Friday the hospital called EJ to ask him questions about his health in preparation for his surgery on Monday. These are the same questions his doctor asked him during his pre-op appointment on Thursday and no doubt EJ will be asked the same questions at the hospital before his surgery. It seems to me that one time would have been enough, and two are redundant, and anymore than that is tiresome. I can’t exactly see the sense of it, but, oh, well.
EJ later had to call the hospital to find out what time he has to arrive at the hospital on Monday. He has to be there at 5:30 a.m. Yikes! We will have to get out of bed at about 3:30 a.m. Will the surgeon even be awake enough to do his work at that time? Will the surgeon have had time for coffee? I wonder what a surgeon does if he has to pee during surgery?
When all his calls were out of the way, we left for TSC to get poultry feed. There had been a very bad accident not long before and the road was closed for several miles. We didn’t know exactly what had had happened until later when we got home and saw news reports on the internet. 😥 One person is in critical condition, but it appears that there were no deaths. Traffic was backed up, but we were just able to get into the TSC driveway. We headed to Meijers after TSC, but we had to drive miles out of our way to avoid the closed section–both on the way to Meijers and on the way home. We didn’t mind though because the scenery was beautiful.
I had a panic attack at Meijers.
There are still things people need to buy, even if they have no income. Things like toilet paper, and kitty litter, and some fresh vegetables. We were very careful with what we bought, but I shuddered every time we put something in the cart. We are actually doing quite well, but still every dollar spent is one dollar less than we have between us and nothing. The anxiety built up until I thought I was going to begin crying. I didn’t tell EJ at first. I went to get trash bags while EJ went on to get a few other things in different aisles. For several minutes I stood in front of the shelves filled with different boxes, and brands, and sizes of trash bags and couldn’t remember which we usually get even though I’m usually the one who buys them. Finally I found EJ and told him that I had no idea what trash bags to get so he went to the aisle and got what we needed.
A few minutes later, EJ and I passed one of those little sample tables that are set up in grocery stores so you can sample a food product and maybe love it so much that you buy the item–you know what I mean? EJ stopped–usually I do too–but I just kept going because I wanted to get everything we needed as soon as possible and get out of the store. When EJ rejoined me, I told him that I was having a panic attack so he helped me focus on colors, and textures, and touch to help me distract my mind. It’s called “mindfulness.” It is a way of becoming focused on the present moment without becoming overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. It creates space for ourselves—space to think, space to breathe, space between ourselves and our reactions. EJ reminded me that having a panic attack doesn’t mean that I am weak, it means that I am emotionally over-budget. He sometimes tells me that I am the bravest, strongest person he knows because I have endured a lot without breaking, without becoming unkind.
It is very scary to experience EJ both losing his job and having uncertain health issues. I’m stressed, but overall doing quite well. Whenever I get anxious, I think of the three sheep being gifted to us, and I think that if God can give us three sheep, He can take care of us. The thing that is really causing me problems is abuse.
In addition to the other stressors this week, we dealt with a person who showed no empathy, but wanted us to do something for him. He wanted it done and done NOW. When I said no, we have enough to deal with, this person nagged and nagged and nagged, and insulted, and threatened to have nothing to do with me, and told me I was crazy. He told me he had done nothing wrong. This person is the most abusive person I have ever encountered, but he doesn’t see anything wrong with his behavior. This is what drained me and made it difficult to stand up under the stresses of the week. It pushed a stressful time into super-charged stress. Dealing with him took all my emotional strength so I had none left to deal with other things.
This morning I felt I was battered and crumbling. EJ comforted me, and told me to ignore the false accusations of abusers because they aren’t at all true., which is good advice. However, prolonged emotional abuse really batters a victim, and after a while she might not know what is “real” and what is “false.” As I wrote before, an abuser will work to break a person and then condemn her for being broken. The article, You’re Not Going Crazy: 15 Signs You’re a Victim of Gaslighting, describes the effects of emotional abuse very well.
“The only way you can describe how you feel is that you feel minimized. You feel crushed and smothered. You’re constantly second-guessing yourself; your feelings, your perceptions, your memories, and a small, suffocated part inside of you wonders whether you are actually going crazy.”
I told EJ that if I absolutely knew that a person was speaking lies, I could stand against it. The difficulty is getting to the place where I am sure of what is true and what is false. It’s sort of like mirrors.
A House of Mirrors at a carnival is full of mirrors that give horribly distorted reflections of what a person looks like. They are false reflections, and everyone knows it, so it’s funny and not taken seriously. A real mirror gives true reflections of what a person really looks like. You can look at it and see if your hair is fixed the way you want or if there is dirt on your face that needs to be washed off. The problem is if you think the mirror is giving a true reflection when it’s not. Deceptive mirrors can be confusing and disconcerting, like in this Youtube video of a prank. Observe how the person who is participating in the prank acts ignorant of the problem and seems concerned when actually she is part of the deception. Notice how confused the victims appear about this “normal” situation that doesn’t make sense. One of the victims even wondered if she had died. That is how a victim of emotional abuse feels.
If the victims in the video were confused and disconcerted about a one-time prank, imagine what a victim of long-term emotional abuse feels. She would start to believe that the problem isn’t with the “mirror”–with the abuser–but with herself. After awhile it’s very difficult to discern the true reflections from the false ones. The abuser puts in just enough “truth” to make the reflection seem true. For example, he may insult, accuse, belittle, mock, gaslight a victim until she reacts. Any reaction–telling him to stop, explaining how his behavior was wrong, raising her voice, crying, anger–and the abuser can say things like, “You always criticize me, you misunderstood, you over-reacted, you were shouting at me, you are just as bad, it’s not my fault, I didn’t do anything wrong.” And because the victim actually might have raised her voice, been angry, etc., she begins to believe it was really her fault when it was actually a deliberate tactic the abuser used. That makes it difficult to understand which mirror, which reflection, is true.
There are times when I have felt so battered that I recognized that either I must reject the abuser’s distortion or I will be destroyed by it. But it’s very difficult when I am not sure which mirror is true, and I’m second-guessing my perceptions, feelings, actions, or motivations. The longer the abuse goes on, the harder it is to battle it. It’s also difficult because the abuser is usually someone the victim loves–such as a spouse, family, a close friend, etc. These are people you want to help, to forgive, to give second (and third, fourth…a hundred) chances to.
The destruction an abuser causes is why I get so angry at them. I do not understand why a person would want to destroy others.