Dancing In Our Nightmares


First, before I sound like a goofball, I just want to go on the record as saying that I almost never watch Dr. Phil. Don’t get me wrong. I think he has a lot of wisdom, but I rarely find myself in the mood to hear about how bad other people’s lives are….except when my own is castleflailing so badly there is nowhere to go but up. In an unfamiliar act, I set my DVR to record one of his past episodes a few weeks ago. The only word I remembered from the advertisement was “Dealbreakers” and I thought about my whole relationship with Chef this last year, and the word stuck with me. It’s just been fraught with dealbreakers lately.

Then, in a more normal display of rebellion, I ignored the recording for weeks. I don’t know why I find myself afraid to hear some things, but something in me told me I wasn’t going to like hearing this. I couldn’t have been more wrong, or more right.

The truth is, had I watched this episode a few weeks ago, it would have only made me feel worse about myself, but lately, I’ve been able to adjust to how I fit in my new world, and while I feel still a bit unsure of myself, I have to say I’m feeling much more adult than I ever have before.

One of the guests on the show was the young wife of a man caught in a sting trying to have sex with a 13 year-old girl. Now, I’d like to think that had Chef walked over that line, I’d have kicked his nasty butt to the curb, but these days, I find myself less sure of what I will and will not tolerate. I’m not so quick to decide I’d do anything. I’ve already compromised more than I said I ever would.

And so, I could really empathize with this poor wife who hated what her husband had done, yet still loved her husband and was so broken and confused by what he seemed to find lacking in her. As I watched her cry and struggle to answer questions about reactions in herself that she simply did not understand, I got it. I just understood. Sometimes, we are appalled at our own reactions. I knew that I could get over Chef using drugs, and even the porn, with a little help. I was even pretty sure I could get over the affair, given the proper amount of remorse and regret, along with love and kindness. And in an enormous amount of humiliating lack of self-respect, I figured I could get over my husband moving the girl into my home, giving her love letters that basically said the same things he used to write to me, and letting her hang up her clothes in my half of our closet, lay her head on the pillows I used to sleep on, and even use the clothes I hadn’t taken with me, not to mention what she does sexually with my husband. Yes. I thought I could get over all of this.

The problem for me is that I never really had a list of dealbreakers in my own mind. As Christians, I do believe we should go above and beyond to make our marriages work. But the Bible says to let an unbelieving spouse go his own way, too, and that is where I got stuck. I didn’t want to believe that Chef had tricked me for all of those years. I wanted to believe in this fantasy I had created in my own mind of just who and what Chef was all about, and he just couldn’t live up to that dream. I think the man he was is worthy of the grieving I did for him, but the man he is now doesn’t want to be a Christian man, and I have to leave him to it, then. A marriage won’t work if both people are struggling towards different goals.

Which leads me to another realization I came to. And this one is a bit harder to admit. Because of my age when the predator starting molesting me, I have spent most of my life in a “child-like” bubble. Most of my reactions to big emotions seem to be those of a teen-age girl, which explains why I’ve avoided them completely when possible. My relationships have always looked more fatherly/daughterly than two equal partners and it wasn’t until I started to refuse to allow Chef to order me to do things I just didn’t want to do that we started to really have problems.

There have been an alarming number of compromises I’ve made in order to keep my husband happy, and it is with a lot of shame I admit that. It seems to me that God did actually answer my prayers when I begged Him to rescue me and Chef out of this drug-induced, porn-tainted hell I found myself in. I just figured He would magically make Chef suddenly well. I didn’t realize God, instead, started my healing first.

Ask any of the many people who knew me growing up and you’ll probably get the same story. I was an obedient, respectful child. And even though I was being molested, my reactions to authority were not a farce. I obeyed without question. And that is the kind of wife I was too.

Over the last few years, though, God was bringing that sexual dysfunction and emotional retardation to surface and we had been dealing with it, piece by piece. And as I was able to address and unravel some of that shame, guilt, and rage, I was healing. And as I was healing, I wasn’t so quick to allow Chef to bully me into doing things I just felt were wrong. I don’t know how this looked from his side, but I’m guessing he probably didn’t understand this spineless girl growing the huevos to say no to him. And if we’re going to be fair here, it wasn’t what he had signed up for.

It’s kind of scary what doors can be opened in your own mind just hearing and seeing a similar situation for another person, but I have to say I’m glad these doors are open now. I don’t think Chef’s needing to replace me with T says anything bad about me anymore, nor do I feel that overwhelming, erratic urge to win him back just to prove there never had been anything wrong with me in the first place. The prize would not be worth the pain I’d continue to be living in. There have been way too many dealbreakers for me to even consider it. And as an adult woman, I’m clearly placing a line in the sand about what I will and will not tolerate from someone I love and trust. No more fairy tales and grieving for something that, in the light of day, was unhealthy from the very start. And I don’t say it was unhealthy because of Chef. It was unhealthy because I was a broken, unhealthy little girl when I set out down this path.

I’m not mad at Chef anymore for all of his meth-linked mistakes. He’s a broken person just like me, and he hasn’t found his way to his Healer yet. But I’m thanking God tonight for a little clarity and for allowing me to begin seeing Chef and T from a different viewpoint that isn’t so cynical, hurt, and angry. We are all just a lot of people who are broken, radiating towards other broken people, replicating a horrible dance that feels familiar to us. Abused people find people who abuse them to dance with. Addicts find other addicts to dance with. We all rebuild the nightmares of our childhoods, and live in those frail castles until God plucks us out and renews our hearts and our minds.

I just left the stupid dance early, and Chef got another partner that still knows the steps. I’m sorry, Chef and T. I’m learning the steps to a new dance now.

— Bird

32 responses to “Dancing In Our Nightmares”

  1. Everyday brings a lesson learned, some days we must learn the same lesson more than once, but in the end wisdom is gained, relief is found and peace returns. Congratulations on your lesson learned and used! For using it is most important after all 😀 I’m really glad to hear that you’re doing better <3<3<3


  2. I’m so glad, Bird, that God just keeps revealing things to you and healing you. love and hugs and prayers! Also, I could relate to alot of this, so you helped me to by sharing! Thanks!


  3. Sometimes……like a clip on a Dr. Phil show it’s a ‘light bulb’ moment and you got even more insight than you already had..I am so happy that you have the knowledge and peace that you need …Diane


    • I’m still a little unsteady myself. Some days are actually really good, yet it seems like the smallest hiccough in my day can bring the whole sad mess crashing down on me again. I don’t cry every day anymore, though. That’s a big step for me. Plus, I can laugh again. I wasn’t able to find anything funny for a long time. And the really impressive change is that I don’t feel this absolute NEED for Chef to understand what he has done to our family. Accepting that he may never really understand, or even care, is my biggest victory so far. Hang in there. You are in a sad but large group of people going through this particular hell on earth. Just breathe and take each minute one at a time. I’ll say a prayer for peace for you. If I can find a little peace, so can you!


  4. Dear Bird, Everything you have posted is amazing. It has been only recently that I connected my fathers behavior with the type of men that I attractd into my life. I have always known I was broken I just didn’t realize how much broken until recently. You are so correct. It is impossible to have a healthy relationship until we healed that wounded child inside of us.

    Great words,
    thank you



    • Got to love Dr. Phil, huh? I started researching some of the emotional retardation stuff that happens to sexually abused kids awhile back, but I always just disregarded that part because I didn’t think it pertained to me. But throughout this whole Lost Year, some of my reactions where rather immature. Even while I was reacting like a teen-ager, I knew this wasn’t the correct reaction, but I couldn’t stop it. It was weird. I’ve yet to meet a person who wasn’t in some way crippled by something in their childhood. It’s a wonder any of us make it to old age!!!


  5. This is written so well. I can feel it all.

    It is just so striking to see the similarities of the journey, for those that have abuse and molestation in their background. On the flip side, I am a male. That aside, I was an obediant child and I did what I was told without question. Fast forward into adulthood and I do everything that my wife tells me to do. I was living her life, unaware that I could live MY life, or that I had a claim that was “my life”.

    We have been married for 24 years. Post addiction and 6 years into recovery, I am changing. Very quickly lately now that I am aligned with that child inside of me and with God. That turns the attention onto our marriage or lack thereof.

    I don’t think my wife is fully aware of the fact that things are never going to be the same. I have a voice and it took me 9 years of therapy to get it. I will say no to my wife, not as I previously have in an immature way, but as someone who is entitled to their own input, contemplation and respectful rejection. And the list grows.

    My wife doesn’t like any of it but does not let on. I can see it in the way she avoids any suggestion for marriage counseling and my recent suggestion to go on a couples retreat. I think shes hoping that this will all soon blow over.

    Now, I know that I own my share of this 24 year union and the way it was shaped. I have to be patient and communicative. Things need to change between us.


    • I really appreciate hearing a man’s perspective. I’m just sorry you are living a different shade of the same crap I’m going through.

      My husband had his own wounds from childhood, and they just “matched” perfectly with mine. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still pretty hurt and angry at what he has done to this family, but I’m less inclined to pile all the blame in his corner. I imagine it is probably the same for a lot of people, and when you have lived decades in that dysfunction, it is going to take some time to get used to how your life feels to you now.

      I’m glad to hear you have gotten your voice back. Without being too forward, I want to point out that your wife, while probably freaking out in her mind over all the changes, is still right there with you. Pray and trust God that she’ll learn how to function in a healthier relationship. It just might take her some time, too.

      Thank you so much for writing! I sincerely appreciate it!

      — Bird


      • Right on! I know that I am not responsible for my alcoholism. BUT, I am responsible for my recovery.

        Ever wonder what your part is/was in the dynamics of what happened and where your marriage sits today? It’s a damn tough pill to swallow. Therapy, and talking to a couple of older – long time sober women, have illuminated my understanding that it was not just me that got us here.

        Of course, carrying the seeds of abuse, my default position is that everything is my fault and, with the trappings of low self-esteem, I can be talked back into a submissive place by my wife. A place that works for her. But a place that leaves me resentful, empty and lonely as hell.


  6. That is fabulous for you to have realised all this. It is so very true, we are all broken and hoping to find the spaces will be filled by that other person until we realise they are trying to make us fill their spaces too, and two broken people don’t add up to two whole and happy people, that is simply the math of it. Only God can heal, only God can fill us and only God can make us whole and happy. I am so happy for you to be well on your way to that place. Blessings to you Sister..xx


  7. You’ll get through the divorce and rebuilding of your life, and you’ll like yourself a whole lot more on the back end of the mess than you did on the front end. Keep on keepin’ on. Sounds like you’re headed in the right direction 🙂


  8. A few months ago I told my husband that he cheated with himself. The woman he chose was a sex addict (really off the charts compared to him), self serving, manipulative and a control freak. They were both alike. I told him he loved himself so much that he had to cheat with himself. Lol….


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