Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain

Why I Left

38 Comments

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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Photo Credit – Ruth There’s a critter playing peek-a-boo!

A NEW LOVE interest

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

I still believed these verses and I still wanted to live these out even if he did not.  But after a long time of trying I came to the realization that I couldn’t love enough for two. I could live these verses out for myself alone.

I found a new love and began a love affair that continues to this day.  Shocking, I know.  I didn’t plan it; it just…happened.  I started going out with my girlfriends and I took up jogging.  I got in shape physically and emotionally. In the process I found my self-respect and discovered that I had a lot to offer.  Yes, I fell in love with another.  Me.

I learned to love myself and began to take care of me.  Instead of always putting him or my marriage above all else I began to put myself, my safety, and my needs first.  I learned that unless I loved myself I wasn’t really worthy of love and couldn’t properly love another.

forget religion

Divorce was still a dirty word.  But I decided it was better than the alternative.  Though I still viewed it as sin I decided that the options of suicide or murder were more sinful.  These thoughts, fleeting as they were, were a wake-up call.  It terrified me that I could even ponder these things.

I daydreamed about driving my car into a ravine.  I envisioned picking up a knife the next time he had his hands around my throat.  This shit is hazardous to your health in more ways than one!  These are not normal thoughts.

It’s really bad when you either wish you were dead or, you know, there might be some unfortunate accident on your partner’s way home.  This may be a startling admission on my part.  But it’s honest. So I entertained the previously unthinkable and initiated a separation.

I discovered it was against my religion to enable my abuser’s behavior to continue. Eff martyrdom!  Where’s the glory in that? God would surely forgive me for breaking my vows. They had long since been broken anyway.  Honor, cherish, protect, love…all gone the first time he hurt me.

honor

I could no longer live in shame.  It was overwhelming and debilitating.  The only way for me to continue to live was to honor myself.

I figured out that his problems were his and they didn’t have to cause me shame.  I figured out that it didn’t matter what other people thought.  It only mattered that I could hold my head high because I knew the truth.

I figured out that I was worth saving.

recognizing my weakness

I recognized my propensity to be insecure and self-deprecating. I recognized that I found esteem in being the perfect wife.  Not from my abuser, but from my God and from those in the church.  Being a help-meet was not all I was created for.  It was not noble and prized by the one person who should have appreciated it.

I still had my weaknesses, no doubt, but knowing what they were my abuser could no longer exploit them at every turn.  I grew weary of the mind games and emotional blackmail.

Having been emotionally tied into knots I saw the belittling for what it truly was.  There was no way to be better enough.  Better would never be good enough.

i was stronger

I still have that same tenacity.  I’ve just employed the old slogan, ‘Work smarter, not harder’. Still, if I am a failure it won’t be said that it was because I didn’t try.  I just came to the realization that I can’t fix everything.  Anything can be fixed.  Everything…not so much.

I could fix me and only me.  He would have to do his own repair work if he thought it necessary.  But I could not.  In order for me to repair what had been broken inside of me I had to make different choices. I had to set up boundaries; something that before I never thought I had a right to.

I found strength in knowing I did have a choice.  So I exercised my right to live in a safe, stable, sane environment.

acceptance

I had to acknowledge that it was that bad no matter how often it happened.  It could be worse but so what?  Why should I settle for bad simply because it could be worse?

Fists are not the only way to physically abuse.  I had to acknowledge that strangling, hair-pulling, pinching, and having my head bounced off of inanimate objects is physical abuse. It should have frightened me to know that he could have killed me.

People may say that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  But that’s a lie.  Words hurt and leave scars that will never completely heal.  That’s what pushed me over the edge.  I could have taken the punishment, but the near-constant verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse was more than I could bear.

I stopped minimizing the danger and pain I was in.  Once I was out of denial, once I saw the abuse for what it really was, there simply was no way to stay.

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You can find the reasons why I stayed here:  Why I Stayed

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38 thoughts on “Why I Left

    • I certainly feel more empowered. 🙂

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      • Isn’t that what its all about? I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like to be in an abusive relationship. It just couldn’t seem real, and I think you’ve described that wonderfully. Glad, though, that you got out. Sadly, i fear many don’t.

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        • Surreal is a good word to describe it, especially since [most] people tend to disassociate themselves from the actual events. It makes it like it didn’t really happen, maybe it was all just a bad dream.

          No, too many do not make it out. I think about how many times I sat in my pew at church, listening to sermons, thinking about my situation, and wondering how many others there were sitting there with me. While I realize that many men are also victims of DV, statistics show that 1 in 4 women will experience DV. One in four! One in a million is too many.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t say it any better!

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  1. Words cannot express how much I am moved and inspired by what you have endured and triumphed over. And you express yourself so well. As much as your past is saddening, your victory over that past is uplifting. Bravo!

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  2. Ruth, I’m so glad you finally said, “Eff martyrdom” !! and fixed yourself. As they say in these parts, “Good, dear, GOOD!”

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  3. Very well written and heartfelt. It felt like you were here telling me the story. I kind of wish you were so I could give you a hug. Of course you hit the nail right on the head. Loving you is the first step, otherwise it seems like you could not easily convince anybody else to love you. Not that you couldn’t have met a really good man, and that man could have help you grow and build your self-esteem. But being somebody’s project is never a safe place to be, because when you feel like your foundation is built because of somebody’s else’s love what happens if they go away? Even an accidental death. It’s never healthy to feel dependent either. I think a positive self-esteem (and by that I mean a realistic look at our strengths and weaknesses) is a house that only we as individuals can build. In reading this post I feel like that strong person was inside you all along, but was being suppressed by the religious indoctrination and your general sense of hopefulness towards love. I don’t think that is a bad quality, but at some point you just have to admit it’s not working. And you did, even if it went on longer than you though. Some people never get out of that…this simply shut down and are afraid to open themselves to others, I am glad you have chosen of proof of self-improvement and gained wisdom. I think your tale also shows how dangerous it can be to hold on to these supernatural ideals, because it prevents you from looking around and dealing with the “here and now”. In fact religion almost becomes a shelter to hide behind so you don’t have to deal with things happening in your life.

    Thank you for writing this and sharing it Ruth.

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    • Thanks, Swarn.

      I think your tale also shows how dangerous it can be to hold on to these supernatural ideals, because it prevents you from looking around and dealing with the “here and now”. In fact religion almost becomes a shelter to hide behind so you don’t have to deal with things happening in your life.

      Absolutely. It does prevent you from dealing with the hear and now because you’re always looking to the future, where everything will be perfect. You endure for this life to receive something spectacular in the next.

      Not only that but Christianity teaches self-denial. To the point of absurdity, actually. Besides, all the teachings about women being created for men and teachings on submission keep a woman in this situation from getting the help she needs.

      Those scriptures are weapons in the hands of an abuser.

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      • When you look at human history, it is clear that there is a very slow progression towards a higher level of morality. It continually strikes me as strange that we could stock in any document that 2000 years old as any sort of enlightened guide on how we should live our lives. Hell I think even the constitution of the U.S. is a bit outdated at 200 years old so anything 10 times as old really has little value. Anything positive that is in the bible are found in other cultures. There really is nothing overly unique or innovative about anything in the bible.

        Even if there is a God, it seems to me as you look around that society is not perfect and if there is some goal, some harmony in which all mankind can reach and live in peace it requires us to be fluid. It requires us to constantly question ourselves and improve upon past mistakes. This is why I find science so important. It’s not that every scientific advancement has always been used for the betterment of mankind, but it is the only tool we have right now that does ask questions and does at least try to self-correct. It fosters learning and growth. To me this seems like a better model to live your life than anything the bible can provide.

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  4. Thanks for sharing your story, actually both stories as I believe they may help someone struggling with the same problems.
    Great post Ruth!

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    • That is the intent, to help others. I really don’t dwell on the past that much anymore, though these are events that have indelibly marked me. I can never forget and sometimes, in almost a PTSD fashion, they play like a film in my head. But I do want to help others, men and women, who find themselves in this situation.

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  5. Though I’ve known your story for quite some time I still can’t breathe when I read it. Especially when I read the part about banging your head and I know that was only part of it. 😦

    Great writing. ❤

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    • Especially when I read the part about banging your head and I know that was only part of it.

      At least I have a great excuse for being a little crazy. 🙂

      Thanks, Zoe. Thank you for being there. You’ve been a rock whether you realize it or not. ❤

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      • Coming alongside of you was the right thing to do. Too many women suffer, Christian and non-Christian. They can’t see a way out because of their religion, their culture, their family & cultural expectations. It’s so complicated and dangerous. The idea that any God would ask a woman to lay down her life in obedience to an abuser is sick.

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  6. You are very strong Ruth. 🙂

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  7. (Monotheistic) religions (Christianity for example) have a bright side: many honestly good-willing priests and nuns work hard in favor of people that really need help to live, or to survive. But they also have a dark side, with terrible consequences, like the ones Ruth has decided to share with us, Why do such experiences appeal only (mostly, perhaps?) to unbelievers, why do they not open the eyes of billions of dutiful church-going, doing-the-sign-of-the-cross, bowing in the direction of Mecca, praying aloud believers?
    Movies like “Not without my daughter” (Sally Field) should be on exhibit for some weeks every year……
    Federico

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    • Thanks for stopping by and for commenting, Federico.

      I don’t really know the answer to that for others. I was a member of the believing group for a very long time. The only thing I can attribute it to is cognitive dissonance – the ability to compartmentalize aspects of humanity. Attributing things like abuse to a faceless enemy(Satan) and good will(priests and nuns working hard in favor of people who really need help to live or survive) to God instead of facing the reality of life and the way the world actually works.

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      • Firmly believing relatives and friends are unable to explain to me how an omnipotent God can have enemies.
        My question, Ruth, was in fact a rhetorical one, so thank you for your accurate answer, I like it! Cognitive dissonance, the fear to question one’s beliefs. The way the world actually works? Well, it is God’s will…..

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        • The way the world actually works? Well, it is God’s will…..

          This God is not so benevolent.

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        • “Well, it is God’s will…..”

          In a nutshell, the most damaging argument to theism, that.

          If a “God” can receive anything less than what he/she/it desires to receive, then perhaps he/she/it isn’t a “God” after all.

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  8. Thank you for stopping by and following my blog. I’ve enjoyed reading your words. You are worth it. Glad you were able to get out. I love your picture and title about the umbrella…have you heard the saying…I can’t find it now but it is something like…God teach me to dance, so that I may dance in the puddles of my tears. Well I thought of you and the umbrella. Be someones sunshine today. Meghan

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    • Thank you for stopping by here as well. I was in the fortunate situation, though I didn’t know it at the time, not to have the children I so desperately wanted. I was also in the fortunate position that, while he kept my earnings tied up to a large degree, he didn’t completely control them.

      I didn’t know it, really, but I spent the last five years of my marriage planning my exit.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I was going to make a similar comment to Swarn Gill, about the complexity of your situation being caused by the (negative) influence of religion on your life. Dealing with an abusive partner and believing in the misogynistic teachings of christianity must have really screwed with your head making you think you were in the wrong all the time. Getting away from a DV relationship and ditching th religion that teaches you it’s ok is one hell of an achievement Ruth. With which I shall pat myself on the sycophantic back and hope to be accepted for membership of your terrible evil and totally wicked sinful claque.

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  10. Dealing with an abusive partner and believing in the misogynistic teachings of christianity must have really screwed with your head making you think you were in the wrong all the time.

    Did it ever?!? One prolonged, agonizing, mind game. I did think I was wrong all the time – even when I knew that I wasn’t. I was wrong to feel things, I was wrong to expect things, I was owed nothing.

    I shall pat myself on the sycophantic back and hope to be accepted for membership of your terrible evil and totally wicked sinful claque.

    Welcome, my dear. 😈

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  11. Please accept my sincere apologies for the anger and aggravation I have caused you. If I had known then what I know now I hope I would have been kinder and more sympathetic as to what you endured. Further, I think I would have pointed you to 1 Corinthians 7:13. This verse implies that if an unbelieving husband does not want to live with a Christian wife she is free to divorce him. I cannot see how an abusive husband is one who desires to live with his wife. It appears that in leaving him you were exercising your freedom in Christ and not sinning against God.
    Your church made the mistake of turning ideals into absolutes. Let me give you an example. Ephesians 5:25 tells us Christian husbands should love their wives as Christ loves his church. What? Imperfect mortals are to love as much as the infinite Christ. We have enough trouble with verse 28 that tells us we are to love our wives as our own bodies. If we take this passage as an absolute then all husbands are guilty and condemned but that is not the intention. Christians are to be helped in their lives and freed of their burdens not to be expected to meet impossible standards.
    When I first wrote you I told you I thought you were someone who belonged to Christ. I still think that. I do not think you will find lasting happiness in either secular humanism or being an “evil woman” or anything else outside of Christ. Your true home is not with the “lost” but in your true love, Jesus Christ. I think you will someday get there . . . I hope it is soon. Love, waltsamp.

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    • Oh dear. I have communicated poorly if you have been left with the impression that I am angry or aggravated. And, really, one shouldn’t need to know the details of the lives of another to be both kind nor sympathetic. Those are irrelevant. Further, I didn’t take anything you said to be particularly unkind. Presumptive? Yes. Unkind? No. I think we may have been talking past one another here and that may partially be my fault because I took a position that probably seemed snarky to you. It didn’t seem as though you took what I was saying seriously.

      I have every confidence that you’ve posted here because you think that you know what is in my best interest that is believing in some form of Christianity, though I’m not clear what form. Some of what you say sounds a bit progressive, while at other times it sounds very fundamentalist. I have no idea why you believe what you believe. It would be presumptive of me to assume that you have some a priori belief in the Christian God or that you have emotional reasons for doing so. It would be presumptive of me to assume that you need some sort of absolution or suffer from death anxiety.

      Please do understand, though, that I have looked into those scriptures you just pointed me to. I’ve read those scriptures and re-read them. I’ve read differing interpretations of those scriptures including the interpretation you mentioned. You see, waltsamp, I didn’t give up my faith without a fight. While my pain may have been a catalyst to ask some deeper questions it wasn’t ultimately the reason I lost my faith. When I began searching all I wanted was a clear understanding of all those divorce and remarriage scriptures. I went back to the original languages. In the process I learned that much of what I’d been taught was just….wrong. Not just about marriage and divorce but about inerrancy, inspiration, and infallibility. I no longer trust the Bible as the Word of God, but rather the writings of men. Fallible men seeking to understand, as best they could, the world and the things around them.

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  12. Good on you!
    Unless you would consider it creepy, my reaction is: HUG!

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  13. Ruth, I’m truly happy for you! No one should have to live under emotional or physical abuse! Ever! I’m sorry that more often than not, men are the perpetrators of the abuse. In my case, I was the husband that was the “pleaser” in the relationship who constantly walked around on egg shells wondering when my spouse would erupt again in a fit of emotional anger, with the intention of manipulating. And I too had thoughts of driving my car off a bridge, and spiritual guilt was a factor as well. Today, I am emotionally well and very happy! And I’m delighted to hear when others find the same. *Hugs* too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for stopping by and for the comment.

      No, nobody should have to live under these conditions and I am well aware that many men face abuse as well. I tried to write these in such a way that both men and women could apply them to themselves; to not be so gender specific. I’m so happy to know that you’ve found peace and happiness in your life and are no longer a recipient of such treatment. For me the emotional abuse was far far worse than the physical abuse ever was and I see that kind of abuse from women toward men far too often. It definitely makes the option of not having to go home and face it day in and day out…attractive. Especially when the humiliation of anyone else having to know is like having a millstone around your neck. I think the more we talk about it, the less “secret” it is, the less shameful it will be for others.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I know I’m not around much anymore but I happened to pop by and saw your recent posts. You have such a beautiful spirit. I read your posts with such respect for you and how you’ve related to your suffering. Would you mind if I printed the posts on why you stayed and left to show to a few clients? I think it would help them to hear from someone who’s been there express what they also feel with such clarity. I think it would help them give voice to their own thoughts and feel validated as well. I see what a struggle and confusion it can be when friends are giving conflicting and sometimes harmful advice, which is often unsolicited.

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    • Hey, DoOrDoNot! It’s great to hear from you!

      Absolutely, if you think anything I’ve written here will help your clients you may print and share. That is exactly the purpose of my writing it. It is definitely a struggle when friends begin to weigh in – especially when they don’t have the details. It can compound the guilt and shame exponentially.

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