She sat there for the third hour in the room waiting for the doctor to come back in. Over the last few months, she had experienced shortness of breath, cold sweats, migraines, excessive weight loss, and nausea. Last night, as she was walking the floor and rocking her youngest daughter to sleep, she started to get short of breath again and this time it was accompanied by dizziness. Suddenly she felt like she was going to pass out. She started praying under her breath and was able to finish rocking the baby to sleep and lay her in her bed. That was the last straw. She decided it was time to see a doctor.
Her husband was watching the kids in the waiting room and had been doing so for the past three hours as she sat there and waited for the results of her tests to come back. The doctor finally came back with the results. “Your tests all came back normal. I don’t think there is anything physically wrong with you, but you are sick. My professional opinion is that you are depressed.”
She quickly thanked him for his time, checked out, and returned to the waiting room, where her husband and children were. Her husband asked her what the doctor had said. She briefly told him that she’d rather discuss it in the car. Right now she wanted to get the kids home. They were cranky and restless (rightfully so after three hours), and she wanted to get out of there.
“Really?” her husband shouted. “We’ve been sitting here for three hours, and you didn’t even have the decency to come out and let us know how it was going or anything! The kids were running all over the place crying and whining; we’ve been here for three hours. What did the doctor say?”
She looked around at the faces of the other people in the waiting room as they watched her being screamed at and scolded by her husband. She was embarrassed and outraged, but as usual, she said nothing and headed towards the car.
Once she strapped the children into their car seats and got in the car, the screaming continued all the way home. “You’re depressed? Really? Well, join the club; I’m depressed too. I’ve been depressed since we got married. I’m depressed every day. I’ve been sitting in the waiting room with the kids for three hours because you’re depressed? Unbelievable. Take me home. I’m going to play golf!”
I remember when I wrote this story in my first book. When I went back to edit it, I remember thinking to myself, wow, my life was so incredibly dysfunctional. I decided to start this article with that story because I know what it’s like to be the one that has been screamed at for so long that you’ve become immune to it. I was yelled and screamed at for so long, I really didn’t think about it. I didn’t think of myself as a victim of verbal abuse. But I later realized that the way you think about your situation, greatly determines just how much you’ll put up with.
Because I had gotten so immune to it, I really wasn’t giving it the proper weight. As I started to see the situation through the eyes of my writing, which allowed me to see it through the eyes of an outsider, I quickly realized that I was indeed being verbally abused. My daughter was listening to their mother being abused day in and day out, and worse, she was seeing her mother not stand up for herself. That made it a lot easier to say enough is enough.
So many times we beat ourselves up about wanting to get a divorce over simple verbal abuse when there are other women who are being physically abused. But the truth is that we deserve better either way. We deserve to be with someone who has so much respect for us, they wouldn’t dare even think about treating us that way. The even harder truth to swallow is that before anyone else can respect us that way, we must respect ourselves and demand that we are treated and spoken to in a much more respectful tone. That may mean that we make counseling an ultimatum, or it may mean divorce. But either way, Rachel Cruz says it best,” “More is caught, than taught.” If our children see us model low self-esteem and no self-respect, do we really want them catching that from us?
The point is that yes, screaming, yelling, and cursing is verbal abuse. And yes, it is unacceptable in marriage. No matter what issues your spouse may have going on, it is still unacceptable. Until we learn this lesson ourselves, we’ll never be able to teach it to our children. There are two questions that I asked myself just before I made the final decision to leave. One, do I deserve and want better for myself. Two, would I want my daughter in a relationship like the one that I have? If the answers are yes and no respectively then there is only one more question to ask yourself, “What are you going to do about it?”