After reading the article How Christianity Stunted My Relational Growth by Godless In Dixie on Patheos, my own similar experiences naturally came to mind. Of course I started this off as a comment but it became obvious quickly that I was writing too much and I wasn’t nearly done. So, thus, the blog instead! You can read Neil’s article by clicking on the purple words.
The beginning where Neil talked about how well he and his partner got along and so on really hit home for me. I was in a marriage like that. It wasn’t all Christianity’s fault, just much of it. My then husband didn’t like arguing. His definition of arguing included just simple disagreements. So even if we very calmly disagreed he would interrupt the conversation with, ” I don’t want to argue” and then walk away. At first it didn’t bother me to much because even if I wasn’t upset maybe he was and walking it off to cool off is supposed to be a good thing. It didn’t take long to realize it wasn’t what I thought it was. Walking away to cool off is fine but the idea is to get back to the touchy subject in a calm manor after cooling off and deal with it. For him it was just over. No matter how important the subject was and how much it had to be addressed, once he walked away he would never allow the subject to come up again. This meant he was the only one who would made the decision and he would do so either using what he thought was best or what he thought I wanted which he had no idea about since he wouldn’t let me speak about it.
(Picture found on Google Images.)
Though it bothered me I did what the Bible taught me to do, I submitted to him. Another mental growth stunting tactic.
So we appeared to be a loving wonderful couple for the ten years we were married. It wasn’t really a charade cause we did our best to buy into that idea as well. However, it would really bug me when I would over hear him tell folks that we never argued. In my mind I would scream, “but I want to!” I wasn’t actually the arguing type, but I did want to have a voice.
I had a problem, as it was, expressing myself. I was known for hiding my emotions and repressing them. Of course I was berated and told to let my emotions out and not let people walk all over me by the same people who would cut me down where I stood for doing what they said I should do. I did try my best to communicate with my husband but like I mentioned before he would shut me down. When we were going through divorce he used my problem with communicating how I felt against me as an excuse as to why our marriage failed. I wouldn’t be surprised if he still uses that as a reason why we divorced.
Since leaving religion I have put myself through communicating exercises. It used to be like walking through a hurricane. I had to keep putting up with the crap I received for being open and honest but I was determined to get through that storm even if it meant there would always be a storm. People love to use their sensitivity to try and manipulate others. Some know they are doing it and some do it aromatically without really understanding what an ass they are being. They feel offended so you are wrong and you hurt them and you need to grovel on the ground begging for forgiveness until they are done licking their wound that they blame you for causing when in reality, they caused it. They want you to be honest and express yourself and communicate as long as it doesn’t cause them to feel uncomfortable. In other words, they love it when you gossip and rail on people they don’t care for, just don’t bring what they’ve done into the conversation or you are a bad bad person and you’ve offended them and hurt them and your soul is in danger.
(Picture found on Google Images.)
That sort of hurricane!
That’s what I was determined to walk through and learn to thrive through. I may have been harsh at times. After all I was suppressing my emotions and feeling for close to thirty eight years. Naturally I wouldn’t suddenly become an expert at communicating just right. But many of the folks who didn’t approve of my “harshness” were the ones who helped put the virtual duct tape over my mouth in the first place. The only way for me to free me was to just go on ahead and express myself and figure it all out on my own regardless of how hurt they let on. I also had to put on virtual realistic glasses that would remind me that wither they actually are hurt or not, they are manipulating and if I bend to them I am enabling. It really did feel like a storm for a while.
I have not arrived but I have come a long long way. Most of the folks who were sensitive and took what I would say personally and try to manipulate me back to who I had been have either gotten the message and now they are mostly cool with it or they left.
I used to have a fear of people leaving which only added to my lack of life and when I started standing up for myself it only added to the pain I had to go through. I still don’t care for losing people, but I am able to talk myself down and make myself okay with it in the long run. It doesn’t actually make sense to want to keep people as friends when they refuse to respect who you are the way you are and when you are in danger of offending them with your honesty.
(Picture found on Google Images.)
By the way, when I say honesty and expressing ones self, I am not talking about rudeness and bullying and no empathy. That is just manipulating back. It’s the balance thing again. Along with finding my voice I have been on a path to finding balance as well. Not the kind of balance some friends and family try to tell you about where the “balance ” is you being honest and open as long as it doesn’t bother them. Yeah, no, not that kind cause that’s not actually balance. It’s ones own personal real balance.
Being a mom of kids in the autism spectrum I’ve learned a lot about this sort of need for balance. While I do my best to teach my kids to curve their honesty so they don’t get fired from every job they get and so on, I also try to teach them to keep their honesty but learn ways to soften it, wait to tell it, and sometimes even explain their difficulty due to ASD, and other ways to help them not come off so harsh and rude to others. I also let them know that many times they are actually in the right, but being so sharp with the truth can turn other peoples ears off and cause them to misjudge them. It’s a crazy balancing act. I want them to be confident, not resort to lying, yet to learn what others feel cause it is kind and then use that to communicate and build relationships.
Gosh, writing this makes me realize (again) how difficult this is. However, my kids have come a long way. My oldest, who is 16 and has aspergers, has learned to teach herself these things. It seems my job was just to get her started on the ideal path and once she got the idea to let her go from there. Not that I don’t point things out here and there but she is able to figure things out, she’s a smart kid.
With my kids it’s been important to me not to raise them the way I was raised in this area. While raising them to be good, I am also raising them to not be good. Cause what is “good”? Exactly! Kindness, empathy, love, forgiveness, and those sort of things are “good. But when people use those things to constantly take from the giver, to manipulate, then what some may call good is not good at all. And when people are the kind of good that allows people to use them, well, that’s not good either.
I was raised to be good. And I was good. I had a pure heart and I was good because I believed whole hearted in it Bible style. I was good all right. I was a very good door mat. I would never had said this then, and I certainly would not have said that I was better at it then most the folks I knew. I would never have even thought that sort of thing. That’s how damn good I was. I was really good at being really terrible and really good at being brain washed. Thus the needed time to get over that sort of good and learn how to balance it all out.
(Picture found on Google Images and scripture from the KJV text.)
Like I said before, I haven’t arrived. I doubt I will ever fully arrive because life is a journey and there is a forever amount of things to learn. Am I better? Most certainly YES! Well, not to everyone, but in reality it’s still a big YES. There are folks who don’t like what I say to the degree that they condemn me for it no matter how gently I may say what I say. Some folks are so closed minded even a lovely kind complement would cause them to feel the sting of rage or the heat of tears cause they have already made up their mind about what they believe you actually mean and there is nothing you can do about it but hope they change for their own sake or at least move on and leave you alone.
(A pic I took in Wausau, WI.)
I would like to add something my dad told me a long time ago about assuming certain couples are the very picture of happiness and have what everyone else wants. He told me about this couple that were regulars at a bar he tended. They always came in together and sat close and talked with each other in the most pleasant way. They always were happy and friendly and the perfect picture of what many people hope to have in their lives. One day he expressed his positive feelings about that couple to an older bar tender he worked with. The older bar tender didn’t respond the way my dad expected. He said, “I don’t know. I’ve never slept between them.” Maybe they really were the “perfect” happy couple. I’ll never know. But, it makes a great life lesson about not assuming. When I was still married and when my husband and I were actually together (he was away a lot) we often heard people comment about what a good looking couple we were. We also heard comments about how well we got along and worked together and so on. People assumed because we looked good together and we were peaceful that we had the “perfect” marriage. They had no idea thing were so serene because I knew what subjects to avoid and because I was a “peace maker” and knew how to keep the boat calm. It had nothing to do with real love and happiness. There were folks who were very upset when my husband and I split up because they just knew my husband and I truly loved each other and refused to believe otherwise. Funny about all that is I’ve been told what a good looking couple we are with most every boyfriend I’ve had. And, I’ve had folks get upset about the split with them as well because they assumed we were a perfect fit. Funny how people can be. I never minded being a good looking couple but I have always minded people who assume they know all about me and how my life is. It is better now that I have the ability to tell people exactly how I feel if I feel the need to. Not always easy, but better.
Well, it’s Tuesday so I wish you all a “good” week! lol No, really, I do!
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