A Gentle World With Gentle People

My son hasn’t been the easiest person to live with in the last couple weeks. He is more argumentative (and insulting) than normal when he doesn’t get his way. I suspect he is trying to establish his independence and he thinks he is scoring a win when his skillful words hurt, but he doesn’t yet realize how damaging his words can be.

My Dad got a personal computer when I was in high school. He was the first person I knew who had a home computer. I could tell you stories about the early computers! I really enjoyed his computer. After a couple of years, he got a program for his computer that asked questions and then analyzed a person’s personality. I took the personality test and the analysis was amazingly accurate. I still have it around here somewhere. Basically it said that I hate conflict, and I long to live in a gentle world filled with gentle people. It is true.

I grew up in a dysfunctional family with a mother who emotionally abusive but I didn’t fully realize it until I got engaged to EJ. Shortly before I got engaged to EJ, my Mom told me that she and Dad had discussed the fact that I’d do anything for them but they realized that they would never be able to get me to do something I felt was wrong. That was true. Long story, but my Mom forced me to choose between her and EJ. I loved her deeply and begged her not to make me choose but when I refused to let her have control of my marriage, I quickly went from beloved daughter to “daughter from hell–the worst daughter a mother can have.” My mother accused me of things I never did, lied about me to the others in the family, turned everyone in the family against me, rejected me, and treated me terribly. I have received no affirmation from my family in more than 20 years.

I loved my family deeply and felt heartbroken by the estrangement. Over the years, I have tried again and again and again to reconcile with them but it’s been an abusive cycle. I was told a year or so ago that my Mom had said that all my efforts have been “a mere drop in a teacup” and there is nothing I can ever, ever do to gain her forgiveness. I called my Mom to tell her I love her and got yelled at for being such a rotten daughter.

Soon after I was married, I decided to teach myself to sew. EJ dropped me off at Joanne Fabric’s store and went to a store that had guy stuff. I stood in the store, feeling lost and overwhelmed, wishing my Mom was there to tell me what pattern to choose, wishing she was there to tell me what color looked good on me, wishing she was there to tell me what type of fabric to buy. I realized in horror that I had been so manipulated and controlled all my life (except when I knew something was wrong) that I had no idea what I liked or what I thought or how to make choices. I never did learn to sew.

Over the last 20+ years, I have been on a journey to recognize and overcome emotional damage–to know who I am, to know what I think, to be able to make choices, to take risks, to stand up for myself, and to set healthy boundaries. Setting boundaries have been very hard for me because many people have told me that I just needed to “love and forgive” my family more, without understanding the level of emotional abuse I’ve endured. This is NOT a minor tiff that can be resolved if those involved would only love and forgive more. This is emotional abuse.  It’s been only in the last couple of years that I realized that my family CANNOT be in my life, that I MUST separate from them because every contact brings turmoil and depression. Even so, it’s difficult for me. I want to be loving and godly, and it’s felt unloving to separate from my family. I struggle with feeling that I failed, that I truly am not loving enough, that if only I had done this thing or that thing, maybe I would have had my family in my life. I know logically that this is not true, but sometimes I long for family, and I wake up sad in the morning.

I have, along the way, learned a lot about what forgiveness and love is and is not. I named this blog BELOVED DAUGHTER of the King because I learned that I am His beloved daughter, and not a daughter from Hell as my Mom called me. I have been learning over the years how very precious I am to Him. One of my (many) favorite verses is Ps.45:10-11:

Listen, daughter, and pay careful attention:
Forget your people and your father’s house.
Let the king be enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord.

Confrontation drains and exhausts me spiritually and emotionally, and sometimes makes me feel fragile, and weary, and like a failure. It makes my wounds ache. I want to live in a gentle world filled with gentle people. I hate conflict and words that hurt. I’m tired of people who do not treat others kindly.

The other day, I was walking my dog and I told God in discouragement that I needed encouragement NOW. I needed to know that we were on the right path in our lives, including our decision to separate from my family. I am quite sure we need to, but….

A couple of hours later, my friend sent me a link to a website about the need to separate from abusive family for protection. It is called When Separation is Protection. It was just what I needed to read. I saw a link on the site about an Emotionally Abusive Mother, and it was helpful to read that I was not the only one who has struggled with emotional abuse. I also got verification about other matters in my life in other ways.  So I think I am doing exactly what I need to do.

I’ve shared the links to the articles (click on them in the previous paragraph) because although I believe we ought to view people with understanding and compassion, I also know that there is a time to separate from abusive people.

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