Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fyi for my friends

Today I begin a new round of therapy with a woman who seems very kind and compassionate. She asked my husband to come with me this first time, which I did not appreciate at first but now I do.

Two things are going in with us right now: my husband is terribly depressed. He is experiencing a lot of sadness and anger, as well as shame for having feelings and guilt about the ways these feelings are expressed. The anger comes out in sneaky, underhanded cruel ways. Then he feels guilty and apologizes (the doing) but all the anger and pain is still there so he immediately lashes out again (the undoing). According to my reading, a lot of people raised in controlling religious environments wind up living this way.

In the religious household, the wife will take this abuse on the chin, silently. She will internalize the irrational mood swings, the blaming, the anger as all being God's will for her. At least that's what I have heard and seen. She will try harder and harder to please her (depressed, troubled) husband and put stricter demands on herself. And how will the pressure being put on her, that she willingly puts on herself because she thinks it is pleasing to God, how will that leak out enough for her to keep going everyday?

Ask the children of such households. Will depression overwhelm her, so that the house is always a mess (or put onto the children) and the school work never gets done (or is put on the children to accomplish)? Will she throw herself into the pursuit of perfection herself, being stricter and stricter in her religion, diet, dress, etc.? Will she demand that same perfection from her children? Will she blow up on them when things don't perfectly segue together in such a way that mom can feel good about herself? (I know I have: sorry my lambs!) Along with that will she also develop stress-related illnesses?

Happily for me I have long since left that dysfunction behind. I refuse to internalize blame. I know his depression is not my fault. Thank God for that sanity-preserving revelation!

Unfortunately, I also know that I can not then do anything to fix the situation. His depression exists apart from me, and since I did not cause it, I can not be the solution for it. This makes me feel powerless, as indeed I truly am.

In addition to my husband's obvious and crippling depression, I am experiencing PTSD with more overwhelming symptoms each time my husband lashes out in anger.

I am experiencing hyper-vigilance in increasing measure- searching his face for his mood all the time, watching every action and inaction, word and silence, trying to determine if he is okay or if he is about to let the steam off onto me again.

After any angry episode, even though they are of shorter duration and in many ways less severe than last year, I am experiencing more PTSD symptoms and they are more severe. I am shaking inside, fearful, suspicious and tense. Memories of past instances of abuse come back to me. I feel the rain falling on my skin as I relive running out of the house in the middle of the night in fear. I remember last Mother's Day vividly, and I know what he is capable of doing to me when he is caught up in that overwhelming vortex of pain, shame, sorrow, guilt and anger.

I am not doing so well right now, and recovery from incidents of even short duration is taking longer and is harder to come by on my own. Hopefully my therapist will be able to help me deal with my situation in a way that is helpful to my whole family.

Last night I got out my husband's childhood photo album. His mom took the photos and put them in a photo album for him long ago, which was kind and shows that she cares for him in her own way. Of course when she finally gave it to him, the album was brown and moldy, because she stored it neglectfully- in boxes on porches, in attics, who knows where else through the years.

Also typical of his family, any notations in the album were strictly facts. There is not one "Isn't he cute?" or "I'm so proud of my little man." or "Congratulations! You did well." There are almost no photos of the years he was in boarding school. It is as if he didn't even really exist during that time.

When he received the photo album, I wrapped it up in an airtight bag and took it to be photocopied on photo paper. Then I took the copies, cut them out and put them in a new clean album, complete with decorations and all the encouraging, affirming, affection words that should have been in the first album. I store this album safely, in the house, and accessibly, because I am proud of my husband and I want to celebrate his life.

So we got that out and looked at it last night, along with our wedding album. We read over our vows, remembered our honeymoon, and saw how happy and hopeful we were starting out on this journey. It was an opportunity for each of us to affirm our love and commitment.

But my husband is still depressed. He cried a lot yesterday, and I did as well, but he kept crying almost all night. He started lashing out again at bedtime, but I was strengthened by God to be firm at the right time and tender at the right time. He would not share his thoughts with me, as he lay in my arm crying while I stroked his cheek and sang softly of God's great love. And he doesn't have to either, he has the freedom to share when he's ready though. I can give him that.

But mostly I hope he will start working out all this with his own therapist. His first appointment is next week. So all of you who are praying, keep praying! The powerful presence of God is our greatest need. The manifestation of His healing love and divinely revealed truth that sets men free is our only hope.

Religion can't help us. Only God can heal this hurt inflicted by people in the cause of religion. We need the kingdom of God to be manifest here in our pain, confusion, fear and sorrow. Nothing less that the absolute real person of Christ will do. Anything less and we will all just fall apart.

Pray, my friends, and join your prayers with ours. May Jesus be honored as He brings His Life to us, we who are needy and broken and hopeless without Him.

ps This post will disappear in a few days.

When all is settled, I will put all of my highly personal posts back up in the order they were written. I know many other Christian and Christian home school families also experience what we are going through. I want to be transparent, so that other people will know they are not alone and maybe find something to help their family heal as well. I hate the myth of the prefect Christian home school family, and how it isolates and destroys the good that can come with honesty.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Doing and Undoing

One of the hallmarks of Obsessive/Compulsive Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder is doing/undoing. This characteristic, more than any other, has made the miserable parts of my marriage the most miserable.

This is what the boys did to the iguana on the court. This is what my husband does to me. It is no fun.

On the bright side, I am getting better at recognizing it. I start counseling Wednesday to find out if this will ever work out, or if I choose to stay married, will this be what life is like with my husband for the rest of my days.

Also, it's Mother's Day season. It was last Mother's Day that he said he should kill me because I don't deserve to live. I wish people would lay off the Mother's Day rhetoric.

Here's the general gist of how it worked this morning. After greeting me in the morning, He asked if there was anything he could do for me. I told him yes, he could get me a cup of coffee.

(Note: this is the set up- asking me what he could do for me, appearing -in words at least, there was no real intimate connection- to care about me in some way. The real point in getting a victim to express a need is so that they can then deliberately avoid meeting that need, thereby revealing the true contempt the PAPD feels for the victim.)

He offered to help me look for my slippers (another PAPD technique, appearing to be helpful while deliberately not doing what is asked/expected) and I told him no, I didn't need help with that, but it would really be helpful if he would get my coffee.

You see, opening the foil seal off of a new creamer is difficult for me. I have to find a pair of pliers because I do not have the strength in my hands to get that seal off. It is vacuum sealed and the glue holding it on is a serious glue! So it would have been truly helpful, loving and kind to do that for me. It would have been meeting a real need. And regardless really of what the need was, THAT was the need I expressed when he offered to "help" me.

(Another note: a second way the PAPD victimizes his target- no matter what, the target will come off sounding petty when they try to explain how they have been victimized. I am tempted to be embarrassed now, but I know better.)

For years, after abusing me with this PAPD dance of doing/undoing, I would wind up praying earnestly to be more forgiving, more tolerant, etc. I would believe him that somehow I was at fault. It is all so confusing, until you really understand what's going on.

I have come to find out through the years, that the more forgiving, tolerant, etc. I am, the longer this scenario plays out. He is intent on provoking a response from his victim. It is a compulsive need. The longer the intended victim holds out, the longer he will provoke, that's all. Being more patient, more kind, more long-suffering just increases the frustration level on my part when I do eventually crack. He will not let up until he gets the response he compulsively seeks.

When I came back down with my slippers, there was no coffee. He was "looking for my slippers". So I (now suspicious as to what I was in for, but not sure) told him, no I told you I didn't need help with my slippers, I asked for help with my coffee. He said "oh, sorry" over his back and left the room. He walked out of the room and to the other side of the house.

I started digging through the junk drawers for the pliers. I finally found a pair, pried the edge up and tore off the seal to the creamer. I made my coffee and was about to head upstairs when he came back down. Ever mindful of relationships, wanting to obey the Word and also, honestly to check if this is the start of a PAPD episode or just a misunderstanding, I point out to him that he walked out on me and still didn't help me like he offered.

From another room (this dual message I want to be apart from you while claiming I want to be close to you is part of the PAPD) he calls out "I'm sorry I hurt you. (Sounds sincere but he doesn't stop there.) I'm sorry I didn't make you coffee immediately."

Now it is 100% certain, he is working out his anger at mommy on me. I am not an authority figure who demands instant obedience. I was only responding as any human would, who was manipulated to expect one thing and then confusingly had it withheld.

(Perhaps unintentionally? That's how PAPD works, the victim wonders did they just not hear me? Did I not make myself plain? Am I being touchy? Trust me, you're not being touchy. You are responding as any human would, and the PAPD is counting on your response. Because now, they have an excuse for letting their anger out!)

So there you have it- the classic doing/undoing. I am sorry (first message) you are so demanding (second undoing message). More of an accusation than an apology. *sigh*

And so I went to the guest bedroom and wrote in my journal. I figured I owed it to him to point out his PAPD behavior and give him a chance to truly repent, but at the same time I feared that I was falling for the sadomasochism spiral. You see, relationships are so important to me, that I keep returning for more doing/undoing treatment. In the past it has lasted for days. In his parents life it is the permanent state of affairs.

So I got up and sought him out (a no-no) and told him "I shouldn't be coming to you, you should be coming to me but..." to which he sweetly replies "oh,go back then and let me come to you." So I returned to the guest room, wondering how this would end- truth and love or more of the doing/undoing.

He didn't follow me. I waited a few minutes (PAPDs are geniuses at guessing how long others will wait. Either that or he just chills until I can't stand it anymore and he hears my footsteps. However he works it out, it's all part of the disorder.) I return to ask him if he's coming or not. (This is the way they needle their victims over and over, until even the most patient person shows anger. I think "shows anger for him giving him a sense of release because he feels guilty expressing his own anger", but the motivation is unclear, really.)

He follows me back to the other room (now I am starting to ask myself why he didn't just talk to me where we were?) and sits down. I explain how he has put me in the mommy box, by asking what I need and then deliberately withholding it so that when I confront him, he can accuse me of demanding instant obedience by the way he worded his "apology".

There was just more doing and undoing. He's sorry, he says in a sincere voice, but then jumps up and tersely says "I have to go to work" and stalks out briskly. He even left the house, got in his car, came back in, hugs me, says I'm sorry and yet I could feel the anger coming off of him. I told him I was suspicious that this was more doing/undoing, that he was still really angry.

Then he said, "Yes I'm angry, I'm angry at YOU! You got up this morning determined to fight. You have a sick need to argue and I'm done with it." There were more angry words, but they were all saying the same thing. He stormed off upstairs, and I (foolishly) followed, calmly (thank God for grace) asserting that this was not true, that I did not make this happen, that he was the author of this whole scenario. He led me to the fartherst corner of the house, so that he could turn around and storm out, slamming three doors in my face as he went.

I called out that this wasn't necessary, I got the message that he hated me then I realized I should just stop talking. So I did. He kept on about what a crazy bitch I was, apologizing to our son that he "had to hear this", and went back to the farthest corner of the house, complaining about me the whole way.

I did not follow this time. After about ten minutes he came out of the bedroom and left the house without saying a word. I don't think he's coming back this time.

Doing and undoing. I'm sorry. It's all your fault. I want to reconcile. I hate you and want to be away from you. Doing: apologize. Undoing: blaming. One right after the other, over and over. Obsessive Compulsive PAPD.

It's such a mess. And all set up by him in the first place, with the seemingly innocent act of asking how he could help me. *sigh*

Well, good thing I have an appointment with a counselor on Wednesday. As far as I can see, there is only one way out of this that only relies on me. That would be, cut the man out of my heart. Just never believe a word he says, totally reject all of his efforts at relationship, coexist in the same house as if he doesn't matter. Any desire on my part to be in relationship, to be loved by him, is a weakness to be exploited by the PAPD. That's the kind of marriage both his grandparents and his parents have. And, if I am honest, it is how my grandmother lived too. Her and grandpa even had separate bedrooms the whole of my lifetime.

Of course, it's not always that way. Mot recently there were ten days of sincerity and peaceful, blissful, emotional and physical intimacy. But then I just never know when it's going to come screeching to an end. It comes out of nowhere and seemingly has no relationship to anything I say or do. And also, I know that living this way is not pleasing to God. He desires healing, sincere love, true relationship.

So I could stay and completely detach. Or I could leave. Or ask him to leave. But those are the only three options I can control.

The final option: my husband seeks healing, deals with his unresolved mommy anger and lives a life of love like all Christians are called to live. Of course that is the option that is my favorite option. But that is beyond me. As much as I want that for him and for me, I have absolutely no power to bring that about.

Oh well. 10/14 followed by 4/14 followed by 4/14. It is not looking very good for me. :(

Friday, April 23, 2010

The sign of success?

On one discussion group I frequent, another home school mom wrote recently that the litmus test of our parenting as Christians would be whether or not our children went to church regularly on their own as adults, and had an outward appearance of caring about the things of God. I humbly disagree, and I do mean humbly.

Such things might be indicative that our adult children have a living faith in the Living God. After all, I John 1:7 states:
"But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin."

So certainly if one is honestly walking with God they will "have fellowship" with other disciples also walking with God. I will leave aside for now the question as to whether this verse was talking about church attendance or something much more intimate and personal. It is enough to know that the early church met together regularly for prayer and the reading of the Scriptures. (Acts 1:15, 2:1, 2:42 are only a few references, though there are many more to meeting in homes than in public.) Still, as one of my favorite televangelists says, sitting in a garage doesn't make you a car.

And the next question is then, how do you know if someone is showing an interest in the things of God? Daily Bible reading? I submit that reading alone is not an indication of the Spirit-filled life. Bible memory then? That could just as easily be a work of the flesh as any other accomplishment of man. Volunteer work? Preaching? According to I Corinthians 13, none of this has any profit if it is not done out of love, agape love, the kind of love poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Certainly if it were not possible to do all the things listed in I Corinthians as a work of the flesh rather than as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, then Paul would not have cautioned people about it.

I think regular church attendance can just as easily be an indication of how well you were able to dominate your children's life choices, not how well you raised them to know the Living God. Ditto for volunteer service of all kinds, up to and including martyrdom. According to Paul all that can be accomplished apart from the Holy Spirit and "the love He has shed abroad in our hearts(Romans 5:5)."

By the above standard, my in-laws did a stellar job as parents. All four of their grown children go to church, donate time and money to religious charities, and show an outward appearance of being good Christian people. In my opinion, only the youngest, their only daughter, has grown up to be a (seemingly) healthy and emotionally stable adult. Church attendance and a religious orientation to life did not have to come with such cruelty and emotional damage. But if the goal was mere church attendance and religious orientation, then they get the grand prize. Woot!

On the other hand, the three boys are all messed up inside. The oldest wins the prize for passive-aggressive vengeance in a Christian family, if anyone is giving out prizes. The next in line is patriarch of a family cult. Then there is my man, who is at least coming to terms with reality, though at the high price of admitting the truth about his family of origin-that religion trumped every other consideration, including people's hearts at any and all ages. His personal pain has caused his own family much pain, so the dysfunction is a(n unwanted) gift that keeps on giving.

I do not think that the fact that he grew up knowing that he must always attend church and appear religious means much in the greater context of faith.

The oldest son gave a classic example of underground rage finding a fissure to escape from later in life. His parents should be proud at the subtle and two-faced way their son pulled this off, really. He smiled all the way through, feigning sincerity and honor like the professional actor they raised him to become. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, you know. And keep in mind as you read the anecdote below, the oldest son is an AWANA commander (or whatever they call the Big Cheese in AWANA).

My father-in-law went to the fiftieth wedding anniversary of an old college classmate. This man's children had organized the surprise event and it was grand! Invitations went out to all of the couple's acquaintances, from the college days in which they met and to everyone else they had befriended along the way. Olan Mills was there to take professional portraits as gifts to all the attendees. The banquet was held in the grand ballroom of an elegant hotel. It was extravagant.

My father-in-law called his eldest son and told him that he expected similar treatment for his upcoming fiftieth wedding anniversary. He described it all, listing every detail that he so admired from the other family. (I offered to help, but I was told no, the eldest was taking care of it.) So I can only conclude that the eldest agreed to take on this commitment, and knew full well exactly what his father wanted and expected.

I bought expensive clothing for my children in anticipation of the event, as I was expecting something grand. In reality though, the eldest did absolutely nothing to prepare any type of celebration at all. He did not even go so far as to make a reservation for a meeting room at the local steak house. The definition of passive-aggressive behavior: to vindictively punish people by leaving undone what ought to be done, or by delaying it so as to be useless to the recipient, thereby maintaining an appearance of innocence and getting revenge at the same time. Lovely.

When the big weekend came, we wound up at a free campground (and worth every penny!)-old, dirty and infested with biting flies. We had delivery pizza one night and hobo packets around the campfire the next. Come Sunday morning, we all gathered in our finery for a nephew with a nice camera to snap group portraits. My heels sank in the sand, everyone was sweating profusely, and all of our bug bites itched like fire. The pictures reflect that reality.

Don't you think my brother-in-law pulled off the greatest passive-aggressive payback ever? He even sent out an email the next week bragging about how well he believed it all turned out. My father-in-law was MAD. but of course, no one said a word about it that weekend. We all danced around the obvious truth that grandma and grandpa were getting shafted big time. Everyone smiled and made nice small talk. Ah, Christian families! Such sweet times.

Does that sound like the oldest son is okay to you? Is that the outworking of the Holy Spirit in a heart fully alive? I don't think so. I think it is a very human reaction to a controlling, abandoning parent who was untouchable and unaccountable because all his abuse was under the banner of "Serving the Lord".

But my in-laws parenting passes the test laid out by the other home school mom. This son is very active in his church. He volunteers at AWANA. All his children went to Christian school, most of them to Christian college. A job well done.

My other brother-in-law lives out in the mountains, as director of a campground associated with his cult church. His three adult children all work for him. They also all live there. It is unlikely they will ever leave.

It is the best deal his son can get, since after graduating from home school, he was coerced into taking correspondence college courses from a Christian school. After the son was married and wanted to finish his degree, get a job and move away, the poor kid discovered that the credits he had earned were worthless. With his home school diploma, working for Dad, complete with a place to live and access to the cafeteria, was the best deal he could get. Three kids and four years later, he is still there.

His sisters were allowed to go to college: the only college associated with their cult sect of Christianity. They graduated empty-handed. They had Bible degrees but no man. So Daddy swung into action, inviting a young man from college to come out and join him in ministry. With the right persuasion and opportunity, this hand-picked suitor eventually married the oldest girl. They also live and work with Daddy on the compound. And yes, they had their first child within a year of getting married. No need to see a doctor even, as the EMT training the husband had gave him the confidence to deliver the baby himself. Everything they will ever need is right there on Daddy's compound.

The youngest daughter, who does not fit American standards of great beauty, has no beau. She is trying to raise money to go to Iraq as a missionary. With the extreme misogyny practiced by the cult sect of Christianity she ascribes to, she should fit right in. Still they are all very poor, and it costs a boat load of money to go to Iraq. She might very well stay with Daddy the rest of her life.

The way this son grew up to embrace a cult does not fit my definition of successful parenting. Neither he not his family show any of the fruit of the Spirit that I can see. In fact, I get a lot of hatred, condemnation, and shunning from them personally since I do not line up with their cult's definition of what a Christian woman is allowed to be/do. The mom/grandma is so full of anxiety she was unable to leave the house for months (maybe years- nobody tells me much, remember?). Love, joy, peace? I don't see any.

But they all go to church regularly. And they are very religious, as far as things like volunteering with the church and giving. I am guessing they all read their Bibles regularly and pray, though when you do these things without love the apostle Paul said it has no profit.

My husband's parents also believe that the sign of the great job they did as parents was that their adult children all attended church and have an interest in the things of God. In other words, they all live exactly as Mom and Dad demanded they live, and they brought no shame to them by living an immoral lifestyle. Lukewarm, hypocritical, even leading a cult is okay, just don't smoke, drink or chew and don't go with girls who do!

I have a different standard. My standards are for myself, not my adult children. I have endeavored to love them with the same extravagant love that God has for me. I pray that they will never settle for any mere outward displays of religion, but that they will seek God from the heart. I hope that they will learn to live the life of a true disciple, who does nothing for outward show, but gives their alms in secret and prays their prayers in private. I hope that I have shown them enough authenticity in my own faith and life, that they wouldn't want to live any other way. But they do have a choice, a real choice, about how they will live.

And if they "stray", I hope they do it honestly. If they are angry, I hope they express it openly and not deceitfully. And if they fear abandonment when their own children grow up, I hope they will confess the fear and conquer it, not live in its shadow. And most of all, I hope they live their lives fully alive, not weighed down with unresolved pain and anger like their own father was taught to live.

The goal of my home school? As it relates to education, that my children have the skills and confidence to set goals and attain them. As it relates to their hearts, that they know that they are loved just as they are and that life was meant to be lived to the fullest. As it relates to society, that they fulfill the law by doing no purposeful harm to their neighbor.

And finally, as it relates to their Christianity, I met my only goal a long time ago. That goal was to live a transparent Christian life in front of them, to be that "living epistle known and read by all men (2 Corinthians 3:3)." Both of my children do have a relationship with Jesus Christ, sheep to shepherd. The rest is up to them, sheep and Shepherd. The Good Shepherd has never failed me, and I don't expect that it will be any different for my children.

Maybe I'm not a very good Christian mother. That has been suggested before. I am earnestly trying to live a sincere faith, I can attest to that much. I also sincerely want my children to have an authentic faith that they come to on their own, not a mere tradition passed down by we parents with so much gravitas that they instinctively know it is the only way to live if they want our approval. I think they have that now.

Church attendance? Only if it is out of a real desire to get together with other grateful disciples and celebrate Jesus. If it is out of habit, or a desire to make mom and dad proud, then no, I'd rather they not. Ditto for every other outward sign of faith. But Hebrews 10 kind of church attendance? Yeah. That's the stuff. Let it be, Jesus, let it be.

19-25 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Milleu control in families

This is one I have been thinking about for days. After reading often at Cindy Kunsman's web site, Under Much Grace the reality that families and congregations of mainstream churches can also be cultish has been tumbling around in the back of my mind. I think in many of these instances, the people involved in cultish behavior- seeking total conformity to the stated ideals/goals- must believe the ideals are so worthwhile and the goals are so noble, that the measures taken to insure conformity are justified. (I would say "extreme measures" but obviously to the group engaged in them there is nothing unreasonable or extreme about it. Only those outside the group find the measures "extreme".)

Milleu Control for the purpose of this blog entry is defined as: the control of information and communication both within the environment and, ultimately, within the individual, resulting in a significant degree of isolation from society at large...Information from outside sources is often criticized and discounted to discourage acceptance by group members. Under Much Grace

I have a hard time getting past that paragraph.

It so succinctly describes many of the religious home school families and support groups I have been acquainted with during my thirteen years of home schooling. It even describes a few of the secular homes and home school support groups with which I have had personal experience. It is eerie, to say the least.

Good parenting is supposed to limit access to information and communication to some degree. Concerned parents are informed about the developmental stages of children, and familiarize themselves with what is appropriate to discuss with children at what age. We parents all control to some degree with whom our children communicate- what they watch on television, what they read, with whom they play or hang out, even the relatives with whom we allow them to develop close relationships. Many limit access to computers or install search engine filters so that young minds are not exposed to troubling realities they are not yet equipped to process in a healthy way. In this sense, milieu control is a necessary and good thing that allows our children some time to grow before they face all the mess this world has to offer.

In this way, all parents exert milieu control to one extent or another. It is cruel to do otherwise, and although there is great difference of opinion about what/where/when/how exposure to realities outside of the family is appropriate, there is much on which most parents agree. I don't know anyone who thinks it is appropriate to expose young children to porn, for example.

From the earliest days of home schooling being legally recognized, opponents of home schooling have pointed out that the possibility for milieu control is so great that it should be of major concern to society, and by extension, government as the formal institution regulating society. Libertarians like myself counter (rightly in my opinion) that all freedoms hold the potential for misuse, yet freedom itself is so precious and valuable to society that such hazards must be allowed.

Cultish groups had no problem flourishing in the days before home school was legal and popular. I remember the Pentecostal Holiness girls in my public school, as well as the single Jehovah's Witness, who were daily subjected to feeling like outsiders due to their parent's insistence on total behavior control. I even know a young teen girl my son's age, who was forced to wear the same clothes to public school for two years by a domineering mother. She had two sets of the same clothing, and did laundry every night for the day ahead. Of course the other children teased her and thought she was weird. The clothing isolated her even though she went to public school. This same teen was also not allowed to watch television (it was locked up), not allowed to shower more than 3-5 minutes, was not allowed free access to food (pantry and fridge were padlocked) and was spied on via web cam set up in the kitchen so that her working mom could keep control of her at all times.

In those examples, public school served as simply another venue for the cult control to operate, the parents using the shame and ostracization they were able to generate from the group to further dominate their children and/or force them to identify with the cult, be the cult family or religious in nature.

Controlling parents exist in all types of schooling, but it is true that there is more opportunity for total milieu control in a home school. I am asking that any home schoolers who drop by here stop and think seriously about their own families and home school programs. More specifically, I am asking Christian home school parents who might be reading to think long and hard about the appropriateness and the extent of the milieu control they have established in their own family's lives. Seriously. Intently. Prayerfully.

The second part of the definition above "Information from outside sources is often criticized and discounted to discourage acceptance by group members" of course made me think of all the Creation Science Only crowd. I exposed my children to creation science, as well as teaching them all about the modern scientific community's acceptance of evolution. We looked at evolution vs. creation from every angle, not only from the 6 Day Creation model but at all the different beliefs within Christianity as a whole and outside of religion. Not all Christians reject evolution, you know.

That is education: teaching all of the perspectives you can find on a subject, with all the pros and cons of each, and throwing in your own personal perspective for good measure, and owning it as such when you do. Teaching only one point of view, or teaching that all other points of view are invalid, is milieu control. Milieu control is the stuff of cults.

Likewise, when I recently used a religious curriculum for foreign language, it clearly portrayed competing Christian sects in the worst possible light. That isn't education; it's indoctrination. Education would have included the positives associated with other Christian sects as well, and maybe followed up with a concluding argument as to why your sect believes it is preferable. Indoctrination was the goal of that textbook, more so even than acquiring fluency in the foreign language it was written to teach.

And what is the point of indoctrination? Is it not to control so completely the possible thoughts available to the indoctrinated, that they have no real choice about what to believe?

That really concerns me as a believer in Jesus Christ. If salvation is by faith alone, in Christ alone, does it not have to be freely chosen faith? Can it still be called faith if you never really had any other choice?

It is a very good thing to ask yourself, as a home schooling parent. Have my children freely chosen faith, or did I take away all the other choices so that this one way is the only way they CAN possibly choose?

Something worth thinking about, at the very least.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Baby steps, baby steps

Yes, that is a reference to What About Bob? I loved that movie!

Well, I finally decided to call a counselor for my own good, and I have found the most compassionate, caring woman. She spoke with me for a good ten minutes on the phone and agreed to squeeze me in on cancellations until something regular opens up.

She listened! She was kind! Her staff was kind! She seems to understand.

And she has compassion for my lost boy husband too. She recommended trauma therapy for him. Trauma therapy! That word made me so happy. She understood.

To be exiled (at the tender ages of 5 and 6, no less!) to live with strangers 1500+ miles away is a HUGE TRAUMA. Only a religious person or a total narcissist (or both) would even contemplate doing that!

I was talking about the whole situation to two non-religious friends this weekend and they were appalled. As home school moms especially, who love and nurture their children, it horrified them that a human parent would even consider sending away a six year old to the care of strangers. Unless you were facing war and/or genocide, and the only way to secure your child's survival was to send them away, then they agreed it was without excuse.

Without excuse!


The God I know has more than enough resources to accomplish his will without child sacrifice.

I applaud all the missionary families I know who are home schooling, even though they are thought evil of by the mission hierarchy. I have personally heard the griping myself, that "the work" is suffering because one parent is spending time with their own children when their time should be fully dedicated to "the mission". They called home schooling parents on the field "selfish".

So if you know mission families who home school, pray for them regularly! They are persecuted by their peers for obeying the scriptures that exhort believers to care for (your own) little ones, to bring your (own) children up in nurture, and to care for your own flesh and blood. (Matthew 10:42; Matthew 18:16; Ephesians 6:4; I Timothy 5:8, every scripture that calls us to love one another and do no evil to another, to bear with the weak, etc. )

More good news, my new counselor does not discount my own research concerning PAPD but accepts my experience/learning as valid, and is willing to see us both together. She is also willing to recommend a good counselor for my husband and work with any counselor he signs up to see.

My husband is so ashamed that he didn't make it the two weeks without incident that he himself promised he would make it. He only made it ten days, that is why the title of the last post is 10/14. He really does not want to continue to be ambushed by these overwhelming feelings of sadness and anger.

Praise the Divine Love that His mercies are new every morning, and I am encouraged today. My husband is re-reading "The Shack" (written my a missionary kid, dontcha know!) and armed with a good lead for a counselor who can help him visit his own shack of grief and pain from the past. He is not passively resigned to the status quo, but is taking steps to find lasting freedom. Good for him.

I am praying that God also meets my husband in his own shack of pain and shame, just as in the novel/allegory, and that God brings to my husband the same healing and love that the author of his book found there.

Final note, all highly personal posts like these will disappear from public view after a few days. I think it is healing for me to be open about my real life, what this (and many others, if people would be honest) Christian home schooling family and marriage are REALLY going through! I hope it encourages other people that great religious pedigrees and earnest sincerity of faith and practice do not equal perfection. Anyone (cough cough Vision Forum) who is implying otherwise is either in DENIAL or outright LYING TO YOU!

Live loved. I mean that in all earnestness. Know that God loves you today, that His love is an everlasting love that never fails. Cling to that love with all your might. And when your strength fails and you can't hold on anymore, know that the mercy of God will be underneath you, carrying you close to God's heart. You will be safe even when you fail. So seriously, live loved.

Monday, April 19, 2010


I understand what my husband is going through. I really do. I just spend $85 on a book called Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder: A Manual for Therapists, the Client and Their Victims. I have full knowledge of what I am right now experiencing.

I have great compassion for my husband. I totally get that he is full of rage over being abandoned in the name of God. I totally get the shame and the anger at growing up where the appearance of spiritual perfection was valued over his heart every time. I do have compassion for him.

I am sincere in wanting to live a life of Christian love, and live in harmony with the Holy Spirit. I am sincere in wanting to live a peaceable life in all quietness and honesty. And it is not enough.

My husband still rages. He still blames me. He is still caught up in the cycle of expressing remorse wrapped in hostility, offering to "help me" when what he is really doing is trying to get me back on the basketball court. I just don't want to live this way anymore.

It is terrifying to me to think of divorce. I have no money of my own. I haven't worked outside the home for twenty-three years. I have no idea how I would survive.

My family of origin won't help. Even if they could they wouldn't. And honestly, no one but my oldest sister is even in a position to let me come stay with them. She lives out in the country so there's no way I could find a job out there anyway.

There is just so much unresolved between us as siblings born to an NPD mother that it would be not much better than here anyway. She'd probably kick my out before long even if she did help at first.

I can't believe my husband has betrayed me like this. He was once such a gentle, kind soul to me. He help me when I cried about all the loss I had suffered growing up in my mother's home. He was once a patient and involved family man. He was so good with all of us. We would go camping and hiking and have so many fun adventures.

Now he is just as angry and unpredictable himself as my NPD mother. He's not NPD, though. He is a real person who once had a tender heart and conscience. I just don't understand how he came to be this way.

I mean, I do understand about the childhood trauma. I don't understand why he thinks emotionally brutalizing me is an appropriate way to deal with it. I don't understand why he doesn't stop himself from being so hateful to me.

He was going to walk out on the marriage yesterday because I went to see what the dog was barking at. Seriously. He wanted me to take his word for it and I wanted to see for myself. I had no malice or ill intent, in fact I thoughtfully determined that since I was the one bothered by the barking, I should be a big girl and go check it out myself.

He became so angry! He said that I loved the neighbor at the door more than I loved him, just like his mom loved the Indians more than she loved him. Now with a huge clue like that statement, it was obvious he was really angry at some buried memory with his mom.

But he still brutalized me. Even though he saw how much it hurt me, even though he knew it was out of proportion to the situation, even though he knew his anger had more to do with his childhood than his present. It didn't even slow him down. I tried reasoning with him, but he just talked over me with angry accusations and demeaning words. He could have stopped and been met with mercy. He chose self-righteous indignation instead. So sad.

He was still at it this morning before work. I avoided getting dragged back in to the cycle of doing and undoing, the false offers of help, the false apologies dripping with hostility, the projection with which he uses these hypocritical and cruel tactics to hurt and provoke me, so that he can then say I'm the one with the problem instead of him.

I am proud of my self-control, but it has done nothing for our relationship. Basically I had to get to the place where I realize and understand that he is my enemy. He is filled with hostility towards me. I am no more at fault than the iguana from the rain forest. I am just conveniently here.

So the lesson learned this morning? Give up hope of reconciliation. Harden my heart to my husband and walk away. I hope to begin counseling next week. Yes, I realize it could go both ways. It could be the strength I need to hang on while my husband gets help. Or it could be the first step leading to separation and eventual divorce.

But that was not my choice. He is the kephale of the family. This is what he chose for us, hatred and enmity. I can't stay and be immersed in this, nor do I want it for my children. He is the one who holds our future in his hands, not me.

What a foolish, foolish little missionary kid. I should have taken the clue when he told me how he would blow frogs up with firecrackers as a kid in boarding school.

Instead of realizing I was marrying a walking time bomb, I thought I was getting into a marriage with a righteous man of God who loved the Lord. I thought his whole family loved the Lord. Foolish, foolish Jesus girl, with stars in her eyes.

I should have known that religion is no guarantee of tender mercies. Religion burns people at the stake. Religion starts wars. Religion kills the tender hearts of little boys in the name of Jesus.

I hate religion.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poison for my marriage

I have sat and listened to some whacked out teachings about gender roles, and especially teachings to women about unilateral submission, why it's important, what it should look like. They were poison. And I ate it up.

It was inevitable that I would, since as a fundamentalist Christian, it was offered everywhere I went. There really isn't any other marriage advice on their radar. In the fundamentalist churches I attended anyway, once you were married the rest of the Bible faded away. You were no longer a disciple of Jesus, you were a wife. And that's the sum total of all you were expected/allowed to be.

Funny thing, my husband also stopped being a brother in the Lord at the same time I stopped being a sister in Christ. Suddenly we were only husband/wife in the teachings I was hearing. No other scriptures applied to our relationship.

Here are some of the falsehoods I was taught, and often by women themselves.

Because I am married, I am no longer to speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) I am no longer to consider how to spur my husband on to love and good works. (Hebrews 10:24)

Since Paul would not suffer a woman to teach a man, I should keep my opinions and insights to myself. Yet in all the time my now-husband and I spent together before considering marriage, we were very good friends. We talked about everything. Nothing was off the table. But according to these teachings, once a girl says those vows, she is no longer welcome to share her thoughts and insights. Paul's words were the scripture cited, but there were other reasons given. I'll get to the stated relational excuse in a bit.

Because I am married I cannot help my husband see his fault. (Galatians 6:1)Because I am married, I am not to go to my brother who has sinned against me and seek repentance and restoration. (Matthew 18:25)

A wife should fast and pray before approaching her husband about anything, and then only if she feels she absolutely must. This advice is based on the story of Esther as she has to approach the wicked king Xerxes. Excuse me? I didn't marry a wicked pagan king, I married a brother in Christ. Esther, the exalted concubine, was no valued partner of King Xerxes. She was chosen strictly for her looks and her bedroom skills. Their marriage was hardly an example of the one-flesh union comparable to Christ and the church. Ooh, ick.

Further, because of Peter's advice that a woman with an unbelieving husband can win him over without a word, relying on her quiet and gentle spirit, I was told that I should keep my mouth shut. But again this made no sense to me. I didn't marry an unbeliever! I married a brother in Christ. We met at church and I saw him at prayer meetings, church socials and visitation ministry. He already knows Jesus. I was puzzled.

Because I am married, I am no longer to run the race to win. (Hebrews 12:1,I Corinthians 9:25-26) I can no longer put off falsehood and speak truthfully. (Ephesians 4:25)

I have heard women speakers say that wives who feel their husbands are lukewarm in their faith, are really just making their husbands look bad. Men apparently have really fragile egos and can't take this, so they quit serving the Lord in their struggles with feelings of inadequacy.

A smart wife will hide her devotion to God, pray and read her Bible in secret, and keep her mouth shut about spiritual things unless her husband brings it up. In order to encourage (manipulate) him to discuss spiritual things, a wife should ask her husband questions, feigning spiritual ignorance in order make him feel more spiritual than the little woman.

In other words, she should pretend he is a "spiritual leader" in order to manipulate him into becoming more fervent for God. We are to pretend he's running the race faster than we are, even if in fact he is sitting doing nothing. It amounts to nothing less than living a lie, and dishonoring the Lord by not loving Him with ALL of the wife's heart, ALL of her soul, ALL of her strength, in order to make her man look better.

Yes, it really is that crazy. All that to prop up his ego, lure him into thinking himself a true "man of God" when in fact he is lukewarm and lazy and unconcerned about spiritual matters.

This teaching rewrites Ephesians 4:25 as "put on falsehood"! Though it never sounded right to me, in my fervent desire to please God, I gave it a shot. I admit it. I did. Stupid woman that I was, I was of no help to my husband or my family by living a lie.

I did this because I believed these false teachings. They are simply more of the same old Gothardite lies: be subservient and commit your way to God, pray in sincerity and love, suffer "as unto the Lord" and God will make all the changes in your authority figure that need to be changed. That is such a destructive doctrine.

I was told to engage in "smooth talk and flattery" (condemned in Romans 16:18, Job 32:22) by offering undeserved respect to my husband.

Fundamentalists falsely teach that the greatest need a husband has is to be respected by his wife. Too bad they don't teach that the greatest need a wife and children have is for the man to live a life worthy of their respect. The Bible calls men and women alike to live lives worthy of respect. (I Timothy 3:8,11 and Titus 2:2.) I don't recall reading anywhere that we should give undeserved respect. The scripture that tells wives to respect their husbands does NOT add the caveat "whether they deserve it or not". Yet I have listened to people claim that is exactly what God meant. The God of truth? Are you serious?

Uh, no, a man's greatest need is for authenticity, just like the rest of humanity. Truth is our greatest need. For nothing else we say or do or feel or think is worth experiencing if it is based on a lie.

This whole doctrine is so disrespectful to men. My husand's ego is not so fragile that he needs to be told he is succeeding when he is failing. He is not incapable of serving God or earning respect. A lukewarm man who is coddled like this will be shocked when the day of truth comes, and it will. The truth will out for every person.

One day, the ridiculousness of the whole teaching finally became crystal clear to me. I called to my husband and told him that I had something to say. God had convicted me that I was not to hold back anymore. I showed him in Hebrews that I am to run the race to win, and I am not going to lag behind him pretending he is racing ahead of me anymore.

He was shocked that anyone ever told me I should! 0_0

I determined that day that I would not disrespect God and my husband by following these false teachings one more day. I have his full support on this.

First and foremost, my husband and I are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is who we were when we met, and who we still are. That relationship will never change, and trumps every other relationship we will ever have.

We are the one anothers mentioned in all those scriptures (John 13:34, Romans 12:10,16, 13:8, 14:13, 15:7; I Corinthians 1:10,16:20; Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 4:2,32, 5:19,21; Colossians 3:13,16; I Thessalonians 5:11; Hebrews 3:13, 10:24,25; James 4:11; I Peter 2:22, 3:8, 4:9, 5:5,14; I John 1:7, 3:11,23, 4:7,11,12; 2 John 1:5). This is how we are called to live as believers, keeping the unity of the Spirit (Romans 15:5, Ephesians 4:3). It is the only way we will ever with one mouth and one mind glorify the Lord (Philippians 2:2).

Once we have that relationship down smooth, we will revisit the scriptures on marriage. It could be a while. =)

(Karen Campbell uses the term "one anothering" in many of her teaching about the Christian home and family. You can find her website at that mom. But it is the Lord who first coined the phrase and the concept.)

I urge anyone reading this post to hold up the totality of any marriage teaching they hear to the light of the one anothering verses, remembering that one another is a two-way relationship.

I encourage you to speak the truth in love to your spouses, spur them on to love and good works. Go to your brother who has sinned against you in gentleness and respect, seeking true repentance and restoration.

I encourage you to always be honest, and never pretend to be someone you are not.

Both of you should live lives worthy of respect.

Don't ever hold back in your pursuit of God! Love the Lord with all your heart, and don't hide it or be ashamed of loving Him. It is the greatest commandment, and it is the most important relationship you will ever have. To God and God alone be the glory!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Old Journal Entry

I told a friend once that if anyone ever found one of my old journals, they might assume I only had two emotions- really happy or really upset. That's not true, of course, but what is true is that I only write in my journal when I am full of emotion.

I am a talker, so usually when I am full of emotion I will talk to someone- my husband, a close friend, my children. If I am full of joy, I may even talk to total strangers at the grocery store or post office! That particular facet of my personality used to really annoy my introverted daughter, though my little otter son was always right there with me. Thanks for putting up with me in public, both of you. n_n

There are some things, though, you just can't talk to anyone about. They are just too personal to share with the world, even for me. (Go ahead and express shock and surprise, daughter! ;-) Those things go in my journal. And it is one of those entries I came across this weekend.

I saw one of my old journals on a book shelf and though it might be interesting to see what I was thinking at that time. As I opened it, a rectangle of folded sheets from a spiral notebook fell out. I unfolded them, smoothed out the wrinkles and began to peek at the past through the words on the page.

What I read was very encouraging, but not because the words were encouraging. It was a lament about the state of marriage, the way my husband was treating me and how I felt about it. What was encouraging, was that things have changed since then. Not as much as I would like, and not as fast as I would like, but they have changed.

Or should I say are changing? Have changed AND are changing. That's what I should write.

In fact, I was able to list of about a dozen concrete changes for the better since 2005. Really, all of those changes have taken place in the past year and a half. It was very encouraging.

I needed encouraged. There was one particularly rough day last week. I wish all the hard days were over already, but life doesn't work that way. Healing is a process. Growth is a process. Transformation into the image of Christ is a process.

So, even though I am not about to spill the beans as to what was so private it was journal-only material, I will cryptically say that this particular area of difficulty is getting obviously better. I know my friends will rejoice with me.

The good news? I can recount a lot of it, so here goes.

*My husband realizes that his past behavior has been abusive. That's pretty huge, really. Joel and Kathy Davisson's book and Marriage Intensive had very much to do with his coming out of denial. We will both be forever grateful for that.

*He is getting better at recognizing when his current behavior is abusive, though slower than I would like. I am looking forward to the day when he realizes his thoughts are leading to abusive behavior, and change the direction of his thoughts before it manifests in words and actions we will both regret.

* He has sought real help. Some of it has been truly useful (Life Skills 26 week program, certain books, prayer with trusted friends). Some of it not so much (forums/phone calls with Joel and Kathy's ministry, some other books, a counselor who promised help but delivered none). But the bad didn't deter him from continuing to seek useful help! That is also a big thing.

*He is coming to terms with the reality that his childhood was not even close to normal. This is important as most of his unhappiness stems from unresolved hurt and anger from events that took place long ago. When you are told that these painful things are Gods will, and therefore you can't question them, it adds cruelly to the injury. It takes a lot of courage to face this. I really respect him for this.

*His walk with God is much more intimate. He isn't just reading his Bible and praying perfunctory prayers. He is pouring his heart out to God, truly worshiping the Lord on his own, and actively renewing his mind to the truth. He makes time for this almost every morning now, not because he "should". It's no longer a religious observance that good boys keep, as it has been for so long. He truly wants to spend time with Love. This also is a wonderful, powerful change.

*He is exhibiting greater self-care. One of the family rules he needed to break was the idea that perfect people don't have medical issues. I am happy to report that he is able to admit he has needs and actively seek to meet them in many areas of his life now! That used to be a huge no-no. I am really happy for him about this. I can think of five specific ways he is now caring for himself that he used to ignore.

It was a real encouragement to me to be able to list how things are today and compare them to what was causing me so much pain five years ago. I'm happy I opened that journal this weekend.

But there is still much more to be healed, to mature, to be transformed. And so I ask for your specific prayers for me and my husband. We need to find a counselor who can help with passive-aggressive personality disorder. We need someone who understands the root causes of this wrong way of thinking and treating people, and who is able to facilitate lasting change.

That is a lot harder than it sounds. Just because someone has a degree doesn't mean that they can help in our particular situation. Been there, done that.

Beyond that, there needs to be a trust and a connection between therapist and patient. Obviously it does no good to talk to someone who you don't fully trust. So personality matters.

Finally, a good therapist should be able to help anyone, regardless of their spiritual beliefs. We are looking for someone who can respect, if not share, our faith in God.

So please pray for us, that we will come across the right person at the right time and not have to waste a lot of time and money on the search. Mother's Day is coming up, and interestingly enough it coincides with the one year anniversary of the scariest night of our marriage. Ideally, I would like a client-therapist relation in place for my man before then.

But if not, still pray that I can enjoy a safe and happy Mother's Day. I pray the same for you, dear readers. Safety and happiness in all you do, comfort and triumph when that is not possible. May the presence of Jesus be with you always, in ways that you can experience and understand in the depths of your being. God loves us and wants us to live loved. Let's do it!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Steam punk

My son is into a new thing these days called "steam punk". If you saw the cartoon Atlantis you have an idea of what steam punk is about. Kids design costumes that would fit in with the characters of Atlantis or Around the World in Eighty Days. They do add modern twists, but the idea is sort of Progressive Era technology hooks up with fashion and sci-fi. It's very interesting.

Anyway, ever since he broke his X-box trying to modify it with hardware from China that he bought over the internet (there's a lesson learned ;-), steam punk cos play has been his new interest. Cos play is dress up for big kids, commonly associated with anime and sci-fi conventions.

It's really fun to see him work so hard on his creations. His first work of art was steam punk goggles, made out of an old baseball, gatorade lids, spray paint, clear plastic and a needle and thread. My daughter has always been the crafty one, so it was a new kind of cool to watch my son really get into this project. The end result is a pair of goggles that look like the ones early motorists wore.

This involved cutting the leather off of the baseball, spay painting it black, cutting and grinding smooth circles out of the gatorade lids, cutting corresponding circles out of the clear plastic and assembling the whole thing with hot glue gun, gorilla glue and needle and thread. I was impressed to see him pull it together. It took two days and a trip down the street to borrow some expertise and tools for grinding the gatorade lids smooth.

His next project was to buy a Nerf gun and modify it. It is hardly recognizable now. First he took it apart and messed around with it. Then he spraypainted the pieces and put them back together. He took apart an old PDA and used the keyboard, along with various pieces of miscellaneous metal from the nail bucket, to make it look extremely high tech. It really looks like it's made of metal, the sort of gun you might see in Hellboy or The Mask.

The final project was the sonic screwdriver from Doctor Who. He started out with an ordinary light pen, but modified it so that it has a lever on front. When you push the lever, it depresses the button on the end of the pen. He has also painted and decorated it so that it looks old yet high tech. Steam punk chic.

This Saturday is another cos play opportunity, and he will be decked out in all of his steam punk regalia. I can't wait. I'd post pictures but it might ruin my anonymity. You'll just have to use your imagination as best as you can.

This reminds me so much of my early days of home schooling, when projects and creativity abounded. His sister was home this weekend and she was even helping him with the paint special effects, to make the Nerf gun look not only metal but antique. They had their stuff spread out all over the kitchen table and they laughed and joked around all afternoon.

Home schooling is rarely that fun anymore, with Pre-Calculus and Spanish IV requiring some pretty intense study. So does chemistry, but that is still fun in a different way. He really enjoys the labs, but with sister gone to college it's just not the same.

Next year, he'll be dual-enrolling at community college for math and science. I hope to get a few other students to co-op with us for American and British Lits. I'll have to find some ways to throw some craft projects in the mix. I didn't realize how much I missed it until this steam punk bit came along.

Happy home schooling!

An iguana night

Just saying. Keep me in your prayers, friends.

April 18- "you think anyone is more important than me, just like my mom thought the Indians were more important than me."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

God of the Possible by G. Boyd

I am really enjoying this book, so I thought I'd just throw that out there for anyone else who likes to read. Really good stuff. Get a sample of what he has to say here:

greg boyd

Happy reading! =)