Twisted Love that Leads to Abuse
When an abuser says “I love you”, what he or she really means is “I want to suck the life out of you.” It took me a long time to come to this understanding.
It is especially harmful when a child is confused about what love is and what love is not. When a child does not know love but only manipulation, that child grows up into an adult who believes that “to love is to control”. It was natural for me to marry someone who made me feel bad about myself. I thought that was normal. Facing my past has been a challenge. And I am not the only one . . .
A friend of mine explained to me that, growing up, her mother would scream at her and belittle her but MADE SURE that they both always said, “I love you, dear” to each other every time they parted or hung up the phone. In the popular Disney movie “Tangled”, Rapunzel’s mother used her daughter on a regular basis to keep herself young, keeping Rapunzel isolated and afraid. After the emotional abuse was finished for the day, this dialogue was repeated:
“I love you, Rapunzel.”
“I love you more, Mother.”
“I love you most.”
Another woman recounts how her sister would buy her and her children expensive gifts whilst controlling all of them. This woman believed her sister loved her because of the gifts but experienced painful PAINFUL confusion over what love is because of the tirades and fits of rage she regularly experienced from her out-of-control-yet-controlling sister. Lundy Bancroft explains this phenomenon of the sinful heart well:
My (abuser) clients say to me, ‘No one else gets me upset like she does. I just go out of my head sometimes because I have such strong feelings for her. The things she does really hurt me, and nobody else can get under my skin like that.’ There are reasons not to accept the ‘love causes abuse’ excuse. First, many people reserve their best behavior and kindest treatment for their loved ones, including their partners. Should we accept the idea that these people feel love less strongly, or have less passion, than an abuser does? Nonsense. [Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft, pp 28-30]
This is a twisted, warped concept of love. It is usury wrapped in sugar. It is control with a crumb of goodness. It is the kiss of Judas . . . I am about to destroy you and I am doing it with a common display of affection. Of course, Jesus saw right through it. But, I wonder if Judas normally got away with that abusive behavior? Throwing people off balance with his “I love you’s!” whilst sentencing them to death?
Love is not control. Love gives ultimate freedom. Love and freedom are two strands of the same licorice, all twirled together in perfect goodness. Love does not give a bit while it hurts a lot. Love does not take, then take some more while offering a crumb of hope. Love is extravagant and healing in its generosity. It has been a challenge for me to grasp this. And even more of a challenge to teach this to my children. But, this is how Jesus is and how He behaved when He walked this earth. Never controlling; never twisted. On the contrary . . . offering freedom to the captives then and now.