When Quarantine’s a Torture Chamber
Today my heart is drawn out to those for whom quarantine doesn't just feel like prison; it's a torture chamber. You are locked in, day after day, with someone you love... who uses you. You remember a time when every moment you spent together felt precious. Now, it's torture. Your partner is not doing well with enforced confinement, and since it's long ago been established that it's your job to keep him/her happy, the blame keeps landing on you. Maybe you retaliate. Maybe you swallow down your reactions, telling yourself, "a soft answer turneth away wrath," and mustering up every ounce of compassion you can find in your own heart for your partner's misery. But sometimes, the wrongness, the pure injustice of it all is wrenching. You're not sure how much more you can take. I'm thinking of you today because I ache for you and because I remember feeling desperately alone. I imagine you picking your way through a minefield all day, every day, then slapping on a happy smile and showing a courageous face to your children, your followers on social media, even your spouse. Chances are that your partner is well-regarded in your community. You know that loss of reputation would be devastating. That makes reaching out for help feel impossible. At any other time, the conversation I'd want to be having with you would be how there will never be a better time than now to start correcting an unhealthy/abusive relationship. But right now, I'm afraid that might not be true. With domestic violence surging worldwide, and with you stuck in the constant company of the one who is hurting you, I'm not sure you're safe to do anything about your relationship. When one person starts making changes in a relationship, there's usually a reaction. Things often get worse before they get better. In my own experience, and very unexpectedly, they got a lot worse. So, we're having another conversation instead. Instead, we're talking about taking care of you. First of all, if things are already bad enough that you are being physically abused (and I'm not just talking about bruises, I'm also talking about threats of violence, and I'm talking about insistence on violent sex) please get out now. Or, if you're able, call the police and have your partner removed. Forced confinement together is a recipe for disaster if you're already in a violent relationship. Don't try to do this alone. You have a friend or a family member who's been anxious about you for a long time. Call them. Take the kids for a walk and don't come home. Whatever you have to do to get safe. If, on the other hand, you are physically safe right now, then let's talk about what you need to do to survive emotionally and spiritually. There's something strange that happens when we subjugate our own needs to try and meet the demands of someone else. We lose our perspective. We become increasingly incapable of identifying and relating to our own needs. We shut down emotionally and our whole world becomes managing the reactions of the person that threatens us at the same time that we feel a deep investment in their happiness. It's well-documented and it puts you in danger because it numbs you to your own sense of safety. You already know this. Every so often it occurs to you that your loved one is a black hole and you are being sucked into oblivion. There is one thing that can save you right now. That's connection with God. Trying to connect with yourself isn't going to do a whole lot of good at the moment because you're not even sure anymore where your self lives. But God sees you. He loves you so much that He already descended into that black hole that threatens your annihilation... and He got out. He also loves you too much to drag you away against your will. But if you will reach toward Him, He will grasp your reaching hand and pull you toward Him. Take time today to get on your knees and tell Him about your need. In the name of Jesus Christ, who died for you, ask Him what He would have you do to take care of yourself today. Listen to the thoughts that come. You will be able to recognize them as coming from Him by the way they calm your mind, open your heart and bring you peace. If the thoughts that rush to your mind are angry, disgusted, despairing or vengeful, those ones aren't from God. Let those ones blow away and keep asking until you hear a voice of peace. Then do, for you, what He asks. Be His servant today in caring for you. I pray that someone who loves you gets this blog out where you can see it, or shares it to you in a private message. I hope when you read it, you know that God feels every tear you weep. He treasures you. Please treasure yourself. There are better days ahead.
(Originally posted April 22, 2020)