Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Clarissa Speaks

From Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
-domestic violence is a social justice issue-

"Regarding Our Responsibility to the World Soul
...."I work in the dregs of what is left when the unarmed and the innocent have been preyed upon; I work with the veterans who have no legs and no arms and are only torsos with heads ... who have seen such horror that your nervous system thuds nearly to a stop as you listen and your heart threatens to give out. I work with the persons who are victims of "gun" violence, whose children were just walking along from school or with friends, and all of a sudden, a man/boychild raised a piece of metal and made but a one inch long squeeze with their trigger finger, and a bullet penetrated and blew apart the precious thin envelope of the lung or the heart or an artery ... and the beloved soul was gone. Gone. Instantly gone.
"Have you ever seen the dance of death? It is a hopping dance, a bending over low, chest-to-knees dance, a jumping into the air dance while screaming ... it is the dance of death that mothers and fathers and loved ones do when they receive word that their baby has died, or their loved one's been lost at war, or buried in a quake, or gunned down, or been killed in a terrorist act wherein the explosion left no remains but perhaps the engagement ring, or the name badge, or a piece of burnt rubber sole, and no more. I could go on. And on.
"And so could you and your soul.
"We are not removed, and the soul knows, from the dirt upward, what social justice principles are comprised of truly ... and the first and foremost Catholic social justice principle is to speak for the soul in all things ...
"to speak truth to power; to speak for those run over by the pretending-to-be-beneficent-because-I-say-so; to pierce and expose the monstrous intentions of the unspeakably coddled and protected; to shine high noon on the deadly unconscious people who have no insight into the "unintended consequences" of their reckless acts ...
"to speak truth to those who are out of touch with the reality of the suffering; to speak up to those who resist being accountable; to reveal those who refuse to be transparent for they've a pile of unburied corpses behind their velvet curtains ...
"to continue to insist on confidence with the poor and the downtrodden, the hurt and the maimed ... Mercy is not just "church" people's work, it is the work of anyone who has a soul.
"And merciful care is the work by which a nation is judged as to whether it has a soul ... or whether it has lost its soul somewhere along the way and can no longer find it without help ... help from the people ... the people who speak, the people who will not cease speaking up ... and speaking out ... and speaking for.
"Let us continue then and let it be said now, gently, in our own ways, and yet relentlessly in our own ways ... let it be said, and let us not back away ... .

*How To Silence A Woman: Retrieving Her Voice...*
When someone says, "We're saying the same thing."
Say, "We are not saying the same thing."
When someone says, "Don't question, just have faith."
Say, "I am questioning, vato, and
I have supreme faith in what I think."
When someone says, "Don't defy my authority."
Say, "There is a higher authority that I follow."
When someone says, "Your ideas are seductive."
Say, "No, my ideas are not seductive,
they are substantial."
When someone says, "Your ideas are dangerous."
Say, "Yes, my ideas are dangerous, and why are you so afraid hombre o mujer? "
When it is said, "It's just not done."
Say, "It will be done."
When it is said, "It is immature."
Say, "All life begins small and
must be allowed to grow."
When it is said, "It's not thought out."
Say, "It is well thought out."
When they say, "You're over-reacting."
Say, "You're under-reacting, vato."
When they say, "You're being emotional."
Say, "Of course I have well placed emotions, and by the way, what happened to yours?"
When they say, "You're not making any sense."
Say, "I don't make sense, I AM the sense."
When they say, "I can't understand you when you're crying."
Say, "Make no mistake, I can weep and be fierce at the same time."
When they say, "I cant understand you when you're being so angry."
Say. "You couldn't hear me when I was being nice, or sweet or silent, either."
When someone says, "You're missing the point."
Say, "I'm not missing the point, but you seem to be missing MY point -- What are you so afraid of?"
When someone says, "You are breaking the rules."
Say, "Yes, I am breaking the rules."
When someone says, "That's not practical."
Say, "It's practically a done deal, thank you very much."
When it is said, "No one will do it, believe you, or follow it."
Say, "I will do it, I will believe in it, and in time, the world may well follow it."
When it is said, "No one wants to listen to that."
Say, "I know you have a hard time listening to that."
When it is said, "It's a closed system, you cant change it."
Say, "I'm going to knock twice and if there is no answer, then I am going to blow the doors off that system and it will change."
When it is said, "They'll ignore you."
Say, "They won't ignore me and the hundreds of thousands who stand with me."
When they say, "It's already been done."
Say, "It's not been done well enough."
When they say, "It's not yet time."
Say, "It's way past time."
When they say, "It's not the right day, right month, right year."
Tell them, "The right year was last year,
and the right month was last month,
and the right day was yesterday,
and you're running behind schedule, vato,
and what in the name of God
and all that is holy
are you going to do about it?"
When they say, "Who do you think you are?" --
tell them ...
tell them who you are,
and don't hold back.
When they say, "I put up with it,
you'll have to put up with it too."
Say, "No, no, no, no."
When they say, "I've suffered a long time
and you'll have to suffer too."
Say, "No, no, no, no."
When they say, "You're an incorrigible, defiant, hard to get along with, unreasonable woman ... "
Say, "Yes, yes, yes, yes ...
and I have worse news for you yet --
we are teaching our daughters,
and our mothers,
and our sisters ...
we are teaching our sons,
and our fathers,
and our brothers,
to be

Monday, October 24, 2016

Defining Abuse

"We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone."
-the U.S. Department of Justice

First of all, one must have a good grasp of what abuse is. It is easy to not do any thinking around abuse. It is black-and-white and easy to grasp that a woman who is consistently beaten and hit is being abused. Only men who lack basic intelligence will really believe it is ok to do that in front of people, so our culture's narrative about the abusive man as "random animal" is only a tiny snippet of what abuse is. Even then, people, as bystanders, have varying reactions to this animalized version of a man, not all of them supportive of the abused.
Abuse goes so much deeper than that. To challenge our notions of abuse means we really need to dig deeper. Yes, a man who batters is bad, very bad. But there is a spirit that underlies a batterer's thinking. There is, in him, an extreme anger and entitlement to take what he believes is his. There is a war he creates in his head that he enacts on victims, a war he most likely does not understand and is not willing to stop.
In this war of his own creation, he takes away another's rights. He takes away their rights to have dignity, to have influence, to have personal freedom, and to have agency.
It is completely possible, and more widespread, to take away those rights without even lifting a finger. There are many, many ways to be a civilized barbarian. You need look no further than our own political arena. Those same kinds of barbarianism under the guise of civility are worked out in racism, sexism, and abusive marriages. Another's rights are taken away through economic, psychological, sexual, and physical circumstances. Abuse is power-over another. Winning for these civilized barbarians is taking power over another human being's life, about squashing their wishes and desires for their life, including withholding relationship and refusing to take responsibility.
The underlying spirit of abuse is control. It's a compulsion and entitlement to control another person's rights by taking them away. The entitled Lord Abuser giveth and taketh away.
I ask you, dear reader, to consider all the permutations of setting up a system of control. Being hit and/or raped are the rarest and at the top of an imagined triangle holding such permutations. But underneath, there are many, many forms of abuse that are more subtle and just as damaging, if not more, than more physical types of abuse.
Those more subtle, more sugar-coated and "civilized" forms of abuse, form the bedrock for the really heinous acts of offense toward another human being.
Financial abuse is one. Controlling finances in any way, during a marriage and post-divorce, is financial abuse. Shaming a woman out of building credit. Selfishly hoarding resources. Everything on this list: http://nnedv.org/resources/ejresources/about-financial-abuse.html
Child support as a form of abuse I will speak of in its own blog post. Many have suggested that the inability to consider your child's life as a whole and provide for their needs everywhere they are is child abuse. Refusing to work or working less to get out of child support is the same as deliberately making life hard for your kids.
Emotional abuse is a big one. Here are some resources for reading more:
On Dr. Irene's list of controlling behaviors, she tells the man to walk and not run to get help. Now, she is a psychologist and perhaps she has had the experience of men getting help but it is most often the case that an abuser will not get help. In fact, inability to receive input about behavior and inability to change harmful behavior is a hallmark of an abuser.
The second link is from a book which is vital to healing from domestic abuse, "Why Does He Do That?" by Lundy Bancroft. Lundy worked for men for 15 years in groups and therapy designed to stop their abusing. He holds out much less hope for these men, especially "Mr. Right" and the "Demand Man" because those two types are the most entitled and cannot get past being challenged on their attitudes. They cannot grow as human beings and consider the cost of their behavior to others.
The Girl God has a book that is wonderful for personal growth and has resources for dealing with abuse in the back:http://thegirlgod.com/reprogramming.php
I will also say, tread carefully if you are on the outside making judgements. In a power-over situation, where one has unfairly and consistently usurped another's rights, when said targets starts demanding their rights back, it can look like they are the abuser. Actions put out to gain equality in the relationship are not abusive. Blacks who sat in the white sections of the buses were not being abusive, although there are some that framed it that way. Standing up for yourself and calling out abuse is not abusive. In fact, it is one of the kindest things you can do because it gives the other person the opportunity to truly pause and reflect on their behavior and do better. Their choice to stop their abusive attitudes and behavior then is up to them and becomes very much a conscious choice once the consequences of their behavior are brought to light.
And that's a sticky subject. Legally, socially, and personally, a person who is engaged in subtle abuse has the right to abuse and often goes on their way with no consequences.
Which is why I'm speaking up and writing about this. Not that many people read this blog, but if I have given anyone pause to think, then that is a good thing. We all need to raise consciousness and raise the bar on this one. We need to stop taking the easy way out and start really thinking through these issues. We need to stop making it easy for the truly dangerous abusers by cutting down the constant low-level bullies. Bystanders have an incredible effect.
The Duluth Model wheels are excellent and include post-divorce control: http://www.theduluthmodel.org/training/wheels.html

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

I can't believe I haven't written about this month and I intend to correct that. Over the next few days, I will be writing about domestic abuse and using little-known pockets of domestic abuse to demonstrate how barbaric our system is and how subtle abuse can be.
My own grandmother, up until she died, was afraid of my grandfather. She would recount how he'd throw iron skillets her way-aimed at her head- if she displeased him. I learned the ways of men from the responses of women. If you left, it was bad. If you stayed, it was bad. I wish I could tell my grandmother now I've done better, and in some ways I have. But I've had trouble navigating this culture that says, "speak up, woman. Find your voice." and then when you DO find your voice, another way to stifle and negate your voice is waiting there for you. So, it's learn to tiptoe around men, and systemic violence, and it's "speak up, but if you speak we will punish you." And oh, my dear grandmother, your life was not in vain, for I have learned to use my voice and to speak up against abuses. I have grieved heavily in therapy. But I have been unfairly punished for taking a stance, for standing up for myself and against irrationality...against control and coercion, so I still have learning to do.
So, for the next few days, I will be posting on this topic. It's time we all do better.

Friday, October 14, 2016

PTSD and Narcissists

This summer, I had a class where we learned an interesting take on MacBeth. The producer of last year's movie version of MacBeth approached the character of MacBeth as one who had PTSD. MacBeth had served in wars, and his seemingly murderous character, who develops a lack of remorse for his deeds and keeps repeating them, could have been merely following his training as a soldier.
Soldiers who come back from war and struggle with PTSD also struggle with the fact that when they were in the military, they had a constant brotherhood that worked together against an enemy. They had the thrill of the fight and miss that feeling. Some have categorized that feeling as addictive. The strength of camaraderie and fighting together against an enemy will even cause soldiers to say, "that is the time in my life I felt most alive."
They sacrifice their natural human social structure to join a warrior's social structure. Coming back to "civilian" society is and can be very difficult, especially with all the complexities of PTSD.
In a recent article I read about a narcissist during divorce, his ex-wife asked him to just stop: the lies, the abuses, the attacks in court.
The narcissist said, "I can't stop."
The narcissist has found a way to wage emotional, financial, and intellectual war. Narcissists often have a "brotherhood", whether in friends, family, or work. They convince their "brotherhood" of an enemy, one they've created out of a need to fight. They use their black-and-white thinking to make that enemy all bad, while they are all good. They then use this information to justify their bad behavior towards someone who was never really an enemy.
When violence does not result in murder, it is still violence. Any time another's choice is taken away, any time their humanity is denied, any time a dominance structure of oppression is set up and  in it, the creation of inequality, there is violence. Violence can be an exploitation of someone, especially someone of lesser means. Violence can be adapted to this culture, especially in the black-and-white milieu of court. Look how our "justice" system has been used to enact blatant racism. The violence is not straightforward, but manipulative and underhanded and somehow socially acceptable.
Abuse of any kind is NOT acceptable. We don't always understand this kind of violence. We don't see that using weapons of entitlement, ALL the weapons of entitlement,  is hurtful too. We do not readily accept stories of people who abuse covertly.
Yet it is there. And no matter how many times a sufferer cries out, it falls on deaf ears. To a warrior, the sounds of crying and pain coming from someone deemed an enemy is SWEET. It is SATISFYING to see the contrived enemy suffer. It means he is a good warrior.
It doesn't matter that his war is a lie, or that he is hurting innocent people. He doesn't care how his battles affect women and children. Those women could be his mother and sister, those children his, but the war is larger than he is, the battlefield one of skewed logic and imagined threats. He lives in a fearful place, since he cannot overcome his inner environment through culture or vocation, he must do it through contrivances of war.
He cannot overcome his impulses, training, or his limbic drives, and this automatically makes him abusive.
Like soldiers with PTSD, the narcissist only feels alive when in this war.
And those he targets? Somehow their own limbic drives led them there....and this is for another post.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016


 "To all who mourn in the arms of patriarchy,
I will give a crown of beauty for ashes
a joyous blessing instead of mourning
festive praise instead of despair
they will be like great woman-oaks
bearing the glory of the Mother"
Isaiah 61:3, completely shined up to reflect the Divine Feminine

I read in another article how isolation does not heal emotional dysregulation, but increases it.
There are different types of isolation, and healing from abuse and trauma is very much an inner movement. For me, I have, over the years, numbed myself so completely and learned how to not feel that when my awakening came it was painful, and pain was the conduit for waking up. I'd spent my whole life trying to avoid seeing or knowing, yet could not control the fact that the pain still seeped out. The awakening  created great, disruptive waves as I wrestled with waking up and owning up.
The movement was a downward spiral, a necessary downward spiral.  Along this way of healing I've hit several bottoms, as I've realized what I do not know, as I've faced the hard reality of a situation, as I've searched and searched for truth.
Anger and intense grief, self-righteousness, education, mobilization, giving up, busyness...these are all feelings and activities the parts of me have carried on the spiral down. The spiral down involves stripping away what you knew before, and in still dealing with any enemy-makers, I've stripped away some of my humanity too. I've had to in order to survive and take away the oppressor's power. I've let go of some of my basic human rights. I've lived the story of being unwanted.
This in and of itself is isolating. In my situation, I'm not being hit, I've simply got someone presenting themselves as flawless compared to sick, pathetic, rebellious me. The violence is more covert but it is violence nonetheless.
It makes me sick to my stomach, all the minor Trumps. Violence is  financial bullying, contempt,  words, attitudes, intentions to make me less than a person. This abuse is so subtle it places me squarely in some ass-crack of society, isolated and snugly tucked away where no one would believe me, which is what those makers of violence want.
It took me some time to realize I am in a chronic bullying situation. I worry I become a burden to my community. I am embarrassed that I chose so wrongly.

I know I am not the only one.
At the bottom of the spiral, where one is completely stripped of one's humanity, where all your well-worn parts that have so diligently protected you are awake and active, where you find your Self in the context of nothing, where you are completely alone and isolated...there is where you find the Divine. There is where you are stripped down, bared, nothing. Then you lean, and find you are held.
I cried when reading an article about the "still, small voice". The author called the voice "her". I had never thought of the "still, small voice" as a woman's, much less my own, but in being stripped away, I realized that voice is valid too, and all those messages about being an unwanted girl came flooding back. Of course my still, small voice is a SHE and has every right to be. God is found in all things feminine, too.
I could not find that voice without setting myself apart. I get lost in the noise of being forced from situations that have no promise of health anyway, the violence of rejection: a shining, alluring dart, a familiar.
The spiral out begins. That's where I am, although I touch the bottom more frequently than I would like sometimes, and just by virtue of my situation I am learning how to spiral upward. I have to. Because in the spiral upward, I find spirit: grace, joy, gratitude, and the practice of making something incredibly beautiful of this sordid mess. I find the health of transformation, with God by my side. I reject any stories of me as demon or enemy, for I am a warrior for truth. I shake off the ugliness of enemy-makers, I clothe myself in beauty. I become Spirit.
This is the healing. The plans of the divine are so much more than we imagine, they are in the beauty among ashes . Isolation is not just about being separated from the other. I have had so many others on my spiral path who have reached out their hands to lift me up, so I am never far from a generous kindred or a shoulder to cry on.  It is about being separated from God, and from Her still, small voice.
I spiral out, singing loudly, joyously proclaiming Her arrival.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Path to Peace

"What is needed is a realization that power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic." -Martin Luther King, Jr.

"For we must come to see that peace is not merely the absence of some negative force, it is the presence of a positive force. True peace is not merely the absence of tension, but it is the presence of justice and brotherhood. " -Martin Luther King, Jr.

I think this says it all for our world, and wish it would trickle down into families and relationships.
Often "peace" is misconstrued as being "compliance." Peace is something won after a conflict...and in order to have a conflict, one party must not put themselves above another, but must acknowledge the humanity and equality and validity of the other. They must not hide behind choosing to believe in their own victimhood for not getting their way. See: racism. They must embrace their part, wholeheartedly.
We live in a world, in a country, that every day seeks to invalidate someone or a group...to put them in their place...to scapegoat them in every way. People who contribute to these instances are a dime a dozen.
It's easy to fabricate an enemy. It's a soothing anesthetic, a reassurance that the existence of your contrived evil means you are above reproach. It's a safe place to hide, a nice distraction from growing yourself. Or seeing this world outside that needs more love. It's so easy to be entitled. It's nice and cushy.
A negative peace is a shallow, superficial peace. It is like putting up pretty wallpaper over moldy walls. It reflects no inner work, no brotherhood, no equality, and certainly no justice. It serves the oppressor, since it does not require any personal responsibility from them or acknowledgement of harm. And certainly no acknowledgement that their target's viewpoint is valid.
It's the easy way out, a total cop-out.
Positive peace is hard-won after a truthful, direct conflict. Positive peace involves the oppressor being pressured to acknowledge the humanity of the one(s) they scapegoat and rejecting any previous aversion to conflict. It is the harder way, but it is the loving way, and it is the more truthful way.
Oppressors rarely realize the benefits of raising someone up. They don't realize that increasing integrity has to do with personal responsibility and good will towards others. It means no longer having the need to make an enemy out of someone to avoid yourself. It means having grown, secure, and confident enough to take personal responsibility for your actions, which involves receiving input from others about the negative impact you've had. This increases your sense of self-worth and connection to others. Entering into a conflict where the goal is positive peace gives the oppressed the chance to be heard, and the oppressor the chance to do good in the world by empowering others. The benefits of empowering others are well-documented.
Justice and brotherhood...it all starts with our mindsets around self, family, and friends. If we can model how to work out our personal conflicts through repair and positive peace, we can certainly change the world.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Carving crochet hooks

Oh my gosh, I nearly forgot....I'm an ARTIST. Ok, so I take a lot of classes on social justice. Spalding University is the first designated compassionate university. They offer classes on Jim Crow and the Drug War. I swear my education is shaping me to be a feminist, compassionate, tolerant, social-justice-activist, educated, writing woman. I mean, come on, neoliberalism is patriarchy. Same thing,
But anyway, I've been carving crochet hooks. I do make my own things. I'm refurbishing two treadle sewing machines. I'm planning art and writing projects. I'm cooking and loving up my kids. This is the secret life of a social justice warrior...the work of my hands is my meditation, my art, my strength, and my rebellion....the love I muster up is my life testimony.

Perhaps beauty is anarchy.