Category Archives: Codependency

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?

 

 

 

The Downer and The Upper

Don’t let the Downer bog you down (as it did me, this week)….hang in there for the Upper. (The downers are not the persons, or posts….just my energy about the content.)

THE DOWNER

I write with my version of “righteous indignation” in weak moments. It is a cultural habit in the use of words. My version is maybe, “Gee, Ain’t It Awful” that church people are so messed up (like I have anything better to offer!!!). I feel lousy when I do this, and I’m not sure why. Because pointing out what IS there is useful to decide how to do better.  Maybe I’m coming from that bad energy  – which includes trying to control (even if just within myself), fear that I have hurt feelings of good people (good citizen or codependent?), that I have judged not so good people (see what I mean?), that I haven’t been good enough (kind, wise, balanced), that I haven’t thought through all the angles and variables to be truly fair….that I haven’t been perfect enough. That I need to give it a REST. Maybe it is being over-analytical, eh?!!

MAYBE IT IS BECAUSE IT DOESN’T COME FROM A STANCE OF PEACE – WITH MYSELF AND OTHERS. Maybe because it lacks respect, true honor of others, who are my kinsmen in this life.

A conversation: One of my nephews (30-something) is a dear, and a Christian of the sort that makes me low-level crazy. I asked him lightly for his take on my experience at the large church last week. His response: 1) nothing wrong with trips like that…young people do need to be able to defend their views against secular views about the flood; 2) young people today have no respect; 3) people have lost their patriotism. The stereotypical Christian Three-pack: Popular Topic (creationism, flood, homosexuality, Ten-commandments/prayer in schools, God Bless the U.S of A, how abused Christians are, etc. ), Young People Today, Patriotism. He was TOTALLY thinking in terms of the inbred church thinking in which he is immersed. Not an inkling of awareness that someone might be looking for answers to make their life worth living, not one fleeting thought that the whole purpose of that church, Jesus, had been entirely missing in our discussion.

A post: Then I read the post “The Hegemony of Religion” by Judy (Connecting Dots…to God: http://wp.me/p1xX5U-1m6) where she references CNNs iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” which has received around three quarters of a MILLION hits and over 9000 comments. I read the CNN post, the article, and some of comments. I share some of the iReport author’s questions, but not all, and have some different ones. But the comments! If you are Christians wondering how you sound to others, read the comments while thinking, “How would this sound to me if I was new in the pew?” – and “How would this sound to me if I was hurting and seeking God/Jesus?” – and “What is the goal of this statement?”  Starting at the beginning (page 375 to date), I personally find goodthinker and DRD to be direct and kind Christians, but KCRep and CKThompson to be arrogant and snippy asses, interested in rebuttal not redemption. Throughout the comments: many generalizations about how THEY think, from those who don’t know. So many assumptions and snippy answers. And how the kind, respectful comments shine. One commenter, paraphrased, essentially says that he never heard of the harsh view of God (apparently) held by the author. Key: Where DID the author get her view of God?????

After reading the comments, I felt like crap. One of those times curled up in the fetal position thinking about the button. It is so SAD! In the name of GOD. So many people at odds, in anger and frustration and fear and ego! So much need in the world. Truth so obscure. So helpless to do any good. And I just wrote about it again.

THE UPPER:

A blog: I am CONTINUALLY reading, from start to finish, the 365 daily posts by MyBroom http://wp.me/p23M9l-6y. I am BEGINNING to get it. He has a different view, purified in his own years of soul-searching and Christ-seeking. I think he is saying things I need to hear.  Such as:

I do know this much, I can’t talk christianese anymore and I can’t give pat answers where the very heart of God and the revelation of Christ is concerned. The world seems to be full of people who confidently rattle off about God, as if He is some divine concept to be speculated about. At last after so many years of being a Christian I am beginning to understand that “Christ is all and is in all” Col. 3:11.

He is so much more than the answer to my prayers, more than the object of my worship, even more than my Saviour and Lord. He is the substance of my being, the magnificent divine mystery which is Christ in me. He has linked Himself to me Spirit to spirit in a union beyond marriage as we know it on earth.  (http://wp.me/p23M9l-6y)

You think? Can it be? Possibility that takes my breath away!

A book: The World’s Religions, by Huston Smith. In depth discussion of ..uh…the world’s religions…yeah. I skimmed and skipped to the last chapter, A Final Examination. The author pulls together common threads of many religions/faiths: He says that ethics-wise the Decalogue is pretty much the cross-cultural story (p. 387). That all identify basically three virtues: humility (“regard oneself in the company of others as one, but not more than one”), charity (regard one’s neighbor as one, as fully one as oneself), and veracity (sublime objectivity…to live authentically). Regarding vision, all religions include: 1) at-one-ment….we can’t see the whole picture, but things are more integrated than they seem; 2) the universe and God are better than they seem, perfect, and that we humans share in that; 3) we are born, live and die in mystery…that we can’t solve.

Now, some will choose to be angry at the following quotes. But if they get past that energy, I think there is a GREAT WORD to receive: WE – MUST – LISTEN. Quotes from pp 390 and 391:

Thomas Merton made this point by saying that God speaks to us in three places: in scripture, in our deepest selves, and in the voice of the stranger. We must have the graciousness to receive as well as to give, for there is no greater way to depersonalize another than to speak without also listening.

Said Jesus, blessed be his name, “Do unto others as you would they should do unto you.” Said Buddha, blessed be his name as well, “He who would, may reach the utmost height–but he must be eager to learn.” If we do not quote the other religions on these points, it is because their words would be redundant.

Sometimes what we hear is the same thing we have heard before, but spoken in different words, we suddenly understand. Sometimes actions speak louder than words, and we understand what words fail to communicate. Salvation, holiness, respect, abuse. From my perspective: WE CAN NOT EXPLAIN ANYTHING TO ANOTHER WHILE WE DISRESPECT, REFUSE TO LISTEN, AND IGNORE THEIR PAIN.

WHO – WE – ARE…..speaks loudest of all.

That includes me – who has learned AGAIN that feeding the negative and drama doesn’t do me or anyone else any good. Yes, I’m irritated by churchianity, and appalled at the damage it can do! Yes, I’ve been hurt by believing the wrong things from the wrong people. BUT THAT IS NOT WHO – I – AM. And not the main point of my blog. And not where I want you to have to go with me post after post!

Attitude check made. Cool how that works isn’t it? Downer….to upper. (Now, if I can just learn to do that with a few less words…….).

I feel better now. I don’t know much. But I’m reminded that I am one….one with other ones. I can listen. And I’m hearing: The Law may have been nailed to the cross, and Christ’s work finished 2000 years ago, and, if so, all the arguments, agendas, analyzing, trying hard, prideful words, fear, mistrust, inadequacy and everything else is moot. Maybe, if that is the truth, we can REST in the REALITY, the PERSON. And from that/from HIM, we can respect, love, and listen some more. For as long as He takes! 

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.

Proverbs 16:23-25

 The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent,
and their lips promote instruction.

Gracious words are a honeycomb,
sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

There is a way that appears to be right,
but in the end it leads to death.

1 Corinthians 2:2-5 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.  I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power,  so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.   

Blessings!

Diane

Whose Cuffs?

Earlier this week I commented on a beautiful post by Stephen (LifeRevelation.wordpress.com). His post, Counting (http://wp.me/s2dWRG-counting), was about the grace and respect extended to him by a police officer who risked much to remove his handcuffs and honor him with friendly conversation and a meal en route to jail, and the effect that had on the author’s life. My simple comment rang true to him, and he posted again (http://wp.me/2dWRG Counting and Then Some), including the potential outcome of planting that type of kindness wherever each of us travels in life, using the phrase “I want to be one who takes off the cuffs.” Stephen encourages his readers to “take off the cuffs” in whatever way we can. Yes!

So his post – that prompted my comment – that prompted his next post – has now prompted this post. Got that?

I said that I want to be one who removes the cuffs, and I do. I also felt the check inside, the nidge of uncertainty, about…what if I do so and get hurt? The outcome for the police officer, had his trust been misplaced (which it wasn’t), could have been tough.

Which has to do with how much I trust myself to know who I can trust.

This is where I am with that:

My parents are very nice people. My mother (who will be 92 in a few weeks) quotes HER mother – who said that “when people are hardest to love, that is when they need love the most.” I was taught to give the benefit of the doubt – to choose to see a person’s actions assuming their best motives, rather than their worst.

A few scriptural ideas could be seen to go along with these: “turn the other cheek,” “do not resist an evil person,” “forgive if you want to be forgiven,” “love covers a multitude of sins,” ….. Depending upon interpretation and context.

I have to qualify these to navigate my own life.

I met Peter when we were in college. He was just out of prison, 3 years, medium to minimum security, for selling heroin. He told me this with fear and trepidation after a few dates. His sincerity and honesty impressed me. I considered what I knew of him so far (gentleman, REAL, calm, open-minded, diligently turning his life around with straight A’s in Civil Engineering, honesty, good attitudes, and that I really seemed to matter to him), so I continued to see him, aware but “giving the benefit of the doubt.” All the way  to the altar. I believed the best in him, left his past in the past, loved and respected him in the present. His cuffs were off in real life; I left them off in my mind, heart and deed.

But my trust was misplaced. My respect was not reciprocated.  My upbringing didn’t prepare me to recognize and run from the few “red flags” that were there in front of me – or to assess his trustworthiness.  Nor did it prepare me to set healthy boundaries, to know how to decide when my rights and preferences were allowed to trump his rights and preferences. So, in giving the benefit of the doubt, I usually catered to and made excuses for his many “preferences.”  I thought, “it doesn’t matter that much to me, but it seems to matter a lot to him, so….”

I left his cuffs off, honored him with my love and trust, and  then I allowed him to put cuffs on ME. I allowed the misuse of Christian principles, scripture and biblical authority to snug those cuffs a little tighter. I didn’t know better.

Now, I do…know better…but I have to learn HOW. I don’t trust my own judgment, which is very common for an abuse survivor. There is a lot of fear in that…(please don’t quote, “perfect love casts out fear” – it may be true, but I’m not feelin’ it).

I am learning healthier boundaries. From codependency groups, Al-Anon, counseling, books, bloggers, and some wiser family members, I learn concepts taught neither by my parents nor my churches: what healthy boundaries are FOR ME.

It is my responsibility, in order to live effectively, to learn what I can emotionally or financially bear, and what I can’t. If, by being who I am, I can bless someone WITHOUT self harm, I’m all over it. It gives my life meaning and joy! If not, then I hope there is someone else better equipped to fill that role….or perhaps it just won’t get done. I’ve tried hard to be the “creator of happy endings.” But I’ve learned I just don’t have that kind of power. Which doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying…

I still give the benefit of the doubt, but more carefully. I still know that a person may have motivators for their actions that deserve compassion, not judgment, but I can’t hang with toxic people. I still understand that when people are hardest to love, that is when they need love the most – so I love them, tell them I love them, and show them I love them – but try to care for myself, too.

In healthier moments, I give myself permission (this is a really recent change!) to sometimes let my wants and needs be more important to me than someone else’s wants and needs. It sounds harsh.  But I need to reword “love others as I love myself” as “love myself as I love others.”  It doesn’t feel right – to the point that I sometimes prefer my own company (just easier than figuring it out) – because I’m compassionate…a team player …codependent… want to be loved and loving…but I’m afraid of what I don’t know enough to fear.  However imperfect…boundaries come first; tweaking them can come later.

As I am able, I will still, enthusiastically,  “take off cuffs!”

As Stephen says so passionately that it made me cry (repeatedly):

“Yes I want to be the person who takes off the cuffs, the shackles, the things that bind, the things that keep us from being free. I want to be the type of person who helps others unleash their full potential, find themselves, be free, live gloriously, set their hearts aflame, live in Truth, be peaceful, live in harmony, be fruitful, be excited, live long, flow with compassion, race with the wind, breathe slowly and deeply, touch the outer limits, live within, know yourself. taste life. fall in love…do you get the idea yet?”

I want every word in that paragraph with every fiber of my being! Enough to keep sawing away at my own cuffs, too.

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