I dated this guy who’s dad was an alcoholic.
He would come home stumbling drunk almost every night. His precious wife would make sure to have dinner ready, hot and waiting for him as he fell into his chair at the table. Inevitably, there would always be a “trigger” that would set him off. The food was too hot. The dog ignored him. The food wasn’t hot enough. The cat meowed. There was ALWAYS something that made him mad and set him off.
One night we were sitting at the table, laughing and having spaghetti. All of a sudden, the dad comes stumbling in the door, already cursing up a storm about the weather, the economy, some vulgar thing about women and how there aren’t any good songs on the radio.
It got very quiet.
The wife serves him his plate of spaghetti and he starts complaining about the sauce being too bland. He screams at her to get him the salt. The wife jumps up and immediately starts putting salt on his spaghetti. As he took a bite, he spit it out and threw his fork on the floor yelling that it was too salty now.
I’m looking around the table at each of the family members and I’m trying to figure out what exactly I’m seeing.
The dad is STILL yelling. He’s cursing at his wife for being too stupid to know how to cook spaghetti, his kids for being worthless, me for just being there, the dog, the cat, and the government of the United States because ‘a man should be able to enjoy his spaghetti after a hard days work.’ Throw in the fact that he is angry because they don’t make spaghetti sauce like they used to in America and the salt is TOO salty!?!
I HATE bullies. I’ll admit it’s pushes my “button” like no other. I can’t handle when someone is mean just because they want to be.
As I’m trying to figure out what to do, a plate of spaghetti goes flying by my head and smashes against the wall.
Nobody moves. Nobody says anything. They just sit there quietly eating their dinner. There are big chunks of nasty spaghetti stuck to the walls and the family is sitting there eating quietly as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.
I would look around at each one waiting for someone to stand up to this bully and no one ever did. Why?
“Because that was how it had always been. It was normal.”
Once again, this is where I find myself. All around us there are people who are hurting and in turn they are hurting others and hurting themselves.
So why would anyone sit there in that horrible situation and do nothing? Because, it’s always been this way. They know nothing different. They would rather stay in the dysfunctional KNOWN and navigate their “normal” then risk it becoming WORSE. If they keep their mouth shut and keep eating, the spaghetti that is stuck to the wall becomes part of the wall. The wall is doable. It’s just the wall. The more you ignore it or refuse to deal with it, it really will become normal.
It’s called CRUD. The left over emotional pain from when another human being hurts us. If we refuse to acknowledge it, see it, or speak the truth about what it is, after years and years of sitting quietly and not dealing with it, you will actually start to believe that it IS normal. That it is okay.
It’s not okay for ANYONE to be mean, manipulative, hurtful, abusive or violent. EVER. There’s no excuse, no justification and no reason that could exist for someone to willingly choose to hurt another person. It’s wrong. Just because a person is hurting, DOES NOT give them the right to hurt someone else.
You might find yourself in a similar situation. Has someone hurt you? Maybe your boss is being manipulative or your spouse has an addiction, or your siblings are always the victims, your parents are abusive, your kids always blame you for their mistakes, your boyfriend is hitting you, you’ve been raped, or threatened. Maybe it’s the church or someone who is in a leadership position and has abused that position to get whatever they want. No matter who it is, it’s NOT okay for anyone to harm another person.
Let me caution you…from personal experience.
You might feel like you have tried or are trying to take a stand. People are going to tell you that YOU are the one that is crazy or wrong or “too emotional.” Let me remind you that if they have been sitting at the table a long time, they are NOT a solid candidate for healthy advice.
They might not WANT you to get healthy because then that forces them to have to look at the spaghetti. They don’t want to do that. Remember, it’s their NORMAL.
They are dysfunctionally functioning in that mess of what is KNOWN.
As unhealthy as that is, it can also be a way to keep the “control”. And let’s face it. To someone who has a person in their life who is “out of control” having ANY control is better than none. Even if it’s harmful. Still NOT okay. i.e. “I’m gonna stay with that drunk because at least I have a roof over my head and I know what to expect.”
They might even try to use the BIBLE as their reason for you to continue on in the abusive dysfunctional behavior. If someone is pressuring you into something that is hurting you, and they claim that it is biblical and therefore you should “put up with it” and shut up…YOU MUST CHECK THE WORD of GOD for yourself. EVEN if it comes from someone that you respect as a Christ follower. Just because a Christian, a pastor or a church leader tells you to do something, doesn’t mean it’s okay for YOU to do it.
We have our OWN faith in God. It is not measured by someone else. We have our OWN relationship with Jesus and is not dependent on anyone else. It can’t depend on another person, because they are human, too. And they will mess up and sin, too. Some forms of religion claim that someone can “pray” us into heaven. The bible is clear. We come to Jesus on our own, receive Jesus as our Lord and on our own, we follow Jesus in faith in a relationship that is between Jesus and ourselves.
Let me just jump in here and also point out that when someone tells you to do something or not to do something and the “word of God” backs them up 100%, you would be wise to listen. Like if you want to sleep with your fiancé before the wedding because you’re “almost” married, and you truly love each other, you’re getting married anyway, and no one will find out…and someone tells you that the bible says that it’s not okay with God for anyone to sleep together before marriage, you don’t abandon or discount what that Christian is telling you just because you don’t like it. You must do what the bible says. Period. This isn’t a “get out of jail free” card. I’m saying OWN your own Christianity. It’s YOUR relationship with Jesus. Your choices are YOUR choices.
The church IS important. It’s not more important than God. Each of us who follow Jesus are called to serve, and do life with a local body of believers. But it doesn’t take the place of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
You must always go to the bible and examine the word of God for yourself in order to know if what is being said is true or not.
Someone might try to tell you that you need to invest in a ministry that “they” say is important. They might tell you that the Lord WANTS you to go on this mission trip because everyone needs to hear the gospel.
EVERYONE is to share Jesus with others. Period. But NOT everyone is supposed to go to CHINA. Some have to go to Africa. Some are called to go to Oklahoma. Some are called to go to a specific church, serve in a specific way and give to a specific ministry. Some are called to help people deal with their crud and call their ministry a crazy title so that un-churched people will find hope in Jesus.
You have a decision to make. I’ve made mine.
I will not sit at the table with the drunk and pretend like the spaghetti isn’t sticking to the wall.
That’s why my platform is CRUD and helping people to deal with their CRUD. Jesus never ran from trouble or pain. He always dealt with it. No matter how hard it was to look at it, to acknowledge or to feel it, or how scary it was – He always dealt with it.
So, there it is. The spaghetti is stuck to the wall. Are you going to say, “NO MORE” or are you going to sit there quietly and keep eating? Do not let fear or the UNKNOWN stop you from standing up for yourself and the truth.
If this helps even one of you have the courage to stand up and look at the spaghetti and say, “This is NOT okay…I’m not doing this anymore,” it’s totally worth it and all the hurt and pain that I’ve been through is worth it. Notice I did not say that it’s “okay”. It’s not okay for anyone to hurt us. I said it’s “worth it.” Jesus never said it was okay for me to be hurt. NEVER. But I’m okay because of Jesus and He has and will continue to use it to help others. I can TRUST Him.
This is a test. For giggles and kicks, I’m wondering who is reading this right now?
People in power always abuse their position. Look at politics or the Catholic church? You can’t trust anybody. The only way to not get hurt is by not letting people in.
What did you do? Did you sit there or did you stand up and say no more?
Great article, Sonya. I am going to share this with my sister. She is in a bad relationship with a man. I know he hurts her but she won’t leave him.
This was very insightful. I always wondered why women stay in abusive relationships but this post made a lot of sense. If something feels normal to us, we aren’t likely to want to change anything. I had a situation at my job with a supervisor who always belittled everything I did. He would praise the other employees, but when it came to my work, he criticized it. It made me feel angry but I started to believe that I was less than. Because of that, I do sort of get how this happens. Great job!
This brought back memories of my first marriage which was abusive. He fractured my pelvis and broke 3 ribs the last time he hit me. I was able to talk to a chaplain at the hospital and he got me the help that I needed. I am now a counselor to battered women at a shelter in New Orleans. Sonya, your story is much more than an abuse survivor story. You share Jesus with people and you give him the credit for saving you. I’m going to share this with my girls at the shelter. Thank you for all you do to help people.
Oh Sonya I am so sorry for what you went through as a child. I think it’s beautiful that you share your pain but you also challenge us to not make excuses for our own choices. I watch Crud Talk every week and I love to read your posts. I am praying for your ministry and that you will reap blessings because of your faithfulness.
I wanted to say that I was glad that you included church leaders in the discussion. I went to a church where the pastor would use the bible to make us feel guilty if we weren’t doing what he wanted. He would say that we were not faithful because we didn’t make sure he had vacations and nice cars. Its hard to stand up to someone that is leading you to god, when they are the ones that are misusing their position. It always sounded biblical but it wasn’t. This was very well written. I’m going to share it with my friends.
This is so so good, Sonya. I need to share this with a friend of mine who will not leave her husband who has a drug addiction. They go to church at least but he hides it really good. I’m worried about her and the kids. How do you begin a conversation like this?
This is a great article. I think I have been putting up with the bad because I didn’t feel like I deserved the good. I will never look at spaghetti the same way again. I have major decisions to make.
I had a boyfriend who used to hit me. I never told anyone because I felt dumb that I wasn’t strong enough to leave him. I loved him and I believed he loved me. When I got married I vowed that I would never allow myself to be put into that situation again. My husband (now my ex) was controlling and verbally abusive. He controlled every aspect of my life from what I wore, to what I ate or to who my friends were. This article showed me that I have a pattern because it was normal for me to be put down and hurt by men. I wish I would’ve had this when I was younger. I want to pray for all the young women now so they won’t struggle the way that I did.
You are a strong woman, Sonya. I know what I have to do but I don’t know if I have the strength to do it. I have been in an abusive relationship with a man for 3 years and before that my father used to beat me, too. I tried to leave once but I had no where to live and I ended up going back to him. It was good for a while. He beats me and hurts me when we have sex. He’s always sorry after. I fear that my “normal” has become that this is just how it is going to be and it will never change. I am ashamed that I let him do this to me. Will you pray for me? I feel like if you ask god for it, he will do it.
I love how you write. I was curious, though. What did you do when that happened?