‘Anyone Can Be an Abuser’ – NNEDV

It’s so true. Not only is the abuser an expert with smoke and mirrors, with a well-crafted and usually long-preserved facade, but the one being abused — because of malignant manipulation and conditioning — is also pretty adept at keeping up pretenses and pretending life is good (even to him- or herself).

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How? Social media posts that highlight only happiness and success. Anecdotes to friends and family that leave out the worst of truths. Assimilation into the community and/or a church family, with behavior that is intentionally presented as morality, peace, false humility, as though there could never be any serious wrongdoing.

But to be educated about statistics and the realities in our homes, in too many homes, we must let go of preconceived notions. We must take a naked look at those around us, without turning a blind eye just because everything looks peachy on the surface-level.

We’re smarter than this! We must believe the victim when he or she finally “wakes up,” begins to disconnect from his/her abuser, and seeks help. This is really important in changing the abusive environments around us. We can’t let ourselves continue to be fooled.

#endabuse #TheNationalNetworktoEndDomesticViolence #NNEDV

National Single Parent Day

For all the parents who struggle on their own but keep going. For all the parents who stay the single course, whatever the reasons. For all those who do it authentically and with your eye on the prize: Your kids.

SPD

photo credit | Janna Leadbetter

Because whatever you’ve been through, whatever’s ahead, they deserve your heart first. That’s why you keep going. And it’s why you deserve recognition today. #NationalSingleParentDay #March21 #celebrateyourself

Let the single parents in your life know you see them and their efforts. Someone might really need a gentle pat on the back today. 

Changing Need to Choice

Last night was one of those nights with strange dreams and intermittent wakefulness.

Somewhere between the dream about a guy from high school twenty years ago who I wasn’t friends with showing up at my door, in a home where I’ve never lived, to borrow Super Nintendo games that don’t exist in my reality, and the one where I — a non-athletic gal — am trying to train for a marathon with an acquaintance known to be an amazing runner, my ongoing to-do list cycled on through.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

I need to clean the kitchen and do laundry.

I need to work on that client’s resume.

I need to finalize some important paperwork.

And it came to me how much pressure it is to constantly use that word with myself. Need. It manifests an undercurrent of urgency, which in turn manifests stress. And then if I don’t accomplish that thing I’d “needed” to do: failure.

But how might it change my self-assessment and expectation if instead I speak to myself as though I choose what to do with my day?

Do you ever think we all must be geniuses in the middle of the night, around two or three a.m., when we’re free from constrictions and filters, and our heart and brain can communicate directly with one another? I think it’s when our creativity is at its rawest, too.

What if, when a friend asks, “What do you have going on today?” or if I’m working through that pending to-do list, I switched my approach to something less pressure-filled, more easygoing, with a gentler expectation. What if I’m actively, consciously choosing what to do, instead of dictating to myself something that must be done? Sure, we’re only talking semantics, a mental change, but could it make a difference in how the day goes? In how the day feels?

Today I choose to put the clean clothes away.

Today I choose to pick up outside in preparation for spring.

Today I choose to get the oil changed in my car.

I’m going to try it. My internal language is going to be a little bit different, so as to test this theory that I could put less pressure on myself while still getting stuff done.

Can I gain a greater sense of control over how my day is spent?

What do you think?

Changed: Reminder Around My Neck

I have a fair assortment of necklaces, most special for some reason or another, but I always seem to favor this one. Wear it nearly every day. There’s an Origami Owl locket, gifted by a dear friend and holding significant baubles, a vintage typewriter J key (because duh), plus this charm which says “changed.”

changed

Bought that soon after my divorce—so hard to believe that all started right at six years ago—because I knew then that I should recognize the change in ME which caused my waking up and leaving. Fast forward the way time does…

Now the charm usually hangs around my neck with no thought from me, but occasionally — like this morning — I catch sight of it and remember I still celebrate my change, and can’t forget how thankful I am for it.

Dear Church: It’s Time to Stop Enabling Abusive Men

Late last night, the link to an important, powerful article came through my feed on Facebook. The title (used here as my post title, as well) was enough to hook my interest. I’d never consciously thought such a specific thing, but before I even clicked through I knew the author, Gary Thomas, was absolutely right.

I’ve seen it — that enabling — with my own eyes, in my own situation, at my own (former) church. And plenty elsewhere, too.

To read the article in full, click HERE.

But whether or not you feel driven to take in the whole essay, which is approached from a Christian perspective, there are several noteworthy passages that I can’t leave unshared.

“If the cost of saving a marriage is destroying a woman, the cost is too high. God loves people more than he loves institutions.”

“This woman needs to be protected from such grotesque abuse, and if divorce is the only weapon to protect her, then the church should thank God such a weapon exists.”

“When these men aren’t confronted, and aren’t repentant, they don’t change.”

“I want a man who was abusive to have to explain to a potential second wife why his first wife left him.”

Let men realize that behavior has consequences, and that wives are supposed to be cherished, not used, not abused and never treated as playthings. If a man wants the benefit and companionship of a good woman, let him earn it, and re-earn it, and let him know it can be lost.”

This article only scratches a surface. Mr. Thomas approaches the topic as if the men in question might acknowledge their wrongdoing and be honest about circumstances and their behavior. This typically isn’t going to happen with an abuser—especially if the ball is passively left in their court—as there are powerful disorders and distortions at work. He will ignore and hide the truths, even lie about them to avoid any accountability, also paving the way for his continued misbehavior.

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photo borrowed from the original article on ForEveryMom.com

But this writer is absolutely right to call out the church and its leaders, for not confronting their men and for not demanding humility and guiding change, real change. It’s right for this writer to call out the church’s followers, too, who are often too quick to turn a blind eye and make uninformed assumptions, as well as harsh, mislaid judgments toward the women/victims.

Why aren’t we protecting the women, instead siding with the men? Why do we so easily offer blind acceptance when swift consequence is warranted? Why don’t we loudly demand that men own up to their behavior or else?

Awareness and advocacy and education can be so powerful, and those efforts must be present in church homes as much as anywhere else.

I’ve done a lot of research, and therapeutic efforts (we’re talking intense, long-term therapy) for rehabilitation are only successful a scant 10% of the time—and that’s for the few who actually recognize a problem with need for change and put forth authentic effort to begin with. First must come an internal awareness, and those who perpetuate the abuse inherently fight that awareness, day-in and day-out. There is usually no hope, and this is heartbreaking.

These norms and staggering statistics won’t begin to shift until or unless others — whether someone in a position of authority, like clergy or law enforcement, or everyday folk like you and me — begin to call out and hold abusers accountable for their incredible wrongdoing.

Until abusers are told (and told and told and shown) that we aren’t going to allow it anymore, nothing is going to change.

Hitting the Path

When you’re a writer, there are ideas and there’s inspiration, which might not pan out, or can remain a bit aimless. And then there’s finding your platform with sudden, clear epiphany and finally understanding the story you must write. Plots and premises fall in line. Character development takes form. Research becomes fun and satisfying. And the work happens, because you both want and need it to.

The road ahead of me with my novel-in-progress is long, but for the first time in years I have direction. And, possibly, for the first time ever, a story which suits and fits me (and my writing) perfectly.

I wish this for all writers.

Sit Still, Look Pretty

A Valentine’s Day Message

for all the ladies

Sometimes it seems music with a message of girl power, inner strength, and personal confidence — especially when it’s considered pop — isn’t taken seriously. It’s not sexy or indulgent. It promotes independence and free-thinking, even cold bitchiness and an uncaring attitude. Ain’t nobody got time fo dat, apparently.

But there are positive, self-affirming tunes out there that every girl and woman should celebrate with no apology.

Daya, a teenage singer/songwriter, gets it. She wants us to know we don’t need anyone else, namely a guy, to be worthy, and that we don’t have to fill certain society-driven roles, either. She is refreshing.

Sit Still, Look Pretty | Daya

Could dress up
To get love
But guess what?
I’m never gonna be that girl
Who’s living in a Barbie world

Could wake up
And make up
And play dumb
Pretending that I need a boy
Who’s gonna treat me like a toy

I know the other girlies wanna wear expensive things
Like diamond rings
But I don’t wanna be the puppet that you’re playing on a string
This queen don’t need a king

Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your nine to five
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be ’cause I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still look pretty

Mister Right could be nice for one night
But then he wanna take control
And I would rather fly solo

Then Snow White
She did it right
In her life
Had seven men to do the chores
‘Cause that’s not what a lady’s for

The only thing a boy’s gonna give a girl for free’s captivity
And I might love me some vanilla but I’m not that sugar sweet
Call me HBIC

Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be, because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your nine to five
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be, ’cause I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still look pretty

Sure, I’m a pretty girl
Up in a pretty world
But they say pretty hurts
And I don’t wanna sit still
I’m a pretty girl
Up in a pretty world
But no, I won’t sit still, look pretty

Sure, I’m a pretty girl
Up in a pretty world
But they say pretty hurts
And I don’t wanna sit still
I’m a pretty girl
Up in a pretty world
But no, I won’t sit still, look pretty

Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your nine to five
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be ’cause I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still look pretty

Oh, I don’t know what you’ve been told
But this gal right here’s gonna rule the world
Yeah, that is where I’m gonna be because I wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty
You get off on your nine to five
Dream of picket fences and trophy wives
But no, I’m never gonna be ’cause I don’t wanna be
No, I don’t wanna sit still, look pretty

Sit still, look pretty
Sit still, look pretty
Sit still, look pretty
Sit still, look pretty

Written by Gino Maurice Barletta, Scott Bruzenak, Mike Campbell, Britten Newbill • Copyright © Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd., The Bicycle Music Company, Reservoir Media Management Inc, BMG Rights Management US, LLC

We should seek independence. We should seek self-suffiency, faith in our abilities, and trust in our opinions. We should be able to find happiness in ourselves, and before we seek it from someone else. Too often, the opposite is what’s romanticized in our society.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having your King, being interdependent, and having a healthy, mutually-respectful relationship. But more important stuff comes first for authentic development, and our true worth comes from our sense of self.

We don’t have to sit still. We don’t have to submit. We don’t have to be pretty. We don’t have to meet superficial qualifications. We don’t have to fit man’s expectation of us. And we don’t need a man to be complete, either.

I can’t think of a better day to bring this point home than today, February 14th.

Not The President, Not His Shoes

I had a dream last night, and one I can actually remember in detail this side of the dark.

In the dream, our new United States president had launched a line of canvas shoes for women. And my girls — who at 11 and 14 dabble in casual fashion — wanted to check them out. So we went to a local shoe store to see some. Not to purchase, not to support. Just out of curiosity. Because of that WTF? sensation that drives you when you can’t reconcile the doer with what’s been done.

We approached two middle-aged saleswomen, and I stumbled over how to explain why we were there. I didn’t really want to admit whose shoes we were after, but we needed direction among the racks of footwear. “Supposedly there’s this new line…” “Uh, I mean, so we heard about the launch of some canvas shoes…” And the one spoke up, neither enthusiastic nor discouraging, just matter-of-fact. “Ah, yes. You mean the Trump Sliders.”

They were canvas slip-ons, plain and colorful, patterned and not. They struck me as no different from VANS, and very cute — except that the rubber tag, there on the sole at the heel, read TRUMP.

My girls both tried a pair on, but I knew they weren’t going to squeal, and they weren’t going to beseech me in the typical shopper’s way. “Mo-om, can we get them, puh-leeze??” And I’d already mentally left the store. We’d seen what we came to see.

The saleswoman had followed us, observed us. I told her, “Oh, we won’t be buying. I can’t support the man. He makes me sick.” And I shifted into advocate mode, talking to anyone within earshot about the certainty of his being an abuser.

The dream broke then. But in that semi-consciousness which exists between the imaginary and the awake, my thoughts continued the shoe store speech as I laid in my bed.

And what I considered was the fuel for this post.

I don’t speak of politics on social media, and rarely with those who are part of my world IRL. It’s too gunky. Too sticky. Too confusing, because you never know what to believe. You can’t trust a whole lot on the ol’ internet, you know, and people are often motivated by opinion, not fact. I also choose, consciously, that politics are not going to make the list of things I stress over. That said…

Trump. This man who has been voted into office and now “runs” our country. He has so many signs of being an abuser.

I repeat: AN ABUSIVE MAN.

This might surprise few. However, many — those who voted him to where he is — ignored it. Completely, carelessly ignored it. They (seemingly) don’t care, just like in everyday life, when these men get away with too much of the wrong behavior. People look the other way. Not their problem, I suppose.

To someone like me, a survivor who still deals with triggers — and who can’t view or listen to Trump because of those triggers — this is an egregious error I can’t help but take personally. I have loved ones who voted him in, and it disturbs me to know they wouldn’t recognize his wrongdoing, moral or otherwise. Worse yet, there are some who have put the idea of upheld religion (part of his platform) before the well-being of OTHER HUMANS. That they’ll approve someone with behaviors like his, as if it isn’t risky or harmful, is discouraging.

Go ahead. Click to my If You’re Abused page, where I’ve listed the types of abuse with examples. See how many you can attribute to Trump — and that’s just by what’s been illustrated in public.

He’s a narcissist. Not just arrogant, a narcissist. Malignant and damaging. Oh, he’s successful, a bajillionaire. He has proven himself as a businessman, and I’ve heard it said our country can do with a more business-minded approach. But what’s wholly unfortunate is, we can deduce that he got to where he is with manipulation, and by taking advantage of others. By using people. And he is considered a “success” because of it. Did you know narcissists tend to gravitate toward careers in the public eye? Positions with high power (or perceived, self-determined power)? Whatever gives them a sense of control? Politics is one of them.

He’s inappropriate. He verbally accosts without thought. There is no humility. He offends and makes horrible fun of the disadvantaged. He’s hateful, and derogatory. We know he objectifies women. He is disrespectful. He wants to benefit himself first, with perhaps devious methods.

These aren’t just strong traits miscontrued as mistreatment. This is mistreatment. I have concern for his wife, for whatever their life behind the scenes looks like, feels like, and I have concern for his kids — even the adult ones, and I’d hate to hear the truth from his ex-wives and ex-lovers. My bones tell me it’s not good. That it could never be good, and yet his having been voted into office only enables him, and supports the indoctrination of others — innumberable — like him. He, like so many abusers, continues to rise with no consequence. And what is that telling the abusers who see him having taken office? What about the women who live with those abusers and see Trump at our nation’s podium, exhibiting behaviors so much like what they absorb every day, behind closed doors?

I guess accountability means nothing. There is no validity in extending personal consequence, some might deduce.

So this man was funneled into office because it pushed out career politicians? It put the Republicans back in the saddle? Because change is needed, and there’s nothing like extreme, mind-boggling change, I guess? But voting for this man — for the sake of disallowing the other candidate a win? — was superficial, and it didn’t dig deep enough into worse problems. Societal problems, I’ll reach to point out.

With all the reasons he was voted in, there are many and more why he shouldn’t have been. I struggle with accepting how so many people could ignore the signs, and continue to.

In my mind, as confirmed by my dream, Trump is as qualified to be my president as he is to sell me shoes.

And I don’t want to be in his shoes.

Screw the Comfort of Others?

I shared this image on my Facebook page yesterday, with my own added caption: “For the sake of anyone’s comfort, fo sho.”

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I share it from a place of practiced self-awareness and hard-won self-confidence. A place of empowerment, and a strong desire to be my authentic self. No deferring. No flip-flopping. No cowering. No being taken advantage of. I will not shrink.

But even given all that, I think there is room for this notion — which is at root, to never sacrifice your own well being — to be misconstrued.

What if someone uses this theory as a justification for selfishness? “I’m being true to myself, despite how it may be perceived by others” looks in reality a lot more like “It’s all about me, my opinions, what I want and how, forget how anyone else is affected.”

There’s a delicate balance between the two, or should be. That’s what we should each seek. Certainty in our own minds, but with some awareness of others. Confidence in our actions, compassion for others.

Is what you believe — or what manifests in behavior as support of what you believe — hateful? Do you burn a lot of bridges? How many people/friends/family members have you alienated? And, if you really looked at how you carry yourself, could you say you don’t allow yourself to thrive on negativity, on your criticism of others, an ugliness that serves, really, only to allow you to (mentally) lift yourself to a higher station? Have you settled into a pattern of entitlement?

Truth is, we can be fully considerate of our own place, and extend a similar sense of consideration to others. (In most cases. Some, I’ll admit, don’t deserve our consideration — and that’s a one-by-one decision based on history and context, yes?)

We shouldn’t care if we step on someone’s toes, so to speak, but we should care if we step on their spirit.

We shouldn’t have to babysit others’ emotions, but we should avoid crushing another’s for the sake of upholding our own.

We should be honest and strong, without bullying our way through controversy.

We can be sensitive to our own needs, and still have empathy for others.

Wouldn’t you agree?

I say we don’t screw the comfort of others.

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To find out more about Glennon Doyle Melton, whose quote appears above, visit her website.