Archive for July, 2013

THIS IS NOT A CLASSIC LOVE STORY.

Posted in learning to love yourself again with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 25, 2013 by Karen unrue

_Marriage1

I was not in love with
the man I married.

In December 1977
I was
19 years old
and
doubt and confusion
clog-danced in my brain
behind
the FIXED SMILE
smile 2
that beamed
to perfection
the whole bloody time,
and filled
all the photos
on my
wedding day.

It was not a shotgun wedding.

I was not Muslim,
Indian,
or a Moonie.
moonie wedding

This marriage was not “arranged”.

So what was going on?

That’s what I want to talk about.
Because
what was “going on” then
is still “going on” today.

And what “was going on”
is that :-

CHRISTIAN FUNDAMENTALISM
PRIMES YOUNG WOMEN
TO ENTER
ABUSIVE MARRIAGES.

Wow that’s a controversial statement.
Many will disagree.
images
However,
From my own experience
and those
of many other women,
I KNOW IT TO BE TRUE!

Let me tell you how it works.

A – Girls in a fundamentalist Christian home will grow up in a sheltered environment. Their social life will revolve around church. They might attend only Christian school and in the most severe cases – be home-schooled.

B – The world outside of church is considered secular, and all things secular are to be feared.

C – Unbelievers live in this secular world, and they are only to be befriended with the sole purpose of “getting them saved”. To simply be friends with an unbeliever will expose a Christian girl to the dangers of secular ways.
(Or to put it another way – non -Christian friends are a gateway drug!)

D – This sheltered life leads to girls being naïve and uninformed about a lot of life’s realities. It makes them more idealistic and impressionable.
good christian girl 1
E – Girls are taught that men are the head of the house, men are the spiritual “covering” of women, men are responsible before God for the women in their care. In fact, lets face it girls are taught that men are superior to women.

F – Girls are taught that men are more important to God than women; that he listens to them and speaks through them.

E – Girls are taught that they are not equal to men. They may be smarter or more artistic, more musical, more practical, more lots of things – BUT not more spiritual, and certainly not on an even footing with men in the eyes of God.

F – This being the case, girls are taught to defer to men and to be subject to men. (Now, no matter how much common sense a Christian girl might have, no matter how flawed she may recognise many of the men in her life to be, this common sense will be in conflict with her conditioning – and conditioning always wins.)

G – All fundamentalist Christians are taught to fear being out of God’s will. No matter how much God might love you he REALLY does not like it when you step out of his will and you will incur His wrath.
(Just what His will is cannot be easily defined but it has a lot to do with obeying rules, and for a Christian girl one of the big rules is that men are the ones God’s put in charge and so she must be subject to them.)

H – Dating – (oh don’t get me started!!! Girls are taught all manner of silliness when it comes to dating – far too much silliness for me to go into all of it here.)

These are a few examples:-

1 – You absolutely CANNOT date an unbeliever – it will cause you to lose your faith. (Apparently this is one of those things that most definitely takes you out of God’s will.)

2 – God has already picked out the man you are to marry. All you have to do is wait and listen for His leading to show you who he is.
chosen man
3 – you can do nothing but hold hands until you are engaged. Anything else will automatically tempt you to have sex.

So here she stands –

THE FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN YOUNG WOMAN !

And here he is –

THE FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN YOUNG MAN

And he fancies her!

If he is a fundamentalist Christian young man who despite his better self will end up being an abuser of women –

WHAT HAPPENS THEN?

Well, here’s my story.

The only men in my social world were chinless, spotty, youth group teenagers, and I definitely did not hear God telling me any of them were my CHOSEN one.
Then along came K.
23 years old, six foot tall, and with a chin.
He was an American airman from the nearby US air force base.
He arrived on 1000cc motorcycle, wore cowboy boots,
cowboy boots
and most amazing of all – was a Christian.
I didn’t fancy him, he wasn’t handsome, but he was here, he was different, and in the very small fundamentalist Christian pool I was fishing in he looked like a dolphin.
A couple of his mates from the base also began coming to church, and soon my sister and I were spending time with them on the weekends.
It was exciting.
When K asked me out I said “no”.
When he asked why – I was truthful,
“you’re nice but I don’t fancy you.”
This just made him more determined.
He showered me with gifts, took me out to dinner,
we had fun together alone as well as spending time with the whole gang.
But each time he asked me to be his girlfriend I was honest.
I didn’t want to lead him on.
I was a good Christian girl remember.

Then he began asking me to marry him.
It was absurd, and I told him so.
“No I will not marry you – I don’t love you”
But still, for weeks he persisted.
And each time I said “no”.

BUT ONE DAY

He said to me that God had spoken to him,
told him that we were to get married,
that He had missionary work for us to do together.
Again I told him “no”
How could I marry him when I didn’t love him?

THEN HE SAID SOMETHING THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF MY LIFE FOREVER.

“How can you say NO? You don’t want to be out of God’s will do you?”

KAPOW ***!!!**??**BAM**!!!**??**WALLOP!!

All my common sense went out of the window.
My fundamentalist conditioning kicked in.
NO – I DEFINITELY DID NOT WANT TO BE OUT OF GOD’S WILL!!!
That would be terrifying!
AngryGod-300x188
Getting married to K didn’t feel like the right thing to do,
but this was a Christian man,
and God had spoken to him.
He must be the man God had chosen for me.
I wrestled with my common sense but eventually
I allowed my better judgement to be subjugated to my conditioning,
and to the fear of God’s wrath.

I said, “yes.”

My parents were thrilled.
He had wooed them too.
How could I share my doubts with them?
God had spoken.

So I married him.

And on the honeymoon night the abusive behaviour,
of which I had seen no previous clues,
began.
3 days later we were in America at his new posting,
and for the next 10 years
I endured his ever escalating abuse.
And, blaming myself, of course,
I stayed.

It has taken me many years , to recognise that my
FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIAN UPBRINGING,
WITH ALL IT’S GOOD INTENTIONS,
PRIMED ME TO BE VULNERABLE
TO SUCH A MAN AS K.
And that my leaving and divorcing
aroused a legacy of guilt that was
disproportionate and unnecessary.

It has taken years of hard work to unlearn this fundamentalist conditioning
and to recognise that God loves me unconditionally,
just the way I am.
Unknown
But at long last I am free.
Free to use my common sense.
Free to trust my own judgement.
Free to befriend who I like and not try to “save” them.
Free to know that men are not superior to women.
Free to love whoever I choose.
Free to be me.

Does any of this resonate with you ?
Have you had a similar experience?
Did you narrowly escape such a situation?
Or maybe you aware that you are caught up in an abusive marriage with your own version of K?
If you would like to chat in confidence – my email address is karenunrue57@gmail.com
You are NOT alone.

PEOPLE GROW IN THE STRANGEST PLACES

Posted in transformation through trauma with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 16, 2013 by Karen unrue

chick and egg
Did you know that you are not supposed to assist a baby chick
as it chips its way out of the shell of the egg its hatched in.
Poor thing looks so weak and helpless.
Looks like he won’t make it.
It looks traumatic.
But apparently
the very act of working his way slowly out of the shell and into the world strengthens him.

Transformation through trauma

Yes it’s a cliché,
but its true!

I never thought I’d be grateful for the shit I went through in my marriage.
Or for the depression and anxiety I experienced
in the ensuing years
as I rebuilt my life.

But there did come a day, some years later,
When I began to realise that all I had been through:
the process of forgiving
both myself and him,
rebuilding my identity
and self-esteem,
learning to live
without guilt and fear.
Had actually caused me to
GROW
as a person.
I had more compassion
more wisdom
a greater lust for life.

I had pecked my way out of the shell.
I was strengthened.

Now don’t misunderstand!
I would NEVER want to go through any of that again!
And it’s been a difficult journey

BUT I LIKE WHO I AM AS A RESULT OF THE JOURNEY I’VE BEEN ON.

journey
It is a strange phenomenon
That people,
like flowers and vegetables,
seem to grow best
in shit!

Here is a poem I wrote about that.

If you could buy what I’ve been through,
I wouldn’t recommend you do.
This is MY life.

The past I’ve had I can’t undo
no matter how I might want to.
THIS is my life.

Not all fairy tale, bedtime story,
or bed of roses always sweet.
There have been times of pain and suffering
that have knocked me off my feet.

But over time as I’ve reflected.
I’ve learnt it’s best that I accept,
This IS my life.

And the question asked, “what might have been?”
Has become redundant now I’ve seen
that by accepting my life is THIS
I get to see what I almost missed –

THAT PEOPLE GROW IN THE STRANGEST PLACES

plant covered people 2

Have you found this to be the case?
In what ways?
What are your experiences?

REBUILDING CASTLES

Posted in rebuilding your life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 11, 2013 by Karen unrue

castle pic
My castle had been under siege
for ten years.
Cannonballs,
battering-rams,
fighting on the ramparts,
hot oil,
and raging enemy fires
had all caused it,
over time,
to become –
AN UNINHABITABLE DWELLING!!

What had been a fairly
SAFE PLACE
to live in when I met
my husband,
had, under his
CARELESS,
and often
BRUTAL
Behaviour,
ended up –
A RUIN!
storm 2
I was open to
the elements!
Rain fell in,
wind blew through,
there was no
PROTECTION
from the cold, and
little shelter from the heat.

I WAS VULNERABLE!

Before the bombardment
I had been outgoing –
at ease in company.
NOW I shivered
amongst strangers,
and was TIMID with
friends
and even family.
I awaited,
CRITICISM
and feared –
REJECTION.
shy 1
I WAS VULNERABLE!

How could I
REBUILD my walls?
RE-TILE my roof?
REPLACE
my windows?
Become
A SAFE PLACE
to live in once more?
PROTECTED!
How could I again
become –
A HABITABLE DWELLING?

When I, and my two-year old son, escaped my husband, we left America and came to live in England where I was born and raised.
Most days I would spend some time walking through the countryside, my son in his push- chair, talking out loud to myself (to the amusement of many a grazing cow!)
stroller
I was speaking out my search for clarity, trying to make sense of my vulnerability, figuring out the mechanics of re-gaining my sense of identity, so that I could find some way of building myself up again.

I knew it wouldn’t happen over night, but I had to start somewhere!

My first little breakthrough came on one of these walks.
I realised that in order to feel comfortable in social situations again I had to –

“SHIFT THE FOCUS”

The “ruined” me, the vulnerable me, was anxious at social events.
I did not enjoy them.
I was too busy wondering what impression I WAS MAKING or whether others were FINDING ME INTERESTING, wondering whether or not -THEY LIKED ME!
I was filled with anxiety.
I would leave a party or dinner and analyse MY PERFORMANCE.
“Damn! Why did I say that?”
“Good grief I sounded boring”
“Well, I won’t get asked back!”
Etc. Etc.

THIS WAS NOT SERVING ME WELL!

So I made the decision to practice “shifting the focus”.
I made myself a little mantra I could use to remind myself –

“THINK LESS ABOUT IMPRESSING
AND MORE ABOUT BLESSING!”

Cheesy – I know.
But it helped me remember to –

• Focus on the person/people I am talking to
• Really listen to what he/she/they are saying.
• Let them know by words and body language that I’m interested in THEM.
• Ask them questions.
• Put them at ease.
• After the event DO NOT analyse WHAT THEY MIGHT THINK OF ME.
• Focus, instead, on WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY AND WHAT I THOUGHT OF THEM.
conversation 2
It took time and practice.
I didn’t always get it right.
But gradually I began to enjoy the company of other people again as I re-learnt the freedom of unselfconsciousness.
And because I made others feel good about them-selves – they enjoyed my company and invited me out again.
This began to improve my self-esteem
and, in turn, enabled me to dare be a bit more my REAL self.
And so I began again to establish my sense of identity

Little by little bricks got added to my walls,
some roof tiles went on,
a broken window got replaced.

I WAS BECOMING A SAFER PLACE TO LIVE!
yellow castle

This is only my story, my experience.
I realise that everyone has his or her own unique story to tell.
Has an unhealthy relationship left you feeling vulnerable?
How have you found a way of building yourself up again?
Maybe you are only just leaving a bad relationship and feeling quite lost.

I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

OFF ON HOLIDAY

Posted in Holiday on July 3, 2013 by Karen unrue

Cornwall-beach-575x406

I am off to Cornwall for 5 days with friends,
to a beautiful stone cottage in the countryside
and near the beach.
Fabulous!!
I really need a holiday
so I most likely won’t post while I’m away.

Will blog again when I get back.

Have a great weekend

THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT!

Posted in learning to soothe yourself with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 2, 2013 by Karen unrue

I was a child/teenager

with a vivid imagination!

It’s impact

On “bed time” varied.

Some nights,

weary from the day’s activities,

I’d drop off

to sleep

when my head hit the pillow.

child-sleeping

 

 

 

 

Other nights

I would wrestle with

VERY REAL,

but imaginary,

THINGS

that arrived,

uninvited,

when the light was off.

These were usually

ANTS OR SPIDERS.

Sometimes other monsters.

nightmare

 

 

 

 

 

The only way to survive

their onslaught,

was to lie still

flat on my back

with my sheet and blankets

pulled over my head

and tucked up tight

under,

and around,

my body.

Eventually, exhausted

by their attempts

to penetrate my defences,

the ants or spiders

died in droves

and disappeared.

 

I must have looked

ridiculous.

egyptian-mummy

 

 

 

I was an ancient mummy,

or a murdered body,

ready to be placed

in the back of a car

for disposal.

 

I DIDN’T CARE.

It worked.

It was my

COPING MECHANISM.

 

In later life,

dealing with real

fears and anxieties,

in very real situations,

this cocoon method of coping,

YOU WILL NOT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN,

was of very little use.

It no longer SOOTHED me.

 

WHAT NOW?

question

 

 

 

 

 

What this example from my childhood/early teens shows is that the coping mechanisms we develop when we are young become “not fit for purpose” when we are adults.

It is the same with coping mechanisms we develop in the abnormal atmosphere of an abusive relationship. They do “not serve us” well once we are learning to live again in the fresh air of freedom.

We need to develop new ones that DO serve us well.

This takes time, testing out what works best, and, I would advise the input and assistance of someone who understands. This can be a good friend who has been on her own journey of recovery, or a professional experienced in the subject.

abuse2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For me a breakthrough was having it explained to me that my abuser had not been speaking the truth when he demeaned me, criticised me, verbally attacked me.

He had been voicing his opinion of me.

And his OPINION WAS DISTORTED.

(Remember the tilted room!)

His opinions were voiced out of his own damaged past,

or he was simply a bully who enjoyed

causing pain.

He was not speaking the truth about me.

 

I WAS NOT WHO OR WHAT HE SAID I WAS!

 

I could begin to emerge from under the covers.

Because the ants and spiders (the things he said)

Were not real,

NOT TRUE.

 

I could begin the journey

Of UNBELIEVING

his distorted words,

and start learning

how to love myself again.

How to SOOTHE myself.

 

I will talk more about this in my next blog.

I WOULD REALLY LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU !

What were some of your childhood/teenage coping mechanisms?

How have you learned to find ones that “serve you well now”?

What are they?

DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS?

I’d be happy to have a go at answering them –

To begin a dialogue with you.

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