|February 8, 2005
The last three and one-half years I have walked through
valleys and dark places that I never thought possible. My first bout of
severe depression began and certain weaknesses in my husband became
intensified under the stress.
My husband and I are quite similar in our weaknesses. We both struggle with
a strong desire to protect ourselves from being taken advantage of, and
with self-righteousness when being wronged. We both idolize intelligence
and competence. We both love to impress and hate to be thought of poorly.
But there is one huge difference between us. It took me so long to see it,
to believe it, yet now it is so clear: John s commitment to
self-preservation and self-promotion over his commitment to love his wife
and deal with reality. I realized that in the 15 years that I have known
him, I have never seen him contrite over something he has done wrong. He
can say that he is sorry, that something he did was wrong, as long as it
carries little weight or consequence. But in the significant situations and
crises of life, John will hide behind a lie or an excuse and will not admit
wrong. I do not know whether he is able.
I have come to the point where living with John has become emotionally and
mentally destructive. I believe that how he treats me has become abusive.
He judges me and plays god in my life. He places himself above me and
condemns me. He creates the standard by which I should live. If I do not, I
receive his critical and controlling efforts. He tells me that I am
difficult, that no one else could put up with [me], that anyone else would
have divorced [me] by now. He does not tell me what things lead him to such
conclusions, he just condemns me as unworthy.
I have spent too many years trying to convince John that I am OK. I thought
that I could change his mind about me without going all the way and
becoming exactly the person he wanted me to be (thankfully, I have too wild
of a spirit for that). I wanted his acceptance and it felt like a need.
I remember the day that I let it go. I let him go. I took my needs to God
and asked Him to protect me, to accept me, and to see me as beautiful. I
saw that Christ can meet my deepest needs and that I need nothing from
anyone else, including my husband. I desire John s love, greatly. But now
he is free to give it if he chooses. I can thrive without his approval. I
had placed way too much expectation on John. I had given way too much power
to him to control me, to determine my emotional health.
I believe that John s underlying anger toward the disappointing things in
life and toward me is escalating to rage. He has told me that he hates me,
spoken vile language to me, and openly disrespected and shamed me, and does
not believe that he has done anything wrong. He does not feel responsible
for his wrong choices; he sees the wrong in his actions as being a result
of what he was driven to by the wrong in others (usually me).
John can re-write history in such a way that I feel I am going mad. He
calmly and sweetly recounts an episode that reflects none of his
wrong-doing and exaggerates mine profoundly. I do not believe he is lying.
I believe he is somehow unable to see his wrong-doing and his mind
compensates by quickly constructing a reality that supports his beliefs.
Over the past several years I have seen this grow into monstrous
proportion. He has no idea what I am talking about when I plead with him to
tell the truth. He looks on me with disdain and has no compassion in his
heart whatsoever when he is in this mode of self-preservation.
After reflecting on many episodes in which I felt the terror of reality
confusion and wondered what could possibly be happening, I am finally
convinced that John has a serious problem. I have endured so much of this
that I feel emotionally battered and confused. Regardless, I feel that God
has kept my sanity and emotional health intact.
When things are going well, John functions wonderfully. He treats me
lovingly. When I fail or am unable to function well as a mother/wife, John
is not accepting, disgusted, demanding, and can be cruel. He sees
difficulties inasmuch as they affect him; from the first day of my
sickness, any time my depression has gotten bad, John has bemoaned his own
suffering due to mine. He is furious that this must disrupt our lives and
inconvenience him (put him in the role of helper to me). He despises
neediness. He compares me to other (healthy) mothers, pointing out how much
they can handle. He speaks of certain mothers these days being lazy and
spoiled compared to his mother and her time.
When John has hurt me, and I confront him, he is full of fury. He will
excuse ANY behavior and end up attacking me. He is desperate to make me
agree with him that he has done nothing wrong. One of the last situations
(in January 2005) that brought me to the point of seeing the extremity of
this situation had to do with a woman becoming attracted to John. I had
become concerned about his actions and attitude before she told him she was
attracted to him, and I believe that some of John's freedoms with women put
him at risk to encounter such a thing.
I listened to his story and offered understanding support. I swallowed the
humiliation I felt due to several people knowing about this before me,
because I knew he would be feeling raw and defensive. But then he
began to defend himself before no one but himself, saying that he had
handled the whole thing perfectly. That he had done nothing wrong. That she
must be unstable or troubled. Finally, lying in bed at night, I told him
that I felt some of his freedoms put him at risk (as I have told him in the
past), and that perhaps she had misunderstood his kindness and attention.
He became so irate with me, so hateful. He used terrible language, said
terrible things to me, and this became a situation in which he demanded
that I apologize for not trusting him. He also demanded that I admit that
he had done nothing wrong. This was a poignant moment for me to see how
unwilling he was to look at his own behavior. And I saw how he came after
me with such hatefulness for telling him my concern in a loving way. I saw
him as on the edge, as desperate. I told him that I felt he did nothing
wrong intentionally and that he handled the situation perfectly after he
discovered her attraction to him; this in no way diffused his need to
pursue me in anger for more agreement with him. I felt afraid of his
desperation and the anger that was directed at me.
I recall so many moments in the blackness of my depression where I felt
like I was hanging, gripping the edge of a pit over hell, and John walked
up to me. I thought he was going to offer me a hand at last; but instead,
he stepped on my fingers and looked at me with a strange smirk on his face
as I spiraled down. I would feel such a numb terror that I was living with
an enemy, someone who enjoyed hurting me, seeing me fall. I could not
process this emotionally or intellectually with the John I knew him to be,
so I withdrew in confusion and pain. I have cried out to many people, but
the situation is so confusing, so incomprehensible, that even I didn't t
have any idea what could be going on.
The state of my heart changed from fear and confusion to compassion and
love as the possibility of John actually being broken (spiritually or
mentally) took hold and grew. After years of my own confrontation of the
wrongness in how he treats me, and years of confronting him before various
counselors and a couple of friends, I have only seen him respond with
anger, resistance, and counter-attack. So, in my effort to obey the
instruction of God, I plan to bring this matter before my church in the
hope that John will submit to their rule and seek the healing his heart
I love John and I desire for him to be healed. I want to see his fear cast
out. He seems to be in bondage to the fear of exposure, of being wrong, of
failing, living so tightly and defensively that he seems to have no ability
to admit wrong.
I am only beginning this journey and I know the road ahead will be
disappointing, difficult, wretched, and lonely. I know that I may lose my
marriage. But at last I have a plan and I am moving forward in strength. I
am no longer sitting in confusion and despair. The truth has set me free
and I desperately pray that it will free John as well. It will take a
miracle. But, miracles happen!
Good luck to you! We're praying for your
miracle to happen! Dr. Irene