Saturday, February 18, 2012

Christian Home School Scam

A must read for all home school families!  If you have not personally been Scared, Conned and then Mined for your hard-earned educational dollars, then you know someone (probably MANY someones!) who have.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

Prince Crab- a Venetian Folk Tale retold by Laura Cecil

I do not have time to type out this whole story, so I will give a recap and refer interested parties to the children's book A Thousand Yards of Sea: A Collection of Sea Stories and Poems complied by Laura Cecil with pictures by Emma Chichester Clark.

The story in a nutshell:

A sweet princess sees a huge, helpless crab about to be sold to the castle cook.  She feels compassion and gets her dad, the king, to buy the giant crab for her.  She puts the crab into the pond.  Every day she hangs out there, playing with the crab.
Except for several hours every day, the crab goes missing.  
The mystery of what the crab does when it goes missing gets the best of the princess.  One day while straining to peer into the depths of the pond to find out where the crab hides,she falls in.  She sees a passageway that she swims through.  It leads to a hidden kingdom, where she crawls out into a palace.
In the place where the crab goes when he is missing, he is not a crab anymore.  The crab shell opens to reveal a young prince trapped inside.  He climbs out at the command of the ruler of this palace, a witch.
The witch who runs this hidden palace has placed a spell on the prince, a spell that causes him to hide inside this crab shell for the rest of his life. He only comes out for the hours a day he spends in the witch's domain.  He explains that the witch wants him all to herself, that's why he has to hide in the crab shell forever.

I won't tell you how the story ends, but I find it fascinating how old folk tales have such hidden meaning.  My prince lives in a crab shell too.  His mother (the witch) forced him into it back when he was under her authority, in her castle.  Now he is "free" from the castle but not free from his mother (the witch)'s spell.

The princess wants to help the prince get free.  I want my prince to climb out of his shell once and for all.

The prince disappears, goes missing, for no apparent reason to a place the princess can't see.  My prince disappears emotionally, goes missing for no apparent reason, to a place inside himself that I can't see.

The witch is the one who keeps the prince locked in his crab shell, even when he is no longer living under her roof.  My husband is still locked away emotionally in the isolation his family of origin forced on him, even though he no longer lives under their roof.

Alas, my insight into how this folk tale mirrors my marriage fails at that point.  The princess is able to break the spell and help her prince escape in the story.  I am not sure I am able to help my prince escape.  Perhaps when I have figured out how the rest of the story will be meaningful to me too.

Anyway, I love children's literature, so I share this with you.  If you want to buy the book for a child in your life, or the child within, here is a link on Amazon:
A Thousand Yards of Sea by Laura Cecil

Shame is My Enemy in More Ways Than One

I am wary rather than hopeful today. Cynical even.  Ugh.

Last night when I got home, my husband told me he had made a mistake that cost us money.  Not drained the retirement fund or anything that bad, but he made a hotel reservation for an upcoming special occasion for last week instead of next week.  His card had been charged as a no-show.  Big whoop, right?  People make mistakes.  It happens.  Move on.

As he told me this, he was not a grown man standing in front of me expressing frustration over a snafu.  He was a little boy in posture, fearing punishment.  He stood with shoulders slumped and head hanging down, his body shriveled into as small a space as he could make while standing up straighter than usual (missionary kid thing?) and twisting a tiny piece of paper in his hands compulsively.  He looked like maybe a six year old?

I don't remember all the details, but I pointed out the posture and the self-recrimination in his voice and told him it was unnecessary, that people make mistakes.  I told him if you want to challenge the charge, don't do it like this, repeating how you contributed to the snafu over and over; merely point out that the reset on their web page changed the date on you and you didn't catch it this time.  Ask for a credit. And if they don't give it to you, oh well.  People make mistakes that cost money all the time. It's part of the human condition.

At first he got offended, and told me that I wasn't "helping".  I would have none of it.  I plainly replied something along the lines that I didn't see how telling him to lose the shame and stand up for himself or let it go was hurting him in any way.  He agreed, but still his body trembled like I was going to spank him or something. He went upstairs to think and hopefully change his mind-set.

When I went up almost forty-five minutes later, he was crying.  When I asked him what was wrong, it took a long time for him to be able to stop crying long enough to tell me.  Here's what he was doing TO HIMSELF!

He said that he was crying because this hotel reservation for our anniversary, and we were a couple barely surviving (WTF?  Seriously?  After all the effort, love, forgiveness and good will I put into this relationship you dare to say it is "barely surviving"?  How insulting to me!  Where is this coming from?) and it is all his fault.

That is such bull.  He is crying because HE IS DEPRESSED.  He is shaming himself because that's what he does when he's depressed.  Our relationship has nothing to do with it.  And if the past continues to repeat itself, a shift is coming.  A shift from shaming himself to ascribing all that shame and recrimination as coming from ME!  I see where this is going.

Three options for me: puke because that is just a disgusting display of self-pity; storm out self-righteously because according to him all the love I have to give is apparently quite measly, or do the "Christian" thing and comfort him, tell him it's not true, etc.  I chose a mix of all three.

I did comfort him, but I was also angry.  I told him that anniversaries aren't celebrations of accomplishments, they are celebrations of people!  The point was to celebrate his wife and shower her with love, not to congratulate himself on what a fine husband ( or berate himself for what a lousy husband) HE is!  Just like the drunken binge on Thanksgiving, this is coming out of nowhere.  There is no reason for him to start assuming  that divorce is imminent.  It's all in his fricking head, but guess what?

This is getting really, really old.  If he is never going to shake this depression no matter how long he is in therapy, I am not going to stay in the marriage.  If his hobby is going to be berating himself and then projecting that onto me, I am not going to stay in this marriage.

I don't understand why he is not making any progress!  He's been in therapy for two years!  He should be BETTER.  I am getting stronger every day.

I don't understand why he still doesn't pray about this problems (He was indignant when I asked him if he prayed about it. Why would God care about that? he retorted.  This pissed me off too, because he said it in such a way as to belittle those of us who believe  GOD DOES CARE ABOUT US!) or why he doesn't recognize these thoughts as damaging, evil lies that should be replaced with the truth- God does love him!  Jesus delivered him from all shame and now presents him holy and blameless!  You can cast all your cares on God because He cares for you! It's like even though we are both Christians, we have two completely different dieties and doctrinal beliefs.

Or lose the religion completely and at least replace it with logic: People make mistakes.  It's part of being human.  It's no big deal.  He could ask himself "WHY do I hate myself so much over a little mistake?" and start fixing the real problem.  That's what other adults do all the time.

Seriously, I am tired of being this guy's rock and getting nothing back.  All the emotional support is one-way around here, and then I still get blamed for his depression!  You got that, didn't you reader, that his telling himself that he's such a horrible husband that I am going to leave him.  The real reason for his shame and depression has nothing to do with me or our marriage.

I am fed up with the bullcrap.

I don't know what to do, but every single time he pulls this self-pity crap about how awful our relationship is, he pushes me one step closer to the door.  I don't want to be part of an  endless cycle of self-hatred and abuse.  If he won't step out of that cycle, then I will step out of that door.

It's really ironic.  I didn't have divorce on my mind at all.  I was looking forward to the weekend.  Now I'm thinking he could be on to something.  Maybe I am being Pollyanna again, when clearly he is not getting any better.  It just sucks. He could have it all if only he wasn't stuck in such a mentally unhealthy place.  Ugh.

ps After he came back downstairs, he opened his laptop and for all intents and purposes ceased to exist in this plane.  I was getting grief from my son over making him redo his homework, and my son started acting physically intimidating and threatening, just like his dad.  His dad didn't even notice.  He just kept on playing Sudoku online, or minesweeper, or solitaire, whatever it was last night.  Ugh.  I do all the parenting, ALONE, even when he's right there.  I am so not okay with this.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Progress Report

For my regular reader's info:

There are still posts that I keep hidden, meaning that there are still times when my husband reverts back to his former ways of thinking about me and about life.  This blog, including the posts that stay hidden, is really valuable to me in helping me evaluate the real pace of progress in healing our sucky home school marriage.  Things are improving, but a lot more slowly than I had initially hoped.  Still, there are real world reasons for this.

One: The first ministry that got us headed in the right direction, Joel and Kathy Davisson's Marriage Intensive, was both a blessing and a hindrance.  They opened up our minds (both mine and my husband's) to the truth that  the problems in our marriage were my husband's problems,  and that they were rightly called abuse.  They also tear down Biblically the false doctrine that a woman's submission is the key to solving all marriage problems, which I greatly appreciate. They team taught and were openly loving to each other, showing how a healthy marriage plays out in real life.  They hindered our path to healing by teaching that my husband could just change through will power and being accountable to their ministry financially and by on-going participation in their forums and group telephone counseling.  While that may indeed be all some people need to reform, my husband needs to both heal and reform.  Will power alone can not accomplish this.  I would say that while they are great diagnosticians, and are plainly right about some things that don't work, their solution is simplistic and ineffective in most abusive marriages, ours included.  The Davisson's add three pluses in the "improving" column for their diagnostics and example, but two minuses there as well for setting unrealistic expectations and offering an  ultimately unsatisfactory remediation plan.

Two:  Thankfully, the Davission's rightly credited Paul Hegstrom's Life Skills program for helping abusive spouses (and their co-dependent victims) understand the wrong thinking that leads to abuse and helps provide clear tools for breaking out of the stronghold of ingrained bad thinking.  We were lucky enough to have a 20 week Life Skills program offered within an hour of our home, and my husband completed the course.  When he  is actively in what I will now refer to as a "reptile brain state", returning to his Life Skills material is a marriage-saver.  It was at Life Skills that the concept of a cool down separation (or 'time out' to use a sports analogy) agreement called a Domestic Abuse Prevention Plan was proposed to us.  This DAPP has proven its worth repeatedly,  and is only useless when my husband doesn't stick to it.  Alas, that happens.  But score one plus in the "improving" column for Life Skills.

Three:  Cindy Kunsman and all of her very,  very important blog posts about PTSD add  at least two pluses in the "improving" column.  Thank you, Cindy!  You opened my eyes to the reality that my husband's issues had way more  to do with the abuse he himself had suffered as a child than I would have guessed.  Even your latest post about freezing was precious to me.  Do you know how many times I have seen my husband freeze up in  times of crisis?  Kudos to you.  You are a blessing.  Thanks to your research and the courage to post the results publicly, I was/am able to reset my expectations for my husband's recovery to a more reasonable level.  I now expect progress to be slow and take years.  I now accept  that he may be on anti-depressants the rest of his life and struggle emotionally for years to come.  As long as he continues in therapy and does not go back to blaming me for his unhappiness, I will stand by him.  Unfortunately, he still slips back into misogyny when his depression worsens.  Forays into "blame the wife" are of shorter duration than they were two years ago, but they still happen. For our marriage to last, he will have to abandon that course of thinking entirely.  Due to your input (and others as well) dear Ms. Kunsman, I rightly expect that to take years to totally retrain his brain, and like an alcoholic may continue to be tempted to drink in times of stress, my husband may continue to be tempted to turn his unhappiness on me.  As long as he admits and resists the temptation, I  am good to stay married.  I have a lot of compassion for him, but I am no one's scapegoat anymore.

Four: Fanda Eagles and both helped me to understand what my husband went through as a child, and what he still continues to wrestle with.  I honestly thought missionary kid was the pedigree for spiritual prowess!  I did not understand what really happens to a child's heart when he is summarily dumped at boarding school in the name of God, or the horrible pedagogy behind the way these boarding schools are run.  Like Cindy's work, these forums have helped me come to grips with the great depth  of my husband's problems (pain) and  more accurately assess  a timeline for healing that is in line with real possibility.  I also found much support from people on these forums, and for that I am very, very grateful.  Two pluses, one for education and the other for moral support.

Five:  Antidepressants and EMDR therapy each put two pluses in the "improving" column.  Without either of these my husband would not be healing.  Add another  plus for my being in therapy,  and another couple of pluses for those who comment on my blog.  Your support and encouragement to me are tremendously helpful.

Six: Unfortunately, my husband's family of origin's addiction to fundamentalist religion and all the bad decisions and poor parenting that resulted add an unknown but prolific number of minuses to the "improving" column.  Will the pluses adding up ultimately be enough to overcome the damage done?  I am thinking that the answer to that question is a qualified "yes".  "Yes" because I have the support and strength to put the length of time into recovery that such a deep wounding in my husband's heart will require.  "Yes" because he is willing to face the truth about himself and his family and his need for medication and therapy.  However, if he were to stop taking medications too early (may be he'll need them the rest of his life) or quit therapy too early, then the "yes" could revert to "no".  But for now, it looks like a "yes".

I thought a progress report was in order.  Much thanks to all who put a plus in the "improving" column.

Peace and good will, SS