Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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Haters Gonna Hate

1482967_813463125356313_5515814137530970124_nAtheists don’t hate God any more than we hate fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns.  There are some of us who hate what religion does to people.  We no more believe that God does exist than any of those other things.

I’ve just never heard anyone denigrate, denounce, devalue, or discriminate in the name of fairies, leprechauns, or unicorns.  The minute they do I’ll start blasting those imaginary friends, too.

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When somebody comes along and tells me I’d better love Tinkerbell, Larry the Leprechaun, or Stabby over there, else I’m going to a bad, bad place for all of eternity, I’ll tell them they’re crazy and if they gain a following I’ll label it a cult(oh my).

When people start having slaves, demanding submission, or waging wars, and abusing others in the name of their fairy, leprechaun, or unicorn, I’ll hate on those.

Until then, religion will do.

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On Bitterness

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This cute little gopher tortoise showed up in our garden!

: having a strong and often unpleasant flavor that is the opposite of sweet

: causing painful emotions : felt or experienced in a strong and unpleasant way

: angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment

Am I bitter?  I’ve been told that I am.  Okay.  Maybe.  It depends on which of these definitions you use.

Have there been experiences in my life that have left a bitter taste in my mouth?  Who hasn’t?  That might be a shorter list.

Have I had experiences that were painful or that I felt in a strong or unpleasant way?  Who hasn’t?  That might be a shorter list.

Usually, though, when someone calls you bitter it’s that last bit of the definition they’re alluding to.  Am I angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment?  The short answer is no.  At least I don’t see myself that way. Then again, we often have trouble seeing ourselves as we truly are.  But I don’t feel angry or unhappy.

Having said that, I do get angry sometimes when certain topics come up based on my experiences.  For instance, when someone – be it a man or a woman – says that a wife’s submission is the bee’s knees and that it’s a perfect plan for harmony within a marriage.  It’s God’s plan afterall.

You know what?  I’m not totally opposed to submission.  The way I experienced it had horrific results.  That doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for anyone ever.  Sometimes men choose to submit, too.  Sometimes people just want all the little details taken care of and never to have to make any decisions.  If the two people involved are cool with that then who am I to say that submission is a terrible idea?

In fact, there are many relationships where one is submissive and the other more dominant.  And they aren’t all religious.  If it’s a free choice made because a person knows themselves well then I think it can make for a mutually beneficial relationship.

However, if the submission is based on coercion (i.e. lording religious precepts over one’s head)?  That’s where I can become angry.  If, based on your religious beliefs, you want to submit to your spouse, by all means go right ahead and do that.  But if, based on your husband’s religious convictions he forces submission by continually reminding you it is your wifely duty, that you are sinning if you don’t, or threatens you in any way – emotionally or physically – it isn’t willful or chosen freely.

In fact, if your husband is doing any of those things you might be in an abusive relationship.  The teachings on submission within religions are but mere weapons in the arsenal of an already abusive person.  Anyone who uses scripture to guilt you into doing things to suit them is being abusive, be they male or female.

So, the long answer to the question of whether or not I’m bitter depends on whether you believe that a person’s life experiences informing their ethics makes them bitter.  If you learn nothing from the experiences you’ve had, if you can’t recognize what you’ve been through and honor that with future life choices and held values without being labeled bitter it is likely that there is something wrong with the label maker – not the labeled.

That is all.


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“No” is a Complete Sentence

NOI’ve written before about my relationship with a narcissist.  But I wanted to expand a bit more on my role in that – the doormat.  Doormats are magnets for narcissists.  Being walked all over is no fun and it can suck the life right out of you.

Do you have trouble saying “no” to people?  Even after you’ve said no, if pushed, do you have trouble sticking to your simple “no”?  Do you understand that “no” is a complete sentence?  Or do you feel compelled to offer an explanation of why you’ve said “no”?  Do you accept unacceptable behavior from others?  Do you get in a huff about “having” to do this or that but feel you must still perform the task?  Do you take on others’ problems only to become overwhelmed by them?

You don’t have healthy boundaries.  How do I know this?  Because I’ve gone most of my life without healthy boundaries myself and still have a bit of trouble setting them.  At least I’m aware of the problem now.  When I become angry, or feel guilty, or get my feelings hurt I’m painfully aware that it is usually my own fault.  Am I excusing the behavior of others?  No.  They are still responsible for their own behavior. But guess what?  So am I.

When we walk around with this martyr’s complex, feeling like we do all the work in relationships, and feeling exhausted by the weight of these relationships we are not exercising the power we have over the one thing we can control: ourselves.

I had a very hard time learning this simple lesson.  Yes, it is much harder to practice it than it is to preach it.  For me, anyway.  Especially when it involves those closest to me.  The fact of the matter is the word no is a complete sentence.  No explanation necessary.   I’ve begun putting this into to practice and little by little, each time I do it, it gets a little easier.

I’ve always been afraid that people wouldn’t like me anymore or that they wouldn’t ask me to do things in the future if I said no to them.  That’s actually a pretty irrational way of thinking.  If the only reason a person likes me is because I can do crap for them they don’t really like me anyway.  If I always so no then, yes, they might stop asking me to do things because most normal people get tired of one-sided relationships – not because I say no once or twice.   If I don’t reciprocate and ask others to do things they’d also get tired of a one-sided relationship.  But that doesn’t happen either.


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Solidarity, Unity, Humanity

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I don’t watch a lot of news.  Just enough, usually, to catch up on the day’s events.  But much like during the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on America I have found it compelling to watch the news following the attack on Charlie Hebdo.  I grieve with the French, the Jewish, and Muslims who have suffered great losses.  I grieve the lives of those snuffed out by an ideology which tolerates no other.

If you’ve read much here you know that I am not a believer.  I don’t believe in any kind of deity.  However, I will defend the right of others to practice the faith of their choosing. Up to a point.  When that practice crosses over to extremism, violence, and abuse I feel we all, every one of us, has a duty to oppose it.

Having watched much of what is transpiring in France – the prevailing attitudes and multitudes flooding the streets I am inspired as I was after 9/11 that the future is brighter in spite of those who would have it another way.

“Go on doing with your pen what in other times was done with the sword.” – Thomas Jefferson

“The tongue is mightier than the blade.” – Euripides

“The pen is mightier than the sword.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton

There will always be those who seek to silence those with whom they disagree whether by might or by intimidation.  There will always be radicals who take their ideals to extremes.  There will always be bullies.  They only win when they have achieved the silence of those with whom they take offense.  There is freedom of speech but clearly it is not free.  It comes at a great price.

I hope the time has come and will not fade away, as is the way, to unite in solidarity against this radical extremism.  I hope the time has come that people, regardless of race or religion, will stand together as humans.

No, I am not a believer, but je suis juif, je suis France, je suis Charlie Hebdo, je suis muslim.  Today I am human. Today I am a humanist.


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IPV: Adjust Your Sails

inthestorm

I wanted to end this series on a positive note.  It’s hard to do that with a topic which is the source of so much pain.  It’s depressing, frankly.  I thought about doing a post about making a safety plan if you intend to stick it out, a strategy for coping with ongoing abuse, and an exit plan if you want to leave.  But those have all been done before.  I’ll leave some links if you need them.

There are just really are some things I want to say to you if you find yourself in a toxic relationship of any kind.  Whether it’s physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or spiritual abuse the result is devastating.  It erodes self-esteem.  It corrodes hearts.

It is not your fault.  No matter how many times you’ve heard, ‘if only you wouldn’t…make me so angry, or make me worry, or be so selfish, or be so stupid [insert your own].

Embed this in your memory.  Affirm yourself even if no one else does.  Know this:

“You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” Kathryn Stockett, The Help

You are important. You are valuable.  You are irreplaceable. You are priceless.  And because you may have forgotten I want to tell you:

You are beautiful.

You are beautiful.
You are beautiful.

There is nothing wrong with you.

Listen, I do not know you.  But I am you.  You are not alone.  Things can get better.  Nothing will change unless you do.  You can do it!  Learn to trust yourself again.

If you need help or just someone to talk to you can email me at deconstructingmyselfdma@gmail.com

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http://heleneltaylor.com/planning-a-safe-escape-from-an-abusive-marriage/

http://www.respect4women.org/what-is-abuse/the-cycle-of-abuse/

http://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/dealing-with-emotional-abuse-how-to-stop-emotional-abuse/

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


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Intimate Partner Violence: We Get By With a Little Help

 

You probably already know even if you don’t know that you know. You know something isn’t right.  You suspect. Every time you invite your friend out they decline.  They never spend time with others if their spouse isn’t there.  They always defer to their spouse.  They spend an inordinate amount of time making sure their life looks perfect.

things we wish our friends knew but are too afraid to say out loud

Please listen to us.

We need you to listen to us.  We need to learn to trust because, frankly, we’re not sure we can.  Don’t take that personally.  It’s just that the most intimate relationship we have has taken that away from us.  The person we were supposed to trust with everything ruined that.

We’re not likely to just come out and say that we’re being abused.  Hell, we may not even know we’re being abused.  It may have gone on long enough that it’s our normal.  And even if we know it’s hard to admit to someone else.  We don’t even want to admit it to ourselves.  Just be there.  Ask probing questions but don’t pressure.  Listen as much for what we’re not saying as what we are saying.  We need a lifeline.

Please don’t tell us what to do.

We may seem confused.  We are.  But the last thing we need is someone else telling us what to do.  It is likely that our abuser controls most, if not every, aspect of our lives; from how long we spend in the bathroom to what clothes we wear.  Ask us what we want.  That encourages us to think for ourselves. We may not remember the last time what we wanted even mattered.

Please don’t judge us.

If we ever do get up the courage to tell you we need affirmation.  We don’t trust our own judgement.  There were some things that I had to be told were abuse.  Because I’d grown accustomed to it I didn’t realize what was even happening to me.  Coercion is a subtle, but destructive, tactic.  I had to be told that’s a form of rape.

Understand if we’re not ready to leave.  Understand if we never get ready to leave.  Don’t push us to get the hell out no matter how much your mind is screaming “get the hell out”.  Don’t assume it’s because we’re weak.  Encourage us to get help, certainly, but if you push us to leave we will cut off contact with you.  We can’t do that until we’re ready.

Don’t judge us for not leaving.  Leaving is an admission that it’s happening; that it’s real.  We likely told ourselves that this would never be us.  We’d never let this happen.  Likely we’ve denied that it is – to ourselves and to you – in a lot of subtle ways.

Please don’t look at us with those eyes.

Don’t look at us with those knowing eyes; the eyes of pity.  Don’t look at us like we’re a victim.  We don’t want to be victims.  Please don’t treat us like we’re victims.  Please just be normal around us.  Don’t make it awkward.  Talk to us about something else.

Please don’t give up on us.

I know it must be so hard to watch your friend stay in a situation you know in your heart of hearts is dangerous.  It must be awfully tempting to give up on us, to turn away, to throw your hands up in disgust, and just walk away.  Please don’t do that.  Please reassure us that you are there.  Give us a place to go.  Even if we don’t leave permanently we may need temporary shelter.  Please tell us that we can find shelter with you.

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October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)


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Why I Left

October is domestic violence awareness month

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

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Photo Credit – Ruth There’s a critter playing peek-a-boo!

A NEW LOVE interest

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

I still believed these verses and I still wanted to live these out even if he did not.  But after a long time of trying I came to the realization that I couldn’t love enough for two. I could live these verses out for myself alone.

I found a new love and began a love affair that continues to this day.  Shocking, I know.  I didn’t plan it; it just…happened.  I started going out with my girlfriends and I took up jogging.  I got in shape physically and emotionally. In the process I found my self-respect and discovered that I had a lot to offer.  Yes, I fell in love with another.  Me.

I learned to love myself and began to take care of me.  Instead of always putting him or my marriage above all else I began to put myself, my safety, and my needs first.  I learned that unless I loved myself I wasn’t really worthy of love and couldn’t properly love another.

forget religion

Divorce was still a dirty word.  But I decided it was better than the alternative.  Though I still viewed it as sin I decided that the options of suicide or murder were more sinful.  These thoughts, fleeting as they were, were a wake-up call.  It terrified me that I could even ponder these things.

I daydreamed about driving my car into a ravine.  I envisioned picking up a knife the next time he had his hands around my throat.  This shit is hazardous to your health in more ways than one!  These are not normal thoughts.

It’s really bad when you either wish you were dead or, you know, there might be some unfortunate accident on your partner’s way home.  This may be a startling admission on my part.  But it’s honest. So I entertained the previously unthinkable and initiated a separation.

I discovered it was against my religion to enable my abuser’s behavior to continue. Eff martyrdom!  Where’s the glory in that? God would surely forgive me for breaking my vows. They had long since been broken anyway.  Honor, cherish, protect, love…all gone the first time he hurt me.

honor

I could no longer live in shame.  It was overwhelming and debilitating.  The only way for me to continue to live was to honor myself.

I figured out that his problems were his and they didn’t have to cause me shame.  I figured out that it didn’t matter what other people thought.  It only mattered that I could hold my head high because I knew the truth.

I figured out that I was worth saving.

recognizing my weakness

I recognized my propensity to be insecure and self-deprecating. I recognized that I found esteem in being the perfect wife.  Not from my abuser, but from my God and from those in the church.  Being a help-meet was not all I was created for.  It was not noble and prized by the one person who should have appreciated it.

I still had my weaknesses, no doubt, but knowing what they were my abuser could no longer exploit them at every turn.  I grew weary of the mind games and emotional blackmail.

Having been emotionally tied into knots I saw the belittling for what it truly was.  There was no way to be better enough.  Better would never be good enough.

i was stronger

I still have that same tenacity.  I’ve just employed the old slogan, ‘Work smarter, not harder’. Still, if I am a failure it won’t be said that it was because I didn’t try.  I just came to the realization that I can’t fix everything.  Anything can be fixed.  Everything…not so much.

I could fix me and only me.  He would have to do his own repair work if he thought it necessary.  But I could not.  In order for me to repair what had been broken inside of me I had to make different choices. I had to set up boundaries; something that before I never thought I had a right to.

I found strength in knowing I did have a choice.  So I exercised my right to live in a safe, stable, sane environment.

acceptance

I had to acknowledge that it was that bad no matter how often it happened.  It could be worse but so what?  Why should I settle for bad simply because it could be worse?

Fists are not the only way to physically abuse.  I had to acknowledge that strangling, hair-pulling, pinching, and having my head bounced off of inanimate objects is physical abuse. It should have frightened me to know that he could have killed me.

People may say that sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.  But that’s a lie.  Words hurt and leave scars that will never completely heal.  That’s what pushed me over the edge.  I could have taken the punishment, but the near-constant verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse was more than I could bear.

I stopped minimizing the danger and pain I was in.  Once I was out of denial, once I saw the abuse for what it really was, there simply was no way to stay.

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You can find the reasons why I stayed here:  Why I Stayed