Thursday Thought — Putting the Light out

Another great Gem from the Gems page — from one of our readers.

I call it ‘putting the light out’.  When I or the children got sparkly-eyed and excited about something or wanted something, he had to put out the light.  He couldn’t stand it.  They like you weak.  (Sunflower)

23 thoughts on “Thursday Thought — Putting the Light out”

  1. This is a GREAT description of what would happen to me regularly, in my previous marriage. He hated to see me happy or excited about something. He had to say something to ruin it and make me feel bad so I would be downcast. Always taking the wind out of my sails. I got to where I tried new things in secret or accomplished things without any pomp (and also in secret) so he wouldn’t deflate me. While I hate that others have gone through this, it is good to know it was typical of emotional abuse.

  2. Ohhhhhh my gosh. I know this thing. I once was so excited about having given a pair of my favorite shoes away to a street person on a whim. I was overjoyed at that. When I shared this with my ex he scolded me and was angry with me that I took that lady’s shoes and wore them instead. He said I could have gotten AIDS and then our children wouldn’t have a mother. Yes, I hadn’t thought of that in the moment, but it was bigger than that. I just wanted to share this precious thing with him and when I did, afterward I walked away feeling like I had just cast my pearls before swine. I have lots of these kinds of stories I could tell. It made me shut my mouth and not want to be vulnerable with him because he never seemed to catch my vision if it was something that made me happy.

  3. Yes! ANY happy interaction between the children and I, me receiving a complement, being successful in a project, or my family of origin giving me love and attention are all met with a twisted grin of covetousness and undercurrent of anger. When I catch him doing it he immediately switches to a fake smile administered in a mocking way.

    1. Yes, here, too! The “twisted grin of covetousness and undercurrent of anger” and “a fake smile administered in a mocking way.” Perfect descriptions! Thanks, Ann.

  4. I remember that! It was like something in all of us died. I’m so glad to be out and away from that so that the kids’ sparkle continues to shine when they are excited.

  5. I’ve seen this pattern in abusive people I’ve known, but I’ve also seen it in those who have had to live with someone who “put the lights out”. These people think they are doing you a favor, keeping you grounded, not letting you get carried away, helping you think things through, giving you another perspective, protecting you from disappointment, etc. Excited about an upcoming trip? Mr. “Rain on Your Parade” will make sure you consider every negative aspect of trip-taking and every potential danger, so you can make an informed decision. Excited about a new project you are beginning? He will point out the many projects you have undertaken that didn’t turn out well, and will ask how you will avoid similar failures. Excited about whatever situation you find yourself in? He will find the negatives. He doesn’t necessarily want you weak; he just can’t handle joy and light. Your sparkly eyes are a painful reminder that his stopped sparkling years ago.

  6. Wow. Exactly. I can see the disappointment and buried anger when something goes well for me – especially when God answers prayer and I can see His hand and give Him the credit. Even in silence, his face is contorted and you can tell he’s mad. That’s when I know that he was waiting for God to punish me, and when He blessed me and took care of me instead, it was infuriating to him. When someone else recognizes that I did a good job at something or was able to help someone out and I receive gratitude, his response is silent disgust. The quote said, “They like you weak.” So true. Mine also likes me worried, nervous, friendless, and unappreciated.

  7. Your contributor nailed it. It’s pretty gross, heartbreaking really. This is a keeper, and I will surely share it with others.

  8. That was certainly true. I have not enjoyed holidays, weddings, worship services etc. more since leaving the X. Thank God for his release from bondage.

  9. Oh boy! A couple of days ago I began writing on my jornal. Started from the very beginning of our marriage. The first thing that I wrote was that I felt so alone and depressed that it seemed as if someone had just turned off the lights on me. I know that light and darkness clash. Evil doesn’t want to be exposed. I remember on one occasion, we took my daughter out to eat for her birthday. My soon to be x went to the bathroom and when he returned, he saw our waiter talking to us. He blew a gasket and yelled at the waiter telling him that I was his wife. Our dinner was ruined. And that was only one example.

      1. yes, but readers pls be aware that I am ridiculously behind in my emails and may never catch up, especially now I’m managing the care for my dad who is on the palliative care journey.

  10. I can identify with so many of the statements above. Below are listed just a few that ring true for me. My ex even got angry if he ever saw the older kids and I talking, because he “was sure” we were plotting against him. Sick behavior. All of it.


    It made me shut my mouth and not want to be vulnerable with him because he never seemed to catch my vision if it was something that made me happy.

    Mine also likes me worried, nervous, friendless, and unappreciated.

    He hated to see me happy or excited about something. He had to say something to ruin it and make me feel bad so I would be downcast.

    …cast my pearls before swine.

    He blew a gasket and yelled at the waiter….

    1. Dear Lord, We thank you so much for Barbara and the work she has done to give us your word in such a way that sets us free. She now needs us to uplift her to you as she is caring for her father in his days of need. Bless them both Lord and bless their remaining time together. We pray that your will be done and you will relieve their pain. In Jesus name we ask it. Amen,.

  11. I feel like a sicko because as I read these comments I find myself chuckling. That just seems like the farthest thing from appropriate for me to do, but I am humored at how this is so ridiculously crazy and might come across as unbelievable to some who have not lived with / through it. I once got verbally attacked on a lunch date sharing a funny story with my then-husband that I had kept from telling him until a time when he was in a good mood. But he did not find the story funny and ended up irate with me and left me alone at the table to finish my food, which I suddenly was not hungry for.

    On the ride home he spewed all over me. I was still reeling from the “sucker punch” (that’s what I called these from out-of-nowhere verbal assaults) when we stopped somewhere to pay a bill. He usually went in to pay, but this time he sent me in. I had made up my mind I was NOT riding home with him. I came out of the business and proceeded walking down a VERY busy road toward home. It was misty and cold but I held my head high and walked about 2 miles home alone. It was scary, as a couple of cars pulled over to ogle at me and I got a couple of honks….HA! I felt so good not getting back in that car for round three. He drove on home and when I got there he didn’t say a word. And I didn’t care. I felt liberated.

    On another note. I have been reading from the book of Esther lately and my newest Old Testament heroes / heroines are now Vashti, Esther, and Mordecai. Vashti took a huge risk and refused to go before her husband the king and all his drunken revelers to be paraded as eye candy. She paid a price by being stripped of her position, but she upheld her personal dignity. When I read her years ago, my only view of her was that she was an unsubmissive, dishonoring rebel for not going in when her husband called for her (shows you where I have been mentally). But as I am walking in a new place of freedom in life now, I realize she may have very well been doing the right thing by disobeying and refusing the king since he was obviously drunk and he foolishly put her on the spot.

    Same thing with Mordecai….he was expected to bow to Haman, a wicked arch-enemy and second in command under the king. Mordecai held to his own personal convictions and allegiance to God by not bowing to this proud, evil man. Mordecai, too, had a price to pay for maintaining his core beliefs and values….facing death to himself and all his fellow Jews. Even so, he did what he felt was right.

    Then there is Esther. She had every reason to fear going before the king on behalf of Mordecai and all the Jews. She broke royal decorum by presenting herself to the king uninvited and risked facing his wrath if he was offended by her taking liberties with him. As we know, she was welcomed and received by him and the story has a happy ending.

    I made notes from the commentaries I read about this story. Here are a few things that have helped me in resolving the deep struggle I have felt over leaving and divorcing my husband when I had said for years I would never do that. I have felt guilt because I broke my own standard and I felt I have disappointed God, even though deep inside I felt it was the right thing to do after many years of waiting for God to “do something” to bring an end to my pain.

    1) Regarding Mordecai: We should never let any person or thing take God’s place in our our lives. When people demand things from you that do not honor God, don’t give in. It may be time to take a stand. Doing what is right may not always make you popular (esp with an abusive spouse….MY ADD IN). But to obey God is more important than to obey people. God was in control, but Mordecai was willing to act.

    2) Regarding Esther: Rather than dreading a difficult situation or putting it off, take action with confidence. Seize the moment and act. Do what is right in spite of personal danger (within reason….MY ADD IN). Seek to know what God wants you to do by praying and fasting, and then do it with confidence knowing that He will do His part. We won’t know ahead of time how He will accomplish His will. But trust God and prepare to be surprised by the way He demonstrates trustworthiness. Turn to fellow believers for support by sharing your trials with them and gaining strength from them.

    We should pray as if all depended on God and act as if all depends on us. Avoid two extremes–doing nothing and feeling you must do everything.

    3) God uses people to accomplish His purposes.

    (The above numbered items are snippets taken from the New Living Translation Parallel Study Bible. Some of it is directly quoted, and I have also added in some of my own paraphrasing.)

    I used to pray for God to DO SOMETHING…. Change me. Change my then-husband. Change both of us. But it finally came to the place where I had to act. Nothing was going to change for the better if SOMETHING didn’t change at all. Therefore, number 3 (above) reminded me that although God can do things without our help, sometimes He is WAITING for us to take a step to get the ball rolling.

    Hope this helps someone else besides me.

    One more thing, please, if you care to read this far:

    I am struggling with feeling pity for my ex. I am sorry he is so stuck in his anger. He continues to write me notes accusing me of things that are not true. I can offer a perfectly valid, kind defense / explanation for everything I have done. But he has not been able to receive the truth. And when I remind him I left because of 20+ years of bad behavior, he cannot ever acknowledge that fact. I feel such a strong desire for him to at least say he understands, even if he disagrees. Why do I struggle with still wanting to keep the record straight with him??? I know if I even open up that conversation with him, though, it will not end well for me. So it’s foolish to even entertain the idea. But I want him to know I don’t hate him, I just needed some peace in my life and chose to step away. And because he has shown NO signs of change in the 10 months we have been apart, I know he likely won’t be open to a rational discussion. How do I get past the “need” to defend my actions with him, especially when he has the story wrong or has misunderstood my intentions or words? He is either in extreme denial or I was married to someone who looks just like him and has his SAME NAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    PS (I just saw my cat coming toward me from the corner of my eye and immediately thought it was my ex and got a rush of adrenaline to exit out of this page. It’s so dumb because ex does not even live here with me. Triggers….UGH!)

    1. TB — Thank you. What an insightful and helpful comment 🙂

      How do I get past the “need” to defend my actions with him, especially when he has the story wrong or has misunderstood my intentions or words?

      I know it sounds like a cliche, but pray about it? God may drop another penny or several, so that ‘need’ will drop into abeyance.
      Read or re-read Bancroft. That usually helps, though it can be hard to do since so many memories come up . . .

      1. TB you are not the only one that chuckles at the bizarre world that only we can relate to because of our abusers.
        The many years of having to deal with covert abuse has created a sense of humor in me that few would or could understand…
        Sometimes just the sheer absurd audacity of the abuser that can make me laugh,( instead of cry) and that helps me deal with my “odd reality” until I am able to make the necessary changes to get out. -To me it is a good coping strategy.

    2. TB, I think you are very wise and logical. You lean on God’s word for understanding. It’s ok to struggle with the heart and emotions. Turn to the Lord and ask for healing. I do this everyday. Also, what really helps is reading aout the new theme that Barbara just posted today about God only giving Cain one therapeutic session to get it right, and that we don’t need to invest our energy trying to help the perpetrator repent or see the light. My soonn to be x has been away for a couple of weeks, and he has already tryed to creep back by making me feel guilty. But I ignore him. I’m having way too much peace and banquets with The Lord. I hope this helps.

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