Hello everyone! You have heard a bit about me on this blog already, but I am Jeremy! Ione let me write for her blog today because there was something important, I felt I needed to share with you all. All she writes about is from her perspective on my situation and our relationship, and we both thought it would be beneficial for our readers to start hearing some of my perspectives. Hopefully we thought right!
Relationships are hard work. Some days you feel like you’re on cloud nine, and life couldn’t get any better. Other days you wonder if the relationship will burst into flames and turn to ash. Many times, you can see the beautiful future that awaits you both, but then there are those days where your vision becomes clouded with the frustrations associated with two very different, very imperfect people coming together. In the end, though, when all is said and done, if you are with the person you love— it is all worth it. No matter what. And this is how many great relationships function.
Already difficult as it is, I now add in the fact that I am with someone who comes from a past full of sexual, physical, mental, and emotional trauma and abuse. All of the relationship dynamics mentioned above are exponentially heightened and the challenges that come with dating someone who was abused are much more difficult than most other issues that could possibly come up. We already deal with my kidney failure on top of it all, and she does her absolute best at being there for me (as you have all read before) but I also have to step up in certain areas to better serve her as well. And the reward of seeing healing and growth take place in areas of relationships that were once tainted for her is a far greater reward than I could have ever imagined.
I’ve had the pleasure of being in relationship with Ione for the past 15 months, and it has been one heck of a journey. Like any other couple, we started off spending every waking moment with each other, completely smitten and in love; under the delusion that neither one of us could ever do wrong, everything was PERFECT…and then comes month two. Little issues begin to arise, and we have a disagreement here and there. Totally normal and expected. It is a relationship after all. And then one day, while sitting at a Taco Bell for lunch after some conflict we had, a few moments of silence goes by then Ione looks up and says, “You know, to be honest with you, I’ve been trying to find a way out of this relationship this entire time.” I was absolutely stunned, and honestly quite confused. I didn’t see any reason for her to want to leave. My brain was not comprehending why she would say something like that. She then explained that “finding an out” was her defense mechanism in conflict; to protect her from getting seriously hurt. I had already known of all the abuse she endured in the past because she was very upfront and told me everything before we even started thinking about getting into a relationship, so I was well aware going into it. However, this was the first time it really hit me that this relationship was going to be different; that it needed to be handled with an extensive amount of care, that I was about to learn a TON. Surely enough, as the relationship progressed, there were many large issues that arose that pushed us to the point of nearly ending the whole thing. As trying as my relationship with Ione can be at times, it has proven to be the most absolutely rewarding, joyful, hopeful, loving, and truly sacrificial relationship I have ever experienced.
I wanted to share what some key points that I have learned in this relationship, especially when it comes to not only loving and serving your woman well, but for those guys out there who are with someone who comes from a background of trauma and abuse. It can be challenging and frustrating, and honestly extremely confusing. But let me see if I can help you out a bit with my own experiences.
- Patience is imperative. It is NOT an option. I am dating someone who has gone through some very serious trauma, so it’s common for her to get defensive, close off, or do anything she feels necessary to protect herself from any chance of harm, and sometimes that is going to include you. Understand that this way of thinking and acting will take a very long time to overcome. Being patient gives her the space to allow God to heal her heart, soul, and mind from her painful past.
- Be slow to anger and quick to understanding. This goes hand-in-hand with being patient. Anger, frustration, and similar emotions pointed towards her will only bring back vivid memories from the past and/or reactions as if she’s experiencing everything all over again. I remember moments early on in our relationship when I would get slightly frustrated with her and the next moment she would be locked in the bathroom, curled up in a ball on the floor. It’s best to keep in mind what she’s gone through and exude a calming, understanding presence. Hear what she has to say, completely, uninterrupted so that she may feel like her voice is being heard. Make sure she knows what she says, and what she feels is valid, even if you do not fully understand.
- It’s not what you do, but what you DON’T do, that can be very hurtful. Be purposeful in all that you do and all that you say. Honestly, this took me a painfully long time to realize and put into practice. Whenever Ione was sad, hurt or frustrated, I would usually ask, “What did I do wrong?” To my dismay, her response would be “it’s not what you did; it’s what you DIDN’T think to do that bothered me so much.” Unintentionality can be just as hurtful as intentionality because there is no thought behind an action. Not doing something because “I didn’t think to do that” could be even more harmful to her.
- Learn to love her in ways SHE receives it best. To put it simply, it’s not about you. My duty is to serve Ione to the best of my ability, relying on God’s love but that doesn’t mean the way I show love is easily received by her. I had to find out what her love languages were, compare them to mine, and see how different they are. I can’t t just say, “well I don’t show it that way, so I’m not going to do it.” What does that communicate? Certainly not love. That thinking kind of falls under the unintentionality we just talked about. I realized that she is absolutely worth me getting a little out of my norm to show her love in a way that is different than what I am used to simply because I love her.
- A little positivity goes a long way. Any bit of negativity from me while she’s already in a negative mood will propel her into a downward spiral faster than you can snap your fingers. The best thing I can do is remind her of how grateful I am to be a part of her life, how much I love her, and what God claims to be true about her. Even saying, “I’m proud of you” can completely destroy her negative mood and redeem her day. Speaking truth over your woman is powerful.
- It’s the little things that matter. THIS. IS. CRUCIAL. When Ione was going through those painful times in her past with abuse, she would look forward to the little pleasures in life. This is what sustained her and helped her to persevere; it allowed her to keep going despite the circumstances. Now it has become a huge proponent of how she feels loved. Any small gesture that experesses much thought, intentionality or gratitude means the world to her. Do those as often as possible, and you will help her along in the process of healing and redeeming.
These are lessons I take with me every day: whenever I see Ione in person, talk to her, FaceTime her, pray with her, or wish her a good night. These are practices that have greatly improved the quality of our relationship and have allowed us to keep going despite her past hurts, despite our current circumstances, and will sustain us despite the challenges that lay ahead. For anyone reading this who is in a similar relationship, let me encourage you by saying: STAY THE COURSE! Push through. Things may seem impossible now, but I encourage you to take these lessons to heart and put them into practice now. Not everyone woman’s experience is going to be like Ione’s, so definitely take the time, when she is ready, to sit and really talk to her; trying to understand her past as best you can (usually by lots of prayer!). By doing this out of obedience to the Lord, you open up an avenue for Him to use you in her life in a really awesome way. And that’s what I’m praying for with Ione. I hope you guys do the same in your own relationships.
Thanks for letting me hop on here today guys! I want to leave you with this:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God…If God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:7,11-12)