Religious Trauma

Adhering strictly to my religion gave me a reputation. It made me a target. I was known for my prayers and my refusal to deviate from the path to God.

My abuser knew I would never betray him. He knew I was incapable of disobedience to God.

I did come to neglect my prayers, believing they would not be accepted, and knowing that, I doubted my intentions and sincerity in offering them. So I abstained from prayer, and kept the rest.

Most religions teach obedience to men. Most religions strictly reinforce patriarchy. The abusers among us know this. In such a religion, where men are venerated and women vilified, there is not much difference between an abusive husband and an abusive priest. Your husband is your ticket to heaven. If you displease your husband, you get a ticket to somewhere else.

The system is set up to create dependency on men and slavery of women. It is in a man’s best interest to perpetuate this system, as it gives him godlike powers over others, and in many countries, legal authority. Who can resist thinking that they have the right?

I am deeply ashamed to have followed such a system, to have chosen it upon reaching maturity when I had other options. I have guilt.

Because my abuser knew he could abuse me. Because of my devotion. I was a walking future victim.

When I knew, absolutely knew, that all was deeply flawed was when I was watching my home life play out in the eyes and hearts of my children. When I saw their pain, their dysfunction. I knew the God of my religion was not Divine at all, but a construct of Man who left a horrible system of misogyny to ruin lives for thousands of years. But I could not talk of it. I had to hide it. The only reason I was left alive at all, I am sure, is because I did not do wrong. There was no good reason to kill me. I never once compromised the honor of the family, despite all suspicions and all punishments for imagined slights, my abuser could not manufacture any good reason. He knew it. If he thought I had left my religion, in my heart, or in my mind, he would have assumed I had no moral compass at all, and I would not be here, now. I would have been condemned, for imagined future crimes against his honor, and I would have been dismembered.

This is a common misconception among adherents to religion. They feel religion imparts morality and there is no other way to do so. This is simply not true, but despite knowing I had ethics and morals, I knew I could not convince him, a delusional and violent man, of my good intentions whether God be in existence or not.

I had to pretend to believe. For a long while. Until I could escape with all my children.

Ducking/Dodging

I was never able to dodge a blow. Usually I did not see them coming.

I fell in love, nearly a year ago. Online, of course, like a modern person. He was lovely. We arranged times for calls, and he was always there. He was supportive. He was complimentary. Flattering, even. Loving, as much as you can be from far away.

His life has changed a lot in the past year. It makes sense, that he would change, and behave/speak more responsibly, more guarded. Less emotionally involved.

It feels like hell, and I can hardly bear it.

We talked about it.

I still feel as if someone has pulled a rug out from under me.

You never know how much you rely on someone until they are no longer there for you.

He was so precious to me, so I never really wrote about him. I was afraid to jinx it, too happy to share. I just held him close, and kept him In Real Life.

He arrives next month, he says. 

I don’t think I can do this again.

Save our Girls 2014

Sounds familiar. What is happening now, has happened elsewhere, recently. Why? Because slavery IS Islamic. Because the expected obedience of women to men is in the Quran. Female slavery is canonical text. Fundamental Islamists use the Sunnah to guide their conquests and craft their laws. What else is in there? Verses on how to divorce wives who have NOT YET BEGUN TO MENSTRUATE. Children. Everything that common sense tells us cannot be sanctioned by our religion.. is. If it violates a human right, please don’t explain it away, or further apologist literature on it. It doesn’t work. Just kick it to the curb. Teach it how it is, and then teach why we should reject it, not wish it away, or pretend it is inaccurately translated, or abrogated. If it is there, it is proof that it is NOT DIVINE.

Journalistic Expressions

*I was originally going to post about hostile Work Environments, which I still will, but something more important has come up.*

saveourgirls

James Brown told us best; it’s a mans, mans, mans, mans world. And the frightening fact is, that’s the truth. Even though globally women outnumber men (barely but we still do), we are still the “weaker” of the two genders, the more mistreated of the two genders and the more assaulted of the two genders. AND for this blog’s purpose, please miss me with the what about transgendered, etc. this isn’t about orientation and gender, persay.

This is a public service announcement. PLEASE, SAVE OUR GIRLS. Bring our babies back.

Roughly 230 Nigeria female children, all school-aged, were kidnapped by a terrorist group. The group has stepped forward and claimed responsibility. They are “anti-Westernization” aka “pro-stone age.” They don’t want these girls exercising their right to learn, be educated…

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Back In Talk Therapy, or, My Master Plan Commences, NOT

The PTSD specialist had me convinced that I had to take my memories and drag them into the harsh light of NOW. To rob them of the crazy hold they have on my brain.

So, after I felt he had taught me what I needed to know, I knew I could never confide in him. I mean, he is male, and he is not very old, and he is tall. He has a goatee. He terrifies me. He, of course, supported whatever I needed to do to continue my treatment, and I became convinced I should go back to my talk therapist, now that I had all the physical stuff if not under control, at least decoded.

So I did.

I met with her on Tuesday. I got nothing done, at all. It was embarrassing. I ran my mouth off on updating her on my life for six months, and my feelings on the current issues in the Middle East and how they affect me.

I did not craft a treatment plan. I did not tell her I wanted to get that done. I sort of just spewed, as if expecting her to take the wheel. Which never happened, because of course I am driving.

If I can get this guilt and shame to leave me alone, I will write it down.

My Old Job Needs Me

I used to write press releases for oppressed minorities in parts of the Middle East. I am increasingly frustrated at my inability to do so. I miss my old job, I miss the good people I used to work with, I miss feeling like I was getting the word out to the wider world.

I miss the community, the language, the food, the hospitality, the visits, the beauty of these people. I miss the conversations I had with the women, I miss shucking the pomegranates, even.

How did I end up with one of their bad seeds, that I had to cut myself off from what I loved, to protect my family? I am so very angry with him, his family, right now. I could be doing so much, and I am doing nothing. This is ripping my heart to pieces. I did right to move far away from everyone I know. If I had not, I would have gone back, just for the love of the people.

This makes me rethink the weight I gave to my children’s request that I speak to them in English.

I only knew two families in the community where the women were treated as I was (not that I knew a lot of families or that everyone talked about their treatment). Mine, and one other. Three wives affected, one other had to leave like myself, and the last remaining had nine children, at thirty-five, and probably felt she could not survive without a husband. Only I was not born into the community, but married into it.

What did I do all this refugee activism for, to just sit by, now, when all this is going on. He has tied my hands. No hands should be tied, right now. All helping hands should be free to do so. I don’t even have international satellite. I am watching clips off of FB. Pathetic.

Mindfulness

I don’t know anything about mindfulness other than keeping your mind on what you are doing in that very moment, and not allowing your mind to leap ahead or distract you with something else.

So I need to read up on it. Because it really works on those PTSD moments where you find your anxiety simmering at the top of intolerable. I was able to deal with noise so much more efficiently this evening, and yesterday, because I was trying that one simple part of mindfulness. I did not multitask unless I was cooking more than one dish at a time. No laundry during dinner or helping kids with art while cleaning. No lecturing a kid while packing up for the next day. Just one thing at a time.

If I started to look at the clock and mentally run through the list of things left undone, I shut it down. I told myself now was not the time. I am busy with something else. It really helped.

My PTSD specialist had mentioned it to me as a new treatment that was catching on, teaching patients to practice mindfulness. I need to learn more. This is as neat a trick as that breathing thing, where you lower the CO2 levels and drop your heart rate.

I am so lucky that I can do these things. A few weeks ago I felt like I would never get better. I have hope, now, lots of it.

Maybe I am not doomed to be a person controlled by triggers. Maybe I can have a life.

Quiet!

I do not know what to do about my need for quiet. Sometimes I need it very badly. It feels like a trigger. Too much noise for too long makes me angry. So does whining, or high pitched vocals.

This is hard to curb for some children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. They might laugh very loudly, or scream with disappointment. My son will scream loudly to protest untruths, stories, or factual mistakes. He does not want his reality misrepresented. His laugh is the loudest in the universe, I swear. All my children are very excitable, especially about policing each other, in video games or at the dinner table, wherever they are, they have to loudly correct each other, and then yell a tattle to me.

It feels awful inside, like a jumble. I get confused, I cannot focus. The worst will be that I lose my temper, yelling for quiet. I have taken to clapping my hands, instead. It works better than yelling over yelling children.

Our abuser was the same way, he could not stand laughter or crying. It is not fair that mental illness can be passed on like this. It should not be contagious. Am I still afraid of his reaction to noise, or is this my own? How can I tell?

I already take a beta blocker. I get so irritable from the noise in my home that I daydream of space to get away from it, or some sort of medicine that will make me less sensitive to it. I thought that being triggered repetitively would lessen the symptom. This happens daily. Why am I not less reactive? Today I am more so. I can hardly think, I can barely follow logic.

I am just getting a handle on it, because they are quieting down. This is what happens when they miss their afternoon recess. I need to remember this when I pull them out of daycare early for appointments. Take them to the park or something.

I want it to go away. I don’t want to be like this.

Blogging Blind

I do not actually know the ins and outs of running a blog. I have two. Technically three, but the third has no posts in it at all, and I created it one day because WP would not let me back in here until I had made another blog.

One blog is about my children. This one is about everything else. Only once have I posted the same topic on the two, when it was relevant.

I do not know how to blog properly. I do not know how to reference or link, and often I forget to tag.

I came from livejournal. That is the sum total of my blogging knowledge, is livejournal from fifteen years ago.

Today that aforementioned cross post was referenced by someone else on my other blog, and my views shot through the roof. I had more views today than in the history of my blog, it seems.

I do not even connect this blog to that, though I suppose I ought to.

I post what is bothering me, or what tries to form in my mind when I am driving. Because if I do not, it is lost, and also because it continues to bother me. Once I write it out, my mind can move on.

I don’t even back these up. I suppose I should.

I do not do awards, because I do not know how, and also because I do not have time to write out what I need to and do someone else’s request, too.

I have been invited to guest post, if I provide a picture, and I have not even yet learned how to cut and paste into here.

I suppose I should learn what I am doing, so I can do it more efficiently. My apologies to anyone who feels slighted by my lack of blogging etiquette, I just have no clue what I am doing. It is not personal.

Thank you for reading,

Last Time with the PTSD Specialist

Today I met with the psychologist for the last time. He said a lot of nice things, and told me I was handling my son’s violence correctly, too. Which was good validation that I did not know I needed until I heard it. I felt as if I had taken all his practical advice, and had learned what he had to teach, and that if I waited any longer to switch back to my talk therapy, that it would just be a delay tactic.

I have to talk about my life to get better. In coherent large pieces, not jokes and short references. I have to remember it, relive it, and go through it again, in order to rob the memories of their untouchable, powerful status in my brain.

My life is not extraordinary. I don’t hint around and give bits and pieces because I am building up to anything. I do that because I have PTSD, and I do not want to remember.

I have to. I am going to force it. Because if I wait until I am ready, it will be too long, with too much time wasted reacting to a past that should be behind me, and not in the forefront of my brain. I don’t want to be emotional about things that are not actually related to the past. Triggers are a huge hindrance to parenting.

The more progress I make, the healthier I will be to deal with the trauma when he (our abuser) finds us. I don’t want to be paralyzed by fear. If he is coming, he is coming prepared. I have to be ready. I have to be thinking clearly, not seeing myself trapped and powerless, held hostage again, as in my nightmares.

Today one of the caregivers at the daycare brought in her wedding dress. She is marrying in two weeks. Marriage is not attractive to me, so when I got over my shock (I really like her), I told her I only received one piece of advice at my wedding. At any of my weddings. I told her she should never follow it, as it is the worst advice to give a bride.

¨Keep what happens between you and your husband between you and your husband.¨

My son was listening. He is five. He says ¨Because your husband, I mean, my daddy, he attacked you, that is why this is not good advice, right?¨

I tell him ¨Yes, because if you are not safe, you have to tell someone about it, don’t you?¨ He says yes and turns back to picking out his lollipop, which is an involved Friday ritual.

My son can talk about it. He has PTSD, too. It has taken him a long time to get to this point. I should be able to reach it, and I have to show him we can heal.

Today On The Mountains In The Cradle of Civilization

These are the cousins of my children, dying on the mountain. ISIS has been culling the Yazdis. They have been killing the men and selling the women and children. This is Sunnah. That means that the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, has done this very thing before, and it was immortalized. It was immortalized because Muhammed is believed to be a perfect human, chosen by God to lead people onto the right path and therefore into Heaven. Everything he did has been written down and read over a million times, to be emulated. That right path is called the Sunnah, and ISIS is comprised of Sunni Muslims. The Prophet said Islam was perfected in his lifetime. Nothing new can come after his death. This effectively seals the religion into the dark ages.

What they are doing now is exactly how the Al Saud tribe seized power in the Arabian Peninsula and declared themselves to be royalty, about a century ago. Kill anyone who does not believe as you do, who does not swear loyalty to you and your ideology. And they could, because they had superior arms, as does ISIS.

So. This has been done before. To the Bani Qurayza, a Jewish tribe. That is where this began, in Medina, fourteen hundred years or so ago.

The world has seen this previously elsewhere, and more recently. It happened to the Armenians, the Jews in Europe, the natives of anywhere that were overrun by superior arms. We could go on, and list Rwanda and the Congo, and talk about Pol Pot or the Cultural Revolution in China. But the point is that we are supposed to stop this sort of thing. Not allow for it again. Is that not why we have the UN? Is there any difference between Nazism and Islam?

Did you read what I said at the beginning? Did you read that this is Sunnah? There is no escaping the history that the Prophet left for all of us. This is his legacy, to insist that the ¨traitors¨ and ¨apostates¨ and the unbelievers remove themselves from existence, or pay an exorbitant tax, called Jizya, if they want to live. Oh, and swear obedience to the ruling power.

No money? Your men are slaughtered and your women are sold. Your children are sold. What are they sold for? To live in servant’s quarters and play with children and cook meals? Don’t be naive like that. ISIS is tapping into the oldest profession in the world. This is for sex slavery. They have been selling Christian blood, you know. To wealthy Saudis. Now they can sell women, too. Did you know many Kurds are blonde? A very popular haircolor on women right now, I am sure they realize.

The parents on the mountain are watching their children die. They are deciding, right now, sex slavery for my boys and girls, or death? What would you decide, for your children, for your wife, for your mother?

These are our cousins. The Nazis have come for us, this time in Iraq. No one stopped them.