Sunday, December 4, 2016

Don't fall in love

I loved this. I lost this woman and now she is back.

"Don’t fall in love with a woman who reads, a woman who feels too much, a woman who writes...
Don’t fall in love with an educated, magical, delusional, crazy
Don’t fall in love with a woman who thinks, who knows what she knows and also knows how to fly; a woman sure of herself.
Don’t fall in love with a woman who laughs or cries making love, knows how to turn her spirit into flesh; let alone one that loves poetry (these are the most dangerous), or spends half an hour contemplating a painting and isn't able to live without music.
Don’t fall in love with a woman who is interested in politics and is rebellious and feel a huge horror from injustice. One who does not like to watch television at all. Or a woman who is beautiful no matter the features of her face or her body.
Don’t fall in love with a woman who is intense, entertaining, lucid and irreverent. Don’t wish to fall in love with a woman like that. Because when you fall in love with a woman like that, whether she stays with you or not, whether she loves you or not, from a woman like that, you never come back.”

-Martha Rivera-Garrido, Poet

A Strange Courage

"Abuse can make you feel straitjacketed." -Lundy Bancroft

I have all kinds of themes touching my thoughts this morning...anger, righteousness, injustice, slavery of all kinds, how abuse puts you in jail for crimes the jailer committed against you. How that makes no sense. How education has opened my eyes. How I read about global structures and how people are enslaved at the hands of the powers that be, and how I've experienced this very enslavement in abusive families-same structure, same dynamics, much smaller group. How this has become what I write about, at least for awhile. I don't know many others who are writing about their childhood, marital, or family traumas from a healing perspective. I know there are a lot of people trying to break free from narcissists, who write about narcissists and the pain they cause, because narcissists work by denying their victims so many aspects of humanity. This front-line information is important.
And it's a part of healing, because you have to know what you are dealing with. If you were dealing with anything else, you'd have support. But for complicated reasons, narcissism is a more socially acceptable disorder to have. Narcissists even deny research because they won't get diagnosed. So we have to rely on people who experience it. Abusers ARE different and play by completely different human rules than the rest of us. While I hope people never stop writing, speaking up, and finding places to embolden their grief around narcissistic abuse, I also want to dig deeper. It is my belief that often, a person finds a narcissist because they are subconsciously seeking a re-enactment of childhood trauma. They are seeking the security of jail, no matter how painful a security it is.
I want to write from the front lines of healing from this sordid, unimaginable type of abuse. It's hard to come to grips with people who completely disrespect and disregard ANYONE'S humanity, but much less understandable when that disregard is personal because of the relationship.
Forty-four years is how long it took me to realize. Forty-eight years to break out of jail. That's a long time and I could hold my life in my hands and pore over it with all regret and anguish and hurt and pain of nearly a half-century.
But in the words of a favorite artist, Louise Bourgeois:

The elements of the abuser's pretend-jail are always embedded in a system. There is always a jailer and an inmate. And this system supports patterns. One pattern is the blaming setup: "I use power to offend, harm, or dominate someone, then when they react or protest, I use their reaction to show how illogical and wrong they are, and abuse them more."
Another pattern is the "Kick-'em-while-they're-down" setup: "I deliberately undermine or cripple my target in some way, then I make sure to make demands of them that compromise them further."
It becomes funny after awhile, how predictable the abuser is. After every interaction, you can say, "Called it!"
It becomes sad, though, when you realize your own patterns in response to all this. It's Seligman's theory of learned helplessness all over again, only applied to abusive human relationships. Yet another cage...jail...straitjacket. It's easy to stay in the cage.
But as I have written, part of healing is separating yourself in character and orientation to abusers. It means realizing you are irreconcilably different in basic morals. There really is a good and bad, but not in the way you originally took it. You realize that while angry at the treatment you received, and while you made big mistakes, you don't hurt people for fun. You don't take in their complaints about how you are hurting them and use that as a reason to ignore them. You feel remorse, they don't. You seek the truth, they deliberately twist the truth and ignore it.
A strange courage overcame me when I realized that I was different. I realized the straitjacket was theirs, not mine. Any human being bound by a compulsion to control is in their own jail.
Then I felt incredibly free. I realized, they can't touch me. The abusers of this world can take my blood, my marrow. Here, millionaire, need an extra five grand? Great! Take all of my money. I am filled with gratitude that I am out of the cage and never have to go back. Poverty doesn't scare me as much as it does you. I never again have to talk to people who have used, exploited, cruelly judged, criticized, and abused me. I never have to step through dysfunctional goo or dread all these weird, unspoken rules and dynamics that play out in sick families. I never have to listen to them talking behind each others backs, calling each other names, and laughing about how they hurt someone. I never have to witness constant hypocrisy as part of my personal daily life. Anyone who scapegoats is doing wrong.
All monies I have to spend on being free are my freedom fund. I am so incredibly grateful. My health and my soul are intact. In fact, I have become stronger through my reverse learning...learning how not to treat someone else. I have regained health.
Watch me dance my life as a prayer of thanksgiving. I have learned that freedom from narcissists and abusers comes with a price, and great loss. Loss of dreams, money, relationships, security, time. Loss of self. Loss of touch with what is human. Loss of knowledge. Loss of love. Loss of will to live. Loss of faith in God. Loss of faith in humanity. Loss of friendships. Loss of way home.
But that price is so worth the deliverance.All of those you can get back, except for time. And time spent in soul-health and love as you travel on this planet is worth everything. Having sold your soul to the devil, you realize you CAN buy it back. It was never his to begin with.
Ah, freedom, sweet freedom. It's the only way to love.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

patriarchy is a myth-poem

Patriarchy is a myth

that was belted out in fatherly lines across bare buttocks
that sang through and sailed over my head in
wails I dared not publish
it was smeared red with anger across bare thigh backs
the movement of the myth was not like the other stories I heard
rather,  this myth rang violent staccato blows to my spine, my temples
through fatherly hands: BOOM BOOM BOOM
This myth stood over me as a child and stained my bones with fatherly screams
yes, my very skin, and muscles, and heart could not stop the blatant poison
from marking my bones
where were my hands? Not allowed to move
as the gun was pushed to my mother's temple
I will fatherly blow your brains out
you fucking bitch, the hero of the myth spits out
comply, or be fatherly punished
and I will suck the marrow out of those bones
what kind of curious myth has no end
what angered river of tale never ceases to flow
never even tries to father or ache or soften
can literally be beaten into a woman's body
isn't it a scientific marvel? How her very cells and bones
will ever be fathered by storied violence. "We broke her".
-noted with cold intellectual pride. Yet husbands are myths too
Husbanded to magical, mythological patriarchy, cut through with vengeance
Vengeance is mine, sayeth the fatherly
the bank account myth within a myth-that's a good one
told by no one fatherly who sees or has a care
this one is where patriarchy took a deep stab at equality
it was a joking ode and its fathered husband-fist; fat, full of hundred dollar bills
forcefully sanctioned the taking of food out of the mouths of its own children
my account of this became equal to or less than impoverished;
because I am a she who displeased and who cried and who dared
because where man is wealthy, and one-down is poor, that is fatherly equality
(Laugh here)
Some cry under their breath: asshole
Others cry: get HER
some silently applaud from the fatherly sidelines
others move it to their fatherly bedrooms
some say she's crazy, she's stupid, she's fatherly; making it up
others simply cry, for
patriarchy is a myth we don't speak.

After the Divide/Enmeshed

Once the necessary divide has clearly occurred, oppressors have a choice.
To back up some, the alternative to division is enmeshment. Enmeshment demands loyalty to a pre-set grouping of dysfunctional or immoral behaviors. Under the rules of enmeshment, peace becomes compliance, and love becomes subjugation. Strict adherence to the local and familial laws of enmeshment make change difficult, and make enmeshment something akin to jail. To escape this feeling of suffocation, the ones enmeshed cope with their subjugation by fiercely adhering to it. The oppressors do that by getting really good at hypocrisy. Meaning, they silence the loudness of their misdeeds by emphasizing the superficial. They focus on the ill manners, dress, or habits of others: the ones they seek to oppress. They criticize and relentlessly judge anyone who does not hold to their narrow code of enmeshment.
Conflict does arise among the enmeshed set but the outcome is to fiercely guard the fragile status quo rather than actually grow and become good human beings. Therefore, they lie about themselves, to themselves and everyone else. Enmeshment is a system of fear that breeds cowardice through narcissistic injury.
One need look no further than racism to understand this. White supremacy rests on assumptions of superiority, and a litany of irrational judgements placed on people for their skin color. Bigots don't just judge on skin color. They judge on last name, how you keep your house, where you live, what you drive, who you know, what church you go to, the color of your skin, how you talk, your teeth, your shoes, your mannerisms, your words, your thoughts, you get the idea.  A bigot is a bigot is a bigot and will scare up hatred as it pleases. They then do exactly what they criticize you for doing. They can be scary. Their contradictions and insistence on ignoring facts are just plain scary.
However, I have never been one to take off my rose-colored glasses with regards to oppressors. No matter how entrenched in their dysfunction or how harmful their behaviors, I believe in the power of the human spirit to change and to come to an understanding of one's self as inwardly good, as opposed to outwardly good, and let the good inside match the good outside. Congruence, as truth, is underrated.
This is where the divide comes in. Dividing the oppressed from the oppressors is completely necessary. But then, faced with the truth of their oppressive behavior, oppressors have a choice. They can continue to oppress, or they can enter into a conflict.
We have this human capacity to compartmentalize. Through our feelings and impulses, we then make decisions and act on those divisions. So seeing something as all good or all bad is the norm, rather than seeing something that has a critical mass of good, or a critical mass of bad. Most abusers amass a huge critical mass of bad, because every time they are given the chance to make things right, they predictably choose the wrong path, the one that harms a scapegoat the most.
Now, continuing to oppress is the easy way out. Oppressors have to protect their entitlement and enmeshment in a system that allows harm to a fellow human being. No change is required, and all oppressors have to do is to replay their same old boring track of judgements and manipulations. They might have to shift audiences, but who cares. They're taking care of Number One. No growth and no change is possible with people like this.
But I believe that a divide is not a forever proposition but part of a social healing process towards advancing humanity.  It is forever if abusers continue to abuse, and in our country, that is exactly what is happening. Finding middle ground is a fiction, for the middle ground is humanity. Abusers have to bring themselves down, while the oppressed have to bring themselves up. Human rights, and therefore, justice, is the meeting in the middle. This way of thinking obliterates the oppressor/oppressed system.
Entering into conflict has one purpose: to make the oppressor face the consequences of his or her actions. Only the most courageous have the sense to do that, and the wisdom to see the bigger picture of actually benefitting MORE from good will and harmony than from enmeshment and abuse. The lie is that being an abuser confers benefits. Sure, it might confer benefits of entitlement, but it confers no benefits of soul. So of COURSE we never hear stories of someone willingly making amends. Normally, in our litigious culture, people have to be court-ordered to do the right thing and make restitution. We can't even make restitution for broken treaties...our country hems and haws and finds even more heinous ways to civilize its barbarianism. And the very rich and entitled will twist it to demand restitution from those they've abused, which is even more heinous and immoral.
At the end of the conflict, the desired outcome is always an acknowledgement of equality...that one's humanity is not less than the other's.
But what if some courageous soul started a amends movement...ah. I can hope. Instead, we have to start forgiveness projects and the oppressed carry the suffering and also reap the benefits of spiritual growth.
The ball's always in your court, abusers. Now start to play the game with fairness.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Necessary Divide

Matthew 10:34-36

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. "

I understand the common Christian interpretation of this verse is that the divide is between believers and non-believers. My interpretation is the social justice version. I believe that Jesus was an excellent example of a warrior for social justice, and on further examination, this verse will lead us to a principle many fear but that ultimately leads to peace.
Abuse of any kind creates a divide. To relate abuse and social injustice, remember that social injustice has to do with distribution of advantages and therefore, resources. When a person or group of people seeks to gain advantage over another person or group of people through oppression, that is abusive and therefore, injustice occurs. In a family, the leverage is wrought over another through verbal, economic, physical, or sexual means and sets up a false dependency. The abuser sets up a situation, where, by beating into or starving out of or ignoring the needs of another, that other must enter into a struggle and fight to regain their humanity.
This is where Jesus's sword comes in. The sword severs oppressors from the oppressed. It is a sword of protection and truth. Regaining one's humanity and realizing that one's spirit was never meant to be treated with such contempt and abuse requires taking up an inner journey towards wholeness and strength. It means reclaiming one's Self and setting your heart squarely in the light of love.
This is extremely difficult in a family situation. Sometimes, the abuse is rejection and the decision is made for you. In some ways, that is easier. But to stay in a family where the sense of belonging and loyalty to dysfunction is often hard-set and immovable within yourself can be harmful to yourself and others. This is where the sword of love and spirit can free you.

Credit: Jonathan Hillson

One has to choose between the "good" face an abuser shows, and the "bad" actions. One is forced into a black and white, otherwise, you'd go crazy trying to figure out the sweeping contradictions in behavior, the abusers' complete cluelessness about themselves, the extreme entitlement to do as they please and twist the story.
Tenebrism is an artistic technique that was used mainly in religious paintings. Tenebrism uses stark contrasts between light and dark. The answer for survivors of abuse is to enter into a tenebrism of spirit, and violently reject that which is oppressive and abusive to others, and paint yourself with the light of love. Only then can the divide be really seen. Abusive and oppressive situations create muddy chaos and dark, dark confusion. It is important to contrast that by staying out of it, and then maintaining a fierce loyalty to love.
This is the necessary divide. Peace cannot occur until there is a very clear and dividing line between those who choose to cause pain and those who choose what is connected to humanity. It's very much a right/wrong proposition. It's wrong to oppress but abusers can't stop themselves. Make them consciously choose by contrasting their actions with love. It's equally as wrong to take on the abuser's message that you somehow deserve their abuse and their cruelty. Peace cannot occur while simultaneously causing someone pain, although abusers want you to believe that.
Love is divisive. Love really is intolerant of abuse. Love trusts that if you are held to the darkness of your own spirit, that you can work to correct that and come to what is beautiful and true. Love is a sword and demands that you are loyal to a humble walk through empathy and generosity of spirit. Love says to reject oppressors and those who support cruelty. They get to choose their love or their hate. But you can always choose love.
Once the divide is clear, then if you have invested something in a relationship with people who are still in darkness, then you can discern if you have something to work with. If they insist on blindly holding to their fears and entitlement to abuse, then send them compassion for their compulsion to harm and let them go. If, however, they have the capacity for contrition and remorse for their hurtful behaviors, then there is hope for peace and the sword of love did its work. The sword of love quickly shows who cares for their relationships and who doesn't, who has remorse and who doesn't, who feels appropriate guilt and who doesn't, and who is able to change and who isn't.
The verse about Jesus coming to bring a sword, to me, is about healing. Once a survivor of abuse is standing up for themselves, they are wielding the sword of love and demanding justice. This is absolutely what Jesus came to set things right and rescue victims (the oppressed) from abusers (oppressors) through a journey of spirit.
Use the sword of love. I am telling you, there are others who have been harmed too by the violence of darkness and who have struggled in the gray area for a long time. It is a noble and worthy struggle to heal, and to come into the hopeful light, and we are never alone.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

a sharing

This excellent essay by Bell Hooks has me thinking and crystallizing my feminism. I've come from the standpoint that feminism is really women asserting their right to be equal in rights, not in capacities, with men...a way of wriggling out of male role dominance and rising up from a one-down position.  But in my heart, I see feminism as a way of affirming the human qualities in all of us and embracing values like mutuality, compassion, cooperation, and tolerance. There's even research that has found that relationships based in feminism have the highest success rate.
While I have written strongly about abusers on here, I have never been a "man-hater". I love men, and have clung to men who were kind like an oasis in a desert. I've been hungry, even needy, for the compassion of men as a result of my experiences. Perhaps that's weakened me. I've remained open and curious about the experiences of men, despite my learning for most of my child and adult life that men I care about the most are the most cruel to me. I don't lump everyone together under "good" or "bad" labels, and there is no "always" for all men. But like anything, there are extremes at either end of colluding with patriarchy. I think narcissism is just a man placing himself in the "always dominates" category. I think I have emphasized that men and women are "always responsible for their own actions." But patriarchy creates scapegoats, who should be able to say something about being scapegoated.

I'm glad she quotes Terry Real, a favorite of mine, and dives into understanding how patriarchy hurts men too. I'm just going to post some quotes...

"Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence"

"Separatist ideology encourages women to ignore the negative impact of sexism on male personhood. It stresses polarization between the sexes. According to Joy Justice, separatists believe that there are “two basic perspectives” on the issue of naming the victims of sexism: “There is the perspective that men oppress women. And there is the perspective that people are people, and we are all hurt by rigid sex roles.”…Both perspectives accurately describe our predicament. Men do oppress women. People are hurt by rigid sexist role patterns, These two realities coexist. Male oppression of women cannot be excused by the recognition that there are ways men are hurt by rigid sexist roles. Feminist activists should acknowledge that hurt, and work to change it—it exists. It does not erase or lessen male responsibility for supporting and perpetuating their power under patriarchy to exploit and oppress women in a manner far more grievous than the serious psychological stress and emotional pain caused by male conformity to rigid sexist role patterns."

"Throughout this essay I stressed that feminist advocates collude in the pain of men wounded by patriarchy when they falsely represent men as always and only powerful, as always and only gaining privileges from their blind obedience to patriarchy. I emphasized that patriarchal ideology brainwashes men to believe that their domination of women is beneficial when it is not:

Often feminist activists affirm this logic when we should be constantly naming these acts as expressions of perverted power relations, general lack of control of one’s actions, emotional powerlessness, extreme irrationality, and in many cases, outright insanity. Passive male absorption of sexist ideology enables men to falsely interpret this disturbed behavior positively. As long as men are brainwashed to equate violent domination and abuse of women with privilege, they will have no understanding of the damage done to themselves or to others, and no motivation to change.
Patriarchy demands of men that they become and remain emotional cripples. Since it is a system that denies men full access to their freedom of will, it is difficult for any man of any class to rebel against patriarchy, to be disloyal to the patriarchal parent, be that parent female or male. "

quoting Terry Real:
"Psychological patriarchy is the dynamic between those qualities deemed “masculine” and “feminine” in which half of our human  traits are exalted while the other half is devalued. Both men and women participate in this tortured value system. Psychological patriarchy is a “dance of contempt,” a perverse form of connection that replaces true intimacy with complex, covert layers of dominance and submission, collusion and manipulation. It is the unacknowledged paradigm of relationships that has suffused Western civilization generation after generation, deforming both sexes, and destroying the passionate bond between them."

"By highlighting psychological patriarchy, we see that everyone is implicated and we are freed from the misperception that men are the enemy. To end patriarchy we must challenge both its psychological and its concrete manifestations in daily life. There are folks who are able to critique patriarchy but unable to act in an antipatriarchal manner.   To end male pain, to respond effectively to male crisis, we have to name the problem. We have to both acknowledge that the problem is patriarchy and work to end patriarchy. Terrence Real offers this valuable insight: “The reclamation of wholeness is a process even more fraught for men than it has been for women, more difficult and more profoundly threatening to the culture at large.” If men are to reclaim the essential goodness of male being, if they are to regain the space of openheartedness and emotional expressiveness that is the foundation of well-being, we must envision alternatives to patriarchal masculinity. We must all change."

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sunday Gratitude

Oh this boy makes my heart sing!
We had been given a huge box of different acrylic novelty yarns. If you're a knitter, you know that some novelty yarns can be unbelievably frustrating to work with. And I've largely stuck with natural fibers throughout my 18-year knitting career. So what to do, what to do? PLY them and make art yarns! Oh yeah. Super fun.
My boy and girl got in on the action and picked out three colors. Davis had such fun and all weekend I spent time at the spinning wheel, plying novelty yarns together into nice, thick art yarns. I gave Davis big, chunky homemade needles, he cast on ten stitches and made himself a scarf. And then he made the neighbor a scarf.
I must teach those neighbor children to knit next.
It's been a fun Sunday.