Saturday, January 14, 2012

Great Link about PTSD/EMDR and past abuse

Post Traumatic Stress: what it is (biology), what makes it worse and what helps it heal.

HUGE shout out of thanks to Cindy Kunsman for posting this!  Girlfriend, you are doing so much good in the world.   You teach us so much about our brains and why we experience so much pain from spiritual and emotional abuse.  I can't thank you enough for your web site.  You have blessed more people than you will ever know.  Stay strong sister, and know you are very dearly loved!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Still reeling

I am still reeling from the blows to my heart that came from seeing my sister.  Being with her in person was hard enough, but her bizarre response to my sending her flowers pushed me over the edge.  I had been perilously close to the edge of depression.  I am afraid that listening to her voice mail, one that should have said:

"Thanks for the flowers!  They are so beautiful and you are so thoughtful."

but instead went something like:

"Um, I just got some flowers from you, and...what exactly are you trying to say? (tinge of anger in voice, then the command) Call me back, we need to talk."

Then of course life keeps happening.  I've been encouraging my kids to go to therapy while they were still on our insurance, and they are both taking me up on that now.  This week in fact.

Guess what that includes?  They are going to be dealing with the fall-out from all those years I was trying to give them the perfect childhood according to Christian Book Distributors while dealing with an abusive marriage as well as trying to figure out what was up with my daughter and be both father and mother to my son.  

I was at times a screaming banshee.  I'm not proud of that, but I am proud that I was 1000 times better of a mom than I had modeled to me. I have forgiven myself for falling apart when I did, but that doesn't mean it was any less hard on my kids. Hence the encouragement to counseling by me.  

All that doesn't excuse me from responsibility for the times I lost it (including today, I'm afraid) when the pressure of my life was more than I could cope.  Today, though, was not the best day to be confronted with that old crap.  I knew it had to happen.  I encouraged it to happen.  I just shouldn't have to deal with my old abusive family of origin AND my personal failures as a mother at the same time.  That's just asking too much.

For the first time in years, I am experiencing the same symptoms of depression my husband has been going through.  If it isn't cleared up in two weeks, I'll mention it to my therapist and we'll see about where to go from there.  The logical side of my brain knows that this will pass and I will go on to living my dreams in happiness and contentment before long at all.

One thing is really different though.  It is becoming plain that I will never be loved and accepted in my family of origin.  I though that my oldest sister, with the help of God, was wanting to honestly do "whatever it takes" to heal the rifts.  Now I am doubtful that she was honest.  I don't think she understood the cost, that she would have to give up her bias in the story where she is the hero, mom is the victim and my twin and I are the villains.  She likes that story.  It makes her feel good about herself.

So, what do you think, ifriends?  Should I just break it off for good?  Wondering what other folks out there have done.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Does it ever end?

Probable Cause Affidavit in the Hanna Williams case

If you will take the time to read the above link about the tragic death of Hanna Williams, one thing becomes painfully clear.  Child abuse is never one on one.  The whole family system is complicit in the abuse of a scapegoated child.  Now where older sibling are concerned, it is apparent that the vilification of the scape goated child was not their original idea.  Clearly it all comes from the parents and is taken up as accepted truth by the other children the way all the family truths are transmitted.  In most families, the truths are benign and even beneficial: one must clean one's plate before getting dessert, or bedtime is always nine o'clock on a school night, or one should always brush your teeth after meals.  Only sick twisted families pass on ideas like: the outcast child is rebellious, disobedient, a liar.

As you read through this affidavit, notice how often those three words are used about Hanna BY HER SIBLINGS.  These same children watched her freeze to death, all the while encouraging themselves to denounce and taunt her as faking her symptoms of hypothermia because she was a bad person.

The mother uses word forms of "rebellious", "refuse" and "pretending" in her statement.  She admits to using her older children to carry out her orders to "check to see" what Hanna was doing- not to help Hanna or make sure she was safe but merely to spy and report to mom what was happening.

When detective first interviewed the other children, they reported that "They all stated that HGW
was "rebellious" and disrespectful  to their parents and that HGW didn't mind their mother."  The emphasis on the word ALL  is mine.  This is how I grew up.  My other sisters would have said the EXACT SAME WORDS ABOUT ME had anyone ever bothered to intervene in our family while I was growing up.

When the surviving adopted child could not remember his birthday, the mother interjected that he "chose" not to take part in a birthday celebration.  All the abuse against this boy and his sister is excused in the family as being the fault of the victim.  The victims either chose it, or they deserved it, or they were lying about it or faking the symptoms of abuse.

The 16 yr old sibling "continually used the word "rebellious" and indicated that both HGW and IJW were rebelling  and would  be disciplined for their behavior."

The 11 yr old male sibling "said that HGW and IJW were rebellious and they were punished ... Neither one
were allowed  to celebrate  their birthdays  because they didn't deserve it."

The 11 yr old female sibling " indicated  me that (Hanna) lived in the closet for disobeying" and admitted she "didn't like (Hanna) but loved her as her sister..."  She further stated that "(Hanna) was spanked because  she was "disobedient"  all of the time. She stated that (Hanna) had to be outside "all of the time." She said (Hanna( was outside because (Hanna) could not obey"

The 7 yr old female sibling " said she saw (Hanna) on the night of her death and "(Hanna) was pretending  she was cold and couldn't  walk."..When asked why (Hanna) had to eat outside (she) stated "my mom said we don't want to look it her grumpy  face."  

The children boldly say that they did not like their sister, morever they said it was because she was rebellious, could not obey, was a thief and a liar and faked the symptoms of abuse.

My older and younger sister would have said the same things about me if you had asked.  They would maintain these suspicions about me today.  I just sent my older sister flowers and she reacted with suspicion.  Since they came from me, in her mind there had to be something sinister about my intention.  In her mind, I am incapable of good will from a good heart.  It's been over thirty years since we were children.

I don't think it is possible my my family of origin to stop the abuse.  My sisters may have been coopted into the abuse against their will as children, but it still forms their narrative of our family.  It will not be undone.  Maybe it can't be undone.  Mom will never recant any of her behavior or her lies, so if it relies on her then there will be no change of narrative.

And even though my older sister says she wants to see change in our family dynamic, she automatically shows anger and suspicion towards me every time we are together.  She fights it to some extent, but it is so deeply ingrained in her mind, it is as much a part of her narrative of life as that the sun rises in the east.

To her mind, Shadowspring is:

It will never end, as far as I can see. Abusive family systems don't change. The best that you can do is get the hell out and stay the hell out of these damaging families.  They won't let you be anything except what they choose to label you.  Thirty years out, the answer is still NO, IT NEVER ENDS.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Years New Idea

I have a new idea for myself in 2012.  I am not going to church anymore.

I might change my mind, if God should open some door I don't know about, so I hesitate to call it a resolution. It's more of an idea.  A marvelous, life-affirming idea I should have had a long time ago.

The institution of the church has failed me far more often than it has ever supported me.  No, I have been the one supporting it: with my time, talents, affection and money.  I have taught Sunday school, youth groups, Bible studies and openly participated in almost every opportunity for feedback that there is.  I have attended prayer meetings, been painfully transparent in times of public confession, and sang in worship with unbridled enthusiasm.  My intelligence, compassion, sincerity of faith, commitment to the gospel and unwavering good will have been evident to all.

What I have received in return for my investment is: jealousy, resentment, isolation, and open disrespect.  The last straw was my most recent church "home", who had people in leadership engaging in conversations (without me present) about my facebook posts.  These conversations led to my page being watched by the pastor.  On October 31st, he took issue with one of my posts because he felt it was a) inaccurate and b) could be construed to cast a negative light on the church.

The post I wrote was to explain the principle of the fallacy of guilt by association.  I wrote of how one person who attended our church was found guilty of a crime, which is true, but that did not make us a congregation of criminals.  The part that was inaccurate:  this person (a perfectly decent human being, by the way) had done volunteer work for the church while living in one of our buildings for a season as he was homeless otherwise. I put this in my facebook post as "hired and harbored" as I do love alliteration.

The pastor took offense at the word hired, and was extremely offended that I would post that a member of our congregation had been convicted of a crime. Now this person had just stood up in front of the church and told his whole story a few weeks earlier, so its not a big secret on his part.  Also, this person is now involved in a ministry to the homeless himself, where he regularly shares his story of heartache and restoration as a means to inspire others to follow Jesus and work for a better future with hopeful hearts.

Pastor said he was offended for that person's sake, as if I were openly gossiping about someone who had requested anonymity.  Well, that was not accurate, but I had no problem deleting the post.  My brother was offended, and I am smart enough to find a dozen other illustrations to make a point.  Also, he took issue with the word "hired" as we never actually paid the person for their services.  All the work they did was on a volunteer basis.  So that was also inaccurate on my part, and again I had no problem deleting the post in its entirety.

The problem is this:  the pastor called me and began berating me without allowing me to speak in return.  He asked no questions of me, and he refused all my attempts to speak.  He just kept talking over me.  I was driving down the road, in the dark and the rain, with my family in the car, when I took his call.  My husband and son are witnesses to everything, as all calls to my cell phone while I am in the car automatically come over bluetooth.

I tried to tell him he was on speakerphone, but he refused to allow me to speak.  I tried to reassure him that I would happily discuss this with him when I was safely pulled over, but he refused to allow me to speak.  I tried to tell him that at present I could do nothing about the post, but that  I would delete it at my first opportunity.  He did not allow me to speak.  This went on for probably 3-5 minutes, with me trying to speak when he would stop to catch his breath, only to have him talk right over me anyway.  He kept saying, "You need to listen to me!" every time I would attempt to speak.

My customer service training kicked in, and I was actually very calm.  My husband on the other hand, was pretty offended.  "He has no right to tell you what to put on your facebook!  You have freedom of speech!  this is America!" or something  very similar came out of his mouth.  I would later be called a liar by my pastor (his last words to me in fact) because I denied that these words were mine.

This "man of God" just called me to rant, chew me out, rake me over the coals, use whatever phrase you want. There was absolutely no respect towards me as a human being at all.  I can not imagine being spoken to like this by any professional person, much less a person who makes a living representing the Lord Jesus Christ.

The ranting continued, until I had to hang up on him.  I repeated (unfortunately had to talk over him as he would not allow me to speak) that I needed to go because it was not safe to continue the call, but I would call him back and speak to him as soon as I safely could. Then I hung up.  A very few seconds later, my husbands cell phone rang.  The same thing happened: pastor ranting, husband not allowed to speak, eventually my husband was compelled to hang up because it was not a conversation but a rant.

It was all so completely unnecessary.  He could have kindly asked me to delete the post, and I would have done so with no hesitation.  I did delete the post, not because it was poorly written or wrong in any way other than the word "hired".  I deleted it because I live a life of honor to the Lord Jesus Christ.  "As far as lieth in you, live in peace with all men...If your brother is offended, do whatever it takes to make sure your brother."  I live a life of obedience as far as I can. In fact, I apparently take the words of Christ far more seriously than my pastor.

I did call him back, after I was pulled over.  He had calmed down some and I was able to speak a bit.  However in no time he began to agitate himself again, and started to rebuke for my saying, "I have freedom of speech, and I can write what I want."  Now,*I* never said that.  I live by the law of liberty in Christ Jesus, and I know that I can not write whatever I want if it causes harm or offense to a brother.  I never said those words, and so I told him, "I never said that.  All I said was that I couldn't talk right then and...."

That's as far as I got before my pastor spoke over me again, in an exasperated and loud voice, saying, "Oh YOU are SUCH a LIAR!"

I had enough.  I replied, "Now you have crossed a line." and I hung up.

Do you think this man of God, who stands in front of a congregation every week representing the Lord Jesus Christ has  called to apologize?  No, he has not.  This man, who gets paid 75k a year to encourage the saints, willfully disrespects me and feels no shame.  He sees no reason to obey the word of God himself, and I can think of many scriptures that apply here:

Galatians 6:1 1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

James 1:19 19Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

I Timothy 5:1-2a 1Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren;  2The elder women as mothers;

Proverbs 18:13 13He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

Matthew 5: 23Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;   24Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

I Corinthians 13: 5Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Proverbs 10: 17He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth. 18He that hideth hatred with lying lips, and he that uttereth a slander, is a fool. 19In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.

I wish this was an isolated incident, but my experience abounds with arrogant pastors who fleece the flock for a living without caring for the hearts they pastor.  Why should I attend church, when I will not be respected as a mother in the faith or even as a fellow disciple?  I should not have to prove myself again to anyone, and why would I bother when I know that it is a losing proposition anyway?  I am a woman.  I will not be respected.   I will be milked for my tithe and for any  other work that can be had from me, but my spiritual insight, scriptural knowledge and devotion to God will be dismissed out of hand.  I will not be treated with respect.

And so I am done with the church.  Since I was nineteen years old I have built my life around the institution of the church.  This is an entirely new idea for me: how to live as a disciple without the institution.  It is a great idea, and I am not alone in coming to this conclusion.  The institution of Christianity is not making the world a better place and it is not leading people to a love relationship with Jesus.  It is a hindrance and a stumbling block.  The sooner it dies, the better off the real body of Christ will be.

May Jesus Christ live big in you and I today.