Category Archives: Survivors

Speech – Light Arizona Purple

Hello, friends…it’s been a while…

The following is a speech I made a year ago, in October 2015, well before this horrible campaign and election. I believe what I said applies even more now. I am less optimistic about changes now as I was when I wrote and presented this speech, but as individuals we have to keep changing our culture of violence. We just do. One on one on one…..

Thank you to all of you for your commitment to Ending Domestic Violence.

I am honored and grateful to be here as we begin Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Arizona.

I am a survivor of a 20-year marriage to a very intelligent psychological abuser. I needed and sought help from many sources, including 6 pastors in 4 states, police in two states, counselors, friends, family, physicians and one advocate.  Their counsel ranged from cluelessly dangerous to somewhat helpful.

In 2012, 12 years after leaving my abuser, I came to the office of the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence and told the advocate, “I can’t think, or make decisions, or trust, or relax, or move forward. I’m frozen. Do you think this might have something to do with Domestic Violence?” I was heard, educated, supported and referred to appropriate help. I am so grateful!

But my story is not what is important tonight. You can Google thousands of stories, images and details about Domestic Violence among millions and more millions of stories, told or untold.

It is the millions, and more millions I want to address.

Because they include you.

One out of 4 women are abused by a partner. One out of 7 men. On Indian reservations the statistics are much higher. Consider just 25% of all women whose stories are reported. Add to that all the women who have not reported their abuse. Add families who watch helplessly, or live on after burying murdered daughters or sisters. Add neighbors who watch and worry. Add First Responders who may risk their lives to investigate, and their families who worry, or who may also have buried someone who was protecting a victim. Add medical personnel who see the trauma in emergency rooms, doctor’s offices, and psychiatric settings. Add schools, with too many traumatized kids and missed days. Add employers. Add tireless and dedicated advocates. Add those who see the images on the news and other media. Add yourself. Add everyone else.

We are all victims of Domestic Violence.

We are here tonight to Light Arizona Purple, and say together IT CAN STOP.

But to END Domestic Violence we must address the CAUSE, the machine that continues to produce Abusers and Victims.

This cause is A CULTURE OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN – and it is changing.

Programs are changing the culture: Wonderful programs have begun changing how children and youth understand behavior toward one another, how masculinity is defined, how girls and women are portrayed in advertising and media.

Media is changing the culture: NO MORE and other media blitzes are crucial, a counterpoint to much violence in other areas of media. The visibility of, and response to, violence against women via sports and entertainment has attracted attention and stimulated education and mindset change.

Grass-roots Education is changing the culture: in talks, events, and other avenues.

Victim’s services are changing the culture: providing supports and education for recovery, skills and new expectations for life without abuse – for children and adults.

VICTIMS FIND SAFETY AND ARE BELIEVED.  PERPETRATORS ARE INCREASINGLY BEING HELD ACCOUNTABLE.

BUT WE NEED TO DO MORE…AND DO IT NOW!  WHAT IS MISSING?

BYSTANDERS

Jackson Katz has posed the question that if 3% of men do violence against men, women, and children, violence that women have not been able to stop, what are the 97% of good men, the bystanders, doing?

What I want to point out is that WE ARE ALL BYSTANDERS, as WE ARE ALL VICTIMS.

We are all in this, like it or not.

Let me illustrate. In the past few weeks, I have experienced 3 incidents of males insulting females in social settings.

A man approached my female friend and me at a restaurant. He said the guests sitting near us must be teachers “Because they are women and talk a lot.” Then he made a joke that boy birds have beaks that are closed, but girl birds have beaks that are wide open.  We calmly told him he had the wrong audience and we didn’t like his joke. He simply moved away. If enough people don’t like his jokes about women, he might move on to healthier jokes. Our response was easy and private.

A second situation was a hosted dinner-seminar with 10 people who had not met before. During conversation, one man made a remark about compulsive shopping, “you know how women are.” I didn’t laugh, but others chuckled with amusement…or maybe politeness. Later, another man declared, “I’m straight up, honest, you know who I am and what I stand for…not like a woman.” Again laughter…from at least some of the women as well.

This time I didn’t want to risk being rude or creating awkwardness out of respect for the host. We know, consciously or unconsciously, that if I had responded “I don’t like that” to those statements, the group may have seen not the rude men, but me as the source of the ensuing social awkwardness.  The silent bystanders were likely “taking the high road” “not making a fuss” or maybe they just agreed with the statements.  I might have been thought to be “too politically correct” “no fun,” or “an emotional female.”

I felt much like I did when I considered the backlash for me and to my daughters if I didn’t accept and participate in the abuse in our home. I felt like any victim who has seen anyone turn their gaze away from her abuser to her, and ask what she did to make him mad.

Just as victims of abuse are silenced, either by words and the power behind them – as by the threat of physical pain, or harm to innocent persons, so also – those who reject the culture of gender insult and violence have been silenced, either by words and the power behind them, as by the threat of retaliation in jobs, family or infinitely varied social sanctions.

We are all victims and all bystanders.

These examples seem too mild to address. But this is where Domestic Violence and its supporting social systems start. These statements show a mindset that stereotypes women as foolish, untrustworthy or other negative attributes. Which is low-level social violence. These stereotypes evolve to subconscious truth, then to excuses for disrespect, and finally to justification for abuse.

Domestic Violence is so much easier to combat at this stage, because long before his hand is around her throat, the abuser has already absorbed years of input from his culture about what is acceptable and what is not. He has learned what will be sanctioned or punished, what will be ignored and for what he will be made accountable. Others have taught him who is likely to make him accountable and who will pass it over. He may also have been abused, and internalized that this is the way life is, with no one telling him otherwise.

As a people we are aware of some of the cultural forces within which we operate; most we just accept, or navigate with little effort because we have become desensitized to the harsher tactics as we function within them. As I study word use, cultural bias, and why people believe what they do, I am in awe of how our words define our culture, as they define the way we ourselves think. Our words are tremendously powerful.

So it is up to us to become aware that the little things are not so little. Are we willing to take an honest look at our own bystander awareness and kick it up a notch by defining what we will and will not do to change our Culture of Violence against Women? Are we willing to accept that EVERYONE is affected on all levels by Domestic Violence, and to see all of us as victims and as survivors?

We don’t have to start a fight to challenge this Culture of Violence against Women. We just have to become RE-sensitized to what we are really saying and hearing, choose what we are willing to face up to in order to change our culture, and DO IT.

NOW is the time to stop just talking ABOUT Domestic Violence, and ACT.

Actively learn more. Be aware. Challenge your own stereotypes. Challenge others.

Financially support the agencies and programs that are saving lives and changing minds

We are all victims of Domestic Violence.

We are all bystanders of Domestic Violence.

And, to the extent that we passively condone a culture of Violence against Women, we are also perpetrators of Domestic Violence.

It is for everyone to transform a Culture of Violence.

The time is NOW.

It Can Stop.

End Domestic Violence.

#Why I Stayed

A domestic violence advocate told me that the entire month of October, which is dedicated not only to Breast Cancer awareness, but also Domestic Violence awareness, should be spent explaining the answer to THE MOST COMMON QUESTION: “Why does she stay?”

The answers to that are as varied as snowflakes or grains of sand, and as plentiful, because there are so many reasons and so MUCH abuse, on all levels, that is either ignored or fully sanctioned by our society. The answers are important. Please look into #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. There is also a #WhyIAbuse, but I have seen no comments from abusers there.

I know many women who left, and a few who stayed. Hindsight is not 20/20 even though we hear the phrase. We have no idea what trajectory a life would take given alternate choices. So my question to myself: “Did I do the right thing, to stay….then to leave?”

My youngest daughter tells me that she remembers the anger in the air, but didn’t know what it was from. It has cost them. But would it have been better if it was out in the open, with open fighting (there was plenty of that, too). Would it have been better if I left, and they lived a dual life? Would it have been better if they had to cope with him alone? No way to know.

This is why I stayed:

#fear – of losing my kids, hurting my kids, creating greater instability for my kids, being financially unable to care for them, leaving them alone with their dad when he was “weird,” disappointing God, doing the wrong thing and regretting it

#hope #love  #faithfulness #long-suffering #denial #naiveté

Ephesians 5:21-33 (and many others)

This is why I left:

#fear – of losing my mind, taking my own life, wasting my life, failing my kids, not being there for my kids, God’s silence, suffering, desertion, ruin, being a fool.

#hope #love #faithfulness #wisdom #courage

Ephesians 5:1-7 (and many others)

For some who left, it was fairly clean and decisive, however traumatic. Many others have been re-abused and further abused by ex-spouse, court system, families, and faith communities. They are enduring things I think may have crushed me. I had it good, very good! When I hear their stories I recognize my greatest fears in staying AND leaving. For very few who stayed, there has been improvement and a decent to good relationship.

I think the word is out for those who care to listen: it is hard to stay – it is hard to leave – it is hard to be abused.

I think the word is out also that a hugely neglected issue is #WhyIAbuse.  Abusers don’t respond because they don’t believe they are abusive, are ashamed they are abusive, want to be secretly abusive, or don’t care because it doesn’t apply to them. True, but incomplete.

I have too many questions to list them all in one post. But here are my top three:

If so many men, women and children are victimized, predominantly by men, as a worldwide proven phenomena, why are we still so essentially impotent in addressing men who do violence – instead accepting male violence as normal, normative…you know, just the way it is? #WhyViolence

Best estimates of multiple studies indicate that around 25% of women are assaulted or abused, and that children privy to that violence are also affected, and that abuse by males is the single most significant health concern of women as a whole, worldwide, and that it is…you know, just the way it is. If that is the way it is, and has been, the misplaced responsibility a reality – why don’t all women take self-defense classes, promote one another financially, carry protective weapons, remove the status-builder of feminine companionship from men who are not respectful, teach each other the signs of abuse, and talk and act to strengthen and protect one another? Yes, I know this is almost like blaming the victim. I still want to know this, because I want to know how women can make each other stronger until abuse stops and we don’t need to anymore, how MEN and WOMEN can make each other stronger, period. #GotYourBack

I look at e-mails, Facebook and Twitter posts, “news” articles, memes and advertisements. What I see is a lot of persuasion without honesty, investigation or conscience. From people I otherwise respect very much I see promotion of dramatic half-truths or untruths that are hard to verify, but meanwhile polarize not clarify. POLARIZE NOT CLARIFY. (Men abuse…well, women abuse too…my statistics…your statistics…and it’s all the president’s fault…ya know?). Why are we so eager to choose sides at the expense of honesty that could yield solutions? That is grass-roots, bottom of the barrel, sneaky, subtle terrorism.  #GetReal

We share this world at this time. We are in this together. There is a lot of violence here. Does it now seem appropriate to ask, “Why do we stay?”

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I invite you to also visit:

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This Year’s Topic:
After decades of “awareness”, why is violence against women still so common?
We’re discussing what’s at the core of
A Culture of Contempt

 

 

Cloud-gaze with Me in the Grass?

The earth is warm against my back. I pause with minor annoyance as the tender-looking blanket of grass beneath me pricks not-so-tender shoots into the backs of my arms. The flies and gnats are dining elsewhere I guess, because they are nowhere to be seen, and I know that I am a favorite lunch venue. I rest my head on my palms, arms now above my head, and gaze at the sky through a kaleidoscope of shimmering leaves to watch the clouds moving and changing across the sky. The day is filled with peace and promise.

Join me?

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I see a smiling face. Forgiveness of myself, for choosing and staying with an abusive husband, for not better protecting my children, for not knowing what I needed to know. For not being able to…whatever. For being gullible enough to believe in the god others showed me, who demands suffering and calls it love, who advise with arrogance from ignorance. Forgiveness of imperfect or cruel people, who unpredictably hurt and cannot be controlled. I forgive myself for not being able to stop them or repair them, or my own flaws, or the damage my choices have made. The past, the losses, the whining about nonsense, and the minimizing of tragedy. God didn’t demand my forgiveness – for Him. He helped me find it – for me. It is so good!

I see a backbone that allows me to disagree with the crowd, however imperfectly. To say no to control or abuse for myself; to not watch silently if I am a bystander. To say yes to friends who laugh and keep confidences, are kind and honest and not easily offended – or live peacefully friendless if need be. To live un-ashamed (usually) for having been unglued or weak, knowing I could be again. To not be polite when politeness is passive agreement with a wrong. To know that my faith is between me and God and needs to pass muster with NO ONE. To reject drama, by avoidance or transcendence. I am.

I see a question mark that reminds me how much I don’t know, which relieves me of judgment. Of how much I want to know, which keeps me seeking, excited about better understanding to come. Of how much I need to know, which allows me to accept, to love and be loved. A lot.

I see the hands of a clock. Reminding me that time isn’t really linear, measured in equal increments – it is more…elastic. Decisions I think must be made NOW, can’t always be made now, don’t need to be…and in waiting through the agony of indecision, options may appear that weren’t there before. That some decisions do have to be made NOW, and just are what they are, whatever and however they are. And this moment is only this ordinary and extraordinary moment. My past, present and future are folded together like hands in prayer, fingers intertwined. It’s all good.

I see a face filled with fear. It is the face of everyone being hurt. AND the face of most doing the hurting. The face of everyone who struggles, who is part of any human community, who is subject to uncertainty, who is told he/she is not adequate, or who tells him/herself the same. The face of those who are separated from God, and those who pretend to be bosom buddies. It is the face of those who CONTROL, in any way or any place at any time. Of those who are controlled in any way or any place or any time.

Oh look! I will put my arm around your shoulder, and my face next to yours, and point to what I see! The smiling face again! Do you see it? Edging toward the fearful face, blowing into it, blending and thinning as the wind carries them away? Leaving the sun shining on our heads, like a blessing?

Do you see it?

 

 

 

Cloud Gazing and Being Worthwhile

P1010379Do you ever lay on the grass with a friend (of any age or species) to share what you see in the clouds? You may point and say, “See, over there, third cloud from the top of that tree, kind of up on the left side, there is a nose…and over there you can see the guy’s necktie?”  Silence.  “Right there?”  “I don’t see it…” “No…right THERE, where that little knobby thing sticks out…right THERE.  “Oh yeah, cool, I see the dude…uh, oh, well, um…he really looks kind of like a duck.”

That’s kind of what it’s like reading blogs and news reports sometimes! And finding a bottom line to anything. Or formulating my own thoughts.

Since I began blogging last year, it has been more natural for me to desperately explain psychological abuse via personal stories, and express anger and indignation about the support of abuse via Christian views and counsel as I “Ran the Gauntlet” than to speak with passion about how it SHOULD have been. Or, the main goal, how it CAN be! This is because I didn’t live it as it should have been. What I want most to convey really lies outside my experience.

I was also desperately disappointed by unrealized expectations of version of God I believed COULD help, comfort, speak, and empower with faith, but didn’t. I still don’t understand, and it is beyond crazy that I should hang it all out there again, this time having no expectations of God, but rather the assumption that His help, comfort, empowerment were completed 2000 years ago. This is joyful, but also very tender and private. So bold and yet so tentative that I feel like a liar to say anything at all. I can’t explain it; I can only rest, trust, wait. Not very interesting to read about. I don’t know how I want to say it any more. I don’t feel clever. I’m starting to feel real.

My stats are way down, which is fine, but indicates my words aren’t resonating as well. No cliffhangers any more like, “Will she jump? Will she believe?”  I’m sure some liked the intensity and drama. But the thing is, I don’t! Or words like abuse, and abused, and victim. Past tense, intensity and negativity aren’t where I want to live. Or Christian bashing, even when warranted! Even just within myself, when it never finds a page or ear. It hurts. I think that when one hurts, somewhere all hurt. I can do better.

My voice is different, and I haven’t quite found it.

I’m going to spend November diving deep into the space between words, and relax. I am going to write a 50,000 word novel during the inspiring and challenging National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s going to be a novel that has nothing to do with domestic violence, my past, or problems to be solved. November 1 is an hour away where I live. I have no outline, no sure plan.

I’m going to be cloud-gazing!

I can see whatever I want to see!

It will be worthwhile!

I will stop in to see you at your blogs, and maybe post here, if I like what I have to say. I will answer if you check in on me.

When I’m finished, I’m going to call out to you, invite you to join me in the grass, stretch out my arm right next to your line of sight, and say with glee, “Oh, LOOK, do you SEE it??!”

(Even if you don’t, it will be fun trying!).

Blessings,

Diane

P.S.  If you will, please pass on your favorite writing (or other) music! Inspire me! Get me moving! Say, “Oh LISTEN to this?” And I will!

The Faith of a……..

Visit “End the Silence…?” Team 2013 

Featuring: Daily Stories in the News
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The Faith of a……

Green and alive, a kaleidoscope in swaying tender grass. A whispered breeze, its breath bearing the fragrance of honeysuckle. Early morning, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful day. A child. Sweet tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy, plump, and slightly sweaty cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body resting, still for once, as all intention focused upward, in adoration and anticipation. Daddy. Papa. Abba!  

The faith of a child.

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Adorned with flowers, a kaleidoscope in sunlight dancing through intricate stained glass. Breathless stillness echoing restrained yet festive voices. A young woman, tendrils of gossamer curl clinging tenderly to a rosy cheek. Bright, wide open, unguarded eyes sparkling with delight and trust. A body moving, all intention focused ahead. A Savior. A man. One flesh. Mystery.

 

The faith of a woman.

Ephesians 5 in motion. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians%205&version=NIV

She makes her groom a lovely dinner. He doesn’t like it. Or her driving, or the way she does her hair. He asks her to keep herself more presentable and lose weight. He doesn’t laugh at her jokes. He snorts with derision at her requests and suggestions. He corrects her choice of words. He insists she cooks the eggs just right, and hangs his shirts just so. He makes himself clear, whether loudly, or quietly. He lets her know that her hobbies and work are somehow inferior. He brings her flowers. Takes her to dinner. To church. He acts gallant and she loves him. He becomes angry and controlling, and she tries to please him. The cycle continues. Romance and retribution. Love and fear. Hope and despair. She becomes isolated from friends. Unsure of herself. Timid. She wonders if she is losing her mind.

Sun streaming in windows of a home that always feels dark. Bright, guarded eyes, darting to and from his face, alert to the ebb and flow of his mood. A body rigid, all intention fearfully focused on learning the rules, and following them perfectly. Or else.

She prays that God will heal her, heal him, and bless her with strength and wisdom. She listens to others, and tries to do what they tell her is right, because something seems wrong with her faith, with her, and her marriage. She doesn’t know what to believe any more. She talks about this at her Bible study. She doesn’t know she is experiencing psychological and emotional abuse. No one else does either. Time passes, children are born, and she walks a tightrope between joy in her life and children, and fear of her husband. She is so tired.

And she can’t please him. He says it is her fault. He wouldn’t get so angry if she was a better wife, a better Christian. Then he wouldn’t want to hit her, or body block her against the wall, or tickle her too hard, threaten her with the children, or humiliate her in bed. Or embarrass her in public. It’s just that he loves her so much, and it could be so much better. If she would just get it right.

She goes to church, and talks with friends, hears sermons, and reads her Bible. She dares to speak to her pastor and a few Christian friends. They tell her to submit to her husband and that God will honor her. That if she is completely obedient, God will be her protector. That she should walk by faith, not by sight. She is told that he might be an unbeliever, in which case her goodness and kindness could win him over. And that she should not let the sun go down on her anger. That she should forgive seventy times seven. She is suffering for and with Christ. God hates divorce. Their relationship mirrors that of Christ and the Church, and she must keep trying.

What they just told her is TO SHUT UP AND PUT UP.

She is NOT in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an ABUSIVE marriage. Her husband does not relate to her as Christ to the Church. He does not honor her. He does not love her. He will not change. He sees no need to change. He is entitled. He is a 2 Timothy 3:1-4 man.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Timothy%203:1-4&version=NIV

Over time, she will find that neither God nor her husband seem to honor her submission or obedience. She wonders, as the abuse escalates, what to do about the reality of her life by “sight” while she is waiting in faith…for what, now? She wants to leave, but is afraid for herself and her children, and of what he might do.  There is so much unexpressed anger and frustration at unresolved and un-repented meanness that she goes to sleep with it and wakes with it. She drives it inward, downward until it doesn’t show, and becomes depression. She wills herself to forgive, but doesn’t really know what it means any more. She is suffering but wonders why God wants it that way, since she has prayed and believed and valiantly suffered for Christ. But she just doesn’t feel any of the peace that passes understanding that was promised. Or wisdom. And since she feels fear, not love, God must not be pleased with her. But she doesn’t know what else to do. He doesn’t seem to hear HER prayers. And she is tired, and confused, and doesn’t trust her husband, or God, or Christians who counsel her. She wants to be strong and be noble for the faith, but there just isn’t much left. She no longer knows what to believe. She no longer believes.

One in four women are abused to some degree. And the children, who carry it into the next generation.  The church is NOT immune. Christian Domestic Violence Advocates, who attempt to educate others, tell me that those in CHURCHES are the hardest to reach, because they are afraid the advocate is promoting divorce. I have encountered rigid theology, in which the letter of the word is more important than the soul of the abused. 

httpfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com~florencenywindowsAltar.htm

 

Shards of sunlight reflected from intricate stained glass. Voices from inside, singing? A woman, traces of curl limp against a shadowed face. Steady, guarded eyes, hooded by disappointment and mistrust. A body moving, one foot after the other. No savior. Nothing left to say. Nothing left to trust.

The faith of a victim.

The End.

 

No, no…NO!

I don’t like the way this story ends. So let’s write a different ending:

She is not in an Ephesians 5 marriage. She is in an abusive marriage. She talks to her pastor, and to her Christian friends. They listen respectfully, carefully and lovingly to her. They assume her truthfulness, and choose to believe her. They don’t know what to say, at first, other than, “I am so sorry you are dealing with this. He seems so nice; I never knew. What do you think you need? How can I support you?” Then they look for information on the type of behavior she has described, and learn about abuse. They tell her what they learned. They present options, but don’t push. They give her support to leave, or to stay, knowing that she is united with Christ one way or the other. They remind her that God loves her, and doesn’t want her to be abused. That fear and anger are normal, but she will move past them and again know joy. They re-read and study up on Malachi 2:16 so they can regard it the way it was likely intended. They include her in fellowship that is fun and healthy, and has nothing to do with jots and tittles. They point her to agencies, and advocates, and wait with her as she makes her choices, in whatever time it takes. And if she does divorce, she becomes a single woman, not a tainted woman. It wasn’t her fault. She bears no shame. They remind her of this. They remind OTHERS of this. As often and as long as necessary. I have also known those who understand, and speak words of strength and love and encouragement.

Amber and gold, swirling grasses bow and sway. A fragrant fall breeze, bearing the scent of mown hay.  Leaves frolic and dance, as if celebrating the abundant harvest. A warm and mild afternoon, fresh and crisp with promise of a beautiful sunset. A woman. Sweet tendrils of curl springing free to gently caress a  sun tanned cheek. Wise, wide open, unguarded eyes calmly gazing with serenity and trust. A body resting, focused inward, in adoration and companionship. Jesus. Abba!DSCN0041

The faith of a survivor.

The Beginning.

September Gift of Words

 “It’s like that Truman sign. ‘The buck stops here.’ A hero is someone who makes sure that the evil stops with them.”  Jo, the main character of October Snow, a novel by Jenna Brooks.

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I’m not afraid anymore. I will be stronger, and I will protect myself and those I love with my own clenched fists. Keep watching. Pia – An Infinite Solitude

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Here’s what God wanted me to grasp within my spirit: “For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart.-Ecclesiastes 5:20(ESV)

Something changed when I read this verse. God spoke to me about my future. I was to trust that it would be good, it would be prosperous. No longer did I worry about the future effects of the many ailments of my body; my heart was going to be occupied by joy. Joy? Yes… yes indeed. I could definitely do that. Will I face challenges? Yes. Will I have to shed a few tears now and then? Probably. But the sum total of my life was not going to be the management of pain; I am going to be pre-occupied by and engrossed in joy.

….Since I have let go of that worry, I have experienced such joy, peace, and a mission from God (pun intended. lol). When I made the decision to not let the management of pain dictate the direction of my life, the joy came flooding in; every crack and space of my heart.  The Great Plains Poet

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Theologian Frederick Buechner once told a graduating class:

“The voice we should listen to most, as we choose a vocation, is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness. What can we do that makes us the gladdest? What can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north? Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint or canvas?” Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words? Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit? I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing, and it is our thing, and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.”

Can you trust what makes you “glad? Could that really be the voice of your “calling?”

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him…. The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him….” – Thomas Merton Morning Story and Dilbert

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Choose your battles carefully. Some battles really aren’t worth fighting. Ask yourself, “What am I fighting for?” If you discover that the battle has more to do with your ego than anything else, it may not be worth the fight. You may want to take the higher road. Kristin Barton Cuthriell’s The Snowball Effect 

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Psychological freedom, much like physical and political freedom, requires vigilance.

If you’re not militant about your well-being, this world will knock the wind out of your sails, flatten you on your back, and grind you beneath its feet.

Assertiveness is not the enemy of kindness; it’s the bodyguard of kindness. It’s there to protect what others choose to neglect.

If an abusive or manipulative energy pattern manifests in your life, do the most dignified, democratic, and diplomatic thing you can possibly do: ANNIHILATE IT!

You’re nobody’s clown. You’re nobody’s tool. You’re nobody’s slave. You’re nobody’s punching bag. You’re nobody’s emotional sponge.

Psychological vigilance isn’t about harming or killing people. It’s about getting rid of self-defeating patterns and self-negating perspectives.

It’s about telling the enemies of your inner peace and spiritual freedom that they’re messing with the wrong {insert your favorite expletive here}.

It’s about looking at the elements of oppression that seek to be a part of your life and firmly saying, “let me help you die!”   T.K. Coleman 

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Blessings, Diane

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Ending the Silence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

The Color is Purple

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I am honored to be included with a number of wonderful authors on the website:

 Ending The Silence.

I invite you to visit the site for my articles and those of Lundy Bancroft, Melodie Ramone, Catherine Givans, Sherry Rentschler, P.J. LaRue, Vanessa A Ryan, Stephanie Neighbour, and Jenna Brooks (who is site originator, organizer and administrator), with individual site links and comment and contact opportunities. Each lends a valuable perspective to the diverse issues of Domestic Violence.

Throughout the month of October, Jenna will also be featuring Stories In the News, helpful information, and a Survey with results to be collected during the month, and write-in survivor’s stories.

I will be trying to post more often, on both sites. And I encourage you to take in the wealth of insight and information that will be available on all fronts during the month, not only web-based, but in communities. Check your local newspapers for articles, web-browse where services are located in your area and what they do. 

There is a HUGE need in churches, who preach compassion, to learn HOW to apply that to DV. 

I hear the salutation, “Love in Christ.”  And think of the motto, “Be Prepared.”  

This month is an easy opportunity to do both.

Blessings, Diane

A Crusty Old Cactus

Dust powdered my feet as I stood at the top of Piestewa Peak Summit Trail, overlooking the city. My eyes raced across the panoramic view, taking in the generalities, but missing the specifics. That was because my mind also raced across the panoramic view of my life, taking in the overview of successes and mistakes, joys and losses. I glanced to the side and all the scanning stopped, inward and outward.IMG_0859

I stood beside a 20 foot Saguaro cactus. It looked as though, over its lifetime, it had been so bumped, kicked, assaulted by human or nature, that it could hardly stand. Its base was shriveled and darkened, covered with scars. Farther up, less so.  Two thirds of the way up, it was green, robust, round, and thoroughly armored with the spines that are normal for the species. And at the top – a FLOWER! It was blooming!

This, I thought, is me! I liked the looks of that crusty old cactus!  And my life, however imperfect.

I am no longer a victim.  I NO LONGER FEEL LIKE A VICTIM!

I’m breathing, sleeping, jumping off cliffs, taking one day at a time, and laying my heart wide open before God.

After being frozen for months, for years, I am profoundly, utterly grateful for a number of things:

A friend who talks with me about God, Christ and faith without judging me, and without control or arrogance. A number of bloggers who very, very quietly, in words of peace, encourage me to faith like theirs…no hype, no insistence on words or doctrine, maybe no doctrine at all….more like a whispered, “this is what freedom smells like…follow the scent, breathe deeper, and also live in the One Who gives us breath.” The clamor and control of abuse has left me deaf to louder voices.

A way of seeing God and Christ that is gradually melting my sad heart and moving me forward to a place some rest and some faith. Progress.

Your prayers.

Friends I have lost touch with many moves (and moons) ago, but who have had a sweet effect on my life by their sincerity and support, and by the example of how they live their lives.  They are the Christians I went on walks with, shared kids with, shared my heart with – and who responded by being steady, sincerely loving God, knowing me very well and still loving me, seeing and hearing the parts of my situation I shared with them, admitting it wasn’t OK…and leaving it there…as displayed confidence that I would make the best choices possible. Hello, Cathy T.!  Michelle J., Rosa P., Terri H. and Karen J.? I love you, and I will be getting back in touch to tell you so!

Medical intervention for perhaps bipolar issues (perhaps not) – that has turned the volume in my mind and heart down from rock concert screams to loud conversation. Medical intervention for adrenal depletion and nutritional deficits. Therapy.

Love. Beauty. Peaceful moments. Generous thoughts and words.

Those beautiful, beautiful people in my family who love, trust, communicate, accept each other (and me!). Safety from those who don’t. And a husband who is a diamond in a world made of stones.

Hugs, kisses, touch, laughter, funny faces, odd habits, mispronounced words, photographs.

If this is manic, bring it on! If this is faith, more and deeper! If this is normal….sigh… it’s about time.  The problems are not all solved, the wounds are not all healed, the questions are not all answered. But life is looking better the longer I grow.  Maybe I am looking better the longer I grow!

Like a crusty old cactus.

Flowers

Blessings to you,

Diane

If Someone Told You To Jump Off A Cliff…Would You?

Last Saturday I was asked…are you going to  jump?

Mmmm.  40..50 feet? Probably not.

For $100?

I’m not stupid. You’re not going to give me $100!

How about if I took a video, and you could say you did it?

Yep.  I’ll jump!

I walked to the edge – thought, what if I belly flop, hit the rocks, twist in the air and get hurt?  I wanted to jump. Too afraid, I backed away, to the disappointment of observers perched on rocks below and on the cliff. “Awwwwww” (they wanted to see the mom-type jump). I watched two jumpers (survive and) beckon from below.

I tried again (right to left):

Yes, I’m alive. Onlookers clapped and cheered for me, which felt out of proportion sensational. It was exhilarating! It hurt, and was worth it! IT WAS A BLAST! No, I couldn’t insert the video here. But  thumbnail photos work great…you can’t see me too well in a swimsuit!

At a point in time, I BELIEVED, and I JUMPED.

I’m truly flummoxed at what inspired me to jump, my motivation to jump, the WHY. I watched others, absorbed their experience with gravity, rocks, and water, and BELIEVED I could make the jump, too. I assessed the risks, decided what data I believed, was at first hesitant, then…jumped.

You know me. You know this analogy is about faith. About taking the leap:  BELIEVE. Again, after running the gauntlet.

If I had leaped like this before and hit the rocks or flopped and worn bruises, would I have been willing to try again? Or said, “I no longer believe I can jump without getting hurt (I don’t trust this theology/God/Bible/Christians).” Or “I no longer consider this worthwhile (I’m tired of trying/caring).” Or, “I don’t believe in jumping off cliffs” (I’m an atheist).  What would it take to overcome those obstacles to believing that I could jump safely? Would it be enough if someone TOLD me that THEY flew like a bird and landed like a feather, and that I would too, if I just BELIEVED the way they do? If they quoted Bible verses about mounting up with the wings of eagles? How about watching them jump, land, and swim?

Another person’s reasons would be different. So, WHY do people BELIEVE? HOW do they decide WHAT to BELIEVE? And HOW do they actually BELIEVE? About anything, really…marriage, politics, global warming…but I blog about faith and domestic violence. Lately, about MY faith. I’m reading your posts! I hear you say “I just believed…in spite of what I don’t understand.” Even after abuse and disbelief or through trial. After believing perhaps mutilated scripture. How the heck do you DO that? You say, “I just did it.” HOW DO YOU DO THAT?????!

Standing on the rock – or jumping.

My experience with Christianity paired with abuse: Supernatural knowing – fail. Empirical evidence (life experience) – fail. Blind belief – fail. Understanding scripture – fail. Observing, listening to others – fail, if it doesn’t apply to my situation or they aren’t credible sources.

Regarding credible sources: I voiced my “mean God” perceptions to two close Christian friends some time ago. (It was anger – which they didn’t need to hear; but I really wanted answers from two who I thought would know, and they did claim to have the inside story from God….).

Source #1: “You are simply spewing hatred for God!”

Source #2: “You are hanging over the pit of hell.” 

Let’s hear from Source #3:

Another dialogue with Graeme (Hardwired to Christ):

Diane (speaking):

As you wonder if I am getting sick of you responding in a contrary vein, I wonder the same in reverse – especially my obstacles to crossing the line into belief. I am not consciously trying to AVOID believing.  It’s just that I have gone in blind, in faith, before and it just didn’t work for me. I’m avoiding the humiliation and disappointment of hanging myself out there and doing it again.  And I respect and appreciate beyond words the time and thought you have invested in sharing with me the reality of resting IN and WITH Christ, new creature, kingdom and earth at once, to the core of your being, that you experience.

Graeme:

I also don’t want you to go in blind – I also have tried the approach of saying things I didn’t really believe in and looking like a fool for it. In contrast I am suggesting a process of going in fully informed, a process of stepping into the one thing of which we are certain, ‘the sacrifice of Christ’ – but not until we have seen in it the rock solid love of God.

Diane (part of 2400 word “download”):

….God creates us to have free choice, but the consequences of disobedience are horrendous. Being deceived is no excuse.  Consequences for all, because of the  choice of two.  Which side of God is that? LOVE or JUSTICE? Now we have a sin nature and are MORE likely to sin and be deceived, but still take full BLAME for the wrong “free choice.” Heaven or Hell.  A choice? The FAULT of the humans who chose, not the ONE (or three) who created the set-up.  Dominion GIVEN, BY MAN, by choice,  to a different, created, FALLEN being, who has already disobeyed and been kicked out of heaven by GOD (not my man, who doesn’t have that power).  GOD who kicked satan out then GAVE stupid MAN the authority to choose to pass the world to said fallen angel, by disobeying one command, the ONLY command. Hell. Separation from God forever. Nice. Or Burning in eternal fire of punishment, for making the WRONG choice of a FREE CHOICE. Even nicer! This is so much like what abusers do, really. Love and obey me, no matter what I do to you. I have the power, and I give you choices. If  you choose wrong, I will punish you, and also hurt the kids. Oh, yeah, and I love you more than anyone else loves you. I AM love….

Graeme:

Love your work!! – I think you covered everything and I’m still here, and I presume God is too.

 I’m not going to shoot back a smart-arse Christian response to you, but just wanted to say that “that was a good spray” – and it causes me to dig past the level of clichés and down into the seam of gold – I will respond…shortly…

….All of the ills of life have a way of defining our existence; our past defines who we are, both good and bad. Unfortunately our past is shaped by fallen mankind, the kingdom of darkness, and the traumas and hardships we have traveled through. These hardships leave a big footprint, they do not pass quietly into the night, instead they claim their place in our consciousness on a daily basis, they are determined to complete the task for which they were assigned, to capture us for life in their orbit.

Is it possible for someone who has been so overwhelmingly constrained within abuse for a significant number of years, to throw off this restraint, and choose to live their lives in a completely different orbit? Can an abused person ever be defined by something that has nothing to do with their abuse, can they re-define themselves by the blood of Christ, can they choose to leave behind the past to the extent that it pales in comparison to their new identity in Christ? In other words, is it possible for the blood of Christ to so re-define us that we start over with a blank slate – that the pain of the past can grow strangely dim in the light of His wonder and grace?

In my view it is indeed possible, if we choose it we can see out the rest of our days defined by the love of Christ, but only if we truly want to, only if we are courageous enough to believe He is as good as He claims to be.

****

Which source would you consider before jumping off a cliff?

Blessings!!!!

Diane

Like Sun Sparkling on Water

Picture a river, wide and crisply cold. A magnificent, white hot afternoon sun. A gentle breeze. Look at the water, alive with fireworks, a million dancing reflections of that magnificent sun. Tears sting your eyes, from the painful brightness of the dancing light, from the heart-rending beauty of the sparkling  water, yet you don’t want to look away. If you try to catch a pinpoint with your gaze, it flashes and is gone, replaced by a million more, all laughing. They have you. But you don’t have them. LOL

I’ve been pondering ideas so sweet and new that my mind and heart can’t quite catch them, but I’m mesmerized, and don’t want to look away. They have me. God has me. I keep testing these out against my questions and rearranging my mental file cabinet, adding new folders to accommodate what I can’t assimilate into my current ineffective  paradigm. Sometimes calmed, sometimes angered by what I still can’t “take on faith.” There are so many directions I could go with this, that I just have to start somewhere.

We’ll start here: BELIEVE.

I believe in God. No matter how trashed my faith, I say to Him, “Wow…You are such an Artist!” I am touched by beauty in nature and between people, and animals figure in, too. I am awed by the immense complexity…off the chart, utter, beyond belief ORDER and artistry in nature. Even a blade of grass has millions of intricately connected parts functioning together. One blade of grass among billions. Among millions of other species and non-living things. On one celestial sphere among millions. I believe in God. In God the wildly artistic and intelligent Creator. And I can’t imagine this being done without love.

But these are things I can see and touch and smell. I find it easy to believe scientific researchers, and it is no big deal if they disagree or their statements prove false. To date, it just doesn’t affect my life on earth all that much.

Christianity is another issue. I spent 25 or so years as a devout Christian, happy going to church, teaching, studying, praying, bringing up my children “in the Lord.” From a place of need, I chose to believe what I didn’t entirely understand – like the Trinity, the need for crucifixion as the only way to be restored to God’s fellowship, and the like. I took them “on faith” and fully believed that I was “saved” and that I would receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Wonderful Counselor, to help me know how to do life with an abusive husband. I had EXPECTATIONS, derived from church and the Word, and I BELIEVED God  would operate, with me, as described. He didn’t. So, I listened to the legalistic rules, and learned to look at my flaws, pray more, be more holy, “have faith,” wait, listen for a still small voice, rebuke satan…….ad nauseum. He still didn’t operate as I  believed He would. And  I was more than disappointed. It affected my life on earth A LOT. The rug was pulled out from under me. And I have become very, very wary of who and what I hear from others, un-trusting of my own discernment, and of God’s willingness to make Himself heard by me. I wanted to just bag it, but I can’t stop listening for something I CAN believe. My friends Graeme and Angela call that a string, a connection between God and me, and that He is holding on to me. That I have a “God fact” (more later) that won’t let me let go of Him, either.

And I’m hearing something!

Graeme (Hardwired to Christ, MyBroom), replied to my comment on his blog: “My own situation is challenging, tho’ quite different. I was a victim of the Global Financial Crisis and lost my life’s work in property development. I heard all the well meaning rhetoric about what God would do for me too — and it was like trying to make a pie out of dirt, it was beyond me I didn’t have the inner resources to exercise faith. Then followed several years of wilderness struggling, I knew God was there — I just didn’t know Him well enough to have any confidence in Him — so I prayed and studied and prayed because I knew there must be a way to live by faith, to really have the word of God work for me — I came up with one key ‘fix your eyes on Jesus the author and perfector of your faith’ ….I began to see Jesus, I began to believe that irrespective of my circumstances I was safely hidden in His work on the cross — this became my primary truth — I had little else theologically resolved in my mind, just that one thing — Christ had proven himself to me on the cross. I don’t exercise belief to get through a situation — I rest in the work of the cross — it is not a process that I have to get right…, it is a fact that Christ got right already and I am just sitting in His work.”

It’s the darndest thing! I had given up on having a “relationship” with Christ, as Christians say, but this presents something truer. Being so one with Christ – one being, one creation – that I don’t pray to Someone out there somewhere, but have murmured conversations with Him to lives and dwells in me. To be so secure in God’s love and approval, which would be because of Christ not me, that everything else is secondary to that reality (perhaps just as basic as everything earthly is secondary to my next breath). For starters. This hits me full in the chest and I cry big tears.

I  just have to believe. It all happens by faith. But I don’t know how to get around the things I have to believe first: Does God love me? Is God good? Can I trust His Word?”

I know the following verse well, and have not found it to “come true.” But it’s possible God wants me to revisit this, and so I am:

Matthew 11:28-29  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

More soon.

Blessings!

Diane

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