Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Little Foxes

It's in the Song of Solomon about the foxes ruining vineyards, but it wasn't until I read a devotional yesterday that I understood what those foxes really are and they are the little frustrations, the nasty little voices, the stuff that throws us off track.

Staying on course when we are healing is important.  Understanding what makes me lose my control and risk my progress is really a huge step for me.  I found myself all day yesterday and today saying "Little foxes, stay way. Little foxes." whenever I felt that  rushing, burning, hair pulling frustration that seems to just knock me off my track.

Who are your little foxes? What do they do or say?  Knowing them is a good first step in dealing with them.

Mine are those actions that remind me of the times I was devalued and dismessed.

Mine are those words which seem to say, "ah if you mattered I'd care, but you don't so..."

Mine are those times when the littlest things make me boil inside.

Mine are those things like wet cloths in the sink, left open bread bags, dirty tubs, hole digging dogs...

Mine are those questions that are unheard and the answers dismissed.

Mine are all the times that that little demon whispers in my ear, "not worthy, not good enough, not smart enough, they were right about you all along since you were a kid, worthless, unlovable..."

And instead of, at least for the past couple of days, losing control I'm feeling at peace.  I know their little pointy faces, I know their digging ways and I am staring them down.  Little foxes, little foxes, go away! Go away!  I feel like I am able to really see the roots of the lifelong struggle I've had and now I can start dealing with them.  Little steps to deal with little foxes, leading to big leaps forward!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Shadow of the Hammer

Hammer. An amazing tool. For certain jobs.  The problem with hammers is you are limited to what you do with them.  Hammers, except in the strangely gifted hands of my husband, have a limited range of jobs. They do those jobs well, when used in the right hands.  In the wrong hands or used in the wrong way they can be brutal, deadly, hurtful and terrible to see.

We all know people who use their words and their hands, their actions and intents like hammers. The problem with people hammers is that every situation is reduced to a limited set of actions, just like a real hammer.

What can a hammer really, basically do?  Hammers pound in nails.  Hammers pull out nails.  Hammers bend over nails.  Sometimes hammers can be used to break things, bend things and rarely open things.

People hammers are no different.  They use their words, their actions and their presence to hammer us, pull us or bend us to their will.  They try to break us, bend us and sometimes tear us open.  They have only so many options because they only have one tool - a hammer.

Abusers and controllers may have other tools but the prefer their hammers.  They like the power of it. They like the brutality of it.  When I started to write, to heal, to finally feel unafraid there loomed over me the shadow of an emotional hammer.  The memory, the shadow, the ache of those times when it was not the only tool but the preferred one.

No wonder I still flinch at a tone or pull back from a gesture.  I'm reacting to that shadow.  That hammer that is no longer really there.  Some days I see hammers everywhere and mentally wish for everyone to have more multi tools! Some days the words hammer me and some days the actions hammer me and some days the silence pounds me and breaks me.  I'm bent over with the hurt and I'm torn open by words.

Those days are fewer between because I know, I understand the hammer. I know the shadow cannot hurt me.

Sadly, I struggle most with what I was taught about BEING a hammer, and as a Mom that is the last thing I want to be.  As a wife it is not what I want to do.  As a friend I would rather have empty hands.  I confess I can be a brutal hammer but I'm learning.

I'm learning to not reflexively grab the worst tool I have but to consider what the situation calls for.  As my son says, "The right tool for the right job!" and that fits for actual physical work as it does for emotional and spiritual work.  I'm learning not to lash out and swing wildly hitting whatever I can.  I'm learning that my temper was given a hammer too young and was taught too well.  Now to unlearn. To unwire, rewire and relearn.

To get out of the shadow of the hammer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Storm Warning

Why do you scream?

Why do you shout?

What is going on?

Loaded questions, loaded with emotion, history and hurt.  Loaded and no where to shoot them!  Like me - loaded with words, feelings and thoughts.  But how and where to share them, with whom...and can I do it in a way that doesn't cause more hurt?

I struggle with this, very much, and for someone who can be an excellent communicator it is a terrible thing to behold this loss of control, this banshee, this wildness.

It scares me, I cannot imagine how it scares people who are close enough to be caught in the vortex.  I am learning, however, why and how this happens.  And most importantly when!

Storm warnings!  I need my own Doppler radar so I can issue storm warnings...or maybe I just need to recognize my own warning signs. I am learning to recognize some of them - the physical as well as emotional and mental.

Why do you scream? Why do you shout?

Because I don't feel heard!  I don't feel like what I am saying, in a normal modulated voice is being heard.  I have touched, I've made eye contact, I've asked the same questions a dozen different ways.  I'm not looking for a fight, I'm looking for information, confirmation you heard me.  That I used my 'outloud voice' and wasn't just in my head the whole time.

I scream, sometimes, from the sheer physical strain of frustration of feeling mute, unheard and worthless.  The shame of the past overwhelms me and I feel no matter how I pray, how I learn or how I transform I'm still the dumb, dirty girl who never quite got it right.  Wasn't quite popular, wasn't quite clear enough to be heard, wasn't just quite enough of something I just cannot understand!

Frustration leads to anger, anger leads to outbursts, outbursts lead to tears, tears lead to self condemnation and self condemnation undoes so much healing work.  Like the saying goes, "for the loss of a nail..." well I'm CONSTANTLY LOSING THAT DANGED NAIL!

Am I learning? Yes, I really am.  Do I stumble fall and fail? Oh yeah...lots still but I'm human.  Forgiven, but all too human, and so are the people I desperately want to communicate with.  They don't know why some things are so hard for me and I don't understand why they cannot hear me.

The really scary thing is that I only scream and shout and lose it because I'm safe enough to feel my emotions top to bottom.  First time in my life I can own them.  I can learn from them.  I can try to make them take the bit and reins and be trained.

I'm able to trust a bit, and then when I cannot be heard I feel such a hurt and a loss.  I don't want to be fixed, dismissed, ignored or pushed aside.  I just want a nod, a I hear you or okay let's talk about that.   Would that be too hard?  I hope not, I'm trying to be able to give that back to those who need me to listen.  I know it is not a one way street, and don't expect anything less than I would be willing to give - time and effort to actively listen and try to hear.

I've learned to be a pretty good listener and feel terrible when I am not.  I'm learning to ask for what I need and am learning to understand when it cannot be given.  It's a process, and I own up to my part in it.  Now to find a way to have that message heard before I feel like I have to shout.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crazy Makers

You are not right in the head.

You should be put away.

You'd be easier to manage if you were on medication.

Do you know you are not normal?

These are all direct quotes from a variety of crazy makers who have come into my life at one time or another. They are those people who delight in twisting you up and making you feel so insane, so not right.

People who will on purpose and with intent say and do things to mess with your head, your emotions, your truth are crazy makers.  They may not be primary abusers, for some of us they are the ambush artists but they are always waiting in the wings for their chance to add to the disarray of your mind.

When you know for certain about something, they are the ones who will spend all their time and efforts to make you sound like you made it up.  They know, you know and yet the tangled mess goes on and on.

Crazy makers.  They are the ones, that so often, convince us to be quiet.  They are the ones who try to deny that any truth but theirs has value.  They are the ones who will say, Now there dear, you know you have no idea what you are talking about.  I KNOW and you DO NOT. So hush.

And because, at least in my experience, they are so blessed hard to argue with that I've often (too often!) given up and gone away.  Hurt. Alone. Thought of as wrong in the head and wrong in the heart. Just wrong.

They tell you loving things with hurtful intent.  They use knowledge for control and for power.  They do not empower or encourage.  They cut apart, they cut through, they deny the healing because they deny the wounding.

When do you know if you are with a crazy maker?  For me it is easy  - when (after talking to them for even a little while) you feel like you've been talking to an alien.  A frustrating alien who speaks a language like yours but turns everything you say into something else.  And for me I know it by the smug look on their faces when frustrated I start to give up and turn away.

How have I dealt with my crazy makers?  I ignore them.  I refuse to play their games and I refuse to be a party to their sport of harming me.  I know what I know, they have no right to come and undo that. Your crazy makers don't have the right to do it to you either.  No amount of pseudo loving words will cover their glee and joy at your pain and confusion.

When we are healing we are seeking truth and that is the very last thing a crazy maker wants us to find.  Protect your truth, it is the most important thing you have or they wouldn't be trying to rip it from you, along with your sanity, your joy and your healing.

(statement of author: in no way am I ever discounting a valid diagnosis by a professional, I'm talking directly about those people who would harm us at our most vulnerable and engage in a special kind of abuse that makes me crazy, hence their tag of crazy makers.  This does, however, put the finger firmly in their faces for any of them who have made someone's mental illness worse by their cruelty.  They know who they are.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Horror Movie

Betrayal by a friend.  By someone who could be family.  It is a theme that is abundant at Easter time.  Betrayal of Jesus.  Betrayal of a people.  Being chosen to be sold out.  It's like a horror movie.  Here, let me befriend you and then I'll sell you out in the end.

And the really nasty horror isn't the amount you are sold out for but that you were sold out by someone who you trusted.  For me it has been a slow dawning realization that there are a few people who I thought were mostly unaware and unable who were both very aware and very able but choose not to be.

It's like looking at someone you felt was a foe and feeling pretty confident because you had someone backing you up.  Someone behind you that you could trust.  What happens when your supposed foe looks at you in horror and shock because they are seeing what you cannot...the one you trusted enough to have your back has been waiting to shank you.  Choosing to bring you hurt. Selling you out.  Leaving you out to dry.  Using your words against you.  Taking your trust and making it something shameful and ugly.

It's like knowing something isn't right but you don't have enough of the pieces to make the picture make sense and then you get that final piece and BANG it does. And it breaks your heart.  It makes you ill. It makes so many things make sense.  Not the least of which is how you almost always got left hanging out in the wind when you thought you had an advocate, a champion or at least a friend who you could trust.

I gotta tell you, this is a place that totally sucks.  It requires a review and refocus on many things that have been assumed.  Many things that were brushed aside are now sharply in focus and suddenly making a terrible amount of sense.

Maybe it was a friend or a family member or someone who counselled you.  It could have been almost anyone that had a tiny bit of your trust.  Just enough to have you let them stand behind you at your unprotected back.  Yeah, THAT someone!

She wasn't unable to help she choose not to.  Those times when the wrath came raining down upon you he was the rat.  When your spirit screamed for a voice, they counselled silence.  Not for you but for them!

The battles you thought you fought together on common ground were nothing of the sort. They were games to them.  Those times you tried or succeeded in confiding you were being led into betrayal.  That weirdness that didn't make sense in this new light really does.  And in making sense you are peeling back layers you didn't even know.

In those layers are truth and in that truth is freedom and in that freedom is healing and in healing we can find our wings and fly!  I'm learning this, and it really and truly has tried me and cause me many tears.  It has also confirmed many things and most importantly revealed that the crazy maker wasn't me!

Yes, you heard me right...and I'll come back tomorrow with that post...after all shouldn't the crazy maker have his or her own post?  They deserve it...they earned it!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

I hate to tell you

but I'm going to...

If there was ever a verbal warning that someone was going to punch you in the gut with their words that is it!  So often it is couched in the false belief that all truth is a good truth.  It also creates a false place where the lie we are forced to believe is an enforced truth.

I hate to tell you...but you have lettuce in your teeth.
Okay, that's cool.  That's fair.  Like telling someone they had toilet paper on their shoe or that their skirt was tucked into their hose.  It doesn't cause hurt and it doesn't bring hurt through telling someone something they cannot do anything about.  It also doesn't cause hurt by creating a false place of truth in a lie such as: you asked for it.  You are a dirty girl.  Good girls don't have bad things happen.  You are nothing without me.  You are worthless.

When someone tells you hurtful things clothed in their version of truth often enough you'll start to believe their lies as truths because they hurt the same way.

The real cue here is the opening I hate to tell you should really say, "Not only do I know this will hurt you but it will also be your fault because any rational person would know better and it is my job to tell you because even a hurtful truth is still the truth."  

Oh and they don't hate to tell you.  They relish telling you. They look forward to the hurt in your face while they bask in their rightness.  There is no compassion. There is no love. There is only a a desire for maintaining control and delivering hurt..  It is about power and that power is not meant to belong to you or me.

Another one that sends waves of fear and stress through me are the openers: it's for your own good, or the truth hurts and honesty is the best policy.

Now to be clear when truth needs to be told it should be told but not with the intent to cause more hurt or harm.  No one should have to be wounded more than necessary.  If I need truth, if I need honesty then please don't cloak it in cruelty.  Don't waste your breath telling me it's for my own good.  I told the truth about things that happened to me and it wasn't with the intent to cause hurt or harm to anyone.

I needed to stop being silent from fear and I had to start healing.  That wasn't going to happen if I had to be scared silent and afraid.

Too often I've heard abusers and manipulators and controllers use this weapon against those who don't know how to fight against it.  There are few things that hurt more than seeing someone enjoy hurting you with something misnamed truth.  How can something that is supposed to be benign and freeing be used for such deliberate hurting intent?

There are times that truth hurts but it is a healing hurt and it is one we need to be able to face, feel and work our way through.  Those who deliver these truths, the bearers of these honesties are not doing their task lightly or with malice.  They aren't telling me I asked for it or that I had it coming.  They are not enjoying the delivery of pain and that is the difference to me.

Feel that you need to tell me my pants are ripped on the back?  Please do!
Feel the need to tell me that my pants make me look fat and frumpy? Please don't.  You don't have the right to share that because there is hurt in your intentions.  

What is the test for truth?  For me it is simple: can you deliver it with compassion?  Does knowing it, how you are telling it, help me?  Are you enjoying delivering hurt?  Are you felling superior or better for knowing it over me?  I would suggest that if you cannot say no to all then you should be quiet.

Walking a healing path is not easy.  It is full of pitfalls, traps and places of hurt which surprise us. Doing this self work requires us to learn to be gentle with our selves.  If those around us who are there to help cannot also be gentle they ought to consider their motives and desires. 

Not everyone wants us to heal or to be happy.  There are many who would like to say you don't have a great track record in dealing with ___________ and are happy to keep reminding you of your shortfalls, past and seem to delight in denying or poking at the wounds we carry. 

Not everyone can accept our place on the journey, but it is our journey!

Don't let anyone take it away from you...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Faking it...

"Even if you don't feel it, you should fake it 'until you make it'."

What? How? But the...I'm confused!

This, endorsed by a pastor, came up on a 'Question of the Day' for me in a group I belong to.  It was something that resonated with me but not in a positive way and I'm afraid that my response wasn't either.

This does not, cannot, work for me.  I cannot fake it anymore.  That doesn't mean I'm going to be a socially unacceptable raving person but I'm not going to be nice just because it is expected and hope I'll feel nice sooner or later!

Maybe I'm taking this too deeply or even too literally but it seems to me that we should be honest with how we feel.  That doesn't mean cruelly or in a hurtful way.  Nothing it more harmful than a telling the truth in order to hurt.  When someone does that they are taking away the power of the truth and instead inserting their desire for control and power.  (But we'll save the "I hate to tell you but I'm gonna anyway" post for another time!)

This is directed at ourselves and how our desire to be that which we are not (yet, meant to be or ?) by pretending.  That pretending, that falseness is what makes the lies of abuse and the silent assenter so hurtful and painful.

They wish to fake it until it is normal. 

They want to fake it until it is right.

They want to fake it until it goes away.

They want to fake it until it is okay to be false!  They want a normal that isn't.  Where they don't have to actually be responsible or acknowledge the hurt.  They want you and I  to quietly fake ourselves away.

I cannot fake it!  I won't.  It would dishonour the healing.  It would take away from the value of healing and it would say it is okay for you to have been hurt.

When I cannot be nice because I don't feel nice - I stay away from people.

When my healing is awkward for you then you should stay away from me. Don't ask me to fake it until I make it because I don't know that the end of the journey is worth skipping over the stuff in between.  In fact I'm fairly certain that missing the middle negates the experience at the end.

It feels false to put on a smile, serve tea or hug someone when inside I am screaming NO!  It isn't me needing to 'be nice for now' because of a social requirement.  Sorry folks, I won't spit on you in public but I'm not going to be your fawning fan or best friend either.

If you think I don't like you perhaps it is what you stand for that I don't like.  Maybe I'm not sure I want to be around someone who is so ready to deny their true feelings for such little truth.  Maybe I don't really know you the person but understand what you stand for and support speaks volumes! Sometimes it even shouts from the rooftops!

Don't send me threats, and don't send me offers of once you've changed you can come around again or even when you are ready to abide by my rules you know where I'm at.  I do know exactly where you are at and as long as you are there it is one place that I will not be!

I won't fake my feelings into something they are not and maybe won't ever be.

If I am hurt, I might cry.
If I am scared, I might hide away.
If I don't trust you, I won't put myself where I must trust you.
If I don't understand you, I will pray and I will try.
If I am worried, I fuss and I pray.
If I am cut, I will bleed. I will bear a scar.

Faking it takes away from our journey.  Faking it can be dangerous and it can be deadly.  It can be fun.  But not for me.  I've been burned by the fakes who finally stopped faking and it's just not worth it.  It hurts too much  when the false face falls away.  It hurts too much when they realize that they cannot fake it anymore and the truth comes out.  A truth that I've often suspected but never wanted to believe because the fake it face was so appealing.

Be honest, but don't be honest to hurt. Be honest to heal.  Show love, scatter joy and share prayers.  We are on this journey together, shouldn't we make it as genuine and special as possible?