“You’re about to drive our family off a financial cliff,” I said, mustering my resolve. “You must get a second job–any job–this week, or I will!”
Nearly four years ago I submitted my resignation as an English teacher at the local high school. I loved my role, but I certainly did not sacrifice my career to be a sorta-stay-at-home-mom just to work nights at Taco Bell or the grocery mart.
“You’re tellin’ me that you’re going to go back to work?” my husband questioned, calling my bluff.
“No, not full time,” I shot back, restraining my anger, yet engaging my commitment to persevere, “but I will find some job so that when you come home from work I’ll pack up and head out to my job, and you can watch the kids.”
I spent fifteen years in an amazingly abusive relationship, and we had the financial tango down to a deadlock. The discussion would go very differently. My ex husband makes over 6 figures, we had relatively moderate bills in alignment with our income but not an ounce of financial accountability to my exes name. You can’t balance a bank account if someone wont be transparent with their spending.
Not surprisingly, his lack of accountability at home transferred to the workplace, so layoffs were not an unfamiliar experience for us. Bridges burned around us leaving detractors staring back at us where bosses, coworkers and networking once held opportunities. Wondering where the money went before the end of the month was no stranger. As we went on, repossessions and utility shut offs were a known friend. My children at five and six years old learned to hide and turn off the lights when someone who looked like a bill collector or repo company rang the doorbell.
The dialogue was much different in our house.
Him: We’re broke, you need to get a job
Me: alright, I’ll start putting out applications.
Within a few weeks of beginning the waitressing/ checking job of the moment, things around the house would begin to unravel in a different way from the basic chaos.
“The towels weren’t folded, the boys need their homework checked. I don’t know what kind of superstar you think you are for working, but you’re failing the entire family at home. You are a zero, a drain on this family. If you weren’t so selfish you would see that. You haven’t cooked a thing that didn’t come pre-made in the last three days. Some mother you are.”
-and this was if he wasn’t drinking yet. For YEARS I followed him into alcohol with the hopes that in a shared state we might have a moment of meaningful communication, but to think that any lasing meaning can be had for getting inebriated together is a lie. There may be a peaceful moment, but it only lasts as long as the buzz and leaves you hungry for real, sincere contact.
If he were, drunk, the kids would be God only knows where, leaving me knocking on doors at 9pm looking for my kids in a dark neighborhood, while he surfed porn and e-mailed high school girlfriends on the internet. While I was trying to do the best I could do for my family, he was sexting drunk till he passed out in a puddle of beer. When I caught him, it was my fault. I was paranoid, I was insane, I was destroying his female “friends” lives by calling them and asking them to respect my marriage.
If he were drinking when I got home, I could anticipate being screamed at and threatened, shoved up into a corner, have my face smashed into walls, being put in a sleeper hold to passing out or to have things that I drew pleasure from (like my laptop computer) destroyed violently.
Eventually the job that I was trying to hold onto that would go, since getting screamed at all morning to arrive at work and have to put yourself together in the store restroom before setting about the day can make people suspect you’re a tad bit flaky and unstable. An hour of unplanned overtime would be the final straw; knowing I had to get home to try to set to right the storm that was waiting for me. I would end up in a fight with someone and quit before I got fired for it.
The words thrown change;
You are a failure at life. You can’t even hold a minimum wage job. You are an anchor, you suck this family dry. You do nothing but take. We would all be better off if you just left. Leave the kids, they don’t need to be with you, all you teach them is to fail.
I entered this marriage in a similar not to yours, “he is teachable” my dialogue went even deeper. Because he grew up in an abusive home, he doesn’t know any better. All he needs is consistent, unconditional love and…
Hmmm. Out of the ashes I came to understand that it was pretty egotistical of me to believe that my love and my ability to withstand abuse was going to be what remade a man, or that no one in his entire life had ever loved him well before me. Through learning more about my faith and the dynamics of a healthy Christian marriage I realized, it is not my place to teach him anything. I cannot know what Gods plan is for any of us, I can only learn what I am given to learn and support the efforts of others in their learning through encouragement and respect.
I am working towards forgiveness, I slide back into angry every now and again as that he insists upon denying the daughter he created any support or acknowledgement, both materially and through his actions, yet feels he should be entitled to walk in and out of her life at will and continues to support law firms rather than a child that he walked away from as an infant and has been a part of her life for no more than 6 months. Continuing to believe that there is a moment of spiritual epiphany in his future is one for the mind of God, because these are things that are not for me to know.
I have been blessed with an amazing and supportive family and my forever husband stands shoulder to shoulder with me, in faith raising our daughter in a home where she has never and will never experience fear of abuse, neglect or being judged unworthy of what God blesses her life with. I do my best to replace the pride, guilt and fear of being unworthy myself with gratitude. i did not chart this course, but I walk it in awe. I try to surround myself with individuals who inspire me to continue to look heavenward.
Fear of additional abuse leads us to do some pretty self destructive things, all hinging upon the fallacy that “If I am good enough, he find will me worthy and treat me with the love and respect that I am then deserving of” In the context of faith, there is only one Power that dictates our worth and the bestowing of that worth happened long before any of us were a sparkle in the cosmic eyes of God. To be forever locked in a pattern of seeking validation of our worth in a mans eyes is chasing the Devil into Hell. The lies of the Devil direct us to trust in our own ability to change someone, the deceptions are cloaked in logical half truths that validate our pride but never pay out. The devil tells us that we have been cast into the world without a hand to hold, so we’d better set about making the best of it regardless of the casualties. Make the rocks into bread, you could jump from the top of your temples and if God is truly your Father he’ll catch you. When we splatter on the ground in a pile of broken pride, sin and loss of faith because through questioning our own faith, we have defied God and then blamed him for it. lessons be damned.
We double whammy ourselves when we link another persons treatment of us as being because we are worthy or unworthy of love and respect. Guilt steps in. Because I questioned Gods plan, because I said something wrong, I am not deserving or valuable. Through Christ, we have already been found worthy.
Do not put the Lord God to the test – Mathew 4:7
“For I know the plans I have for you, Declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11