Thursday, 10 November 2011

The One Who Danced Away

Dear Auntie Seraphic,

I just wanted to write and tell you how much I love your blog! I really, really wish I had found it a long time ago, when I could have used your advice the most. My close friend from college...recommended your blog to me quite some time ago, and I wish I had found it then! This may sound silly, but I didn't really understand blogs at the time, or what seraphicsingles was all about.

I read your post today about what it means to be a lady. You said you were surprised that people don't write in complaining about controlling men who try to make them fit their idea of what it means to be a lady. Well, I dated a man like that in college. He wanted me to always wear skirts, to behave in a certain way, and to not dance what he considered were "modern" and unladylike dances (such as swing).

At first, I hardly even noticed that I was losing my freedom. I honestly think I was with him because he reminded me of my father, who is also controlling and does not think highly of women. I think being with a controlling man who was judgmental and restricted my freedom felt familiar, and thus (in a way) comfortable.

After about a year, though, I began to rebel. He told me not to go to swing dancing practice, and I went anyway. I finally realized that he was controlling and that I could not live with a man like that for the rest of my life. As soon as I realized that, I broke up with him, and I felt so FREE. Of course, I was sorry to cause him pain, but I felt so happy about my life and my future when I was alone again.

I have seen unhappy marriages, and I know how terrible it can be to be tied to a man who does not love you for who you are. I thank God that He helped me realize in time that I could not spend my life with a man like that. It is so true that it is better to be alone than to be with the wrong man!

I got engaged about a month ago to a good man who I love and who loves and respects me. He would never try to control me or make me conform to a certain standard of womanhood. I know it is only through the grace of God that I did not marry a controlling man.

Thank you for writing that post today. I am sorry you had to go through that, but it is nice to know that you understand what it's like to be with a controlling man.

God bless you always,
Danced to Freedom

Ah, poppets. I love emails like this!


Lizzie said...

I have read your blog for a while now but not commented before. Thank you for posting this! I was with a controlling and emotionally abusive man who wanted me to be a 'lady' - quiet, demure, never arguing and ultimately having no personality!

Thankfully, by the grace of God, I split up with him even though we have a child together - my very precious son who is hopefully learning what it really means to be a man through witnessing my family and friends and how they behave! I hope and pray God might bring me a godly man in the future but in the meantime, I am thankful that God gave me the courage to walk away.

God bless you - your blog is such an encouragement! Thank you.

Christine said...

I could have written this email, too. Happy to be free! -- and now engaged to a man who loves ME, not his idea of me. It's amazing.

Terese said...

I think there are more of us out there than anyone realises. I, too, was with a man who held up this standard of womanhood- the whole quiet, demure, submissive, holding no opinions besides his own, and only allowed to socialise with people he saw as fit company (which excluded friends I'd known for years!). In addition, he was emotionally abusive and on a number of occasions much worse.

We had a whirlwind courtship (take your time, ladies! I knew him less than a year by the time we were married) and I feel that if we'd not rushed that I would have recognised some of these habits sooner and gotten out before it was too late.

It took quite a few years to build up the necessary courage to stand up to him, and more importantly to step away from an abusive relationship that he'd convinced me was my fault. I'm now going through the whole divorce/annulment process (something I'd never imagined would happen to me), and needing to stand up for myself against judgemental people. However, I know I'm making the right decision. I'm no longer bordering on clinical depression, my prayer life has drastically improved as well, and I don't have to worry about how I'm going to be treated when I get home.

Auntie Seraphic, although I'm not quite single yet, your very wise words have been very helpful to me, especially your understanding of divorced/annulled Catholics. It can be very lonely at times, standing up for yourself, and it's nice to know there are others out there who understand how difficult it really is.

God bless you for all that you do. I hope one day I can meet you. :)

Ashley said...

Ah, @Terese, "holding no opinions but his own..." I was dating a young man once who confidently and excitedly claimed that he thought we were soulmates. When asked what he thought soulmates were, he said that they were two people that were "always so united that they never disagreed." At that description, I promptly began to disagree, lol.

How many times even well-intentioned people get sidetracked by misunderstandings about what makes a healthy relationship! Never disagreeing doesn't equal healthy. It equals one person being a doormat. Only being a "lady" in the demure, submissive, wall-flower sense doesn't always equal healthy either.

Thanks for sharing these ideas, ladies!

Lena said...

It's great you are addressing this issue.

theobromophile said...

Wonderful post!

Terese: tell them to go ahead and be judgemental of your soon-to-be ex-husband, who failed in his Christian duty to love you like Christ loved his Church.

I will append one thing onto this: while most of the women here are dating/being courted by Catholic men who probably have Catholic expectations for a relationship, one of the many, many good reasons to be chaste is that it's easier to get away from a controlling, abusive man.

Obviously, chastity is not a perfect prevention against bad relationships - Seraphic is probably nodding her head as a scar throbs - but it does help. A lot. I was enough of an emotional wreck anyway, and was for a long time after that; I can't imagine what would have happened had I caved to the pressure. Dumping a controlling man was hard enough (I, too, had my "saw the light" moment when it all clicked), but might have never happened, or would have only after more time and agony, had things been different.

Betsy said...

I could write a book about controlling men, and maybe someday I will! :-)

I never realized that so many women suffered this way until I read all these comments! Sometimes I think we keep quiet about this kind of thing because we were made to feel that everything is our fault, and we are afraid we will be judged if we speak up. There should be a support group for this. Emotional abuse is such a hard thing to deal with, both during and afterwards, and it helps to know that we aren't alone.

Seraphic said...

Great comments, everybody!

I love to meet people, but you know I am in Edinburgh! I might get to North American early next year.