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?