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Issue 16 - ©2002 by Kari West - Garden
Domestic violence and/or abuse is often
described as "the death of a soul." The broken bones and bruises
of physical assaults and the trauma of verbal attacks and
emotional manipulation are destabilizing. If you lived in
an abusive marriage, you know that the mind and heart remember
forever these violations. In this newsletter, we'll meet Joyce
in Illinois and Natalie in Maine who revisit the pain of past
relationships to share with us what they've learned about
Here's what is new
If you write poetry, the following may be
New Leaf Works is sponsoring an
annual poetry contest. The second annual Odes of March Poetry
Contest 2001 is now accepting entries. The contest is for
Christian poets only, offering a grand prize of $200 in cash
and numerous other cash and merchandise prizes. This is an
open competition. The deadline for entries is February 15,
2002. Information about the contest, rules, and entry forms
can be found at http://www.snowfaux.com/odes.htm.
Reflection by Joyce in Illinois
In the spring of 1977, I was a single 32-year-old mom raising
my son and nephew. I met a man who I thought was the answer
to a prayer. He took charge, fixed my car, did small repairs
around the house, flew kites with the boys. Within six months,
I married him. Quickly his trait of taking control became
less than admirable. However, this was my second marriage;
I was determined that it not fail, so I just tried harder.
And thus began a downward spiral of our relationship and
a cycle of my rewarding my husband for his sullen moods and
outrageous angry outbursts. I lived in constant fear of his
rejection. I often wonder now if it was because I had been
previously married and had the self image of being "used goods."
Since he had never been married and I was part of a package
plan that included two young boys, I'd make him happy;
he'd see! But when I reached a performance level acceptable
to him, he simply raised the bar. I kept hoping that one day
he would wake up and see what a treasure I truly was and begin
to treat me lovingly. And so I spent my life pleasing, or
at least, placating him. After 24 years, I moved out. In retrospect
I see that my husband was verbally abusive. Since leaving,
I discovered that:
- Verbal abuse is a form of violence and brainwashing; psychological
and emotional torture; mental anguish and emotional dependence.
It is not a form love. Verbal abuse is not "just the way
your partner is."
- Abuse is never warranted, deserved, or justified. You
do not cause the abuse; your partner does.
- You can never be good enough to end the abuse. You cannot
change the abuser; he must do that himself.
- Your partner is not your friend. He is not trying to help
you or teach you, nor does he have your best interest at
- If you feel like you are being attacked, you probably
You see, from my husband's viewpoint, I failed to live up
to his expectations and was deserving of punishment. Also,
I discovered that I have a self-imposed philosophy of "deservedness
and undeservedness." I can't help but wonder, Did that
exist before I married him? Did the bumps on his head fit
the holes in mine? I accepted as being "deserved" any
accusation that contained a grain of truth that was levied
against me. One of his most frequent complaints was my outside
involvements. In retrospect, that is exactly what kept me
in the relationship the last couple of years. The diversions
were all in an effort to avoid and escape the rip tide of
my husband's criticism, negativity, and anger.
I thought moving out would be the end of my misery. Not so.
Having spent more than half of my adult life weighing every
thought, decision, and action with my husband's approval in
mind was a habit not easily broken. I had allowed my spouse's
acceptance and approval determined my intrinsic worth; he
had defined me. Now I was coloring outside those lines, and
I panicked! I had much to learn, like:
- Crumbs of decent, caring, loving, normal behavior do not
make a feast. Acknowledge the famine and do something about
- Exposing yourself to long-term verbal abuse puts you in
jeopardy emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
- Self respect is like a muscle; the more you exercise it,
the stronger it becomes.
- You are worthy of respect from others.
- You cannot expect other people to treat you any better
than you treat yourself.
- The stronger and more independent you grow and the more
accepting of yourself you become, the more likely you will
choose to do what is in your best interest.
After six months, I am beginning to feel more comfortable.
But I can't help but wonder, am I really coloring over
those lines or are they just fading away? I am trusting
the Lord to guide me into wholeness and wellness. What I have
found is that my need to be loved overshadowed my need for
self-respect. The Lord is counseling me through not only Kari's
books, but through many other authors as well. To my amazement,
there is such a thing as "the disease to please" (described
in accuracy and detail in Harriet B. Braiker's book, The
Disease to Please). As a people-pleaser, I often felt
inadequate, disassociated from my feelings, not really sure
of my thoughts and definite had no idea of what I wanted for
myself. By removing myself from my husband's influence, the
Lord is beginning to change these faulty thought patterns.
I'm finding that there is no way that I can change myself;
I must cooperate with God when He shows me what to do.
For the promise stated in Jeremiah 29:11 to become reality,
I must choose to turn from the past and look forward to what
God wants to do for me and through me. It is not easy. I console
myself with the reality that the Israelites wandered for 40
years in the desert; it's only taken me 24! Sometimes I feel
like a trapeze artist who has to let go of one bar in order
to reach out and grab the next. I keep reminding myself that
Jesus is my safety net. God's approval frees me from seeking
the approval of others. He created me unique and special.
I still find myself longing for the illusion of a relationship
that existed only in my imagination. The truth and the reality
of my marriage was one of destruction and disease. I take
comfort knowing that I am not alone. Even though leaving the
old life and starting a new one is difficult, I am willing
myself to go through temporary discomfort. I am learning to
love myself, to be tender with myself, and to fill my days
with people who care and share. With God's help, I never again
will lose myself out of fear of being like. I am no longer
living under the influence of an unloving mate. My past cannot
control me. I deserve better. I want tenderness that doesn't
bite. I want love that doesn't hurt, as Marcia Grad writes
about in The Princess Who Believed in Fairy Tales:
"If you're in more pain more often than you are happy, it
isn't love." I want caring and sharing--and peace.
Personal Reflection by Natalie in Maine
After 17 years of marriage, my husband decided he wanted
out--again. He had reached that point before, but never like
this. He always felt that he never should have married me,
was forced into it by well-meaning friends and family; and
since I was a divorced person when we married, he felt the
marriage was not valid; that I was not really his wife but
someone else's. He said that I could not have a diamond ring
because I was not a real wife nor could I have a headboard
on my bed. Many times he used the passage in the Old Testament
about giving your wife a writ of divorce and putting her apart
from you if you find something unclean about her. The stories,
excuses, lies, and accusations went on for years, during which
time he slept separately from me, then slept with me; didn't
talk to me, then told me that it made him sick to eat with
me; refused to sit with me in church--all this while we were
in pastoral counseling. I was called names like "Bugs, Nats,
and Flies" and "Natty Too Tall," meaning if I were a real
woman, I would be shorter. It was also common for me to hear,
"Lead, follow, or get out of the way."
Finally one January, he announced that divorce was the only
answer for our problem, because we'd learned in counseling
that it's not the unpardonable sin. In fact, the counselor
asked my husband in front of me if he could have an intimate
relationship with some other woman since he could not with
me. He said that he thought so. I stopped going to counseling,
because I got real tired of being beat up every week. In March,
he filed for divorce; in April, moved out; by June, I learned
he had suffered abuse as a child and offered to help him work
through it to and to restore our marriage, but he declined;
and in July, a divorce was granted.
Through the grace of God, I kept the house. Today, there
are no creditors calling me nor any worry about whether my
husband will continue working. I have a wonderful job at a
Christian ministry. Chapter 13 in "When He Leaves" about verbal
abuse and emotional manipulation speak volumes to me. Although
I want to wake up and find it is all a bad dream, I'm thankful
to Noelle and Kari for showing those of us in the beginning
stages that there is a tomorrow and that we do have worth
apart from our former husbands.
Help for today by Kari
If an abusive relationship is part of your past, gift yourself
with grace. Instead of beating yourself up for what you did
not understand and could not control, look at it this way:
There are no mistakes, only lessons to be learned. Remember
that we don't always have the luxury to choose our response
when we are struggling for our sanity. Reacting to abuse,
we are one type of person--not necessarily who we truly are
at the core of our being. For survival's sake, we will say
and do things that we would never contemplate during normal
circumstances. Abusers know this. They are experts at shifting
the blame to unleash our guilt and shame so we focus on how
our behavior or response hurt them. No wonder we learn to
please and keep the peace.
Remember that the only one qualified to play God in your
life is God. And He loves you passionately. You are of great
worth. The psalmist wrote, "O, Lord, you have searched me
and known me" (Ps. 139:1). Chaqar, the Hebrew word
for "searched," is a mining term. It means to probe or examine
and carries the connotation of God digging through you deeply,
as for jewels. Don't squander the moment in front of you worrying
about what you cannot change, didn't do or understand. Release
your abuser to God, who judges rightly. He knows the truth
of what you've been through.
You have not converted
a man because you have silenced him.
by Carol in New York
Is It You, Lord?
Is it You, Lord, who covers me alone on my bed?
While I'm fighting the war, in my dreams, in
When the air turns from sticky to freezing,
And there is no one in sight, not even to hold.
Is it You, Lord, who has never left me alone
To fend for myself, to shiver and groan?
I wake up at daybreak, content and aware,
That someone has covered me; someone has cared.
Maybe you believe it and maybe you don't,
I just know comfort and mercy and love.
I wake up each morning, the covers are there.
Did I do it myself? If I did, I'm not aware.
Lord, You cover me daily with kindness and strength,
Why not with covers? You love me at length!
You protect me, and cherish me and cleanse me
Of Your love and protection, how can I begin?
You warm me and satisfy from deep down within.
Why not the whole man in meeting my needs,
To cover me kindly, from head to my feet?
Is it You, Lord? I think so, but even if not,
I know that You're watching and listening intently
I feel covered, and cared for, each day, and
Warmed by Your love, but what can I say?
I am eager to begin each and every new day!
"Is It You, Lord?"
©2001 by Carol, whose husband left her after 28 years of marriage
and four children
Poetic Reflection by Natalie in Maine
You took from me and would not give
And now I only want to live
Away from the shadow of your heart
Begin again, and now to start
To be, to feel
To find the real
To once again be who I am
Not a blank, a shell, a sham
Find again a meaningness
Not living in a hellish mess
Now to have the things I can
Like flowers, wind chimes, and the sand
To feel the warmth of newborn sun
To chase the waves that shoreward run
To climb the mountains, feel the sky
And let the days go linger by
To smell the morning, feel the dew
And no longer have memory of you.
©2000 by Natalie
A promise you can trust
Submitted by Joyce:
BEING CONFIDENT OF THIS: that he who
began a good work in you willcarry it on to comp
letion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Don't hesitate to write. I am here for you, however I can
encourage or help. Please feel free to share what helped you
through your divorce so others know they are not alone and
that they too can and will survive. E-mail by Clicking Here or write Kari West, Garden Glories Publications, P.
O. Box 11692, Pleasanton, CA 94588.