Saturday, July 31, 2010

Good News to Think About

A Post by Steve McVey, a brother in Christ I have never met, but am glad that I stumbled across his blog. It has caused me to consider my life in Christ from a fresh perspective, one that gives me bliss. Hope you enjoy it too!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sad Thing I Heard Recently

I recently heard a young disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ say that when she spoke the words "I heard from God" she felt a twinge of something bad. Fear? Shame?

I was stunned.


I was told over and over and over again, that Jesus Christ died for me in order to have a personal relationship with me. That was his entire reason for the incarnation- to win my heart and become my God, my Shepherd, my Lord.

Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd, and then he went on to say, "I know my sheep and my sheep know me...They..will listen to my voice". It's all there in John 10:1-16. I recommend reading it over and over again in all the translations found on Bible Gateway.

Move on up to John 14 and read and reread that chapter as well. Jesus says there:

John 14:16-26 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you...But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Luke 12:12 also declares that the Holy Spirit himself will teach disciples: "for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say."

John repeats the truth that even little children hear from God in his first letter:

I John 2:27-28 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him. And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

The Old Testament also shows time after time that individual people (not just male leaders) heard from God. There was Hagar in the desert (Genesis 21:16-17); the child Samuel (I Samuel 3); the prophetess Miriam (Exodus 15, Numbers 12) and Deborah (Judges 4) and Huldah (2 Kings 22:13-15; 2 Chronicles 24:22-23). And those are just the references that clearly say God spoke to them.

What about Naaman's handmaiden? Where did she get the idea that God would use an Isreali prophet to heal her master? Isn't it likely God put the idea in her heart? It's not like prophets had a habit of curing leprosy in Israel. Naaman's experience was unique and highly personal.

What about the angel who appeared to Samson's parents (and to his mother first! Judges 13)? If any of my dear readers want to post of more such incidents, please do so.

Bottom line: God speaks to people! All kinds of people. He so loved the whole world that he came in the flesh to let us know. You are part of that world. You as an individual are precious to God, and He will (probably already does) speak to you personally.

Wow. I would never dare to try to step in between the Good Shepherd and one of His sheep. Not. Wise. *cringes*

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blot on our Home School Reputation

You know what is the absolutely most stupid way you can possibly live in this world and make decisions? First, surround yourself with people who think exactly like you do. Allow no deviation in any area.

Next, add to the disdain and pity you have for those poor people outside of your little world a strong dose of paranoia. It will be easy to convince yourself of this need because you never have anything to do with them.

Finally, make all of your decisions in life by following the patterns of the few people you have allowed in your life. So, while you continually stroke one another's egos in this mutual admiration society, and congratulate one another for your dedication to be set apart from the rest of humanity, you will be blissfully oblivious until the day reality smacks you upside the head with a major course correction.

Proverbs 18:1 An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends;
he defies all sound judgment. (NIV)

Proverbs 18:1 Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom (KJV)

Proverbs 18:1 Loners who care only for themselves spit on the common good. (The Message)

Proverbs 18:1 HE WHO willfully separates and estranges himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire and pretext to break out against all wise and sound judgment. (Amplified Bible)

I am just so mad I could spit right now at all those foolish, foolish home school families who operate outside the law. I don't have time to look up all the verses about honoring the king, obeying the civil authorities as agents of God, the example of Jesus in honoring civic requirements like the census at his birth and paying taxes. Nor all the scriptures about loving our neighbor, having good relationships with our neighbors, living in such a way that outsiders will recognize God in our lives as a good thing, etc. I have way too much to do today, but as time permits I may edit this post to actually add references.

Home school families who operate outside the law are NOT practicing noble civic disobedience! Get off your high horse, if you are one of those people. All you are doing is crippling your children's opportunities in life. It is cruel, and selfish and is definitely going to cause a huge rift in your relationships with your adult children. And if you hadn't been so arrogant that you refused to have anything to do with all those "other" home schoolers, the "worldly" Christian and the so-called "ungodly", you would have learned that truth without ruining your children's lives and your future relationships with them after they are grown.

I can hear it now. All your daughters will ever do in life is marry a son of the cult you ascribe to, because that's what you all tell each other in your insular little groups. So why does she need a diploma? For some of you, I'm sure it doesn't even matter if she's educated, much less that she have any documentation to prove it. Many sons fare no better, as you have decided your sons will be "entrepeneurs", i.e. will be unable to get a job and will have to think of some other way to keep from starving.

Home school families are for the most part extremely tolerant, as we are asking for a certain amount of leeway from society to do our own thing. Those of us who truly love freedom and education have no problem complying with home school laws. In fact, we welcomed a way to prove the existence of our home education program and show that we are productive members of society. We are not willfully keeping our children ignorant in order to foster their dependence on us or our chosen way of life. We are not selfishly separating from society to pursue our own selfish agenda. We are seeking more freedom for our children, not less. We are seeking a broader, more global education for our children because we believed an institutional classroom too small. We wanted the world for our classroom.

Patriocentric, religious zealots are a blot on our home school reputation. They choose home school in order to limit their children's experience of life, not to expand their opportunities for learning. Patriocentric, religious zealots rarely comply with the law. They believe themselves to be above the law, and teach their children that government is evil, rather than the reality that government exists for the common good so that as a society our mutual needs are met and we can better live in peace with another.

The true goal of a patriocentric home school is to cripple their children intellectually (with a restricted education), socially (no references of common experiences to build upon, no paper trail of an education to gain entry level jobs or higher education), financially and spiritually. Yes, these parents take for themselves the position of God, teaching their children that God speaks through them and that the children can have no relationship with God apart from submission to parents.

Why did we let this take root in our home school communities? How did this happen? And more importantly, how can bona fide home educators clean them up out of our midst?

I know it's a radical thought, but what about calling in truant any "home school" family you know is not in compliance with the law? That seems so unAmerican. We all internalized in public school that a snitch is the worst kind of person. But we are not children any more, and we do not have to fear reprisal from any of these families who are in fact, TRUANT.

Stop and think about it. If the children from these truant homes ever need to get work outside the home, or want to pursue higher education later in life, they will be unable to do so. They will be forced to take the GED to document their knowledge, and the longer it has been since they studied the harder that will be for them. And even if they ace it, there is real discrimination out there in the world against people who took their GED rather than earn a high school diploma. Turning in these families as truant will do the children a huge favor, as their parents will have to face up to how ridiculous their lives and beliefs have become while there is still a chance to help the children.

Oh, eventually life will slap them upside the head. In spite of the "multi-generational" cult lifestyle they believed they had chosen for the children, these children are real people. They are true autonomous human beings.

Eventually each one will discover this truth. When that happens, they will leave the family cult, and step out on their own. And will they be mad! Hoowhee, will they be mad!

Just ask around, or check out Hillary McFarlands new book Quivering Daughter or her blog. Some will figure it out younger than others.

The saddest stories will come from those whose parents married them off into their own patriocentric marriage while they were young. Many of these will not snap out of it until middle age is upon them and they have a house full of children to think about. You can find stories of women already in this boat at No Longer Qivering.

At least these stories are from first generation QF moms, many of whom have a documented education to fall back on in their day of awakening. How much harder will it be for their sons and daughters to rebuild their lives if they do not awaken to reality until they are parents themselves?

Shame, shame, shame on every home school family operating outside the law. Each of the fifty states has legal provisions for home schooling. It is your reasonable duty as a citizen of this country to comply. The home school movement was started by people who valued learning and liberty, then sadly it was co-opted by the religious zealots who have since taken over on many levels. But there is a new wave of home schoolers who value learning and liberty as much as our pioneer home school forerunners. I am appealing to this new wave today.

Call in as truant any family you know of that is operating outside of the law. It is in the best interests of their children, society itself and our own home school reputation. And wherever you live, make sure you are in compliance with the law. If you feel that is too hard for you, then you are not competent enough to be home schooling future citizens of our great country.

And please don't bother to leave a comment that "God gave me these children, so he approves of the way I raise them" or any variation. Any two human beings in a heterosexual relationship, who have no biological impediments and do not use any form of birth control, will reproduce. It is not a sign of God's approval when you get pregnant. It is not a divine intervention.

It's reality. It's biology. It happens all over the world everyday to many people, people of other religions, people of no religion, morally upright people and morally repugnant people. So please, don't even go there. I will be embarrassed for you if you come back with that line.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I only have a quick minute, but I wanted to capture my thoughts on this subject: Narcissistic Personality Disorder versus Passive Aggressive Personality Disorder.

NPD is a disorder in which the person fails to develop normal human empathy and emotion. In most cases it is completely intractable. In past years, it was considered one hundred per cent incurable. In recent years (don't have the links, sorry!) it has been considered more of a spectrum, with a few lucky and highly motivated individuals on the less severely disordered end of the spectrum capable of some improvement. It has been hypothesized that NPD could be caused by biology, extreme emotional neglect during the important 19-24 month window of development, and by over indulgent parents who in their smothering concern never allow the child to experience life where the little person is not the center of the universe.

PAPD is also a personality disorder, but it is not caused by biology nor is it intractable. It is mostly taught. Children who develop PAPD live in homes where anger is considered a sin, and therefore is not allowed expression or even acknowledged.

PAPD is the label for the behavior of an angry person who often refuses to admit they are angry, yet their anger will out. There are many different patterns of behavior they might indulge to express their anger, all of it indirect and sneaky. If you are truly interested, I recommend Kantor's book Passive Aggression: A Guide for the Therapist, the Patient and the Victim. They may transfer their angry feelings towards a sacred target which is forbidden (fundamentalist parents, for example) to a safer target which is allowed by their belief system (a wife, a child, a fellow driver on the road, etc). They also may deny they are anger yet engage in behavior that frustrates other people to the point that this other person will express anger, sort of manipulating other people to process their feelings for them.

Since people who grew up in homes where anger was not allowed have never learned the healthy expression of anger, when they come to believe that it is okay to be angry, they still have some big problems.

First of all, they have suppressed their feelings so long, they don't even recognize feelings as they are experiencing them. Their first instinct is to suppress and deny, so even though a situation may be frustrating them, they will meekly and silently comply. If you ask them, they might admit they are unhappy about it, but on their own they do not even recognize the change in their emotions. Once they do become aware that they are unhappy about what they are doing, rather than accept responsibility for their emotions and decisions they assign blame to the people nearby for "making" the PAPD do whatever it is they did not really want to do.

Secondly, when these feelings do burst through, they are often extremely overwhelming to the person. They feel exceedingly angry, since they have been storing it up for so long, and they feel exceedingly guilty, since deep inside they still have internalized anger is a sin. Also they may very well be indulging in sinful childish behavior when they are angry, as they are emotionally undeveloped. The remorse they express is real, yet the anger they feel is also real. They will often cycle back and forth through venting and repenting, venting and repenting.

Obviously there is hope for a person with PAPD. They CAN learn healthy ways to experience and express anger. Trauma therapy as well as cognitive behavioral therapy can come together to make all the difference for someone raised to become a PAPD person. This is not an overnight miracle, however.

Learning to recognize that they are experiencing feelings before those feelings become overwhelming takes time. Breaking the unspoken internalized rules about what one is allowed to feel, think and say takes time as well. Identifying the traumas that created this well of buried hurt and resentment will take time, especially when denial was taught, modeled, and rewarded, while honesty and transparency were condemned and punished.

Fundamentalist Christianity, and more specifically my husband's missionary parents, are responsible for my husband developing PAPD. My husband is responsible for his recovery, and for every word, thought and action he chooses to indulge in today. But there is hope for him.

There is no hope (in my opinion) for someone suffering from NPD. I realize the majority of abusers of either gender suffer from NPD. I am quite sure that is why all the literature is written claiming that abusers never change, are continual liars, and that a spouse's only hope of a healthy relationship is to get out of relationship with the abuser and look elsewhere for love. And if you are in relationship with an NPD, that is the ONLY ANSWER.

I know all about NPD because my mother is NPD. She is a complete fake as a person. She has never experienced any real emotion other than fear and anger, unless you count arrogance as an emotion. She is manipulative, cunning, able to switch personas at the drop of a hat when the situation calls for it. There is no level of ugly she will not stoop to in order to obtain Narcissistic Supply.

My husband is not NPD. He has real emotions. He has genuine relationships. He is kind and sincere. But he is a mess emotionally, and he has not learned how to deal with his emotions in a healthy mature manner yet. He is trying, though.

As the daughter of an NPD mother (and in spite of much therapy!) I came pre-programmed to choose to fall in love with a man who is emotionally unavailable to me. That kinda sucks, but if the shoe fits, eh. *shrug*

My husband is not NPD, though. I can figure out NPD before a relationship goes very far. Once bitten, twice shy.

The question is not "will my husband change?" or even "is my husband capable of change?" The answer to both of those questions is "yes". The questions that remain unanswered are, "will healing come to him without us having to temporarily separate?" and "how much worse is this going to get before it gets better?"

For those of you who were in a relationship with an NPD (Final Anonymous =) you have my deepest sympathy. There is no hell on earth like the hell experienced by someone trying to relate to an NPD as if they are a real human person inside. I know from experience. (I added a labels widget so you can find my previous posts about NPD.)

Okay, that's all for now. I took the time to write this because I am taking the time to think about it. There is no other motive, so please don't anyone be offended! Peace and good will to all, SS

The problem with sharing the same therapist

First of all, I want to thank everyone again who commented on yesterday's post, but especially the final anonymous. All of us are in the wonderful position of sharing words with others, words that heal and encourage, words that strengthen and support, and unfortunately also at times words that tear down and confuse. I am grateful that almost all the words my internet friends leave on my blog heal, encourage, strengthen and support. In the eight months I have been blogging, I have only been flamed once, and that early on in in my journeys through the blogosphere. That's pretty awesome. It is uplifting to experience such an outpouring of good will from fellow travelers. Again, thanks. =)

Yesterday was a super-tough day. Not only was I still recovering from the weekend, but I ran into an unexpected glitch that really threw me for a loop. I am old enough and experienced enough to know that sh** happens, and it is unrealistic to expect only good from people at all times. Duh. Still, this disappointment came at a bad time, a vulnerable time, and from a source which I did not expect.

However, I think that it is worth blogging about for several reasons. First, it is a common scenario that victims of any form of domestic abuse will face at one time or another. Hopefully, by acknowledging this fact, it will help any other wounded wives who read here. Second, writing about it strengthens and affirms me, as a woman, a survivor, a beloved child of God. Finally, even if you, dear reader, are not a person struggling with domestic abuse, you do know someone who is. May this post encourage you to be a good friend to that person you know.

For the record, the therapist I chose for help I chose because of her certification in EMDR. EMDR is a biology based way of helping clients get free from the strong negative emotions associated with trauma. EMDR is intended to enable PTSD sufferers to stop reliving old traumas when confronted by new situations that are reminiscent of previous trauma. These are referred to as triggers, and they could be innocuous things that are sensory related to an old trauma (a smell, a phrase, a tone of voice, a texture, etc.) or finding oneself in a situation in which the dynamics are similar to an old trauma (witnessing a traffic accident,a parent berating a child, an animal attack, etc.).

EMDR has been proven effective at taking the strong emotions associated with trauma out of the equation, so that experiencing triggering situations don't provoke subconscious reactions of overwhelming emotion. Once one has completed a course of EMDR therapy, it is my understanding that a person will recognize triggers and be able to consciously acknowledge them without the strong emotional response that formerly accompanied such triggers.

Also, when I first met with the EMDR therapist, I was seeking treatment only for myself. I was seeking treatment in order to heal not only from any unresolved childhood traumas, but from the trauma of being emotionally, psychologically and physically abused by the man I married. I fully recognized that by the end of therapy, I might very well come to the conclusion that I had to end the marriage in order to live in peace and safety. I also know that if that was the conclusion I eventually reached, I needed support to make the right decisions and take the right steps to do so in a way that was healthy for me.

I was happily surprised to find that, as I described my husband and my marriage to this therapist, she strongly believed that my husband himself was traumatized, and that his abuse was directly related to PTSD. She believed that he could be helped by EMDR himself, though she made no guarantees that he could be helped quickly enough or completely enough that we might not have to separate.

Now I love my husband. So, I was/am eager for him to receive any help he needs to heal and to be set free from all the anger and pain he has locked in his heart. The therapist said she thought she could help us both, but that it was not the usual protocol. She, my husband and I all discussed this, and we decided to seek EMDR individually from her, but not to seek marriage counseling from her. She seemed to really understand the dynamics of domestic violence from both angles, the victims and the perpetrator, which is really key to our decision to both seek therapy from the same therapist.

In general, it is a very bad idea for a victim of domestic violence and her abuser to seek help from the same therapist.

Traditional marriage counseling does not work where domestic violence is the issue. Traditional marriage counseling is great when you have two adults of good will who, in spite of their best efforts to get along, are unable to communicate effectively with each other. That is not the case in an abuser/victim relationship.

Most often, it is the abuser himself who sets out to blame the victim in therapy, claiming that the victim provoked the hostility in some way. Also an abuser will take the knowledge gained through therapy, and use it to further victimize his/her spouse, using the new psychological terms as another tool to blame and belittle. Abusers are often master manipulators, and in no time they can have the therapist agreeing with them and looking at the situation from their point of view only. It quickly becomes an untenable situation for the victim so that instead of being a source of healing, therapy becomes just another venue in which to blame the victim.

People who are trained in domestic violence always keep that dynamic in mind. Therapist are people too and as such are also vulnerable to manipulation. A true professional acknowledges that possibility and fights against it.

I do believe that the EMDR therapist I chose strives most of the time to maintain objectivity and professional detachment. Also, my husband himself is in no way attempting to manipulate the therapist at this point in time. BUT even with those facts in play, yesterday was a classic textbook blame the victim therapy session.

As my husband's EMDR therapist, she had asked me to let her know of any PTSD episodes since our last visit. This has not been a problem in the past. Perhaps that because he has been handling them so well. Perhaps it was because she was just getting to know him, and had not developed a bond with him yet. For whatever reason, in the past, she duly recorded the incident in her notes and we would go on with my EMDR therapy, without skipping a beat.

Yesterday was not like that at all. I went in emotionally balanced and at peace, having spent precious time with the Lord before my appointment. I left hopeless and broken.

We did no EMDR yesterday. She abandoned our agreed upon time table and schedule to grill me about the PTSD episode. What a mess that was! Trying to explain the craziness of an abusive incident is impossible. She quickly came to erroneous conclusions about what actually happened, by getting names mixed up in her head as to who said what, did what, etc. When I pointed out that she was way off course, she insisted it was I who mixed up the names. She then proceeded to tell me all the things I said or did "wrong", implying if not outright saying that if I had not said/done the wrong words/action (and trust me, I was not being at all provocative, and it is my understanding that what I say/do is not the issue in PTSD anyway, but that PTSD takes on a life of its own in response to triggers) then my husband would not have treated me the way he did. She seemed to believe that I had wronged him somehow, though nothing could be further from the truth. And even if it were true, so what? That would not excuse his abusive words and actions anyway.

At first I pleaded that I was being misunderstood and asked her to allow me to try to explain things better. Sound familiar? Ugh.

Had I been more fully recovered from the weekend, I could have simply reminded her that I was there for EMDR and could we please focus on that instead of the details of my husband's latest outbreak of PTSD. Unfortunately, after about forty-five minutes of being forced to relive the details, counter her misunderstandings, unsuccessfully trying to convey to her what had happened to me, I cracked. It was pretty obvious that she thought I brought it up for marriage therapy, and I felt foolish, unheard, and honestly, further victimized as she proceeded to lecture me on Communication Skills 101. (For the record, I could teach that course from memory.) She lectured, and I sat impassively. Finally I surrendered and just agreed with her, at which point she got quite agitated at me and accused me of further wrong- "don't do that to ME!" She claimed that I was giving in to black and white thinking, when all I did was agree with her if only I had been more, better, whatever, my husband would not have been abusive to me.

All in all it was the most disturbing therapy session I have even experienced. I went centered and hopeful. I left with no hope. For, dear friends, if my husband's abuse towards me is caused by my personality, my actions, my way of expressing myself, then there is absolutely no hope for us. I have been through year of various types of therapy, read dozens of self-help books each year and sought to implement what seemed wise from them, and I earnestly seek the Lord and His gracious love almost every day of our marriage. If with all of that effort, I am still the problem, there is no hope.

My best interpretation of these events, with twenty-four hours and a lot of prayer, tears and reading between us, is that the therapist is bonding with my husband, and in the throes of that psychosocial dynamic, forgot everything she had ever learned about domestic violence. In bonding with him as a child abuse victim, she lost sight of the fact that he is also an adult abuser.

While all the literature I read recommended not using the same counselor, the reason given was always because the abuser will manipulate the counselor. That is not what happened yesterday. My husband had nothing to do with the way the therapist came to the defense of the indefensible behavior he indulged in this weekend. That was all one hundred per cent on her.

So I would have to conclude that therapists, being human themselves, are only good at professional detachment when they work at it. Yesterday my therapist sucked at it. It affected me profoundly in a negative way, but I am a strong person with good friends (thanks again anonymous!) and a wonderful God who loves me. By his grace and with his help I am recovered and will continue to recover from that mini-betrayal.

So the question remains, will we continue to see the same therapist? My husband and I discussed this together last night. We have decided to continue for the time being, with this condition. We remind ourselves and the therapist that we are there for EMDR. Period. She is only one of two people certified in our city to do EMDR, and it would really suck to have to start over with a new therapist at this point.

His appointment was an hour after mine, and I did tell him how unhappy I was after my appointment and what a waste of time the "he said, she said" recap had been. Being forewarned, he resisted her efforts at going there with him and insisted that they continue with his personal EMDR therapy where they had left off the week before. He did say that he had to insist on it, or she would gladly have gone over and over the weekend minutia for the whole hour, but that once he insisted on it, she did proceed with EMDR.

Ugh. In a perfect world our mutual therapist would be able to stay personally detached from her clients. In a perfect world she would have only noted "PTSD episode lasting 36 hours" in her notes and continued on with my personal EMDR therapy, as we contracted for from the beginning. But, we live on planet earth and unfortunately our therapist is also one of those feeble earthlings.

So,for the rest of you out there who may be in a similar situation, remember that you are in control of your therapy. You have a right to insist that your therapist stick to the agreed upon protocols. You have the right to change therapists if you feel it is in your best interest.

And remember, if your spouse is filled with animosity towards you, IT IS NEVER YOUR FAULT. Each of us are responsible for our own feelings and actions. No one makes me or you do/feel/say anything. We all experience feelings. We all choose our actions and our words.

Stay safe and live loved. Peace and good will to all, SS

Monday, July 19, 2010

I Give Myself a "C"

*sigh* Okay, you know how I wrote a few posts back about how I FINALLY understood it wasn't about me, and nothing I could say would change my husband when he was in his trauma brain? I got an "A" that day. Good job, self!

At best I get a "C" for this weekend. I DID fall back into that stupid, stupid position of trying to explain to him how much his PTSD/PAPD behavior was hurting me. I DID fall back into that stupid, stupid idea that once he saw what it was doing to me, he would quit. I totally forgot that when he was there in the bad place, there was nothing I could do to change it or get him to leave any sooner. I totally forgot that trying to reason with him only gives him ammo.

In other words, I was unable to detach emotionally from him and walk away. I was so used to living in a love relationship with him (six and a half weeks with only minor setbacks: a new record!) that I forgot everything I learned about PAPD. I kept talking to him like he was my lover and friend, when he was stuck in trauma land.

This is harder than I thought it would be. And as far as the therapist warning it would get worse again before it stayed better, the voice of experience wins again.

Detaching sucks because I have a hard time with the idea of temporary anything. I want to be either all in or all out of this relationship. Of course that is childish thinking. None of us are all good or all bad. I need to get some maturity, enough to recognize what's going on, and pull back with the understanding that he will come out of it in due time, BUT UNTIL HE DOES, freeze the s.o.b. out of my heart to protect myself.

But this weekend, starting with Thursday night and not really ending until Saturday late morning, reminds me that I have to retrain my own brain to not react. I still have my own traumas, and oh how I am looking forward to finishing this EMDR therapy and being freed from all that emotion!!

The Thursday night walk was a "perfect storm" of yuck. My daughter was triggered by my use of the word "nerd", I was triggered big-time for having my good heart accused of wickedness (QDs know how painful that can be!) and my husband, who was already teetering on the edge of the cliff, was triggered by my trying to de-escalate the situation by turning and walking away quickly. Oy vey.

My husband stormed off home without me, while I tried talking to my daughter. I wound up walking home without her as she would not listen to me. But of course I wanted precious time and tears pleading with her first.

The anguish I felt about being falsely accused of a wicked heart, when I was actually being affectionate and playful, was much deeper than this one situation. I grew up with that pain, and when it happens again it just adds to the accumulated hurt stored up inside of me. I was hurting so bad! I was desperate to get my daughter to listen to me, but she was cold and hard. So I finally wised up and walked home alone crying.

When I got home, my husband was waiting for me on the stairs with open arms and apologies. We cried together. When my daughter got home, we included her and welcomed her with hugs. There were lots of tears, and explanations and reassurances, while my daughter spoke and we reassured her heart. So far, so good.

But when she was apologizing for walking away from me, that's when things got worse in my husband again. He sympathized with her for abandoning me and shutting me out like that (she was apologizing, and here he tells her that anyone would treat me like that!) totally turning the whole thing around to the old paradigm. You know, cold-hearted and cruel "self-controlled" Dad and daughter against "crazy emotional mom". Thankfully my daughter didn't embrace it, but was shocked that her dad would change so quickly. The anger that jumped out of him so suddenly just freaked her out. When she didn't bond with him like he expected, he got up and stormed off again.

The pain that rose up in my heart at this turn in the conversation would break your hearts if you could feel it, kind readers. It is the unfairness of being pinched till you bleed by the bully at school, then being scolded and punished by the teacher for talking out of turn when you cried out in pain. And so in pain, I reacted. If only I could have recognized this as the return to PAPD - when he pretends to be understanding but follows up with cruelty which is again followed by a seeming desire to reconcile but it's only a trap to be cruel again- like the iguana being burned on the basketball court who is offered a way out only to have it blocked by a bully when he gets close to escape.

While husband stormed off my daughter and I came to closure. I reassured her that her Dad's behavior was not her fault. I made it very clear that even though she had been triggered herself, she was NOT responsible for her father's behavior. I told her my best guess was that it was probably delayed reaction to that week's therapy and his parents visit the previous weekend.

My husband did not take a time-out as he has in the past, though I assumed he had since he was alone somewhere. We went to bed in an uneasy state. The next morning he went off to work still in trauma, came home for lunch in the same state, and came home from work not any different. Unfortunately, all this time I was back to playing the victim, trying to get him to care about me and reconcile our relationship.

When he got home from work in the evening, after first ignoring him, I fell for his efforts at reconciliation again. I was so frustrated and in so much emotional pain! I can't openly write of how much I was hurting, it's too vulnerable. I wanted to disappear from the earth. I was in deep anguish.

He seemed to truly snap out of it that night, to stop being so arrogant and self-centered. He offered apologies and love. He held me and spoke comfortingly and tenderly. We went to bed in each other's arms.

But Saturday morning, he woke up mean as a snake. He started off by accusing me of being controlling (I knew I was in the "mommy box" then!) when I asked if he was okay. I inquired after his welfare because something wasn't right in his face. It had lost it's animation. His face gets passive and flat and his eyes get small and hard when he is in his reptilian brain.

I went downstairs first and warned the teens about his mood. My daughter hugged me; my son expressed his support. My husband then came downstairs and tried to get my daughter to hate on me with him again, but she refused. She told him that we both needed a time-out from each other (diplomatic and kind of her)and my son told him to stop being an, eh hem, unkind person.

So he did. And this time it took! Final time out (maybe first real time out, I don't know) thirty six hours after initial onset of emotional abuse. That is definitely regress, not progress. I hope this is as bad as it gets in the "it's going to get worst before it get's better" prognostication of our EMDR therapist.

So since noon Saturday the man appears to be in his right mind again, after the timeout our daughter called for. Looking back, he admits his depression has been deepening all week. He started making choices that would lead to sleep deprivation. He stopped having time for devotions, journaling, affirmations, etc. because he would stay up too late and then need the sleep in the morning. I can tell by holding him that he's gained weight again this week. ( He compulsively eats to deaden his feelings.) And even though he wasn't an ass yesterday, he spent almost all day alone and isolated from the family. I can't remember a day that he spent so much time alone.

Of course there's fall out from this for me. I am disappointed in myself, that I jumped back onto the basketball court, so to speak. I am still prone to crying spells, as it not only touched deep hurts in me to be repeatedly accepted then rejected, welcomed then abandoned, it confuses me and weakens my hope for a final end to this crap in our marriage. I don't want to find that after all this effort, the only way to end the crappy marriage is the end the marriage. I was hoping to just put an end to the crap, you know?

It's bad because now if/when he remembers to be tender, to touch me gently and speak to me kindly and look me in my eyes, my heart responds with doubt. He is truly being good to me, but it only bring tears to my eyes and I'm sure that my sorrow is not helping any to alleviate his depression.

I am not as confident that I can trust him, or that he is sincere in his kindness. I don't want to live waiting for the other shoe to drop. God doesn't treat me that way and I don't want to do it to my husband either, you know? I hate being governed by fear, yet finding a balance between self-protection and rebuilding what's been damaged is not easy.

Well, there's therapy on Tuesday! Yay! I remind myself that he is working on getting well, and I am working on getting well. One setback (which I was warned would happen) is not reason to abandon the whole process. There is still hope that our marriage (our hearts) will be rescued, healed, and made strong and healthy. The hope lies in each of us as individuals reaching that place.

Well, there you have it, folks. Though he was okay while his parents were here, he fell apart after they left. Unfortunately, whatever dark thoughts, feelings or memories are haunting him, pushing him to stop self-care, to destroy his only supportive relationships, he is still keeping those to himself. I hope he is able to share them with the therapist, because he isn't sharing them with me. And getting free from those hidden things, that's the real key to ending the crappy in our crappy home school marriage.

Peace to all who read here. May you know you are not alone, and may my transparency be helpful to you in some way. The thought that telling my story helps others in even a small way redeems my suffering. I need it to be redeemed. It would really suck if it ends up that I suffered all this just because I was too much of a Pollyanna goody-goody to get out earlier.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Every Hidden Thing Will Be Revealed

I have decided to publish and leave published all my posts about my troubled marriage, the therapy we are in, what it's like for me, for my children, and as best as I can see for my husband. No more hidden things.

I hope that my journey is helpful to others, but honestly I am not sure where the journey will end, though I am hopeful it will be good one day. I am currently waiting for my husband to come out of his reptilian brain so I can talk to him. He slipped back there last night and hasn't successfully crawled out yet.

The blog is helping me because I can see that it has been a good while since my husband of good will has slipped away from me and stayed gone, hidden inside his mind. So even though it is disheartening to me that this is happening again, it is encouraging to read that the last time it happened was June 6th. That means real progress, since he has been reconnected with me in a love relationship without significant broken relationship for six and a half weeks! That is a new record, and I take joy in that. =D

Also, the therapist warned me it would get worse again. So far in therapy they have focused on the good memories. This past week she started talking about traumas. There are still many monumental things that he doesn't remember, though he knows they happened to him- like being left at boarding school for the first time.

I think talking about it is stirring up memories deep inside of him, though he is really good at denial so he is resisting talking about the painful stuff. I think if I can ever talk to him again, instead of the Trauma, we could work it all. We could be in a love relationship of mutual support again, and he would appreciate my standing by him.

But now he's in the Reptilian brain, the Trauma, the Depression, the Abuse mindset. Pick your label. It means that I can't communicate with him, because everything he hears/sees is filtered through that mean, self-centered, prideful persona. I could try to communicate with him- I have for years-but that only gets me back on the basketball court with the iguana.

Say a prayer for me. I don't know how tonight is going to play out. This started last night on a walk about nine o'clock and it still isn't over yet. Peace.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Letting the Master Gardener Work

At the end of my last post, I wrote briefly about my relationship with my daughter. I have at times brought great pain to my daughter's heart. Even though it may not have been my intention at the time, or if I did intend to impress I didn't intend to crush, or even if I was completely oblivious to how my behavior was affecting her at the time, I hurt her. I did.

Now, as a mother, when I see my daughter hurting, I want to fix it. I want to rush in and be the hero and make everything better. But this time that can't happen.

It was my prideful belief that *I* was the one responsible for shaping my daughter's life that got us in this mess in the first place. It was my harsh over-correction, my anxious continual instruction, my insistence on grace and forgiveness from her for my short-comings while trying to "help" her grow up perfect, without all those pesky character flaws of mine- my, oh my- *I* created this mess in the first place.

My flesh wants to rush in and insist that everything be fixed RIGHT NOW. I should be forgiven and she should be healed and thriving instantly because I want it to be that way. As Queen sang, "I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now."

I have read the words of other daughters where they spoke of having experienced similar desperation from their mothers when the moms were confronted with painful realities. Instead of just repenting, the moms wanted an instant and glorious fix. When that didn't happen, the temptation to go overboard and guilt daughter into making mom feel better about it all is just too much for some to resist.

Ouch. I see where those mothers are coming from, and why the guilt sends them from confession and repentance (a good place) over to self-pity and shame(a bad place). Mom is still walking in the flesh, still trying to make things perfect by what she says or does. When (good) repentance didn't produce the instant miracle mom wanted, she slipped over into trying to manipulate such an outcome. At least that is my temptation.

Only by the grace of God have I managed to escape that trap this time! For today, at least, I am safe. I am not going to meddle in God's work in my adult daughter's life. I am just going to keep loving her as she is right now- whether she makes wise choices, merely okay choices or truly rotten choices. I am not the Good Shepherd.

I have more to say, but I am out of time. Enjoy this link, which says so much of what I am trying to say here anyway. I think all parents should read this, even though it is not really written about parentins. If the shoe fits...

Parable of the Fig Tree post by Jonathan Stepp

Friday, July 9, 2010

Healing a Crappy Home School Marriage/Family

One purpose in starting this blog was to be honest- painfully honest- about the reality of what this Christian home school marriage and family was REALLY like behind closed doors. It is at times very embarrassing and scary. I am opening my life up to the world- a world that is not always caring and supportive. So please be gentle, dear readers.

I think that soon I will be able to repost all my previous entries. detailing the ongoing saga of my marriage and family. Remember that when I started, I had no idea how things would end up. I am seriously optimistic now that not only will we all turn out okay in the end, healed and wiser, but that I will be contentedly married to the same man! Well, the same man genetically, but a more whole and healthy version of that man. =)

Things could still take an turn for the worst. Our therapist thinks that when the trauma memories finally come, they will be hellacious. Actually, she thinks that not only will the memories be hellacious, but that living with my husband at the time could be really ugly and painful for our family too. I am hoping she's wrong, and that my husband will be able to deal with his anger and pain in a healthy manner, one that does not include transference aimed at me. But we'll see.

It has been one month with only three touchy situations, which is a new record! Also, in all three instances, my husband has worked his action plan for getting back to a good place, and his plan has worked! He takes his journal, Bible and Life Skills notebook off to a quiet place to spend 30 minutes doing whatever it is he does. Whatever it is, it has worked every time! This is great news!

But life is not perfect. This past Monday was the third touchy situation. It's highly personal, and since I already wrote about it to an internet friend, I will copy elements of that email here by way of explanation:

Honestly, we had a bad moment yesterday- it was setting up over a 24 hour period but it manifests as just a slipping away into himself so it's hard to point to a WHEN- but (and this is in complete confidence, por favor) it ended up with me coming on to him in bed yesterday morning, him brushing me off, me pointing out that all is not right in his responses/lack on interaction with his wife and him telling me I was acting like his mother!

I was able to say that his life was way more messed up than I know if his mother got into bed with him partially clothed and tried to initiate some romance!!!!

This snapped him back to reality, but I was already sobbing. I sobbed for like five minutes before I could stop. It's so heart-breaking how easily he slips away from me and becomes this mean/rejecting/judgmental/critical person.

At least I know what's happening now. It doesn't make me any less hurt, but it does keep me from trying to reason him back to being the man I married. Hence the helpless sobbing, which is actually an improvement.

These moments used to morph into hours long (days even) PAPD "discussions" in which he would give me just enough seemingly real positive feedback to hook my heart only to crush it with sarcasm/put-downs/denial and start me trying to explain myself better, blah blah blah. I really believed if I could only make him understand how he was hurting me, he would stop. Now I know it's not about me in the first place, so nothing I say or do can change it.

Now I just shut up, but I can't shut up the tears. =(

Happily, he did pull out of it. He hasn't always in the past. When he is in his trauma brain tears do not illicit compassion but contempt. It is good that when confronted with the irrationality of his belief about me (surrogate mom) that he came back to the present.

The trigger? His parents are coming this weekend. Ugh. But, at least we are in therapy now. In fact, he has an appt today, and I have one tomorrow. I know God will enable me to be kind to them, and this is one of the situations that explains why Jesus said "Love your enemies and do them good".

I blame fundamentalism more than his parents, but they chose to stay in that religion and they bear blame for that. They did leave the mission field when he was a junior in high school, so they wouldn't completely miss out on knowing their children. But even then, the religion was/is always in the way of real heart communication and love. Sux but that's their choice.

On the bright side, my husband has a new family now, and we really do love him! I tell him that a lot, and he is healing. Thank you Jesus for your unfailing love ! Enjoy the GIFT of GOD today- eternal life, life, life- rich and full and freely given! Love, SS

Peace and good will to all my readers, and if you think of me this weekend, say a prayer for my family!

So there's a snapshot of my marriage, but I wanted to write a bit about Hillary's book and my relationship with my daughter.

My daughter and i had a long talk yesterday, complete with raised voices, impassioned pleas and lots of tears. Long story short, I crushed my daughters heart with all my perfectionist moral demands on the one hand, and fits of frustrated bitching sessions on the other. Squeezed between the moralizing on one hand and mommy's bitchy meltdowns on the other, my child decided not to feel anymore.

I have referred to her time of depression before, so long time readers know that at about middle school my daughter just shut down. She was practically catatonic in passivity and refusal to enter into heart relationship with anyone, retreating to her room, stubbornly yet quietly defiant. It broke my heart, and started us on the journey to realizing the fundamentalist family paradigm of perfection was not a workable "vision".

There was more to it than just this giving up on her part. She had the whole opposite-gender-parent bonding going on at this time, which is unavoidable and appropriate. Sucked for me that my husband was depressed, in denial about his own heart, and emotionally/psychologically abusive to me on a regular basis, even eventually physically abusive to me on occasion. I may have been pleading with her for mercy and love, but Daddy was giving her props for rejecting me and making my life hell. It was ugly all around.

When my daughter got involved with a young man who had all of her Daddy's negative psychological issues, then and only then was my husband willing to take a look at himself and question what the hell was going on in our family. I thank God for Joel and Kathy Davissons' Marriage Intensive, where my husband was confronted with the fact that he was abusive, a habitual instigator of domestic violence in our home.

The healing began. My husband accepted responsibility for the whole mess, and my daughter's heart began to soften. As my husband has grown in love towards me over the past year and a half, my daughter's heart has been open to more and more healing from the Lord. She left the abusive relationship behind. She is growing in the Lord. And she is coming out of her shell.

But I have responsibility in all this too! Yes, I was unloved and under psychological and emotional battering that I did not understand. I was confused and hurt and crushed under the weight of responsibility for taking care of everything while my husband was on the road, persecuted when he was home. BUT I HURT MY PRECIOUS DAUGHTER! I crushed her heart. And I never wanted that to happen, but it did. I did.

I do accept responsibility. I told my daughter I was wrong and that she deserved better, and I cried because it is SO TRUE! And my daughter told me, "It's okay mom. It wasn't that bad. I got through it."


I remember what it is like to be that little girl myself. Reading Hillary Mc Farland's book Quivering Daughters reminded me what it was like to be that little girl! In spite of my daughter's reassurance, I cried all the harder and insisted that yes it was bad! And it was wrong! And she deserved a whole lot better! And we both cried lots of tears.

I pray that those tears are healing to her heart. My daughter deserves to feel again. She vowed to stop feeling because of ME, because I hurt her so many times in her young mind not feeling at all would be better. I am so ashamed to type this openly. Yes, I repented afterwards, probably the next day or even that same day, but all those people who told me that would make all the difference, I've got news: it makes some difference. It does not make everything okay.

So pray for my daughter too. She needs love and healing and grace to be strong and whole and feel fully alive again.

Oh, and one more thing, as much as I want that for her, I can't make that happen either. Apologizing over and over, giving her advice to do this to be healed, or read that, will not help her at all. Having screwed it all up by human effort, I don't think I can use that same human effort to make it all better.

Nope, I have only one hope: the merciful love of Jesus! The Holy Spirit can bring healing to her, in the way and time that is best for her. And that is my prayer. I have no right to demand it happen quickly, so as to ease my pain and regret. I can only love and accept her as she is, and pray for her with a heart of love.

Nuff said. I think this is really three posts in one, but I have a busy day so I don't even have time to edit this. Please forgive any poor grammar, confusing construction, or anything else a good edit would have fixed. I have company coming in two hours! 0_0

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More Thoughts on Family Devotions

This is written in response to Lewis' comment on "Quick Thoughts on Family Devotions"

WELL MEANING should be all caps! ;-)

AS I am reading the stories of unhappy home school grads, I am seeing this common theme. Many parents grew up in the 70s, in a teen culture with no restraint or wisdom about drugs and sexual behavior. When we became Christians, this was one pain we wanted to spare our children.

We were ripe for the Christian book industry to mine for our money. Once again we were in new uncharted territory, how to raise children in a Christian home, and we were looking for someone to guide the way.

Since the selling point in all this Christian literature and the lecture circuit is so shiny clean and happy, first generation Christian parents were enchanted. We could all relax. We may not know how to create a healthy Christian family, but all these experts did.

I bought so many books. I have books by Dobson and Ross Campbell side by side on my bookshelf. They actually have very different approaches, but I was trying to make it all fit in my life somehow. (Still recommend Dr. Ross Campbell, by the way.)

Others read books I was not at all enamored with- Mary Pride, the Pearls- but what we had in common was the relief that someone else KNEW the way to make this work. We put our trust in their books/lectures.

Yet we should have seen that all that angst was unnecessary. After all, we had all come to faith in Christ without daily devotions and rules about every facet of life. Why did that not occur to us?

We wanted to spare our children the pain we went through, and inadvertently caused them different kinds of pain. All because we relied on others to tell us how to live, instead of letting our uncertainty guide our daily prayers that God Himself would reveal His heart to our children in the way that would work best for each of them!

I'm not saying don't share your faith with your children. I'm saying LIVE your faith- pray, read YOUR Bible, speak from your heart by the grace of God when it seems fitting (if you are walking with God that will be often). Share the stories of Jesus Christ, and let Him draw your children's heart to his great love!

I am saying if I had it to do over again, I would not go over and over the do's and don'ts found in scripture every day. I would focus more on living it out myself than on teaching it by rote memory.

Yes, I know the verse "I will hide thy word in my heart, that I might not sin against thee". And I would do that, in front of my children, for myself. But, if I had to do it again, I wouldn't assign it to my children. I would be completely non-coercive about it.

Wouldn't that have been wise! If they see Mom and Dad living this way, but it is not demanded of them, my guess is that they would be seeking God on their own in their own way/time, and it would be a joy rather than a burden, and the Holy Spirit would be in charge of the whole process rather than a curriculum provider or some other Christian book publisher.

But I could be wrong. I am researching my theories for now. =)