Thursday, September 13, 2012

Who is in Control?

Isn't it crazy all the things we do to try to control things we have no control over? The illusion that we have some control is alluring, but accomplishes little.

We can't control the abusers mood--but we try anyway. We try to create a stress-free home. We allow the abuser to isolate us in an attempt to avoid the abuser's tantrums. We stop saying what we think. We stop saying anything about how we feel. We dress, cook, eat, sleep, and live according to his specifications. We tell her she's right, even when we're sure that she's wrong. We pour out empathy for his rough day at work. We stay up too late to complete projects she requires us to do. But do any such methods keep the abuser from "getting angry" or "becoming suicidal"?

We try to control the abuser's behavior. We leave the room to help bring down the tension in the room. We take over all parenting responsibilities to protect the children. We lie about the expense incurred with a purchase. We invent gratitude so she'll be nice. We stay home so he won't get jealous. We walk home so he won't drive abusively. We give false flattery so she'll let up on us. We verbally agree with her so she won't need to punish us. We change our behavior into any possible contortion with one goal in mind--to keep her or him from "losing it."

We try to control other's perceptions. We lie about the bruise. We forget everything. We blame ourselves for problems that the abuser has created. We lie to ourselves even more than we lie to any remaining family or friends. We become unsure about any details that might stir up controversy. We try to keep so busy that no one will see how unhappy we are.

We try to control when and where the abuser lets loose. We try to keep his temper from reaching its height until after the kids go to bed. We try to leave a party early so she won't explode until we're out of the public eye. We try to placate him. We try to baby her. We try to redirect a conversation. We take the blame with profuse apologies. We start a fight when we can't take the escalating tension over with--we know that abuse is coming, so why not get it over with?

Later, we can see the craziness so clearly. But while we're surviving abuse we think we're keeping ourselves and/or our children safer with our attempts to control our uncontrollable spouse. Real change begins with facing the truth about our primary relationship and our own behavior. Denial has to be let go of. Courage is born out of the pain of seeing clearly. With God's help we can see through all the dishonesty. When we pray for His wisdom, He gives us His wisdom, and His strength. We cannot control the abuser for any length of time--but we can trust God and begin learning how to trust ourselves too. With more self-awareness, we can stop blindly reacting . We can consider new decisions that truly have the power to change our lives for the better. We have the ability to let go of illusive control and reclaim our real power to make good decisions for our well-being.

Recommended Books

  • 10 Lifesaving Principles for Women in Difficult Marriages by Karla Downing
  • A Way of Hope by Leslie J. Barner
  • Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them by Paul Hegstrom
  • Battered But Not Broken by Patricia Riddle Gaddis
  • Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Bradshaw on the Family by John Bradshaw
  • Caring Enough to Forgive/Not Forgive by David Augsburger
  • Codependent No More by Melody Beattie
  • Healing the Wounded Heart by Dr. Dan B. Allendar
  • Keeping the Faith: Questions and Answers for the Abused Woman by Marie M. Fortune
  • Perfect Daughters by Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D.
  • Recovery: A Guide for Adult Children of Alcoholics by Herbert L. Gravitz and Julie D. Bowden
  • Safe People by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend
  • Slay Your Own Dragons by Nancy Good
  • The Cinderella Syndrome by Lee Ezell
  • The Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.
  • The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee
  • Turning Fear to Hope by Holly Wagner Green
  • When Violence Comes Home: Help for Victims of Spouse Abuse by Tim Jackson and Jeff Olson
  • Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft