A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Your Body Knows


[The above link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.]

Do you know the song Everybody’s Fool [Internet Archive link] by Evanescence? This song sums up so much of what I have felt. I loved the man he wanted me to think he was. I loved the man he said he wanted to be. That man never was and never will be. It took me a very long time to realize that. Even now, I don’t think I realize the scope of his self deception. Last week it looked like he might try to move nearby and my mind was going over how that would work. And I was wondering if it was really that bad, if I could find a way to be with him again, if it could work. My mind will do that, but my body knows better. Every time my mind goes there my body gets sick. I was telling another survivor this last week. I was so sick at the end of the marriage. I couldn’t have anything touching my stomach and I bought high waisted dresses and wore them all the time.

When I was processing X’s potential move Wendell related this to me:

I had a job in the 80’s with an electric utility and it was literally hell on earth. The IT manager was a horrific abuser of his people and worked us like slaves. In one summer, I put in over 300 hours of unpaid overtime (we were salaried) with no concern whatsoever on the part of management. My boss even tried to call me in at 2 am one morning to fix a broken test system on the mainframe. Problem was, I had jury duty that morning at 8:30! I argued him down, but determined to leave.

The next morning, I told the judge what had happened and apologized if I was a bit sleepy in the jury box. He got angry and told me that if my boss sanctioned me, to let him know and he would have my boss held in contempt! Fortunately, he didn’t and while I was still on a jury, I got a job offer I had wanted, so I was able to go back and hand my boss my resignation letter.

A few years later, I had an opportunity to go back to the same company and I went through similar emotions as you described. It wasn’t really so bad was it? I could handle it. Yet, something inside said absolutely not! Fortunately, I did not go back as I found out later, it would have been disastrous. Nothing had changed. I was so glad I listened to my gut rather than my head!

Hang strong Ellie.

Your body knows. If your mind is trying to go back there and your stomach is telling you to get an airsick bag handy, listen to your body.

When I was sitting next to a man at the bank who lied to his kid, as soon as I heard him lying, my body shifted away from him. I hadn’t even processed it in my brain and thought about it too much, but my whole body shifted away from him. When I was talking to a different person and I heard him talking about his daughter, and he said “the truth of the matter is, she just needs to forgive me.” I had to fight my first instinct which was to push away from the table and call him a liar. He could see that I wasn’t buying his pity play. The conversation ended very quickly after that.

X and I shared years together. I know more about his family than his own siblings.  Our lives were lived together. But that’s because he took over, like kudzu. My life revolved around him. No wonder I think I miss him.

I still dream about him about once a week. None of the dreams make sense, but the worst are the ones where he’s being nice and trying to convince me that everything’s ok and I should come back. They are just dreams, but they exhaust me. ACFJ helps because I read about how others have experienced similar crazymaking and I know that even if my “dreams” come true, I can not go back. He’s not surrendered to Christ. He’s not safe to live with. His mind games made me ache with despair. He isn’t who he claimed to be. He never was.


  1. Brenda R

    Ellie, I like your post and Wendall’s response. It makes sense. Unless X fully surrendered his life to Christ, there would be no change. If that happened, I still would not trust him. Too much history and the lesson was taught well.

  2. Heather 2

    Ellie, your listening to your body is what will keep reminding you! My upper thigh was sore and often in pain. No doctor or chiropractor could help. A massage therapist recognized it though. Any time I was in contact with my ex my thigh would hurt. When I was not in contact I was fine. I soon learned what my body was telling me.

    Our minds can fool us into thinking things. Our body is a good self-check.

    I’m glad you shared this today. It may help others to listen to their own bodies.

  3. Sunny

    You are so correct. He was not who he claimed to be, never was, never will be. I kept praying, hoping and believing for over 30 years.

  4. Sunny

    I forgot to mention that I woke up shaking for 15 years – have been trying to get through the divorce for 3 years while he keeps lying, postponing and delaying. He does not want to let me go even though he was the one who filed, and I’ve questioned myself whether or not I would take him back – I start shaking whenever I consider it. So yes, I’m going to listen to my body. Thank you!

  5. Charis

    Yes, yes, yes!

    Adrenal fatigue, migraines, irritable bowel that progressively got worse, insomnia, joint pain, hypothyroid…. I’ve tried everything: dietary changes, exercise, therapy, PILLS! I’m on SO many capsules, pills, tablets, creams – just to be able to drag myself out of bed each morning, function (sort of), think (kind of), and take care of my 5yr old son. I’m only 42 and feel like I could commiserate with people 20 or 30 years my senior! My mother is in better health than me…she can run circles around me!

    And this has been going on for years. How long? Well, come to think of it…although migraines and irritable bowel run in my family – nothing else does. And my migraines & irritable bowel are somehow worse than anyone else in my family “tree.” This all started when I said “I do” 8yrs ago.

    No wonder! Stress is a killer…literally.

    Since I have been separated…I can feel the difference. I know it will take awhile for the bigger things to resolve. But the sleep. O, glorious sleep! It’s like I can’t get enough! And the irritable bowel? Nearly gone; I have enjoyed eating whatever I want (within reason). What joy!

  6. twbtc

    I had two episodes of alopecia areata (bald spots on the scalp). I asked my dermatologist the possible cause – his reply, “Usually stress”. And during my marriage my blood pressure was typically around 120/80. Normal, right? So I didn’t give it any thought. I’ve been single about three years now. I have my blood pressure taken every two weeks, and it is consistently around 108/65. Yeah, the body knows. It’s the mind that’s a little slow to figure it out.

  7. I often go through the “was he really so bad?” thoughts. Am I crazy now? Then? Look at him now. I simply detest that I do this so often after being separated and divorced for 14 years now (after 25 years together). The crazymaking goes on despite my efforts to self soothe, eat well, better myself and delight in my grandkids. I suppose I should carefully write down all the traits that were abusive and specific incidents that terrorized me, belittled me in front of others, angered me or were pure gas-light events.

    But because I did not give myself the time to recover, I fell for a person who made me feel pretty (for the first time – ever?) and encouraged me to be creative. He seemed SO sensitive and understanding, so I married #2. He was exactly as Ellie describes – “I loved the man he wanted me to think he was”. He had met EVERYBODY – family, church people, hobby people. No one seemed to see red flags. No one warned me. He turned out to be a master deceiver. After 2 years of dating and seeing what he wanted me to see, he changed right after the wedding. My heart sank feeling like such a failure and bringing back the briefly covered over feelings of confusion, frustration and helplessness. Despite my “Christian” divorce from #1, I now felt that anyone that hadn’t abandoned me after I had the encouragement by many to leave #1, would now be certainly convinced that _I_ was the problem, not #1 or #2. I forget how many Godly and educated people saw what turned out to be a breakdown and pleaded with me to flee the home with #1 but the feelings of failure are frequent. #2 filed for divorce after I had set in motion some consequences after I uncovered lie after lie on top of the increasing abuse. I’m to the point of wondering if I ever will recover and be able to quickly notice when I’m being lied to, belittled, patronized, manipulated, etc. I don’t see it until hours or days later. So therapy continues.

    • BTDT, (((hugs))).
      ““I loved the man he wanted me to think he was”. Me too, with #2.
      And that gives people like you and me and Ellie another thing to grieve for: we grieve for the loss of that happy relationship we thought we had. That dream. In my case, I actually had it for a year. He didn’t show his true colors till the second year.

      And the fact that our friends and all the people in our networks don’t pick up anything bad about the guy we are considering of marrying — that’s so sad. It shows how skilled abusers are at feigning good character. And it also shows how unskilled most people are at detecting abusers. When I was thinking of marrying #2, my pastor and his wife told me that he was a good man.

  8. Anonymous100

    Ellie, BeenThereDoneThat, and Barbara,

    Perhaps the second man in your life concealed his abusiveness from your circle of family and friends. Or often we make excuses for them if they do (he grew up in a dysfunctional family, etc…) then he’s left off the hook. Narcs are great at charming; a few of my family and friends are attention starved–they bathed in his attention, so he blinded them to his true self. I have a sibling who holds stuff over my head from when we were 5 years old! (even after I apologized); he sunk his teeth into her bitterness towards me and would call her and her husband further fueling the fire so there was no way she would have helped me. Please don’t beat yourself up over #2 narc husband that others in your life didn’t see the red flags. Some were deceived and others may have agendas of their own.

  9. Finding Answers

    The Holy Spirit is teaching me what my body knows – messages are intertwined from various sources and different times in my life. Some messages are simple. Some messages are complex.

    The one consistent pattern is an acknowledgement of needing to learn the message.

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