This is people being real. Reality sucks. It’s not our fault that reality sucks — that’s the way it was made. It seems that there’s something important about us experiencing life in a reality that sucks. I am quite tired of people trying to silence me because what I have to say strikes them as “negative.” I’m not saying them to be negative. I’m saying them to be real. Because I’ve been in very bad places in my life, being alone and hurt and …. If you’ve been there, you know what I”m talking about. If you don’t, then shut up and listen and try to understand it. People spend much of their lives there — not everyone, but far too many. They don’t need you Pollyanna-ing them and telling them to smile and it’ll all get better, because that’s not true. They don’t need you to fix them. Which is good, because you don’t know how to fix them, no matter how much you think you do. Continue reading This is discussion, not negativity
Feelings are tricky things. It’s not that they’re bad, or weird, or unusual. We all have feelings all the time. And that’s a good thing — it has to do with why we exist, I think. Everybody has a right to all of their feelings, and those feelings are valid.
But having strong feelings about something doesn’t make you right or wrong about it. It’s just another thing — perhaps relevant to mention, but more likely something good to think about when it comes to the issue to see where the feeling might come from and if it’s worth reconsidering. Dialectic Behavioral Therapy teaches the idea of Emotional Mind and Rational Mind (derived from Eastern Philosophies, iirc), and of balancing those together to form what is called Wise Mind. Jonathan Haidt talks of these as Emotional Mind being an elephant, and Rational Mind being the driver of that elephant — Rational mind may be able to direct the elephantine Emotional Mind in most given moments, but Emotional Mind is big and strong and can go where it wants to go, whether the driver likes it or not. Anybody who has made a really stupid decision because it felt good or right will understand why Emotional Mind is the elephant.
I tend to discount the value of what Emotional Mind wants when talking to others, in favor of pushing them toward Rational Mind, trying to find a Wise Mind balance when it comes to whatever ideas are being discussed, especially when it comes to making choices. I’ve just seen too many really bad results from Emotional Mind-based decisions to be really comfortable letting that be the guide.
For those who have read the stories of how my separation started, you will know that Dr. Laura Schlessinger was key in getting me on a more productive path of healing and growing. Some time later, her show was picked up by the radio station I listened to the most, and they carried it for many years. I love Dr. Laura deeply in my heart, for the help she was to me both in my call to her, and over the years on her show and in her books. I learned from her the importance of prioritizing my children’s needs over my own, and the importance of respecting marriage, and preparing to be in a marriage before trying to be in one again. Her butt-kicking style was very comforting to me (after the call). Sometimes people in a bad space need to be reminded of their own power and their own contribution in getting into that bad space, so they can get themselves out permanently. It’s surprising how often the commonality between all of our lives problems is that we are right there making the choices that create those problems.
Abuse Control Training was the place where I was taught new approaches to relationships based on equality and respect, rather than power and control. I learned about how gender-role expectations that I had never thought about had guided my belief system, and, subsequently, my thoughts and actions in ways that had been unfair and hurtful to Faith, and to me. I took responsibility for my belief system and made some adjustments to it that made it more comfortable for me. And I learned how to let go of my marriage and Faith, because nothing I could do or say at that point would undo what I’d already done. I created my abuse website around this time as a way of sharing links to useful resources I’d found online in those early days of the WWW. I also generated some questions people could use to assess if they were involved in abusive relationships, and some resources that could be useful to them if they saw that they were. And I spent time online in spaces frequented by survivors of all kinds of abuse, including Child Sexual Assault. After completing the year-long ACT program, I was asked to come back to the program to help co-facilitate the groups, which I did for several years. This continued my learning quite a lot. I found I had useful things to say to men and women who had been abusive in their relationships. And I got involved with the local DV community, making friends and sharing my perspective with leaders in it and with the community.
Early in my time at ACT, I noticed that I was getting lots of information about how to work better with my wife, who I rarely even spoke with, but I needed to learn more about how to deal better with my children. So I looked around and found Parents Anonymous, through which I was able to learn the 1-2-3 Magic program developed by Dr. Thomas Phelan, which was very helpful to me with them, and has proven quite applicable to my work with children since.
And then I took my perspective and experience to the Human Services field, through employment in the Child Welfare System, where I’ve been working now for 13 years. I was working with children from homes like the guys from group – in one case, I worked with the child of someone I knew from group. There were new things to learn, but this kept my head in the realities of family dysfunctions, their causes and consequences.
A year or two into this, I discovered some mail-lists for LDS people experiencing divorce. I subscribed to one, and found the interactions there quite useful. A while later, I was contacted by some of the list members who decided to leave that list because they didn’t care for the style of the list-owner so they could form a new one that they wanted me to participate in. I was invited in as a co-owner of the list, and that grew to a group of four lists, three that I co-own, and one that I took over after a list-member was encouraging others to treat their ex-wives abusively and potentially murderously. I did my best to report his information to law enforcement, as it sounded like he was planning to kill his ex-wife, quite confident that he could get away with it. I did a lot of listening to the mostly women on these groups, and added their input to my healing/growing process. I developed a much richer and more realistic model for understanding the world and relationships and marriage due to them. And made some life-long friends in the process.
Grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.
We all need all of those things every day, even on good days. When the days aren’t so good, we need them more. Letting go of our desires and wishes and wants and needs and letting God drive the bus is hard. I remember days when it felt like the sun would not rise if I forgot to get out there and push to make it happen. Realizing that making my knuckles white was accomplishing little to nothing, and might actually be working against what was best was very hard. The best thing about hitting yourself in the face with a hammer over and over is that it feels so good when you stop.
My contribution to the world is small — a very small drop in a very large ocean. It will not accomplish what I want it to accomplish. It will not earn the gratitude and attention I would like to receive from it in my neediness. But it is mine to contribute, and enough drops in the ocean can make things different. If I do what God wants with it, then it will be made best use of. If I can let go of those wants, desires, expectations and even needs (hardest to justify, but not the hardest to let go of), and allow God to direct me, my needs are taken care of, and things work out for the best.
I just wish it wasn’t so hard.