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Pacing My Perseverance

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Really? I must? My core’s philosophy is more of the “Follow Your Bliss” perspective.  But when I run into something I know I need to do in order to move forward with whatever is the next step in following my bliss, then I not only accept Eleanor’s wisdom but gratefully embrace it as a productive prod to persevere.

Tangentially, it’s a bit interesting to see what images people choose to accompany this quote in their memes. I’m sure these wise words have as many interpretations as there are people who quote them.  I chose this meme because 1) The woman’s posture is the shape I take in my dreams when I fly, so I resonate deeply and joyfully with this gesture, and 2) She’s really only a couple of feet off the ground!  This is no mountain she is climbing; there is nothing heroic going on here; she is simply moving herself into a space of interior freedom symbolized by a whimsical yet celebratory movement.  This is a do-able dare.  This is a manageable mandate.  This is where challenge meets bliss.

That’s pretty much what this whole blog is about: perseverance: Pushing through that which is most difficult so I can fly forward with a freer spirit.  However, sometimes this dogged devotion to breaking the bonds of what would shackle my soul feels more like a crippling compulsion or a pigish plowing ever deeper a rut that risks burying me.  So I take frequent and long breaks from this necessary but unwelcome task.

There are times, when writing, my mind just goes blank, and then flits to something completely unrelated. One might be tempted to think that I am easily distracted.  Actually, I am capable of extreme concentration, and too often engage in a chosen activity with metaphorical blinders on, screening out my surroundings and not even noting the passage of time.

But when I try to write about something difficult, my mind throws up all kinds of obstacles.  And when those distractions don’t work, it just “walks out,” vacates!  My mental landscape becomes something like a desert: all white sand with a cloudy sky and nearly no perceptible horizon.  I could have chosen a “white-out” blizzard as a metaphor except that I enjoy snow and cold and am not easily disoriented by it.  But heat and lack of water make me feel sleepy and unmotivated to move.  This is another thing my mind does when I don’t want to address a painful topic head-on: persistent play with words (developing metaphors, etc.) rather than using words to actually TELL something.

Ach du lieber!  And then there’s that too: clichés.

So, I just keep typing. I let my mind move through its avoidance maneuvers, until I exhaust them. Explore, express, explain, exhaust. Return to topic?

Today, doing what’s difficult means finishing my last post regarding strong emotions.  Some so strong, so painful, I once attempted suicide.

Do I still fear the strength of my emotional capacity today? Yes and no.  I am still capable of a rage that is truly fear-worthy.  But I’ve learned to recognize when I am nearing the edge of that storm.  (I think of how rage feels and moves within me as something like a tornado.  It can pop up seemingly suddenly, yet there are warning signs.  It turns very fast, powerfully, and could be destructive to things in its path, but it doesn’t have to “touch down”.  And most importantly, it really is a storm within me, but it is not me; I can walk away from it.)  While I can’t control my world so much as to guarantee I avoid all possible triggers to my rage, I can even-so sense the perimeters of triggers and walk away when too near.  Even if I temporarily engage, I can walk away.  Walking away is a very important skill!  Walking away is always an option, and one that is as powerful as rage, actually more powerful because in walking away I dismiss the rage.  I won’t go into here and now what triggers rage for me; the significant thing is that I’ve learned how and when to walk away.

Other emotions which I can feel so powerfully that I fear being overwhelmed by them are grief and fear itself.  However, grief represents territory with which I have become familiar enough I am comfortable navigating rather than feeling lost.  Feeling a foreign fear, or fear before I understand what has caused it, or panic, or pernicious anxiety, I have learned to treat that sensation like a ferocious dog.  I can be terrified by a growling, teeth-baring dog.  And while it’s reasonable to be afraid of a dog that could attack, and it’s justifiable to simply avoid such a threat, I have been in situations where a dangerous dog had to be faced in order to get away from it.  The main thing I learned was to not SHOW my fear, to not show that I am intimidated, to refuse to submit to its terror tactic, to pretend to be the one in charge!  So when I experience a feeling of panic flare up within myself (and usually its accompanied with a racing heart and a rush of adrenaline), I’ve learned to bring up within myself, the “Commander,” She who takes Charge.  Taking Charge is not my preferred way of being, but I’ve found it’s a very handy tool in my skill-box.

Where, when, and how I’ve “learned” these things I won’t explore here.  Some of these capacities are unconscious instincts I’ve “discovered” I already have at my ready use; others are skills I’ve consciously and deliberately chosen to learn and develop.

The last fear of strong emotions I’ll mention here is when I notice (usually retrospectively) that others are somehow led by or dependent upon my “power.” Sometimes my “power”, that which I am exuding and others are following, is emotional; in those times its usually expressed as enthusiasm.  Sometimes my “power” is intellectual: clarity of thinking.  Sometimes it is spiritual: wisdom, or moral courage.  I don’t mind being a leader when I have chosen that role and those being led have consciously consented to my leadership.  I don’t mind leading in areas where I have expertise.  But when I find that others are led by my emotions I feel wary.  I don’t like that kind of “persuasion” exercised on myself, so I don’t want to manipulate others.

However, some people really enjoy experiencing the emotions of an artist-type.  That’s when I find myself being put into the role of Muse for others gratification.  And I don’t like it.  To me, it might be something like when a patient projects onto their therapist, or a parent lives vicariously through a child, or a fan stalks a celebrity!  Those things are not equal to each other, but what they have in common is the observer loses touch with the parameters of reality in relation to the observed; the receiver (or taker) of gratification assumes as their own something that actually belongs to another.  If I were a true performer, I would probably like being used as a Muse by others.  I think Performers know how to and enjoy developing a Public-Persona, and can keep their private-person shielded from the public experiences.  I however am mostly “just me.”  I struggle with the idea and use of shields.  I prefer to be fully integrated and to act consciously, directly, deliberately; it’s something I work toward every day.  It’s true I know how to take on various roles in different situations, but I don’t wear them as a mask; I use them as tools or skill-sets.

As a victim of abuse I quickly learned how to compartmentalize my experiences, my world, my self.  But as a survivor and one who would thrive, I work to become fully  integrated.  Facing my fears, especially fears about my own nature, helps me heal, become stronger and healthier, and I hope eventually whole.

 

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“Where Night meets Day” by Loyan Mani (aka Maxine Noel)

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Anger is Healthy

I’ve been reading Chapter 3 of the ASCA Survivor to Thriver manual, and it is rather discouraging, frustrating, depressing, but more so, it stirs up my anger, and anger is healthy, healthier than the feelings that leave me stuck.  Chapter 3 is painful because it reminds me of all my wounds and weaknesses.  I suffer from much of what other ASCA’s do.  However, I’m to the point in my life (recovery? healing?) where I no longer put myself down, feeling that I am the problem or defective or any negative thing.  It’s true I often feel this world wasn’t built for me, but I no-longer feel unbelonging; I just see the rest of the world as screwed up!

In Christian terms, do I recognize that I am a sinner?  Yes. But I am forgiven and made whole in Christ.  And the really cool and radical thing about Life in Christ is that all my wounds and weaknesses are redeemed — sanctified — made to be part of The Blessing of my life!  I bring up the Christian perspective because I want to make clear to my fellow Christians that I do not consider any of my wounds or weaknesses sins.  Sin is doing what you know is wrong.  Sin is the willful turning away from what I know to be God’s Will.  All the crap that happened to me and in me while I was being abused was the sin of the abuser.  And much of the crap that I continue to contend with because I am still wounded is to some extent the fault of the abuser.  However, I am glad and grateful that God has given me enough resilience and resources to heal anyway.  Anyway, the point here is: don’t confuse wounds inflicted by an abuser with any potential sinning of the abused.

I’m glad I feel anger today.  I’m glad I can recognize that what the abuser did to me was abuse, and I should be angry about that.  A huge impediment to my feeling whole-heartedly angry is all the nonsense I was taught about forgiving unconditionally right away.  Sometimes adults are idiots.  When why how did Christians begin to think that those who do wrong should bear no consequences?  So often, Christians quote Jesus as saying “turn the other cheek.”  However, Jesus was talking to adults.  Jesus was talking to adults who were in a position to choose following Him.  Children, youth, are not adults.  Children and youth should be protected by adults.  And when someone hurts a child/youth in any way, they should be punished and make some form of restitution.  The adult can choose (or not) to forgive the culprit in terms of not bearing any harm towards them beyond the resolution of the wrong, but the adult (parent/ guardian/ etc) should do everything possible to stop the harm and get justice for the child/youth.

I’m still angry that the bastard who abused me was never prosecuted.  My father got a restraining order, but that was it.  And by the time I was old enough to consider what I could do for myself, the statute of limitations had run out.  I don’t think there should be a statute of limitations on sexual abuse.  Sexual abuse causes so much harm, especially if you were in your developing years when it occurred.

There are times when I think the man who abused me should have been castrated.  He certainly should never have been allowed to have anything further to do with any children/youth.  But that’s not what happened in my community.  He lost his job in the local school, but he continued to teach privately and sometimes subbed in other schools, as well as led music ensembles that included youth.  From my vantage point the whole community is sick.

Even my own denomination took him in.  My own pastor led the man and his wife in a renewal of their vows.  But does she realize he continued to contact me everywhere I lived after I left here?  He’s a pervert.  Each time he found me, I told him to leave me alone, but he didn’t stop until I threatened to call his wife.  Even after that, he tried to contact me at a work place when I was living again with my parents.  What scum.

So do I forgive him?  No.  The best I can do is to leave him to God’s judgement.  And to work on my own healing.  My pastor (at the time of the abuse) directed me to and through forgiving him.  What idiocy.  There were so many layers of spiritual abuse heaped on top of the sexual abuse, it took me a long time to get down to the original wounds to even begin to heal.

I am glad however that I have been able to forgive my parents.  And they me.  That relationship was worth redeeming, making whole again, and even better than before.  Thank You Jesus for that.

One mystery in all of this is that I conceived.  That out of all this harm, something good could come; that’s the mystery.  I named her Sarah Maria.  I miscarried at 8 weeks, but I caught her as I miscarried.  I saw her, her head, her spine, her little phalanges that would become hands.  I cleaned her up, placed her in a bed of dried rose petals in a corsage box and buried her in the nearby Civil War cemetery.  I buried her at the foot of tree since I couldn’t give her a marker.  That tree is no longer there.  It was cut down around 15 years after I buried her.  Sarah Maria would turn 40 next year.  I believe she is in Heaven with Jesus.  I thank God for Sarah Maria.  She is pure innocence.  She is praying for my wholeness.  Thank You Lord.  Thank You for Sarah Maria.

This is all I can write right now.  I’ve been not writing because it is so hard to let myself write what it is I really have to say.  But I have to let my voice speak, even if it is raw.  I have to quit censoring myself.  It’s up to me now to put my healing first.  And this is part of it.  So here it is.  Like it or not, here it is.

Hearing helps

The reason for this blog is to provide a space dedicated to hearing hearts that need to heal.  Most of us have issues from time to time that cause us concern or even deep personal pain, some of us have deep wounds that might need a life-time to heal, but all of us need to be heard.

Hoo Cares is here to answer the question “Who cares?”  When you feel you’re alone or you can’t find a friend to talk to or you wonder where God is, Hoo Cares is here to remind you you’re not alone, God is with you, and Hoo cares.

My plan is to post a daily mini reminder of God’s Loving Presence in our lives, through scriptures, inspirational quotes, pictures, art, music — whatever I have found to be helpful/ healing to my own heart.  And if you, dear Reader, care to comment about your concerns, I will respond with a personalized word of encouragement.