I sat in my apartment on Sunday rather than going to church. On one hand, I long for fellowship with other Christians. On the other hand, I can’t bear to hear the same trite sermons. Feel the disapproval for leaving my abusive husband. After all, he never left a mark. I should have just prayed for him and been an example of Christ, right? Even those who feel I was justified in leaving still believe that if I remarry I will be an adulteress. Not that I have any desire to remarry. The thought of being in an intimate relationship with a man is terrifying.
The “marks” my husband left are more indelible than any bruise. The judgement from the pastors that counseled me like a slap across the face. Somehow, I was responsible for my husband’s anger. Pray more, be more submissive, don’t respond in anger, model love in the face of contempt. I was even responsible for his salvation. I needed to stay so that through me he would be saved. Who was going to save me and my kids? I distinctly remember when one of my former pastors spoke to the whole congregation, telling us that he would not perform a marriage for anyone who has been divorced. Because, even if you claim to have biblical grounds for said divorce, you could be telling less than the truth. He said that maybe your spouse had reason to be unfaithful to you. Maybe you drove your spouse to it. And he wouldn’t want to inadvertently sin by marrying someone who was responsible for their spouse’s unfaithfulness and, therefore, didn’t really have God’s approval to divorce. At first I was shocked. But, then I remembered that this was the same man who came to our house every week to “counsel” us. We’d read the bible and talk about being a Christian. After all, my husband’s only problem was that he wasn’t really a Christian. All he needed to do is accept Jesus and read his bible.
Recently I read something on a blog. It said that perpetrators of domestic abuse did not have a problem with anger management. Indeed, my husband could control his anger perfectly well around other people. I recall some years ago when my husband and I met with a counselor. I told him what was going on and my husband corroborated my story. He told my husband that what I was describing was domestic abuse. He then informed us that he would not counsel us until my husband had attended an anger management course for at least two months. When we walked out my husband informed me that he did not like the counselor and did not want to go back to him. Of course he didn’t want to go to him. He did not feel that he was an abuser. I ended up leaving my husband after that. I eventually went back after he complied with my conditions, which included attending anger management class. Things were definitely better. However, no matter how hard my husband tried to change he always slipped back into his old ways. I really thought that if he attended anger management class that he would change. After all, a professional counselor advised this course of action. The next Christian counselor we went to didn’t even mention domestic abuse. His main concern was making sure that my husband did not become angry in the sessions. If my husband started to show signs of anger or annoyance, the counselor would change the subject. A good session, in his opinion, was one in which my husband did not get angry and I didn’t challenge either what he said, or what my husband said. There had to be something better than that!
I almost went back to my old church on Sunday. But, in the end I stayed home. I’m glad I resisted the urge. It’s funny, but it felt a lot like I was fighting the desire to go back to my abuser. The fact is, I miss the idea of going to church more than I actually miss my church. Like how I miss the husband I never had more than I miss my actual husband. I realized that going back would be allowing myself to be further abused. I need to heal and develop healthy relationships. I remember how I left my husband twice before and went back. Somehow, I always expected things to change. The fact is, I was the only one who wanted change. My husband was perfectly fine with the status quo. And, I’m pretty sure my pastor is, too.
I just have to keep moving on with my life. I’m reaching a milestone this month. I’m going to enjoy a major holiday without my husband. And without having to endure a trip to see my husband’s crazy family. You have no idea how ecstatic I am about that. Bursting at the seams, giddily elated, squealing with joy kind of ecstatic. I can just enjoy Thanksgiving with my kids and not worry about walking on eggshells trying not to upset my husband. I’m not sure who’s more excited, me or my kids. I’m going to have to do something crazy to celebrate. Like wear mismatched socks or something. Living on the edge…