By Danni Moss
Copyright protected, all rights reserved
Originally written 3/25/2009
During the last year of my marriage, as I was attempting to recover from breast cancer treatment, God began to show me that my cancer was a direct result of the nearly 20 years of constant verbal abuse I had experienced. That verbal abuse increased during my treatment and recovery period. I believe this was because I was weaker than Gary for the first time in our marriage. His disrespect grew exponentially.
Also, when I first told Gary I had cancer, his response was, “Now I’ll have to find a new wife.” What a startlingly inappropriate response! The casual, unguarded words of his mouth, however, expressed the secrets of his heart. Unfortunately for him, I didn’t die. I know he would never admit it, but I believed that part of the reason for his increased verbal attacks stemmed from frustration that his wish wasn’t to be granted.
That belief was cemented by his treatment of me during that last summer. Prior to that time he had refused to be intimate with me for over 2 years. He vowed in an angry rage that he would never approach me again. After my cancer was confirmed as being highly hormone receptor positive, we had several conversations about how he would have to use protection if he ever decided to break his vow of rage, because a pregnancy could literally kill me. Then during that summer there were three times I woke up in the night, under the influence of a sleeping medication, to discover him helping himself to me. I tell about this in more detail in my article, Is It Rape When Your Husband Does It?
However, during one of those times, remarkably well-timed to coincide with ovulation, he “forgot” to use a condom. Considering his two years of abstinence, the clandestine nature of the moment, and our repeated conversations about the dangers of pregnancy for me, I cannot imagine this “accidental” forgetfulness was not deliberate. I also believe he believes it was a complete accident. Gary does denial better than anyone I have ever known. If he decides something is true, he absolutely believes it.
As a result, I believe with complete certainty that Gary wanted me dead. That would be the tidiest way for me to be removed from his life, leaving him free without the necessity of a divorce – which could negatively impact his image.
So the verbal assaults increased. The rages because very frequent – multiple times weekly, while the extremely nasty verbal tirades happened daily. And I began to notice something that happened in my body every time. I lived on eggshells, always trying to anticipate, deflect or avoid these incidents, but could never manage it. So when he would start in, my fight-or-flight mechanism would automatically trigger, releasing a jolt of adrenalin into my system.
This was very powerfully obvious to me because I was so weak from chemo that this adrenalin rush would leave me profoundly weak. I found I could not seem to get better physically – the extreme exhaustion continued month after month.
I prayed and prayed that God would teach me how to not have that adrenalin rush because it was hurting me. Finally, I realized this was a prayer God couldn’t answer. He had created me with that fight-or-flight reflex for my safety and preservation. He couldn’t turn it off. It was a good thing that He had placed in me to motivate me to either flee or fight.
Well, I had long ago learned that fighting was not the right answer. But without fleeing, that adrenalin rush was going to continue to occur day in and day out. And having already gotten cancer from the constant stress of abuse, I would get cancer again if I remained in that environment.
That was when God reminded me of something He told me during the year prior to our first separation almost 10 years before. He showed me that the fruit of violence is death. I realized back then that someone would die as a result of Gary’s violence if it continued. I assumed that person would be him. Then one day, in one of his rages, Gary came within 2mm of killing himself by punching a window (something he has always attributed to an “accident” – though he was standing there looking out that window almost continuously for the 15 minutes or so before he punched it). And he didn’t die.
It was as if God whispered in my ear, “So, if it is not going to be him, who will it be?”
Over the years I dedicated myself to watching over my children like a hawk. Whenever he physically assaulted them I would get in the middle of it and stop him. Whenever he verbally assaulted them, I would intervene and attempt to break it up by speaking the truth. Both actions deflected his anger onto me, and earned me the permanent label of “disrespectful.”
That last summer of our marriage, God reminded me of what He had said before, “So, if it is not going to be him, who will it be?” And I realized I had missed something obvious – it could be me. It was at that point I realized I would die of cancer if I remained in this marriage because the fruit of violence is death – and it was my life on the chopping block.
Little did I know how extremely literal God’s warning to me was. Four years later, in Jan. 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer again. In hindsight it is clear that the cancer began all those years ago while I was still married to Gary. There was an indicator of cancer back then, but the medical team taking care of me was so sure it couldn’t be cancer, they didn’t check or test me for it.
I have come to see this as Gary’s last curse. The last curses of his mouth have been quietly, invisibly, bearing fruit all these years, just as God said they would. Gary’s “death threat” has come to maturity. However, I also believe God didn’t warn me about it at the time only to let me die without hope. Nor do I believe it is God’s will to abandon my daughter to an abusive upbringing after all He has done to save her from that environment. So regardless of what the doctors say about my prognosis, I believe God will heal me and demonstrate His victory over sin’s curses yet again.