Tag Archive | abuse

The illusion of safety… My very personal thoughts on 9-11, eleven years later.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the tragedy of what we all call 9-11 with full understanding of what those numbers mean.  It was the day that we in America learned that we were not safe in a cocoon, as we had believed we were.  We learned that terrorists could attack us on our own soil.  We learned that the world was a scary place and that hate was all around us.  It had been there all along, we were all just in our happy little bubble, and that bubble got popped horribly that day.

Many responded with love and a sense unity, even in the face of utter shock, pain, and disbelief.  Other went straight into anger and hatred.  I firmly believe that being angry at something evil is a natural response that has its place.  Hatred is never good.  I think it was far more upsetting for me to see people who I called friends screaming in rage at the “rag heads,” than it was to realize that America had been attacked.  It was easier for me to know that other countries held such hatred towards America than to see and feel the hatred in those close around me, for as much as America’s bubble had been burst, my own, personal, illusion of a bubble of safety had been shattered beyond repair.

From the time I was a child, because I had experienced so much trauma, and had never felt adequately protected by those who were supposed to be protecting me, I had built for myself a world where everyone was good, and kind, and loving, and worthy of respect and trust.  While this was a totally unconscious mode of operating, it served its purpose, which was the creation of the illusion of a safe world full of safe people.  Living in a world of my own making allowed me to continue to feel safe and secure in spite of repeated traumas.  I guess that might be seen as the good side of it.

However, the bad side was that this illusion of safety all around me left me wide open for repeated abuse at the hands of unsafe people.  I would forgive, and forget so well it would come as a completely surprise to me each and every time the same person did the same damned thing to me yet again.  Others in my life would say to me, “Does this surprise you?  That he did that?”  Yes!  It absolutely did surprise me time after time!

I had become so adept at disconnecting from my own experiences, and from all traumatic events, that they would literally vanish from my memory almost instantly.  This illusion of a safe world that I had created for myself made me deaf, dumb, and blind to the bad behavior of others, while sinking so deep into the shame of my own bad behavior that my world nearly became one of, me= bad, everyone else=good.  At the core was me, and my pain, and my shame, and I was surrounded by a very thick, many layered, wall that served to protect me by distorting my perceptions of life events so severely that it was like looking out at the world through a small slit deep within a dark bunker.  What I saw through that slit in my bunker was a bubble gum and rainbow world of my own creation.  I was safe.  I was protected.  In my dreams…

On September 11, 2001, that bubble I did not even know existed blew apart.  In the aftermath, my relapse, already in motion, though I was sober at the time, took off in ways that still mystify me, though far less now, than then.  Back then, I was exposed, and angry, and there was a part of me that I was unaware of who said, “Screw it.  If I am not safe here in America, I am safe nowhere.”  My drinking took off like a wild-fire fueled by high winds, and suddenly I was doing things that were the polar opposite of safe.  I was driving drunk…something that would have appalled me before, and appalls me now beyond words.

I was not just getting drunk and finding myself driving.  I was getting in the car with the intent of getting drunk while driving.  As much as it pains me to type this, as much as it disgusts me to remember that time, I now know that, finally, a lifetime of anger was beginning to come out in a very extreme, and very sideways way.  I know I did not want to hurt anyone else.  I am not certain if I even wanted to hurt myself, but some damned part of me was hell-bent on destruction.  I thank God every day that I did not kill anyone else during that time, or myself, for that matter.  Of course, I got caught time and again, and this led to arrests, and jail time, and a halfway house, and finally sobriety that was nothing short of deliverance—pure divine intervention–in the midst of my awful marriage.

As ugly and awful all of it was, it was necessary.  The walls were slowly being broken apart, brick by brick, and my view began to widen.  The disconnect remained, but I became fully aware of it.  It was while I was in prison, with the help of two wonderful women, both specialists in the areas of trauma and addiction, that the walls came down completely.  I came to fully see the illusion I had created, that safe, happy, pretty, world that was supposed to protect me, but in reality had left me so unsafe in more ways that I can explain.  Then one day, while spending time with one of these wonderful women, these words came out of my mouth:  “I am safe.  I can protect myself.”  At 52 years old, I finally realized that I could live fully in the world, as unsafe, and ugly as it may seem at times, and that I—me–I could protect myself.  To me that was the revelation of a lifetime.

A year later, I know now that most of us have some form of an illusion of safety, and in reality, the concept of safety is always an illusion.  We can wear our seat belts, and lock our house and car doors, we can wear helmets and pads, and eat well, and exercise, and watch our children very closely, and still, safety is an illusion.  At any moment, within a second, something—anything–can happen that will shatter our illusion of safety.  I pray for protection for my children and friends and loved ones every day, and yet I know that should I forget to say those prayers until noon on a certain day instead of saying that prayer as soon as I open my eyes, that God has still been protecting my loved ones without me uttering those words.

I can protect myself, but only up to a point.  The reality of it is that it is all in God’s hands and it always has been.  There is no other way I would still be alive were this not the case.  I still wear my seat belt, and watch my child, and say my prayers, but in the end, God’s plans are bigger than mine and I am happy to have it that way.  I know that safety is an illusion, but I absolutely refuse to live a fear based life.  In so many ways, knowing that there is no real safety, expect in the arms of God, has allowed me to live a much fuller, happier, and far more carefree life than I have ever lived before.  I no longer am ruled by what others think of me.  If I want to dance in my living room, I dance.  I will never be a huge risk taker, no matter what my arrest record might lead some to believe, but I refuse to wall myself off from the world again.

Yes, I can protect myself in an intelligent way now, but what my intelligence, and my heart tells me to do most of the time is to love as much as I can, and feel as much as I can and live as freely, openly, and peacefully as I can.  I am who I am.  Love me or hate me, I know God loves me.  Like Cramer, I am going commando now.  I am out there in this not-so-safe-world, and loving every minute of it!  God has got this.  I am at peace now.

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Taking time to acknowledge the past in order to truly celebrate the now.

The past week or two I have been a little out of sorts.  I could feel something within me that needed to be birthed, but I could not put my finger on it.  It has been a busy summer, full of lots of fun activities, and plenty of work, too.  I have been feeling tired, not in a physical way, but in an emotional way.  Because there has not been a lot of time to think, or write my way out of whatever it was, I felt stuck.  Last night, it finally dawned on me.  The last few years, or more honestly, the last decade has been a really tough one, and while I have made it through to the other side and into a comfortable way of living, and loving others, and myself, I realized I had done what I have always done.  I got through everything the Walt Disney way–“Keep moving forward.”  When I stopped to look at everything that I had been holding inside of me it became abundantly clear that I had every right to be fully exhausted.

From childhood, it has been my habit to keep moving forward, making my way from one trauma to the next, with varying degrees of success, without ever really taking the time to stop and acknowledge what I have been through.  I can stay it out loud, and know it intellectually, but all of that is done quickly, sweeping the dirt under the rug so that I do not have to see it anymore, or feel it.  I clean houses for a living and I never sweep dirt under the rug when I clean a house, but I am the master of sweeping my own feelings under the rug, and moving on as if whatever it was had never happened.  It has been a survival mechanism for me, but it has left me weary.

Certainly, there are benefits to going through life this way.  I have had to start over many times, and move beyond some pretty huge things that might waylay many people for a very long time.  I bounce back up from every knock that life gives me with the resilience of one of those blow up clowns weighted with sand at the base.  You can punch them and punch them and punch them and they just spring right back up, seemingly indestructible.  So, I bounce back up, I let go, I move forward, and I also pretend like nothing bad ever happened.  I never take the time to honor the battle I have fought, feel the pain I carried silently throughout, or acknowledge that I have every right to be tired, or hurt, or angry, or sad.

I know now that I will continue to be tired until I allow each trial to be fully seen, felt, and honored for what it was at the time for me, and what gifts and lessons I gained from each hurt, and difficult experience.  To continually deny all of the exceptionally hard experiences of the past decade is to deny a huge part of myself, because it has been those experiences that have brought me to the happiness and joy I have today.  Through those pains and knocks, I learned to love myself, and to love and rely on God in a much deeper way.

My little boy is helping me to learn how to do this honoring in order to truly and fully release and heal.  The child has a memory that is truly amazing, and so much of what he remembers are thing I would prefer under the rug.  He has been speaking frequently of our dog, Tanner, who we left when we left the “blue house,” the house of horrors, and my marriage to the sociopath.  Tanner was not a young dog, and I imagine Tanner is no longer alive.  I have no idea what my ex-husband did with him, but my son wants to talk about Tanner and about all of the other animals he loved on our farm.  It hurts me so much, and far too deeply to think about what may have happened to the animals we left behind, but do it I must now.

After I found half of our herd dead, and piled in heaps in a barn the winter before we got out, I shut down.  Twenty-five or more animals starved to death, all the while I was being told they were “fine.”  I will never really know what happened to those animals, and I thought I had shielded my son better, but he remembers so much, and now, three years later, he wants to talk about it.  He needs to talk about it because he has been carrying the horror of all of that around for three years in his little seven year old body.  At first, I was inclined to change the subject when my serious little boy brought awful memories up, but now I let him talk—we talk about it.

He is a much different child now than he was when we left three years ago.  He is far more relaxed, and he is extremely resilient.   He feels things very deeply, and now he needs to talk about those feelings, and as he finally does, there is less of what little anger he has had left every day.  He is letting go the right way, and I will not hinder that process anymore by not being brave enough to feel the hurt myself.  I will not teach him to sweep things under the carpet.  Together we are learning to bring the dirt out into the light so that we can sweep it away for good.  He is a brilliant teacher and a very kind and caring soul, wise way beyond his years.

So now I must stop, and look at it all, and give it all due space and honor and light—the dirt.  I have to feel the hot tears rolling down my cheeks as I think of the awfulness of my drinking, and the arrests and jail time and the time away from my older children, now grown.  I have to feel the pain of the relapses, and the rehabs, and the halfway house.  I have to look at my marriage and the abuse we endure for far too long.  I have to honor the time I spent in prison, having to leave my little boy for six months, and the sadness that brought me, which I hid from.  I have to feel the weight of rebuilding a life from the ground up in the last year, single parenthood, and surviving the mother of all nasty, long, drawn out divorces and custody battles.

I have to feel that crushing pain and heaviness in my chest…the full weight and size of it–and I have to feel the hurt, and the anger, and the sadness.  It has been in there for years now, slowly pushing its way up to the surface.  Now that it is bursting out of me like hot lava flowing out of a long dormant volcano I can already feel the release of pressure.  I have no plans to wallow, but I have no choice but to let it flow.  The flow is all of the pus from wounds suffered but never treated properly.  I am finally really healing and so I am going to treat myself like someone who needs quite a lot of tenderness and care for a bit.  I want to make sure all of the dirt gets swept out for good this time.  If I need someone to talk to so I do not impede my own healing process, I know where to go.

As happy as I have been in recent years, it has not been complete and now I know why.  It is impossible to relax fully into joy and contentment and authenticity while you continue to deny a part of yourself.  I am on my way now to a higher level of all around health and happiness.  No more dirt under the rug for me.  Yesterday, I took my serious, yet wacky, son to the playground.  He sailed down one slide, landed on his feet at the bottom, threw open is arms and shouted, “I love life!”  Do you know how long I have been waiting to hear him say those words–to just feel unbridled joy?

I hugged him hard and kissed him.  Then I said, “You know what?  I love life, too, and I love you!”  It is all true.  I do love life and I know for a fact that were it not for all of that dirt that has scared me so, I would not know the happiness that I do now.  The dirt has served its purpose now.  I stand, with broom in hand, ready to sweep it out as it continues to unearth itself.  A clean start, and cleaner, lighter, fuller heart.  We are really healing this time and we are doing it together.  Yes, I love life!

The Dawn of Reckoning–I never wanted a neat life.

The other day I wrote a post about radical acceptance.  In it I make mention of my messy life in contrast to those people with the neat and tidy lives.  After I had gotten done writing the post, it hit me.  I do not think that I ever truly wanted a neat, tidy, conventional life.  I didn’t know that until last week, but I know it now completely.  This is not to say that I wanted all of what I got in life; abuse as a child and an adult, PTSD, alcoholism, jail stays, rehabs, and prison, but in some way, all of those experiences have lead to to this extraordinary realization.  Those experiences helped me recognize in myself what others did not recognized in me as a child, or appreciated, namely my parents, and the schools of my day.  I am gifted, and probably always have been, but my gifts run towards the creative, more than the logical.

Parents and schools in the 60’s and 70’s valued logic.  It’s not that I am without the intellect to go with the creativity, my IQ is in the gifted range, but my grades did not show that, and any markers from testing while in school were ignored.  For example, I was found to be reading at the college level when I was in the 5th grade, but not a thing was done with that information.  My creativity was apparent from an early age, but it was seen as a flaw, not a gift.  I clearly recall overhearing my mother tell her friends about my school conference in the 5th grade.  It must have been less than stellar, and I remember her say, in a tone that was less than pleased, “But the teacher says she’s *very creative…*  I thank God that today’s school recognize, and try to nurture all kinds of gifts, and I bear no anger towards my parents, or the schools that I attended.  It was the times.  People only knew what they knew.

That I am gifted, the realization of that, was a gift that I received while I was in prison, from two different women who came into the reentry center to do counseling and programming.  That each, never having spoken to the other, would put forth the same notion to me–the notion of my giftedness—and its ability to intimidate others who don’t understand it, parents, spouses, and friends, was something that took me a while to wrap my head around.  I am still working on it, in truth.

I believe there are a lot of adults out in the world who are gifted, and like me, never knew it.  A gifted adult who has no idea that  she is gifted is likely to have a harder road in life than others.  This goes back to Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities and his Theory of Positive Disintegration.  Adults who are gifted have certain characteristics that set them apart from the crowd.  These include differences in the way they process information, high levels of creativity, high sensitivity, both internally focused, and externally.  Gifted adults are intense, idealistic, and they are perfectionists.  They have a unique sense of humor that of everyone gets.  They are internally focused, they are self-determined, and they hate injustice, and lack of integrity, and lack of moral character.  They see things globally, and they do not fit well into traditional roles, or careers.  Often, they do not feel they fit in anywhere.

Well, what do you know!  That sounds like me!  Gifted adults often need help realizing that the way they are is okay, and some help to fully realize their potential.  A good therapist who understands giftedness can help a lot.  This site offers a lot of insights 😉  It is so important to realize that while you may be different, you are not flawed, and that you have great potential.  That takes time, as I have mentioned.  As you might imagine, gifted adults are apt of have messy looking lives.  This will be especially true of those who have suffered from trauma as children.  It takes a lot of hard work for a gifted adult with PTSD, substance abuse issues, or other mental health issues, to get to the core of their genuine self.  Too much has come along to override it.

My first husband is a true genius intellectually.  Yet, as one of our son’s says, he has the emotional intelligence of a 4 year old, and he’s got not a drop of creativity, nor much of a sense of humor.  He is rigid and logical in his thinking.  He’s exactly what you’d want in a surgeon, which is what he does for a living.  There are a lot of geniuses in the world who may not be particularly gifted, or as well suited for their careers.  Imagine a psychiatrist who has no compassion for people with mental health issues, and disdain for people with addiction problems.  That’s not a good match, and the genius who lacks gifts can do more harm than good.  A pure genius who meets a person who is truly gifted is likely to become aware of their shortcomings, and unfortunately, may even work to control, tear down, or defeat the gifted person.  I’ve had this happen to me, and I have seen it happen to others, almost always gifted women.

Now we come back to my discovery that I never wanted a neat life, though I certainly gave it a try, as well as going in the exact opposite direction.  I wanted to study music and theater, to which my parents said no.  It was too hard a life, which is true enough.  So then, I wanted to be a doctor, but since I also very much wanted a family, I was told to be a nurse, which is what I did.  Then I got married, and had the children I so longed for, and who were and are the light of my life.  I entertained, and sat on boards,  I worked for charities and ran for the school board, and I drank myself to sleep every night.  I was miserable.  Not with my children, or being a mother, but because all of my creativity and intuition has been so dismissed, and berated, and tied up, and bashed, that I gave up.  My second marriage to an unconventional man was far worse, because he is so disordered.  Of course, I couldn’t/wouldn’t see that at the time.

As I was growing up, the woman who had the greatest influence on me was my great aunt, Stella.  She’d been married once, for a very short time, and she had no children.  She had a head full of gorgeous, curly hair that she often tied back with a ribbon, bow off to the top side of her head.  She had a lovely smile, complete with a Lauren Bacall gap in the front.  She had been an Art History professor at The University of Washington, and she had traveled to Africa in the 1950’s.  Much of her artwork was inspired by what she saw in Africa.  To a child, she was a little scary.  She said whatever was on her mind, but she was kind.  Her house was magical, with an attic filled with treasures.  Visiting her was better than Disneyland.

As an adult, I moved to Seattle, and lived in the University district, as she did, and I’d often go over to visit for a day, or overnight.  She’d make me a tuna sandwich and we’d smoke True cigarettes and talk.  She took me on drives all over, and while her driving was more than a little scary, she told me all about the history of Seattle.  In the evening, she’d pour us each a glass of concord grape wine, and we’d talk some more.  She was clearly a happy woman, truly eccentric, genuine as can be,and very well loved.  She was adored by her neighbors, mostly college grad students, and at 90 years old, she died, not from old age, but from falling on a patch of ice on her way home from one of their Christmas parties, to which she was always invited.

I have a head full of curly hair, and I had the Lauren Bacall gap, but braces fixed that.  I am far more domesticated than my Aunt Stella, but like her, I am happiest when I am creating, be it writing, cooking, knitting, sewing, or making something spectacular out of something ordinary.   I am artistic, but no artist.   I am not my mother, though I know she didn’t live the life she wanted, and I am not a conventional person.  I don’t think I’ll ever care about balancing a checkbook to the penny, or calling whoever for quotes, or having a neat and tidy refrigerator.  I don’t care a whole lot about money, but I do know life is easier with a little around.  I am more my Aunt Stella than anyone else.  I got side tracked somehow.  Thank God she did not.  I believe we are all gifted in some way.  It is just a matter of finding that gift, and then letting it soar. I think it’s time for me to go buy some ribbon for my hair in celebration of my discovery, and my messy, happy, creative life.

Resilience and Life’s Hard Knocks—What Keeps Us Growing

“Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on.”   ~Psychology Today~

 

Today, resilience has been on my mind.  Why do some people seem to thrive and grow and keep moving forward despite unfortunate life circumstance?  The answer is that they possess a quality called resilience, that springy, bounciness that has them back up on their feet quickly after a fall, dusting themselves, and moving forward stronger than before.  Resilient people are the Timex watches of the world; They take a licking and keep on ticking.  Resilient people are beautiful, and I know a lot of them.  I am a resilient person, too.  They do not turn to anger, and bitterness, and blame of the world, and everyone in it, when life is less than ideal, either by uncontrollable circumstances, or because of their own mistakes and poor choices.  Resilient people do not just take lemons and turn them into lemonade.  No, instead they make a lemon mousse with a blueberry coulis 😉

What constitutes resilience?  In a nutshell, it is the ability to cope with unfortunate life events without getting dragged down to too long.  Resilience comes more easily for some people, both emotional and physical resilience.  Some people are just born more naturally optimistic, positive, and flexible.  Some people learn resilience along the way, as life provides more experiences from which to recover.  Age plays a factor in resilience, as does experience at surviving and thriving.  When we’ve been through a lot, and we’ve kept going, and remained hopeful, and optimistic, and see that behavior works better than blaming or negativity, we develop more traits associated with resilience.

Yes, resilient people have certain traits.  First off, they are aware of their own emotions, and what causes them, and they learn to manage them.  This may take more time for some, especially the managing part.  I was always aware of my emotions, and generally aware of where they were coming from, but learning to manage them took, and still takes, time.  I am a sensitive, and fairly reactive, very expressive person.  However, I am also easy going.  As my sister says, “For a high strung person, you’re incredibly easy going.”  It’s true.  I don’t sweat the small stuff, and the older I get, the more I realize most of it is small stuff.  “It’s not the end of the world,” is a phrase I say out loud many times a day.  Trust me.  It’s really not.

Resilient people persevere.  They do not give up often, or easily.  I often liken myself to one of those blow up clowns with sand in the bottom.  You punch them and punch them but they just pop right back up.  My ability to pop back up time and again is because I never lose hope.  I often say that I am a “Hope springs eternal” kind of gal, and that’s true, too.  Resilient people, no matter how low they go, always have hope that tomorrow is going to be better, so they keep pushing forward towards that tomorrow.

Resilient people are internally focused.  What that means is that, instead of looking out at the world, blaming and shaming finger pointed at anything and everyone who crosses their path, they know inside that they are in control of their lives, their choices, their outcomes.  This isn’t done with perfection, or 100% of the time, and for many their are occasional missteps where the locus moves to the external, at what’s happening to them.  However, the resilient person won’t stay in the external for long.  They will go back inside themselves, examine their role in what’s going on, and begin problem solving.  They will find a solution, often through a change in their own attitude, or behavior.  That is why resilient people grow from mistakes, and poor choices and behaviors, and from life itself.

A resilient person will always find a bright side to any circumstance.  We are positive, optimistic people.  At the same time, perhaps because of this life view, resilient people have good support systems of friends, family, and others who are like minded, and who help shore them up during those experiences in life that we label “bad.”

Resilience is essential to recovery, whether it be from alcoholism and addiction, loss, trauma and abuse.  It’s my belief that everyone is in recovery from something, whether it be a job loss, a bad work evaluation, a divorce, or a stubbed toe, and bad traffic on the way to work.  Resilience allows us accept even undesirable outcomes, forgive, move on, and finally let go, usually coming out better and strong for the experience.  Resilient people are bright, shiny, and sparkling.  The don’t hold grudges, and they do not look back for too long.  They are not trapped by their past, a slave to their present, and they don’t worry a lot about the future.

I don’t know if I emerged from the womb a resilient person.  I think I probably had the traits on the delivery table.  Life’s hard knocks began early, and I learned some pretty crummy coping mechanisms along the way, though they are probably what kept me alive.  I’ve done anger, and blame at points in my life and I HATED how that felt.  I never could hold a grudge 😉 I have always had hope.  I have always known it was going to get better.  I have always kept going even when others thought it impossible, that I’d never make it through alive this time.  I have learned how to be more resilient with each tough experience, and with each tough experience I have become more myself.

Today, I am celebrating resilience, and resilient people.  Without God and resilience, I would not be here today.  If you are a resilient person, celebrate that today, even if you’re in the middle of yet another storm.  If you’re not the most resilient person in the world, you CAN learn resilience!  It will take work, but it will be worth every moment of it!

 

Cyberbullying and Adults

Bullying and cyberbullying are hot topics both in the media and in schools across the country.  Many states are enacting stiff laws that address bullying and harassment, and those laws usually include cyberbullying.  In some states, cyberbullying can result in jail or prison time, and may be a felony.  But, the reality of cyberbullying is that it is not confined to teenagers.  Adults are victims of cyberbullying, and more and more adults are becoming cyberbullies.  What is the fastest growing population among those who cyberbully?  It is adult women.

So, what is cyberbullying?  It is bullying and harassment but instead of being done in a real life setting, it is done over the computer, in chat rooms, social networking sites, or via text message, or emails.  In short, it is bullying done using  a piece of electronic equipment.  Now, in real life, we can walk away from a bully, disconnect ourselves from that person, at least in the best case scenarios.  But because the internet is everywhere, providing endless forums for the bully to use to perpetrate their crime, cyberbullying can be far harder to stop, and can exact an even higher emotional toll on the person being cyberbullied.  We are well aware that cyberbullying has lead to suicides among teens, and while most adults have more resources and life experience to withstand the cyberbully, there is still a toll for the adult being bullied, be it emotional, physical, or spiritual, or the attempted ruination of a reputation.

Insults, name calling, attacks on race, religious beliefs, physical or emotional disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, or ANY OTHER PERSONAL CHARACTERISTIC are all considered bullying, and when done via the internet, or cell phone, comprise cyberbullying.  Generally, there is also some form of cyberstalking involved in the cyberbullying, as well.

What can you do if you are being cyberbullied?  First off, do not respond in kind–do not cyberbully back.  That rather goes without saying, but in the heat of the moment, when feelings are hurt, and emotions are raw, it is easier said than done.  Gather evidence, including saving text messages, taking screen shots of cyberbullying comments and posts, and keep all bullying emails.  Contact the site on which you are being harassed and bullied.  Most have very strong anti-harassment policies.  Some are quicker than others to respond.  Tell someone you trust, and if you have an attorney, forward all of the evidence to him.  Contact law enforcement if you are threatened.  If the bully does not stop, you can seek a harassment order.  Check out your local state laws to see if cyberbullying is addressed, and what legal measures can put a stop to it.

Why do adult people cyberbully?  Usually, the bullying comes from anger, jealousy, and a need for revenge.  Many adult bullies do it for entertainment purposes.  They enjoy bullying.  It makes them feel better about themselves somehow.  Often, these people have too much time on their hands, and not a real, meaningful, life to speak of, so instead or reading a good book, or knitting, or just loving on the people in their lives, they use their free time, and often work time, to engage in cyberbullying.  These are truly sad people who have yet to reach an emotional stage of development that dictates a life of kindness, integrity, and compassion.  They are unhappy people.

Yes, I am being cyberbullied right now, and while I’d love to think that I am six feet tall and bullet proof, it hurts.  That the person who is doing the cyberbullying does not know me at all baffles me.  It would seem that she is so weak in her own personal character that she is easily swayed by information provided to her by people who are not trustworthy sources of information about me, or are they even close to honest and objective.  And yet, she allows herself to be their puppet, or she is just unhappy enough to need no encouragement.  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  In any world, and for whatever reason, it’s wrong.

That this same woman claims that she was bullied as a teen, writes articles and blog posts about the experience, and is using a site to raise money to have anti-bullying pamphlets printed, so that she can go into the schools to talk to children about bullying is the ultimate irony.  This woman has wished me dead, and openly expressed her desire to be able to hasten my death.  I think that somehow goes far and beyond bullying.  What is she modeling to her own children with her bad behavior?

I have seen adults bully other adults. Prison was a great place for that.  When I saw it happening, even if I shared a dislike for the person being bullied, I always confronted the bully, if it was safe to do, and it usually was.  There is no excuse for bullying or cyberbullying.  What you have to say about others speaks far more to your own character than to the person that you are insulting, degrading, and trying to tear down.

I don’t play with bullies, or cyberbullies, but I do take appropriate actions, and those actions may soon have to reach an even higher level if I want this to stop, and I do want it to stop.   If you are being cyberbullied, do not sit back in silence.  Tell some.  Speak out.  Get help.  Below are some links to organizations with information on cyberbullying.

Each day, I just keep praying for this woman, and the family endorsing her cyberbullying.  I pray that someday they will open themselves to the concepts of love, kindness, forgiveness, honesty, integrity, and compassion.  That’s a tall order to fill, but with God, anything is possible!  In the meantime, I will continue to live my own life fully using those concepts.

Idealism and Radical Acceptance: Where the rubber meets the road

I’ve mentioned before that I am a tried and true, dyed n the wool, Meyers-Briggs tested, idealist. This changes being an idealist from what I am to it being who I am. There is a big difference. There are any naturally happy, optimistic, people who try to find the positive is most situations, but these happy-go-lucky folks are not true idealists. They don’t ache to the bones over injustices in the world, and they seem to come to terms with “Life isn’t fair,” pretty easily.

A real idealist, like me, will rail against injustice, and will wage an almost constant internal battle trying to wrap their heads around life not being fair. I know I sure did, and sometimes I still do. I do not innately get mean, unkind, vengeful, and just plain nasty. When I hear it, or see it, it always makes me wince, and causes some deep pain, even if the person hurt isn’t me, or someone I love. I’d greatly prefer not to even know some of these more ugly emotions exist in the people I know, but they do and I somehow manage to love them anyway 😉

 

However, in the last few years, something has changed within me. I am not fighting life anymore, and life has not been a cakewalk in the last few years. What changed? I made some pretty important decisions. I decided that I deserved happiness and love and all good things just as much as anyone else. I decided that I am more than good enough just as I am, and I decided to be me as fully as possible, not allowing others to attempt to recreate me in their own image. At the same time, I decided not to try to change others into something they were not. I decided that I’d had enough of shame, and that my life was too full for mean people, and negative people, and for people who hurt me without a second thought. I decided that life was as good as I made it, and most importantly, I decided that, no matter what, everything was going to be okay.

 

All of these decisions just happened to coincide with my 50th birthday, which was also the day I left my abusive husband with only a child and a dufflebag of clothing. Basically, I decided to be happy, and to take full responsibility for that happiness. That this all happened when I was homeless, facing a prison term, and with my sister’s husband dying seemed to amaze most everyone. My own counselor at the time once said, “I don’t know how you do it. You keep going, and you keep smiling, and you seem happy.” It was true. I was happy. Then she said, “Radical acceptance. That’s what it is. That’s what you’ve got going on.” That was the first time that I had heard the term “radical acceptance,” but yes, wrap all of my decisions into a big ball and that is what you get—radical acceptance, of life, and others, and of circumstances, but most importantly, of myself.

 

I cannot even begin to describe the freedom I feel every day now, and I felt that freedom even when I was in prison. In fact, I believe that one of the reasons that God wanted me in prison was so that I would realize that I had really been in prison all of my life. At first, others built the prison walls, and I just stayed put, and then it became an entrenched way of survival and life long after the initial wall builders were gone. I didn’t put myself into that prison, but it was my job to break myself out, and I did just that, finally freeing that poor, wounded, little girl for good, while I was in an actual concrete and steel prison. There is a certain irony in gaining true freedom while in prison…

 

I love my life and my life is good, but my life is messy as hell. It’s never been neat and tidy and I have no reason to expect that to change, but I don’t care. What I have within that messy life fraught with circumstances that would crush other is love, and joy, and freedom to be me—messy, happy, mostly peaceful me.  I have God and my integrity, and I have found that’s all that I really need.

 

The people in my life, with their neat lives, stand back in wonder and amazement. The people in my life love me dearly, and there are a lot of them. They love me messy, and happy, and real, and me. That’s radical acceptance on their part and it’s pretty darned cool. I think they even learn a little from me.

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Am I still an idealist? You bet I am, but I know how, and where, to channel that energy now. I have big plans for the future, and I know where changes need to be made in the world. I will continue to grow, but now that I am free, and I radically accept me, I am not going back to any form of prison again.

My ex-husband terrifies me….

 

I have been MIA for a few weeks, in the trenches, battling the sociopath.  One of the downsides to being an idealist is the way I think.  I do not think in mean ways, nor do I think about harming people—even people who have hurt me greatly.  So, when I find out that others have such violent, vindictive, hateful thoughts, and perhaps even plans, it throws me for a huge loop almost every dang time.  I’ve been forced to face a scary reality in the past few weeks; The sociopath and his girlfriend would like me dead.  This has pulled me right out of my happy little dream world and into a world, and day to day mode, that I am finding less than enjoyable.  I am terrified most of the time now, and that is just “so not me!”  After all, I HAVE been to prison, and I have lived through many, many hell-on-Earth experiences, and I have gone through these experiences almost blithely without fear.  But now I am scared, quite a lot.

I have had to come to terms with the fact that the sociopath is a lot sicker than I thought, and that his behavior is escalating.  His girlfriend appears to be completely obsessed, and is doing most of the dirty work for him, with his father lending a huge hand, as well.  What I have discovered, and uncovered, and continue to find over the last couple of weeks what  amounts to four Facebook pages, blogs, newspaper articles, and extensive Tweets regarding me, and the Guardian ad Litem in our divorce, and they are working to destroy us both.  The sociopath depersonalizes me by referring to me as “Mom,” in quotes.  Something new pops up every day.  Yesterday is was listing on Craigslist sites around the country.  What will it be today?  While they cry “censorship” and “free speech,” I refuse to feed the trolls and stoop to their level with personal responses, but I will not tolerate hate speech, libel, or defamation of character.  All of the newspaper editors that I have had to contact have agreed and have shut them down.  I have learned that I can speak the truth, honestly, factually, and without emotion, and people will respond with the right and proper actions.

I have Facebook posts, Tweets, Blog posts, everything, all saved to my computer, and all has been sent to my attorney, including the website the sociopath has on a place call GoFundMe where he “pimps” out our son to get people to donate money to him under false pretenses.  My attorney is afraid of “starting World War 3,” because everyone is scared of this family.  He tells me that the sociopath doesn’t have the balls to do anything for real.  I bet someone has said that to every woman, protecting her children, who has been murdered by her abuser.  I have made it clear I want a protection order, and yet nothing happens.  Any my son has to be around these poison people for some period of time, three out of four weekend each month.

The truth is that when we lived with him we never had heat in the winter.  I’d awaken with a baby to a house that was 38 degrees, and if I was lucky, with the cook stove, I might get the loft up to 54 degrees by mid-afternoon.  The washer broke and he wouldn’t fix it, so I washed all of our clothing, including dirty cloth diapers, in our kitchen sink for over 2 years.  A huge hole developed in front of the toilet, with a view straight down to the dug, dirt, basement.  No one would use the toilet but me.  My son had to use a potty chair until we fled when he was 4.5 years old.  We had no working oven, and three month prior to my leaving, the water pump broke and we had no running water.  We had farm animals, sheep, goats, a mama llama and her cria, and an alpaca.  Over the winter before I left, he left half of them starve to death.   I estimate we lost 25 animals.  He killed 25 animals.  He’d told me they were all fine, out in the back pasture, as I could not get to them because of snowed in fences and gates.  One day I went out to investigate a barking dog, and pushed beyond where I would normally go to find heaps of animal corpses.  Of course, there is more to tell, all sick and twisted and scary as hell, but I wasn’t scared then.  I was too numbed by the effort needed to survive.

The truth is also that, since we fled nearly 3 years ago, my son has never been cold.  He has always had running water, a full functional bathroom, and he can take a hot bath anytime he likes.  The house is not filled with a million flies, nor are there soda bottles filled with urine everywhere.  All of his issues that emerged after we left, some pretty severe, have been discovered, assessed, and dealt with to the point where he is a normal, happy, functioning child.  But, he remembers…he remembers it all, and at 7 years old, he’s begun to ask questions about what he saw and experienced.  I have no answers.  Daddy’s sick…  And now, Mommy’s scared, but I’ll be damned if my son has to feel that even for one moment.