Saturday, August 9, 2014

"No" is a complete sentence

Have just discovered Darlene Lancer via YouTube, and she hits so many nails on the head she sounds like a pneumatic nail gun. (Ever heard roofers rapid fire those shingles on?) Anyway, that's a link to the first video that so impressed me. Now, I'm reading her Codependency for Dummies book and have  Conquering Shame and Codependency waiting in the wings.

She also has a website and blog, if you'd rather read a little first.

And, since blog posts go better with illustrations, here's a picture of the fabric I'm using in the kitchen. I've searched for nine months for something to brighten up a decor that is threatening to become too dark, always trying to use cream or white variations to "bring in the light."  As it turns out, the most vivid and brilliant colors shine out of darkness.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It registers

Lowell George - Heartache

Just heard this for the first time this morning, the last song on his last album. "Heartache, find another place to be. I'm tired of being your best friend. Look to another for your companion, and when you do, my pain will end." 

I'm not sad today, I'm finding my way out of decades of confusion, but I still understand the confusion, and the decades. It just never ends when you want it to. I'm not ready to turn around and try to reach back into Heartache and call for the next person to come out, maybe I'll never be the right person to do that, but I think, and I even hope, that I will always remember Heartache. My prayer might even be that I will always carry a bruised place in my own heart, one that hums along in mercy and tears when I hear that pain moaning in someone else's voice.

Years ago I got my finger stuck in a belt loader. The other people with me didn't understand what was happening, but I got it stopped and out in time before it ate up my hand. It had worn the skin off and having to fight it both horrified me and scared me half to death. That loader was moved and we had a different one when I went out to that job again. Months later, the loaders were switched again. Although no one mentioned the change, my hand recognized the feel of it the instant I took hold of it, the frequency of the engine vibration was unique. The pain shot thru my hand again and the terror shot thru my heart. I came off that loader before my brain could register I was even in motion.

I guess this little post is just an encouragement to carry mercy and pity with you always, for once you were That Guy, and only by the grace of God you are no more. Which guy? The one who vibrates at the frequency that makes you shriek in pain and horror. He's still being churned up by instruments that would destroy the whole world if left to run unhindered, and you recognize the frequency. Remember to share your light and fire with him, not on him, and maybe leave a bit of room for him to get away from what is eating him up for a little while. It might be the space and time he needs to get free. The moment between freedom and complete destruction is just so very quick.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Battle of Chesme

That's a very famous painting of the Battle of Chesme, "fought on the night of July 56, 1770 between a Russian squadron under the command of Count Aleksei Grigoryievich Orlov and an Ottoman fleet under Hassan Bey at Chesme bay on the western Anatolian Mediterranean coast." Fought and won by the Russians six years before we ever declared our Independence in these United States. "The strategic result for Russia was command of the sea in the Aegean during the remainder of its war with the Ottoman Empire. When a peace treaty was signed at Küçük Kaynarca in 1774, the Ottoman Empire recognized Russian claims to represent Christian interests in the empire."

Some things were decided long before we ever came along, and Christians in America need to keep that in mind. American exceptionalism is a wonderful thing, it is true, but we tend to magnify it past our real responsibilities, as well as the power and history of other nations and peoples to act in their interests.  I say that after years of listening to quite a bit of exhortation to pray about world events, particularly at this season in God's time. We should pray, we don't ask nearly enough of Him and we don't lean on Him nearly enough, but that does NOT make us responsible for everything that happens.

We are a dysfunctional people, overstimulated and overworked, no matter how much we try to put the "fun" into it all. Because we can do so much, we think we should be doing so much more - and we all have a list tucked away somewhere with all those things on it. I've actually taken to hanging great big lists of things that need to be done on the walls in my house renovation effort. For every room, right down to the half bath, there's a list of things that need finishing to get finished, but after looking at all the details it's no wonder I haven't - I need a work crew for two weeks to get it all done!

Revelation: vision + ability x strength ≠ responsibility

Even though I can see what needs doing, and I'm able to do or hire done every job, DOES NOT mean I am able to respond and accomplish the vision. It's about learning one's limits, we all see farther than we can grasp, not because we aren't smart or talented or hard working, but because time is against us. There isn't enough time to comprehend it all in our seeing or working or praying. Americans have a very hard time with this, we have done So Much already, we want to do more.

In some things, we never could, so we should cut ourselves some slack. I'm reading Grandchildren of Alcoholics: Another Generation of Co-Dependency as a break from another book where I have to make lists and dredge up personal history. I started out underlining things, but had to give that up as I would end up highlighting most of every page. It's good stuff, I'm the sort of person that I can get out of a mental trap if I know it's there, so it's releasing me from all sorts of triggers I've never been able to figure out. 

Reading it is also making the point that all sorts of battles were being fought and bargains made long before I came along, I was just conformed to the patterns already set. My release is not to make things right or repair the family bonds, it's only to change my own thinking, expectations, and behaviours. History is heavily against me in trying to change it all, my own time is short for what I might accomplish in my self, so that I get anything done in a day or a week is really an accomplishment - although it may be that no one but me and the Lord ever appreciate that.

The painting above was not chosen for illustration, it's the image on a jewelry pendant made from a Russian stamp featuring that painting. I bought it two years ago, one of several, the others given away as gifts. This one I liked for myself because of so many allusions in it to things I was praying about, then and since. I found it again this week and finally strung it on a chain. It's resting near my heart, the prayers continue to rest before the Lord, the answers still unknown by me, but perhaps the responses were set in motion long before I ever asked. The very best I can do is wait and accept them as they come. It's very, very hard.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Da beginin'

That little lolcat is on to something big. Nuffing will ever change unless you can see the nuffing that needs change. Fifty something years thinking some things were not, other things were sumfing else, and taking comfort in a few that were really big problems.

Like being tough, tough enough to go without and go it alone. Some really funky point of view changes going on - like thinking maybe I need someone who can read right thru the defensive smiles and defusive understatements and know what all that really means. And care.

Still have nuffing  - but nao I can see it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Time out of mind

I found this article absolutely Fascinating, for two reasons. One, the 80 millisecond lag interested me because it seems that lights always take much longer to go off than that for me. That is to say, when I flip the switch that turns off the light, it looks like it takes almost a full second for the light to "run out." I couldn't imagine what the electrical excuse could possibly be for it, but it's probably just my brain. There are all sorts of implications in this article for people whose brains have a lag between one part and another, and for people (like me) who have especially high thresholds for attention spans and focus.

The second aspect, yet the trigger that brought me into the article, was the idea that things happen, but our brains lag until they've Formed the perception of it. As a Christian, I've always looked for some kind of analogy to explain to people how one "hears" God, because the word "hear" is so very audible, but the experience is pretty much guaranteed not to be. That is, God doesn't talk in your ear, he talks to your spirit, but the experience is not subjective - he is not you, he has his own words to say and, for the most part, they are not what you expected or particularly wanted to hear.

The analogy I've come up with is that when you "hear" him, it's the immediacy and the echo of someone who's just spoken. You know, like when someone at the next desk tells another friend, "Our English test has been moved up to this afternoon." Wait! What??? You were doing your own thing but the echo of those words are stamped very clearly in your mind. Or perhaps an announcement comes over the loudspeaker at Walmart, "Will the party meeting Darcy Milbanks please come to the Service Counter to pick up Mr. Milbanks." You may not be meeting anyone as you browse the cereal aisle, but the words catch your imagination a moment later as you recall, "Darcy Milbanks. That's a bit unusual for around here. I wonder what that's all about."

The voice of God is something like that. I'm not hearing it audibly, but I'm perceiving it as if the words still hung in the air between us. 

There's a second aspect to the voice of God that is ALWAYS true: He never disagrees with Himself. He will never say anything or ask you to do anything that doesn't line up with scripture. Count on it.

Now that you know that he always agrees with the Bible, you want to know where the best place is to hear Him? The scriptures. Just go read them. Read them so you are familiar with all of them. Don't worry about understanding them all, just read them all until you know all the stories really well, can recognise when someone is quoting the New Testament or the Old Testament straight away and (this is when you know you are starting to know the sound of his voice) you know when someone is misquoting the Bible. When you know someone has inserted words that aren't there, or has left out the the big context of a scripture so they can bend the truth and whine about their pet peeve instead, then you know you are beginning to recognise God's voice.

I heard someone make a great analogy about knowing the scriptures one time, and it really is true. Imagine you had a little wireless teletype machine, one that you could use to send messages back and forth by radio, but the only messages you could receive would be the ones you had letters for. So if you only had five letters of the alphabet on your machine, you could make out short little words and do some little abbreviations of some others, and you could get some kind of information going back and forth.

Well, imagine if you got five more letters of the alphabet on your teletype message machine, what an explosion of information you'd have in your ability to send and receive message traffic! God is going to talk to you first out of the Word. The message of salvation is the same as it's been since that first day Jesus came out of the grave, that's the first thing God is trying to get over to you. After that, He's trying to talk to you thru all the other things He put in those scriptures - and if you will go add those to your receiver, He can talk to you out of them, just like adding alphabet keys to your typewriter.

The Holy Spirit is your teacher and He is present with you always, and will never leave you. You don't have to go to every church in town or graduate seminary or hire a tutor to teach you about God. Read the scriptures, talk about what you are reading with your Father God, and let the Holy Spirit instruct you from the inside out.  If you are listening to Him, don't be rehearsing all the time what you think, just observe what's going on in the Bible and follow along with what He is saying in there. You'll learn if you LISTEN.

 (Don't worry, worryworts, the Holy Spirit always leads us to be in the company of fellow believers. Remember that in the scriptures? LOL)

(This post is actually from some months ago, but it ended up in the draft bin. So here it is now, instead.)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Fireworks and Fairytales on the Fourth

Yesterday was a beautiful day, cool winds and open windows on the Fourth of July (!!!), all due to Hurricane Arthur pulling the heat and humidity out to sea. 'Preciatecha, Arty.  A friend called late in the day and just needed to hang out awhile while his new Arthur-itis medication kicked in and kicked him around, so we ended up talking about living with crazy mothers (his, mine, his nephew's) and all the things you learn later after the storms have passed on thru. I think I said somewhere before that my mother was like a hurricane, she scrubbed the earth clean behind her, not a structure remained.

Earlier in the day I discovered podcasts by Malcolm Guite, a lecturer and chaplain at Cambridge - and a big C. S. Lewis fan, as am I! I think I listed to a couple of short podcasts, then came across this one. 

It's called TOUCHING THE WOUNDS, IN PRAISE OF 'DOUBTING' THOMAS. "Here is a poetry reading and accompanying sermon I have at St. Edward's Cambridge on the first Sunday after Easter. The traditional reading for his Sunday is John chapter 20: verses 24-end, which tells the story of how Jesus invited Thomas to touch his wounds. I am fond of Thomas, a man who dared to ask questions, and this poem and sermon are a celebration of his role in the gospels." . Listen first.

If you followed the link, you saw lots of typos. I like that. It tells me he puts up his podcasts himself. :)

After listening to that, I had this comment to add to my Facebook recommendation of it:
"(quoting Guite:)"he (Thomas) knew it wouldn't be the same Jesus if he (Jesus) didn't come back with the same wounds"
That little insight says a lot about not only Jesus and his eternal union with us in his flesh, but the nature of our wounds and our flesh. We aren't spirits living in bodies, we are men (male and female) and we aren't really ourselves without our bodies. The chief indicator that Jesus had conquered death was the resurrection - the restoration of flesh joined to the soul - which tells me something I had never understood about the nature of death: it is the ripping apart of a human, the soul and his body separated and unable to repair the junction.
Wounds and doubts and resurrection and change... I think I'll listen again..."

 It's the wounds and the scars that remain that have me.... that have me. I'll just stop there - they have me. Jesus the Healer is doing his Great Physician thing on me - the more I scream that he isn't doing enough, the more he does - and when he does, it's nearly no different than when I've had mere little "p" physicians take a bottle of antiseptic and a knife and carve out the infected flesh in the office. You can't numb infected flesh, so you might as well just get it the hell over with as fast and as skillfully as you can. (BEWARE doctors who don't know their knife skills. J.F.C., that crowd....) Once the skin is cut open and the wound has been drained, you are left shaking and exhausted, but the relief is deep and it can be better than lying abed for ages hoping some pill will cure it instead.  

Somehow by the end of the day, I had found the song on the previous post, which is why I put it up last night. It's all part of being who I am, not what I might have been, "wishing only wounds the heart." I'm posting the song above today because the wounds and the doubt and the people who have changed us change us forever. We never get to go back to who we were or who we might have been, we are changed for good. We don't get the fairytale we want, we are the story that's still being written, and I'm a girl who won't read a story unless she knows it turns out alright. 

This story is very hard for me to keep to, but I am reading a little bit more every day.

As darkness fell last night, I was still doing scut work in the basement, shoveling weeds in the driveway as heavy fireworks boomed all over the city. For the first time ever, I could actually see some from my house. I'll leave you with a video that flies you thru the fireworks with the night sky all around. It's beautiful and scary and ....

(Originally, the music on this video was Con te patirò as sung by Andrea Bocelli on his Romanza album. Youtube made them change the music to generic electropoop (a typo, but it's about right.) I bought Bocelli's album because of this video, they should have left it alone! Listen to Bocelli in one browser tab while you look at the video in the other. My  lousy paraphrase still follows below.)

"I'll Go With You"

When I am lonely, I dream.
I search the sky as far as eye can see,
And still the words won't come.

It's true, there is no light,
My sun has all gone dark
When you are not with me.
But outside my window, everyone sees,
My heart you set on fire.
Safe inside me is the light
We shared when we first met.

I'll fly to you in places I have never, ever been,
And live my truest days.
With you, I'll sail in ships on seas,
Deep waters passed, unknown.
Though never have I been this way,
With you, I'm sailing home.

When you are far away,
I dream and wait, for a word that's yet to come.
Even so, I know you still burn bright.
The moon, it shows me where you hide,
Fiery sun, in all your light.

I'll fly with you to lands I've never been,
And live their all with you.
With you, on ships I've never seen,
On seas that rise no more,
With you, I want to sail just once,
And once for evermore.

Translation of Con te patirò via
Updated Sunday July 6, 2014
Lousy paraphrase by me alone. Rhyming is hell. All copyrights reserved.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


Trying to keep my ADD head in the game this weekend and it's going everywhere. Which is an ADDers confused excuse for "I was going to move the furniture, but I spent 2 hours on a table top display that still doesn't work" instead. I was headed for the shower, got pulled off into dropping this old watercolor into a new frame, which is one I had planned for something else, so I need to put it on the shopping list and then someone brought up West Virginia where my mother is from and this is actually an old picture she was given back when Dad was in Vietnam and we had a boarder. I think he drew it, but don't quote me on that. 

I'm surprised how well it looks in it's new frame, same grasscloth mat because that's just how we rolled in the 60's. Looking at it, I am just struck - really, like a firm punch from a boxing gloved hand - how MUCH she had in her life, how MUCH she was given, how MANY really good people she had for friends and family.  But she was never grateful TOWARDS THEM for it. She never turned around and said, "I'm so glad I have you in my life. Let me cook your favorite things and invite people over and we'll celebrate YOUR birthday in style this year!" 

She never cleaned up her own house and took care of the things she had, never made room for her family to enjoy being there, never would accept offers of help or a maid service, and never was grateful that so many people stepped up to help her when she wasn't getting the job done herself.

I looked that little watercolor and thought, "If only she had been thankful for all she had, she would have still had it." She would have had a full family around her helping, she would have had a lovely home and friends to fill it, and she would have probably lived a lot longer. 

One thing that really came home to me in her final days and in the weeks following is that we all leave EVERYTHING behind when we die. We don't even take the clothes on our back when they lay us in the grave. It ALL stays here. The only thing you have any hope of taking with you are the personal relationships and the fruit of the seeds of kindness you sowed while you were here. SOME of that might last forever. 

But you have to have a thankful heart while you are here.  Recognize how much you've been given, how people and beauty are God's gift to you, you didn't earn any of it. Until you do, you don't even know they are there. You will just gripe and grasp for more, never knowing what's in your hands already. 

I don't mean to be a grump. I'm actually having a fresh, new season in the gospel of John. Because I haven't been in church for awhile and haven't been listening to sermons all that much, I'm not really swimming in a sea of everyone else's opinions about the scriptures right now. As a mature Christian it's a first for me. I'm reading in true silence, with no other voice but the Lord, who is the Holy Spirit, to talk to me as I study. 

There haven't been any doctrinal upheavals, but I have noticed some things that I've never heard preached  before. I'll write up some of them and make my next post out of that. Maybe I can avoid any ADD or mother references. ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Kill them ALL

My mother sent this cartoon to me when I was having an extremely difficult time my first year away at college. I still look at it and get that bullet between the eyes, gobsmacked feeling. Thirty five years later, I comprehend it better, but I still got nothing.

In case your parenting skills are still developing, do not send this to your self esteem damaged daughter who is thinking of killing herself like her softball playing, tomboy sister did. The term for this is "gaslighting."

Yeah, I just said that out loud.

Sooo, I've been learning all about gaslighting for the past few days . Yay me. I've seen more pompous videos made by "authorities on the subject," but these two are much more practical and contain some key phrases and examples that I identified with readily. ("You just don't understand...", "make you doubt your perception of reality...", "constant chaos.") Gaslighting is the sort of thing where you could show the person the video of it happening and they would still brow beat you until you let them have the last word that it wasn't so.

Unless you've been systematically and deliberately made to doubt what you've seen with your own eyes and heard with your own ears is true, it's a very difficult thing to explain. No wonder survivors of NPD parents don't know who they are, they haven't even been able to rely on reality being what it is!  

 Know Your Emotional Abuser: The Gaslighter

 Know Your Emotional Abuser: Unpredictable Responses and Constant Chaos/Creating Crisis

I've been on vacation for two weeks, and as usual, I had more things planned, but somewhere in the first week I started opening boxes of things I had just scooped up from Mother's houses - mostly bank statements and any sort of business paperwork that might be important, but I didn't need to deal with right then.  I had thought I might be able at some point to straighten everything out neat and tidy, make sure her finances were in proper order in every direction, and possibly draw out a more lucid timeline of family history and "where it all went wrong." The number of those boxes just grew and grew, so they got stacked up all over the house -  basement, garage, closets, wherever out of the way.

However God's grace works, this time when I opened the first one I started throwing things away. When I started throwing photographs in the trash pile, the brakes came off and the decisions just kept getting made. I decided on what I needed to save for Estate records, what was proof of my stewardship as Power of Attorney, what was family history that could be passed on to the grandkids, and what nobody really gave a damn about and needed to get out of my life. I filled - FILLED - my green city garbage bin up with things that could go to the dump. I took another 50 lbs of old bank statements and junk to a secured shredding service - GONE, never to be seen again. I have three small boxes of documentation of my actions as Executor and POA - to save in the basement until it's time to shred that. Five boxes of family objects are going to the grandkids this afternoon, plus one box of extremely old paperwork that's going back to Dad for him to remember, and one box of memories to my brother. That still leaves a half dozen boxes of photographs to scan (that would be maybe a thousand actual images?), several boxes and a hope chest of items that I'm saving for the grandkids for "later when they can appreciate them and not lose them." 

Getting rid of all this stuff is nothing short of a miracle. I have given myself a rule in dealing with all of Mother's trash thru the years - Never go back into a garbage pile and second guess what I threw in there. Trust the decision I made when I looked at it and pitched in there the first time. Coming back from the shredder last night, I was really experiencing some sort of strange exhausted euphoria. I had all kinds of muscle aches and pains and whatnots, not unlike having been in a major car wreck and a hormone rush all at the same time. Whatever it takes, kids, whatever it takes.

It looks like I get to stop at the boundaries issue for awhile. It came up in counseling years ago, and I tried to do what I could with it, but time passes and now I can do more. I've found the blog (now in hiatus) of Eugenia Berg in the videos above and paged thru until I got to her boundaries series, and I got stopped here. I'm sure I've had that book before, it may be somewhere in the house still. Walls, windows, doors, and fences. It's time to evaluate and start doing things better, with everyone. 

 If my writing any of this bothers someone, just don't read it. I have to be able to say out loud what is true somewhere so I can deal with it. Calling it out for What It Was is a form of mental sorting - if I can see it, I can do something about it - and I am so damned tired of carrying her shite around. It's like living with a rat infestation, and the ONLY cure for rats is to kill them all.  I'm tired and disgusted of living with someone else's filth, I want it cleaned out and gone. The only people I want to live with are the living, and the only thoughts I want running around in my head are the truth - living, beautiful, life giving, kind, gracious, humble truth.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The glory of freedom

"The icon does not make clear which side of the fence Christ is on. 
Is he imprisoned or are we?"
Sometimes we carry our prisons around with us. The barbed wire in that image always reminded me of the barbed words and the ripping pain of trying to live free while still bound to being responsible in a very painful situation. Not free to leave, but free to know that if I did not stay, who would bring help? And who would I be if I left to comfort myself?

I'm still watching therapy videos online, last weekend was intense and cathartic. It is very rough, almost like some sort of deep tissue massage, to listen to a stranger speak of phenomena that always disturbed me, but I could not place. Why would she say that? How is it that these things happened, yet we were supposed to be a very average family? Why did this one respond this way, but he went that way?

No one therapist has my family framed, no pat answers are forthcoming, but the festering wounds are being relieved of their mystery as the patterns of abuse are uncovered and filth of deception is washed away. I was always, Always asking myself why did things have to be this way, how did they get this way, and why can't it just get better? No matter what anyone did, nothing ever got better. Well, the spring of bitterness has to stop contaminating everyone else - either by becoming sweet or drying up.

I'm discovering things like "no contact," which is a technique all of us tried in our own way, and "observe, don't absorb," which was my primary technique for the last 30 years. The basic NPD character and motivation of things like objectification, complete lack of compassion, and the NPD thinking of him/herself in the third person like watching a movie - all these things I knew, but I had no framework in which to place them. It takes time and review to pull this stuff up and work it out - going over the memories and making personal history rational instead of chaotic.

There's a response video to one SpartanLifeCoach put out, the response video being in favor of more therapy being required even after a root cause of trauma is discovered, that knowing why isn't enough. For someone dealing with Complex PTSD, (resulting from a lifetime of abuse at the hands of someone with a personality disorder versus short term or single event PTSD,) long term recovery, compassion, and deliberately cultivating new growth in your soul in all those areas that were stunted by the abuse is really the only way. Long term abuse takes up the years of your life, the world you could have had in the short term is gone, never to be seen again. It isn't enough to know what happened, you have to find new ways of living. 

I was talking to my Dad on the phone about my brother, who is Very Much like my mother, and is trying his bullying, accusatory best to cause legal trouble in regards to the Estate. The thing I found myself saying, in trying to reassure Dad that this would all turn out alright eventually and please don't worry, is that in having to go thru all the difficulties with Mother and then again having delays and unpleasantness in closing that portion of my life, I've become a different person. I would not be learning who I really am and what I can do and what kind of relationships I deserve if I did not go thru the terrific workout that is closing these relationships with kindness, forbearance, and with respect to the kind of effort God requires of His own.

If I had run off to Florida, I would still be the woman I was when I ran away.  If I shot my mouth off and responded in kind to my brother, I would take a step towards becoming like him. If I stay and persist, then I am still in the fire and can be changed into someone I've never been before...and perhaps have been seeking to be for a very long time.

Years ago, I received a word from a prayer ministry about God restoring the joy that was taken away from me. It spoke about a little girl in red shoes that was just happy and joyful, without burdens. Of course we all are that way to some extent as children, but the only place I could think of with red shoes was here.

A few months after this picture, things happened. Offenses, pride, confusion, stupidity, separation, grudges, a whole host of bad decisions - all things precipitated out of a narcissistic wound - and really, our family never recovered. I became a parentified child immediately, charged with taking care of my mother. 

Now that's over and I'm free to be again. Just free. To be. To trust my own heart again, openly this time. To follow my own heart, without the endless second guessing that NPDs and their codependents layer on top to maintain control and satisfy their own interests.  Free to be happy, which is an extremely weird feeling after all this time! I mean, I question myself every time I feel "happy" lest I've forgotten something important I'm supposed to be doing instead. It's just ...odd. But I really like it!

The best bit is trusting my own heart, not just about life decisions or such, but trusting that the things I hear in my heart and the desires that flow out of my heart are true and trustworthy. I still have to consciously turn to listen and accept as is what is going on in there, and NOT layer it over with second guessing in my brain. That isn't to say my brain or my flesh aren't always chiming in with their own opinions on HOW I should follow my heart! They are still quite perky, thank you very much, and I rather expect them to stay that way, but I'm relaxing into letting my heart go first, feeding it more, and letting it set the agenda for where I'm going altogether.

That brings us back around full circle to being set free - thru the image of Christ. Second Corinthians 3:17-18 puts it this way: 
"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (emancipation from bondage, freedom). And all of us as with unveiled face, because we continued to behold, in the Word of God, as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another: for this comes from the Lord, Who is the Spirit." 

I was lead back yesterday directly from the secular therapists' discussion on long term recovery to a teaching tape by Lynne Hammond that I've listened to over and over again for probably 20 years now. It's the first in this series, called the Mirror of the Word. If you are secular, that's alright, there's quite a bit of very good observation in it about how our thoughts multiply like mice and get out of control, and then we don't want to be honest with ourselves and even look at what we've been thinking - we just close the door and pretend that stuff isn't in there. But we have to come back to the Truth and take every thought captive, exposing it in the full light of day, and then do something about every lie that wants to hang around by demolishing it with the Truth and our own words - spoken out loud.

You'll never win a battle with a thought by trying to think about something else, you have to talk back to it.

If you are a Christian, as I am, then you might have caught on to the linkage in my being free to trust my heart without interference and the joy of a rediscovering fresh again a teaching series on prayer. If you are born again, the Holy Spirit and your spirit are joined, He has come to make His home in you, never to depart. If your mind can be corralled to let your heart have His way in you, then you are free to ask for whatsoever you want, and be confident that He is moving in that request. For you, for your friends and loved ones, for the nations, for the world, for anyone anywhere anytime. 

It's wonderful. 

The door may have always been open, but the crappy bit is that we don't always know that in our heads. Living this life here is messy, but freedom in Christ Jesus is glorious!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Role Assigned

Clearing out old web bookmarks this morning because I wanted to add new and there was no good place to put them. All the accumulated categories of things I was interested in, but not so much anymore, were just taking up valuable toolbar space - such as old high school classmates found on the internet but I don't really want to contact, great blogs that just turned into other directions that I don't read after, and project collections that I probably won't do again. It's a little bit like looking thru boxes of college coursework and interests, isn't it? It was great at the time, but you just don't need to hold on to it forever. Eventually you become a different person altogether and you can only wave goodbye to the old you as she sails back to her place in time.

I did find one old blog by a woman who was So angry and So bitter about narcissists and NPD that she quite frightened me, but she alerted me to the fact that you can neither understand a true NPD, and you can't cure one.  She died unexpectedly before I ever read her blog and I have since found where her ebook is hosted free online. She was NOT a health professional, she was a tennis pro, the book and the blog are strictly her opinion and her response to whoever the narcissist was in her life and how it affected her. However, if you have had an NPD individual in your life wreak havoc AND you are on still on the fence about it, reading her stuff might stir up enough in you to clarify what your deal is a little bit more.

Anyway, in a related vein, I also found a link to this article, You Carry the Cure in Your Own Heart, by Andrew Vachss in Parade magazine in 1994. The quote in a sidebar reads, 

"When your self-concept has been shredded, when you have been deeply injured and made to feel the injury was all your fault, when you look for approval to those who can not or will not provide it—you play the role assigned to you by your abusers. It's time to stop playing that role."

 Awhile back here I spoke of  "not knowing what it is we are like."  I didn't finish my college degree because I had completely lost sight of why I was doing any of it to begin with.  I've had opportunities to go back, or to train in some other field, if only I could decide which one I wanted - but I still can't look around and pick one because I have no idea what I'm like. I can't give you an assessment of my own personality because it is so heavily overlaid with what other people required me to be or to do. I had a role assigned to me in my family from a very young age, I mean like 5 years old or younger, and I've been doing that role all this time. I have only inklings and clues to things I might have preferred to do or ways I might have expressed myself - if ever my self hadn't been obliterated in favor of taking care of other people so the adults in the room wouldn't have to.

From the article:
"A particularly pernicious myth is that "healing requires forgiveness" of the abuser. For the victim of emotional abuse, the most viable form of help is self-help—and a victim handicapped by the need to "forgive" the abuser is a handicapped helper indeed. The most damaging mistake an emotional-abuse victim can make is to invest in the "rehabilitation" of the abuser. Too often this becomes still another wish that didn't come true—and emotionally abused children will conclude that they deserve no better result.

The costs of emotional abuse cannot be measured by visible scars, but each victim loses some percentage of capacity. And that capacity remains lost so long as the victim is stuck in the cycle of "understanding" and "forgiveness." The abuser has no "right" to forgiveness—such blessings can only be earned. And although the damage was done with words, true forgiveness can only be earned with deeds.

For those with an idealized notion of "family," the task of refusing to accept the blame for their own victimization is even more difficult. For such searchers, the key to freedom is always truth—the real truth, not the distorted, self-serving version served by the abuser."

This is probably where I began in counseling, trying to find some middle ground to understand and forgive, because although preachers and Bible based counselors know their Christian doctrine well, they do not know mental illness or even the face of genuine evil in humans hardly at all.  No one does until they've been around it for a good, long while. In other words, I've preemptively forgiven those who've given me poor advice while meaning well. Even the most secular trained psychiatrist can completely screw up the advice giving business. We all have to live the lives given to us, advice is just a shot at help, not a guarantee. 

But now I've heard the door in my soul lock when it comes to being emotionally abused and manipulated, and that has left some people on the other side who still have no clue they have been left behind. I was always an easy mark, ever letting a relative or a friend remain self absorbed at my expense. Now, my time is a great deal more valuable to me and I don't want to meet you for dinner because you "can't find anyone else to go out with tonight." And it may be that the other heir to my mother's estate is not happy and thinks he can improve his lot by bullying and threatening me again, after all, it's always worked before. 


I'm not interested in his needs, wants, or feelings. I'm interested in mine now, and I will not be care taking anyone else anymore. It's over.

So then, with things cleared out and a new bookmark folder called "Arts," I found a site called Smarthistory, hosted by the Khan Academy, via Art is a Way.  Perhaps I can still learn the things I was so enjoying in art class in middle school, but had to give up because I had to do the college track and doing algebra a year early was just so much more important. Right? Right for who?

And why the ugly Jackson Pollack painting at the top? I took that photo last fall at the National Gallery in Washington, DC.  I never understood in the least the attraction to "modern art," it always seemed to be childish at best, and most definitely over priced. Then I dropped in for a 45 minute quickie tour of the modern wing of the gallery - and ended up staying for two whole days. I just Could Not leave, I was learning and fascinated at every turn. It wasn't until I got to this painting that I finally relented on why it was really "art" and why perhaps it might be worth that much money. I can't explain to you why it's so,
but there is really something amazing and priceless in that modern wing as well. You'll have to go experience the work for yourself.

There is inestimable value in experiencing  for yourself.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


I'm reloading music this morning. It's been more than 5 years since I started saving a lot of it, it's been transferred thru three different computers, a half dozen operating systems, and the quality is pale compared to a fresh scan.  I've been tempted dozens of times to sell the CDs to the used book place, after all it's on my computer already... right? Well, it seems that it takes a few years to hear the degradation in what at first was a brilliant transformation that changed how I experienced and cherished the music.

As you might expect, quite a bit of it is worship music. I am trying to reduce the total digital bulk of what I keep, so I'm listening to at least some of it to remember what it was about the songs that I wanted in the first place. Christian worship music really exploded in the 80s and 90s, choruses took over Sunday morning services, so much so there is an adult generation attempting to win the world that barely knows the doctrines that once were taught thru the singing of hymns - and I do mean every verse of every hymn in every service. (You had to be there.)

Yesterday I began with a Kent Henry CD that I first had on cassette tape, The Secret Place. I began with Psalm 149 , the scriptures sung are the simplicity of Christ and the very breath of God exhaled in your own voice. There's nothing like it. I let it play on thru You Are My God and on to Turn My Heart.  I can remember several road trips to conventions and prayer meetings where I rolled down the road for thousands of miles and hours of worship and dedication in my heart to the Lord, earnestly singing "turn my heart, oh Lord, like rivers of water. Turn my heart, oh Lord, by your hand - til my whole life flows in the river of your Spirit, and my name brings honor to the Lamb. Lord, I surrender to your work in me. I rest my life within your loving hands."

Lord, I surrender to your work in me.
I rest my life within your loving hands.

I can almost see the mile markers slipping by on the highway as I prayed those words in song, my face drenched in tears, hitting rewind on the cassette player searching for my favorite places in the songs. I had no idea what I was asking for, as that is always the way with Him. We ask Him to save us, but we are the walking dead asking to be raised to life as sons of the Creator of the Universe - how could we know?

When I come to seek your Face, I find mercy and grace...

Well, nostalgia isn't really my point today as I load the songs up again, this time having experienced the work of His hands, having had the little streams of my life channeled into new paths He cut, the old turns dammed up and closed off beyond my power to overwhelm and flow into again. As I accepted the ways he offered me to live in, the waters of His own deep bubbled up to keep my own mists flowing in the dry places - but those are just words until you know it for yourself.

Now I sit today sifting the music, revivals, and changes the churches have accepted in the last 20 years, and in some cases now question. I feel like I'm blessed to live in an age where we can go thru entire revolutions in doctrine in a generation that used to take four or five centuries to process. It isn't that the truth in the scriptures ever change, but we as people who want more of God's life in us certainly do ever seek newer, or maybe just faster, ways to experience his plans.

Hurry up, God! We want to know, we want to see, heal us, change us, teach us, touch this world with your very own Life! So many people are hurting, So Many - don't let it go on like this! Quickly, Lord - come QUICK!

If you would come, Lazarus won't die...

So now I'm up to Revival at Brownsville, Hosanna! Music's recording of the best worship from a revival and a movement that flamed up so bright - and fizzled in the divisions of power and money and control.  There used to be a time when I was looking for the revival, no - THE revival, or THE movement, that wouldn't have a noxious worm of whatever kind creep in and rot half the thing in acrimony and soul killing, selfish sin.

I used to be hopeful and expectant that somehow that was the path for God's glory - if we could just keep ourselves together long enough for Him to move, Big Things could happen. I know that is how "church" is sold from the church leadership, and while God's holiness remains constant, ours never does rise higher than what can be crafted to the Facebook standard - you know, 50 words and an Instagram showing how we are living the good life and do you wanna join my group? New memes weekly plus a moderated page where no one ever cusses.

Well, my own ongoing failures in perfection are not taking me out of God, but they are certainly separating me from the glory and praise that is His alone. I thought it was my job to be glorious, but it's really just my job to be earthy and alive. He isn't separating from me at any level, but as my own earthiness continues to remain I begin to get the sense that I'm becoming a fertile earth - rich with the detritus of old and new failures, yet turned and alive with new plantings, giving up what I am for the chance to create something new and beautiful.

You know the phrase "the planting of the Lord" doesn't mean just the tree, it means the acreage and all that's in it. Go talk to a farmer or a gardener and maybe you'll cut yourself some slack. What they want more than anything else is living soil, full of aging bullshit and last year's leavings, chopped and turned, sustaining whatever the husbandman is trying to grow. The last thing he needs is earth so "clean" it has nothing in it a worm would even want, barren, and left to dust.

Perhaps I can look at church organizations in a different way now, since they and I seem to have a worm addled quality that tends to persist. There's a very great deal of good He can do in them and thru them, and I do recommend them at all times, but they are more like compost heaps than rose bowers. You need to be in one to kill off the weeds in you, but don't be surprised when a stench comes up.  

It also helps to remember that the denomination or the movement is just the framework that keeps the heat up and the garden organized. Cultivation is not a natural event, farming is a deliberate concentration and multiplication of growth, and you would never think that fresh loaf of bread from the oven started out where it did - but it did, and it begins again that way every time.

So with that in mind, I still treasure every song on Revival at Brownsville. Begin at the first and listen and worship all the way thru it, it's just that good. The worship is pure and true, no matter what happened to the church it sprouted in. And it is the same with us, if we'll let it come up out of us as well.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Quickly now!

He is no longer dead, we CAN be born again! 

I can't count the number of times I've cried to the Lord that my life felt like the living dead, and I had no power to change it. Well, this morning with the sun barely over the horizon and the birds rejoicing, I must rejoice, too, because He is risen, and I am risen with Him.

He is no longer dead!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Nailed me

...and probably does a fair job of describing her:

Last week I downloaded a course on C. S. Lewis from The Great Courses. It's a good, solid overview and I recommend it. (Hey, it's still on sale! $16)  In about the third lecture the guy mentions that you can't get outside of yourself to see what you are really like, you need someone else for that - like a psychotherapist. In my case, I really do, because I hide who I really am all the time, because I'm trying to get along. No disagreements, no fighting. This isn't news to me.

I didn't entertain the thought of therapy for long, it's expensive, but thru a series of prompts that I just obeyed without thinking, the Holy Spirit lead me to the above. (I love Him, I really do. Nobody sticks with me like He does.)  So, now I have a little more light on the subject, and perhaps I get a little more release from my chains.

The chains must be feeling the threat, however. This morning in my dreams I had gone on a holiday to a resort town with a large train complex. People would arrive on lovely trains (me, too) and stay in these lovely hotels, shop, see the beautiful mountains, you know - relax.

Mother came, too.

I went looking (running) for the front desk to at least find another room to stay in so I could have a moment's peace, and couldn't find it - and kept running and running and running looking for it.

Heh. ;) I'm still in the fight, and I WILL have my peace.

So then, back to work.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cutting some slack

Let's throw Mother a bone here, I think this is about the best heavenly reunion I expect at this point. It's a better vision that what I've been able to imagine so far. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if one of the reasons I end up with a long life is not only the Fifth Commandment, but the persistent heaving, deep in my soul, at the thought of meeting her in heaven. Forgiveness and reconciliation are required there, no more tears, no lies, no fear.

You see, I have no vision of her having changed much, and I'm sure she would immediately begin by justifying her behaviour and really, I just don't understand all she's been thru, and if I had ever done X, Y, and Z like she had wanted it done in the first place, and nobody could expect her to .....

Well, that would be hell, wouldn't it? Now you understand, maybe, why I loved C.S. Lewis' The Great Divorce so much when I found it at age eleven. It kept me sane for 40 more years.

Just so you know, Mother came in my dreams every night for nine months after she died wanting to stay, wanting to be taken care of just a little bit longer, invading every situation in those dreams yet promising to be good if only she could stay. I had to explain to her in plain language in the dreams that she was dead and was not permitted to stay among the living anymore.

It wasn't until I said out loud in my waking hours (either to myself or someone, I can't recall) that if she actually tried to come out of that grave, I'd be standing there with a stake and a silver bullet. Whatever it took, she was not coming back. And I still mean that.

She was quiet for a long time after that, but lately she's showed up again. Maybe this post is a second public rebuke for that sort of thing. It isn't that her actual spirit is haunting me, it's just a little PTSD manifesting.

I thought we were ready to close the Estate (What! Yup, still dragging...), but the only other relative involved wants fairy tale money that has never existed. Yeah, he's just like her. Sad for him, but he's far away and not at any level my responsibility.

But how can it be 14 months later and this is still on my mind? Well, I'm guessing the ADD might make the processing of emotions something less that straightforward. Also, it's taken a long time to make all sorts of personal decisions and execute (or begin executing) them. I can make a great assessment and execution on the job, I don't have a dog in that hunt. But to try to see myself, change and make a new path from the inside out? It's like a blind man drawing a map.

The rules of life say I have to do it, but I have to touch and feel every rock and tree along the way first, then when I have the model in my head (oops, you caught it, didn't you?), I can start making a plan for getting there.

So, I am out rummaging around, tripping over tree roots, falling down hills, getting cold and rained on. But I am out, so that's still good. We'll have to close this estate somehow, and spring is definitely on it's way, so being lost out in the rough all night will be less chilly soon. I think that's why people marry, so when you fall in the ditch, someone can help you out. Right?