Earlier I shared the writing process my brain went through as Mark and I prepared to celebrate our eleventh anniversary. I purposely waited until the week leading up to our anniversary. I wanted to feel and write the raw emotions. I assumed they would be the christian mushy, gushy feelings. When instead pain popped up I was scared of Mark’s reaction and frustrated our anniversary would be grounds for fighting rather than celebrating.
I have learned through our experience of being married special days can mean special fighting rather than special celebrating. The let down of not having a special day in all of the mundane crap you wade through is painful. It’s compounded by the knowledge of what kind of day you could be having.
However, thankfully and praises to the Lord it was not our experience this year. Phew! Instead of getting mad and being repulsed by my hurt, Mark hurt with me. He owned up to how he was and he hurt for my hurt. Together we grieved how I felt alone and isolated, much of the time feeling as if I was parenting on my own. Always preparing myself for the absorption I would need to do as I protected our kids from his lack of feeling. I would rather absorb the pain he was giving out, rather than have it penetrate our kids hearts.
It is a little funny as we go along these days, because he is actively keeping himself calm, sometimes overly so. He wants to right and heal our hearts, he wants to earn our trust back. We laugh and cry as we wade through what hurts us and doesn’t even make sense to the one who has been hurt. We have been laughing at the times when I or the kids feel we need an apology, yet we don’t understand why we have been hurt. Perhaps it is seeking understanding and empathy from the other person. Perhaps we are still learning to trust him and to be welcomed into his fold.
Last week hurt. It was humbling to realize the pain, bitterness and hurt I had still continued to harbor. It is so hard to get the little girl I once was and the adult I am now to realize and separate the hurt I had experienced as a child from the pain I experience today. We both want to trust, but we have been hurt so much we wonder if it’s worth it.
Mark and I have learned some of my reactions to him are because of the abuse I suffered as a child. Whether it is being yelled at, glared at or if he looks at me in certain ways. Ways I don’t even understand why they affect me the way they do. It is common for abuse victims to struggle with being touched. If we are ok with who ever is touching us, the touch can turn into a flash back in a blink of an eye. Immediately we are hurled into hell, our bodies and minds are no longer in the here and today. They are in the moment of abuse. It doesn’t have to be a sexual moment either, it can be the tone, look or cold shoulder we experienced from the abuser.
The thing is it’s not fair. It isn’t fair to me and it isn’t fair to Mark. It is not fair for me to have to explain what’s happening and it’s not fair for Mark to be caught in a moment he has nothing to do with. I am certain part of our struggle is confusion in my interpreting something from him he has no idea he is even giving off. He gets mad because I am cowering and getting angry. I get mad because he isn’t being patient and loving. Around and around we go. It sucks! I hate it! I hate what abuse has taken away and how much more confusing it has made being married. We do well enough on our own messing up our marriage without anyone else’s help.
Last week, Mark loved me, this weekend Mark loved me. He didn’t push, he is being patient, he is trying to give me the space I need. Even when it makes him mad, even when he knows he is not in the wrong, even still he is trying to love me. He is learning to listen and watch for what I need, rather than just assume. I am learning to tell him I need him to tell me he’s sorry, even if neither of us know what he is apologizing for. It sounds crazy, it feels crazy and sounds like I am asking a lot of him. But, abuse asked a lot of me. We both have learned we need to respect what an outside source has brought to our marriage. We have learned that our marriage is going to look and feel different because this happened.
In return Mark has his own outside crap he brings into our marriage. I am learning to give him space, to quietly calm him down and he in return is learning to calm down. Together we are learning to get mad and cry, but do it together. To go to the father who calms us both down and heals our heart.
The bottom line is we are learning to do it together, putting each others needs before ourselves. Putting what Christ is capable of in each situation. After the awful week of processing hurt, love has won, because when Christ is allowed to do his work, love always wins. I honestly thought I would have to grieve the death of our marriage. I didn’t know what it would look like, but I was certain I would.
I am thankful for a redo and I am thankful God has taken filthy wretches like us and traded beauty for ashes. Our story is not written in and of ourselves. It is God’s story of redemption, love and us his children fighting to the death for victory.