The relational cancer of abuse is not like the common cold
By an anon reader —
I wrote to you many months ago, shortly after leaving my N.A. (narcissistic abuser) husband. I was deeply troubled by the responses of several of my good, Christian friends who told me that they believed I was being abused but that I was not perfect, either, and I did act like a victim.
As I have now had several more months of experiences (with the N.A. and the friendships), and several more months to reflect on the 11 years of marriage and how so often I beat my head against a wall, wondering why these women who said they loved me as a sister seemed so nonchalant about my pain, I have come to yet another realization that I thought some other women might be able to relate to.
You see, it has become to apparent to me, that while I believe these women truly did love me to the best of their ability, and really do love the Lord, while I was describing the events of my daily life to them over the years, what I was describing was a daily norm and a terminal “cancer” of my marriage and my own spirit — but what they were hearing was situational; just another “cold” that would pass.
The advice I was given of course, was cold remedies; traditional “fixes” for common marital problems. It did me no good for my chronic illness that was progressing in it’s life-sucking skills, and it certainly was not responding to any kind of “treatment”. And the longer it went on, the weaker I got. Unlike a cold, where the longer it goes on, if you treat it with common cold remedies, you get closer to wellness, I was dying a slow death in my soul, and my friends kept waiting for me to stop feeling sorry for my “cold”.
I hope that you understand that in NO way am I trying to make light of cancer; I have actually watched several people close to me suffer through the process of the evilness of cancer, until death becomes wanted because it offers relief. I find it interesting that this is the point at which my analogy takes a turn.
In the real physical disease of cancer — I assume because we can see the weight loss, the ashen skin, the loss of life, the disheartened eyes, the struggle to breathe, the winces and moans of unbearable pain — we can’t wait for the struggle to be over and relief to come for that person. But in the relational “cancer” of living with an abuser, there seems to be very little concrete, visible evidence of the disease to others, and so when the person accepts the death and files the divorce papers, people sadly talk about “If you had only…”, or “God hates divorce.”
Would one ever say those words to the person who has wrestled with the physical disease of cancer, and is now on their deathbed welcoming freedom in eternity via death? No! So it saddens me that the most loving people, and the Church herself, are guilty of such things against those who have fought for their freedom from the relational cancer of abuse.