To Fish or Cut Bait? The Ambivalence in Leaving an Abuser — by Ellie
One of our readers, Ellie, submitted the following article. Thanks very much to her for writing for us all about the common dilemma – should I stay, or should I go?
2 Chronicles 25:5 Then Amaziah assembled the men of Judah and set them by fathers’ houses under commanders of thousands and of hundreds for all Judah and Benjamin. He mustered those twenty years old and upward, and found that they were 300,000 choice men, fit for war, able to handle spear and shield. He hired also 100,000 mighty men of valor from Israel for 100 talents of silver. But a man of God came to him and said, “O king, do not let the army of Israel go with you, for the Lord is not with Israel, with all these Ephraimites. But go, act, be strong for the battle. Why should you suppose that God will cast you down before the enemy? For God has power to help or to cast down.” And Amaziah said to the man of God, “But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?” The man of God answered, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this.”
I put 20 years into this marriage. It wasn’t all bad. I learned so much. I figured so many things out. I know how to have fun with this man. I know what makes him smile, laugh, sing, what makes him relax – well mostly anyway. I see something funny and I think of how much he’d like it too. And I want to share it with him. 20 years. 20 YEARS! I know his voice, his smell, his favorite foods, what size clothes he wears. 20 years. I don’t hate him. I don’t call him names or wish bad things would happen to him. I know that he is deceived – and that he likes it that way. I know that I’m not safe with him. And so I left.
Twenty years. That’s a long time, a big investment. Twenty years of hoping he’d change. Twenty years of hoping that this Sunday the sermon would reach him. Twenty years of living in fear. Twenty years of trying to read his mind like this:
Equilibrium for Narcissists is a state of fusion with others who have something they need. Whether the Narcissist deliberately sets out to undermine your autonomy or just ignores your separate existence, that predisposition to fusion means that you will not only be expected to do what the Narcissist wants but to also know what that is [Husband jokingly referred to this as “mind meld”], to want it yourself, and – this is important – to be able to produce it. It is as if you must live inside the Narcissist’s head, share her thoughts and feelings, and be able to perform things that even she isn’t able to do. Anything else is an affront to her Narcissistic sense of entitlement and need for perfect mirroring.
(From Why is it Always About You? Sandy Hotchkiss, p 142)
And being threatened or worse, or berated or both if I failed to read his mind.
This is very hard. It’s hard to cut bait, to feel like I’m losing that 20 year investment, that hope that he’d surrender to God and I could get my best friend back. So hard. So sad.
But I heard that passage in 2 Chronicles the other day. And this part really stood out to me “But what shall we do about the hundred talents that I have given to the army of Israel?” The man of God answered, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this.” Oh I needed that. And I have clung to that. “But what shall I do about the 20 years I’ve given to this marriage?”… “The LORD is able to give me much more than this.”
But what if, today i don’t want it? What if what I want today is my best friend, that wonderful man I thought he was? I’ve marked the landmines (so I’d like to think). I could do this. Right? Nope. Not right. He never was that man. He never was surrendered to God. And I didn’t mark the landmines. I made him comfortable in his filth. And I almost got myself killed in the process.
The LORD is able to give me much more than this. I can’t imagine it today. But I can trust Him. And I will.