In the series called The Truth Is Not Delicate I describe a list of unhealthy thoughts and/or behaviors about what I may have taught my daughters as they grew up in a home with a young mom (me) involved in an abusive marriage and who was just discovering that she was sexually abused as a child.
Last week, I took a break from the series to discuss forgiveness.
Number five in the series prior to last week’s discussion about forgiveness was teaching my daughters that it’s not ok to cry, is not ok. This week number six in the series is: making excuses for my spouse’s poor behavior to protect him is not ok.
Reputation is defined as a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular habit or characteristic.
In the past, I had been afraid that my reputation would be tarnished because of my ex-husband’s poor behavior (i.e. if people knew my former husband’s TRUE colors).
There are good reasons for keeping certain things confidential. But when a behavior is abusive, it’s important to call it abuse and not keep it secret or sugarcoat it. Because I have value and my children have value, we do not deserve to be abused. My past actions of making excuses for my husband’s poor behavior enabled him, which was destructive and was not helpful to anyone.
I was protecting him because my reputation was connected to his, and I didn’t want people to think negatively about my husband. I wanted everyone to believe he was a good man. I wanted to believe he was a good man. I needed to believe he was a good man. I now realize I was deceiving others and myself to believe in a false reality of his character.
I didn’t want my kids to believe anything bad about their Dad and I didn’t want my marriage to fail. Our marriage had endured and healed from so much, or so I thought, and I couldn’t bear the thought of my marriage appearing weak. I wanted everyone to believe I had a strong marriage.
Because I denied and minimized the pain of abuse as a child and how it affected me, I felt as if I always had to put on a mask that showed everyone I was just fine. If someone who loved me didn’t treat me lovingly, I tended to deny or minimize the unloving behavior. I tended to minimize the effects of my spouse’s behaviors in regards to our marriage, parenting and being leaders in the community.
My thoughts were flooded with questions of fear. What will people think if they knew the truth? They can’t know the truth. What will happen?
I thought I was sheltering my children from mistakes their Dad made to protect them. I wasn’t really protecting my spouse or my children–I was protecting myself from the truth. We wanted to portray perfection and boy was that stressful and exhausting to juggle.
Hiding—I was wearing shame about how I felt about my marriage or how I felt about my own behavior. I wanted a marriage that lasted forever. I bragged that I was still married and that we had made it through many hard issues already. The number of years we had been married was something I carried like a trophy. I was very protective about my marriage’s reputation that it became detrimental.
When I am not truthful, honest and vulnerable, I am living in a false reality. I want to take action today. I want to take responsibility for my actions and stop trying to control what others will think of me.
I’m someone who makes mistakes, and didn’t always do the right thing for my girls. I’m shedding the shame because I want a reputation of someone with high integrity—someone who takes responsibility for his or her behaviors.
I want to share with my daughters that whatever part I played in teaching or participating in modeling that making excuses for your Dad’s poor behaviors to protect him, I am sorry. I ask for forgiveness. I want to share healthier communication styles that provide a different teaching model not only for my daughters but also for all my relationships.
I know God loves me even when I need to make some changes. I am a Treasure and a Pearl.