I’ve had quite a few emails about how much the survivor still loves her abuser – even after she’s left him, making it hard for her to not go back. I know I haven’t brought up this topic before but I feel I need to address it now.
Did I love Bubba? Do I still love him?
Did I love Bubba? Yes, I did. I loved him with every part of myself. I gave him every part of me that I had to give. I followed him around as he moved us willy-nilly even though I never had a say in where we lived. I closed down households and opened up new ones, without any help from him and I did it all to make my husband happy. My life centered around raising our children and making him happy because I loved him and I wanted him to be happy.
About three years before the marriage died, I really struggled with how I felt towards him. He’d been going on business trip after business trip, leaving us for weeks or even months at a time. It was during this period that he pushed me across the room, trying to get at Serenity.
Serenity had responded to him with an attitude and he was chasing her around the house. She was terrified and I stepped between them to protect her. He pushed me out of his way to get to her. I diffused the situation and gathered all the children and tried to leave. Bubba threatened to call the police on me if I left with the children.
That was also the time that I told Bubba I thought he was being verbally abusive to us and by the end of the conversation, I ended up apologizing to him for hurting his feelings. He’d twisted everything around to be my fault and I accepted the blame and spent weeks making it up to him.
So I struggled. I begged God to help me love my husband. I begged God to make me a better wife so that Bubba would stop treating me like I was his enemy. When it became obvious that God wasn’t making me love him more or be a better wife, then I begged God to help me just get through each day.
At some point, I realized that love is more than a feeling. Love – the feeling – is a fickle thing. The feeling can come and go and can’t be trusted. I decided to treat love as an action. Every morning when I woke up, I made the decision to show Bubba love that day. Inside, I was mourning the death of the feelings of love I had for him. I would continue to love him as the father of my children, but I could no longer muster up any real feelings of love for him as a husband. This didn’t happen overnight. It happened over the course of months – this realization that the love was gone and that I needed to just show him each day.
In the quiet of the nights, I mourned the feelings I once felt for Bubba. It was hard to accept that I was now living in a loveless marriage and that I would never feel that way toward him again unless something drastic changed in me. I was still very much accepting the blame for everything wrong in our marriage. I didn’t like the man I was married to and I certainly didn’t love him anymore. What kind of wife did that make me?
When I left Bubba, I didn’t have any feelings of love toward him at all. I didn’t have that complication because I’d worked through losing that love in the years before. I realized that I didn’t love him and I no longer had to keep up the pretense. I never had that feeling of wanting to go back because I still loved him. I’d already spent so much time mourning the love in our marriage that I didn’t have to worry about still loving him after I left.
No, I do not love Bubba. I pray he accepts responsibility for his actions and can find healing someday. The most overwhelming feeling I ever have toward Bubba now is pity. I pity him because he took what could have been a wonderful life together and he actively destroyed it. He is still actively destroying his relationship with his children. I have marvelous relationships with each of my children because I work hard to nurture that with each of them individually.
I pity him that he threw everything that was really important away and he can’t even comprehend what he lost.