To the wife who holds her breath…

She holds her breath but she can’t fill walking on eggshells cracking. Emptiness inside splitting her heart and her head pounding because he’ll be home soon. And there’s a stray piece of dust on the hardwood floors.

He won’t notice the whole house sparkling, delicious dinner simmering, kids working on homework or a baby sleeping peacefully.

He will only notice that one piece of dust. The one she missed in her flustered frenzy to make it all perfect. Everything in place so he would have no complaint.

But it doesn’t matter. None of it. Not how good she is, or how quiet the kids are, or that she did everything he told her even the things she knew were somehow wrong. But he said they were right. That God would have it this way. And he is always quick to remind her that she must obey, submit, keep her mouth shut.

So she keeps holding her breath.

But in the back of her mind it stirs. Deep in her heart Truth raking over the coals with the fire almost out for the lies have nearly extinguished the flame, the light. Her heart keeps pumping and blood keeps coursing, but his veins keep popping ever angry.

A part of her wants to leave, run away, escape him, but she can’t think straight living like this where control rolls over her and manipulation mangles her soul, heart all shredded. Pieces on the floor like so much dust.

And it all happens quiet without him lifting a hand towards her.

Not like her mother who married a drinker and him beating her black and blue plain to see. Her mom maybe would have left that man she married at 18 only to escape her childhood home where her own father hurt and she held a sick secret all the years of her growing from girl into woman. Maybe her mother would have left her dad, but she didn’t. And cycles spin forward and the wife who holds her breath — her situation it isn’t so glaring. Bruises lie deep in soul and psyche where the damage is just as killing but far less noticeable seeming easier to excuse.

She keeps holding her breath because she’s caught in a web sticky with lies. Crazy! One minute she feels crazy. The next she knows he’s crazy. Then it all spins crazy and maybe he acts less crazy and she thinks and hopes and holds her breath a little longer while her heart skips a stone across a pond and the ripples keep moving outward and she hopes with a ripple of hope that he will change. That things will change, that life will get better. That maybe she will wake up and realize she had fallen asleep reading a story.

But this story is real and it’s hers and it hurts. And he keeps on hurting her and doesn’t change because maybe he can’t, maybe he won’t. Same old same insane churns sour like her stomach and she tries to stay sane. And she becomes that piece of dust, made of dust, needing to be swept into the arms of the Everlasting One, but her marriage swirls like leaves dead caught in a wind twirling fierce.

She promised for better or for worse. And she thinks it could be worse. Or maybe better if somehow she was better. And she just wants to be loved.

And that one piece of dust on the floor, the only thing he squinty sees, it riles him red and he whips in ways that won’t show, but the Maker of all things visible and invisible, He sees. She holds her breath and holds on tight and the ride gets scarier and she thinks she’ll lose her lunch only she isn’t able to eat because she really is losing her mind and she wants to scream “Stop” and run and hide, taking her babies far and away.

From insanity seething.

But she is caught and keeps doing the same thing over and over expecting different to come but it doesn’t. She can’t scream because he will hear and make it worse. And she can’t speak because she can’t barely breathe with holding her tongue all tied and she’s got to untie the ropes that bind. Breaking free of the hold he has on her, death grip squeezing dry her life drop by drop.

She fears.

Phantoms lurk and she wonders how can she stay and she prays she won’t disappoint God. She has lived so many days under his roof and under his thumb that she has forgotten how to think deep and trust herself without him telling her mighty all what to think or how or when.

And the Word that was made flesh is mangled like bodies on a highway divided from breath by some driver drunk wild whose life will go on with one more drink, or one more line; one more word or one more lie. Repeating, not stopping, and collateral damage that takes forever to heal. For words twisted evil under the guise of godliness gone mad wield power and that is all it is. A power play. Except he isn’t playing and she can’t win.

Is she going mad? Because it’s crazy to stay when you have to hold your breath and you can’t breathe and you can’t be the woman God has made you to be because he wants to control everything and especially you. A little each day she dies inside while on the outside he tries to be Christ repeating words holy, except he isn’t and it’s all unwholesome. Him denouncing sin in others but never seeing his own. Saving the lost when he is most lost.

And love is only a label for lunacy.

So he bullies with syllables that slap hard and hurt as much as if his hand had hit her head. It all spins fast and she talks fast to close friends or maybe her mother. They tell her to get out that it is no marriage when it’s only abuse, control, and violence washed down not with whiskey but the Word. A six pack of lies and more lies and she lies there trying to sort it out but can’t for only one of the two-as-one is trying and it feels like dying and it’s so sly, selfish and sick.


She holds her breath and she keeps holding on. She took a vow and she won’t let go, won’t let God down. But it’s living vacant and there is no air, oxygen gone. Code blue. And she wonders how it ever got this bad. Worries what people will think and what will become of her children but life is not life in a house of horrors where unspeakable transpires and it is later than she thinks. Little ones learning what they see and getting all broken.

Time to go.

For she can never change him when he doesn’t want to change, doesn’t see the truth in a true, real Way. Won’t bend His knee to the Almighty when it’s the throne he desires. She is pulled and she is pushed and the walls are coming down and she waits to hear from God. And someone who was once in a place so dark it demanded her soul as ransom speaks.

Get out before it destroys your soul.

Some men kill flesh, others the heart unseen. And the robber baron steals it all and her future and her gift taken, the gift she is to this world, help she is meant to give others caught in a hell when home is never far away. Until His hand takes hers offered. Safe.

Women have held their breath for men who were not husbands real and true, not husbands in the image of the Maker who is our husband, but only brutes and them broken, too. All lost and crying and sinful twisted inside, needing a Savior but running away from what lies buried deep in the grave of their own past all hurting. Never seeing or maybe not wanting to see.

But Truth will set her free and she will see.

And she will breathe again…

Are you in an emotionally controlling marriage? If your spouse refuses to take responsibility for his actions and get help the situation may not change. Your marriage may fall apart. You are wracked with pain over his treatment of you and perhaps beginning to see your own brokenness? A free mentoring session can help you begin your journey to healing.

Sheila Kimball Mentoring encourages you to heal your heart and move forward from where you are today to a much better life based in an abiding relationship with God. CLICK my image now to get started on healing your heart and mending your marriage or life.

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25 thoughts on “To the wife who holds her breath…

  1. I was never married to such a man. But I was in a relationship with one for two long years. God took me out, He redeemed and restored, and He blessed me with a husband who is selfless and patient and willing to love me and hold me when the scars on my heart from that past get torn open again in the present for who knows what reason. I’ll be fine. So many other women, they don’t have that hope, and WE NEED TO BE TALKING ABOUT THIS. How many women sitting in our churches have this as their reality? How many? Because it’s not something talked about, and it so needs to be. THANK YOU for sharing these words today.

    • You are so welcome, Kitty. And I am so glad you got out before you married him. And even more glad that God brought you a wonderfully, loving husband. Me, too. And my marriage has so greatly aided my healing. Yes, you will be fine. Keep looking to Christ and your husband and each day purpose to love a little bit better. This does need to be openly talked about as so many women suffer in silence. Hoping this post will go far and wide through social media. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your heart. Blessings…

  2. This was not a fun read. But, I understand. Words are just as powerful blows as physical blows. Wow! We do need to talk about this. It gets swept under the rug in the name of godliness and it is WRONG. Thank you for bravely putting this out there.

    • Nor a fun way to live either, Bernadette. And so many women live this day in and day out for years. And when it’s “only” verbal assault and control it gets more readily excused away but it is terribly damaging. Thanks for stopping over…

  3. You write of this painful journey so eloquently, Sheila and that eloquence seems to stand in complete contrast to the chaos and threatening atmosphere you endured. I’m glad you are sharing your story. I’m also glad you point out that the abuser may lull the abused into thinking he’s changed or is improving, when he’s so far from it. It’s just his game to pull you close so that he can rip your heart out again. I’m so glad God delivered you from that daily peril and has blessed you with a great man like Michael!

    • And verbal assaults and control issues were only part of what I was involved in and I am very glad and thankful to be delivered from all that. And Michael was too so we both can better understand the hurts the other has had to let go. But as for eloquence, Beth, that truly is from God…His grace…I couldn’t sleep the night I wrote this and was reading and two words jumped at me and then all the words started pouring like prayer. There are also several women I know closely who are living with terrible marital issues right now and I felt like I was writing it to them, and me, and you, and you and you, and all women everywhere who have ever been abused by a man in any way. May God protect and heal…Thanks for stopping by Beth. My love to you…

  4. Thank you for sharing. My story was not this bad while I was married. But, after it ended, the full extent of what he was capable of doing became visible for the world to see. Sixteen years of marriage and seven years since. When it ended, God spoke into my heart that He was breaking the bondages no daughter should live under. Freedom always comes at a great price and mine has been quite a journey. Now, I look around me and wonder how many others are living like I once did and I desire freedom for them. In this life I may never be totally free of this man but this life is only a small part of the whole. If I can help even one understand true freedom, the journey will be worth it. Once again, thank you Sheila for sharing. How I wish we could have a coffee chat face to face!

    • I am so glad you got out, Sharon. God does want all His daughters {and sons} to live free so that we can love freely. And freedom indeed comes at a very great price. It cost our Christ everything. Keep sharing your story and I will keep sharing mine for we are saved by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimonies. All glory to God. PS would be so nice to have that face-to-face chat! God bless you. xxoo

  5. Love this post! My marriage had some common links to what you wrote today and just reading it made my stomach churn again. I did not experience the abuse you described but other struggles culminated in an end to my marriage. I am in a healthier place and I applaud you today for writing this post and the deep emotions that it portrays. I could feel everything as I read the words. I do pray that all who experience any of the above find hope and fulfillment in God. Blessings, Mary!

    • Oh, Mary, I know what you mean. It has been more than 10 years since an abusive marriage ended and I now have a good husband and loving marriage but after I wrote the last word of this post a single tear slid down my cheek. I think I was sad for the woman I had been and the pain experienced and then extrapolated that to all the women currently in abusive marriages or relationships. I pray for their deliverance and am glad you are in a better place today. YES…our fulfillment is in Christ. To God be the glory… xxoo

  6. Oh my, Sheila. Sitting here crying, reading your powerful post. Will be sharing every where with the hope that someone who needs to read this will find it. God bless

  7. Thanks for sharing your beautiful breathless story with us here at “Tell Me a Story.” Our doctor’s office now asks if there is abuse in the home and help is available. There is more than one type of abuse and controlling manipulating anger riden words are often worse than the physical.

  8. Powerful post! Unfortunate sad truth for too many. Praying you helped give the breath of life to a dying bride needing to hear these words! Blessings. Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart

  9. wow that is incredibly powerful. so many stay in these situations because of fear, because of rules, because of lack of support. Thank you for sharing this, if it touches ONE it will be the purpose for the words.

    • Thank you, Sharon. It is a serious subject that I know of first hand {and some of it worse than this story} but God. PLEASE consider sharing this post and please join me in prayer that God might use these words to get the attention of women who need to find safety. Thanks and blessings…