Please Don’t Silence the Courage of a Whisper

Apparently my neediness is unattractive. To my spouse. Although he wasn’t the one who told me that. It was a comment left on my last blog post For His Eyes Only. From someone who I will choose to believe intended to offer me helpful advice, as misguided as it was. The words hurt me. They diminished me. Again. And I allowed them to replay through my mind a hundred times more than I should have. Joining the thousands of times beforehand that I had heard and accepted the many variations of “your neediness is unattractive. Even to your spouse.”

And you know what? Maybe my neediness does repel my husband. But if it does, the problem is within his heart, not mine. Because I am not needy. I have needs. And desires. I am human. A woman. And the two go together. Just to set the record straight, I don’t believe my “neediness” does offend my husband. Sometimes he may wrestle with how to meet my needs that are within his realm of responsibility to acknowledge, and yes, supply. But when he struggles, it is because he is trying. Trying to learn how to relate to me and the dance of oneness and separateness that co-exists in a marriage. If he didn’t struggle, it would be then I would worry. Because I wrestle with this too. Discerning what of our own and each other’s needs are my concern and responsibility. And most importantly, what are the longings of our hearts that only God can satisfy.

I do believe that God has created a spiritual void within the human heart that only a relationship and dependence on Him can fill. But those aren’t the needs I am talking about. God created marriage, and a husband and wife, for intimate relationship and to practically meet needs that we can’t on our own.

I have needs that are my responsibility to fill and to protect. I do. And that realization still makes me mildly uncomfortable. Because I have received a life time of messages from those who should have been loving, supporting and protecting me, telling me instead that my needs didn’t matter. Reinforcing that my wants and desires were insignificant, irrelevant, meaningless, shameful. A childhood and adulthood of abusive relationships where the suppression and denial of me was expected and demanded. Where my voice was not only ignored and unheard, it was muted. And it was okay. Even though it wasn’t.

The wasn’t only became clear to me 3 ½ years ago with the full disclosure of my husband’s sex addiction and intimacy anorexia, and the revelation and validation that my entire 25 year marriage was riddled with betrayal and abuse. Emotionally, mentally, financially, spiritually, sexually. I was in an abusive relationship. I was abused. And that is a concept I have not yet completely reconciled within my heart and mind.

I was a victim of my husband and other betrayers. I learned and implemented survival skills that served me well at the time and allowed me to function alongside the unheard screams of my wounded heart. However, as I heal, those survival mechanisms are no longer a protection. Holding onto them now would lead me to be the betrayer of my own soul. The abuse is over. There is no legitimate reason for me to continue living in dark silence.

My voice is still squeaky. Often unsure. But gaining confidence. Continually surprising me. In a good way. The scared, scarred, little girl hiding within me is gloriously transforming into the woman that God created me to be. It is a beautiful experience discovering me. Made all the more magnificent by my husband, and the wonderful recovery community God has blessed me with during my healing journey, genuinely celebrating together with me.

And yet, I have also learned that not everyone appreciates and responds positively when the silenced find their voices. In my experience in other personal and work relationships, as my voice grows stronger, others have resisted, even become angry, at the shifting balance of power. Setting boundaries, standing up for myself, even asking questions has resulted in my reception of displeasure, disapproval and hostility at times. That can still be awfully threatening and intimidating to a person traversing the rocky path of recovery from betrayal and abuse.

I am not doing my recovery perfectly, but my results indicate that I am doing it well. Acknowledging and expressing my needs is an integral part of my healing process. At times the process has been ugly. But learning to value my needs has never been unattractive.

My off tune, wavering voice belongs in God’s glorious choir. It is rising above the cacophony. Soaring to new heights. God has given me a new, beautiful song to sing of praise, redemption and restoration. I was created for good things. I am worthy of good things.

Please don’t silence the courage of a whisper. Bring it a microphone.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29

He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free. Psalm 146:7

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16 thoughts on “Please Don’t Silence the Courage of a Whisper

  1. 🙌🏻🙌🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
    Cynthia, you have no idea how much I needed this today! I’ve been struggling lately with trying to balance my ego with humility, and learning to be objective about situations – instead of putting my own spin on them. So, I morphed from an outspoken, fearless ‘woman activist’ of sorts, into something along the lines of a coiled up dog in the corner – with my head tucked under myself so not to make eye contact.
    Afraid to speak now.

    That’s who I’ve become.

    I think the trauma of the betrayal and the realization of what incurred (in my case), changed my perception into a way that I don’t trust myself anymore. It’s so hard to describe- especially to those who’ve not experienced this kind of heartbreak. I’m not sure who left you the remark about being needy, or their circumstances – but I’d guess it’s a man who never got his heart broken and trampled on my someone he trusted. (I could be wrong)

    There is a fine line we walk- with the ego/pride, and what I like to call ‘justified confidence.’ While we do need to realize we are individuals and utilize our own attributes learn to stand alone in the world, as a married couple – you become one unit. We can’t just shut up and swallow it. If one spouse is wounded and broken – it’s akin to a broken cog in a machine. It just won’t keep going like that. You have to stop and fix the broken part. Maybe give it a microphone, so we can know what to fix.

    Don’t let that creep into your mind and stay there. Of course, we become “needy”, but it’s usually only temporary or comes in waves- until we learn what was broken and figure out how to put it back together. It’s not as if we are non-stop following them around (like a dog), pinning For unrequited love.. (or maybe in my case- it is? Probably so;)

    Anyhow, the point is that marriage is not one-sided. When there’s been a hit taken, you must find the weak point and reinforce it like you would a home after a hurricane.. otherwise the entire thing will disintegrate with the next storm. Until you fix it, it’s going to have vulnerabilities – like a wounded animal. They have to learn to trust again, but in the meantime they still need reassurance..

    Hold up that microphone and speak, even if your voice shakes and you get ridiculed. Only those who say and do nothing avoid criticism:)

    Love and 🤗 to you Cynthia

    Liked by 3 people

    • Michelle, thank you so much for your affirmation that what I wrote made sense to someone other than me! I truly appreciate your experiences that you shared and the insights and analogies you have added. I have had a tough summer of reverting back to old habits of keeping quiet and avoiding conflict. I let too many subtle messages infiltrate my mind. So, this last neediness thing was just the last drop that caused the glass to spill over. But it has been a good thing. I reached out to someone this week who told me to step INTO conflict, not avoid it. And then as God so often does, He provided me with a scripture that I used to cling to that I had let slide from my consciousness. Isaiah 41:3 – For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, do not fear, I will help you. Ahhh. So this weekend I have been stepping INTO conflict holding onto God’s hand, and it has been a very good thing. Thank you so much for the love, support, encouragement and advice. It means so much to have others cheering our efforts on! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. When people are ashamed about something in themselves, they tend to transfer this onto others who do not stick to their, mainly unspoken boundaries. In this case your commenter is ashamed of expressed female sexuality and so YOU need to be ‘reighned in’. It is like: you make me aware of my shame, so I shall shame you back. Transfer of ugly emotions. Very common, very nasty. I would assume that it works the same for your husband btw when he is dismissive of or rejects/rejected your open sexuality; somehow, somewhere it shames/shamed him. 😦 😦 😦 Psychology calls it transfer or projection.

    What I found interesting in your former post is in one short sentence: your husband likes you covered up and ‘adorable’ and rejects/rejected frank sexuality. I worry about that.

    In my non-religious feminist life, hold on to your chair here 😉 that is THE very point of what religion says about female sexuality: a woman is either Maria or Maria Magdalena, nothing inbetween. Any sexual activity or joy automatically places a woman in the Maria Magdalena corner so what is left, if one wants to be ‘proper’, ‘acceptable’ and safe (!!!) is to ‘not be sexual’. Apparently the ideal is to not even have sex to have a baby. Sigh, sigh, triple sigh…. 😦

    Very few religions have emotionally healthy and safe spots for women in society. Most religions are about oppression of most everything but specifically sex and harsh judgement obviously specifically of women. “You take off that headscarf and you will be raped because it is clear you asked for it!!” = “I get aroused by seeing your hair and since I have no control over my sexuality I will take any excuse to rape you and then blame you for it.” 😦 All projection of sexual fantasies from the man onto the woman. 😦

    When I hear ‘adorable’ specifically in combination with the difficulty with open sexuality and sex addiction I question wether he too is (subconciously?) caught in this powerplay fantasy. It is my conviction/fear that anybody living in this judgemental, powerplay fantasy will never allow any man or, well, mainly woman, to have an equal (sexual) relationship where there is room for healthy needs and healthy wants of both.

    Obviously I am not on the same page as you when it comes to religion 😉 but I really want you to be happy. And I am wondering if my fears are true, if it is not needed to shed some light on those awful background fantasies. Talking about ‘what shames me/you in me/you’ could be a topic of research. But then again this is also food for a humongous and painful fight. 😀

    And, having written all of this, well, I could be wrong. That too. 🙂 Hope this comment meets you well. Please feel free to take it down it if you find it is unappropriate.

    With love,
    Feeling

    Liked by 2 people

    • This comment does meet me well. I don’t find it inappropriate at all. Particularly since I sense the intentional care you took in choosing your words to express your concerns for both the situation and for me personally.

      Your points certainly do give me something to consider. Without some research and observation, and perhaps a difficult conversation, I cannot either dismiss or accept some of this scenario as truth. It makes sense, and is possible.

      I appreciate that though we are not, as you said, on the same page when it comes to religion, you took the time to read my post and comment and offer me your insights. I really do agree with you, that Christianity and other religions have to differing degrees (depending on the religion) done anywhere from a very poor job to being downright abusive and damaging when it comes to the teachings (or lack of) regarding healthy sexuality for both men and women. I have actually been pondering several posts in this regard recently, and did begin one, but the words and ideas that I want to convey just aren’t expressing themselves as clearly as I want them to. Perhaps because my situation is still just a little too raw. We need more healthy teaching on sexuality across the board. The majority seems to come from either the church/religion or the porn industry. And neither seems to get it right. Maybe one day I can be a person who does.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. This is such an important post! I was told once by Will that I was “so needy!” I think it was when I was asking if we could spend some time together. He thought that was absurd. In his mind, at the time, women really only had one purpose. I never forgot it, and it still hurts. Truth is, after three plus years of therapy and recovery, he is finally able to admit that I have always been the one who catered to everyone else’s needs..and he is coming to terms with the fact that his neediness is one of the roots of his addiction. You really can’t make this stuff up….🤷🏻‍♀️

    Liked by 6 people

    • Nope, we really can’t make this stuff up….. We just nod in agreement and shake our heads along with each other and all the other betrayed and/or abused spouses at how illogically twisted things were. And for me, why I accepted and made myself believe such absurd things for so long too. No wonder it takes so much time to not only unravel, but replace and build with something new. Thanks for the affirmation of my post and ramblings thoughts! xo

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are doing a great job in your recovery, if you ask me. I always value your posts and feedback on mine. You’re a gift.

    Neediness towards your husband is not a problem, to me, in the way you describe it. We all have needs and in a healthy marriage there are needs one needs to help their spouse with to the best of the capabilities. This is even more true when dealing with issues such as pornography and a lack of intimacy. It’s great that he is overvoming things and that everybody can identify feelings and needs, but at a certain point the efforts need to shift towards meeting those needs. And that definitely includes in yours. Every woman should feel needed and wanted and beautiful in their marriage and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    But I am proud of you for seeing what is happening and working through it and sifting through all of the painful parts. You could just be accepting it and ignoring it, but you are at least naming it and that’s a good start. I have no lack of faith that you will get through this and work to have those needs met fully.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for such affirming words of support and encouragement of the efforts I am making in my recovery! I am soaking them in, along with your wise insights. I feel like I am gulping in a breath of fresh air reading every word you wrote here. I am grateful and blessed that God has connected us to walk through this part of our recovery journeys together. Love and blessings to you, my sweet friend.

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    • This makes me both glad and sad. It is both comforting and empowering to realize we are not alone and others share and understand both the pain and the victory of each step in the healing process. Sending you (((hugs))) or high fives, whichever you need today. xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. For the past two weeks, my husband has contiuously been telling me that I am being too needy and that it is annoying him. Today, he said ‘why can’t you go and keep yourself busy with something, go meet your friends, go out’. I said I just wanted to spend some quality time together and didn’t realise it was a bad thing, when we already don’t see each other much Monday to Friday. It hurts. It really, really hurts. I don’t even understand how he doesn’t think it might hurt me. Feeling so lonely.

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    • I’m so sorry you are experiencing this deep hurt and loneliness from the person who is supposed to be your best friend. I know the deep rejection and pain of feeling alone and unwanted in a marriage. In the relationship that is supposed to be your safe and loving place. And yeah, that being oblivious to our hurt, finding it annoying, the intentionality of the rebuff pierces the heart. I really doubt that you are being too needy. Just a woman rightfully expecting and desiring to spend quality time connecting with her husband and he with her. As it should be. Sending you (((hugs))) and love.

      Like

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