Letting go of the abuser

Several times in my life, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that someone I dearly love is abusive. They are not always criminals like my ex-husband, but abusive none the less.

Discerning abuse

Their words are cruel. Their smiles were disingenuous. They lie. They insinuate. They gossip. 

Psychological or emotional abuse may seem like no big deal, but it’s absolutely insidious. Someone you love and trust mounts an intentional strategy campaign to make you feel stupid, crazy, or worthless. Understand: they can destroy your friendships or even drive you suicidal. And don’t even get me started on the threat they pose your children. You want your kids to be healthy and happy with firm faith in God? Psychological abusers will try to destroy that.

My in-laws…I have previously written a post about saying goodbye. This was weeks after discovering what my husband had done. I had hoped for their help and support, but I knew that would not happen because I knew how they were during our marriage. What happened, happened over a period of years. This was planned. This was a strategy to sew discord. 

After I don’t know how many ridiculous situations where I have been avoided, where I heard mean gossip from them, getting angry looks, I finally acknowledged that my loved ones were abusive.

Is it in my mind?

I was wondering what could possibly be their motivation? Maybe It’s all in my head. But the pattern of abuse became undeniable. Upon confronting these people (only one responded by the way), wanting to be able to talk about how the situation felt for me, them ignoring me, cutting me and my children out of their lives, telling lies to others. They refused to talk about the situation. I somehow was an evil genius who somehow instigated my husband (and physical abuser) actions to frame him. They gossiped and lied. The mask fell off. The smiles turned to spitting rage. It was ugly.

Letting go

Before I confronted them though, the emotional influence they had over me was terrible. Just seeing their name pop up in my emails caused a wave of nauseous. I had nightmares about them calling me on the phone, seeing them in school or at the supermarket, insulting my kids, or spreading lies about me. I realized that for the sake of my mental health – and for the sake of my children, and my emotional stability – I needed these people out of my life. But they hadn’t committed any crimes!

Letting go of the abuser

There was no one event I could point to and say, “They’re dangerous.” But like I said, the patterns of abuse were undeniable. They stretched back for decades and demonstrated a clear malevolence and conscious intent to harm and destroy. And now, these behaviors were affecting my kids, my sleep and my ability to heal from the spousal abuse and divorce. That’s when Psalm 1 came to my rescue:

Blessed is the one

who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

and who meditates on His law day and night. 

I am not called to enable wicked, abusive people. I am not called to tolerate the damaging sins of the unrepentant. I am not called to socialize with people who mock, lie, and mess with my head or my kid’s heads or even other people’s heads. I am called to cling to God and meditate on Him day and night. 

I longed for their love and support, but they denied me this and instead were part of my torment. They made me feel like the criminal instead of the victim. I finally realized that I am so much better off without them. I finally realized what they did too, was abuse.

Healing

Now, if someone else were to go and minister to my abuser(s), I’d say, “Thank you! God bless you!” But my abuser is not my mission field. They do not love me. They do not respect me. Nothing I say or do can help them, except to deny them the opportunity to sin against me. 

Within weeks – even days – of cutting those people out of my life, everything improved. My depression lifted partially, my anxiety eased up, my prayer life blossomed, my Bible reading was more fruitful, and I really feel I became a better mom, friend, and worshipper of God. 

The moral of the story being, if someone in your life is spiritually poisoning you – if being around them damages your faith, causes friction in your marriage, exacerbates your depression/anxiety, or makes you feel stupid, crazy, or worthless – break free. Cling to God. 

“Blessed is the one

who does not walk in step with the wicked

or stand in the way that sinners take

or sit in the company of mockers,

but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,

and who meditates on his law day and night. 

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