Living With An Addict – Part 3


Any of these statements sound familiar?

  • I thought he was my rescue.
  • When our child was born, my husband became sullen, neglectful and harsh.
  • I found a box of pornographic magazines hidden in the closet.
  • By the third drink, he was rude and mean with cruel sarcasm.
  • He really hurt me the other night.

There’s a verse in the Bible that states,

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it.    Proverbs 22:3

Often, we simply don’t see the danger.

We’ll continue the series on Living With an Addict by addressing some of the thoughts and feelings a spouse in that situation may experience. While based in part on my experiences, these struggles are common ones others have shared with me as well. When we finally see the circumstances as they truly are, we can take refuge.

Many women living with someone addicted to sex became enticed into the situation because of patterns already established in our lives. Most likely, we were violated in some way in earlier years. The fear of violation continues in these circumstances. Women in this position don’t feel safe; rather, we consistently sense an unexplained threat, a helpless state of being preyed upon. Rape is an attitude of the heart, not simply a physical exploit even though it is an act of one person’s will against another. Molestation and/or rape can occur within a marriage, within the thoughts or heart of a spouse, even without physical violence, though often physical abuse takes place as well. Any violation is just that, a violation. The fact that it is perpetrated by someone with the privilege of sharing sexual relations with us doesn’t make it any less of a rape. Force in any manner whether through verbal, mental, emotional manipulation or physical attack constitutes rape.

A spouse living in this setting does not feel safe, comfortable or protected.

Because of this manipulation, we are left feeling the obligation or duty to meet those sexual demands in order to alleviate the preyed upon threat. Perhaps if we can fulfill the expectations, we will not longer be a target. As Christians, we are told to submit and offer our bodies to our spouse. Very good and wise advice, unless it is within an abusive relationship. Jesus turned the other cheek to his accusers, but for those of us being used and abused that setting is like a drug to our addict. Often, we aren’t able to discern the difference between overlooking minor hurts or offenses caused by our spouse, and feeding a dangerous addiction by our obligation to make everything okay. Many times we are told that if we don’t do what our spouse demands, we are encouraging him to go to someone else who will.

All this lays a foundation for further abuse not freedom.

We begin to feel we must do whatever it takes to avoid conflict especially in the area of sex. So we compromise what we believe to be right, and we compromise who we are. We apologize for everything; we ask for nothing; we ignore our needs and any problems. Although we may think we are keeping the peace, we are an emotional time bomb ready to detonate. We fight for peace outside, but inside we feel tormented, suffocated.

We long to get away, but feel compelled to stay.

Deep inside, we sense that what we’re living in isn’t right or good. Our portrayal to the world, however, paints a different picture. If we confess our uneasiness with our life, we may be met with well-meaning platitudes that things will work out or something must be wrong with us to feel that way. Often, with the exception of our spouse, those who insist all is well do so because they haven’t seen the truth of what is happening. We’ve learned to minimize in order to survive so part of us believes them and thinks we must be crazy. When we don’t share the full truth, others aren’t able to help us, and we continue to internalize our pain, turmoil and exhaustion. Sometimes, even we don’t realize what things are normal or not.

After months of counseling with a pastor who saw the truth of my situation and who I trusted completely, I finally casually shared something in passing that deep down I had felt was wrong, but passed it off as my issue. When I told her, she was shocked and assured me that the circumstances I described were not normal or acceptable. I had grown oblivious after so many years of feeling the obligation to tolerate the behavior. How freeing it was for me when she spoke the truth about it. I was relieved and released.

The truth shall set you free…

Continued next week….

 

Where have you missed seeing danger? Have you felt tormented? Are there any areas where you have been freed by the truth?
 
For help or prayer feel free to send me a private message at laurabennet14@gmail.com
 
 

From Death Comes Life


I have a past.

Everything I’ve written so far on my blog relates to my present and my future; the amazing things God has done in rebuilding a life. He has restored what he originally intended for me, and I dwell in joy and gratefulness.

But once, my life held fear, despair and brokenness.

Nightmares from being molested by neighbor children as a five year old and raped as a young woman plagued me. Panic clutched at me in the night. An unseen force kept me silent and terrified. Betrayal in my first marriage, and the devastation of a second marriage to a man driven by fantasy crushed my hopes and dreams. Exhaustion and suicide were my constant companions. I felt lost and alone until a woman whose past had been redeemed by the Lord, grabbed my hand and held me steady.

When I filed for a divorce the second time, it was my only option—a last ditch effort to save all our lives, but I felt ashamed. Friends told me I needed more hope and faith that God could do miracles. My maturity in Christ was questioned when I decided not to “rise above” the choices of my husband and stay with him. My choice was about faith and maturity, but not the way most people were thinking. I embarked on a journey in which I had to let go of the past and my dreams, and cling to an intimate relationship with Jesus instead. I learned to live a life of faith as I trusted God to do the impossible; heal me and my children and give us a new life, an abundant one.

At first, I trusted no one.

As a Christian woman, I felt ashamed to have anyone find out that I had been divorced—twice! But we found a safe place within our church family where few people questioned me. We were loved and accepted right where we were. No one pressed me for details. No one judged.

After several years, I began to realize that there must be others who were suffering like I had. Perhaps they were standing in line near me at the grocery store or sitting next to me in church. I wondered if they felt lonely and misunderstood like I had? Were they afraid as I was? Did they wonder what people thought of them when they listed the various last names of their children or admitted they were separated or divorced? Did they cringe inside when well-intentioned people inquired about their husband? Did they want to hide? Were they wishing they could explain their situation so someone, anyone would understand, while at the same time wanting someone to understand without having to explain?

As the years went by, I became bolder in telling people about my past.

It began to dawn on me that silence was deadly, and Satan wanted things to remain hidden. His goal is to make us feel ashamed so we don’t feel we can come to God. He wants us to fear others’ opinions of us.

My story is not much different than thousands of women all over the world. Some have suffered far worse than I, and others may not even realize they are suffering. For years I didn’t understand my own entrapment—the perspectives that kept me stuck in a place of death rather than life.

I long to offer hope where there is none.

Perhaps by sharing the redemption of my life as well as the shattered pieces of my past, a ray of light will break through someone’s darkness. Maybe a lifeline can be grasped. Regardless of how you feel, you are not alone.

Are you someone who is crushed by your past or even your present? Do you know someone who is feeling stuck in their life? Can I help you?

Meeting Face to Face part 2


Writing last’s week post made me freshly aware of the importance of applying caution to meeting anyone in person. While humor abounds in the anecdotes of online dating encounters, and I have a fairy tale story, the possibility of real danger does exist. Therefore, I want to explore some sobering statistics and how the “red flags” I mentioned last time can help us.

According to the Department of Justice, 4 out of 5 women assaulted (specifically, raped) knew their attacker in some way. We tend to think of rape as being a violent act perpetrated by a psychotic stranger and therefore we may entertain a false sense of security thinking that if we know someone we must be safe. Given the anonymity of internet dating, it behooves us to take care as we communicate with strangers especially when deciding if, when and how we will meet them face to face.

As you’ve discovered, this post leans more to the sober side of internet dating. Concern for people’s potential distress has tempered my writing tonight with the importance of exercising wisdom and relying on God-given intuition. Hence, the deeper investigation of “red flags.”

What are they? Well, here is a list based on my own experiences as well as those of some good friends:

  • Receiving an email recounting the wonderful night you spent together when you haven’t even heard from the person in days or weeks(let alone gone out with them recently)—clue: they are seeing someone else and you might want to let them know that they need to keep their dates straight. While it is not a crime to date more than one person at a time, expect honesty and openness about your dating arrangement.
  • Someone talking about their sexual exploits whether past or current is TMI (too much information for you non-texters) and reveals the baggage they carry. Bragging, boasting or neediness exploits you.
  • Someone you are communicating with continuing to talk about a past relationship discloses their ongoing yearning, not for you, but for another—as my friend says “no one should be anesthesia for someone else’s problems.” That includes their lingering broken heart.
  • People who speak disrespectfully about the opposite sex—for example giving the message that “men(women) are stupid,” or saying things like “when I get him/her trained the way I want them” ; generally, using sexist remarks indicates a misconception of or a “hatred” for the opposite sex, or an insecurity with their own sexuality.
  • Anyone who is controlling. Control in women often manifests in manipulation (think guilt trips, whining, begging, veiled threats); in men it may be more along the lines of violence (raised voice, bullying tone, rough handling like hanging up, grabbing your hand or arm, slamming a door). If someone tells you that you had better think or act a certain way about an issue or about them, you might think twice about continuing the communication!
  • You should be free to pursue a relationship at a pace that is comfortable for you. When someone pressures you into ANYTHING including physical contact, their interest is for themselves not you. If they truly care about you, they will wait patiently for you to feel comfortable and safe with them and with the situation.
  • Beware of charm, and flattery. Mild two sided teasing or bantering can be enjoyable flirtation, but be cautious if the joking is pretentious or too personal.  Using words such as “hottie,” “babe,” or “sexy” is not appropriate, especially if you barely know the person.

Be safe, not sorry. The right relationship is worth waiting for and will feel right. Don’t ignore your intuitive sense that something is off, even if it seems like you can’t pinpoint it. The small nudges of discernment add up to a big payoff when they keep you protected.

If you have been the victim of a crime, including rape, you may find this site helpful: www.stopviolence.com

 

Next week look for….How Do I Know When it’s Real?