confusion and control

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One of the threads that weaves consistently through the tangled web of abuse is confusion. Abuse is rooted in control, and one of the quickest ways to take away someone’s power is to confuse her, so abusers are often deliberately mysterious and difficult to read. They seem to be made up of a strange jumble of incongruous traits: funny and depressed, warm and cold, loving and contemptuous, passionate yet passive, hardworking in public and lazy at home.

I never knew for sure who my husband actually was, what he really wanted, or what would make him happy–if such a thing were actually possible. There were times when I thought I understood him, and yet every time I acted on the signals he seemed to be sending, following the clues I’d collected along the way, the landscape would suddenly shift. I’d find myself alone and bewildered with the wind knocked out of me; disoriented and wondering where I went wrong.

At first, I found him fascinating. He was a puzzle I would cleverly piece together, the riddle I would delight in solving. Over time, though, my confidence and wonder dissipated. I learned to carefully and delicately navigate our interactions, striving for connection and love. I yearned for closeness, yet he kept me at arm’s length. When I expressed my dissatisfaction with the distance between us, he simply sneered with derision, saying how unloving I was, how obtuse and self-centered; after all these years, how could I not understand my own husband? With this, I sank into a swirl of despair and turmoil. I knew I loved him, and I knew I was not stupid. There was another explanation: I wasn’t crazy; he was making me crazy.

My sense of confusion and futility in our relationship didn’t spring from a deficiency or lack of ability on my part; rather, it was a dynamic he intentionally created to maintain control over me. The more off-balance I felt, the less power I had in the relationship. The less I trusted my own voice, the more his could take over. It’s truly a marvel of twisted genius how well he convinced me to give up my power while simultaneously placing all of the responsibility for our connection onto me.

It was only when I learned to quiet myself and surrender my turmoil and confusion in prayer that I finally began to have peace and clarity. I came to find security and connection with the Creator, and that was enough. I grieved the lost desires of my heart and desperately sought healing for my marriage, but I didn’t need it to happen for me to be okay. As love & self-worth filled the cracks of my weary heart, I slowly became empowered and confident again.


3 thoughts on “confusion and control

  1. Mom says:

    Yes,I unfortunately am all too familiar with all of this..and the extreme results include withdrawal from and awkwardness with others and myself,and inability to trust my own ability to make good decisions..after all, choosing him was a big one,and I’d certainly been horrifically wrong about that.
    God and his word and spirit are the true north,the always correct compass that can be trusted,even when I miscalculate.He folds my mistakes into a masterplan that overrides my errors,when I simply lay them at his feet.😊


  2. Sarah says:

    Yes! This describes how I often felt in my relationship with my ex-boyfriend. We never walked into marriage, praise the Lord, but when I left the relationship I hadn’t yet put a name to what I experienced. Walking through abuse is horrible, but thankfully God is so good and can bring healing in the darkest days. Thanks for sharing a little of your story! I believe we as Christian women can help so many by sharing our personal stories.

    Liked by 1 person

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