A Letter to the Church – The Things I Couldn’t Tell You
If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;
If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works? (Proverbs 24:11-12)
This guest post is by “Moving Forward,” one of our readers. She published it here [This link is broken and there is no replacement. Editors.] on her own blog. She was inspired to write it when she read a post at our blog titled All the things I didn’t tell you.
We need to give a trigger warning. The post contains descriptions of sexual abuse, obsession with guns and knives, and abuse connected with pregnancy/childbirth.
Have you ever wondered why my marriage ended? You thought we looked so good sitting on the pew with our adorable, well-behaved children. We appeared to be serious Christians, dedicated to God, the church, and our family.
Then you heard one day that we’d separated, and may have thought, this doesn’t sound good. Maybe those rumors we heard about her were true after all. It couldn’t possibly be him – we know how nice he is. She just sits in her pew, so antisocial.
Did you know he walked out on us? That he had threatened to many times? That I did what he wanted to get him to stay? That this time it was without warning?
You may have heard he begged to be allowed to return, but I refused his pleas, and that didn’t seem right to you. You still see him out and about. He still calls and visits you. He says he’s so lonely, that he didn’t mean to leave permanently, and is waiting for his wife to give him another chance. She pulled his children away, too, which hurts so much. He is so down, is receiving counselling for all the stress this is causing him. He just doesn’t get that she would do this to him (forgetting who left in the first place).
He’s very spiritual, I’ve seen it. He prays, reads devotionals, books. He talks often about how Jesus saved him. He knows his Bible, at least certain passages, very well.
He has always been helpful, thoughtful, and kind to you, always ready to serve. Surely he couldn’t be so bad?
When you “encouraged” me that marriages go through hard times, I was quiet and accepted the advice and books that you thought would help me get back on track as to what a good wife should be.
I was told not to talk about my crumbling marriage, so I didn’t, while he told anyone who would listen about the troubles he was having with his wife. My reputation received a beating, but I still chose to remain quiet as I had been asked to do.
Then one day he reappeared at church with his fiancé and I disappeared. Do you ever wonder why I never came back?
It’s because of the things I couldn’t tell you.
I couldn’t tell you that he has charmed and manipulated you as he did me. I understand your blindness because I was once blind, too, but I don’t understand why you choose to remain that way.
I couldn’t tell you he also fooled all the people he worked for. He walked out on them, also. Job after job.
My parents knew, though. They were anxious about my marriage, but I couldn’t see it. They were right to worry, but they wanted me to be happy, so said nothing, hoping it would all work out.
I never told anyone that within weeks of marriage the man that I married seemed to disappear. It was all about him and I must conform to his image of a wife or he would look elsewhere. It was subtle at first, but as the years passed the subtly faded.
I couldn’t tell you that I chased after him for approval and affection. I learned I was not a priority to him. You were, but not me, not the children. The words, “I love you” were spoken by him ad nauseum, but I wondered, what did love mean to him? Why did he ignore me? How come everyone else thinks he is so wonderful? Why doesn’t he show that side to me? What is wrong with me? I couldn’t understand. I felt like I was nothing to him.
I can tell you he never hit me with a physical object, but I couldn’t tell you I took a pounding from his words and attitudes. I had nightmares of him standing over me with a baseball bat while I cowered in a corner, trying to protect my head.
I couldn’t tell you of how obsessed with guns and knives he was, and how, when he was snapping at me and slamming doors, I feared for my life, hoping and praying he wouldn’t lose it and come after me with one of his many weapons. That at night I barricaded myself in a room with my smallest children in fear of what he might do to us.
I certainly knew I could never tell you about his sexual abuse of me. It took a while for me to realize one could be sexually abused in marriage. If you love me, you will lie with me, was the dictum stated loud and clear.
I couldn’t tell you how many times he hinted about other women through the years, committing both emotional and physical adultery, as I have learned.
I didn’t tell you about the babies I lost, and how he just went on with his day. It was forgotten in hours, but the bedroom wasn’t.
I couldn’t tell you that he was emotionally abusing the children with a variety of tactics that left them reeling, not sure if he loved them or hated them.
I couldn’t tell you how the fog of confusion about his behaviour was so deep and I was so lost in it I almost gave up my faith. But I couldn’t do that to the Saviour who did so much for me, so I clung to Him with all my might, and He carried me through.
I didn’t tell you that it was the love and faithfulness of two ladies gently asking me if I had considered emotional abuse, that I was eventually freed from the darkness. It took three years, and being at my lowest point, before I looked it up and started working my way out of the fog.
I couldn’t tell you that before he left I had a breakdown and he just stood there keeping me cornered and terrified. Afterwards he acted like it had never happened.
I couldn’t tell you that not long before he walked out he had hardly spoken a word to me except through letters telling me how pathetic and unbiblical I was and that there would be consequences if I didn’t start acting like a proper wife and housekeeper should (all his definitions).
You couldn’t know the reasons why I chose to run the other way as he switched from – I want to come home…How dare you do this to me…I love you…You broke this marriage…I miss you…If only you were the wife you should have been…I promise things will change…You have ruined the children…Can I please come back…You are destroying my reputation, my witness.
I couldn’t tell you these things because I wanted to be a meek and quiet, obedient Christian lady who doesn’t make waves.
He told me he would leave the church so the children and I could continue attending in peace, but he lied.
He came back, and now you know why I didn’t.
That’s not the end of the story, though. Because I am gone, and you have shunned me completely, you will never know what God did. He rescued me from the darkness of abuse, and I love him more dearly and am closer to Him than I ever was before. My Lord has shown His love to me in so many ways. I’m sure He had plans also to show me love through His people, but that didn’t quite work out. However, God did and is doing wondrous things in my life, and I will be eternally grateful.
I can’t tell you of my dreams to help others survive and escape abuse, especially emotional and spiritual abuse, because you don’t want to hear it. But you may hear about my work, anyway. I can’t help that. I’m moving forward with my God and my life, wherever He chooses to take me. That’s what I couldn’t tell you.