Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: forgiveness (page 1 of 4)

Reblog: Stop telling me to forgive my abuser

From Christina Enevoldsen, Stop telling me to forgive my abuser:

It’s easy to understand why there would be so much disagreement considering that there are so many definitions of forgiveness. To some it means accepting the past. Others define forgiveness as letting go of negative emotions. To some, it coincides with reconciliation or feeling no ill will toward towards the abuser, while others believe it has nothing to do with a relationship the abuser.

Added to that, forgiveness is very often preached as necessary for other survivors. It’s one thing to say that forgiveness is important to you, but quite another to insist that it’s important for all survivors or to tell others what’s best for their own healing. That’s when forgiveness discussions turn into defenses against boundary violations and condescending remarks.

….Saying that we all need to be forgiven isn’t helpful. That discounts the serious and repetitive nature of sexual abuse. It’s a shame-making statement to compel a survivor into doing what they “should”. It’s each survivor’s decision to work out what’s best for him or her.”

….“holding a grudge”
“resentful”
“bitter”
“angry”

Those are all very triggering words to most survivors that I know. Why wouldn’t they be? Who wants to be around someone who is bitter? Who wants to extend support to someone who is resentful? Being labeled as angry means rejection. Those accusations are intended to get us “in line”—to make us conform to cultural norms and to put the happy face back on.

….What’s wrong with feeling ill will toward your abuser? What wrong with complaining about them? What wrong with feeling indignant about their abuse? What’s wrong with expressing anger?

Those are the things I needed to do to heal. Previously, I was numb to the things that happened to me. Coping with the abuse required me to agree with my treatment and to shut down my feelings. But unfeeling isn’t the same as being healed.

….To heal, I had to do the opposite of what forgiveness demanded. I had to finally become my own ally instead of my abuser’s. I had to acknowledge the depth of betrayal and offense that I’d experienced. I had to get in touch with my emotions and feel the pain and anger that was buried. I had to turn with compassion toward myself and give myself the comfort I needed.

While I was pressured to forgive, I didn’t make any progress in my healing. I only healed once I started to make me the focus of my healing without worrying about my abusers or my feelings toward them.

I highly recommend reading the entire post.

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New definitions: Did Phil rape me?–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 4

My apartment building was now dubbed the Morland House.  The other was the Hill House.  I loved Northanger Abbey (by Jane Austen), especially the movie.  I would forever associate the name “Morland” with Catherine Morland, the heroine.  So it was funny and fitting to live in a building named Morland.

Pearl asked to use my phone one day, since her phone was out of order for some reason, so she sat on my bed (the lower bunk), where the phone was.  She told me later,

“I saw an Alice in Chains CD on top of a Sheila Walsh CD on your radio, and I thought, ‘That is so Nyssa!'”  She laughed.

(In case you don’t know, Sheila Walsh is a sweet, contemporary Christian music singer, once a rocker but now much more mellow.  It might have been the Dirt or Facelift Alice in Chains CD, and Sheila’s For A Time Like This, which is mellow but not too mellow.)

That night, I found another saying to use as Dolphin Philosophy.  It was taken from that wonderful show, My So-Called Life, and said by Brian: “How much more ironic can you get without vomiting?”

****

The following happened on Thursday, November 10, in the morning during the time I usually had Intro to Psych, since on that date I have a note in my day planner saying class would be in room 100.  This was the room I had for Botany junior year, and for entrance exams back in the spring of 1991.  In this room on the 10th, several classes filed in and a speaker told them about date rape.

He told us that if one person is drunk and someone has sex with them, it’s now considered rape because the alcohol impairs your reasoning abilities.

Among sober people, it’s also rape if she says no, if she feels it’s a rape, when he uses false pretenses or manipulation or guilt trips to get her to consent, or when she never actually says “yes.”  He gave examples of what he meant.

I don’t think he meant to stir up paranoia, but to make guys aware that they need to be careful what they do, and to help young college women realize they don’t have to be treated this way.

Soon after, I asked Pearl into my room, and we sat on my bed.  I told her this speaker’s examples and words made me realize that sometimes John did rape me:

There was the time we were having sex, and then he suddenly withdrew and tried to stick it in my anus, even though I begged him not to.  This was when he got upset because I said rape was grounds for divorce.  (I probably didn’t tell Pearl these details.)

He used begging, pleading, manipulation, guilt-trips and false pretenses as well, like with the “subconscious” thing and snipping “You always get your way” when I didn’t want to do it anally or orally.

(I’d heard about a guy who fought at the Alamo who’d pretend to marry a girl just to get her into bed; I now knew that would be rape.)

I didn’t even know yet that the time we got back together was just so he could get sex from me; that would be rape.

Pearl prayed with me, and said, “If you do get back together, you’ll have to deal with that first.”

We also talked about whether or not I should press charges, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to pull this into a court.  Still, knowing I could if I wanted to, made me feel powerful.

I didn’t want my parents to know what was going on, though.  I didn’t want the details of our relationship being made so public.  I may also have feared that the judge would throw it out of court, just because I consented to have sex with Phil.  I wasn’t sure what to call it, but it did feel like rape for the reasons I gave above.  Phil had violated my trust as well.

I remember Phil and I talking over an episode of “Picket Fences” in which the judge threw a rape case out of court.  The judge said it didn’t count just because the guy got the woman liquored up so she’d consent.

I think Phil and I disagreed over this part.  I don’t remember if we were talking about rape in general and he brought up this episode, or if we were talking about the episode itself.  But according to the speaker, yes, it would be considered rape, both because she was liquored up and because she felt like she’d been raped.

Recently (it’s January 1999) a guy called up MTV’s Loveline and said that he got drunk at a party, so drunk he couldn’t remember anything.  Then a girl told him they’d had sex and she was now pregnant.  He said, “I think I was raped.”

This also related to a “Picket Fences” episode, in which the annoying lawyer Wambaugh said a raped man’s member was, after all, “at attention” when it happened.  But I believe a doctor said he could’ve been erect due to fear, not attraction.

On Loveline, they wondered if the guy could have been able to hold an erection while drunk long enough to ejaculate, but it’s also been said that all you need is one little sperm, and some of them are released even before ejaculation.  That’s one reason why the “withdrawal” method of birth control doesn’t work.

Apparently the caller wondered if he could have had sex with this girl while drunk, and if what she said was true, then because he was drunk it was rape.

[Written 4/25/14:] This shows how confusing this issue got in the 90s.  I know I felt used by Phil, and he did sexually assault me once.  But whether or not it’s actually “rape” to manipulate someone into sex–I don’t know.

****

Then right after this conversation with Pearl, Phil sat with someone else at lunch, but back with Persephone (and my group) at dinner.  I was angry, because I had told him in the letter to stay away from me.

Once I got up to take my tray up and go to the bathroom, just to get away from him.  Pearl said his eyes kept straying to me, which he didn’t do before today.

Persephone left, but he stayed–making Pearl and me both fear he’d confront me right there at the table.  He sat there a few moments, head down, fists on his temples, said something to Charles, then finally got up and left.

****

The school play, Measure for Measure, ran from November 10-12 at 8pm each night.  I didn’t go to the first showing.  A guy in one of my classes said he went to the opening night performance, but the acting was bad and the words were all muted and unintelligible.  He couldn’t tell what was going on.

Pearl and I went to the play on Friday the 11th.  It was weird to see Phil in it, playing the role of Vincentio, Duke of Vienna.  I tried to remember that other people I knew and liked were in the play.  One of these days I’ll have to read the play and find out what happened, since that guy in class was right.  Even Phil didn’t sound convincing.

I dreaded having to sit and watch this guy I’d been trying to avoid and ignore.  He even had the lead role, so I had to see him most often.  During an intermission, I heard a girl near the bathroom say “Phil O’Hara” with a smile.  I think she was a freshman.  I cringed, wondering if she had a thing for him.

I wondered if he even knew I was there, if he could see me in the audience.  I suspected he could, but I’d also heard somewhere that with the lights off you can’t see the audience that well.  Later, I admitted to Pearl that while watching I discovered I did still love him, after all.

Usually, the actors and actresses in each play would come out in the lobby so you could congratulate them on their performances.  After Lucky Spot, Pearl and I had stopped to congratulate Phil.  This time, I don’t remember if we stopped to talk to our friends in the play, which we might have done, but we said not a word to Phil.

****

Sharon and I went on many walks that fall through the woods and down by the lake together.  We talked about many things, such as childhood games and friends.

We spotted the covered Friendship Bridge, which had been partially destroyed when a tree fell on it.  It later collapsed.  This might have happened in a storm.  The tree was still there when we saw it.  The school knew about this, and the Zetas were to build a new one.

I believe this was also the first time I ever saw the Friendship Bridge.  I know I saw this in the fall of 1994–though a Mirror issue says the Zetas built a new bridge in the summer of 1994–so they must have left the old one the way it was.

I discovered that Sharon agreed with me on people banging on the bathroom door, like Dave’s fiancée did to me.  Things don’t always move along for me like they should, or it comes continuously for a long time; one day, Tara came along, banged on the bathroom door, scared me half to death, and yelled, “Would you hurry up in there!”

Why didn’t she just lightly knock and politely ask, “Are you going to be in there much longer?”  I wasn’t in there for my own amusement.  I was so ticked.  And I later found that Sharon agreed with me: She called that “intimidation” and dysfunctional behavior.

Thus was cemented a lifelong friendship.  We still see each other now and then, though we’re in two different cities.

****

I wasn’t attracted to Mike when I first met him, back when I was in love with Shawn.  But now, he was so cute and sweet and moral, and I wanted to date him so bad. I dreamed of being with him, and wondered what it would be like to be a pastor’s wife.

I’d always admired spiritual people, like pastors and missionaries, and thought it would be cool to be married to one (unlike my mom, who protested back when Dad started studying for the ministry because she’d never wanted to be a pastor’s wife).

I also saw them on TV and movies, and wanted a man like them (for example, How Green Was My Valley and an episode of The Campbells in which the Campbell girl thinks a traveling, young pastor wants to marry her).

Back when I had a crush on Phil junior year, I also had a crush on Mike.  I couldn’t decide which one I wanted most.  They both showed signs of possibly liking me back, though Phil’s were stronger.

I can remember walking next to Mike in the parking lot at the Susan Ashton concert, feeling like I belonged there.  At the same concert, as Susan told us all about her pastor-husband, I thought how cool it would be to marry Mike and have my own pastor-husband.  At that point, my crush on Mike was stronger than the one on Phil.

As Dad drove me home from Roanoke at the beginning of Thanksgiving Break, I thought of both of them as we rode through the darkness.  Finally, there was someone besides Shawn or Peter for me to dream of, someone I might actually get to date.  Not some elusive dream, like James, whom I’d also tried asking out.

But by December, a lack of signs from Mike and an abundance of signs from Phil, plus Phil’s physical appearance and oddness and Christian beliefs and apparent niceness, tipped the scale in Phil’s favor.

(Mike’s niceness was real, but not Phil’s, but I didn’t know that yet.)

You know what happened next.

Around that time I heard some guy call “Nyssa” from an upper library window as I passed, but I couldn’t see who it was.  I always wondered if it was Phil, but he insisted it wasn’t him.  I even asked his “subconscious,” who said it wasn’t him but he wished it was.

I wonder now what it would’ve been like if I’d asked Mike out instead of Phil.  I was afraid to ask Mike out senior year because at the beginning of the year he told Pearl, “I know she likes me, and I don’t know what to do about it.”  Phil had told him, as I mentioned before.  But I kept hoping he’d change his mind and decide he wanted to be with me.

I kept trying to attract his notice by dressing well (he said he liked this in a girl), taking off my glasses in his presence to clean them and show him what my face really looked like, talking with him about Intro to Christianity, things like that.

Once or twice I had to pass him in the apartment hall in a T-shirt nightgown and my robe, which was hot pink and really nice-looking.  I wondered if this would stir any passion in him.

Yet he never made a move, and I wondered if it was futile.  But I have to give him credit: He was nice to me, but without leading me on.  Some guys will be mean to you.  I also never “threw” myself at him, so he had nothing to rebuff.

****

Those brown Dodge Caravans were everywhere that fall!  Phil’s model was very popular.  (They were popular in 1993 and 1994, but Phil’s was from around 1984, which confuses me now because how could a 10-year-old van be suddenly popular?)

I used to like it, and there was another one on my street that past summer, which we thought was funny.  We always had to check the license plate in a parking lot because it was easy to get confused.

Now, they reminded me of Phil, which I did not want.  One of the other students, a female non-trad, also owned one.  So I saw them a lot, and always had to check the license plate or the driver to see if it was his.

Even worse, Phil kept parking his minivan in the lot next to my apartment building, in view of my window.  I knew he was probably either in Muehlmeier seeing Persephone (doing who knew what) or in my own apartment building seeing Dirk.

Did he park there deliberately so I’d know he was there?  He wasn’t supposed to park there, but by Grossheusch, according to campus rules.  I kept hoping he’d get a ticket.  He rarely parked by Grossheusch.

Was he trying to upset me?  He knew I lived there.  He knew I had to walk right by the parking lot to get anywhere on campus.  And he usually parked right next to the sidewalk.  It was all I could do to restrain myself from kicking the tires.  But I forced myself to restrain, because I knew it was right.

On the 12th, I wrote this to friends:

I also want to say I’m feeling happier now than I have for a while.  And the day after I wrote in the journal about this hate and anger I didn’t know how to deal with, I had to re-shelve some books in the religion section of the library.

I had several spiritual questions, and started looking over the titles to see if there was a book that could help me.  And there was a little white paperback called Forgive and Forget: Healing the Hurts you Don’t Deserve.  So I snatched it up and checked it out at the desk.

It’s been quite helpful, and even though I still think what’s-their-name is an idiot and a jerk, it seems my hatred has lost some of its intensity.  The problem is that I keep wanting to hang onto it, but the book says, hatred’s power is short-lived.  It may give you power, but it won’t last as long as the power forgiveness gives you.

The book also told me to confront the person who’s hurt me, and tell them just what they’ve done to me.  I did just that in a letter, and I feel so much better now because of it.

They had been going on their merry way like they didn’t know the damage they left in their wake, but a day or two after they got the letter, I could tell they now had a better concept of what they’d done.  I now pray that God will convict this person, because He’s the only one who can.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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I confront Phil about his abuse–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–November 1994, Part 2

On the third, Persephone and I joked about how Phil squanders his money.  I mentioned the tithe-disagreement when he said he’d handle our finances, and she said, “I’m never gonna marry him.  I’m not crazy!”

On the fourth, I wrote in my diary,

“I’m a better person when I’m not around you.”  Hogwash.  [And also, from accounts of his next girlfriends, not at all true.]  You’ve got to take responsibility for your own actions, since nobody makes you act cruel unless they hold a gun to your head or something.

If you treat me like dirt, if you feel like a bad person around me, that’s your problem, not mine.

On the fifth or sixth, Saturday or Sunday, my roommies and I were walking back from lunch when lo and behold, I saw Phil and Persephone off in the distance, walking on the drive over by the marshy field beyond.

I couldn’t believe it.  I have recorded many different times when Phil and I somehow “happened” to be in the same place at the same time, no matter how unusual.

When we had class at the same time and in the same building, it was understandable, but this often wasn’t the case.  It was as if Phil knew where I was at all times and made an effort to be in my sight.

If, in those days, American society had already grown paranoid about stalkers (which they were in the late 90s), I probably would have asked the question, Is Phil stalking me?

As it was, I was very upset, seeing yet again a reminder of how quickly he threw me away and looked for a replacement chick, after having insisted for months and months that we were truly man and wife.

On November 3, I had just prayed for help forgiving Phil.  I had also just written in the Journal to my friends the day before about the hurt and anger I didn’t know how to deal with.

I had to shelve new books in the Religion section of the library.  So I looked around for books on knowing God’s will and other spiritual questions.

Then I saw this little, white paperback with the title, Forgive and Forget: Healing The Hurts We Don’t Deserve by Lewis B. Smeade.  (Here is an interview with the author which describes the book’s philosophy.)

I snatched up the book and put it on the cart to check out.

It said hatred was stage 2 of forgiveness.  It said that in order to forgive, first I must confront the person who wronged me–say how he wronged me, and that I hated him for it.  It had to be done, or I wouldn’t be able to release him in my heart, and he wouldn’t know that he did something wrong.

On pages 141-2, the author described a college teacher who trusted the chairman of her department to put in a good word for her.  Instead, he stabbed her in the back, and she lost her job.

She knew about it, but he didn’t know she did.  She pretended each day to day that it hadn’t happened; each night she’d go home and throw up.  Finally, she told him he’d done her wrong, “and I hate you for it.”  After that, she stopped throwing up after work.

Dr. Phil McGraw also says that sending a letter is sometimes necessary:

As you consider your own triggering event and the nature and degree of the suffering you’ve endured, what is your MER [Minimal Effective Response]?

Maybe you don’t feel the need or have the courage right now to do either one of the kinds of things that were contemplated for Rhonda. Maybe what you need to do is write a letter and write down all your thoughts and all your feelings. Maybe that does it for you.

Maybe you even need to mail the letter, if your event involves another person. Perhaps, like Rhonda, if you can’t mail the letter, then you might need to go to the offender’s grave and read it to him or her in the cemetery.

Whatever your MER is, you need to identify it and you need to do it. You need to emit that response until such time as you can say, “OK, that’s it. That’s enough. My lens is clean. My emotional business is finished and I am free to go back to being that person that I now know that I am.”

So I confronted Phil in a letter, which I let sit, told my dad about, and then showed to Pearl for advice before sending.  It’s often said that we should confront people rather than just complaining about them to other people, that the pain of confrontation is brief in comparison to the pain of having a problem continue.

The letter went into detail about the emotional abuse Phil had put me through.  

It made clear that I saw him with my last letter coming out of Muehlmeier, and that I felt there was nothing about that letter to upset him.  It chewed him out for showing it around rather than considering it.

It gave my perspective on the marriage, which is that it was real and valid.  

The letter explained that I had to confront him if I ever hoped to forgive him.

I prayed a lot over the letter, asking for guidance, for the proper words and content, for God to work his will through it, soften Phil’s heart for it, convict him through it….I felt it was God’s will for me to send it.

Phil never responded to the letter–probably because I told him not to unless he sincerely repented.  I didn’t want to talk about it.  I’d already had quite enough of his dismissals any time I tried to tell him he did something wrong.

I wanted him to stop sitting with us at meals and getting mushy with Persephone, to stop greeting me in the halls; I wanted to be left completely alone so my anger would cool down.

I wrote, “No more will I be walked over.”

Persephone found the letter accidentally, but after talking with me about it, decided she had nothing to be angry with me about.

After reading this letter over again almost 20 years later, I would have deleted some things, though I put them in there for a valid reason.  But they could be misunderstood or seen as arrogant.

But I understand them: I was furious with him because, as I have shown over the course of these memoirs, he had emotionally, psychologically, and sexually abused me since we started dating.

I expressed so much anger because he ripped my spirit in two with his constant psychological abuse, gaslighting, playing hoaxes, and attempts to force me into painful or disgusting sex.

He sexually assaulted me.

He tried to change history on me and lie to me numerous times about my own behavior, to make me think I was bad, when I never did what he accused me of.

He shamed me and cut me down over and over again for things which were not wrong, such as solving a puzzle on a game differently than he would, simply so he could control me with his fury and verbal abuse.

The pain was still raw, and immediately after breaking up with me, he started up with a new girl.  He sat with my friends and me all the time to be with this new girl, and got cuddly and cutesy with her right in front of me, deliberately rubbing in my face that he had moved on already.

He told lies about me to his friends, a smear campaign to make others think I was the abuser.  He was still trying to control and abuse me after the relationship was over.

5 years later, I still saw it as an excellent letter, though I already saw the things that needed changing.  Even 12 years later, when I posted these accounts on the Web in 2006, I still thought it was a good letter, with nothing to be ashamed of.

In any case, the letter never threatened or begged; it gave my point of view completely, and told him to stay away from me so I could calm down my anger.  It was brief, only about 4 typed pages.

I did not yet know the terms emotional abuse, sexual abuse (forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do), psychological abuse, or gaslighting.

But this and the previous letter described many of his abuses, and begged him to get counseling for himself.  It even directly accused him of abusing his authority as head of the wife.

It’s a relief to read this many years later, because I did indeed confront my abuser with his abuses, and do not have that “unfinished business.”

This part I would not touch; it is the best part of the letter:

During our marriage I may’ve done a few things I shouldn’t have, but you’ve done your own things that make me think you just don’t know how to respect or love a wife.  Some of the things you say to your own mother were warnings to me, but I hoped you wouldn’t treat me the same.

And your refusals to respond to my needs in so many situations–only your “subconscious” really knew the proper way to treat a woman, and that’s why I fell in love with him.

Then I discovered he wasn’t even real, and that it wasn’t easy to get you to act like him, even though you said it was.  He was you, you said.  Yeah, right.

He was reasonable, unaccusing, cool-headed.  He could compromise.  He didn’t demand his wants over my needs, nor make me feel like I had to be a meek little slave to please you. 

He wouldn’t flat-out refuse to do something I needed done just because he didn’t want to, he’d have a legitimate reason. He wouldn’t force himself on me in ways that pained me, he’d slowly get me to want them. 

He wouldn’t take and take all I was willing to give, which was a lot, and then not give me what I asked for. He wouldn’t be chauvinistic nor treat me like a silly and naïve woman, when really I could often reason better or was better informed. 

[At first this seemed arrogant, but then I saw that he treated me like “a silly and naïve woman.”  It wasn’t about arrogance, but protested being treated like an idiot.]

He didn’t abuse his authority as head of the wife, or be a tyrant.

This isn’t a question of being meant for someone, this is a question of examining yourself and the way you treat your wife, changing what you can change and not taking the defeatist attitude that you can’t, learning to compromise, and thinking how your stage of rebellion (which really isn’t against me) can be gotten through without hurting and alienating the people who love you the most.

I feel sorry for Persephone, who has yet to learn these things about you.

Since he never apologized or repented during that time (at least, that I ever heard), and carried on his behavior to subsequent relationships, I was probably talking to a brick wall.  But somebody had to confront him.

Persephone also confronted him, calling him an a–hole for things he did to me and told her about.  Knowing her, she probably also confronted him about things he did to her.

So there you have it: First, I went to him directly with my concerns.  Then I discovered that Persephone told him off for the things he did to me.

Yet he did not repent.

Since we had no church in common, and he no longer went to InterVarsity meetings, there was no way to “tell it to the church.”  The next stage, adapting Matthew 18:15-17 to my situation, was to stop associating with him.

On the 8th, praying on the way, I pinched the letter as a symbolic “laying on of hands,” then dropped the letter in the Campus Center mailbox.  I went into the Campus Shoppe for a bit, then started out.

But who should open the door for me, but Phil!  How did he, a commuter on a campus with more than 1000 students enrolled, always show up in the same place and time as me?

I stared straight ahead and walked past him.  As I wrote in my diary the next day,

It is done.  It makes me nervous, but there’s also that consciousness of doing the right thing–facing up to my tormentor, taking no more of this abuse.

Pearl also has a theory on why I keep running into him all the time: Maybe God’s trying to teach me endurance.  Hm.

Index 
Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:

 

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Reflections on Emily Yoffe’s article: Why I keep perseverating on the abuse, and why forgiving the abusers may be unneeded

Emily Yoffe recently wrote in The Debt: When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?:

Bruce Springsteen’s frustrated, depressive father took out much of his rage on his son.

In a New Yorker profile, David Remnick writes that long after Springsteen’s family had left his unhappy childhood home, he would obsessively drive by the old house.

A therapist said to him, “Something went wrong, and you keep going back to see if you can fix it or somehow make it right.”

Springsteen finally came to accept he couldn’t. When he became successful he did give his parents the money to buy their dream house.

But Springsteen says of this seeming reconciliation, “Of course, all the deeper things go unsaid, that it all could have been a little different.”

I get this.  This explains everything.  He kept driving past the old house because he wanted to fix it somehow.

This explains why my mind has had so much trouble closing the door on Richard and Tracy: Not only did their constant presence on my blog keep me mired in the past and their hard-heartedness, seeing all the proof I put up that they were abusive, but refusing to apologize and make it right–

–but I kept going back to the situation because I wanted to fix it somehow, make it right.

Figure out what happened.

Figure out if I had it pegged correctly or was way off.

Figure out if I could post just the right thing which would get Tracy to realize how badly she had treated and misjudged me.

More importantly, figure out if I could post just the right thing to get Richard to realize how badly he had treated a loyal and devoted friend who would have done anything for him.

Yoffe also writes:

In a 2008 essay in the journal In Character, history professor Wilfred McClay writes that as a society we have twisted the meaning of forgiveness into a therapeutic act for the victim:

“[F]orgiveness is in danger of being debased into a kind of cheap grace, a waiving of standards of justice without which such transactions have no meaning.”

Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, writes that,

“There is a watered-down but widespread form of ‘forgiveness’ best tagged preemptory or exculpatory forgiveness. That is, without any indication of regret or remorse from perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes, we are enjoined by many not to harden our hearts but rather to ‘forgive.’

I agree with these more bracing views about what forgiveness should entail. Choosing not to forgive does not doom someone to being mired in the past forever. Accepting what happened and moving on is a good general principle.

But it can be comforting for those being browbeaten to absolve their parents to recognize that forgiveness works best as a mutual endeavor.

After all, many adult children of abusers have never heard a word of regret from their parent or parents. People who have the capacity to ruthlessly maltreat their children tend toward self-justification, not shame…..

It’s wonderful when there can be true reconciliation and healing, when all parties can feel the past has been somehow redeemed. But I don’t think Rochelle, Beatrice, and others like them should be hammered with lectures about the benefits of—here comes that dread word—closure.

Sometimes the best thing to do is just close the door.

How can I forgive someone who refuses to repent? who would continue to violate my boundaries of being left alone, if I hadn’t switched to self-hosted Wordpress and blocked them at the server level?

Even though my old blog is no longer maintained, and even though they are blocked from the new one, my abusers/stalkers continue to check my old blog at least every other day.  They know about the new blog, so I am quite certain they have tried to come here, but can’t get in.

The biblical passages on forgiveness seem to refer to, forgiving someone who has repented.  If my abuser refuses to admit to abusing me, how can I absolve her of it, treat her as if she never abused me?

Even a simple “hello” if I see her at church, would feel like soul murder.  How can I possibly do that?

I can, however, accept that she abused me, accept that she refuses to admit to it, and treat her as I would a rattlesnake. 

You don’t need to forgive the rattlesnake if it bites you; it’s doing what comes naturally, and would not be sorry for it.  You don’t say hello to a rattlesnake; you give it a wide berth and then run the heck away from it.

 

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Grief Continues Over False Friend

Why can’t I abolish the grief?  Everything I know about Richard says he is not worth it.  But the good times keep coming back to mind.  I keep wishing for a call, a knock on the door, something.

But why?  Why from someone who read all about my pain, anguish and anger, and laughed at it?  Why from someone who claimed to love me like a sister or cousin, then tore my heart out by betraying me?  Why from someone with a violent record who has told me chilling things that made my hair stand on end?

My husband wonders how I can still care about someone who’s done all the things Richard has done to me.  I see every evidence that Richard used me and was never truly my friend.  Yet I keep remembering things that made me think he was my true friend in the first place….

It must be Stockholm Syndrome.

I suppose it’s because they did even more just recently to hurt me, and he did nothing to stop it.  I saw him going along with it.

This is the one I loved like a brother, opened my home to, did anything for, stuck up for, was intensely loyal to, told my secrets to, called my best friend, called my spiritual mentor and guide?

It went against my long-held hopes, which had flared up after his quiet visit to church last October, that one day he would realize what he had done, and come to my husband and me to apologize and make peace.

I suppose it’s because he was my spiritual mentor and guide, the one who showed me the way and was there for me every step of the way through my conversion to Orthodoxy.  Not only did this form a special, unusual bond between us, but it has made his betrayal of me–and his criminal conviction–far more devastating.

It took me maybe a year or less to get over two of my ex-boyfriends after devastating and brutal breakups, to accept that a couple of my friends had drifted off (probably because of an argument they had with another friend), to get past the horrible way my boss quit one day.

Well…Maybe I get used to it, anyway.  I still miss the person and try to reconnect on occasion….

But this…this is not going away.  I still miss my friend, probably always will, still have a huge hole in my heart that nothing and nobody else can fill.  Such a friendship as (I thought it) was, does not just spring up overnight to replace it.

I was always a kind, sweet, good, loyal friend to him.  His welfare was always first on my mind, I cried when he had problems and tried to help, I cried when he gave me certain bad news one day in November 2007 [which I won’t describe on the Web] and I tried to comfort him, I got angry when I saw him abused.  He knows that I do not deserve all of this abuse.

I want to say to him, “Don’t fight against the pricks of conscience, Richard; your salvation is at stake.  Don’t defend and make excuses for evil.  Don’t do evil yourself.  Remember the monks falling from the ladder?

I heard every word of the priest’s sermon the last time you were there.  I think he meant to speak directly to us, since we’ve both been bothering him with this issue.  Remember what he said?  Stop poking each other, I think it was……Well, every time you act nasty and refuse to consider my feelings about anything, you poke me.  Every day without repentance and forgiveness is another poke.”

Also, whenever he reads my blog, it’s a poke.  It keeps me connected to him.  Keeps me wondering what he’ll read next, and why he’s reading.  It’s another reason I keep sinking into grief again.

Oddly enough, my son’s favorite cartoon, Phineas and Ferb, reminds me of this.  The poseur-evil mad scientist Doofenschmirtz, always fights against Perry the Platypus, his nemesis.  Yet at the same time, he expects Perry to show up to fight his schemes, scolds him when he’s late, even looks forward to him showing up.  He even has little get-togethers with him on occasion.

And in one episode, Doofenschmirtz declares that his best friend is Perry the Platypus.  I suppose seeing my blog stalkers in the stats, is much like this.  “You’re late!  I expect better from you, Perry.”  Oh, look, I have my own nemesis…..It made Doofenschmirtz so proud to have a nemesis.

In reading another abuse blog, I see that the writer has posted a few messages there to his dad, who reads it.  So I’m not the only one who posts messages to my abusers.  For example,

ONE FINAL APPEAL: [Abuser], your other option is to confess, repent, come clean and seek reconciliation and get help for your many issues and ask for mercy.

True repentance begins with acknowledging the sin and admitting you have a problem. You still may have to suffer some consequences for your sin, I can’t guarantee you won’t, but I’m pretty sure the consequences will be worse if you keep digging in.

[Abuser], stop this nonsense. Come forward and confess and repent. I’ll then help you to make amends, and help you ask for mercy, even though you may have to suffer some consequences, but it will go better for my Mom and your wife if you do the right thing now without this going further.

Call me, you know how to reach me. –Blog now defunct

I can only hope that my own such posts lead to better results than this blogger has found, though like him, I don’t mince words, don’t sacrifice honesty.  It is one of my most fervent desires, that one day Richard will prove me wrong, and show himself to be the kind of person I once thought he was, and come to us.

In abuse situations, the abuse victim cannot be forced to be the one to apologize, cannot be expected to make the first move.  It is not my place to reconcile with Tracy; it is not my place to make a move for forgiveness with Richard.

Tracy must repent for abusing me, her husband, children and Todd before any relationship between us could ever be possible; my husband will not allow me to make any more apologies to her, and for me to go to her, would be dangerous emotionally and physically.

This is the only way it can possibly be, or else I’d just set myself up for more abuse.  Richard must repent for abusing me by proxy, threatening and intimidating my husband, betraying me, and choking his kid; I can’t be the one going to him with more apologies until he has done these things.

Yet I keep finding complaints in articles and blogs of well-meaning spiritual leaders and friends telling abuse victims they should apologize, forgive and seek reconciliation, even though their abuser is not even sorry, thinks he/she did nothing wrong, and is pretending to be the real victim.

That is precisely what makes a victim a perpetual victim, what makes her a doormat.  People should back off and recognize that the abuser needs to apologize, repent and seek forgiveness, not the victim.

Over and over on abuse blogs, I find victims telling their abusers exactly what must be done before a reconciliation can happen.

I have come across one or two commenters on those blogs, who claim they were given such terms, met them, and are now restoring a relationship with their estranged loved one.  But among the bloggers themselves, I have yet to find a situation like this.

Instead, I find pain, grief, anger, as the bloggers try to deal with the fact that the ones they love, don’t love them enough to do what it takes to restore a relationship with them.  Not even their own parents.

All they find are parents who stalk them, refuse to admit wrongdoing, send them messages denying everything.  Or parents who just cut them off without another word.

It is sad and wicked to do such a thing to another person, to just ridicule and hurt them further, rather than doing the work to overcome abusive behavior and show love.

I find some bloggers still writing years later, while some others stop writing, leaving their blogs up for others to learn from.  I suppose the ones who still write, still feel deep pain, or it would no longer bother them enough to write about it.

That’s what happens when the one who hurts you, is someone you love.  As these bloggers keep noting when commenters accuse them of hate, If they hated their abusers, they wouldn’t need blogs to deal with the pain!

I’ve been reading One Mom’s Battle, a blog written by a woman in the process of divorcing her narcissistic husband.  First she wrote her story; now she writes about the constant custody battles and visitation issues.

And yes, her ex-husband and his family read her blog, and try to use it against her in court, even post comments on other blogs and articles, accusing her of libel and stalking.

In the post How to Forgive, she writes how she’s trying desperately to forgive her husband, about a sermon series her pastor did on this topic.  I’m impressed because the pastor seems to get it, saying, “2. Your heart has to be healed to get to a place of forgiveness.” 

He doesn’t repeat the cliche that so many abuse bloggers have exposed as false, that forgiveness precedes healing.  As the author, Tina, wrote,

Here is where my main struggle lies.  How does my heart heal when the wounds keep coming?  Every story I hear from my daughters breaks my heart- over and over.  Every week there is a new wound.

How does a wound heal when it is repeatedly injured?  You can bandage a wound and you can apply healing ointments but if something keeps striking the wound then it simply can’t heal.  It is impossible.

Heather writes in the comments,

We as a society expect people to forgive someone who does not deserve it, has not earned it, does not believe they have done anything to warrant it, and fully intends to continue the behaviors for which society preaches the offended party should forgive.

If the subject was financial security, or good health, we would describe someone else trying to give it to a person in those circumstances toxicly co-dependent.

From your post I’m going to assume you fall somewhere within the Christian continuum of faiths. Even the Bible expects repentance before forgiveness. Not even God gives free passes.

God even states, if you are going to make an offering to Me, but then remember you have offended your brother, leave your offering and go and get right with your brother. (I’m paraphrasing, but you get the point.)

God even says you cannot be right with Him, while at odds with your family or friend due to *your* behavior and choices. You don’t get to be a monster pretending to be a person, and fully intend to continue in these behaviors, and get a clean slate with the man upstairs….

I’m going to say this again, because it bears repeating: There is a difference between accepting someone for who they are and what they are and are not capable of, and forgiving someone who does not believe they have done anything wrong and fully intends to continue doing things that hurt those around them.

It was also noted that Tina may never completely heal and forgive until after her children grow up and she no longer needs to deal with her ex.

Just the other day, Tina wrote about an e-mail her ex sent her, which accuses her of lying and mental instability, protests Tina calling him “disturbed,” “sick,” narcissistic, etc., accuses her blog of being “fiction” and an “ego trip,” and accuses her of needing to “move on.”

He even twisted facts, which she could document, such as accusing her of crying to Christie Brinkley when that was actually somebody else.

It sounds very much like the e-mail sent to me by Richard and Tracy, as posted in “Now I’m Being Stalked.”

The trouble with the Net is not being sure who’s actually telling the truth.  But her blog does not strike me as “fiction,” and many commenters on that post wrote that their exes send them similar e-mails, so don’t let it get to her.

Basically, all that I’ve been going through is extremely common, both in general and in the blogosphere.

It is NOT gossip or slander to tell the truth about how you’ve been bullied and abused.

I tried numerous times over 2007-2010 to deal with these problems directly with Richard and, through him, Tracy (since I was too scared of her to speak directly to her–and since I’ve always felt that husbands should deal with wives themselves, and not the friends of the husband).

Tracy’s repeated response over the years was to bully and verbally abuse, and do absolutely nothing to give me confidence that if I sat down with her, that she would give me a fair hearing and do anything but try to rip me apart emotionally, especially after she had just been cussing me out and sending me all sorts of abusive e-mails.

I also had the example, which I witnessed firsthand, of how she treated Todd when she had a problem with him, and it gave me no reason to expect fairness from her.

The full story of what happened, not a summary, was never read through by anyone until they saw it and read it 6 months ago, then after they read it, I removed it for a time.

But their response was hugely disappointing, a typical abuser’s response, to deny, twist facts, twist your words, threaten you into silence, refuse to repent, refuse to admit wrongdoing, blame it all on the victim.

It’s exactly the same as they did in 2010, only this time with the addition of legal threats, giving me a brand-new hump to get over in the recovery process.

I’ve told Social Services, back in 2011, coincidentally at the same time Richard appeared in court for a child abuse incident I was not even aware of.  So I have legitimately tried to address the things I saw going on and the things Richard told me were going on.

Richard has been convicted of that incident, which gives legitimacy to my impressions of other abuses.  (I don’t know what became of the SS report, since such information is blocked to the public, but I do know what I witnessed and what Richard told me.)

I’ve been to my priest about the situation between us as well, and I know he spoke to them about it at least once, because I observed the conversation.

I also know, being in the congregation at the time, that my priest, knowing all about this, preached twice, while they were in the congregation [Father’s Day and late August 2012], about men being examples of righteousness to their families, forgiveness, repentance, making peace with others, and “not poking each other.”  This was a few months ago.

Yet they have not repented, have not made a move for peace, have not ceased to read my blog.  So I am free to treat them as tax collectors, have no fellowship with them, tell my story here.

If they were repentant, if they showed an ounce of consideration for my feelings, there would never have been a need for these blogs.  Abusers do this over and over again, refusing to take responsibility for their abuse, blaming the victim for it, and then telling the victim it’s her problem and she needs to get over it.

This blog is my outlet until it’s all out of my system.  There is no arbitrary timetable for getting over abuse and bullying.

Life does go on, and blogging only takes up a tiny part of my time: Most of my days are about dealing with the stuff I have to do, deep-cleaning the house each summer, moving furniture, what I’m reading, favorite TV shows, going to church, interacting with friends on Facebook or occasionally visiting them, pondering where to go for Thanksgiving, traveling, learning Greek, reading, working out, bicycling, or whatever.

I have friends at church and a friend who throws a huge bash every year, based on the Highland Games.  This year we’re hosting Thanksgiving for Hubby’s brother and his wife and child.

But every once in a while, something brings back a feeling of anger or grief; I blog about it; then I feel better.  I also want to help others recognize abuse and get out of it; I also want to hold my abusers accountable.  So I blog.

And to be honest, it pretty much was out of my system, when my abusers found the blog 6 months ago and gave me brand-new abuses and denials to recover from.  The grief was refreshed because I saw nothing from Richard but a hard heart and refusal to stand up for what’s right and end the abuse, which was very disappointing.

Because he laughed at my pain, threatened and frightened me, and acted as if I had never meant a thing to him, ever, but was just a tool he manipulated and preyed upon.

Because I keep seeing him reading all sorts of things and wonder if he cares, but he still says nothing encouraging.

So that’s why I am back in the pit again, because this is ongoing, not something that ended a couple of years ago.

The other problem is that the whole situation had many repercussions throughout the rest of my life, affecting–sometimes severely–practically everything I deal with or encounter:

music, movies I watched with Richard, my faith and religion because it had become so interconnected with his through his mentorship, my NVLD, my selective mutism, how I interact with people as friends or acquaintances or strangers (because this was the most severe part of how I was traumatized by Tracy), trusting anyone enough to form new friendships, forums I went to on the Net….

Even hearing the words “I don’t understand” became a trigger reminding me of abuse, because when I said this, Tracy said, “You’re too stupid to understand!”  July 4 reminds me of them.  My favorite Thanksgiving movies remind me of them.  Lord of the Rings reminds me of them.  Cthulhu reminds me of them.  (This is a real problem in geek culture.)

As it has done for the past several years, just cleaning my basement causes echoes in my mind of Tracy’s jeering words ripping on my household “routine.”  Hearing the words “F— off” on TV is a trigger reminding me of abuse and putting me back in the pit.

It’s one thing to deal with a relationship breakup; it’s quite another when there was severe psychological or other abuse as well.  Especially since the abuser puts on such a good, charismatic front in the beginning that you can’t believe this wonderful person is an abuser.

That makes the breakup that much harder to deal with and get past.  That’s not the fault of the victim, who should not be blamed for having trouble.  The responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the abuser, and society must keep it there.

Though it helps tremendously that I did stand up to my bullies, told them the truth, told them to leave me alone, kept my blog up, kept going to my church despite them, went to my priest for help, told my friends, told my family.

While these past 6 months have been especially difficult, there is now the feeling that this could be the last gasp of a long-held grief, that standing up to them will eventually pull me out to the place where I can finally say, I’m a survivor.  I’m a thriver.

But because I still care, if Richard were to come to us and say, “I’m sorry, I screwed up, I was an a**hole, I’m working on being a better father, I’m working on being a better friend,” I would probably take him back.  Though Hubby might be a harder sell.

There is also the erroneous idea, which many people including my abusers/bullies apparently share, that you should just forgive and forget abuse, then act like it’s perfectly fine to interact with your abusers.

Sorry, no.  The appropriate response to an unrepentant abuser is to cut them out of your life.  No contact, or limited contact.  Forced niceties are just lying, fake, two-faced.

It’s one thing if an abuser/bully has expressed some sort of apology/repentance; past abusers/bullies do this on occasion with me.  They find me capable of letting them into some sort of relationship with them again, maybe friending them on Facebook or the occasional e-mail.

But if you don’t repent, despite my repeated attempts to demonstrate what you’ve done and how it’s affected me, then don’t expect me to give you so much as the time of day if we pass on the street/in church.  Don’t expect me to be happy to see you.

As the writer of One Mom’s Battle writes,

As I’ve said before, I don’t want to be seen as a victim.  I don’t want you to be seen as a victim because your story is my story.  My story is your story.

I have the privilege of authoring the next chapter of my life and you have the ability to write your next chapter.  Is it going to be a chapter where you are the victim or is it going to be the chapter where the victim finds her (his) voice and stands up to the bully?

Narcissists are the same as bullies– they have low self esteems yet portray themselves to be powerful and bigger than life.  I want to be that awesome kid on the playground who finally stands up to the bully and sets boundaries.

Cheers to setting boundaries and finding your voice!

I have set the boundaries.  I have found my voice and stood up to my bullies.  I am still grieving, but grief does not make you a victim.  It’s okay that I still grieve, especially since I do not oppress my family/friends with it, but let it out here on my blog.

Letting the bullies push you around, that’s what makes you a victim.  I did hit a low point a while back, but I’m rising above it and beginning to heal.

Paul later says in Galatians 5 “why” we are to rebuke: We want people to repent of their sins:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who have “selfish ambition”…who “lie”…are given over to “fits of rage”…have “hatred”…spread “discord”…are “jealous”…are “idolatrous” etc etc. All fruits of the flesh.

…I admit that I am a sinner and I actually literally confess and repent of those sins. …You can’t repent if you don’t cop to it. Big difference.

Everything has the potential for getting better with confession and repentance…a key ingredient all of us…and especially a Pastor who professes to “teach the Bible simply”…cannot skip…yet claims otherwise.

Relationships, hurts, offenses, abuses…all can heal with the Offender doing their God Instructed part of the equation. But, Pride and fear of losing one’s position as king of their kingdom…can be quite an obstacle. –Blog that is now defunct

“[Yes, true. Mercy would be swallowing your pride and admitting to your sins so that my brothers and I could have a mother again…and so my grandkids could have a grandmother. That would be both Just and Merciful come to think of it.

But no, you can’t cop to any sin…you’re an “anointed Prophet” and we all know anointed Prophets can’t cop to specific sins…just generalities and allusions to some nebulous undefined non-descript stuff that allows you to dodge accountability…and perpetuates your myth of piety…false piety. Inside and behind closed doors, you’re a ravenous unrepentant wolf].”–  From Blog that is now defunct, from person who–just as Tracy forbade me to contact Richard until she had her yell at me–is being kept from his mother for confronting his stepfather about his abuses.

I personally began to confront the abuses within our family, privately, over six years ago. I met stiff resistance from [abuser]. I asked him to repent and change his behavior toward all of us.

Instead of repenting, he denied the abuse and then continued more wrong behavior and began to lie and abuse further.

I was not afforded a Matt.18 meeting with him and his board and elders as witnesses to address the allegations. I was cut off from all communication with him and my mom when I pressed the issue of abuse and continued to ask him to repent and stop mistreating our family.

I was told to talk to Greg and Sue Dowds about it and to “put my thoughts in a letter”…instead of [abuser] communicating with me in person any longer. I resisted at first, and then met with [abuser’s] two right-hand surrogates) and gave *** his “letter”. *** did not like the “letter” very much. –Now-defunct blog

 

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