Sunday, October 30, 2016


On a Wednesday, about thirty people, mostly women, are seen filing into a church. It is the Church of Classist Entitlement and Agents of Human Suffering. On the outside signage, and on paper, they are "The Church of Love and Peace."
Lurella is on time, but her heart is late and out of place.
The  people are there for their weekly barbarian support group. The group's stated intention is to help citizens deal with the fallout from either a relationship with a barbarian, or the prevailing social structure that upholds barbarianism. Barbarianism is an anti-human philosophy that venerates the Ever Powerful Coin and contemptuously rejects common human ideals. Humanity as a concept was severely diminished a long time ago, and after many struggles, humans were force-fed enough barbaristic pablum to make it worth their while to choke it down without complaint. In fact, they learned to like it to such an extent that they lost their will to be human in any way. Barbarians are not barbarians because they blindly seek power, they tell themselves. They are barbarians because they want to take care of us.  It is, after all, civilized to be barbarian.
Barbarians are an odd race, a cruelly self-centered lot, a snake's den, bearing no conscience, and Lurella knows this.
She'd had a dream a few nights back, where a 'civilized' lover drew symbols on his condom, a condom that would not inflate despite his best efforts. He had acted as if he were the air she breathed, as if she should be grateful to bear witness to his top-shelf decorated limp-dick. She'd had dreams of bad breath, that morning stench after a war. She'd had dreams that were in distant memory, not even her memories. She'd been told this was nothing, just epigenetic memory. The doctor had told her so. But it was still her and she was not barbarian like them.
In one such distant-memory dream, she was being held...idly an angel? There was once a time to be human, and she feels it.
The people settle in and begin.
Lurella walks in, wearing the costume of the boring and pristine. When the first woman starts to speak, Lurella inwardly rolls her eyes and tunes out. This is ridiculous. They are just complaining and not DOING anything. Children are going hungry. Slaves are everywhere. You are slaves, slaves to yourselves. Violence has eroded your mercy for yourselves.
From her inner perch she watches. Their heads are moving, their speech is forming, but she hears nothing. She just lets their sorry states fill the room. She does not let the sadness touch her, for it would mean dealing with her own sadness, that unwelcome child, the humanity that was beaten and civilized out of her long ago. Besides, you can't make changes in anything with sadness. She'd never personally witnessed sadness bring on a fit of conscience in anyone. Certainly not in a barbarian.
You can only make changes with anger, she muses, and these people...these puppets sitting here endlessly wailing about barbarianism, are not letting themselves get angry enough.
She thinks of all the times she'd seen the privileged sword be used to beat down a person, a real person, and the barbarian, smiling in cold clarity, saying all too often, "He should not have spoken." or, "she should not be here."
She thinks of the children in her building who wanted food...and the rich overseer whose leather shoes were polished and whose overblown bank accounts were clean and tidy and beautifully arranged. She saw him walk by their hungry faces, unmoved, untouched. She had witnessed pleasure on his face....he actually enjoyed their suffering.
She thinks about when she was in the room when the barbarians, with selfish glee, etched out a plan to legally snuff out a race they hated, a colored race. They planned to keep them tightly controlled and in jail, and it was a plan that was elegant, even beautiful, in its evil.
She knows she was on the mountainside when the barbarians chose the Ever Powerful Coin over clean water for people, for humans.
She sees her own body surrounded by barbarians, being used over and over again despite her protests, despite her spirit floating over her body trying desperately to fly away, her body rigid in an act of servitude.
The injustice roils inside of her like a red serpent. Her inner murderess puts on a crown and wields a sword. The child inside screams.
Lurella stands up slowly, calmly from her chair and loudly interrupts, "Do you remember who you are?"
Everyone stares at her. The overworked wives. The beaten down mothers, for no one acknowledges Mother. Father God is a barbarian. Or was it, "Father Barbarian is a God?" The "weaker" males. The homeless, the working poor, those who had a hard time getting there.
They stare at her momentarily, and then turn away to keep on talking.
Lurella's red serpent turns into a white hot flame and seemingly burns her eyes out. She cannot even speak for the pain. She is white-hot numb. After the meeting, she feels a kind hand touch her shoulder and bring her back, into the room. When she turns around, she is looking into a brown face and brown eyes and a beautiful black woman.
The woman speaks. "I get you," she says. "You don't want another fucking barbarianism support group. You want Humanity back."
Lurella sinks into another chair and sobs while this woman holds her hand. Lurella's wet eyes regards this woman's hands with curiosity and even a sweetness. Lurella secretly likes women who bring out the softness in her heart, who open her like wisdom and who soothe her like honey. The skin on this woman's palms is pale and leathery, but the tops of her fingers are deep brown and smooth. She moves her hands with a quick touch that betrays anxiety and awkwardness, and is completely nurturing.
Conscience. She has brown hands, and a conscience. She is human, too. Lurella tells her, "I don't know how to fix this, how to be human in this world. "
This woman patiently listens to Lurella's tears as the attendees file out, their shoulders slightly lifted and less burdened, their heads still hanging as they return to working under barbarians, being married to barbarians, and upholding barbarian laws.
The woman grasps Lurella's hands and with gentle fervor, says "Please listen. We must pray". She explains, "When God was a human, there was peace. There was peace in people's hearts. No one carried a burden into a room and spoke it in the middle and left it there only to pick it up again once outside, like we do today. There was no one who sincerely sought to cause distress in another. God walked among us as human and taught us compassion, and kindness. He taught us how to share. He modeled the true marriage of male and female, and with Woman, in every way Goddess, he brought divinity to fellow humans. Together, they were simply teachers and models. They showed how the essence of pleasure, the most profound pleasure imaginable, is found in deep kindness toward another human being. There was pain, and awareness of pain, and occasionally suffering. But the suffering were given love. They were prioritized to freely receive heartful, lavish gifts of peace. They were sheltered and coddled until the pain passed and they were healed. They were cared for emotionally, spiritually, financially, and physically.
God and Goddess, also known as Wisdom and Compassion, knew all wounds were spiritual wounds.
But a great war involving ownership erupted. A fellow human believed he was just as much God, and started making rules that set a select few humans in a high place above many other humans. His thirst for power seemed a benevolent kindness at first, and even looked like the love and wisdom brought by God and Goddess. But the cruel darkness that underwrote his actions became a wave that nearly killed God and Goddess. It was a time of confusion, separation, and pain. Suffering was tolerated and even normalized, and in the dark, swift confusion, no one even thought to minister to it as before. And so Wisdom and Compassion retreated to the realm of the body of the Earth, and set up natural cycles as a secret message to human beings: this is the liminal time and what dies is always reborn.
The God that rules now is the same barbarian that exiled Wisdom and Compassion.
Let us pray for the return of Wisdom and Compassion. Let us remember what is Human and embody peace."
Lurella bows her head and prays with her new friend of brown honey hands, but with open eyes. She sees the beautiful Earth, through the perfectly cold Barbarian Church floors. She takes her sword, the searing seat of grievous pain, the purest prayer she has, out of her own heart, and plunges it into the Earth.
She prays for war to begin.

"And here it becomes evident that the barbarian is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an over-riding law. It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery, because it cannot help letting him sink into such a state that it has to feed him instead of being fed by him. Society can no longer live under this barbarianism; in other words, its existence is no longer compatible with society.

The essential condition for the existence, and for the sway of the barbarian class, is the formation and augmentation of capital; the condition for capital is wage-labor. Wage-labor rests exclusively on competition between the laborers. The advance of industry, whose involuntary promoter is the barbarian, replaces the isolation of the laborers, due to competition, by their revolutionary combination, due to association. The development of modern industry, therefore, cuts from under its feet the very foundation on which the barbarian produces and appropriates products. What the barbarian therefore produces, above all, are its own grave diggers. Its fall and the victory of the Human are equally inevitable.”
Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto , Barbarian version  

Saturday, October 29, 2016


I know plenty has been said about child support. I know there are many articles, and perhaps not enough, from a single mother's perspective.
I can list the facts:
-women still make less than men
-single parent families are the most highly employed and have the lowest incomes in the United States
-108 billion dollars is owed in back child support, half of that to welfare
-Family court has mixed policies on child support
-child support enforcement is an under-funded, highly inefficient system
-deadbeat dads are tolerated and even celebrated
-a man can spend more on court than on his kids, can hide money, and can slip out of child support through's not that hard to work the system
Not too many people stop to consider what happens to a single mother who is not getting child support from an able-bodied, completely employable man. The question becomes one of, who is supporting the children?
If we have this system that works to create poverty in the home of one parent, and supports the other parent's efforts to create poverty, then who takes care of the children?
A well-funded man does not need the help of his community to support his children. Everyone pulls for a single dad and he has cash work practically thrown at his feet to "not pay that bitch a dime."
There are the millionaires who quit their jobs to make sure they "don't pay that Bitch a dime."
There are the men who wheel and deal and conveniently hide assets in a timely manner so they "don't pay that Bitch a dime."
There are the men who fudge the numbers and take the cash to "not pay that bitch a dime."
There are the men who shell out $800 for a legal transcript, but won't pay $40 for a child's need, in order to "not pay that bitch a dime."
A single mother often has to count on her community...through public assistance, the kindness of other folks who are generous and loving, and community resources such as the Lion's Club. The hard truth is that a well-funded man, with the assistance of the system that makes it a policy to not set child support or enforce child support that is already set, can place the burdens of supporting his children on the community. He counts on others to take up the slack for him instead of his taking responsibility for himself or having pride.
"Here, world," he says. "You take care of my kids. I have to punish their mother. "
Directly and indirectly a single irresponsible father burdens the community, through financially and emotionally abusive behaviors. Refusing to co-parent is abusive because it sets an example of disrespect and contempt for a child's mother. Lying to get out of paying child support and using the family courts to bully a mother is abusive because it has no consideration for the children or the community it affects. It abuses the children by proxy. It takes their quality of life away, and gives the message that a mother is a replaceable, irrelevant object to be bullied and demeaned. By doing this, he actually  makes himself an impediment to his own children. They ultimately bear the brunt of his irresponsibility.
Family court has other concerns. For instance, simple math is ignored. A man can legally spend more on attorneys and court fees than on his children, and still be believed when he cries "poor!I'm poor!"
I am one person, and I am doing what I can to speak up and write and submit writing and get the question out: Do we, the people, honestly want this burden of single mothers?
Do we, as a country, really get on board with this deliberate creation of poverty? Do we, as a country, think it is ok to let men go off on their vacations with their nice shoes and homes while their children lose a great part of their childhood? Is an able-bodied father supporting children a priority through public and legal policies or should we just do away with the whole system in all honesty? Are we really wanting to take up the slack for these lost childhoods and stressed out mothers?
If not, are we willing to shake up the system and prioritize our children? Are we willing to examine our attitudes about single mothers and give up judgement and victim blaming? Can we please support mothers to do better than their mothers and leave men who are abusive and psychopathic? Can we please stop being fooled?
Is that the choice, really? Who on earth is looking out for the children?

Friday, October 28, 2016

Courage to the sticking place

There was this man, common, a man like all the other men, one who lives in the extremes of fight or flight, chase or be chased when it comes to women. He fell in love with me for four hours and then I never heard from him again. I stopped being confused or upset by this type of behavior after dates with men a long time ago, chalking it up to attachment style and the "we all have baggage" excuse.
Not to be swayed by this, since it was one night and no one had invested much of anything, I would occasionally reach out to this man, only to be ignored.
Until one night, he actually talked. And apologized. And then he said something that every single woman out there in the dating world knows, but that men won't ever admit: "The continued interest of a woman terrifies me". Terrifies. Not merely scares him, but terrifies.
I have experienced a lot of men like this. They complain about "clingy women". They don't want what they say they want. They don't even know what they want. They sit on online dating sites forever, as if to sit and feel the wall of separation their fear puts up.
I thanked this man for speaking so truthfully and told him he was courageous. I have no idea if he will be courageous enough to address his fear, but in the context of my week and my own spiritual work, it made me want to face down my own fear. I was so very relieved that a man would just have the conversation with me, that there is hope that men and women can be honest with each other and work together to explore these issues and heal.
I'm not completely sure what makes men so fearful in general, outside of wounding experiences. I think fear from men and women is the blood in the water that brings the sharks to feed in the dating pool. Not in a fierce, ill-willed sort of way, just an unconscious way. We go to what we know, to what we think we love, to what smells good in the moment. The limbic system drives the bus. Fear is comfort's what we know...we want to replay the broken record, be bored in our anxiety. We actually WANT to. It's completely unintentional.
The limbic treadmill, however repetitive and boring, has its moments of excitement, of conquest, of really proving something to yourself and others. Usually this something you've proven is an old script and it was proven a long time ago and it's redundant.
I go to a place in my head that can explain. Terry Real says that men take advantage of the "privilege to flee" under patriarchal relational models. Attachment theorists call it avoidant, or anxious as the case may be. and in the end, that all leads back to trauma.
My heart learned something...that men truly are to be feared. I know where my big fears come from. Starting with my dad and my grandfather, men in my life were sufficiently scary as to cause real fear for my life in their presence. Damage could be done, and often was. These were my earliest associations with the men I grew to love and care about, that they were to be feared in every way. And revered, because every once in awhile, when the attacking, drunken raging, or bruising had ceased, they were generous, charming, loving. They thrived on the attentions of their children, except when those children were a nuisance. I don't want to write the specifics, to show not tell. This has to be told and not shown in this venue. I know what I lived and saw.
It was confusing. Benevolence and destruction were contained in one person, and no one could predict which state would show up in the room at any given time. Everything in the environment was geared towards rejection prevention, the art of eggshell navigation, and mine field management. Everything around fear of men: men who abandoned, men who destroyed.
I know where my fear comes from, why the familiarity of contempt is a stench that used to be tolerated but isn't any more.
People think that once you find your voice, your footing, your orientation around a lifetime of abuse that it is the same as hating men. I don't hate men because I heal. I LOVE men because I heal. I drink up men who are kind and giving and available, like an oasis in a desert. I am not so wounded that I can't recognize goodwill and sincerity and the kinder ones have absolutely understood when a reminder of starvation came to me, and they would hold me until the hunger passed. And I didn't cling to their legs when they left.
I address my own fear. No matter how scary a man in my past or present, I can, right now, be courageous. I never learned that in the face of fear, there can be-must be- courage, that there is strength in numbers, that standing up and speaking out is the essence of love. I can stop giving up so much of myself and know it is ok to have needs and desires. Not to be stuck in limbic hungers, but to live as fully human.
Because no matter how comforting the fear and distance are in in their familiarity, the "limbic treadmill" that ensues is still a cage. It's still a gross limitation to what I can be and do in this world. It places me in some stupid, small-minded box. And it places others in this same box, and boxes are simply not Truth.
I am grateful to that man for speaking his fear...for speaking my fear...for allowing me the opportunity to have compassion for all who walk through this loneliness. And to have the courage to walk out of this cage.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

More sharing
"I remember a wise old crone chastising me for not going after my son's father for child support. I suppose, at the time, I was afraid his “father” would disappear altogether so I didn't pursue it. She pleaded with me, “What sort of message will this send to your son? When children don't receive child support they associate it with their own self-worth. A child who receives nothing in child support comes to believe s/he is worth nothing.”

When I think about collecting child support—for both myself and women throughout the world, I remember those words. Our children deserve child support. Mothers also deserve to be financially supported."

More to come on child support!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Clarissa Speaks

-domestic violence is a social justice issue-
From Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
"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.
I say man because research supports that it is primarily men who abuse.
Psychological and emotional abuse includes passive aggression and stonewalling.
Abuse at its core is cruelty, and is characterized by an unwillingness for the perpetrator to stop his cruelty, and to twist the story so his victim is blamed, absolving him of any personal responsibility. Abuse is also people who support this cruelty and allow it to flourish, and even enjoy making someone else suffer. Abuse has a retaliatory, angry, attacking, entitled nature.
Abuse goes so much deeper than "man as animal". 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, and includes withholding relationship and refusing to take responsibility. All 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,  sugar-coated and "civilized" forms of abuse, such as passive-aggression and stonewalling, form the bedrock for truly heinous acts of offense toward another human being.
Abuse is not the same as narcissistic injury, and this muddies the waters. Abusers are fragile and anything provokes their ire towards a target. They are like walking through a landmine, and if you walk on an ego bomb, watch out. You have abused them to no end. Do not confuse an abuser who's victim blaming and whose narcissistic injury was triggered,  with a REAL abused person.
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:
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, and that's abusive. Using your family's wealth and resources and family court to bully your ex while withholding resources from  your children is abusive to your children and your ex.
That one is a set up that goes like this: Financially cripple your enemy (in this case, a co-parent, (which in and of itself is unfathomable) through making a child support agreement and then relentlessly pursue breaking it through the courts, making sure to run up big expenses for your co-parent while also withholding financial support, designed for the benefit of your children, that you agreed to. Make sure your agreement is obliterated so you never have to uphold it. Then, hit your enemy with such large and legal requests for money she's sure to go deeper into poverty. Also, to be abusive to a wider audience, give not one thought as to how this affects your kids. Make sure you play the poor card, which is an outright lie,  as often as possible so it looks like your "enemy" is the bad guy. Make sure to turn your co-parent into an enemy as often as possible and twist it in your mind that this is somehow "good parenting" instead of setting an example of abuse.
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 with batterers 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 or 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:
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 start demanding their rights back, it can look like they are the abuser because that's the abuser's way-blame someone else. 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 economic, psychological, emotional, and even sexual 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. 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:
Passive aggression is psychological and emotional abuse:
Stonewalling is psychological and emotional abuse:

*update* remember, an abuser whose narcissistic injury is triggered is going to see you as the abuser. A recent example of this is Donald Trump's tweets after Pence attended Hamilton.

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 put them in their 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 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.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Dogs and dragons

-in this writing I use the scenario of abused woman/abusive man, because that is most statistically prevalent. But I do know this can be gender-reversed.-
One thing that has been controversial in my healing, at least for other people, is the notion of labels. The popular argument against labels is that they do not allow for people to be responsive and they are pigeonholed. I think it is much more nuanced than that. For instance, labels like "depression" and "cancer" can be life-saving as one can then bring to light exactly what is wrong. It is  truth that in this day and age, we use labels to hurt each other, but those labels are as simple as "woman" or "African-American". It doesn't take much to elicit hatred and bias in people.
The labels  become very important to a person who has been abused. One little-talked about phase of healing from an abusive relationship is the learning phase, where a person will greedily drink down everything they can learn about narcissism or psychopathy. It does become somewhat all-encompassing, since the only thing that can combat years of gaslighting is fact, especially psychological fact. And one learns there is not a one-size-fits-all diagnosis to anything. One simply needs to take and acknowledge the aspects that apply to one's own situation.
But for those who disparage the labels, there are several things to keep in mind. Firstly, we live in a culture that loves to blame victims. We live in a culture where the only acceptable narrative of abuse is that he hit her, and even then, we don't properly respond and still have underlying attitudes that blame her. And finally, many have the attitude that when a woman uses labels to speak out against abuse, she is somehow being cruel. Lundy Bancroft calls this "taking the abuser's perspective."
Beyond that, the labels are important for healing. Sometimes a person will be discouraged from using a label as a way of invalidating that person and telling them, "don't think, hide the truth, don't acknowledge reality."
A person needs to know if they are dealing with a dog or a dragon. A dog will mess up the room when the master leaves, chew up the toilet paper in play, eat all the cat food, run out the door, and otherwise wreak havoc when they're not supposed to. But they will return with their tail between their legs, eager to learn how to please you, wanting to always be near you. A dog can be taught how to be in rightful relationship, simply by holding to the rules, "no, you may not chew up my leather coat. no, you may not use the bathroom on the must go outside. no, you may not beg at the dinner table."  And they will learn, with a happy grin on their faces and a wagging tail.
A dog has a conscience.
A dragon is trickier. A dragon will simply go and ravage the village for sport. A dragon's nature is to destroy and retreat. A dragon cannot be reasoned with, negotiated with, or asked to stop. A dragon needs to be carefully studied and automatically incites fear. Many times, the dragon is not as big as you think, and certainly lacks courage and heart. And sometimes, the dragon is wiley. Principles of operant conditioning do not work on a dragon. A dragon will blame the villagers for his behavior. A dragon will make himself out to be the poor, innocent victim. A dragon will say he is trustworthy and benevolent even while he is planning destruction. Dragons have been so anthropomorphized in modrrn culture. But the dragons that are akin to cluster B personalities have no hope of gaining human traits. A human can be asked to have a stop hurting someone listen to look at the ravaged village and consider the weight of their actions. A human being has the capacity for remorse, recovery, making restitution, grace, gratitude, awareness of their actions, and repair. A dog will say they are sorry with their demeanor, A human will repair a relationship more directly. But a dragon never will. A dragon is often depicted with a cold, black heart; cold on the outside with its reptilian scales. Reptilian skin, twinkling, charming eye, intelligent head, firey breath, reptilian heart. No hope of repair.
A dragon has no conscience.
Dealing  with a dragon requires a different approach than dealing with a dog. There is hope for a dog, but not a dragon. It's important to know the difference so one can protect one's self. The dog that constantly bites and won't back down is not the dog you keep, but it's less dangerous than a dragon. The dragon who constantly seeks to ravage is to be fled from so you can be safe.
Healing from each scenario takes different tools, resources, and approaches. One has more hope, the other has none. Know the labels so you can wield your sword in protection or take out your dog treats and positive reinforcement.
In this election, there have been so many moments of needing to call the dragon a dragon. So many abused women are identifying strongly with Donald Trump's gaslighting, lies, and avoidance of responsibility, even to the point of being triggered.
Keep your dogs, lose your dragons, know the difference.