By birth order as the oldest child of four … and by default as the child of two abusive and passively-involved parents, I am controlling and tend to take the lead. By nature, I personally prefer to follow and stay in the background. By Spiritual Gifts, I am driven by a Holy God living within to be more in the forefront. Often it feels inside that I live a paradox.
Learning to follow my husband has truly been, well, learning. The curve for that learning in my first marriage was much longer than it has been in this marriage. I am older, yes. But I have learned and grown and been taught much over the years.
So, against my fears, I followed my Husband. I wanted to run away, and I even stated such. But both my new-found-Old-Friend, and my New Husband, encouraged me to stay. So, I have stayed; and I have enjoyed the reaquaintance of an “Old Friend.”
One of the oddities of growing up in an abusive home is that those who knew me then were unaware of the abuse. And since it was, in fact, my normal, in many ways I was unaware of all the abuse until I distanced myself from from it and worked toward healing and recovery.
When I told my Old Friend of the abuse, he shared with me something powerful. As I’ve thought about this, he is the only male friend I had that I remember who had opportunity to get to know my parents. And, he was an adult male. His perspective was intuitive. But not only was it intuitive, it was healing for me when he shared it recently. It validated me. There is a sadness that this is, in fact, true. And then there is the freedom that I am not loosing, nor have I lost, my mind. I know my Truth. Regardless of what all of my family has said against me (which is common in abusive families), my Truth was, and is, real.
These are the words of my new-found-Old-Friend after I shared with him the depth of the abuse:
“I am so sorry, I never really trusted your father, and I wondered about his morals and ethics. I never knew he was abusing you. men that abuse their children in any way should have their “Manhood” removed and placed in a pickle jar….(well perhaps a Gerber baby food jar in his case LOL) I wondered why you father always wanted to have things that exemplified him and never really wee for his family. I felt he was a selfish and egotistical individual but was hesitant to say anything. I do hope your sister got out of the house but I shudder to think about any of this….Now I despise him!”
In 1991, Amy Grant released Ask Me, a song she wrote after she learned one of her best friends from childhood had been sexually abused as a child. That song and the story behind it have lingered in the back of my mind all these years, but not until the re-aquaintance of this Old Friend have I really thought about what that must be like for those who knew me.
When my Best Friend from High School and I were recently discussing this mutual Old Friend and the abuse, she said, “No one knew! None of us knew what was going on!” She has never denied my Truth or disputed me, but I know it has been difficult for her. We have known each other since Elementary School, were best friends all through high school, and we spent much time in each other’s homes.
In my reply to my Old Friend, I wrote, “unfortunately, now that you know, you must forgive him, too. it’s been a long, long road, but God is healing me, and my girls will NEVER have to know what i know.”
My late Mentor told me a story one day of when she followed her husband when she didn’t want to … and how the result was a powerful confirmation of how a wife is to follow her husband. Not always, when we as wives follow our husbands, is the result so powerful. Often it becomes a pattern of behavior acceptable to God. Ever so often, though, the result is powerful. This is one of those times for me. God, through my Husband, led me to another layer of healing. I am thankful I set my boundaries right off the top, at the beginning; and I am thankful I followed my Husband.