Family Issues and Ex-Pastor’s Wife Resentment

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So I am going through a couple things right now. For one, my already strained relationship with my mother seems to be going farther downhill. To get a bit of the backstory on our relationship, you can check out this post. Anyhow, ever since I confronted my mother about the past, I could feel her slowly backing away. She now lives in another state and at first she would call me once or twice a week and would call back within a day if I called her. Now she doesn’t return my calls for a week at a time and it has been three weeks since she last called me, even though she said she would call me in a few days the last time we talked.

I can’t help but feel a little snubbed and like I am slowly being phased out of her life, which doesn’t surprise me now that she has remarried and doesn’t need me so much anymore. This has always pretty much been the pattern when she gets a man in her life. I stop mattering as much. Honestly, there have been times I’ve considered going “no contact” because the little bit of contact we have now only tends to make me sadder, and the more I feel put aside and ignored, the more I hurt.

I’ve also been dealing with some pent up resentment I didn’t even realize I had about the years I spent as a pastor’s wife. For the first 11 years or so of our 15 year marriage, my husband was a pastor. In the past few years we have kind of drifted from the faith and become agnostic, which is a huge change from what our lives used to be. However, I just realized when having a conversation with my husband the other night, how much being a pastor’s wife for so many years deeply bothered me.

For one thing, I constantly felt judged by the congregation and compared to previous or other pastors’ wives that the congregation knew. I was not old-fashioned. I was not meek and submissive. I did not want to teach, play piano, or lead anything. It just isn’t my personality. My social anxiety makes leading anything a horrifying thought for me, but yet, I found myself almost forced to sometimes be in these roles I hated. I was pretty much forced to teach at times, and while I loved the kids, I felt panic at the responsibility. No one helped or trained me, I was just thrown right in. At one point, I had a panic attack and burst into tears about my fear of teaching in front of the head pastor, his wife, and my husband and yet none of them seemed to take it seriously and pretty much just patted me on the shoulder and said I would be all right. But I wasn’t. Even when I found out I had autism and tried to explain to the head pastor why that made social things so hard for me, his response was that everyone has those problems. But no – everyone does not!!!

My husband now realizes how many mistakes he made by pushing me. He is sorry and has genuinely apologized for putting pressure on me and making me feel like I had to do things that made me anxious to the point of sickness. He realizes now that he learned that behavior from his own parents who pressured him constantly about being involved in church and often tended to ignore his feelings if he didn’t want to do something. Like most people, he was acting out the unhealthy patterns of his family as an adult and unfortunately, I got the brunt of it.

* For a great resource on couples therapy, check out this article from BetterHelp!

Going No Contact with Abusers?

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Lately I have been really struggling with the temptation to go “no contact” with someone who has been abusive to me throughout my life in different ways. If you follow my blog closely, you can probably guess who I might be talking about. I did manage about a year ago to get some physical distance from this person, which helped a lot, but I still have such feelings of dread, sadness, anger, hurt, and despair whenever I hear from them (or more consistently lately, when I am ignored by them).

I know my therapist would probably do a happy dance if I decided to go “no contact” with this person. They won’t say so outright, but it is clear to me that they see that the relationship is not conducive to my healing. The last time I saw my therapist, she asked me what I was getting out of hanging onto the relationship…and I couldn’t really say. Other than hurt and frustration, I’m not sure I’m getting much at all.

However, I can’t help but feel that if I totally disengage with this person, it will cause me to feel guilty and fearful. Guilty because I was groomed from a young age to feel responsible for this person and to be their caretaker. Additionally, I feel guilt about what my other family members might think. The fear would mostly be due to the fear of confrontation, whether in person or through more passive-aggressive avenues. The thought of letting go also plays on my fear of being all alone and unloved.