Tag Archives: codependence

“What to Do if You Still Love Your Abusive Ex” by Catherine Liu

“Weeping Woman” by Arnoldus Borret (c. 1880), Leiden University Library/Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (Accession No. 36A221), (PD)

We cling to bad relationships for any number of reasons.  

Sometimes we assume the time we have invested in a destructive relationship is too substantial to relinquish.  But that is merely grief distorting our reason.  The loss of a year — or a decade — does not justify the loss of another.

Sometimes we believe the passion we feel — unreciprocated as it may be — is the only thing that gives our lives significance.  But that is false.  Our lives derive significance (and joy) from many sources:  faith, nature, children, family, friends, work, charity, and creativity to name a few.

Ultimately, what gives our lives meaning is the fact that we are children of God, made in His image.  Nothing and no one can deprive us of that attribute…though it is all too easy to forget, when we have been subjected to abuse.

This is a helpful article laying out 7 steps for victims to follow, if an abusive ex-lover or spouse still has an emotional hold on them.

“1.   Acknowledge that he Never Loved You

No matter how much you try to bargain with yourself, and no matter the lies he told you, people always show you how they feel about you by the way they treat you. Acknowledge that he doesn’t care about your feelings. He doesn’t care about your confidence or self-esteem. He will only flourish when he’s belittling you and you’re suffering for his ego. Screw that! You’re better off without anyone than with someone like that! You deserve someone who can give you support, patience, kindness, empathy and can reciprocate real love…”

TO READ MORE GO TOhttps://stepstowardhealing.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/what-to-do-if-you-still-love-your-abuser-7-truth-bombs-to-get-you-over-him/

Catherine Liu blogs on Improve Your Life After Abuse at https://stepstowardhealing.wordpress.com

FOR MORE OF MY ARTICLES ON POVERTY, POLITICS, AND MATTERS OF CONSCIENCE CHECK OUT MY BLOG A LAWYER’S PRAYERS AT: https://alawyersprayers.com

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Filed under Christianity, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Religion, Violence Against Women

Silly Putty

Most of us remember Silly Putty from childhood.  A silicone-based toy, Silly Putty (trademarked by Crayola) could stretch, bounce, and replicate print images like those found in newspapers or comic books (today’s “graphic novels”).

Once removed from its protective shell, Silly Putty could be twisted and folded into a variety of shapes, and the images captured on it comically distorted.  These properties still astound and delight children.

But to abuse victims, Silly Putty offers a caution.

Validation

All human beings – abuse victims included – need validation, confirmation that their thoughts and feelings are appropriate, and in line with reality.  The need is part of what makes us human.  However stoic we may imagine ourselves, we were engineered for connection to others.

When we are denied connection through abuse, our need for validation does not disappear.  It intensifies.

Anxious to please, we may become putty in the hands of friends and family – willing to conform to their standards, to turn ourselves inside out, even if not asked to do that.  It can become difficult for us to remember what we might have preferred, if our loved ones had not expressed a preference first.

The quality of our loved ones will be tested, in the process [1].

Malleability

Most of us seek to comply with the desires of friends and family.  Maintaining harmony in our relationships is a laudable goal.

Generally, it is not a great deal to ask that we pursue the same course of action our loved ones do.  Affection will often sway us, especially if the choice is not of any great significance.

There should, however, be two major exceptions to this:  the first regarding ethics and morality; the second regarding self-esteem. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

Gomer

“Thoughts of the Past” by John Spencer Stanhope (1859), Tate Museum, PD Art (PD-old-100)

The biblical prophet Hosea lived during a dark period in Israel’s history, around the 8th Century BC.  Though prosperous, the Northern Kingdom had turned away from the one true God, instead worshipping idols.

Against this backdrop, God’s puzzling direction to Hosea was that he should marry a prostitute:

Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1: 2).

Hosea’s troubled relationship with his wife, Gomer, becomes a metaphor for God’s relationship with Israel [1].

Gomer bears Hosea three children, whose names are symbolic of the spiritual deterioration of Israel [2].  But Gomer is repeatedly unfaithful.  Hosea even questions the paternity of the younger children.

Despite that, Hosea is commanded by God to love Gomer (Hosea 3: 1).  God warns Israel of terrible chastisement to come for its sin [3].  Hosea is not though described as punishing Gomer.  Rather, he ransoms her out of slavery.

We can infer that Hosea provides Gomer food and clothing, and treats her tenderly.  Ultimately, Hosea forgives Gomer’s infidelity as God forgives Israel’s.

Motivation

Since Gomer does not speak, we are left to wonder about her motivation.  Here she is, rescued from a life of degradation.  Yet she does not – or cannot – remain faithful.  Did she feel ignored by Hosea?  Did she long for male attention and admiration?  For the excitement of the streets (or the sensuality of pagan worship)?

Self-Sabotage

Why can what we know is wrong sometimes feel so “right”?  For abuse victims, self-sabotage may be part of the answer.

Self-sabotage is the expression of low self-esteem.  Any behavior which undermines our success can fall into this category.  Examples include binge drinking, engaging in unprotected sex, and selecting an alcoholic life partner.  The behavior may be conscious or unconscious.

“Typically, one’s pattern of self-sabotage is closely related to one’s personal issues and family history.   Survivors who grew up in addictive families may self-sabotage by driving while drunk… Survivors from violent families may…[be] beaten or injured.   Survivors from wealthy families often find themselves losing money, getting swindled or making bad investments.  Studies have shown that survivors of child sexual abuse are more likely to be assaulted as adults [4].”

This is not to suggest that abuse victims are responsible for the abuse inflicted on them.  Nor is it meant to imply that victims want to be re-victimized. Continue reading

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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). Continue reading

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Unbiblical, Part 5 – Self-Sacrifice v. Codependence

“The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

– Mother Teresa

Self-sacrifice is natural to Christians, and encouraged. Christians are to put the legitimate needs of others ahead of their own, in imitation of Christ. Mother Teresa was a shining example of this. For abuse victims, however, self-sacrifice can become confused with codependence.

Codependence as an After-Effect of Abuse

Individuals suffering from codependence will allow the emotions and behavior of others to dictate their view of themselves. Those with codependence will tolerate – even, unconsciously, seek out – relationships that are “one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive verbally or physically” [1].

Codependent characteristics include low self-esteem; fear of anger; denial of any problems with the relationship; and an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the feelings, choices, and actions of the loved one [2].

While on its face, codependence may resemble Christian self-sacrifice, there are distinct differences between the two.

The codependent individual may forego his/her goals and desires to meet the perceived “needs” of a loved one. But the underlying motive for this is not the welfare of the loved one.  It is fear.

Actually, the codependent individual is attempting to shore up his/her fragile sense of worth, strike an unspoken bargain for love and affection, and maintain the relationship at all costs (however abusive or unsatisfying it may be). An overly solicitous mother might be a crude illustration.

By comparison, Christian self-sacrifice is not the attempt to manipulate (or placate) an individual perceived as more “important” or powerful. It is, or should be, truly selfless.

Clinging to an Imitation

None of this is meant to imply that abuse victims cannot love and love intensely. The problem lies in the fact victims have not seen healthy love modeled. What feels familiar is a flawed version of love, an imitation. The real love and support victims need seem out of reach, so we cling to the imitation with all our might, confusing pain for passion. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse