Go Ahead, Poke Me Again!

Suppose someone you can’t escape – someone who shares your children, has power over your finances, is inside your head and heart – pokes you in the arm. Not so hard that you run, or scream, or even cry. Hard enough that you snap your head around to see what happened, and meet eyes that are filled with a little challenge, a little humor, a lot of entitlement.

You think it is odd, maybe irritating, but you feel like a fool making a big issue or fight over something so small. Maybe you say, “hey, that wasn’t nice…I don’t like that!” Suppose that someone pokes you again. Still not too hard, but hard enough. Daring you to do something. Knowing you know the consequences. And again. And again. And again.

You have a bruise now, and although he isn’t poking any harder than before, somehow it hurts more. You try to stay out of range. No good. Again. Again. Again. Again. Your arm is raging tender. He raises his hand in an innocent gesture, and you flinch. What’s the big deal? He didn’t even do anything! Oversensitive, aren’t you? Again, again, again. You are tense, edgy, try to keep your distance, but you really can’t, because he follows you or ambushes you – and you do, after all, still share children and house, and bed. There is no point in asking him or telling him to stop. If he knows you don’t like it, he will poke you again just because it’s fun. If you ignore it, he will poke you again just because he wants to. He pokes you again.  It hurts like hell. You are furious, chronically. You explode, and act like a maniac. You tell someone…’He pokes me in the arm….I can’t stand it anymore!” They look at you incredulously, and say “Are you crazy? It’s a poke in the arm! Tell him to stop – move away. What’s the big deal? ”

There just aren’t enough words to explain.

If you leave, get away: How long does it take to stop flinching when people, especially men, gesture with a raised finger? For the arm to heal. For the humiliation of “voluntarily submitting” to such stupidity long-term to subside? To feel confident that you can tell a “poker” from a “gesturer.”  To be able to respond effectively if you encounter “pokers” on the job? How do you learn to trust your own judgment again, about people, your ability to make good choices? How do you learn to relax and just be? It doesn’t usually just HAPPEN, but requires awareness and work to recover. Invisible as it may be, the effects are huge. And long-lasting. At the cellular level (a later post). Spiritually. Emotionally. Psychologically.

A good blogger friend has suggested that I include more positive input, about my present life and recovery. My answer was that I am not very recovered…am, in fact, really messed up. He said maybe I am farther along than I think I am and that maybe my process may be helpful to others also. Such a dear person.

So here goes: I might as well be a surfer, because I ride big waves. One day, or part of one day, I am up and feel like earth mother with warmth, insight and the power to cope…and beyond coping to flourish, and to help others to do so also. The sun shines, I absorb color and beauty and nuance. Another day, or the rest of a day, I can feel that nothing means anything, that I am not meeting the basic requirement of justifying my existence enough to eat and poop another day – truly that my loved ones would be better off without me and I would be so relieved to just be out of the emotional agony I feel. The sky is grey, the blinds are closed, and I am curled in a ball trying to meditate my way to taking my finger off the button.

I am UTTERLY exhausted by making decisions (past and present) that I feel so ill-equipped to make, devoid of guidance from God/the universe and unable to decide for myself. I am in an absolute, back against the wall, deer in the headlights stare, white panic stall – when in reality, I have a world of options, health and abilities. Some days I see the options, though I may not be able to act on them. Other days, all choices seem like death. I am loved. I am safe. I have a loving, patient husband. But I have feelings and reactions that are deeper than fact and more powerful than I can handle at times. People who don’t know me well think I am Holly Happy – funny, smart, positive…if a little intense. I have a strong desire to NOT be toxic and spread the negative energy to them.

So this is what I can, and should always, do:

1) Eat well – for me that is gluten, dairy, sugar, and food-sensitivity free. Frequent snacks containing protein (keeps blood sugar more even – which helps adrenal function – which helps with not producing so much doggone cortisol, stress  hormone) – raw tree nuts are a primary food group. All of this reduces inflammation, which is related to depression, disease, pain (emotional and physical) – EVERYTHING.

2) Minimize multi-tasking and simplify as much as possible.

3) Journal – rapid writing, prayer, and gratitude journals. The rapid writing is best – though a little weird how my handwriting changes. Sometimes it is like I get all the emotion and static onto the paper and I feel more relaxed and clear. Other times, I read over what I wrote weeks before, and think “Wow, that was a really good point. I’ll have to remember that!” So I write it down again!

4) As much quiet as I can find – turn off the TV (ahhhhhhhh).

5) Establish a peaceful ritual at bedtime, disconnect from media by 8 pm, and cultivate sweet sleep.

6) Meditation/Affirmations – Be as still as I can be inside – REST. I carry handwritten cards with affirmations that give me a gut sensation of release or relax, regardless of what they actually say. For example, oddly, one that calms the most is “I relax, and am complete.” Go figure.

7) I blog, and read blogs, and absorb the information and ideas that give me the same gut “ring true” or “release/relax” sensation as the affirmations, and that provide hope as I see abundant people who have been here and worse, and are now there and better!

8) Carefully avoid the controlling and intense energy that comes from too much dialogue with intense people – especially religious, loud, simplistically opinionated but vocal people. I wrote about not playing the game… I also need to not play with that energy.

9) Occasionally, out loud, I play the kind parent to myself. “Diane…it’s OK. It’s going to be OK. You’re going to be well. It will all get decided. The future is good. Relax. I love you. You are OK. You are capable. All is as it should be.”

10) Think, read, ponder POSITIVE. Go over the ideas, words so many times that I can remember them and make them a part of me. Until I can “jump the track” of my old way of thinking, and live in the new.

11) I’m really tired of trying to find someone to help me, but I am looking for a trauma counselor for something a little deeper, if warranted. I’ve done the drugs deal, and am hoping not to go there again.

So there it is, at year’s end. Above you see eleven New Year’s resolutions or re-resolutions. I can do this! You can do this, whatever it is for you! (Earth Mother mode – LOL). Really…we can!

Hoots, shouts, wahoos, and leaps of joy for the beauty, kindness and joy we are going to find in 2013.

Happy New Year!!!

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22 thoughts on “Go Ahead, Poke Me Again!

  1. pamelabelmont January 30, 2013 at 6:52 pm Reply

    Thank you for your reply! My abuser is gone now and I still have days when I worry about him, even though he is safe from all harm and safe, as well, from the demons that tormented him enough to forget who he was and who he supposedly loved. The misjudging and the misadvising are really a struggle I am still in the thick of.

    My husband used to say, and repeat very often, that there was “no such thing as perspective”. I suppose he meant something like “everyone’s problems are enough for them,” or some such thing, but he seemed to be saying that his problems were worse than anyone else’s. That he refused (and would continue to refuse) to believe anyone in the world had it as bad as he did. I used to disagree, saying that perspective was all we had. That if we didn’t have a way to put our problems in some sort of continuum from easy-to-impossible to bear, we wouldn’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. This would make him furious and he would accuse me of callousness and coldness. This type of thing was more of the word-games we often played, and I always always lost. But to me, perspective would be the melding of the good memories and the bad ones, a grateful heart for the children he gave me, a peace with what I survived and a strong ability to defend myself from ever falling prey to it again. Tall order!

    I am enjoying your posts very, very much.

    Pamela

    • ranthegauntlet January 31, 2013 at 11:05 am Reply

      Hi, Pamela! Your perspective seems like a view that is healing and lends strength! Good for you! The melding of good and bad memories was hard for me for a while, made me feel split in half, but now I can do that also. I understand the word-games. I’m sensitive to debate – I don’t like it. I might like a rousing conversation in open dialogue, but if the goal is control or winning, I won’t go there – what I call bad energy, for me.

      And do you have good, non-blaming supporters, or therapist, who understand what you have survived, and can offset the judging/misadvising you are dealing with? I have another blog to recommend. mymendingwall (Noel) talks some about unlearning and re-learning coping strategies, which is part of avoiding further abuse: http://wp.me/p2Q8GQ-8F. I hope you aren’t recovering by yourself, as I pretty much have so far. I just accessed counseling and support groups through my state’s Coalition Against Domestic Violence. I really hope the help I receive will help me be happier and more effective in my life.

      Blessings!! Diane

  2. coastalmom January 7, 2013 at 4:58 pm Reply

    By the way… my whole platform, my book etc.. comes from a place of abuse and how it is not as simple as people think… in my book, I start out explaining how it subtle it all starts… the excuses we make inside of our heads… etc… I will be praying for you!!!

    • ranthegauntlet January 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm Reply

      Thank you! My book is similar. Good thing I am so far behind you- we don’t want them to both hit the market at the same time if they have the same plot! TOTALLY kidding! Happy editing!! It sounds like your book is much needed – truly one of the greatest misunderstandings is WHY we pick an abuser, and WHY we stay. Good job!

  3. coastalmom January 7, 2013 at 4:54 pm Reply

    I am actually in awe of your writing. You use metaphors so you had me at the first one that I read! I am a metaphor gal myself. And we share the same name sooo I mean gotta love that. And you think just like me!!!!! I love your writing and I feel you are on the other side of the glass when I peek around the frame of the mirror on my fall! (Just kidding ~ that would be creepy lol) But you know what I mean when you just GET someone else? I loved your poking metaphor the best so far though I am sure there are others. You commented on a blooging friend who has caught me off guard by actually reading every post I ever posted here (I mean how can you not like someone who is doing that?) And he mentioned your post and I was curious but I feel that it is a little serendipity that I found through the backdoor.
    I have been much more selective about who I follow just for the mere fact that I need to actually finish editing my book… I mean this little note has given me yet another procrastinating excuse now hasn’t it? Not to mention the other posts you have written that I want to still read… but I just had to push follow and I am so glad I did!
    di

    • ranthegauntlet January 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm Reply

      Hi, Di! Thank you for visiting and leaving such a fun and enthusiastic comment. Since you are editing, I feel especially honored that you would check in. I look forward to being another who reads all of your posts!!

      Diane

  4. Barbara Stanley January 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm Reply

    Once upon a time, I was where you once were. I watch my father beat my mother every day. I suppose I thought that was just life, until I decided I wouldn’t take any more, even if it killed me. It takes courage that many people have no idea of. Glad you made it out alive.

    • ranthegauntlet January 3, 2013 at 6:13 pm Reply

      Barbara! I am so sorry you had to deal with abuse – especially as a child! I understand ” wouldn’t take it any more, even if it killed me.” I feel more that way now. And you’re right, it takes so much courage, which is what I hope those who haven’t experienced it can understand, and not make snap judgments and give bad/dangerous advice.

      I am SOOO glad you made it out as well. If you want to share, I wou ld like to know how that happened, what you did, if anyone helped you, how your mom coped…? If you would rather leave it in the past and not discuss…that is good also. If you want to e-mail me privately, please do: ranthegauntlet@gmail.com.

      I have tried to see if you are blogging also – and find what appears to be an unused site “Stanley’s Blog” and on your avitar, a link to examiner.com. Is that right?

      Blessings, Barbara.

      Diane

  5. jumpingonclouds January 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm Reply

    Diane, you have such a gift for writing (among many other talents to be sure). My blood boils when I read about your abuse. I know how long it is on the path of healing, but as you share so openly about your pain, you are setting others free. You’re writing the story of countless women (and men) all over the world, and I pray your pain is redeemed in the fullest measure and that you have the awesome honor of seeing others blessed and helped because of your willingness to be honest. I know it isn’t easy to share such hurtful events. I pray each keystroke is one more step of freedom for you. Your heart is huge and full of compassion, and I know when I read your posts I’m reading something very sacred. Blessings to you, Diane.

    • ranthegauntlet January 1, 2013 at 8:14 pm Reply

      Thank you, Lori! I sure don’t want to cause anyone else pain, except to create empathy toward the goal of dealing with those abused better, more respectfully and effectively. You are awesome, Friend, and such a blessing!!

      Diane

      • jumpingonclouds January 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm Reply

        YOU don’t cause any pain. You engage the compassion we have in our hearts and you offer a channel we desperately need in order to heal as a community. Keep writing…hugs to you.

        • ranthegauntlet January 2, 2013 at 8:18 am Reply

          Good! Thanks! When we already have stuff to deal with, more is not always better. I’m glad it comes across to you as I intend!!

          Your thoughts are really contagious to me. I quoted your preceeding reply in my next post. Payin it forward!

          Blessings!

          Diane

  6. Joe Pote January 1, 2013 at 8:17 am Reply

    Diane, I love your writing…your ability (and willingness) to put into words the stuff of deep emotions that are so hard to express!

    And, yes, it is so hard, sometimes, to discern the difference between a “poke and a gesture”…so we tend to over-react or become overly concerned. But…then again…we are also more able to identify and address real abuses, when they do occur.

    Thank you, for your writing!

    Happy New Year!

    • ranthegauntlet January 1, 2013 at 9:08 am Reply

      Hi, Joe!

      Wow, thanks for the reminder of the good side of being more able to identify and address real abuses. What I need to do is learn how to more EFFECTIVELY address abuses. Like ACT or not REACT. Yeah! And thanks for the encouragement.

      I just finished your book. Wonderful!! I have tripped over every single one of the myths you bust! I had NEVER encountered the idea that being divorced is not a perpetual state of being! Your book is liberating and believable. And I can see that, like me, you would like to see less harm done in the name of the Lord via incorrect advice and use of scripture. Bless you.

      Diane

  7. MustardSeedBudget.wordpress.com December 31, 2012 at 7:46 pm Reply

    Congratulations! Good to see this post! It looks like you suffered for a long time in an abusive relationship and agonized about exiting. This much I surmise, and possibly wrongly. What you did was right, but it appears you still agonize if it was the right thing to do. Stop agonizing over that decision. Remember, Jesus said divorce was permitted — not prohibited — because of the hardness of heart (in this case, your ex’s). Don’t agonize over his mistakes. You have moved on. You have a loving, patient husband! That is a huge step forward! There are many people, who after one failed marriage, would not venture to another. I have a dear friend whose wife did all kinds of things to him; he has been traumatized for some 20+ years and has been too afraid to remarry, even though a lovely and loving girl is waiting for him. So you are lightyears ahead of my friend. You have a good analysis. As for your good and bad days, that is normal. I have bad days too! I think 99% of people have bad days; they just hide it more. Yes, I reaffirm it: you are poised to help others. Destiny has led you to this moment, prepared you. You have passed through the crucible, and thought there are vestiges of fire that haunt you, yet your resilience is evident to me. I think helping others, helps yourself. Great post for the end of 2012/ beginning of 2013!!!

    • ranthegauntlet January 1, 2013 at 8:58 am Reply

      Hi Mike:
      Happy New Year!

      You are right that I agonized about exiting. For scriptural reasons but also because it would have separated me from my kids and from being able to protect them. I don’t agonize now. Yes, I suffered…but not nearly as bad as most abused women. I wanted to please God, to have a healed marriage and family, to protect my kids….and the theology I was fed/clobbered wtih/found for myself – further punished me. What I agonize about now has little basis in current fact. I don’t know where it comes from, or why it is so intense. And these are not normal good and bad days.

      I don’t agonize, but am hugely disappointed, about having to make that decision in the absence of inner confirmation from God that it was the right thing to do, even though I sought His will for years about it, and when the Bible says things like “…peace that passes understanding will guard your hearts and minds…” and “…if you ask for a fish will your Father give you a stone…” and “…ask and you shall recieve…” and “the prayers of a righteous (person) shall avail much,” and “…fear not.” Disappointed at the loss of the primary family that is the driver for all else for me. Loss of a safe childhood for my daughters. Loss of belief in a God of love, because I felt so alone and without guidance, other than guidance to suffer some more…for …what? For God, for Christ….OR just for the satisfaction of a sick personality? But it was what it was….it is what it is. Nothing to be done about it except move on and develop a mindset that works for me.

      We can’t control other people. At all. But, I hope I can create some insight for those who throw scripture around in a way that trapped me, punished me, and abused me further – and who continue to do so on a daily basis today, everywhere and to so many other women who are fighting for their lives, either physically, emotionally or spiritually. The “hospital” as you described the church in another discussion is TOO OFTEN….well, the other side of a gauntlet. They are like doctors who would go from patient to patient without washing hands, spreading infection, because they don’t believe in germs and don’t want their mindsets challenged to learn otherwise. My hope is to gently crack away at the denial in this area. On the flip side, I feel like I need to be careful of arrogantly taking upon myself any role as authority or judge.

      Everyone’s path to recovery or non-recovery is different. I wonder if your friend is buying into a lot of Christian mythology that keeps him afraid, or is unaware of legitimate counseling helps, because scripture/God/church is supposed to be enough (I don’t know that from what you said, just wondering because it is so common). Thank you for passing on that divorce was permitted – not prohibited! Many Christians are ignorantly cruel to divorced people, also. I recommend to him (and to you) the book: So You are a Believer..Who has been through Divorce, by fellow blogger Joseph Pote. I just finished it, and will talk about it more in another post. It exposes how non-scriptural common thought about divorce makes it way tougher on divorced people, too.

      I have moved on. It has been 12 years!! I did really well at first, but encountered several instances of workplace abuse and some home issues, frankly, that brought up the old feeling of helplessness and being trapped in situations with serious consequences – like money and personal value/effectiveness/influence, and being yelled at or manipulated (NOTE – THE YELLING AND MANIPULATION WERE AT WORK…NOT AT HOME!!!). I am not able to handle them as effectively as I need to. This is not unusual. Learned helplessness, anxiety, hypervigilance, insecurity are, for many, lasting legacies of abuse – beyond the ability to just “decide” them away. Thank you for the vote of confidence about resilience, and I agree that helping others is huge. It is, in fact, a primary way in which humans deal with suffering – rather than being meaningless waste and pain, it acquires a story and a meaning for good. Do you follow Human in Recovery, Inspire2Ignite, or JumpingOnClouds? There are some resilient women!

      Blessings, Friend.

      Diane

      • MustardSeedBudget.wordpress.com January 1, 2013 at 7:50 pm Reply

        Wow. There’s a lot here. I want to talk about helplessness. That’s a tough issue. When you are trapped between a rock and a hard place. You face an impossible situation: a husband whose hard heart made your marriage impossible, the desire to fight for an ideal marriage, misuse of scripture and counseling. Tough stuff, no easy answers.
        Another person faces cancer.
        It seems like we all, sooner or later, become helpless. The very nature of helplessness either drives us to God or embitters us against Him. It runs totally against American ideals. Our whole being rejects helplessness. For this, some turn to drugs and even suicide.
        I felt helpless when I was falsely accused to Guatemalan police by an extortionist who said she would withdraw the charges if I paid her Q10,000 = $2,500. Since the accusation was false, I wouldn’t pay it. But was I scared? Yeah. I feared I would be taken to jail, splashed across the newspapers. As the process ground out for 9 months, I fasted 4 days a week and lived a nightmare. In the end, I was vindicated. I saw God’s sovereignty. I learned to trust Him. But still, it was hard. I learned firsthand about helplessness. maybe not as much as you. There are a lot of people who are desperate out there, who feel helpless to change horrible circumstances, who are cutting their wrists as their only conceivable response. You could give these people the biggest force on the planet: hope. I believe in you.

        • ranthegauntlet January 2, 2013 at 8:11 am Reply

          Jeepers, Mike! You said that so well! Every point you made…I get it! Yes, tough stuff…no easy answers. Yes, we all (or almost all) become helpless. Yes, about God and American ideals. The terrible cost when we/they can’t cope.

          What an experience! I’m relieved for you, being vindicated. I can imagine the prolonged fear and uncertainty, and can guess that you felt additional horror and helplessness knowing that the Lord you were serving might also be included in the misrepresentation of you! And you GREW in faith through this. And you gained understanding and insight you just shared.

          YOU are a provider of hope! You get it. Thanks for your confidence in me, for your blog, and for the work you do in your students’ lives!

          Blessings!

          Diane

  8. Lady Quixote December 31, 2012 at 4:31 pm Reply

    This is beautiful, Diane. Your writing and thinking is deep, insightful, honest, real, and brilliant. I’m looking forward to reading all of your blog.

    As for the blogger friend who gave you advise about blogging more positive things, or whatever it was that he said — I hope you will continue to blog in YOUR unique and honest emotion and voice. In other words, let him blog his way, you blog your way, and I’ll blog my way, hurrah!

    ~Happy New Year~

    • ranthegauntlet January 1, 2013 at 12:30 am Reply

      Lady Q:

      Wow…thank you so much! For both statements!

      It is 12:30 am where I am as I make this reply – so Happy New Year for real!

      Blessings!

      Diane

  9. pamelabelmont December 31, 2012 at 2:22 pm Reply

    I really found what you said to ring true. I have gotten tired to the bone trying to convey to others just what and how many and to what degree the wierdness and the terrors and the raging and the sudden calm friendliness after the rage was spent did to me. Happy New Year and praise to another year away from the source of all that fear. I hope more than anything in the world for perspective.

    • ranthegauntlet December 31, 2012 at 11:42 pm Reply

      Hello, Pamela:

      Thank you for visitng and commenting.

      I’m so sorry you have had to deal with this! The word “weirdness” stands out – that ‘s pretty key isn’t it? And the sudden calm friendliness. Goodness…your words hit home, too. I hope when we and others tell our stories, eventually it WILL convey to those who don’t understand (and judge and misadvise) enough to equip them to respond more helpfully.

      I take it you are out of your relationship and safe? I would like to learn more specifically what you mean by perspective.

      Blessings to the moon!

      Diane

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