them to sleep. You try calling his phone – but he turns it off. So you wait. Your whole world revolves around what he does and how you can please him. He has become your God. You would do anything for him. As he walks all over you and squashes you like a bug.
Welcome to Abusive Relationship Training 101 This is not normal. This is not healthy. This is not a pattern you want to teach your children. Real love doesn’t look like this.
Here are some ideas on how to start to change YOUR MIND. What HE does is not the focus of this article.
We cannot control what the Abuser does,
but WE CAN CONTROL OUR REACTION TO IT!
- to honor or respect (someone or something) as a god
- to show respect and love for God or for a god especially by praying, having religious services, etc.
- to love or honor (someone or something) very much or too much
3 Ways to Stop Worshiping the Abuser:
1. Admit that you have put him on a pedestal
Yes, we did. We think we are trying to keep the peace, but in all reality there is no peace. A relationship like this thrives on chaos and confusion. The fights become more frequent and more intense as the relationship goes on. The first step in changing this picture is to stop worshiping the ground he walks on. He is not God.
This may be difficult as many victims have an idealized picture of what the relationship looks like. Victims tend to idolize the “honeymoon phase” and ignore the “big blow out” phase. We lie to ourselves. If we told ourselves the truth, then we would have to DO something. This was one of the hardest things for me. I knew how to live as the victim. If I stayed the victim, then in my mind, I always had someone to blame.
Taking back my thoughts was step one of my healing. I didn’t have to worship him. It was not my job to change him. He was not who I thought he was, and that was the truth. And I was not myself either.
2. Admit that even though he thinks he is GOD, he is not.
Another step to healing was to admit to myself that my thoughts could be different from his. And I didn’t have to prove them to anyone. I have my own thoughts and feelings. God gave them to ME when He made me. The Abuser was great at telling me how I should feel, what I should look like, what I should do. I gave my power away. I gave my thoughts and dreams away to him.
No more. I gave myself permission to think differently. Just because he said something, didn’t mean it was true. I gave myself permission to seek out my own truth, and ‘own’ my own feelings. And I didn’t even have to tell him. Talk about freedom!
One of the things I learned to say after years of therapy/spiritual counsel was, “I am sorry YOU feel that way.” That helped me divide my feelings from that of my abuser. It was liberating, it was awesome, and he hated it. Be prepared at this point for the fights to increase. Any sign of ‘unsubmission’ may irritate the abuser more. Be prepared to walk away. Have an action plan, and a safe house to go to at this stage.
3. Develop your own Spiritual Plan of Action and Worship
The last step that I did to de-throne the “king” was to develop healthy relationships with other people. I chose to go to therapy and seek Spiritual Counsel. I asked the abuser to go with me. He did for a time, until he got thrown out of the office! Yep, more than one counselor, and more than one time. Then we started to go to church. We would go together until we met with the Pastor. I have had 3 different Pastors from 3 different churches tell me that I needed to leave. That the abuser was not interested in change. I left the abuser 7 different times in 8 years. The last time was Oct 2004, and I haven’t gone back. My kids and I got out, and with the help of the local YWCA Shelter, we started our new life. I am not a frog, and neither are my children!
Now I am not a counselor, although I have been a patient. I am not a Pastor, although I have been a follower for many years now. Having other people in my life that taught me about who GOD really was opened my eyes to who I had been worshiping all these years – the abuser!