Last Christmas Eve I talked about Bad / Worse / Horrible Love. I shared the photo of a counterfeit coin of Alfonso XI, from Sevilla – the city of NODO, and the fact that Alfonso XI was king when the first edition of the Book of Love was published in 1330.
I also shared an example of Bad / Worse / Horrible Love. Today I want to talk a little more about this type of love, in general terms. For someone who has never been abused, never been in an abusive relationship, and has never been close to one otherwise, it is difficult to understand how a smart, intelligent person can fall into such a relationship. Even harder to understand is why they can’t see what kind of relationship it is, how they can be so blind as to reject observations and advice from those around them that truly care for them.
Here is a graphic, used with permission, from a web site named Heart 2 Heart, intended to provide help to those in abusive relationships. When someone says “abusive relationship” they think of a man beating or physically abusing his wife. But the abuse can also take the form of verbal, emotional, spiritual, financial, or sexual abuse – or all of the above. The page on the cycle of abuse is here, and sums up the overall goal of the abuser – control, to control the person they are abusing. That can take the form of repeated trips around the cycle of abuse, from tension building to an incident, followed by a reconciliation and calm, only to start the cycle over. The end result is to “erode your self-confidence, devastate your self-esteem and destroy your sense of self-worth.” (from page linked above)
When we talk of someone’s addiction, we usually think of alcohol or drugs, maybe sex. But some people are addicted to the drama that comes with an abusive relationship. And like those addictions, becoming free of an abusive relationship has to start with enough sight to see you have a problem, and want to do something to make it better. I have talked about the deceitful heart, the fact we all want to be happy, right now if possible.
Last week at the Merge youth mission effort I mentioned, I got up the last night and shared with several hundred teens some of the insights I gained from the book the Principle of the Path (in my resources at top). Every choice or decision we make sets for us a direction we take on a path. And if we allow ourselves to follow a deceitful heart to strive for happiness right now, we fail to consider what the long term destination or end point is to that path. And the result is that we often end up at a point with a lot of regrets, and no way to go back, no way to take it all away.
I stated that no one, especially a smart and intelligent person, sits down one day and says, I think I will become an addict or a junkie. No one sits down one day and says, I think I will make sure I pick a life partner who will abuse me and my children. But, with the wrong set of wrong decisions, that is where many people find themselves. And it is not just important decisions these teens are facing: where to go to college, what to major in, what career path to take, who to marry. No, you have to think about where you spend time on the internet, who you spend time with, what you listen to, what you say, what you think about. All those things take you somewhere, on a path.
I have commented many times that for me, Best Love is exemplified by God’s love. But I have also said that a mother’s love comes the closest possible to an earthly Best Love. Who could be more protective of someone than a mother looking out for her children? Even in the animal world we see this, for example the mother bear with cubs that recently killed a hiker that came too close to her and her cubs.
The most Horrible Love has to be sexual abuse. It scars and impacts a whole person’s life. I chose to talk about abuse today because in the four living generations of my immediate family, all four generations have experience with abuse, three of the four with sex abuse as a child. Yet the cycle of abuse is so strong, it can even negate the abused mother’s protective instincts for her child. And then the child can become a victim of abuse as well, not to mention the constant exposure to the modeling of the wrong kind of relationship.
The Heart 2 Heart page on Why Do We Stay offers some insight on the why. They even mention the king of asinine questions… ” Why don’t you just kick him out? ” If only it were that easy. The abuser often alienates the person he is abusing from their friends and family. There can be constant phone calls, prohibitions on any whispering in the house, or there can be direct threats. A woman I know who was sexually abused by her father, was threatened by her father in a particularly gruesome manner. The father killed a kitten in front of her, saying he would do the same to her if she ever told anyone about “their secrets.”
I have provided this week, and in my recommended resources page, some links to the Heart 2 Heart pages. If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, look at the page on Are you being abused? And the one on Abusive Brainwashing Techniques. If you know someone that may be in an abusive relationship, share this blog post or the Heart 2 Heart web site with them.