Dear Junior High Self,
I wish I could tell you that your life will be easy. That whatever you touch will turn to gold and you always win first place. But that is not the case. You will lead an incredible life. Filled with adventure, beauty, friendship and joy. But there will also be heartache, disappointment and pain. In fact, there will be a chapter in your life that you will call your Season of Captivity. But do not fear. It will not last forever. And the beautiful story that comes from it, will make everything you went through worthwhile. For a moment you will think that you have ruined your life. But take heart, little one. God has a plan of redemption.
Love, Love, Love
Your Future Self
About 6 months into my marriage, I thought I was crazy.
Like batdoodoo kind. But I had heard that marriage was hard. So I thought, Huh, this must be what they were talking about. Or maybe it’s the birth control.
It wasn’t until 4.5 years later when my mother suggested perhaps I should Google emotional abuse that I finally understood what had been happening the past 5 years of my life. Now my mother is a very wise woman when it comes to handling her headstrong daughter. She didn’t come at me head on. She just made a comment that I brushed off in the car with a, “No, I just need this new job to work out,” but the seed had been planted.
Later that I day, hidden away, I searched Emotional Abuse. And I came across a website that saved my life.
And the name caught my eye immediately because if you have ever been in an emotionally abusive relationship, you think you is crazy. Because you feel crazy. And you are told you are crazy. over and over.
So I clicked on the link. And as the words started to slowly fill the screen, the tears began to pour down my face. Soaking my lap and the computer. Because someone else was telling my story. And for the first time in five years, I no longer felt alone.
This is what it said.
This website is wholly,
compassionately dedicated to the women
who have fought to love and understand,
in total solitude,
the men that rage at them,
call them names,
criticize their mistakes,
joke about their insecurities,
mock their interests,
trivialize their pain,
yell at them
suddenly threaten them with their deepest fears,
then tell them they deserve it.
Then to top it off, he steadfastly denies it all as he masterfully charms everyone he meets just like he did to her when they first met.
If you are one of these women, welcome to your tribe.
We believe you and the struggle and pain is very real. You are no longer alone and you are not crazy.
By this point, my entire body was wracking with sobs. I could not see the screen through my tears. And the snot. Ugly cry style. As 5 years of confusion, pain and self-loathing came pouring out.
I clicked on the next page and read:
You are not crazy if you believe he loves you, he just doesn’t like you.
You are not crazy if you struggle to modify your behavior or needs so he’ll treat you the way he treats everyone else.
You are not crazy if you feel confused and inadequate to repair what’s broken in your relationship, but you keep trying.
You are not crazy if you seem to recall things in a totally opposite way then he does.
At this point, my heart feels as if someone has cracked it open and light is pouring in. I’m still crying. But it’s not sad tears. It’s tears of relief. Of aching. Of longing. Because as I read these sentences, it is as if someone has captured my journey these past five years. And the darkness is encountering light. It is both beautiful and painful.
So I click another page. And read a little more. There is a chart that compares abusive relationships to healthy ones.
Competition vs Partnership.
Control and Power Struggles vs Intimacy and Shared Joy.
Contempt vs Validation.
Manipulation vs Mutual Cooperation.
The list goes on. And the definitions hit home. There are finally words to go with what I have been living. I think that is the hardest part about identifying abuse. You don’t have the vocabulary to put what you are feeling in words. Nothing in my life had prepared me for what I was going through so I didn’t even know how to put what was happening into words. Other than, I think I’m crazy.
Wow. Going back to this site 7 years later still gets me. Not in the same way because Praise God, I have been set free and he has healed me. But my heart still breaks for the girl I was back then. I felt so trapped and that life had become so hopeless. The reason my mom suggested that I Google emotional abuse in the first place is because I had started joking about running away. And like any good mama bear, she asked me what I meant. Because if someone mentions suicide, you are supposed to ask them what they mean. I wasn’t ready to kill myself. I was just gonna get in my car and never look back.
Only those who have lived my story or are living it, can relate to what they are reading. And you need to know, You are Not Crazy and you are not alone. There is hope. And there is healing.
It can be a spouse, a parent, a boyfriend, a boss.
A co-worker, a sister, a girlfriend or someone in ministry.
Emotional abuse is real. And really hard to define. It would be so much easier if the person would just punch you in the face. Then you would at least have something to point to. It’s the million little invisible punches that take their toll on your soul when you are in an emotionally abusive relationship with someone. It is a slow process. And it starts small. Where you leave a conversation. Shaking your head. Thinking, What just happened?
Because at it’s root, abuse is about power. Someone doesn’t feel powerful so they exert power over you. And there will never be connection. Because that’s not their goal.
Power can come by keeping you off tilt so that you never quite feel safe.
Withholding what they know you need, like a hug. Or key information for a presentation.
Disguised jokes where you know you are the target but everyone else is laughing. And if you try to bring it up, “You have no sense of humor,” or “You can’t take a joke.”
Discounting happens when you bring something up and they pretend it didn’t happen. Nothing makes you feel more crazy than someone denying what you know to be true.
Countering in another method of holding power over someone. You try to bring something up in order to move the relationship forward and then out of nowhere you are being attacked. No matter how many “I statements” you use, it ends up spiraling down the crazy train.
The list goes on and on.
But you keep trying to connect. And the invisible punches keep coming. Until one day you are a shell of the person you once were. Numb. Undone. Hopeless. And alone. At least on the inside.
If you think you or someone you care about is dealing with emotional abuse. At work. In a relationship. At home. I have yet to find a better tool to help people find their way back to whole than this website. I have only pulled a few snippets of what spoke to me. But the reality is that day, over 7 years ago, I spent hours on that site. And God used it as a tool to set me free from captivity.
I hope that this can help someone else, as much as it helped me.
Love, Love, Love
The Girl Who Lives In My Head
PS. ALMOST EVERYTHING on this page, save my story, has been taken from www.youarenotcrazy.com. My intent is not to plagiarize or say these ideas are my own. My heart is to get the word out so anyone struggling with abuse can find hope and healing by looking at this site.