Fists and Fear Don’t Fix the Future

Susan slumped over the tub as she sobbed and mourned. She clutched the bottle of pills more tightly wondering how she could go through with it. Susan didn’t want to die, but Rick had said, “Our family would be better off if you were just dead. Your damn attitude keeps us from enjoying any happiness.”

Susan yielded to Rick by taking on responsibility for all the family problems. She believed the lie that all problems were her fault. Maybe he was right; the family was better off with her dead. She decided not to torment her children as her mother had done. Her mom had loved the family dearly, but Mom’s love was often at a high price. Rick loved Susan as well, but his love left bruises on her spirit and her body. She hoped these pills would stop the cycle, but the act of taking her own life felt immoral.

Susan’s role is that of a helpless victim, and Rick manipulates and deceives her. Each one is aware of serious problems in their marriage, but neither understands his or her role. Health issues also factor into the relationship. Mental health is equally important as physical health. If Susan’s foot felt painful enough to want to cut it off, she would go to a doctor. If Rick got cancer, he would seek the best medical treatment. Does Susan, in the bathroom considering suicide, consider going to a doctor, a licensed psychologist, or a counselor? Does Rick, who hit his wife and then told her he wishes she would kill herself, think about getting mental health assessment? Couples or individuals who have serious thoughts of harming themselves, the one they love, or anyone else, should seek mental health services. No one should wait to seek help until they are holding a bottle of lethal pills, a gun, or their hands to their loved one’s throat! There are places to go, even if one does not have insurance.

I lived this life! I was raised by a mom and dad who loved me dearly, and they loved each other for fifty years. They had serious problems, though. Those problems created more problems for my brothers and me. I did seek help beginning at age 18, and I have received the help I needed. I learned that I was not taught appropriate skills for mental and emotional problem-solving. The fact that I have a heavy background in receiving counseling is something I am proud to acknowledge. I was taught and I learned skills from the experience.

I married young and fifteen years later we divorced. My first husband, also a victim of childhood family conflict, problem-solved with anger, fists, excessive alcohol use, and drug use. My only tools for problem-solving were fear, pity, self-blame, occasional thoughts of suicide, and avoidance. Fists and fear do NOT solve problems. Facing the problem and finding an appropriate solution are better solutions.

Step 1: Call someone and tell them what is going on. A trusted friend can encourage you to seek professional help. Just make sure you find someone licensed to assess mental health for counseling.

Step 2: Stick with a plan to get help. Do not give up, or fall back into the same cycle.  If the first counselor you choose is not a good fit after a few sessions, find another.

Step 3: Adjust the plan as needed to get the outcome you need to learn better strategies for your life. Remember that counseling is like any type of education. You must apply what you learn before you accomplish any real change.

Step 4: Continue to work on YOU. Nothing will change in your future if you continue a negative cycle of behavior from your past. I had not been taught correct skills, but once I began the process of relearning how to think, little changes started to happen around me. Eventually, I became who I was intended to be.

My process began with me telling a close friend that my husband was hurting me. I thought HE was the problem. My friend made me promise to call the police if he hurt me again. That was the plan. I stuck with the plan, and I did call 911 because nothing else I had tried had worked. Unfortunately, my husband chose other behaviors that did not help him. However, that 911 call put ME on the road to recovery that night.

Beyond sticking to the plan, I didn’t know what to do next; however, a plan was in the works for my family. The policeman that came that night told me that I was a battered woman and that I should go to a shelter immediately with my children. I thought he had lost his mind because I still blamed my husband for the problems. However, I went and the shelter staff helped me figure out a new plan that would teach me to replace the behaviors/thinking learned in early childhood, AND give my husband a chance to change if he accepted help.

I loved that man with all my heart. Of course, I blamed myself for the violence and bailed him out hoping for remorse from him. He was not ready for help, and he wanted vengeance. With much difficulty, I chose to continue my plan to learn new behaviors; a Protective Order was needed, so I was required to file for divorce to obtain one. Although I did not want a divorce, I needed the Protective Order. I was trying to follow a plan, and it was hard!

The shelter counselor was a good start, but I realized I needed more help. In the past, I had learned and modeled incorrect living skills for my kids. We found an independent counselor and stuck with her on and off for years. When I recognized something was wrong in my life, I’d go back in and talk to her for as many sessions as she and I thought I needed. I read books she recommended and tried new strategies for change. Things slowly got better.

Don’t wait! If you have insurance, get busy today. If you do not have insurance, call local organizations. I went to Al-Anon for a long time because it is free, and they helped me understand how serious problems develop not only from alcohol but from incorrect thinking. Counseling is learning a new way to think about events and a new way to act in our daily lives. I have managed to change my thinking into a positive self-nurturing quality. Life is wonderful, but I (did you read the word I?) I HAD TO CHANGE. If you believe that your life will become better if someone else will change, YOU ARE WRONG. You have to get in the driver’s seat.

I believed that my changes would eventually make a difference to my marriage, but a marriage is an entity comprised of two. To salvage a broken relationship, both must change, AND they must change in the same direction if they are to stay married.

I hope that my article helps at least one person to make an effort to get help. Drop a comment if you feel strongly about the article; even if you disagree. Thanks, readers!   


Published by Eclectra

"Live never to be ashamed if anything you do or say is published around the world - even if what is published is not true." Richard Bach, Illusions, p. 60

%d bloggers like this: