My husband has reached a level of self-understanding that he has been able to acknowledge his passive-aggressive behavior.
And it’s great. Wonderful even. Hoo-rah.
But having my perceptions confirmed and validated of his covert abusive ways doesn’t eradicate that the sorrow of being on the receiving end of his passive-aggression for 17 years. The damage has been done.
Now what? I still am reeling in pain most days.
I also just realized how much spiritual abuse caused my current day problems, too, from being a Catholic married to a Protestant. There was a LOT of vicious pressure from both sides over how we were supposed to raise our daughters. And very little support from my husband who was not practicing his faith. From the moment I expressed my wish to baptize my infant children, the trouble began…not because I thought it was an idea I believed in, but out of sheer terror of NOT baptizing them.
Because when you are indoctrinated in the Catholic church to baptize dem babies just in case they die and they are banished to Purgatory (and NO, they did NOT tell me it was only temporary separation from God), you just do it, like a good little Catholic girl (who was frequently instructed to “Do as I say, not as I do” from good old mommy dearest).
I was looking for a good definition about spiritual abuse and came to this site:
The hurt and harm of spiritual abuse is rarely inflicted upon people with the intention to wound anyone. Most spiritual abuse is inflicted by Christians who are very sincere, who believe they are obeying the Bible in sharing Christ with others, and who often believe that they are being led by the Holy Spirit. Ronaldd Enroth writes in his book Churches that Abuse:
Do the abusers intend to inflict hurt? In most cases, probably not. They usually are unaware of what they are doing to people in the name of God. They may, in fact, be convinced that their behavior is what the Lord has mandated. What others interpret as control they may view as caring for the flock. They are usually so narcissistic or so focused on some great thing they are doing for God that they don’t notice the wounds they are inflicting on their followers.
Spiritual abuse has been defined as “a kind of abuse which damages the central core of who we are. It leaves us spiritually discouraged and emotionally cut off from the healing love of God.” Another definition of spiritual abuse is “the mistreatment of a person who is in need of help, support or greater spiritual empowerment, with the result of weakening, undermining, or decreasing that person’s spiritual empowerment.”
Yeah, ALL that. From my Catholic mother, sisters, and brother-in-law, to my Protestant mother-in-law, sister-in-law (who questioned me for 2 hours about why I would baptize my daughter when I never got married in the Catholic church – which was, by the way, because my non-practicing husband was against the idea).
I never really knew how much the Catholics hate the Protestants and how much the Protestants hate the Catholics until I had my kids. I thought they were both Christian – my mistake.
I’m currently agnostic. Kind of spiritually curious, but not drinking the kool-aid of any organized religion.
I am not depressed…exactly.
I hate getting up in the mornings.
I have daily headaches, daily heart-aches, daily soul-aches.
I spend countless hours reading, searching for cheap ways to heal my trauma because I can’t afford therapy. And even when I COULD afford therapy for a year and a half for my trauma, it really didn’t help much.
Probably because I know how to talk about my problems, without actually emotionally processing how I got here. I can objectively observe, critically analyze, and even crack jokes about what I have experienced, without actually having a healing experience.
It’s almost hysterically funny, what I’ve been through. Running with Scissors kind of funny, when I think about it.
I’m also tired of being broke, waiting for a miracle to happen with regards to our underemployment and inadequate insurance. I just paid $115 for topical antibiotic for my rosacea. But if I don’t…I get these nasty chalazions on my eyes that often need to be surgically removed, costing more time and money, not to mention it’s an outpatient procedure and they don’t knock you out…and it’s not something you can close your eyes for. They have to turn your eyelid inside out to get to some of them. Not fun.
I really struggle sometimes with the fact I gave up my medical genetics career, working with pediatric neurologists and geneticists at my favorite private university campus – I reached the zenith of my career at 31, and slowly but surely, my self-esteem had been challenged since I quit my job to raise my daughters. I get sad, sometimes I get pissed, but often just resigned, depending on if I am triggered by other troubles like how much I have to pay for medical costs not covered by our shitty self-paid insurance.
My youngest has asthma, and we are currently working to pay off the last emergency room visit.
I sometimes get vertigo when I think about what is not going right in our lives.
I used to manage a small private university hospital laboratory that ran clinical DNA tests for rare genetic diseases. I was good at it, and I was happy for the right amount of challenge and novelty (not to mention great health care benefits). I used to really enjoy learning in the case conferences with brilliant specialists, like the expert on developmental delays, brain malformations and autism, or the one pediatric doctor specializing in metabolic disorders who told us how a particular malfunction along the metabolic pathway was leading to a disease that would eventually lead to death, but a simple mineral supplementation saved that child.
I thought my job rocked.
I keep thinking of the book 10 Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives. And even though I hate Dr. Laura, and I think divorce solves nothing when you have children involved, I can’t stop thinking of the myriad ways I messed up my life in trying to cope with difficult circumstances.
But have I really messed up my life? I don’t know.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I genuinely like my husband, whenever I can forget what we’ve been through. But it’s tough, the past few years have been brutal.
This is all so wrong, to mourn over what I lost. So energy draining, so time-wasting, not to mention so painful.
Motherhood is rewarding in its own right. I’ve been blessed with beautiful and bright daughters. I’m happy to have them. I made a good choice, for them and for me at the time. I am just having a hard time with it right now. When every area of life is FUBAR.
I know all about the Special Challenges of Highly Intelligent Women Who are Moms.
I’ve put a lot into motherhood, especially since my middle daughter had selective mutism and occasionally we have done some really cool science experiments. And I’m grateful for the good times. But my kids are intense, like me.
But I’ve seriously got some burnout.
And vicarious trauma and compassionate fatigue, because a lot of the people I know both in real life (family members and husband and the few friends I have had), or online have shared their stories about trauma or bitter cynicism with me, and there’s a lot of very smart and disenfranchised people out there and I used to have the energy to lend an ear.
Here’s a delightful example of which I speak, an update written on a message board I used to frequent:
I only go out to get me a fresh appetite for being alone. The human race is truly despicable.
I bet he’s disappointed in his latest attempt to date that probably ended up in failure, as well as my inability to give him a response to his last email he sent me about the new gal in his life.
No, I don’t feel the human race is truly despicable. Deeply troubled? Yes. Frequently hurtful? Yes. But truly despicable? No. You can wrap yourself up in a blanket of bitter cynicism, but it doesn’t do any good.
And it makes me not want to be around people who are.
I feel less energy to even HAVE compassion for people who do that.
I’m trying hard not to be cynical myself. I try to avoid people that compound that feeling.
It takes all I can to not pull the trigger of my own weapon of choice. I would like to say to people “figure it out for your self, my friend. I want to help, but I can’t help others anymore. I can’t give you a good reason to keep on truckin’, when I know I struggle to find the reasons myself”.
I substitute teach less and less these days. Partly because for some reason they aren’t calling me as much and partly because it drains me to be in classrooms of kids that make me work so hard to get through the day. I come home with a hoarse voice and a lot of tension when the kids are just being kids – normally talkative or rambunctious on days with a substitute teacher. Then I have to deal with my daughters, the two younger of whom always want to attach to me like velcro most when I least want to be touched.
I’m still trying to process something a friend of mine wrote me, just yesterday when I told him I think I need to grieve some more, but I’m so tired of grieving and all I get is a grief hangover for days afterward. He replied…about his own experience:
It is my choice whether or not I grieve. I didn’t know that for a long time. I didn’t know 1) that there were reasons, motivations for doing the things that I did that brought me pain (or fed the lingering effects of prior pain), or 2) it wasn’t my ‘job’ to ‘help’ other people see their ‘failings’.
I didn’t know that, because of patterns established very early in my life, most of my pain was caused by me. There actually were reasons that I would lapse into apparent self-loathing and occasionally think about killing myself. I could see the stuff and people outside of me, but it was tough-to-impossible to see what was going on inside of me. I just didn’t have reliable mirrors.
I’ve looked for places where I could stand and holler the truth to the pitiful, suffering mass. Then one day, or slowly over the course of years’ worth of days, I realized 1) I couldn’t ‘fix’ them, didn’t have THEIR answers, 2) they didn’t care much for what I was hollering because they were caught up in their own pain, and 3) all that was/is okay.
And I realize how caught up in my own knots of pain I am. I know I got here by my own choices. But I’ve been in kind of a brain-lock right now with regards to what to do next. I used to be a woman of action. Do something, anything, even if it’s wrong. And yes, I see just where that got me. Here, where I’m:
Wasting gobs and gobs of time looking for answers to my very real problems. And finding few that last very long.
I’ve been stuck in awfulness, paralyzed by fear, held back by indecision, wallowing in a swamp of useless negative thinking.
In other words, hell on earth.
Last night, I seriously contemplated becoming an alcoholic last night over a couple of swigs of Devil’s Cut bourbon whiskey. (I was looking for wine. I couldn’t find any. I found DC in the back of the cabinet, mostly empty). And I thought, why not? What am I doing trying to cope with stuff on my own without a crutch? Everybody I have loved over-used or downright abused alcohol and it sure as hell beats putting a bullet in my head and destroying my children’s lives, so why not?
The fact is, I can’t become an alcoholic because I am too stubborn. I know how easy it would be to give in. So, I usually avoid even touching the stuff. Sometimes…I just do.
I woke up today, again determined to find a way out of hell since I can’t find to give anyone to give me the kind of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind kind of memory wipe I probably could use right now.
I just listened to a short video by Jack Kornfield at the National Institute for The Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine. I was really mesmerized.
I listened to his voice and his words about treating our pain with tenderness and compassion…and I cried. I would encourage you to go have a listen. I think they will have his free video clips with an email signup until Midnight tonight so check him out.
And I realized something.
There is a world of difference between reading words and hearing someone say them. I have no close friends in real life right now. I avoid my mother and sisters and my in-laws like the plague because they all suck right now. They don’t understand and offer no tender support. It’s better for me to limit contact with the guilt-inducers.
I decided to buy some audiobooks about healing since I’m really freaking tired of reading.
As we speak, I’m downloading Jack Kornfield’s Guided Meditations for Difficult Times and Tara Brach’s Emotional Healing MP3’s because I don’t know how else I’m going to get out of this mess I’m in. The nearest Zen Meditation center is so close, yet so annoyingly far on the other side of the big city.
I know all about the healing potential in using Mindfulness Practice. But really, it doesn’t help if you don’t do the work all the time. And you can’t do the work if you have those viral thoughts in your head that you feel it’s too late, it’s too hard, and you just don’t have the energy to care anymore.
So, since my brain won’t absorb any more information through my eyeballs and because my right eye has developed a tic and for a while both my eyeballs felt like they were going to explode right out of my head due to clogged sinuses, I need to switch input channels.
I finally broke down and bought me an iPod not too long ago to use MP3s of meditations and audiobooks. I can’t say I can really afford the luxury, but I can’t afford not to heal. I would screw up my daughters’ lives if I just bailed out on them now.
It’s certainly cheaper and easier to obtain than the Egg-beater (Trans-Cranial Magnetic Stimulation Device), though even that is looking more and more appealing the more my blogging friend talks about it.
We’ll see if there is a path out of this hell I’ve found myself in.