Never Mind

As abuse victims and as women, we frequently let ourselves get talked into things.  A pitch is made for our sympathy, and – without much resistance, without even voicing our concerns – we cave in.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be an angel of mercy.  As Christians, we are encouraged to be kind and tenderhearted (Eph. 4: 32).

This does not, however, require that we allow ourselves to be deceived and exploited by every con-man, hustler, cheat, and user who comes along. Here is what the Apostle Paul had to say on the subject:  “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3: 10). Short and to the point.

Unfortunately, abuse victims are particularly prone to discounting their own opinions. We have been “trained” by the experience of abuse to ignore that queasy feeling in the pit of our stomachs.

And we long desperately to be loved.  That often translates into an overwhelming desire to please others. Afraid of rejection, we hesitate to impose limits or make demands. So we set reason and instinct aside.

Say, your boyfriend wants his brother to move in temporarily, with the two of you.  Ask yourself whether this exchange doesn’t sound familiar.

  • Just for awhile, your boyfriend pleads.

Never mind that his brother casually overstayed a prior visit.  Never mind that his brother is unemployed and will be unable to contribute to expenses, while you are juggling two jobs.

Never mind that his brother is the father of three children by two different women, none of whom he supports.  Never mind that one of his “baby mamas” got so fed-up she threw him out, herself [1].

  • His brother is turning over a new leaf, your boyfriend swears.

Never mind that there is no solid evidence of this.  Never mind that you do not know his brother’s friends, associates, or arrest record [2].  Never mind that the brother is unlikely ever to change his lifestyle (or drug habit).

  • His brother is looking for work, and has a couple of interviews set up already.

Never mind that his brother is not known for truthfulness.  Never mind that he has no skills or education, and has never held onto a job longer than a few months.

  • His brother can sleep in the spare room.  He won’t be any trouble at all, your boyfriend asserts.

Never mind that his brother is a slob, who refuses to pick up after himself.  Never mind that the thought of spending any time alone with him in the apartment makes the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. Never mind that you will have no control over the people he brings into the apartment, when you are not there.

  • His brother had a rough childhood.

Never mind that you did, too.  Never mind that you manage to support yourself and behave responsibly, despite that.

  • His brother has no other options.  Have a heart, your boyfriend urges.

Never mind that his brother could apply for public assistance; stay with friends (assuming he has any); stay with his parents; or actually make the effort to locate a job near his children.

Still, contrary to your better judgment, you acquiesce.

Bad Coping Strategy

Unfortunately, closing our eyes and hoping for the best is not a good coping strategy.  The consequences of decisions made in this way can range from irritating to deadly.  And relying on the judgment of a partner who – like the boyfriend in this example – also, endured a traumatic childhood makes us as vulnerable as s/he is.

We have the choice of moving our relationships either in the direction of sanity or dysfunction. That may mean ending some of them.

Never mind. People like your boyfriend’s brother will always find a mark to sponge off. It just doesn’t have to be you.

[1]  The term “baby mama” is not used here to disparage single mothers.  It is meant rather to emphasize their diminished status, once a partner has moved on. Both women and children deserve better.

[2]  Background information can now be easily obtained online.





Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

13 responses to “Never Mind

  1. There’s a proverb I really like that applies here, 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.” Abuse victims tend to not have rule over our own spirits, that was broken once and takes time to heal and re learn. Walls are boundaries, protection, what helps to keep a city safe.

    • Yes, very apt. I had not read that before. Thank you for pointing it out. 🙂 Control is taken away from us. In an effort to regain it — and defend ourselves against what feels like a hostile world — we often rebuild our walls too high. But keeping the world out entirely is impossible, and would be a great loss, in any case.

  2. jacqui

    So true Anna, it is such a delicate balance and I still get it wrong but growing stronger. God Bless jacqui x

    • I think it’s a process of trial and error, even for those men and women who were never abused. Maybe when I’m 101 y.o. I’ll finally have learned all these “life lessons” (LOL)! ❤

  3. So much of the giving in has to do with how we are (or are not) rooted in Christ, in knowing Whose we are and our value in His sight.

  4. Wow. Thank you for this blog. I really really needed to read this. And was encouraged too by your statement that you could maybe finally get it down packed by 101 years of age. I have a tendency to put myself right in the middle of something that does not belong to me. Or end up being forced to stand up for myself. Trial and errors. But for me thank God I don’t have a boyfriend or husband right now. I just need Isaiah my cat who has been my only bed partner since 2009. LOL Safer since I do not trust my ways at all anymore. But I have gotten over the need for love from a man. I know God loves me. I don’t think Isaiah would know how to react if I did find another mate. At this point because of many, many poor choices I have surrendered that to God.

  5. This is a great post, and so very needed!

    My husband and I both struggle with how much help to give. We are both on disability for PTSD, his due to combat in Vietnam, mine from early and repeated childhood and young adulthood trauma and abuse. We barely have enough for ourselves, and yet it is so hard for us to say no, especially when it involves a family member.

    In the twelve years since we married (we met and married when we were in our early fifties), we have taken in my husband’s disabled older sister (she was supposed to only stay 2 months, she stayed 11 months), my adult son and his girlfriend and her troubled teenager (10 months), my husband’s 43 year old daughter (9 months and counting, but at least she’s working and she is respectful and sometimes she even tries to be helpful), plus we have given many hundreds and a few thousands of dollars over the years to: buy medicine and food for my disabled brother, to buy a car for my adult daughter, to pay off a car and pay for car repairs for my husband’s adult son, and a couple of months ago we maxed out our credit cards to go rescue a granddaughter from an abusive meth user. We have also given a few thousands of dollars to pay child support for one of our grandchildren, so that the grandchild’s parent, one of our adult children, would not be arrested for non payment. Last month we ended up with a negative balance in our checking account after paying $550 toward the child support. Then I told this 40-something year old “child,” No More. Next time you go to jail. But… Oh my Lord!!

    Meanwhile, my husband and I are in our sixties and deeply in debt. Although our little house is paid for now, thank the Lord, it desperately needs a new roof, among many other things, most of which are merely cosmetic, but.. still. A couple of months ago we were finally able to buy the materials to replace the roof that was leaking in several places. But the problem is that we are not physically capable or knowledgeable enough to put the roof on ourselves and we do not have the money to hire professional roofers. So as of today the new roof is only partly on, and I am beginning to despair of it ever being finished.

    Eek. I am whining now, aren’t I? I know it is our own fault, we keep saying yes to people when we probably should say no. But it’s so hard to say no to people we love, when we know their struggles are real and we know firsthand how awful it is to do your best and struggle and to have no one help! Before we finally got on disability — we had to go to federal court to get the little we finally won — we used to sell our plasma and we sold all of our goid possessions just to eat and pay the electric bill. We lost our home, the one we were buying before we got this cheap fixer upper… it was awful.

    We also have a hard time saying no, because my husband and I both feel that our adult children would be far more successful in life, if they hadn’t been so badly raised by us, because of our respective PTSD issues that we have had since the 1960s, years before we even knew we had PTSD. We thought we were just crazy and losers. But now that we finally have gotten some help, and now that we are no longer in danger of starving or being homeless, we want to help whomever we can.

    But… whew… maybe we need to back off from helping so much, and take care of ourselves for awhile? We know we are saved by Grace through faith, so it’s not like we are trying to earn our salvation.

    Sorry this is so long. Your post really opened the flood gates! I typed all of this with one finger on my little Kindle fire tablet!

    • No apologies needed, except on my part. I would have responded sooner, but am having major computer issues. Here are my two cents, for what they may be worth.

      First, God knows your good intentions. Whatever you did for your family, you did out of love and kindness. But the sense of responsibility you feel to take on all your family’s financial burdens (the urgency you feel to catch the plates others drop) is out of proportion. That is, I believe, related to the needless guilt you carry.

      Each of us must live our own lives. We make our own mistakes, and will be held accountable for our own choices in the hereafter. That applies to our children, as well. What did you have to give up, in order to buy your daughter a car? Did she learn anything about saving from that? Your son was spared the consequences of failing to take financial responsibility for his children. What did he take away from that? Is he a better man for it?

      You and your husband are at an age when your able-bodied children should be extending help to you…not the reverse. You are allowed to say “no” to them, even with money left in the bank! Frankly, most responsible adults would have declined your offers of assistance.

      Your children may not have had the “perfect” childhood you would have wished. That does not entitle them to raid your savings (or play on your guilt), whenever convenient. Money is not the measure of your love. Lend your family a shoulder to cry on. But let them learn a few life lessons on their own. It will benefit them in the end.

      God bless you!

      • Thank you so much!! I am going to prayerfully share this with my husband. And then, I believe I will write a post about this, with a link back to you, if you don’t mind? I would like to include your reply to my comment, in its entirety, but only if I have your permission first.

        You asked what we gave up when we bought a car for my daughter. Funny you should ask that. We bought her car with the homeowner’s insurance money we had just received for the damage done to our roof by baseball to softball sized hail from a supercell storm that pounded our high plains town in 2012. My daughter seemed suicidal at the time and after patching our roof, it was not leaking, so…. it seemed like helping my daughter was more important than getting a new roof.

        You asked what my daughter learned from that, did she learn to save… uh, no. Sadly, about a year after we bought the car, which we had two different mechanics check out and do repair work on, the car we gave her was apparently so badly neglected by my daughter that it caught fire… with my daughter, two granddaughters, and my infant great-grandson inside!

        Luckily they all escaped harm. But here’s the kicker — when my daughter posted pictures on Facebook of the car on fire, which burned so hot that it actually melted down into the pavement, so that the tow truck driver could not two it away — I posted under her story that I was so sorry, that we had had two different mechanics check it out and we had paid them to fix whatever was wrong and they tuned it up and put in a new windshield and all new tires before we gave her that car. And… she deleted my comment, then told me in a private message that she did not want her friends to see that her parents had bought her that car. I felt even more horrible, like I had done something very wrong.

        I am feeling so stupid right now.

        I hope your computer issues are soon fixed. Thank you so much for your time and effort in crafting such a helpful, thoughtful reply. God bless you!!

      • You and your husband sound like wonderful people. My heart truly goes out to you. I was concerned that my response might seem less than compassionate. Yes, of course, you can use the post and/or response as you like.

        One last thought. Temporarily feeling what you describe as “stupid” may not be such a bad thing. The pain at having been used is a signal that your boundaries have been violated. Consider it a reminder that you are entitled to boundaries no one should cross without your permission. ❤

      • Aww, thank you so much for your kind words. And no worries, your response came across to me as very compassionate.

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