I was so excited to learn this acronym! I have recently realized how deeply entrenched in the FOG I have been for most of my life. There has always been someone telling me either directly or indirectly to keep quiet. Don’t tell. It’s OK now. Let’s just pretend like this doesn’t happen in our family. It’s one of the worst things you can teach a child – in my humble opinion. This way of thinking lead to a marriage of abuse in which I covered up and hid my pain and shame. I didn’t want to be a failure. I didn’t want to be the family discussion. The disappointing daughter.
I felt afraid of disappointing. I felt afraid of being murdered by my abuser for telling. He promised to hunt me down and brutally murder me if I left him. He would find me no matter where I went in the world. “I am just crazy enough to do it.. I am one crazy MF.” I believed him. He had proven to me from day one of our marriage how crazy he could behave.
I believed I had an obligation to uphold my marital vows. I didn’t understand that inflicting violence on your wife was not God’s idea of keeping the marital arrangement. He swore he had more integrity than to ever cheat on me. Again, I believed him. Looking back, I can’t understand how I fell for such a line. A man who will hit and threaten a woman has no integrity. No honor. Cheating is certainly not a stretch of the moral imagination! But, my obligation hid that truth from me. Even when a friend came to me saying she had seen him with another woman, I called her a liar and told her I never wanted to speak to her again. FOG.
And then, we have Guilt! I felt so guilty from the beginning of the marriage. I wanted to turn and run on the night of the wedding. My parents had just spent $3000 on the whole horrible event. In 1984, that was almost 4 months pay for my mother who was a hospice worker. Today, it might be close to $8000. I couldn’t bare the guilt of being a quitter before I even got started, especially, with such a hefty price tag. Then, my abuser managed to pile on guilt feelings over what a bad and disappointing wife I was turning out to be. If I only could learn to be a better cook. If I only could keep a cleaner house. I was failing and guilty of one thing after the next. Then, came baby. Now, the guilt of a baby growing up without his father. What kind of mother would I be if I allowed that to happen. I was already a failure as a wife. Now, guilty of failing as a mother. Ohhhhh. The FOG had thickened.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not blaming my parents for my FOG. I think we all have some sort of FOGGY baggage from our childhood. Whether it is our household or other family members or friends we observe as we grow, we will have good and bad examples that shape the way we handle our own family decisions as adults. We can only hope we make smart decisions and learn from our mistakes. When we do make the inevitable mistakes, it is important to own them and show our children how to do it better. Keep them as far away from the FOG as possible.
But, please don’t kid yourselves. No matter how hard you try, some of your children may grow into FOGGY adults. All you can do is be there with defogger. Offer to clean the windshields and if they refuse your help remain on standby. Try not to judge. FOG is thick and scarey. It took me 12 years to leave my abuser. I wasn’t out of the FOG completely for another 17 years. As I sit here blogging today, I am not sure my FOG is completely gone some days when discussing certain issues. But, by allowing my faith in Jehovah God to remind me of what is reasonable to Fear, Obligate myself to, and bear Guilt over, I can burn off the FOG and see my way clear as I continue safely navigating the winding road through the rest of my life.
*The acronym FOG, for Fear, Obligation and Guilt, was first coined by Susan Forward & Donna Frazier in the book, Emotional Blackmail.