What Is Meant By Emotionally Devastated – Tracey Brill | July 5, 2023 | Stories of church and ministry leaders, mentors, supporters, and survivors
When I first met my husband, he made me feel different than anyone else. We spent most of our time studying the Bible or talking about what God was doing in our lives. I was a new believer and broke up with someone who didn’t share my faith; I was amazed that trust was present in every aspect of our time together.
What Is Meant By Emotionally Devastated
He loved, loved and cared for me. I remember what it was like to be the first relationship where I felt like I could be myself; I was accepted for who I really am, imperfections and all.
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It is true that sometimes I found his stories or jokes offensive – but I dismissed such cases because we were “of the same mind” in everything else. When I thought that his intentions were good, I began to notice things that were bothering me, and I understood what he had in mind. He was a believer longer than me, so I looked up to him and followed his example; I gave him the benefit of the doubt and agreed when he said I was too sensitive.
He would often look depressed when we were apart and complain that everything would be so much better when we were back together. I encouraged him by telling him that God would use our time apart to allow each of us to grow in our personal faith, but that never helped. He always focused on my presence. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have someone who cared so much about me and wanted to be near me so often. In fact, I now see clearly how my absence was blamed for his feelings, struggle, or lack of time in the word.
If you had ever asked me after marriage if I had an affair, I would have said no. I said my marriage was difficult because of “communication issues.”
A few days after returning from my honeymoon, I lost my way because my husband hadn’t spoken to me in a few days. He said he was fine but didn’t talk to me much. Within the first week of marriage I started praying to be a good wife thinking I had let him down. He who spoke and listened to me, is gone; It replaced a version that consistently retracted or ignored me.
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And so began a long journey in which I tried to do better, to change myself; I thought I was the problem because he was still talking to other people and acting like himself outside the house.
He started referring to his “sinful past”, blamed our marriage problems and said he was being punished for my past sins. I always disagree with his understanding of things; I thought he was smarter than that, and I believed him. If you didn’t ask for my help, why are you saying that?
In time, he stopped talking about God at home, but he was quick to share his knowledge of the Bible in the church or in small gatherings.
When our first child was born, things took a turn for the worse. Children are always my only concern. When he retired, we had to find another job to make ends meet, even though I was the main carer for the children. When I ask him to watch the kids while I go to work, he thinks it’s a “favor” and now I “owe” him. “
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I sought advice because I had heard from him over the years that my sinful timing was the cause of our marriage problems… and I was ready to fix it.
Although I found healing through counseling, nothing changed in our marriage – again it felt like a failure on my part. A few years later, we went to couples counseling… an effort inspired by my discovery of his porn use.
In therapy we were told we needed more dates and sex, and that I needed to love and respect him. Again I felt like the counselors were confirming that he had turned to porn and alcohol because of the pressure of being a provider and that he didn’t feel loved enough. Everything pointed to me that I was responsible for his actions and behavior: a constant reminder of my failings as a wife.
I felt like a terrible wife, so I tried harder! I read every marriage book and Bible study on being a good wife; I put more of my needs aside to serve him, I asked less and less of him… and yet everything went bad. The more I praised, admired and respected him, the more dissatisfied he became.
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Fast forward several years: his drinking increased and his withdrawal symptoms worsened. I stopped bringing up things that bothered me; I had no voice and tried to accept it… but I knew I couldn’t hold it in my heart forever. I spent weeks writing my worries down in a short letter, praying that he would take them well, that he would see that I cared, and that he would be willing to work on things. His answer also came in writing, and the guilt and anger was palpable as they spoke. I could not delude myself into thinking that I had misunderstood him or interpreted the meaning of his words. The scales fell from my eyes and I saw clearly what I had been fighting for all these years.
I immediately contacted my previous advisor. She read the letter, but this time – because of her recent collaboration with Called to Peace Ministries (CTPM) – she saw it from a new perspective. She told me her concerns about what she had read; Sitting with her and finally having someone validate what I had been experiencing for years was the beginning of the renewal of my soul.
I contacted CTPM, along with their support groups, and read Joy Forrest’s Called to Peace: A Survivor’s Guide to Finding Peace and Healing After Domestic Violence, twice. Having a group of women who understood it was life giving. I am so grateful for the friendship and support I have received through CTPM. Joy’s workbook helped me slowly change my thoughts to the truth of God’s Word and eliminate the lies my husband believed.
After escaping to safety, I had to find a full-time job, but my biggest concern was the lack of a vehicle. I will never forget the call from CTPM saying they got the car as a gift and I should get it. I picked up this car the night before I started my new job, and it’s still a great reminder that God sees me and cares about me.
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As I recovered, I began to understand the damaging effects of constantly living on eggshells in my own home and the effects it had on my soul and spirit.
If someone you swore to love, nurture and protect turns against you – exploiting their insecurities and self-pity for their own selfish gain – that’s a real betrayal. Instead of getting love, you get blame, ridicule and contempt – or worse. As your life goes unnoticed; You feel like you are slowly being erased as a person.
At the same time, everyone around you thinks that you lead a normal married life and they get the same support and confidence that they get from their spouse. You scream – but quietly, internally, only to yourself; Hoping that somehow someone will listen, that someone will finally see the nightmare that your life has become.
I want others to understand how devastating emotional and spiritual abuse can be. I prayed many times that he would hit me or leave me because at least then other people would see that something was wrong and I would get the help I needed… instead of a long to-do list from church counselors.
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I am grateful for the work of healing and salvation that God pours into my life through the ministry called to peace and the peace I have found.
My advice to other abusive women: For women in “difficult marriages”: You’ve read all the books, tried to work through the issues, communicated well…but all nothing still feels stuck. If this describes your situation, contact the Ministry of Peace and speak to someone called. If it’s a common problem, they’ll help you identify it and suggest solutions. But you can decide that this is not normal… and if so, you will eventually get the support and help you need. They will see, hear and understand you. Remember you are not alone. Older versions of your web browser are no longer supported to ensure the security of user data. Download to the latest version.
Shopping lists, school notes or poems – 118-page spiral notebook with lines