Archive for #conditioning

POP A PILL OR GROW A POTATO?

Posted in emotional health, mental health, recovery with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2014 by Karen unrue

food_pills_finlay

Ever see those sci fi movies where no one eats food anymore –

they all pop pills instead?

Its sort of happened already

dont you think?

I mean

WHEN DID YOU LAST GROW A POTATO?

We all eat crisps and french fries

but I have never planted a potato

or dug one out of the soil.

Are you kidding?

Why would I?

sounds far too much like hard work!

Someone else does that for me!

potato-picker-ngv

As a result –

The source of my nutrition

is as far removed from my everyday experience

as Jupiter!

It may be easier but it sure aint healthier!

 

We do the same when it comes to feeding our souls.

We may lack nutrients

from emotional malnutrition

in our childhoods,

or because of toxic relationships later on.

So what do we do?

Go organic?

Get our hands dirty in the hard work of growing our own?

NO

We go to our local pharmaceutical supermarket –

the doctor –

and try to get our emotional nutrition in a pill.

hirst_pharmaceuticals

PLEASE DON’T MISUNDERSTAND ME –

I am an advocate

of anti-depressants and mood stabilisers –

when they are needed.

I have used them myself

and I still take Prozac today.

 

What I’m talking about here is

stuff like –

silencing

the critical voice in our head

borne out of abusive

or unhealthy

relationships.

And

replacing it

with a

Barry White

type

voice of loving encouragement

and affirmation.

barry white

Breaking habitual negative and anxious thought patterns

and learning

to make

more positive,

confident

habitual thought patterns

that enable you

to live a life without fear.

A life you love living.

Unknown

Yes it’s hard work!

Learning to live free from anxiety

by re-sculpting my plastic brain –

re-shaping my neural pathways,

has been one of the hardest things I have ever done.

And it took time.

But let me tell you –

IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE !

 

So get out your gardening gloves!

Over the next few posts

I’m going to teach you

how to grow a potato!

SIGN POTATOES

PLASTIC FANTASTIC

Posted in our thought lives with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 25, 2014 by Karen unrue

drawings_and_paintings-brains-brains01

I thought my brain was a stone,

set hard.

I thought I was stuck with it

just the way it is.

But hey –

guess what?

Its plastic,

malleable,

and I can,

with time

and patience

make it a shape

that serves me better.

I can streamline it,

make it aerodynamic

so it flies

faster,

safer,

to destinations of my choosing.

Jet-plane-in-flight231

I’m not stuck with it

just the way it is.

Ok!

What am I talking about?

Well,

Our thought lives

determine our behaviour.

Right?

It is our

habitual

negative,

thought patterns

that make our lives

anxious

and scary.

self-portrait-or-desperate-man-gustave-courbet

It was always assumed

that

we are hardwired

from birth.

But now,

neuroscience tells us

we are not

and that we can

Sculpt

our neural pathways,

our thought lives,

into shapes

and patterns

that serve us better

that make life

more enjoyable.

Malvina Hoffman 1885-1966 - American sculptor - Tutt'Art@ (24)

“THIS IS JUST THE WAY I AM!”

is not a painful

frustrating,

truth

you have to live with anymore.

you can change who you are

by changing how you think!!

You are not just human beings –

you are human becomings!!

You can become who you want to be.

This is not a glib “power of positive thinking” motivational speech.

This is science

and psychology

and it can change your life –

It changed mine.

In my next post I’ll talk about how how to start this process, and how to keep going until your life is less anxious and negative, better, easier, and happier.

I am talking from personal experience here

and

It can be done!!!!

hope

THE SURPRISE PARTY

Posted in THE SURPRISE OF RECOVERY with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 8, 2013 by Karen unrue
painting by Fahad Hassain

painting by Fahad Hossain

Have you ever had a birthday
when no one remembered ?
A birthday when no one rang
to wish you “Happy Birthday”,
no one at work brought in a card,
and only acquaintances,
and your boss said anything at all?

It sucks right !?
It makes you feel
alone,
unloved,
unhappy,
it can even make you wonder
what life is all about.
Make you
doubt yourself,
doubt your self-worth,
doubt the people you thought were friends,
doubt your judgement.
At its worst
it can even make you feel
depressed,
despairing.

BUT THEN

You arrive home,
the windows are dark,
the house is silent.
You put your key in the front door –
and the moment you walk in
the house lights up like a firework!
A crowd of people
are cheering
and shouting out
“SURPRISE!!!”
as they
jump up and down,
throw streamers
and set off party poppers,
and then they –
run at you,
hug you,
kiss you
with big smiles on their faces.

surprise party 1

Suddenly the sadness is gone.
You know you are
loved,
valued,
cared about.
Loneliness leaves,
self doubt is dispelled,
despair dissipates.
The present,
and the future, look
BRIGHT.

HEALING
is often like this too!

It can seem far away,
even impossible.
We can be filled
with the feeling
that we will never recover.
Pain,
depression,
despair,
self-doubt,
self-loathing,
loneliness,
seem to be our only companions.

depression

I have been there.
I know that feeling.
I wanted to –
give up,
let go,
stop fighting for survival.
stop hoping for a better day to come.
I even contemplated
suicide
at times.

BUT THEN – out of the blue –

RECOVERY SURPRISED ME!!!

Hope lit up the room
and threw party poppers.
Joy ran at me and held me
in a welcoming embrace.
The present
was not so scary,
and the future not so dark.

drawing by holymoocow

drawing by holymoocow

Here’s the thing!!
If I had given in
to the feelings of despair –
NOT kept hoping
for a better day,
If I had given up
and checked out –
even just the day before –

I WOULD HAVE MISSED THE PARTY!

I met a young woman,
in the clinic in Cape Town,
who is 29 years old.
She became a heroin addict
at a very young age
during a time of trauma and abandonment.
She is beautiful,
both inside and out.
When I met her
it was her 21st time in a rehab clinic!!!
SHE REFUSES TO GIVE UP!!
She believes that one day
she will get clean
and stay clean.
And do you know what?
I believe she will too!
I believe she will one day soon
attend her own
SURPRISE PARTY!

drug-rehab-center

The damage
done to me by my loving
but unwitting parents
during my childhood.
The damage
done to me
by an abusive husband
over 10 years
during my twenties.
It has taken until
the age of 54
for me to be really free of it.

THAT’S A LONG TIME!

That’s 24 years!

But if I had given up,
checked out,
at the times I was tempted to
during those years
I would have missed
THE SURPRISE PARTY
of recovery
that eventually came.

So I urge anyone reading this –
If you are tempted
to give in
or
give up.
DON’T !
Keep on keeping on.
Look for people to –
support you,
walk with you,
give you hope,
pick you up when you fall down –
but
KEEP GOING!

Your SURPRISE PARTY
Could be just around the corner!!!

hope

Please know that you can chat to me about any aspect of recovery you like – if I don’t know the answer I will find out for you
DON’T WALK ALONE!

————————————————————————————–

TALKING OF WALKING – IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL IF YOU COULD CHECK OUT THE DONATE PAGE BELOW AND SPONSOR ME IN A WALK I AM DOING FOR THE MENTAL HEALTH CHARITY I WORK FOR – THANKS

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

LEMONADE FOR THE SOUL

Posted in dry days. with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2013 by Karen unrue

IMG_2701

During these hot summer months
It’s important
to keep hydrated.
When you travel
on the London underground
you hear regularly
over the platform
loudspeakers –

“IN THIS HOT WEATHER PASSENGERS ARE ADVISED TO CARRY A BOTTLE OF WATER WITH THEM.”

Its good advice.

Do you know what else is
good advice?
Always carry with you
something you can read,
listen to,
or just glance at,
to remind yourself that you’re going to be ok!
That you are strong even though you feel weak.
That you are acceptable,
good enough,
someone of value,
and lovable.
That there is
HOPE,
and to not give up
or hang your head.
That in this moment you are in –
YOU ARE SAFE
and even if it feels like a storm is raging
KNOW
it will grow calm –
over time –
and you will find –
A QUIET PLACE AGAIN.

THIS IS HYDRATION FOR YOUR SPIRIT –

This is –

LEMONADE FOR THE SOUL!!!!!!!

OUR INNER CRITIC IS A LIAR

Posted in unhelpful negative thinking with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2013 by Karen unrue
The West End. London theatre land.

The West End. London theatre land.

An actress
has just
performed
her heart out.
Opening night
in a west end show.
She was
great, and
received
a standing ovation
from
the filled auditorium.

ovation460

The morning papers
come out.
The whole cast
has stayed up
all night
to read what
the critics
have to say.
They nervously
open the papers
to the
relevant page.

newspapers

As she reads
she sees
that
nine out of ten
critics
state she was
wonderful ,
“Miss Sinclair
brought the role to life
and made it her own.”
One critic
is disparaging
“miss Sinclair
lacked the lustre
the role required.”

SHE IS DEVASTATED.

Woman-grief-painting-640x480

No matter
how much the others
point out
that nine out of ten
good reviews
is terrific
and tell her to
pay no heed
to the idiot
who said
negative things,
all she can think about
is
the negative,
the critical
the disappointed
voice.

negative words sheet

WHY DO WE DO THAT? ALL OF US DO IT!

There is something in each of us, for some reason, that more readily believes the negative thoughts that come at us and fill our heads than the positive ones that get spoken as well.
It’s because we tend to already have distorted perspectives about ourselves and we cherry pick the thoughts that most easily fit in with them.
The negative thoughts are easier for us to believe!!!

BUT MOST NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ARE LIARS.

Even though we are convinced that they are valid most of the negative thoughts that make us feel bad are:-

DISTORTED AND UNREALISTIC

IMG_3445

They are the blah, blah, blah that fill our heads automatically from what we have been conditioned to believe about ourselves.

For those of you who have begun to write down some of your negative self-talk as you have become aware of it– here are some of the distorted thinking patterns they will fit into. See if you recognise any of these in your negative thoughts.

CATASTROPHISING

This is when we take something and blow it all out of proportion.
We make it bigger in our minds that it should be and then usually use the
thought to hammer ourselves with.

“I forgot to invite Emily to my daughters birthday party – OH NO – now her mother will think I’m horrible and won’t speak to me in the playground when I pick the kids up. OH God I bet she’ll even turn the other mums against me. I will have to get someone else to pick up the kids – I cant show my there face again. How could I have done that I’M SO STUPID, SO THOUGHTLESS, SO USELESS.”

painting by Guillame Le Tual

painting by Guillame Le Tual

MIND READING.

This is when we assume we know what others are thinking.

“I can’t go to my husband’s work “DO” because I know that all the other wives look down on me. I know they don’t think I’m good enough for Mike.”

crystal ball

NEGATIVE FILTERING

This is when no matter how well something might be going WE will filter out the positive things and see only the negative.

“was’nt that a great evening. The food was delicious and the music was great.”
we say,
“yes darling but why did it have to be outside? It gets so cold in the evenings this time of year, and did you notice that neither Rose nor Mary spoke more than two words to me the whole evening.”

confectioners-sugar-being-sprinkled-with-a-sifter

BLACK AND WHITE THINKING

This is when we take everything to the extreme. It tends to make us hard on ourselves and come to some harsh assumptions.

“I am ALWAYS the one who ends up washing coffee cups after church. NO ONE EVER helps out. I am FOREVER taken for granted. I am NEVER appreciated.”

BIAS AGAINST YOURSELF

This is when we fail to see the good in ourselves, even when others do, and we focus instead on the negative.

“Thanks for coming shopping with me and helping me choose an outfit for the wedding. You have a really good eye for colours and what things go together well.”
We say,
“Don’t be silly, no I don’t, I just know what you like”

These are just a few of the negative thinking patterns that hinder our enjoyment of life.

Now that we are becoming more aware of what they are we will look at how we can challenge them and exchange them for more rational and positive thinking.

dont listen to negative words

Do you recognise any of them in your own thinking?
How have they prevented you from enjoying life more?

SILENCING LORD HAW HAW

Posted in Silencing Lord Haw Haw with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 6, 2013 by Karen unrue

joyce 0001

Lord Haw Haw, real name, William Joyce, was a British citizen who, during world war 2 defected to Germany and worked for the Nazi’s against the British people by broadcasting on Hamburg radio’s nightly broadcasts of “Germany Calling”.
He used an exaggerated English aristocratic accent to broadcast lies and half- truths designed to unnerve the British people, as well as to try and confuse them and lower their morale.

All of us, to a greater or lesser extent, have our own Lord Haw Haw.

We hear the voices of those who should have been allies in our lives but who, instead, spoke words daily that unnerved us and lowered our self-belief.

We no longer hear them as loudly as on the day they were said, or hear the voices that originally spoke the words.
Most of the time we are hardly aware of them.
It’s a dull muttering like a radio left on in the background.
Its known in the trade as “self-talk”, or “inner dialogue” and everyone experiences it.

radio

Some have been luckier than others and have had far more encouraging and nurturing words spoken to them than unnerving, undermining ones. So they’re self-talk is more positive than negative.
But those of us who have heard Lord Haw Haw daily will have a negative broadcast playing in our heads that effects our thinking and behaviour.
That’s because our “inner dialogue” is closely linked to the “BOTTOM LINE” that I talk about in an earlier post. Our “inner dialogue” reflects the fundamental beliefs we hold about ourselves. It’s the chatter in our heads resulting from the opinions that others have stated about us and that we have believed to be true.
There are times when the volume increases on our inner dialogue – its when we attempt to move out of our comfort zone – that safe little circle we have chalked around ourselves, the limits in which we choose to live based on our self-belief or lack of it.

chalk circle

For instance –
A woman on her way to an interview for a job she really wants will hear:-

“Oh God, there will be others there far more qualified than I am.”
“What am I doing? I’m not good enough for this job”
“They will see through me straight away”
“I should just stay a secretary, that’s what I’m good at.”

Sound familiar?

or

you receive an invitation to your 15 year school reunion – your self-talk will be loud then:-

“I can’t go, everyone will have done so much more with their lives than me.”
“I’ve put on weight, people will judge me.”
“no one will want to talk to me”
“I will feel awkward – it will be awful.”

person in despair

There are a million other examples I could give –
But you get the point.

So how do we silence Lord Haw Haw?
How do we turn the radio off?
Or change the station we are listening to?

The first thing to do is to keep a notebook and pen handy and jot down your self-talk when you become aware of it. Over time this will give you insight into the kind of distorted perspectives you have carried from your early years into adulthood.
Also keep note of the kind of behaviours that your self-talk tries to talk you out of doing.

Unknown

For instance:-

Going to parties/activities that you are invited to.
Doing higher education classes or going for promotion.
Approaching a girl/boy you like and asking them out for coffee.
Trying something different in your life – an activity or interest.

By gaining this insight it will help clarify what kind of thinking clouds your judgement of yourself and of the world, and prevents you from living an authentic, free life.
The kind of life you really want to live.

life of freedom

In my next post I will show you a list of several kinds of distorted perspectives and you will be able to see which of these fits your self-talk.
I will then show you practical techniques you can use, not only to identify your distorted thinking patterns in certain life scenarios, but to gain a more rational perspective in the areas where your self-talk clouds your vision. These will enable you to begin to minimise your negative self-talk.

In other words it will help you to begin –

SILENCING LORD HAW HAW

After all, lets not forget that he was hanged for treason in 1946.

THAT MOMENT WHEN THE LIGHT GOES ON

Posted in Inspired with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2013 by Karen unrue

425675_10150683329393899_1706279054_n

This is not something I usually do –
post a video.
And please believe me
when i say
that
it is not just a
lazy man’s blog post.
I watched this
and
was blown away
by the insight
and
simplicity
of this piece of research,
and this woman’s journey.
IT TURNED A LIGHT ON FOR ME.
It has been said (by someone who’s name I should probably know!)
that
true freedom
comes
when we learn
how to be
unselfconsciousness.

PLEASE WATCH WHAT BRENE BROWN HAS TO SAY ON THE SUBJECT
IT’S WORTH IT!

Oh, and I’d love to hear what you think, so please comment.

THE LOVELY YOUNG MAN

Posted in THE LOVELY YOUNG MAN with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 1, 2013 by Karen unrue

young man 2

A lovely young man
came to see me.
A good looking
young man,
28 years old,
with a good job,
and his own flat.
I was
a mentor
in a
mental health charity.
HE WAS TROUBLED.

depression

Recently, his
ANXIETIES
had spiralled into
DEPRESSION.
He didn’t understand
what was wrong.
He’d always found
relationships
difficult, he said,
even with family.
But lately his friendships
had become increasingly
strained.
Then his girlfriend
had left him
and now he was
on medication.

help_pills_c
He said,

“It isn’t that life is hard, it’s that I FIND LIFE HARD!
And I don’t know why”.

Early on
In our sessions
I asked him
a question –

WHAT IS YOUR BOTTOM LINE?

I explained
I wasn’t talking about
the Visible Panty Line
that expensive underwear adverts
promise to eradicate.

NO!

In this instance –

The BOTTOM LINE is the description of yourself that you believe to be 100%
TRUE.

It is indicated in how
you complete the sentence –
I AM…….
when no one is listening.
When its
just you
in
quiet solitude,
being brutally honest
with yourself.

who am i

The lovely young man
thought about it
a while,
then
admitted to me
his
BOTTOM LINE
was
I AM … NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
I AM … TO BLAME.

Peoples underlying beliefs about themselves will always impact their thinking and then their behaviour.

I explained this to him and that his BOTTOM LINE was influencing everything in his life, including his relationships, and that only when he changed his beliefs about himself would “living life” become easier for him.

“But how do I do THAT?” He gasped

I said,
“It is possible.
I know because I have done it,
and I will show you how”.

I told him –
Your BOTTOM LINE is a label you wear.
A label you have allowed to define you because you believe it to be true.

So we talked about labels and how we acquire them.
How when we come into this world our label is blank –
blank labels
we have no opinion of who we are – not good or bad.
And that the opinion we will eventually have of ourselves,
our BOTTOM LINE,
will develop over time –
AS OTHER PEOPLE WRITE ON OUR LABEL.

handwriting

What people write on a child’s label varies.
It depends on the environment in which they are raised.

A healthy environment label will most likely say –
“you are lovable,
interesting,
fun to be with,
and you can do anything you put your mind to”

An unhealthy environment label will most likely say –
“you are a nuisance,
stupid,
in the way,
and you will never amount to anything.”

dysfunctional

Yes, it’s a genetic lottery.
We have no say about
the families
we are born into.
And the kids in
unhealthy families
have an
uphill battle.
But even kids
in nurturing families
are spoken to
carelessly
or unkindly
at times.

NO ONE IS IMMUNE.

I explained that children have what child psychologist’s call
CONCRETE THINKING.
This means that children (up to 14 or15) take personally everything that is said to them,
and believe it to be FACT.

They don’t have the capacity, as adults do, to take into consideration the
circumstances or the mood of the person speaking.
Adults can differentiate between the truth and an opinion.
They know that an opinion is often rooted in some issue that the person voicing it is having, and can, therefore, disregard it.

Children can’t do that.
To a child
ugly things aren’t said because –

“mum is having a bad day”,

mum pulling her hair out

or “dad has money worries and is short-tempered”.

finances

NO

To a child –
Ugly things are said
Because
THEY ARE TRUE.

BUT,
I explained to him
WHAT IS ACTUALLY TRUE
is that the ugly things
that are said to us
as children
are NOT facts
but
OPINIONS.

OPINIONS VOICED OUT OF ISSUES THAT THE PERSON SPEAKING IS HAVING AT THE TIME.

The lovely young man
suddenly
straightened up
in his chair.
There was a
light in his eyes.
He had heard
something
that
resonated.

He recounted that one night
when he was
seven years old
he’d been put to bed
by his mother.
She then went downstairs
and soon he could hear
her and his father arguing
in the lounge below his bedroom.

bth_couple-fighting_zpsaf14a3e4

This was nothing new – they argued quite a lot.
But this one escalated
to such decibels
and went on for so long
that he became alarmed –
and then frightened.
He crept downstairs in his pyjamas
and stood in the hall next to the
closed living room door.
SUDDENLY
his mother burst out of the room.
She saw him,
pointed her finger at him
and said,

pointing

“ITS YOUR FAULT I’M STUCK IN THIS GOD-AWFUL MARRIAGE.
IF IT WASN’T FOR YOU I COULD LEAVE AND HAVE A BETTER LIFE.
ITS YOUR FAULT I’M STUCK HERE AND UNHAPPY”

She then stormed upstairs
leaving him standing alone
UNDER THE WEIGHT OF HER WORDS.

The lovely young man
then told me
that from that moment on
he felt responsible
for his mother’s
happiness.
He tried hard
to be good,
to be funny,
to be there
for her.
And felt guilty
when she was unhappy.
It was his fault.
SHE HAD SAID SO.

He said that with every relationship that mattered to him from then on
he felt he had to make sure the other person was always alright.
Their happiness
was his responsibility.
It was a joke at first.
They teased him a bit,
said he should “chill”.
He tried to stop
trying so hard.
But lately things only got worse.
And one by one
his friends fell away.
Then his girlfriend
said she felt smothered
and walked away too.

girlfreind leaving

“BUT IF WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS TRUE” he said excitedly,
“Then my mother wasn’t speaking A FACT ABOUT ME! Was she?
She was just VOICING AN OPINION out of the anger she was feeling!”

He took a deep breath as the reality sank in,

“And so THE TRUTH IS “ he continued,
I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE for other people’s happiness – am I !!”

I smiled, and said, “THAT’S RIGHT”.

And he smiled too.

smile

Over the weeks we worked on erasing the opinions he had worn as the truth.
He gradually wrote his own label.
Redefining himself
and learning to
live his life FREE from
THE WEIGHT OF HIS MOTHER’S WORDS.

It wasn’t easy,
but with hard work
and perseverance
he began
breaking the habits
of thinking
and behaviour
that had caused
him to
“find life hard.”

The lovely young man,
a couple of years
after our sessions had ended,
spotted me in a restaurant.
He came over.
He was smiling.
He told me how well his life was going
Then took me to his table
and introduced me to his girlfriend.

I must say –
they both looked
VERY HAPPY INDEED.

_smitten__couple_in_love_figurative__figurative__08959ab3929e456a74457a4d6210735a

Have any of the labels you have been given created problems for you?

If you look back with an adults eye can you see that most likely they were not facts but opinions?

what are some of the opinions you have believed to be facts?

I will discuss in more depth some of the techniques for working yourself free from damaging opinions in my next post.

Do you have any questions you would like me to try and answer?

I would be happy to give it my best shot !

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.

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.

Life In Detox

Breaking down. Building up.

smarterfitter

Recipes and stories by Monica Shaw

MyGraine

Because life's a pain in the head sometimes

Two Angels and a Black Dog

The journey of a single mum with bipolar

%d bloggers like this: