James 1:8 “…a two-souled man is unstable in all his ways.” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary ‘double-minded—literally, “double-souled,” the one soul directed towards God, the other to something else.’
I’ve spent several years as part of an online abuse support community. A common shared question seems to be Who is he?
Who is this man? Is he the tender, loving, sweet, and funny man? Or is he the cold, at times cruel, lacking empathy, lacking compassion, selfish, and resentful man? Is one a mask?
I’ve seen different responses to this, and I’m not sure I have the answer or know the truth myself. Only God knows the heart, but He does tell us we can judge a tree by its fruit. To me, this means that the sane, objective, and rational way is to step back and observe behaviors and words. Words of good intent alone mean nothing without behavior that backs it up; but harmful words are a type of behavior, an abusive behavior to be sure.
Some say that the kind and sweet man is a fake, and the hurtful man is the real person. This view holds that the abusive man is the real man, and simply wears a mask when he’s behaving well.
I think that can be true… at times, and certainly for some. I’m not sure it’s the whole truth.
Most women that partner with toxic men are women that seem to share warm, compassionate, and empathic traits. It doesn’t mean you can’t be lied to, because your loving nature can be taken advantage of. A loving and warm heart wants to give the benefit of the doubt, wants to believe the best. This can be a clear target for anyone that’s a manipulator.
On the other hand, the empathy can also mean you tend to put your radar on, that you sense truth and lies from another person. Have you ever sensed and deeply felt that there is a part of him that wants to be a better man, a good man? I think I have. Now, I may have given it more weight than it possessed, but I can examine many objective observations to give this view credence.
In other words, not a mask, but a man that vacillates weakly between a sense of what’s right, and yet is steered by what can seem like a hardwired and reflexive way of thinking that’s entitled, selfish, and arrogant.
This seems true to me for different reasons, but mostly from life experience with him. He doesn’t fake kindness to animals, babies, and little kids. He loves nature. He loves music. It’s there, and my deepest gut intuition and sense of truth has seen this genuine good in him. This reality, that in my gut I’ve known to be true, has contributed greatly to my cognitive dissonance when he’s given himself permission from some sense of entitlement to behave abusively. This is when I ask Who are you?
I swear that at times I can tell almost instantly which man has walked into the room. It’s like a Jekyll and Hyde switching back and forth, and I’ve longed with futility to drive the monster away once and for all. But part of my growth, my commitment to self care and objectivity, is to at least acknowledge that though he may be a double-souled man, that too is something I’m not responsible for, and cannot change.
The truth is also that he’s made choices that harm me, our kids, our pets, even himself (!), and he’s defended and excused those choices reflexively.
My choices lie in how I process this reality, this truth, and how I choose to accept it, for accept it I must. Once I fully accept that he is who is is, and I can never change that, then I can remind myself one day at a time to use my energy where it counts,
…my own choices. I’m trying so hard to do that, but some days I feel oh so tired.