Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Angry Song

One of my favorite things is playing the piano while others sing. One of my brother, Justin's, favorite things is to sing. I spend many Sundays at my parents' house for dinner, and I usually play the piano while Justin sings.

Here is my angry song.
Justin's voice. The pounding on the piano. The lyrics.
When I'm angry, there is just no better therapy than this.

Lyrics: The Facade from Jekyll and Hyde
There's a face that we wear
In the cold light of day -
It's society's mask,
It's society's way,
And the truth is
That it's all a facade!

There's a face that we hide Till the nighttime appears,
And what's hiding inside, Behind all of our fears,
Is our true self,
Locked inside the facade!

Every day
People, in their own sweet way,
Like to add a coat of paint,
And be what they ain't!

That's how our little - Game is played,
Livin' like a masquerade
Actin' a bizarre charade -
While playing the saint!

But there's one thing I know,
And I know it for sure:
This disease that we've got
Has got no ready cure!
And I'm certain
Life is terribly hard -
When your life's a facade!

Look around you!
I have found You cannot tell, by lookin' at the surface,
What is lurkin' there beneath it!
See that face!
Now, I'm prepared to bet you,
What you see's not what you get -
'Cause man's a master of deceit !

So, what is the sinister secret?
The lie he will tell you is true? -
It's that each man you meet
In the street
Isn't one man but two!

Nearly everyone you see -
Like him an' her, An' you, an' me - Pretends to be
A pillar of society - A model for propriety - Sobriety
An' piety - Who shudders at the thought Of notoriety!

The ladies an' gents 'ere before you -
Which none of 'em ever admits -
May 'ave saintly looks -
But they're sinners an' crooks!

Hypocrites! Hypocrites!

There are preachers who kill!
There are killers who preach!
There are teachers who lie!
There are liars who teach!
Take yer pick, dear -
"Cause it's all a facade!

If we're not one, but two,
Are we evil or good?
Do we walk the fine line -
That we'd cross if we could?
Are we waiting -
To break through the facade?

One or two
Might look kinda well-to-do -
Hah! They're bad as me an' you,
Right down to they're boots!

I'm inclined to think -
Half mankind
Thinks the other half is blind!
Wouldn't be surprise to find -
They're all in cahoots!

At the end of the day,
They don't mean what they say,
They don't say what they mean,
They don't ever come clean -
And the answer -
Is it's all a facade!
Is it's all a facade!
Man is not one, but two,
He is evil and good,
An' he walks the fine line
We'd all cross if we could!

It's a nightmare -
We can never discard -
So we stay on our guard -
Though we love the facade -
What's behind the facade?
Look behind the facade!
Doesn't he have an awesome voice?? I'm such a proud sister.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Abuse, Church, Love

Silver Rain wrote a post on abuse... understanding abusers and their partners... I've read a lot of books, but this one takes on many of the Christian and LDS teachings that made me believe I had to stay. I could fix it.
"Part of the difficulty is reconciling the reality of abuse with the gospel. The scriptures teach us to turn the other cheek, to give the cloak with the coat, to walk the extra mile. They teach faith, hope, charity: the exact things an abuser uses to entice and entrap. He uses them deliberately, whether consciously or not.

How does a person who believes in those things reconcile them with the evidence that they do not work, that they, in fact, make things worse?"
The thing is, I couldn't. I couldn't reconcile it. I still can't. She talks about how she has, and I feel guilt and shame that I can't.

I understand that being kind to others is universal. I don't ever want to hurt anyone, but standing up for myself does NOT hurt people. Turning the other cheek is a dumb idea. I don't like it. I've tried it. It just left me bruised and battered on both sides. And I can't ever see myself suggesting that kind of thing to anyone.

If someone is hitting me, the best thing is to walk away. I actually believe that when they hit me, it hurts them as well. I don't walk away just for them, but I do believe it benefits everyone.

I don't want to discount the comfort others have found. I don't want to take away from the fact that someone else can reconcile it. I also am tired of blaming myself that I can't reconcile it. What if what I want and the way I see the world is different? What if my way makes me happy? As long as I don't harm another, is that okay?

I just don't believe the things I was taught about how to love others was actually love. Love is seeing the beauty in other people, nature, buildings, everything... Love is seeing the beauty. Without expectations. From me or from them. That is the kind of love I want in my life. That kind of love makes me happy.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Abusive Relationships

General Conference is this weekend. It always causes me great stress. In the same way Sundays used to. I'd get anxious beforehand. Church would make me completely crazy. I'd spend half the week recovering, and then start the cycle all over again. Conference is worse in many ways, but better because it is only twice a year.

I have several friends who have been in (or are still in) abusive relationships. They leave. They go back. They get hurt (emotionally more often than physically). They leave. In the books I've read about abusive relationships, it says it takes the average woman seven times before they leave for good. Why is that?

One goes back because her abuser cries and says he can't live without her.
One goes back because her abuser tells her SHE is the problem, and he wants to be happy with her... if SHE just changes, they could be happy together. She believes him.
One goes back because his abuser tells him, she's changed. She deserves another chance. And he needs to see.
I want to watch conference this weekend, because I want to know if leaving was really the right thing to do.

I didn't leave the church because I talked with "anti-mormons". I didn't leave the church because I wanted to sin. I didn't leave the church because I was offended and couldn't let go of my anger. (Well, actually, maybe I did leave because I was offended. The leaders, their teachings, and the things they did and said were harmful and thus offensive to me.) I left the church because the relationship I had with the church was an abusive one.

I believed the church had no problems - it was always ME. The reason I hated church, was because there was something wrong with me. I wasn't righteous enough. I wasn't good enough. I needed to repent. I had the wrong thoughts. I had the wrong feelings. I was bad. They didn't need to change. I did.

In all of my relationships, I falsely believed if I just changed me enough, the relationships would be good and happy. It does NOT work that way. I can only be responsible for my half of the relationship. And just because I am good, kind, loving, serving, righteous, devoted, etc., does NOT mean that the other person will treat me with love, respect, kindness, etc., and it does not mean I will be happy.

I went to bishop after bishop asking them why I wasn't happy. I told them how I didn't like the temple. I told them how much I hated church. I told them I didn't like the way I felt when I read the scriptures. They told me I needed to repent. Over and over and over I looked for something to repent for. I'd confess every thought, every deed, everything, and I still felt horrible. I went to the temple more. Read the scriptures more. Looked for the good. Served others more. Prayed for God to make me different. Make me into someone who doesn't need other people. Make me into someone who can give and give and give and never want anything in return. Make me into someone who never feels angry. Or sad. Or hurt. Make me into someone who loves the church. Change ME!

The most abusive relationship I have ever experienced is the one I had with the church. The hardest relationship to let go of is the one I have with the church. Even though it has now been nearly a year and a half since I last went, and I no longer claim to be a member, I still feel guilt and fear and shame for wanting to get out. I still feel like I have to go back.

With conference coming, that feeling intensifies. I HAVE to listen. Have to do what they say. I can not think for myself. I am no good without them. If I just change ME enough, I'll be happy there...Or maybe, I was wrong about them. Maybe they don't teach things that are harmful. Maybe I am just crazy, and I interpret everything all wrong. They don't mean what they say... And I should know that.

As I write this, I feel fear. What if no one believes me? What if no one understands and tells me (yet again) I am wrong? What if it is ME that is the problem? What if...???

I had one session with a therapist that I call DBT Guy. I shared with him an argument that I had had with Ex#2. I told him all of the things I needed to do different, so we wouldn't argue. He didn't buy it. DBT Guy's response was, "You aren't the problem."

I was confused. Of course I'm the problem. I'm ALWAYS the problem. He pointed out that I was angry, but he said I SHOULD be angry. When someone refuses to take "no" as an answer to a request, and keeps pushing, we are supposed to feel angry.

He said it MANY times in that 50 minutes session.
"YOU are not the problem."

That was almost two years ago. It has taken me a long time to believe that maybe it wasn't MY fault. Maybe I am actually okay just the way I am. Maybe I don't need to change and become perfected by someone else's definition of perfect. Maybe... Just maybe... It is okay to walk away from someone who tells me that I need to change to make them happy. (Or any other reason someone ELSE tells me I need to change.)

In my opinion, a relationship becomes abusive when one person tells someone else they are not good enough. They need to change. And at the same time, won't let that person leave the relationship. (You are not good enough for me, but I won't let you be with anyone else.) That is what it felt like being a member of the church. I wasn't good enough for them, but I didn't have the choice to leave.

Only, I did. I have the choice. I am not ever going to go back to a place or a relationship with anyone or any organization that makes me feel less than.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Scream

Back when I was inpatient, and I had group therapy a million times a day, we had a group where the therapist decided to practice "scream therapy".

He had each of us find a spot in the room. Then told us to scream our hearts out. I could not do it. Not a peep came out of my lips. I actually covered my ears, closed my eyes, and curled up in a ball. The sound, the emotions, and my own desire to scream was too much for me.

I spent a lot of time in the mountains. I WANTED to scream. I felt like if I could just scream loud enough and long enough, all the pain would get out of me. When I was out with Sunny and BJ, I'd try. I'd yell and swear, but there was something about screaming that was too... primal... for me.

This afternoon, BJ got an email from his son. BJ asked, "If you sister was being beaten by her husband, what would you counsel her to do?" He only read one line to me, and it was too much.

I screamed. And screamed. And screamed.
No swear words. No words at all. Just a scream from deep inside.

Don't talk about the abuse. Don't tell anyone that he beats you. Don't share the secrets. Protect him. Protect the marriage.

I BELIEVED this. I BELIEVED that to use my voice to share what happened to me was wrong. I WAS WRONG. My voice is the only thing I can use. My voice is the only power I have to stop abuse. (That and my ability to walk away from the abuse.)

It turns out, I can scream. Really loud and really long.

(And if I were answering the question, What counsel would you give your sister? I'd tell her to get out. Leave. Then sort out the whys and what-fors. Once she is away, THEN decide if the relationship is worth working for. If it has gotten to the point of abuse, there is A LOT that she is going to have to learn and fight through. It won't just go away, and she needs a lot of help and support. That said, each person has their own journey... I would want my sister to know she is loved. No. Matter. What.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Indiscriminate Self Sacrifice

This morning on Everyday Joy, they were talking about the movie Avatar. In the chatroom, someone shared that they didn't like the movie. I loved it... It was a big deal for me... I SAW people defend themselves, and I didn't feel like that was bad. I wasn't angry at the people for trying to protect their world.

I shared that in the chatroom... It was such a foreign concept to this person: "Survival instinct will force you to defend yourself."

Nope. Not in my world.

When I was inpatient at CFC, Paul (therapist) liked to give people signs to wear. I willingly wore every sign he gave me, except one. I don't remember exactly what it said, but it had the word "martyr" on it. I refused to wear it. I told him I wasn't a martyr. There were some assignments he gave me that I fought because they weren't what I needed. This was not one of those times. I knew it. I think he knew it, but I flat out refused, so what could he do??

Some might think I didn't want the martyr sign, because being a martyr is bad... That wasn't the case for me. A martyr was the BEST kind of person, but I wasn't one. I was still alive. I had survived, so therefore, I wasn't good enough. (It sounds really crazy to write this now, but I BELIEVED it.)

"Greater love hath no man than to give his life for his friends."
The stories of Joseph, Hyrum, and Christ... If I wanted to be good like them, I couldn't value my own life, so I didn't. (Direct result of not valuing my own life: sitting in an eating disorder treatment center, literally starving to death, and only eating because someone else told me THEY needed me to eat.)

How this played out in my life:
Ex-Husband #1 raped me, and I laid there. I thought his needs were so much more important than my pain, my sadness, my fear. THIS was love for him.
I gave money I didn't have to people who said they needed it.
I worked two jobs, had three callings, went to the temple, listened to friends as they shared their heartaches, reached out to the lonely, and no matter how much I did or gave or tried, it wasn't enough, because I WAS STILL ALIVE.
I stayed with Ex#2, even when he was physically violent. It hurt me, but it was okay, because I LOVED him... and if he needed to kill me, that was what needed to happen. (It never crossed my mind how AWFUL that would have been for him. I was SO confused.)
My cat sat on my lap, flexed her claws in my skin, and I did nothing. It drew blood, I think I felt pain, but I didn't do anything to stop her.
I didn't tell people about the violence in my life, because I didn't want anyone to protect me. I didn't want anyone to get hurt.

I was so ashamed of being alive, I was willing to die slowly by starvation rather than face the guilt and the shame.

Paul eventually changed his terminology. He came up with the phrase "indiscriminate-self-sacrifice". I was willing to sacrifice myself, my wants, my needs, my life for anyone, anything, everything, and everyone.

I'm slowly unlearning all the things I learned. I'm worth protecting. I can feel safe and happy and still be a good person. I don't want to ever harm someone else, AND I will take care of me. I can have needs and wants, and express them, and still be loved. That's what is has always been about, I just wanted to be loved, and I didn't know there was any other way.

Monday, March 14, 2011


In the book Controlling People, it basically says that when a person thinks they know what I feel (without me telling them), that is controlling.When I think I know what someone else is thinking or feeling, or that I can change what they are thinking and feeling, that is controlling.

I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

A few years ago, after leaving CFC (eating disorder treatment), but still VERY new in this whole healing process, I had to make a decision. I knew what I needed to do to heal my life, but I knew other people would think I was crazy. I kept trying to find another way around it, but finally gave up. "I don't care what people think. I don't care what other people do. Here goes nothing."

For me, what happened next was terrifying. I stopped trying to control myself so that I could control what everyone else thought of me. I cried uncontrollably for hours at a time. I screamed and ran away when I was scared, even though there was a part of me that could have controlled myself, I didn't try. I left the church. I withdrew from my family.

Some people thought I was crazy. Some people thought I was a bitch. Some people thought I was incredibly selfish. I had to give up who I thought I was, and who I thought others wanted me to be, and I had to give up the idea that I could change what other people thought of me.

I was threatened with hospitalization. I was able to say, "I'll go if that is what you need me to do. I understand that this is MY journey, and you are not required to go with me. I trust you to take care of you."

I ended up not going, and I'm glad... But that is not the point. I finally trusted me enough to let go, and I trusted the people in my life enough to let go of them. I didn't know what the end product would look like. There was a lot I didn't know, and it really didn't matter.

I didn't feel the need to control anything. Not me. Not them. Whatever happened, happened.

Fast forward to now.
I got the email from my cousin. Sent me into a kind of crazy place. At the same time, I was getting emails from BJ's kids and ex. They were telling me how I ruined his life. The combination was a little more than I could handle, and I went back to old ways of thinking.

I started to believe I was responsible for his choices. I started to believe I was responsible for their choices. I started to believe I couldn't trust myself or them or him. I forgot to even THINK about what I needed, even though that is the only thing I could know. I was trying to control what everyone else thought, rather than take care of myself.

I was quickly becoming all that I hated.
Luckily, I have some amazing friends. I changed course. I stopped trying to control what others were thinking and instead decided to face the things I could face: the memories and the secrets from my cousin.

I'm not going to say this is easy, it is NOT. I'm hurting. I'm crying. I'm scared. I'm sad. At the same time, I'm trusting the people around me to take care of themselves, and trusting me to do what is best for me, and knowing that whatever happens next is okay.

I cannot control what other people think about me.
Believing that I can, only makes me (and everyone else) incredibly miserable.
Knowing that I can't, frees me to live.

God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Courage to change the things I can.
And wisdom to know the difference.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Five Years Old

Its been a while since I've written here. Two weeks ago, I got an email from my cousin. She has been on her own path of healing. From my posts on facebook, she came to the conclusion that we have been through some similar experiences. She has tried to pretend she is okay for a long time. In a moment of clarity (but full of a lot of her own fears)she reached out to me.

Our healing paths have now intersected in a way that I never imagined.
Some of my own questions may have just found an answer.
I feel like I have just found the final piece to completely heal my life. I have worked my way through a lot...
Since her email, I have felt like I was five years old. Feeling all of the same emotions that I felt then. I kept trying to push through it. Be an adult. Got involved in other people's problems and life rather than deal with my own. Tried to run away from the present to get away from the past.

Today, I finally stopped running, working, caretaking, and pushing everything aside. I wanted to hide in the closet, so I did. I cried. And cried. And cried. And then, I wanted to be held, wrapped in a blanket. I wanted a snack and a movie on TV. So, that's what I did.

Tucked in to a blanket. Hugging my stuffed hedgehog. Watching How to Train Your Dragon. Eating a Twix.

When I was five, I was hurt. I hid in the closet. I cried. And then my mom, who was hurting and struggling herself, told me she couldn't handle my tears. She needed me to just stop crying.

I needed a mommy. I needed someone to hold me while I cried. I needed someone to ask about my pain. I needed someone to tuck me in, bring me a treat, and put a movie on TV to help distract and comfort me. I needed that, but I didn't get it.

Today, I was able to give myself exactly what I needed.