The walls I've built to protect myself from youWritten by Brenda Branson
I have built a fortress around myself . . .
This fortress will not allow me to share my heart with you, or express any affection toward you. It protects me from you.
Once, before I built this wall, I trusted you completely – enough to pledge my life to you and my future. When you first wounded my spirit, I believed you when you told me it was my fault. Yes, I was naïve, but I trusted you. I believed the lie – if I could look different and act different, then you would be pleased with me.
For many years I continued to believe and trust you while you continued to express your disappointment in me and made me the scapegoat for all the reasons why you weren’t happy. I was so vulnerable to your opinion of me that I accepted what you said about me as true.
I tried in many ways to please you, but you were never satisfied. You pointed out numerous areas in my life where I had failed. The talents and gifts that I had to offer were either never good enough, or taken for granted.
When I tried to share my deepest feelings with you, you made fun of my sensitivity by lecturing me or making me feel stupid.
You were the one who controlled what I should think, what I should say, and who I should say it to. If I made any comments of which you did not approve, you would lecture me and question my motives. If I was too quiet, you told me I was self-centered and didn’t care about other people.
You demanded all of my time and emotions for yourself, and when I didn’t meet your expectations, you broke my spirit by constant criticism. You even justified slapping me occasionally. You assured me that if I had performed to your liking you would have had no reason to hit me, so therefore it was my fault. You placed all the responsibility for your actions upon me.
Picture me as a woman who was constantly trying to please, but could never meet your demands; one who didn’t know whether to speak or keep silent; and one who withheld her emotions and deep feelings so she wouldn’t be ridiculed and embarrassed by the one who should have understood her the best.
This defeating cycle of co-dependency had such a hold on me that my worth as a person was dependent upon your value of me as a woman and a wife. It was easy for you to use me as the reason for your problems . . . because I let you and I believed you!
As I struggled with my own feelings about myself versus the incompetent, uncaring person that you described me to be, the Lord was working through many sources and I began to find my identity in Him. I began to realize that I had allowed you to close my spirit, and I had believed your perception of me to be true. This paralyzed my ability to function, and several years passed by without any real growth and progress.
When I finally accepted and truly believed that my self-worth is only found in the Lord, it changed my life!
My first reaction was to put the broken pieces of myself back together, and escape from the awful control and manipulation in my life. I began rejecting your perception of me, and yes, I began rejecting you! I built walls of protection from you so that your verbal vomit and cruel attitudes would not hurt me anymore.
I began to live my own life, making my own plans, and daring to dream of living free and happy without your control. I built walls so high and so thick there would be nothing you could do to penetrate them.
When we began talking with a marriage counsellor, you wrote a catalogue of sins – my sins that you believed had caused all our problems. Where are your sins? When have you taken the time to take a really good look at who you are?
Look at the man who screams and strikes out when he’s upset, and then denies or pretends that he’s not guilty, who manipulates the facts to make his wife look like she’s either crazy or lying.
Look at the man who frowns and sneers when he talks to his wife, and then accuses her of having a bad attitude.
Look at the man who is a master of manipulation, demanding his own way, his opinion, and then accuses his wife of controlling when she is simply assuming the responsibility he has declined to take.
You are so full of rage and bitterness that you have to blame someone, and that someone has been me. It is interesting, however, that the very things you have said about me are actually reflections of you.
You tell me not to get hysterical when you’re the one screaming and out of control. You tell me to change my attitude when you have the sneering, frowning face, and have made the sarcastic remarks.
You call me a liar when you have an ingrained habit of constantly manipulating and exaggerating the truth to meet your needs.
You call me compulsive when you are the one who rearranges the refrigerator and pantry shelves after I’ve put the groceries away.
Because you are always on the edge, I walk on eggshells around you, never knowing when something I say or do is going to set you off and cause an explosion. It’s almost like being in a war and never knowing when I’m going to step on a land mine and get blown up.
Now look at the way it could have been – my talents and abilities complementing yours, and instead of rejecting, criticizing and destroying me because I am not like you, we could have established a wonderful friendship and partnership with each other, with each of us compensating for the lack of the other.
When you begin to care about me instead of verbally attacking and blaming me, then maybe some of the walls I have built up will come down. We can both learn how to honor and serve each other, with one of us carrying the entire load at times (giving 100 per cent) when the other needs help, without complaining about it later or keeping a scorecard to see who is giving the most.
This is not about who cleans the house and who takes out the garbage. It is about accepting, forgiving, caring, tolerating and loving – without deliberately hurting, controlling and keeping score.
Let’s give up the war and begin reconciliation. The next step is up to you . . .
Brenda Branson is a counsellor, author and public speaker. Visit her website at BrokenPeople.org.
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