Friday, December 12, 2014

Gracepoint is just one more case of Mother Failure "The Mother should have known" / "knew all along"

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Creating and confirming prejudice  

I have followed the series Grace Point everyweek through all the episodes...(never saw the English version) Toward the end I fugured out it would come down to Joe Miller and sex. 

But in the end I was blown away at the amount of suspicion directed toward Ellie Miller's (mother) character because  the writers went right on into "Blame the mother" mode. I guess I hoped the writers wouldn't just take the lazy way out. 

But in the end Gracepoint (a fairly exciting murder mystery)   takes the conventional way out. It plays right into all too well established Prejudice against mothers, against the wives of sex-offenders.  (don't they always say: the mother was right there, how could she not have  known?)
And now the hurtful prejudice is re-established by a TV series viewed by millions of Americans. 

Talk about confirming public prejudices about working wives.

When the mother has a demanding job (like Ellie) then, they say,  She should have been more "attentive" to her husband's "needs" even if all he really "needed" was sex with some little boys...

So...the guy who is the pedophile is a (sort of) self sacrificing "hero" for taking blame in order to cover up for his son (who, you guessed it, was angy at the father because...) Meanwhile the mother "who should have prevented everything all from happening in the first place (if she had only been a good wife, a better mother) somehow gets hung out to dry at the end??? 

It figures. 

But it still hurts.

Friday, August 8, 2014

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO: Considering Children

This is the second post in this series. Read the first post here.

After the police have left with our husband or partner in handcuffs, we are left staring into the confused and terrified eyes of our children. These most precious people make the choice of staying or leaving very complicated. Should I stay so that my children can keep their loving ties to their daddy? Or should I leave to err on the side of safety and give them the gift of an almost normal childhood?

I want you to look hard at your unique situation and try to figure out how to give your kids the greatest potential for health, stability, and happiness. This is the most difficult blog to approach because there is such a large variety of situations. You must forgive me for not being able to speak to your exact case. Please feel free to comment below, especially about how you have worked out this decision yourself. I think it is safe to generalize some basic steps for everyone: survive first, gather information second, and make a decision third.

Let's start first with those of you whose children are not victims. When your partner is taken from your household and you are told that he cannot have contact with your children - not even a card or a picture or a "hi" on the phone - you will feel like the legal system has just built a fortress wall through your family. Some of you will be okay with that, but many of you will feel a great shock of unfairness. To add insult to injury, you have a lot of people from the police and social services intruding in your life, maybe even telling you how to live it. Maybe even a few of them has questioned your ability to be a good mom if you say that you love your partner. They might even take your love for him as being supportive of his crimes. They will have a hard time understanding your hope that maybe, just maybe, he will come home again and that his relationship with your children might be salvaged.They might say you're in denial.

I don't think you're in denial just because you give your partner the benefit of the doubt. It is easy for all of the outsiders to forget that you don't have a list of evidence like they do, but instead you have years invested in a relationship. They can't take away you're children for not instantly condemning your partner. My advice is to be straight with those people intruding in your life. They do, unfortunately, have the power to put you through the ringer, so being calm and courteous is wise. Be willing to answer their questions as simply and honestly as possible (no need to give vast details or big emotional scenes). No matter how you dislike these outsiders, remember that they do care about your children's safety - you have that in common with them. If you allow them to see that you prioritize your children, they are likely to ease up on you. You may even find that you can trust some of these people and use their resources. Social workers, especially, have great ties to therapists and supportive services. It's okay to ask about these things. They won't think you're crazy if you admit that the situation has you depressed and you need to talk to someone. I had a whole courtroom talk about my depression and not a soul thought I was an unfit mother because of it.

You need to get as clear a view as possible on your partner's situation and how it will effect your children's future. To do that, you have to look at all sides of the issue, including the side that you might feel is against you. It is important to be open-minded to everything. Listening to your partner is your choice. I also strongly recommend that you also listen to all those outsiders: police, DA, social workers, court appointed advocates, etc. It is easy to dislike them because their methods are clumsy and hurtful, but you don't have to be their friend to have a cooperative relationship. Just remember that they they hold evidence and knowledge that you need in order to fully understand your situation. The social worker assigned to your case will probably have a list of the evidence and be willing to discuss it in generalities with you. Ask them about it, if they haven't already offered to go over it. Also, go to court and listen. You might be attending court already to be emotionally supportive of your partner - that doesn't mean you can't be absorbing the info you need to make wise decisions for yourself and your kids.

Besides learning about your partner's past, you need to gather info about the future. What is it like to be married to a sex offender? What kind of parental role can he play? Again, a social worker can give you some of this info. If your partner is attending treatment already, you might want to try asking the treatment providers. Asking specific questions about your partner will require his permission given formally to the therapist. Getting his permission should not be a daunting task if your partner is truly committed to building the best future possible with his own family. Let your partner know that you want to learn more about his situation and what your family's future will look like. If you get his permission, start with questions about what his treatment will look like in the coming years, how long will it take, and when he will be able to have contact with the kids again. Also ask them about the things you will have to do to have him in your life, such as becoming an Informed Supervisor. One thing that will be hard to ask, but important, is whether the treatment provider thinks your children would be in danger if you stay with your partner. 

I was able to do this with Jake's treatment provider and I learned so much. I learned that jumping through the hoops to be an Informed Supervisor doesn't mean they will automatically let you play that role. They may reject you because they feel that you are in denial, for example. They also told me about some of Jake's manipulation tactics, like fake crying and diversion tactics (puppy stories, especially). I also had a very painful but meaningful conversation with the therapist in which I said, "If he is attracted to teenagers, then my children aren't in danger because they're babies," and she pointed out, "But someday they will grow up to be teenagers." She also then pointed out that I didn't actually know the range of Jake's sexual interest, which later was revealed to include toddlers (he admitted himself, in addition to other evidence). I wouldn't have found that out without talking to the therapist and going to court.

Of course, what I had been hoping to hear from the therapist was that Jake was cooperating in their sessions and had shown sincere desire to improve. I didn't get that, but maybe one of you will get that good news from talking to your partner's therapist. Many of you won't, I'm afraid, but you will get valuable information that will help you make choices about your future.

If you don't get your partner's permission to discuss his personal case, you can still contact the treatment providers and ask if they will discuss general things like, "What does treatment look like? Who makes decisions about the treatment? How long does it take most sex offenders to reach a point of visitation with their own kids? How do you determine when an SO can talk to their kids again? What would I have to do to be an Informed Supervisor and when should I consider doing it? How much will this cost our family?" Sex offender treatment can be a confusing process that differs from state to state and even varies among areas within a state, so going straight to the people who are involved in the program will get you the best answers.

I want to mention something about time. Kids grow up fast. Whenever you get information with a number in years, like treatment or a prison sentence, you should do the math and consider how old your children will be at the end of that time. It lends perspective to everything.

To balance all this info about what it looks like to have a sex offender in the family, you should also look hard at what the alternatives would be. For most of you the alternative is being a single parent and possibly moving to a new town. There are some very obvious downsides for kids, like not having a father figure, not having a stay-at-home mom, moving away from friends, and possibly growing up on a tight budget. Some of those will be issues if you stay, too, especially the budget. Keep in mind, too, that healthy male role models can take many forms, like Grandpas and Uncles. The social stigma is also less on the child of a divorced, single parent than on the child of a felon, let alone a sex offender. But don't just imagine what it's like, call your friends who are single/divorced parents and pester them with questions. You will likely get a variety of answers ranging from "I love the autonomy of the single parent life" to "God, I wish my child had a dad." Also talk to your adult friends who grew up in single-parent families or those who had parents who stuck together despite big issues. Tell your friends about the choice you are trying to make and let them reflect on it. You don't have to take their advice, but it will give you some other facets to consider.

As you gather info, you will be mulling everything over, turning it around in your head. I really want you to imagine what your kids' lives will look like in different situations and what struggles they will have. Try to prioritize your kids in your mind and put your partner's desires second. If you find it hard to separate the two, imagine what you would do if your partner had died in a car crash. Morbid, I know, but that might be what it takes for your brain to separate him from the equation. Of course, the situations are not the same, so you won't make exactly the same decisions, but truly recognizing how it looks like with him and out of the picture helps you to be objective while finding the right path.

One warning, though, don't lean on your kids to make the decision. It is tempting to say to your little one, "Would you like to move away and make new friends at a new school? Or would you rather stay in the town where Daddy lives?" Of course it would be great to get their opinion, but they just don't have the mental capabilities of an adult to see all the issues and weigh the outcomes. Plus, they don't need the added stress of feeling like they are responsible for the whole family's future.

Now let's turn to those of you whose child or children are the victims. I will tread as lightly as possible here because I respect you and I respect your ability to find the right path. I know you want to heal your child. So make that a priority now. If there are choices in front of you, ask if they bring healing to your child. If not, find a new route.

I know you also want to heal your family and have them all together. But that is more likely to be a choice that stops the healing of your child and can place them in danger again. As Janet said in a comment on a previous blog: "It can be very very traumatizing for a child to be trapped into having to live out their childhood with the possibility of being re-molested even if you assure them you will protect them. You really can't."

Your victim child may even be saying to you, "I forgive Daddy, can he come home now?" This can make even the most staunch individual reconsider their hard-line against the offender. But don't lean on an innocent child's confusion and hurting heart to make your decision. Recognize that your child is feeling guilty for a problem they didn't create. They didn't commit this crime any more than you did. As much as you are scared of the changes happening in your life, they are a thousand times more scared. They need to be assured that you are their true guardian, committed to the protection of their healthy upbringing. The "way things were" is never coming back and that is a good thing for your child. So when they want things to go back to the old way, you should realize that is your child's way of saying they want the chaos and confusion and crying to end. You want that, too, and you can make that happen. You have the power to build a new, safe, happy life.

For all moms: Separating yourself from your partner does not shut the door to your child reconnecting with him in the future. It does not mean that healthy relationships can't be formed later in life. It is likely that your child will ask again when they are older if they can meet or communicate with their father. It is an option that can be revisited over and over. Ask yourself whether your child has reached a point of age and healing to face the situation. Ask an objective trusted person, too, like a therapist or a social worker. Keep in mind that it will be stressful because it will bring fresh memories of abuse back to the front of their mind. Also, there is the chance that their father may disappoint them again in any number of ways - can they handle that risk? Also consider that you will be the one managing any fallout. Make sure you are in a place in your life that you can handle it.

One last thing. Someday your kids will fall in love and tie themselves romantically to another person. If your child's partner has issues, at what point would you advise them to leave? You might be proud of a child who supports a partner who has issues, as long as there is hope for the future. But you wouldn't want them staying with someone dangerous or manipulative. Would you want them to hold a hurting family together for the sake of a marriage vow? Picture your children in your shoes, give them advice with love and wisdom, then take that advice yourself. You will be a great role model for your kids if you use your own life as an example.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Another Phase of The Storm: Dealing with anger before it becomes Rage: The power vested in a pair of purple stilettos (at the back of every woman's closet, of course)

Getting stuck on the "injustice of it all" (and no body is saying that injustice is not involved) but staying angry leaves us perpetually angry and well, trapped in the out-rage loop where we can stay stuck for years. While our kids grow up and try to move on and we boil over at the slightest unrelated thing.  

What the  rebellious voices of our own Anger say to us depends a lot upon on where our  anger is pointed.  Depends upon whether our anger is pointed at ourselves. Upon how much of our anger is really fear, or depression, or grief striking out or burying itself in our heart. Incest mothers, the wives and girlfriends of sex offenders must deal with anger, just as we deal with "the knock," with the judges and the social workers in different ways. Just as we have to deal with "Villagers with Pitchforks" 

Just who gets dumped with our anger sometimes just depending upon which "last straw" we are reacting to at the moment. 

It's easier to be pissed off at some hapless stranger over the counter at some store, over the phone, than to deal with the results of shouting at some social worker who has the power to make our lives hell. But then we do go off...sometimes even to our own surprise.

So what do we do with this intense anger?  This Rage?We can rationalize, suppress, deny, you know all those defense mechanisms we aren't supposed to be using either, the ones we learn about in therapy? Anger, rage even, often seems to fill the gap between "frozen with fear of exposure" and "finding ways to deal with the consequences" and "deciding we can out grow this" If nothing else we need to regulate our own anger so we don't self destruct. 

We may decide that the pleasure we might gain over killing some @#$% would only mean we would pay for our rage with the rest of our lives, would only mean another "donation" of the precious time we might have left "when all this is finally all over." (As in when we wonder, will "it" ever finally be over?" I'm here to tell you it will, eventually, but not all of "it." Rage is really hard to regulate, moderate, use to our own advantage...) 

I confess, I am angry, a lot and a lot of the time. I am Ambushed by my own anger into reacting in ways even I hardly expected in front of people who do not deserve it. Mostly not at the things or people I should be angry about. Those things, those systems, that well that expect me to be nice. 

From their perspective the wives of sex offenders are "hysterical" "paranoid" "too easily influenced" "not nice" b*tches  From their perspective we should have known all along. The sort of woman "drives men to drink" even might have driven a man to adultery or into to the bed of his own minor child? Driven him to Pornography, to watching the rehearsal of sex offenses he hadn't even yet dared?

Real grown-up Women are willing to be co-operative in everyone's best interest but they are not necessarily submissive. (Now that's an old fashioned word still taught in traditional churches to women expected to jump at the chance to marry a good provider (provided we are just not angry, that we just never show anger! I don't know how many times my mother cautioned, "Now be Nice. Just be nice." Smile pretty.) No wonder (some of  us were angry before and then more angry after we realized our betrayal.) 

Even thinking about how "this" child sexual abuse stuff is so tangled up in other power issues, well, they tell me "it" made me unreasonably angry. And I already know, as a (sort of) nice woman, raised in middle class America, I am strictly forbidden to express anger unreasonably and they get to define unreasonable. No. Suppress, deny, channel anger, turn it into depression, just never demand change never "get in anyone's face!" (and if you forget and scream, apologize over and over...never blame "it" on them. Blame it on the time of the month.)

Maybe that's why I laughed when I read about that woman in Texas who beat her (long-time) lover to death with her own purple 5-inch purple stiletto. (She said he "liked a little pain" but probably he didn't count on her loosing "it" to quite that extent!) 

Or maybe she just never figured out quite how to deal with all her suppressed "irritation. Maybe she was "on her period" Or, maybe she just never realized how depressed she really was about being stuck in that particular "long term relationship?" She had just had it with rolling her eyes and muttering "Idiot" I guess. 

Women blame themselves for their own endemic depression and all the while we continue to "smile pretty for the camera." We snap, snipe, snark, rant, gossip, lash out (quietly.) 

Then we just loose it, sort of kick off our stilettos (at least verbally) sometimes at the simplest request. Mostly we do just quickly apologize, like little kids when we are threatened (like little kids afraid we will be sent home from the party, won't be invited back by the villagers.) 

But then rage builds up, until, like that woman in Texas, we cry on the witness stand because we dared kick our shoes off, verbally I mean. And of course we do know that's not how "nice" women should behave so we apologize. Unless we "inflicted a little too much pain, like that lady in 5 inch stilettos in Texas when she kicked off her shoes and "gave him a little pain" because he liked "It." But then what male judge is going to listen to a not-nice woman who lost her temper like that?) You be the judge.

Growing up, they did tell girls that we had no right to "act like that." The message was don't use that tone of voice on power... and never, never on your husband. They will not put up with our being angry and negative "all the time."   We know that. but sometimes... I just get so darn tired of saying "Darn" instead of...!@#$%! 

Sometimes we are the most  angry at ourselves for being such "nice" women, for being Dotty-Sandusky type women who did not question, who were nice and supportive and... of course we are angry. Not just at him. We direct the anger at ourselves for falling for his load of ...Crap. 

What did Dotty do with her anger? Didn't she ever see even the possibilities in owning 5-inch stilettos? Was she so depressed that she forgot that what made her happy was not Jerry?

And when people tell me I am an angry woman it makes me angry all over again. Like when I feel pretty good and people tell me how tired I look this morning... well you know.  

Most people who suddenly realize the enormity of such an intimate betrayal as child sexual abuse are angry. Enraged even. But a lot depends upon just who/where we direct even well justified anger. When I am about to righteously Go Off,  I remind myself, women who kick off their 5 inch (purple) stilettos don't often get their kids back from the court, from the social workers... 

I remind myself that I have every right to own 5 inch stilettos but sometimes they need to stay on my feet, until I get with a friend who will understand. A friend who is not afraid of my stilettos because she has been there, done that and she too wishes she hadn't, at least not right at that moment. Every girl needs  a friend who is not ashamed to own 5 inch purple stilettos. A friend who knows how to use them, but judiciously

We were betrayed. Our children were sexually molested. Our life imploded because of his choices. That is the unfortunate reality we remember and deal with every day. But we don't need  to keep going off at every little thing. who knew the power vested in at least owning purple stilettos? Having a pair in the back of our closet? Owning the power to know when to kick off our shoes?

Before we kill some bystander, I am proposing a simpler thing...Interrupt anger. Say, "Just a minute" to the tirade going on in your head." Don't let our own internal prim- a-dona take center stage everyday of our lives.  Our prim-a-dona has every right to own stilettos but her anger/rage has got to at least co-exist with all the other things we need to get done. The prim-a-dona may be our secret energy, but rage cannot control us. We have to be in charge of even 5 inch purple stilettos.

 Our children are frightened enough by all the foster care, all the mixed messages, all the anger they also feel and (unfortunately) express when we are least prepared to hear them out) when we least want to listen to them blame us because "Daddy" is in jail...  

No, I am not saying  "forget and forgive" before you are ready. As I said we have every right to be angry, but we also have the power just put "it" on hold long enough to live life. We can decide to take a Short Mental Vacation like Evie suggests 
(even take a warm bath, read a book, just walk our stilettos away from betrayal for few minutes.)  

 Tell all those "nice" people who insist that you forgive, get over it, suck it up. You know all those people who have always told you, "Now, be nice...") Get "those people" out of our heads for awhile, occupy our own life, focus on loving our children, listening to them instead of the nasty voice in our head (my head) that just wants to kill something...even the messenger. 

Ever wonder what Dotty Sandusky must be feeling underneath her sweet smile?  Denial, support, loving focus on "her poor misunderstood" Jerry,  angry at all the unfairness of the way he's being treated? In Prison. On the registry? 

(By the way, the judge just denied Jerry a retrial even though Dotty humiliated herself asking for mercy for her pedophile, even while "villagers with pitch forks continue to pile blame on her.)  

How we recognize and make friends with our own anger will make a real difference in what kind of "world" we create for ourselves and our children "going-forward." It will even decide whether we go forward or stay stuck tending to his and our own "poor me" stories much like my father grew his own own Puppy Stories for the rest of his life  (see Not the Life post 6/28/14)   

So for me the "take-away" is that while it's Ok to have a pair purple stilettos in the back of our closets ( It's empowering even.) Who wants to actually walk around in 5 inch stilettos every blessed hour of every day? Stilettos make our feet hurt. They get in the way.

So... Do Not "Be Nice." Do not "smile pretty" just to make them happy. Remember the power of regulating anger. Remember the power vested in owning  a pair of 5 inch purple stilettos and...Transform. Or you can chose to follow the path of my mother who believed "puppy stories" all of her life and remember we do not all need to be Dotty Sandusky.
Mar 12, 2014 ... Jerry Sandusky's wife says she would have known if her husband was ... Dottie Sandusky invited cameras inside for the first TV interview from 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO: Facing the storm

This is the first part of the "Should I Stay or Should I go" series.

Staying or going is a common dilemma in this community. The question can mean different things to different people. It can be a question of moving to a different house in the same city or leaving the area entirely. Leaving can mean that you are leaving the relationship, such as through divorce, whether you move physical locations or just tell your ex to find a new home. Let's just agree for this conversation that leaving means the breaking of the romantic and legal relationship with your significant other, including removing all plans to share households again.

I want to start with when you should make the decision of staying or going. Some of you are at the beginning, where you have only just learned in the last few days or weeks that your partner is a sex offender, or at least an alleged one. You are being bombarded by repulsive information and offensive people. Your life has been turned upside-down and you don't recognize it anymore. Your "fight or flight" mechanisms are kicking in because your stress level is high enough that you might as well be running for your life from a pack of wolves. You can barely do anything other than survive. You are facing the storm.

I used to stand at my front door in Colorado, bathed in sunshine and cooled by a light wind, as I watched a storm come like a black wall from miles away. You can never be quite sure what the storm brings until it hits you. That wall is the "front" of the storm where the pressure is high. It is the most dangerous part. It is the first blast of a storm that brings ripping winds and smashing hail or, heaven forbid, a tornado. Behind the front is a long pelting of rain, often blowing sideways, with streaks of lightning and roaring thunder. You helplessly wonder what part of your home and yard is being destroyed. The rain will eventually fall straight down and taper away, maybe over minutes or maybe over hours. Finally, the storm is gone, but your anxieties are not because it is time to put on your coat and boots and survey the damage. You run out anxiously, finding relief in what is still standing, but also feeling pain for what is gone. There are things you must immediately tend to, like holes in rooves and broken windows that must be covered or fences that must be propped up again. Its a mess that you can't fix in one day, but you patch and clean just to make due until the sun comes up again.

Finding out that your loved one is a sex offender is like being at the front of the storm. It is a dangerous and unpredictable time. Unfortunately for us, we can't really run and hide from it, can we? The hail, wind, and rain are authority figures asking questions and we must answer. There aren't a lot of choices here - you can't leave, you must stay. You can, however, find some shelter. The best shelter I can recommend is in the wisdom and help of other people. You need people who will help keep you alive with food and emotional support. You also need people who can advise you, like possibly your own lawyer, but also any person with direct experience with the authorities you are facing, whether they are the police, the DA's investigators, Child Protective Services, or court appointed advisors. Pull together people you trust as your shelter. My first shelter consisted of the ladies from church who cleaned my house and fed us the day after I found out. I also called a legal liason with a volunteer group I belong to who gave me personal wisdom about CPS.

After the front passes, there is still the full body of the storm behind it. For us, it is the unsettling weeks or months in which we are striking a new balance in a very unpleasant situation. You become a helpless audience member of your partner's criminal proceedings. On the other side of the coin, you feel overwhelmed with the tasks of just holding the practical pieces of life together. You might feel like you have choices to make - you might even be starting to think about leaving - but it's not time yet. You can't even see clearly yet how much of your life has been altered. If you are at this point, I advise that you don't make any drastic changes yet, but keep your efforts focused on your survival and the survival of your kids, if you have any. Feed yourself, put yourself to bed, repeat. Go through the basic routines and be very forgiving with yourself if you find those hard. Grief, anger, and depression will be your biggest obstacles. Find a therapist: ask CPS if they will offer a therapist, ask you pastor, ask a good friend, call your employer's Employee Assistance Program hotline if you have one, or see what the Affordable Care Act can do for you. Your main job right now is to keep yourself alive until the storm passes.

There will also be the issue of bills and real responsibilities that demand your attention. Only do what is necessary and feasible. Only pay what is necessary and feasible. And ask for help. It is hard for most of us to do this, but you must. You will be surprised how many people want to help you, but just don't know what to do. Tell them you're family is hungry and they will bring dinner. Tell them you don't have the energy to walk your dog and they will volunteer their teenage child to do it. Give it a try. They can help you make it through this crazy time.

You must face the storm and survive until the storm is really past. I can't tell you how long it will take, but one day you will realize that you can finally see your life more clearly. You will better understand the legal process your partner is in. You will better understand the authorities you personally must deal with and the hoops they want you to jump through. You will have a grasp, if shaky, on your financial situation and at least have a plan to match your income to your bills. You will be eating regular meals and sleeping all the way through most nights. Life will seem livable, at the very least, even if its not exactly enjoyable. That is when you can survey the damage left by the storm. You will really know you have reached this point when you can identify the undamaged portions of your life, especially relationships with family and friends. Maybe you can even smile sometimes. Now, finally, you can really start patching the holes and cleaning the mess. You can start making choices. And the biggest choice you will make is whether to stay or go.

Stay tuned for the next installment.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Loving versus Staying

"Do you think it's wrong to still love someone who's committed a sex crime and to stay with them?"

Someone asked that in the comments of one of our posts. There are really two questions there.
Question 1:  Is it wrong to still love someone who's committed a sex crime?

No. Love is never something that is wrong on its own. Every human is flawed and so everyone we love does the wrong things sometimes, to varying degrees. It is always okay to love someone, no matter who they are and how flawed they are. The question to really ask is how is that love being used. How will you act based on your love? And how does the person you love act toward you?

Question 2: Is it wrong to stay with someone who's committed a sex crime?

This is a very personal question and you are the only one who should be answering it. The presence of love does not determine the answer to this question. Love does not tie you physically to anyone. You can stay because of love, but you can also leave, still holding love in your heart.

I'm not an expert on staying or leaving, but I have some thoughts on the subject after struggling with the decision for almost two years. If I put my thoughts into one blog (which I started to), it is just a little too much. So I'm going to break them into a series of short blogs - "Should I stay or should I go?".

For now, let's ponder the differences and meanings of loving versus staying. What does each mean to you? How do you draw the lines that guide your own life?

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Falling for their "Puppy Stories" Getting Emotionally Engulfed in taking care of "our" sex Offenders (or almost anyone else except ourselves)

The story of how women forget that it is our life that needs living. Or one story about how my mother became so emotionally engulfed in "comforting" a five year old little boy...that she could not save herself or us from the predator he had become.  

As some of you may know I have been sifting through my childhood, trying to find meaning in the stories of my childhood. I remember feeling turned off, the stories seemed disconnected. but in sifting through I realize the isolation was one of the ways my father controlled each of us during my childhood. But in writing I realized there was an over-all picture. Painful as discovering the meaning behind my Father's Puppy Stories was, in knowing I also found not only a reason to grieve but freedom to begin to re-grow. 

Before now un-examined,  the stories shaped me, silently bled into my marriage and led to the molest of my own children because I unknowingly married a man "strangely like my father" and lived a "Happily Ever Life" as prescribed for me in stories of my childhood.


Once upon a time...I found a post card Dad sent to my mother when they were "courting." 

On the front was the picture of a lonely little puppy. On the back my Dad wrote, "I'm feeling as bad off as this poor little pup." Sweet, yes? I'm sure my mother's heart melted.

But then there is the rest of the "Puppy Story:"   

 My dad told us (individually, in confidence we each thought) that when he was about five, my father had a cute little puppy that followed him everywhere. One day his Father, Paw Paw (my grandfather) was bending down doing carpentry. The friendly little puppy got too close and wagged his tail in Paw Paw's face. Enraged, Paw Paw grabbed a handy hatchet and cut off the little puppy's tail.   Dad said his brothers laughed and danced around ridiculing him as he tried to stop the bleeding. He held his friendly little puppy while it whimpered and looked up at him and bled to death in his arms. 

Dad's stories about the Puppy (and other stories of his pain filled childhood) were true. They would have wrung tears from a stone, and I'm sure they tore my mother's heart when they were courting.
He even sent her the post card to remind her... 

It took me a very long time to realize that my father's stories were told as set pieces, told each of us individually in emergencies for effect and used and re-used judiciously, to wring loyalty and love out of the hearer in order to to engulf us all in emotions he then manipulated and could we have hurt the little boy more by reporting what the grown man was all the while doing to his own family?  

The stories broke our hearts for the little broken-hearted boy and we were manipulated into keeping secrets of our own painful sexual abuse. The boy who grew up to himself abuse his own children used the stories to keep my mother with him. To obscure and excuse his own path from abused child to predator. 

How could any of us have betrayed the little sexually molested five year old boy holding onto his dying puppy while his brothers laughed and danced around an ridiculed?  

Remember when Evie's husband told her he had been raped and abused as a child so she would "understand," and stick with him no matter his own betrayal of her and their life together? No matter that he had sexually molested children who trusted him as a teacher. 

But then, thinking back, maybe "your" sex offender told you a similar (all too true) story in well timed confidence, maybe with an ulterior motive of his own? How did you suddenly feel? How did you respond? They turned off their own childhood feelings and became  experts at preying upon our emotions in order to orchestrate our lives to their advantage. And most of the time we don't even realize we are being expertly played.

Because in spite of using his "puppy story" to elicit sympathy make us feel guilty that we hadn't made enough excuses for his behavior, hadn't done enough for him ... In spite of the fact that in my childhood my father always had some little dog with him,  My Father's tragedy was that all he came to really care about was orchestrating the feelings which telling the puppy story was intended to elicit.   

Oh, down through the years he always had some little dog with him. He petted his little dog, played with it, cuddling  and pinching and tormenting the dog by turns and, after all that, he expected the confused little dog to come running, crouching, whimpering, wagging it's tail. And it did. 

Once again he got the dog on his lap, petted it until it relaxed and then began to do the same "playful" stuff to his little dog all over again. 

But he kept telling the "puppy story" and (ignoring the reality right before our own eyes,) we all felt sorry for Dad. We did not question. We just felt guilty we couldn't make "it" all up to him...somehow. It was all painfully confusing.  

Years afterwards, after my mother died, my Dad got another little toy dog. This time a tiny little brown tea cup poodle that he told me he "spoiled." But he "spoiled" the poor little thing just like he always "spoiled" everything. And after everything, the confused little dog still wagged it's tail, crouched down and came to him...hoping this time it would be better. Until...

Dad took a vacation to Denmark. He needed someone to take care of his "spoiled" little poodle.  My brother's friend took the dog. The poodle was so "cowed" so timid by then that the woman caring for it got a baby sling and carried the little thing around against her body, talking and petting and feeding it treats. After awhile the little dog got braver.  

When my dad returned weeks later, the little dog hid in the corner. It snapped at my Dad when he stretched out his hand. His little dog seemed reluctant to go back with him.  

Dad just laughed, picked the protesting little dog up and took her.  

The next day he called. He said the little dog was too old and unfriendly. She snapped at people. He said he couldn't trust her around children. He told the woman he had already had the little poodle "put down." It was better that way, he said. He hung up and soon got another little dog.

The woman had tears in her eyes when she told me the puppy story even though it years later. 

My father continued to craft stories meant to tear your heart. Said how sad he was when he had to put his little poodle down. She had been a real "sweetheart." Said how bad he felt when he "lost" his wife. As he got older he told other stories. Told visitors from church how sad he was that we were "bad" children. Told the women who took care of him that we deserted him. His Bad children had  not come home to take care of a poor old man. 

At first it hurt. But then I realized it was just another "puppy story" my father was telling.  I comforted my feelings of guilt. I told myself my father got more sympathy, more mileage, more sacrifice from playing the people he told the "bad child" stories to, than anything we children could ever have provided had we given up our adult lives and come home to once again to make "it" all up to him," to the little five year old embedded in our memory.

So what does this story have to do with betrayal ?  

Like other predators before him, my father confided his stories only for the purpose of hooking people into defending, loving, "understanding" excusing him.  He had figured out how to turn his 5 year old powerlessness into power. All it took was charm, deception and betrayal. And of course a heartrending story to orchestrate the emotions and therefor the actions of those around him.

When they say Sex Offenders, Registrants, and Pedophiles deceive, charm and "groom" victims in order to take secret advantage of them, they don't just mean child victims. Their well  crafted orchestration of convenient "puppy stories" divert everyone's energy in service to the predator's own ends. We fall for their stories. If that doesn't work they turn nasty, tell outright lies. But they prefer being "nice."  Nice is easier.

Believing them, we all over-look, we all sacrifice to make "it" up to them. Even after we are abused and betrayed we feel guilty. We fall in love with the "mirage" they present. The tender persona we imagined them to still be after hearing their "puppy stories" after having our emotions bent to their use.

We feel terrible at the idea of "abandoning" them even after we finally understand their was no "relationship," no real person to abandon because they turned off, they abandoned themselves and betrayed the truth long ago.  Based upon lies and deception, the "relationship" always was toxic. Always orchestrated to be one-sided. Always we were the ones expertly "played."

There never was any real reciprocity, ever. And adult love requires truth and reciprocity, mutual care regularly given and received between consenting adults. And trust. And honesty. Manipulation and orchestration obscured the truth from most of us until our world imploded, until we heard the "knock on the door" when we were faced with the facts of betrayal.

Not every, not even most children raped and molested in childhood choose to craft "puppy stories." Not all choose to molest instead of somehow become the compassionate men who found ways to "outgrow their past." But some refuse PTG. Some do become predators. Taking and taking. Some do go on to groom and charm and deceive and orchestrate, betray and molest us and our children just as the predator was once no doubt truly betrayed and molested. 

Even when faced with exposure, they attempt to orchestrate their "puppy stories" in last ditch efforts to deceive, deny, to keep us loyal and guilty and "loving" and defending them from "collateral damage" even in jail or on the Registry.  

As the wives, girlfriends, ex's and children of sex offenders, we hear the "puppy stories" before, during and even after our own and our children's betrayal. If we continue to "believe," if we stay our lives could become our mother's lives, my mother's life.

"Puppy Stories" are not Post Traumatic Growth(PTG,) stories (PTG stories see Not the life Post 5/15/14) are stories of  process, of realization and  hard choices and the reality of  change. Sharing PTG stories, we tell each other what we have learned, how we decided to re-think the past, how we got where we are and how we plan to get where we are growing (and how we sacrificed and supported each other on our journey to a new life.)  

Our PTG stories are not "feel sorry for what they/you/and the Registry did to me" stories. They can't be.  PTG stories are of real efforts to change, grow compassion going forward.  Hurt we all are, grievously, but "puppy stories" are only meant to play us. They are meant to arouse our emotion and guilt and make us volunteer to save the people who won't save themselves, do the work of their (faux) "recovery."   

We sacrifice ourselves and spend sleepless nights worrying about their pain First and Foremost. Such stories steal away our energy and use it to meet their needs first, whatever they are. Believing their stories, We take care of them, pay for their attorneys, stand up for them. Fail to find a path to our own PTG. Fail to help our own children.

We are guilt ridden unless and until we find strength to un-hook.  Until we realize their "Puppy Stories" are just "put me first stories."  Then we stop worrying ourselves to death over what might happen to them (even of we "still love" them; even if we hate them now; even if we do understand all too well;) now we have to reconstruct our own lives and grow past being vulnerable to drowning, engulfed in emotion.       

Because "Puppy Stories"  are meant to make us and our children weaker and more vulnerable. They leave us even more needy. When we continue to allow ourselves to be emotionally manipulated, we are in danger of losing our own capacity for psychic growth. 

Learning helplessness in the face of mental and physical brutality and emotional orchestration means staying, accepting his betrayal as somehow our own failure as the relationship deteriorates into a repetitive loop of anger, jealousy, obsession and fear, stagnation and despair . . . all to his advantage. 

And it's true, after everything some still say I can't leave because I still feel love for him. I know he needs me."  We think, Someday my love will break the hardest heart. Someday he will love me. Really love me."       

After all of my father's betrayals my mother stayed. In her old age, jealous and lonely, she filled empty time. Peered out windows, waiting. Waiting. Hoping.

He charted her meds, wrote down times all through the night. That was his "good husband" story. But having "composed the story" having charted all her meds at bedtime, he felt no need to actually wake up throughout the night and actually give her the meds the doctor said would save her from strokes, perhaps from actual death. 

In the end her world was reduced to his "good husband" story. 

He took her to the Senior Citizens Center. There my father danced with old women clinging to him.  Smiled and goaded my mother   into jealous foolishness.  When she responded to his continued orchestration he felt powerful, reassured that she was still at his mercy in old age just as we all had been as children.

He liked "It" that way.

We can discover, chart the method to their madness. We can dis-entangle the web of conflicted belief that holds us fast. We can share tales of their methods, learn from our betrayal. I tell  "stories" of the methods my father used to achieve the power he craved because his methods are not his alone. Such knowledge might protect us in future

Much the same methods were used by my ex all through our marriage. While he orchestrated our lives in order to have unhindered access to molest my children.  Their different stories are just tailored for  best effect, but in many respects the methods of such predators are much the same. Their "puppy stories" are all too familiar to all of us here at Not the Life. 

There is a saying, "When first we practice to deceive, what a tangled web we weave." But we over look that the practice was meant to deceive us. And "what a tangled web" we find ourselves enmeshed in when the life we thought we were living implodes around us. 

When we recognize and understand and reject their methods of deception, their power over us evaporates. We free ourselves and our children. Unless we are too embarrassed to admit we were "fooled." Unless we decide we prefer to go on believing their stories of needing and loving us rather than admit the painful truth: we were never loved, not really. Because my father was so damaged in childhood that he never re-grew his capacity to love anyone. He so feared being alone that he became puppeteer. He used and abuse us to his advantage and the Puppy Stories kept us all near.
Oh, sometimes I still feel guilty for not taking care of that 5 year old little boy who was molested and watched his puppy died in his arms.  And, it was very hard not to be shamed by his stories of me as the "bad child" who refused to return and take care of (the 5 year-old) him in his old age. For a long time I avoided facing facts because it seemed as though in ordering the chaos of my life, in exposing his methods to light of day, I was somehow stripping bare that poor little boy whose puppy died in his arms back before I was born. I thought, like my mother, that in choosing myself I was letting that little 5 year old die along with his puppy.

And I felt so sorry about what had happened to my mother that I avoided looking at the reality of her life while my own life replicated hers in so many ways. I learned a common pattern of "wife and mother hood " that prepared me to be re-victimized in my own marriage.  If I refused to see the reality of her life, how could I know to avoid the painful reality of her fate? How protect my own children from learning then passing on the patterns of re-victimization to future generation?

So I resolved to untangle the mechanics of betrayal. Our task as women is to  figure out how to unhook from the Happily Ever After stories we were told as children. Starting now, our children need never marry men strangely like their fathers nor live the emotionally orchestrated lives we lived. 

I am telling you this story so you might see life with a predator from another angle (remember PTG? another angle can free us from living and re-living old patterns.) 

 So, begin by believing in your own reality. Start identifying the "puppy stories" that were or still are used to hook and manipulate you. 

Decide NOT to be "Understanding" Don't automatically hop-to. Refuse to automatically feel guilty because you have not staunched someone else's "pain."

Look at "it" from another angle.  Step back. Ask yourself,  "Why is he telling me this?" 

Say, "No." Comfort your feelings of guilt until you stop feeling guilty just because you said "No." Because even should you decide their need is real, you still retain the right to choose to use your energies for yourself and your children. Our need is real also. As women, we do not have the "magical power" to grow for someone else.  

In fact, it is impossible to grow by proxy...In order to choose to grow himself my father would have to have given up his own old patterns, stopped manipulating, stopped orchestrating. But his old patterns worked all too well. All his life. And had my mother un-hooked he would simply have found some other victim. That is what his bad children stories were all about. Hooking outsiders  into feeling sorry for a poor old man who was such a good husband etc..who had been abused and abandoned...

Without the power of  "Yes" and "No," saying "Yes" means less than nothing. We have to know that based upon our own needs it is OK to say both, mean it and stick to our choice no matter how guilty or ashamed we have been taught we ought to feel when we decline to be orchestrated for their benefit.  

As the wives of sex offenders, as mothers of molested children, we would do almost anything "to make it up to" our children. It's just that sometimes we've been fooled into protecting and mothering the wrong "Child."

We just didn't realized "He liked it that way." We didn't realize we were suckers for a "puppy story." That our lives and emotions were being orchestrated for his benefit. But then how could my mother have abandoned that little 5 year old? How could she have abandoned that child to the ridicule of his brothers? I'm sure that's why she stayed. 

Faced with the Sophie's Choice of choosing to protect her own children or the little 5 year old boy or even saving herself, she froze in place. Tried to take care of the child he once was. Never recognized the predator she lived with for 40 years.
She died before she ever saw his behavior from any other angle except his.

But that was indeed, Before.  I too, grieve the little boy, but I also grieve the lose of the father I wished for but never had. And to this day I grieve for my daughter left to live out a legacy she too did not deserve.

Because there is no automatic reset. What we most fear has already happened. I believe we have to choose to re-grow ourselves however slow, however painful the process. PTG means grieving, but it also means understand the past in order to free ourselves. PTG means finding reason for Hope that we all may Rise After.

P.S. I want to share this photo posted on the Google+ attached to Wind harp Tree.

lata ram

Shared publicly  -  Jun 22, 2014
You're worth it.. 


And now Shared with you in the sincere hope that we will teach all those little girly girls  and all those really great little boys we are raising to be mothers and fathers of the future to value and not "discount" themselves just because (in my opinion) discounting and domination and taking advantage and learning to discount ourselves in the process is exactly how all this sex abuse stuff got started in the first place.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Just a little up-date about what's going on with me (and a couple of resources in case you want "light" reading!)

First of all, thanks. It has been heartening to see how many have read the PTG post and Evie's Taking a Brief  Vacation meditation post.
I just wanted you to know that I am taking a couple weeks of (actual) vacation to go up and see my son whose health has not been all that good for the last couple of years. He had a lot of chemo and is in remission, well sort of. The Doctors  should know more later this summer (probably.) Any way I'm going up while we can still hang out, have fun and make good memories (no  matter which way remission goes later.) I'll be back blogging probably the middle of July.

In the meantime...I have posts scheduled ahead on Wind Harp Tree up until July 20th. As for Not the Life, Evie has a couple of posts she is working on and I have two posts waiting for whenever Evie is ready to post them up. (and of course we always want to hear from you.)

I have been trying to look at what makes the difference in experiencing trauma and choosing #B and #C  ( see the PTG Post ) because choosing #B and #C means choosing the difficult path to re-connection after Betrayal and trauma ( you know PTG) or choosing #A on the PTG post about "Choices and recovery) I have been wondering what happens when people like my father (and to some extent my ex  who were both grievously traumatized) choose to disconnect and  control and manipulate, choose to take advantage of children, wives, and people in general ( getting them to do for them) instead of somehow choosing to take the path to PTG and reconnecting and growing forward in their own right. ( I want to understand myself and know how I can better raise myself onto the path to  PTG)

One of the pieces I left for Evie to "post as needed" is about my father and how he used "Puppy Stories" to hook and use people all his life.  My father was a great story teller. I myself am trying to write a book telling the stories of my family because stories connect. So what's the difference? I believe as I said above that his story about the circumstances of his  puppy's death was so unbearable that my 5 year old father turned off the pain to such an extent that he never re-learned empathy but only learned to  use the heart wrenching true stories of his childhood (and then made a few more up as necessary like "good husband" and "bad children") as a means of controlling and using others to fill the dead spaces inside himself.(he could use sex in his twisted ways but never felt love)

I have sifted through my own "incest stories" and tried to string together not only meaning but enough understanding so that I (and hopefully others) could see my way to regrow, reconnect and help myself and others on Not the Life chose a path toward PTG. The Puppy Stories Blog is about the Path predators chose when they are forever frozen by terror and become predators and "puppeteers" instead of actors in their own lives.

(Actually the  "Puppy Story blog"  Evie will  Post later is also a cautionary tale  about what happened to my mother when she was so emotionally hooked , so sucked into taking care of the poor traumatized little boy my father had once been, that in the end, the man that the little boy became used her up/ sucked her dry. It is Maybe why even though it is so hard to emotionally unhook from "them" as wives and spouses and girlfriends of sex offenders we have to choose PTG  for ourselves and our kids instead)

Anyway I have been working on my memoir, Happily Ever After  trying to see what it was in my own childhood that made it possible for me to eventually begin to understand the Process and make the necessary moves to reconnect with feeling and begin my own journey forward. Because I too, turned off the pain in childhood. It was the only way to survive my own incesting. And I did survive but for a long time I ended up seriously depressed and that I was unable to put two and two together or spot danger as an adult.

The very defenses that made it possible for me to turn off the pain and reach adulthood, made it extremely difficult to protect myself or to protect my own children. In fact I didn't. For a long time.I was so frozen in defending myself from past trauma (and whether as mothers who were incested (or not) in our own childhoods, in one way or another many of us experienced some kind of trauma in childhood)  anyway I was susceptible to  marrying a man who was in many ways, "strangely like my father."  As a result I remained disconnected from what was going on right under my nose.

I didn't start out to dump all this very personal "musing" on you but I wanted you to know that I have scheduled blog-posts for Not the Life and I plan to  schedule some posts on Wind Harp Tree specifically about trauma. I discovered some new ideas therapists have about what happens to victims and mothers and about how to understand and begin to outgrow the Trauma of betray. (  this field grew from War trauma and finding out what worked and didn't with PTSD )

I am not suggesting that you or I become "Therapists" however we all need to be "informed consumers" since we ourselves and our children have been traumatized and may be "ordered" into therapy by the court or may have a personal interest in stopping "cutting" ourselves, in getting away from the drag of depression, in unhooking from the anger. We can explore and see if  understanding and even using using these ideas help us in our quest for PTG. If they just seem like psycho-babble to you, then let me know what works better for you. Not the Life is a "mutual help" Blog. No one here wants to pretend to be know-it-all. But what we discover and share might help. No one gets through this alone. Each of us wants to get on with life. Somehow.

There is a lot more known about mind-body connection and neuro-science now. There wasn't much back then, "Back in the (my) day!"  So this PTG is news to me. Probably I'm telling you stuff you already know. a sort of "gift" while I'm gone, I thought I would mention a couple of resources you can Google on line or check out of your local library or even buy on Amazon (no I am not shilling for Amazon... it's just that where I live the library isn't so good.) So, for what it's worth here goes:

Don't Tell, The Sexual Abuse of Boys 2nd addition by Michel Dorias (this is a Canadian study and I found it enlightening and helpful)

Evicting the Perpetrator A Male Survivors Guide to Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse by Ken Singer MSW (this is where I got the info about the 7 Myths and the 7 Facts post on Wind harp Tree)   These myths we teach boys tend to "make incest a different experience for boys than for girls and therefore influence the different possible outcomes for boys and girls. And wouldn't we all like know what we could do to "evict" our perpetrators/spouses at least from continuing to take up space rent free in our heads?

The Tricky Part, One Boy's Fall from Trespass into Grace by Martin Moran (Great Memoir. Both my brothers and my son got a lot out of this book.And there is quite a bit about using Group and Sex therapy plus individual counseling to re-connect our feeling and mend impulses) I just wish I could write Happily Ever After as well as Martin Moran wrote his memoir.

The First Step for People in Relationships with Sex Addicts by Mic Hunter ( with a foreword by Jem wife and recovering "co-dependant" (I don't know whether I fully agree with the "co-dependant" label  but I did attend to ALANON for a long time. I found friendship with the other wives comforting. I did not feel so alone and since Alanon is free I could go even though I didn't have money for "therapy." ALANON was good for me at the time.

And now some books Just for US:

Whose Life is it Anyway?When to Stop Taking Care of their Feelings and Start Taking Care of our Own by Nina W. Brown, ED.D, LPC, NCC (Now this book made sense to me about how I was trained to perform my role as wife and mother and as a woman to take care of everyone else first. My grandmother motto was  "If you can't do anything else, the least you can do is worry about it.)

Healing Developmental Trauma How Early Trauma Affects Self-Regulation, Self-Image, and the capacity for Relationship. by Laurence Heller, PhD (coauthor of Crash Course)  and Aline LaPierre PsyD

I skipped the verbiage in the introduction and went straight to the Over View chapter on Healing Developmental trauma etc. There are several excellent charts that went  a long way to "explain" all the verbiage and once I decided I wanted to understand their ideas the charts helped to explain a lot about why I didn't protect my children as well as I wish I had. Also I googled around and found a synopsis on that was helpful.)

There is also a piece on line "Understanding the Impact of Sexual Assault: The Nature of Traumatic Experience by Sandra L. Bloom MD (WWW.SANCTUARYWEB.COM) that has a great blog/web site etc and, meditations and pictures. Better understanding the nature of Traumatic experience and how much we need safety and time to grow was helpful to me. Also building upon the "meditation" exercise (Taking a mini-vacation) Evie posted, there is a book Grace Unfolding, (on Amazon of course,) that is about meditation and using spiritual paths to work with our capacity for reconnecting with PTG for ourselves.)

Like I said, I'm not suggesting all of us should be therapists but one thing about taking back our life and choosing PTGrowing forward,  we could at least start to understand and honor our own courage and intelligence in surviving and growing past the trauma of betrayal. (and not incidentally better preparing ourselves to understand how our own children are likely handling their own betrayals.)

I tend to climb up in my head and intellectualize when there is a problem (like you hadn't already figured that out about me!). But I also realize that I can "intellectually" know all about how to re-grow a tree that has been cut down, I can "know"  the right amount of water, know which  fertilizer, think I know the right conditions, but human and "tree" growth is organic and some will re-grow immediately because they are naturally fast growers and others (like me) seem to take years but with patience and knowledge we will all get there together. (anyway that's what I tell myself)

But your way may be different. So if you want you are free to just ignore all this stuff... comes at some of it from another direction and you may help us all by telling us about a path we did realize was there.

Psycho-babble might not be a language you even want to hear! Whatever path we take Not the all about finding and sharing our own path to "rise" and regrow. (And PLEASE, if you know about other books, therapies, ideas, meditations, websites or just want to let us know some of what you are going through...add a comment or e-mail Evie  your story.) We feel so alone sometimes. We need each other. You are in Good company here.

Anyway, looks like, as usual I have gone on and on. I only intended to tell you about what I am personally working on and say that I am going on vacation and will be back the middle of July. Take care.

Evie has a post just about ready.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Time for a mental vacation

I would like to take you on a little journey of relaxation with me. If you have never done yoga or meditation, this might seem a little weird, but please take a chance.

I want you to read this in your favorite spot. Print it, if you need to, then go to the place where you feel the safest and most comfortable. Is it a cozy chair? A window over looking a garden? The edge of your child's bed while they're sleeping? Pick a time when you won't be interrupted. That time in the middle of the night when you can't sleep will work, if nothing else.

Once you are in your place, sit still and listen to your breath. Remind yourself that breathing will happen without your control. It is an involuntary reflex, so let it go. Let go of control and give that responsibility over to your body. Trust it. Let go of the tension in your belly and shoulders. Think about the other places in your body that get sore with stress. Tell those places to relax, too. Unconsciously we grip our muscles when we are feeling stressed, as if that will help us control what is happening in our life, but it only robs us of valuable energy and leaves us feeling cruddy. Let it go. Let your breathing relax. Let your pulse slow.

Focus on this very moment, on the place where you are sitting, the sounds around you (hopefully they are peaceful or happy), and just exist here.

Now do the same thing for your emotions that you did for your muscles. You have built up sore spots of anger, sadness, and guilt in the same way your muscles have grown sore with stress. Let go of those sore spots. You don't need to worry about the cause of these emotions right now. Just release your grip on them and let the energy flow like your breath. It will ache, like the symptoms at the start of a cold. And like a cold, recognizing you are suffering and giving yourself permission to rest is the best way to help it pass. If you find your brain replaying scenes connected to the emotions, just imagine those thoughts floating away and turn your mind back to your breathing.

If this is very hard on you right now, then take a break. Get a cup of tea or take a brisk walk. Whatever you do, don't let your muscles tense up again and resist letting those emotional blocks start. It will get easier with practice. If you can remain relaxed, your mind will feel clearer and you will have increased clarity while making decisions. When you are ready, continue reading.

With your mind on your breathing and your body relaxed, I want you to imagine stepping out of your body. (Stick with me now, even if you think this is weird). Imagine leaving your body behind, comfortable and safe, as you walk away. With every step, I want you to detach more and more from everything in your own life. Imagine walking out of the room, out of the house, and down the street. Leave behind your struggles and stress as you walk farther and farther. Walk away from your problems - you don't have to solve them. Walk away from the pain - you're taking a break from it. Imagine walking far enough away that you feel completely separated from everything. Walk until you feel like another person with no big problems. You are just normal now with normal issues. You can remember how that feels, so pull up that memory and make it real for this moment.

From your far off perspective of normalcy and detachment, I want you to turn back around and look at the body you left behind. Be a stranger looking back at yourself. You don't know who that woman is nor what she is going through. Stay detached, but look at her with kindness. She looks tired and a little worn. You can tell that she needs a good night's sleep and maybe a shoulder to lean on. Who do you think she is? She looks like a nice person, as normal and kind as a person could be. If she's a mom, I bet she's a loving one. I bet she puts the welfare of others ahead of her own.

Take a few steps towards her with curiosity. You are a separate person, remember, coming from a place of relaxed ease. Looking at this woman, you think she looks like she could be a friend. Walk back towards her at a relaxed pace. She's still a long way away, but from here you can look at her objectively. The closer you get, the more clearly you see the character of this woman. You can see her strengths, her talents, her humor, and all her good acts. You like this woman. She is a person of value and you are glad she is here. As you get even closer, you can also see her weaknesses, her temper, and her pet peeves. You see them and shrug, they are as normal as anything. There is nothing about this woman that would drive you away. In fact, you think she seems as deserving of friendship and love as anyone you know.

Keep walking toward her, taking the time you need to maintain detachment while you get closer and closer to the woman you left behind.

And now you are standing in front of her, still detached. You have walked a long way, but you feel refreshed. In fact, you have enough energy now that maybe you could offer to lend a hand to this woman. She could use someone like you. She needs someone objective and kind. She needs someone who can tell her sincerely that she is a good person, worth loving and supporting. She needs to be reminded that her life is valuable. She needs someone to listen and believe in her. You can do that.

So take a seat. Take back your identity. Breathe in and welcome yourself home.

As you go back to your life, your heart might feel heavy again and the aches may start to return. It will help if you can take mental vacations a few times a day. If you like this, maybe try going to a yoga class or get a meditation CD from the library. This sort of thing can keep you sane and healthy, no joke. Even if you can't find the time to go through a whole exercise like this, you can still find moments in your day to listen to your breathing and imagine yourself as an objective, caring onlooker. This has been my trick, by the way, for the last few years. I use it to pull myself away from depression when I feel it sneaking up on me. I hope it helped you and gives you a tool to keep you afloat. If you have a survival tactic such as this that you would like to share, please comment below or email it to me.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

PTG....Not just Survival, Not simply Resiliance but transformation...

Post traumatic growth, (PTG) the other side of the coin from PTSD, Post traumatic Stress Disorder...PTG is not simply resilience but transformation.    Resilience may be when we've been blindsided and we just stagger on pretending.  But PTG?  Post traumatic Growth is when we Didn't give up. Didn't capitulate. PTG is Transform.  (You know like one of those little transformer toys you stepped on in your bare feet because your kid "forgot" to put it away. OnlyPTG is much, much better. And of course we will be way cuter than those things when we transform!)

PTG happens after we are rocked to the foundations.. After The Life we thought we had chosen, Implodes. When we  are betrayed in such a fundamental way that we can't just simply stagger on.  The pieces no longer fit when we try to pull the Life We Chose all back together. . So we choose to move beyond, choose to struggle and create a new life of our own instead of living the patterns once laid out for us by others.

We are transformed because we Choose to Create a different Life after the implosion,

But that  transformation depends on fundamental choices we make now. How we choose to continue will effect the rest of our lives...and perhaps more importantly, the rest of our children's lives.

1) First we have to decide upon our  fundamental response

    #A) we can close over the wound,  hide the shrapnel, develop gangrene, actually commit suicide instead of just wishing we could, or we can solve that problem and just go dead inside from Betrayal..       # B) Pick ourselves up and stagger on pretending that nothing fundamental just happened. We'll deal with the PTSD later.
    # C) Grieve what has ended. Give ourselves time to  grow our (new) selves back. Better than ever.  PTG. Transformer toy but way better because we are in charge of our transformation.

2) After that fundamental choice there are other choices to be made, especially if we chose #B) or #C) above.  We need to find friends willing to "understand." women willing to "be there" for us.
We need gather our team, our tribe. Like Evie says, we need to find ourselves in "good company"

We need (hopefully) three who will listen, offer inspiration, point out the bigger picture, explain "boat maintenance" help us row our kids out of harm's way,  row toward a better shore. We need women with whom we can discuss our and their transformation.

Some of our "advisers" may already be personal friends who stuck by us, they might be counselors,We might discover "sisters" out there in blogisphere, just other woman who know  about betrayal. We need sounding boards able to listen and sympathize without trying to take over. Friends we trust to tell stories of where they've been. What worked and what didn't, for them. And then we need to help someone else who  just heard the knock at the door.

It's our choice but we need them, They need us. Nobody really goes it alone.

In her book Sleeping With a Stranger, How I survived Marriage to a Child Molester, Patricia Wiklund highly recommends we find what she calls an "Administrator" who can accompany us to meetings, hearings etc. and keep track of  appointments for us in the first stages, when we feel overwhelmed. Later they'll bring the wine and  celebrate our successes with us. (And help us fend off those "Villagers with Flaming Pitch-forks" when necessary.)

These friends are the sympathetic women  Evie  referred to  in her "Pulling Back the Curtain of Shame" blog post. .

3) Rule # 3 is NEVER  Quit on Ourselves. (Remember we did not Choose #A to begin with and there is no going back now. We have already come too far to give up on ourselves and our children.)   Persevere. Look at Betrayal from a whole different angle ( Remember Evie's blog about how she is now actually grateful to the young girl who reported Jake? The girl Evie  said she once hated as the reason people found out and her world imploded... back then?)

Keep on keeping on. There will be other "new" angles No one can transform our lives  for you. Why should they? I'm not saying there won't be times when all we want to do is   just climb in bed and pull covers over our heads. The world will NOT go away  just because we  wish  it would. Wine does not take care of everything. Eating by the light of the refrigerator won't cut it. Besides we have to fit into our clothes. We have to "interview our interviewer" and clinch our future tomorrow.

4)  In some  ways we need to  take our time.  It's not time to "forget and forgive" just because someone else tells us we ought to. We need to Recognize our strengths.  Reward our own bravery. Remember PTG? Perhaps we can't wish away the whole world but with perseverance we can transform  our world and ourselves with it.

Steal one of your kid's transformer toys. Make that little plastic transformer a reminder. Carry it around in your purse. Don't we know that every Heroine has a Talisman and a Smile and a Sword? My talisman is a little plastic figure hanging off my file cabinet.  She's a  little Red Headed Disney Princess dressed in a long blue dress and cross bow  ...Just as a reminder that there is a before and after....