During my almost-nineteen-year marriage, I fought with my then-husband a lot and I argued/angered/annoyed many, many people at my church. It was pointed out to me, more than once, that I should maybe consider that I was the common denominator in all those skirmishes.
So I moved through my twenties and thirties thinking I was a walking conflict. Someone to be put up with. One rough edge away from a sociopath. A woman with virtually no social skills. More off than the next guy.
You might think I’m being overdramatic, but I’m not. I totally thought these things about myself. And I didn’t just occasionally think these things, I felt these things, believed these things, let these things take over my heart.
I honestly thought I was this person that I was being told I was.
But I’m not that girl anymore.
And I’m going to make a bold statement: I never was that girl.
I have two theories as to why I was in an abnormally large amount of conflict with people from church and why I argued so much with my then-husband.
I’ll tackle the church issue first. Because I wasn’t really me. I lived almost two decades as a Type A, controlling leader in a slow-paced introvert’s body. Add that to this little fact: for those same two decades, I was in a marriage that was sapping my strength and personhood and I was doing everything I could think of to keep it tamped down while simultaneously trying to fix it and while hoping no one would find out and yet that someone would come rescue me. Allow me to let you in on a little secret: image management is exhausting. And my personal pain, I have no doubt, was coming out all over the place, including on the people I was trying to lead and serve. (I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: if we served together at church during that almost twenty-year stretch, again, I am so very sorry for hurting you, being unkind to you, trying to control you, using you, and just overall being harsh.)
But now onto why (well, one of the reasons why) I think I argued with my then-husband so much. Because I wasn’t really me. (Yep, same reason as above.) And I was a hard-edged woman who was just trying to protect her heart from being pummeled. And because – and this one is key – my partner and I weren’t good for each other. And here’s how I know this.
Because this new man who has become my friend…..I’m really me with him and we are good for and to each other. Not one argument. It’s just easy. And..…and this a huge AND…..he says things like, “Who wouldn’t get along with you?” (Ummm, a whole lot of people from my past, I tell him.) But he sees me as agreeable and kind and non-annoying and such (perhaps in part because he’s agreeable and kind with me). (New concepts that I’m learning to enfold into my self-perception to break down twenty years of false thinking, by the way.)
So, I used to be a pill.
But now..…turns out, I’m easy. Who knew?
When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly. –Proverbs 31:26
Now, this begs the question….if things are so easy now, does reconcilliation then become a possibility? I ask this because…my experience so far in all of this mess is that almost everyone that I know gives me two choices only…reconcile of stay single the rest of my days. They are adamant that those are the only two choices I have and that reconcilliation is preferable. My son saw a former football mate of his just the other day and he asked my son were we (me and my ex) still divorced. WOW! Really? SO I am now learning what my sons are dealing with from their friends. Apparently divorce carries a significant stigma no matter if you are the child or the former spouse. Of course the porn addiction and six affairs are never mentioned, and as of last night according to my youngest son (the only one of us who still spends time with the man) says nothing has changed. My ex is still busy condenming the world. And not working and not supporting his sons. Sigh…I wish people would STOP condenming divorced people. Sometimes we are better off apart!!
Kim, you can only take care of your part and of your healing. What everyone else says or thinks doesn’t concern you (easier said than done, I know).
the scary and exhilerating act of loving yourself…
Love this! Thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing “I’m Easy”…..The way I see it, you were and are a woman saved by the grace of God dealing with unsaved people of the past…..thankful that God has brought a special friend into your life that has a heart for God and His goodness, as you…..praying….may we never be yoked again by unbelievers(lack of trust in Christ)…2 Cor 6:14-17
Much love sent to my sister in Christ….
Thank you, Carolyn.
I could not agree more with all of this and how it tells of my own experience as well…
Thanks for reading, Julie!
Elisabeth, I just recently subscribed to your blog but I have been reading it with interest for some months now…discovered through Crosswalk…and almost every post brings me to tears because they touch me so greatly and I see many similarities in your experiences and my own. I also was married to an abusive man which totally screwed up my self-worth and closed down my heart tighter than a drum. It’s been almost 20 years since the divorce and I am just beginning to open up. I was so afraid to be that vulnerable to a man ever again and get into a similar situation and to trust a man again…But over the past 3 years, my trust has been restored…ever so gently. The Lord brought me a special friend…such as the man you have described in your posts…who also makes me feel respected, special and as if I am setting THE standard, so different from NEVER even meeting the standard, let alone setting one, according to my ex. But this whole concept of becoming your true self…and rejecting the false selves we become over the years to cope or please others…so very much my reality as well…so much so that it’s like…who am I really? And as I step out and open my heart and discover/unearth my true self buried under ever so many layers I am finding there are some…particularly family members…who may have liked the doormat/subservient/easy to be manipulated self that I was for so many years…painful, but, still, it is a fresh experience to grow closer to ME and revel in the me that my friends love and I am growing to love, you know? And MOST important of all the ME that God created and loved from the time he thought of me…before I was ever born…one who is unlike any other and unique, fulfilling a role and a purpose in His Grand Story (love The Sacred Romance by Curtis/Eldredge) no one else ever has before or ever will again…just like each and every one of us… Thank you for your honesty and the chronicling of your journey…it is such a wonderful thing to know I am not alone in some of these experiences…
Blessings to you and upon you!
CeCe, so grateful to hear how God is restoring you to his original design when he lovingly thought you up. What a gift to hear.
I don’t know what I would be like in a dating situation…like you I’ve been hurt and believed what my then-husband spewed at me way too much. The marriage was ten years, four years later, I am still trying to make God’s voice of who I am louder then my ex’s. Work in progress. I have a male best friend (just friends) that brings out the best in me also, and it truly makes me wonder what kind of beauty will come out in an environment where I am loved and cherished and accepted for me. Yes, I have grown up a lot in everything I have walked through, and God is getting me to a good spot, so there is kind of some excitement at the idea of seeing me in a real relationship of give/take, centered on God.
And then there is the part of me that has heard my whole growing up years that you don’t divorce…or if you do, you don’t remarry. We already tried the reconciliation thing, after he took off for three months at our five year mark…went through counseling and everything…but only one of us was all in it, and the other one lasted another five years before leaving for greener pastures. It’s hard to change something you have heard your whole life, and continue to hear from “well-meaning” people.
That being said, I know that God has promised me that He has someone for me, when He knows the time is right. So, if He is willing to promise it to me, I will just keep seeking Him and letting His voice become the one I listen to. And choose to look forward to seeing how much of a life-changer a God-centered, in God’s timing, relationship is.
Thank you for sharing…because there are so many of us that feel exactly the same way!
Becky, love this line…”letting His voice become the one I listen to…” So good. I need to ask him to do that for me more frequently. Thanks for reading!