Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

h1

And life goes on…

July 15, 2013

Life goes on…even after curve balls get thrown at us. I am looking at a loved one in jail and the loss of relationship with other loved ones because of it.

None of this is my choice. It is not my fault one is in jail. It wasn’t my influence that put him there. I have always been against everything he got into and did. It is not my fault that his ex seems to be choosing to keep me away from not only herself, but their children. It isn’t right for her to do this, but it is what it is.

I think what is hardest is that, if she really does keep us apart, what will the children think? Will she lie to them and tell them I am not calling? That I don’t care? That I am related to the one who did bad things? Never mind that he had a brother I am also related to who is a good man!

Sometimes, forgiveness and love are all we have to offer. It is all we can do when things in the world are out of our hands and we are powerless to change them.

I found a really good video on forgiveness. This man defines it well and makes it easy to understand.

 

h1

Regarding My Mother…

May 20, 2011

My sister is dead. My mother is going to die. So is my father. Those are important things for me to keep in mind. I liken my relationship (or lack thereof) with them to my relationship with my ex. So first, I want to talk a little bit about my divorce.

When I came into my first marriage, both of us were very broken…although I do not believe either of us had any idea really just how broken we were. I know I sure did not. I still did not have any clear memories of sexual abuse or ritual abuse, although I did “know” that something was wrong. I I always “felt” that I was somehow different from other folks…I just did not understand it all.

Two very broken people tried to make a marriage. It didn’t work very well. Over the years, we both suffered. We both did things that were unhealthy. I had to learn to make healthy boundaries. It took me a LONG time, but I did finally start making them right about the time my second child was a toddler.

I did it in baby steps so that it would not be noticed for the real boundary drawing had to begin in my heart. It had to begin inside before it could be expressed outwardly. So, I started to say “no” inside and then used little things to move it to the outside…little unnoticed things that slowly built up and gave me strength.

Several years later (about 9), it culminated in my outwardly saying “no” and drawing the biggest boundary I think I had ever set up to that point. I knew there could be some very serious ramifications, but I was “prepared”. Meaning that I was ready to take whatever came…no matter how ugly or painful. I said “no” and it got hairy, resulting in a final separation within the week and, ultimately, in a divorce.

There are three key things here.  One…I did everything I knew to do to make my marriage work. Two…when it all came down, I drew firm boundaries and stuck to them. I stood my ground. Third…my family is generational cult.

I have a lot of reasons to believe that my marriage was cult arranged. That kind of colors everything that happened. I was still “tied” to my parents, but I did not understand it. When we separated, they moved in. Very handy. Thankfully, my parents did not live with me for very long. They moved out of the area about an hour and a half away which gave me a good reason not to see them very often. Several months later, I and boys moved in with some other people and lived with three different families before getting into our own home.

When I separated…which was one of many miracles in my life…I had tried everything I knew to make the marriage work. However, while I drew closer and closer to G-d, he drew further and further from Him. We were going in opposite directions. I was working on my issues. He was…well…let’s just say he was definitely NOT working on his issues and leave it at that. Things were getting worse and worse as I got stronger and stronger until it finally came to a head and G-d told me to set that final boundary.

After we separated, I gave him every opportunity. I was willing to go to counseling. I was willing to wait a year while he dealt with his drug and alcohol issues. At the same time, I would not let him back into the house (not even in a separate bedroom) for that year. I withstood his attempts to “blackmail” me over the support he was voluntarily giving me and exposed his tactic to the courts. Every move he made, I countered. I stood my ground. Anything I gave to him I did of my own choice, not because I felt I had to. I fought for the sake of my children, and I no longer sacrificed myself to him out of a mistaken idea that it would somehow benefit them.

When it was all said and done and the decree came, I stood tall knowing that I had truly done all I could to save that marriage. My conscience was clear. I walked in my integrity. Even though I filed for separation and then divorce, he was the one who chose to walk away by refusing to do anything to save the marriage. He refused counseling. He refused to deal with his multiple addictions. He tried every manipulation tactic in the book, but G-d had brought me to a place of being able to recognize what was happening and to withstand them all.

Now, with my parents, it is similar. When they die, I will know that I tried everything I could, while maintaining healthy boundaries, to give them an opportunity to have some kind of relationship. I don’t need one with them although it would be nice. In fact, I really doubt that anything beyond the surface is even possible short of a HUGE miracle because my father still wants to control me, but he cannot.

I broke free of them about 9 years ago. It was a difficult journey, but just like in my marriage, G-d prepared me. He took me step by step by step, helping me to see the truth and to respond to that truth with boundary drawing. He also blessed me with a good non-cult husband (another miracle) who helped me. I cannot imagine trying to do it without him.

So, yes, I still contact my folks from time to time. I offer them an opportunity to get real on some level…or to at least talk about life in general. Yes, my father sends me BS and tries to give me grief and my mother ignores me after telling me that she really wants to talk to me. That is OK. I know not to take it personally. I am offering them a gift. If they refuse to take it, I will walk tall in my integrity. I will mourn for what could have been, but I will know I did my best and my conscience will remain clear.

I really think the biggest key is motivation. My motivation is one of love for them…in spite of them. It is a love I can only have because Yeshua enables me to have it. I have been forgiven for SO much. I know the darkness of my own heart (and I am sure it is even darker that I can see). How can I not forgive them and love them? They, too, are survivors. All of us are, in one way or another. Some are just more so than others.

Forgiveness and love do NOT mean letting them be ugly with me. It means standing in front of them and responding rather than reacting. I can do that now. I could not do that before. The programming is broken. The chains are gone. I have been set free.

h1

Is Shunning a Form of Emotional Abuse? by Dr. Margaret Jones

April 11, 2009

I am grateful and excited when someone recognizes that what happened to me in church was emotional abuse and doesn’t pass it off as a mere misunderstanding on my part. The blogger of A Survivor’s Thoughts on Life comprehends that although the specific form of abuse may be different, the pain and the group dynamics are not. It pleased me that sharing my story helped her put some of her own experiences into perspective. This is what I want to accomplish. I am not trying to harm those who harmed me. Not of My Making isn’t a kiss and tell book. It isn’t small minded gossip. Fr. Lance of All Saints Anglican calls it a personal documentary. It recounts some of the things that can go wrong in our church communities. My hope is that it will plant seeds of positive change that will strengthen our religious communities by encouraging congregations to establish fair and just procedures for resolving conflicts.

I also wish that people who believe I should just let it go and stop making a fuss over church infighting, would develop an understanding of emotional and relational abuse and work for change. Last March I commented on a post written by Sebastyne on her blog, My dear hard drive, who wrote, “I have always thought that calling someone names or pulling pranks on them or doing something active was not okay. However, I thought that shutting someone out, as in, not being someone’s friend was fine.” I wrote back, “We all get to choose our friends but no one should be treated as an outcast. When someone is shunned the group has gotten together and told everyone not to speak to her or invite her or include her. People who like her won’t be her friend because they fear the group will exclude them. The person being shunned hasn’t done anything wrong. She is usually just an easy target, vulnerable in some way. So yes shutting someone out is wrong. It is not loving. It says more about your prejudices than it says about the person who is being shunned.”

Most of the other women who responded didn’t see it as their responsibility to speak to or include someone they didn’t like. They said or implied it was the victim’s fault. One woman wrote “some schoolyard bullying was just enforcing social norms and values.” I wondered who made her the enforcer? Why did she get to judge another person’s behavior?

What are a person’s obligations towards others? What are you suppose to do if someone you don’t particularly care for invites you over or asks you to go out with them? Does God expect you to go? Are Christians expected to be friends with each other? If someone you don’t care for at church or elsewhere invites you out or in some other way seeks to connect with you, what are your obligations as a Christian?

Some people wanting to avoid hurting another person’s feelings handle it by saying things like, we should get together sometime but when the other person invites them they always have another obligation. They never tell the other person the truth. Once I had a client of limited intelligence who had been abandoned by her family. She desperately sought friendship from others. People appeared friendly and kind. Often they would make promises to visit and/or take her out. Then they would fail to keep those promises. My client said to me, “If they don’t want to be friends, why didn’t they just say so, then I wouldn’t waste my time and I could find someone else to be friends with.”

As I write this, I am recalling a scene from Not of My Making. Colleen, a church mate, appeared warm and sympathetic but never returned my phone calls. When I returned to Immanuel after an extended absence she said, “I’ve been concerned about how you were doing.”

I took in a deep breath, mustered my courage, then said, “If you were so concerned about me, why haven’t you called in the last two years?”

She looked confused. “Who, me?”

“Yes, you,” I replied.

“I know,” Colleen said as she cast her eyes downward.

“No one in this church cared enough about me to call,” I said as I left the church.

Later I would learn she complained to the church leadership that I wasn’t “civil”. The Bible, however, says nothing about being civil or having good manners. It doesn’t say anything about rights but rather about obligations to care for one another. St. Paul writes in Romans 12:9-10 “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.”

As a Christian I wonder if I should accept all offers of friendship even if my initial impression of that person is negative. Maybe I haven’t given them a chance. If they haven’t betrayed me or hurt me in any way, then my reluctance may have more to do with me than with them. If we were truly kind and compassionate towards others this question might never come up. I have had clients who I initially disliked that as I got to know them better I came to admire and understand them. I don’t expect everyone to be my friend. But I don’t want to be excluded either.

Let me end this post with Fr. Lance’s response to my email about friendship:

It seems to me that Jesus and Paul have stated clearly the obligations we have toward one another. Ignoring those we “dislike” because they are different or “smell bad” can’t be justified by these passages. Instead, as they are among the least, Jesus has said this is where he is present the most.

As to whom will be our friends, that is something quite different. We are to be kindly affectionate toward each other, and we are to regard others as better than ourselves. This describes an attitude and a behavioral approach we take when we walk out the front door. Friends are those we invite into our homes and this is OK so long as we understand our egos and self-wills do not cause us to think more highly of ourselves. In other words, we have no permission to become a snobby clique, looking down our noses at those who are not part of our inner circle.

Thank you for taking your time to read this post. I will be available on Monday, April 13th, to take your comments and questions.

Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches is available from www.pluckpress.com and Amazon.com.

May God’s peace be with you.

Margaret W. Jones, Ph.D.

h1

For "Unca Andy"

July 25, 2008

%d bloggers like this: