Evacuate! — an analogy for getting out of abusive marriages
Evacuate. GET OUT of collapsing buildings. We are republishing this post in honour of the victims of 9/11, and because, just like the firemen in the Twin Towers who didn’t have a chance to put the fire out, we didn’t have a chance to have healthy marriages. And that was all we were trying to do.
“The firefighters had 29 minutes to get out of the World Trade Center or die. Inside the north tower, though, almost none of them realized how urgent it had become to leave.” — 9/11 Firefighters Told of Isolation Amid Disaster [Internet Archive link]
I was messaging a friend the other day. Her divorce was final just this year and she is still sorting through the emotions that come over her in waves.
Friend: My heart is broken. I really think it would have been better to just stay married and balance the cycles. I’d have my kids near me and under my influence instead of his family’s. I’d be more of an influence on my abuser than his family. And I’d at least have his up swings and good cycles. I wrecked us all by giving up. Everything is so wrecked.
Me: Cycles like this?
Me: You wrecked nothing. You can’t control him. You never could. Abusers want their targets to think we can. We can’t. His upswings cause as much stress as his viciousness. That’s because during the upswings you start to believe that he’s not that bad and you’re crazy. I am not the boss of you. But I REALLY believe you did the right thing. You are brave. You didn’t “give up.” You got legal protection. Now it’s time to use it. Please call the child support office and get the ball rolling there.
Your believing you could manage him is EXACTLY what he is after. Going no contact with him will help you to get out of this fog. He is not a Christian. He is not caring for you or desiring your well being. All he wants, ALL HE WANTS, is what he wants right now at this very minute, like a 2 year old (not an insult). And he has a big enough body and mean enough mouth that he will destroy whatever he perceives to be getting in his way.
Your children need you to pick a side and commit. You are being double minded. I’m not chastising you as though I haven’t felt the same emotions. You acted in integrity. You acted FOR YOUR KIDS. You are showing them how to love. A real life support group will be very good (I hope). I wish you could get into a Mending The Soul group. Your courage is pleasing to God. TRUST HIM. Trust that He is with you. Trust him. He is worthy of your trust and obedience. You didn’t sin. You didn’t abandon your faith. You didn’t give up. Your abuser is not safe. HE ISN’T SAFE.
I have an assignment for you. I want you to go to a fire station and talk to firemen. There are times that they can put fires out. And they stay and they FIGHT the fires, and there are times that they MUST evacuate a building and manage the damage from a safe distance. You evacuated. You didn’t give up. [Then I Googled for articles about firefighters and found this. It has so many parallels to abusive marriages and the churches’ (rescuers’) responses (good and bad) that it gave me chills. The whole article will take your breath away.]
9/11 Firefighters Told of Isolation Amid Disaster — New York Times [Internet Archive link] Oral histories reveal that firefighters in the north tower of the World Trade Center had no idea that the south tower had collapsed. “The firefighters had 29 minutes to get out of the World Trade Center or die. Inside the north tower, though, almost none of them realized how urgent it had become to leave.”
You fought the fire. You got out before the blaze collapsed on you and killed you and left your children completely WITHOUT an advocate. You DID NOT GIVE UP.
“In stairwells or resting on floors, they could not see what had happened or hear clearly stated warnings. Even after the south tower fell, when few civilians remained in the lower floors of the north tower, throngs of firefighters lingered in the lobby and near the 19th floor as time ran down, the survivors said.”
You and I are out and we can learn to see the warnings. We can learn to help others and equip them to hang onto their sanity, their health, their dignity, and GET OUT of collapsing buildings. You didn’t give up. You couldn’t hold that burning building up by yourself.
“Firefighters wondered aloud how they could have attacked a fire reached at the end of a four-hour climb.”
They couldn’t have. That building was coming down whether they were in it and fighting the fire or not. Your marriage was destroyed by your abuser, not you. You DID climb that exhausting climb. Like the firemen in the north tower, your communication devices (preachers teaching bad doctrine about marriage) didn’t work and almost got you killed. But you got OUT by God’s grace. You survived.
“On the 37th floor, Daniel Sterling, of Engine Company 24, had stopped with firefighters from Ladder 5 and Engine 33 – who did not survive – when the building rattled. A moment later, Firefighter Sterling said, Chief John Paolillo appeared. “He thought there was a partial collapse of the 65th floor of our building and that we should drop everything and leave,” Firefighter Sterling said. ‘Get Up and Go, Go, Go’ A few floors below, around the 30th or 31st floor, Chief Paolillo was spotted again. “He was yelling, ‘Leave your equipment and just get up and go, go, go,’ [Ellie’s insertion – I see that equipment as being the permanence teachings that we thought were gospel, or the earthly treasures we’d accumulated during the marriage, or the respect of others who we knew would think badly of us if divorced] like that,” Lt. Brian Becker of Engine 28 said. Chief Paolillo died.” Over and over, firefighters who had left the building in those final minutes, bewildered by the sudden retreat, the ruined lobby, the near-empty street, mentioned a chief covered in the dust of the first collapse, standing just outside the north tower on West Street. Some knew his name: Deputy Assistant Chief Albert Turi. “He was screaming, ‘Just keep moving. Don’t stop,’ ” Firefighter Thomas Orlando of Engine 65 recalled, adding, “I still didn’t know the south tower collapsed.” Chief Turi, he said, “saved an awful lot of people.”
I think Jeff C might be that guy covered in dust.
“We didn’t have a chance to do anything,” he added. “We didn’t have a chance to put the fire out, which was really all we were trying to do.”
We didn’t have a chance to have healthy marriages. And that was all we were trying to do.