Updated: Dec 21, 2020
“I’ve never felt so judged in my life,” I thought silently to myself. With my embarrassed eyes downcast, my humiliated head bowed, and my shoulders drooped in defeat, I couldn’t even argue with her. I knew she was right. Tears stung my eyes at the reality of what she had said, and even then she turned up her nose at my weakness. Disdain. That was the look on her face. Her arms were crossed in disappointment at what I had turned out to be, or rather what I had not turned out to be.
My heart sank as she spoke. “When did you get so fat? Your husband doesn’t even find you attractive anymore,” she stated indignantly. “And your hair? Seriously, can’t you at least ATTEMPT to do something with it? It’s the middle of the day, and you look like you just rolled out of bed.”
She paused long enough for me to wonder if she was done. I timidly glanced up at her. She was just standing there staring at me. Was she waiting for an answer? Had she even asked a question? As I looked at her, I was reminded that she was one of the most beautiful women I had ever seen. Stunning, she was tall and thin. Her thick, curled hair stayed perfectly in place. She was dressed to impress, always. I wanted to argue that messy buns were “in” right now, but her barrage of hateful words spewed out against my battered heart.
“You disgust me. Your little ploy to convince the “church people” that you’re actually good for them is laughable. What makes you think you’re worthy to lead? You think God is convinced? He knows your heart and your secret sins. You will never be good enough for Him. You’re a goody goody. Remember when your dad called you that when you were little? Remember when your sister said that to you when you were in high school? Well, you haven’t changed.”
“I know,” I barely whispered. But my admission meant nothing to her. She continued.
“You yell at your kids so much; you’re no different from what you hated about your childhood. You are a product of your environment and nothing more. You don’t even have the faith to accept healing from your ‘Lord’ - the ‘One’ that is ‘all-powerful.’ They will grow up to be as screwed up as you are. Look at the damage you have done and will always do to them. They are too good for you.
“And look around at this mess.” Yes, we were standing in MY kitchen, in MY own home, and I was too crushed to even fight back. “You’re just bad at homemaking. Why did you think you were called to do this? Why did you quit your job? You’re not contributing AT ALL to this family. You are not called to be a wife or a mother.”
“Well, maybe I could go back to work. At least then I’d be able to bring home some money.”
“You made next to nothing at your last job. You’re not even good at that. You don’t have a real degree. You can’t get a job that would pay enough to be worth it. You couldn’t even afford childcare. What good are you to anyone?”
My husband just sat there at the table and didn’t say anything. He didn’t look up from his computer. He didn’t want to get in the middle, I guess. I looked at him, and he just glanced at me with a sad and baffled expression. Questions and thoughts ran through my head in that few seconds our eyes connected. “I wonder if he agrees with her. No wonder he works so much. I know he helps with the house and the kids, but it’s not for me. It’s because I can’t do anything myself. He can’t stand how much I suck at everything. He’s going to leave me someday. And it will by my fault. I’m just not enough.” He looked back at his computer screen. I asked him what he was thinking about. “Nothing, just working.” Short, sweet, and lacking any of the reassurance I was hoping for. Maybe if he could just disagree with her, she might stop her assault. Edit, next, edit, next, edit …
I couldn’t take it anymore. I ran from the kitchen to my room, screaming, literally screaming at the top of my lungs. I heard my boys playing in the bathtub, the older said quietly to the younger, “Shhh! Mom is mad.” I hoped leaving in that manner would shut her up. If she knew how much she was hurting me, maybe she would stop. But she didn’t. I collapsed on the floor next to my bed, sobbing so loudly that I didn’t hear her come in. I could feel her presence, and there she was. Standing over me. I didn’t hold back as sobs racked my body. I didn’t care what she thought of me, now. It made no difference. I cried. I begged God to help me rid myself of this woman. She terrified me and shamed me into submission. I knew I would never live up to her standards. If I am completely honest, I like her better than I like myself. I am unacceptable. And she? She is everything I ever wanted to be.
My husband came into the bedroom and sat down on the floor next to me in all my mess. As he wrapped his arms around me, her accusations faded. She sighed, turned around and walked away. She had no power in the comfort he offered me. She was gone... for a time. What frightens me is that I never know when or where she will be back, but I know that she will be back. She will show up to feed into my anxiety and self-loathing. She might show up at the grocery store, in the shower, at church during worship or in the middle of the night while I’m lying awake. She’s the perfect villain - the voice inside your head that tells you you'll never be enough.
Have you met her? That better "you" that you envision, but whose standards you won’t ever meet? What are her accusations against you?