Everyone focuses on the wrong word…

4:34 Surah An-Nisa
But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them.- Sahih International Version

In my opinion the key in this ayah is “fear”, and indeed I have never seen it without that word. Fear is not proof or witnesses or even any tangible thing. Fear is a man’s paranoia, his personal issues, his deep-seated insecurities, his mental illness, his worry, his stress. Fear is the justification, here. Fear alone makes it permissible to beat your wife.

Everyone looks at “strike”, which is often translated as “beat” in English versions. I have seen that word picked apart, worried over, given alternate meanings, historically analyzed, excused, justified, and explained away. Daraba, the root of it. To hit.

The ayah is not simply a license to hit, as they claim and also deny, depending on their sympathies. It is a license to use fear itself to justify physical and moral authority over an adult female.

You can reach your own conclusions. You know what mine are.

So I am out, and now you know.

I Thought About It..

One of the side effects of stopping my daily hormone pill is that I became less afraid. Being less afraid made me more outgoing. Being more outgoing made me feel more lonely…
I toyed with the idea of joining a dating site. I even wrote a tiny blurb and put a photo out on a site that is very very low traffic.
Then I went and read the profiles of the men in my selected age group (yes, my own age group!).
There was one very long profile on there, very well written. The guy was not a model, and that was fine with me. What I liked was his writing. One of the things he mentioned was how he had kids and it would be a long time before he introduced anyone to his kids and he expected the same. This makes sense, anything less is irresponsible.
This also makes dating impossible for me. I can’t afford the sitter. I deleted my profile.

Festering..

I admit to having some unhealthy unresolved resentment about my relationships.
My first husband was promoted because I did most of his homework while he was at work.
My second husband did work while we were together but I pitched in a 100% of my income to support him and his siblings while they were attending university. They never had to worry about anything. When his parents handed us money I used it on their medical bills or put it into my in-laws accounts. I never took it for myself. I tried to keep his family living at the level they were accustomed to, and it was a huge mistake on my part. I never thought he would divorce me, I thought we were in for life. So when he did divorce me, I took nothing but what I went in with, which was my possessions and his debt (he years later paid it off) and a car loan.
My children’s father I put through vocational school, and paid off the cost for eight years-three of them after I left him- because it was in my name as well as his. Letting it fall behind meant that they would look for me, to collect. Finding my information on a joint account means he can access that information. It was my responsibility, AND my safety.
It all seemed like a good idea. You invest in your family, right? My second husband and I even had a deal, and his entire family had heard me say that I would go to school when they were done, like taking turns supporting each other.
I was a skiptracer when I was younger. I spent all day, every day, finding people to collect on their debt. It’s a habit I retain, unfortunately.
Today I found my ex-sister-in-law’s new house. It is worth so much money that I could buy about six houses with it where I live. I paid for her living expenses for her first few years here. I am not jealous so much as I am angry. With a house that big, she must have children. Do her children get told no for just about everything they want, like my children do? Does she have to juggle daycare fees with swimming lessons? No.
I am the drowned fisherman they all used to get out of the water. I was so stupid. I should have secured my own fate before tying it to theirs. Now I have to watch my children being raised below the poverty level because of my own mistakes. I am enrolled in community college but I work so much I don’t know how long it will take me to finish. I haven’t even started, yet. I still have to test in.

Don’t Ask For Help

Don’t put a general plea out there for help if you don’t really want it.
This is what I do for a hobby, is help women get free.
If you really are trapped in a house etc etc I can help you. But if you are just pissed off because you want to marry some guy and your father won’t let you and the laws of the country you are in require his permission…
Don’t ask.
I won’t help a woman trade jailers.

Always a Rod McKuen Fan

I sing for people I can’t have
people I meet once and will never see again.
It is for me a kind of loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

I make words for people I’ve not met
those who will not turn to follow after me.
It is for me a kind a loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

It is for love that I live all alone.
Because the lovers I imagine
are safer then the ones I’ve known.

I make rhymes for people who won’t hear
some who will not turn their faces to meet mine.
It is for me a kind of loving.
A kind of loving, for me.

Rod McKuen

Juggling Class

I joked with my babysitter about going to the meetup the other day when I walked him to his car, joking about who I am and what I talked about. “I hope I was polite enough,” I told him. “I am too thuggish for polite and yet too polite to be a thug and I always think I offend.” “I know, me too.” He means himself, that he has the same issue. I don’t even have to say anything else. We laugh. What else can we do?

Today I worry to a member of this organization that we are not reaching people who need us the most, with the vetting and the way we do meetups in restaurants – usually more expensive dining. “Not everyone can afford dinner out once a month.” Were my words. “Surely they can, just once a month?” He asks and then says “Maybe I am out of touch?” He is out of touch. I tell him so, without fanfare or surprise. He proves my point.

It would cost me a month’s pay to attend every event this year – using the cost of this first meetup as the average. I am still going to go. I will miss some events from weather, unavoidable where I live. An understandable excuse.

The Empty Spaces Inside Me

I seem to have lost my online friend. He no longer talks to me and I can’t blame him. I miss him a great deal, I feel like a limb has been lost.

Sometimes it is hard to come to terms with the fact that I am older and I am alone and will remain so.

Just when you think you have accepted being alone someone makes you feel like you might have some hope of sharing a bit of your life. Not necessarily with them, but because they find you decent or attractive you think “Maybe someone out there WOULD like me and be willing to put in the work.” When they stop paying attention to you that hope seems to die as well and the grieving process begins all over again. Luckily it doesn’t happen often to me.

It makes me feel overly dramatic and self centered, both things I abhor.

Last night I attended a meetup with others who have left the faith. I didn’t hold back much, and though it makes me look crazy I just let it all out in the open, my experience, what has happened to me, the effects. I didn’t want to let it out in pieces or wait for later. I want to listen more than I talk when I go to these things. I did not name names, though. It is SO EMBARRASSING to be myself, to have made the choices I made and to have to own it. I joke around a lot but there is so much shame under there. What kind of crazy person gets involved with the people and the movements that I do- by choice rather than by birth?

I really liked these people. They are not necessarily people who have lived like I have, they seem a bit sheltered, which makes me happy for them. Probably they have nice families who have looked out for them. It was weird to greet and leave them without the customary rituals common to our former religion, I might never become accustomed to foregoing that. I missed them immediately, as I walked away. I get attached quickly, often without reason. It makes me a great wife and in-law but it’s not much use with everyone else.

I left the children with a sitter, and I think this is the first time in 14 years that I have gone to meet up with strangers. It is certainly the first time I have left them with a sitter to do something that had nothing to do with them or their issues. The first in over nine years.

I will go again. I don’t know that I will be much help. I am not skilled with small talk or conversation, I do better in emergencies, better when working. Maybe they will put up with me, if I am lucky. Perhaps I will get better at social cues. It is hard to pick up cues from sensitive, educated people after so many years spent in isolation. Five years in American culture does not prepare one.

There were four other people there. That is how hard it is to leave the faith in this area. Their membership seems to be less than ten. Other chapters in other cities always show more.

I will never again automatically be treated like family by perfect strangers and never again will I do the same with others. There is no sisterhood for me, no shared faith, no comforting words. I am an outsider and it breaks my heart. Everything was easier when I belonged. When I belonged to a family, to a culture, to a community. I am not comfortable anywhere else and it is no more.

I can’t replace any of it. I don’t think there is any substitution.

Birth Control – Published on Both Blogs

I have cysts. I have them in the usual place, the ovaries, and also I get them on my skin, where the skin is thin. Behind the ear, in front of the ear, armpits, etc. It’s more annoying than painful. Pain is something I tolerate decently, but if I can avoid the cysts I would rather.

When I was with my abuser I could not get medical care. I was covered for pregnancies only. After the pregnancies they would give me low estrogen pills which I suppose worked well enough. They gave me these because I was breastfeeding and those were supposed to be tolerated well by the baby and not interfere with breastfeeding. So I was effectively pregnant in some form or another for about five years.

I never lost pregnancy weight. I had my pregnancies pretty close together. Two of my kids are a grade apart and the baby has one grade between her and the next oldest. I got pregnant, had the baby, breastfed, got pregnant before weaning and repeat. So I was never suspicious of birth control pills playing any part in my weight gain. I couldn’t get out to exercise often. I was allowed some walks but not too many and not too far.

I was always starving. Normal for breastfeeding and malnutrition.

When we escaped I let the birth control lapse but I was still breastfeeding the baby. I fed her for about nine more months after we left and then it got too hard with working to keep it up. She was twenty months, anyway. The boys got two years and some. I felt bad but my circumstances were so different. She did not fuss much.

As soon as we escaped the weight started falling off. I was able to get outside, I was not so hungry, and I attributed all of that to our changed life.

When we were relocated by the District Attorney I kept losing weight in our new place. I lost a lot of weight, I was nearly my early twenties weight when I was able to focus on my own medical care. I got the children looked after first, and with eight appointments a week and a new job I just put myself last. Who wouldn’t? So when I went in to finally see an OB/Gyn I did mention the cysts and she put me back on birth control. She put me on them all the time. No weeks off. No periods. Yay! Ummmm, no. But I didn’t figure that out til later.

This is so boring, really, but it’s context. So after about three months I started gaining weight again. I was starving, all the time. I was stressed out, tired, short tempered. At this point I was about a year and a half free. We figured it was my PTSD. Sometimes it hits you after a delay, sometimes dissociation keeps you from remembering. Sometimes you are in survival mode and only get around to feeling your feelings after you hit real safety.

I went with it. I started on beta blockers to help me slow down and stop overreacting. That took care of half the issue and then quitting coffee helped me enough to feel nearly normal. Not so irritable and crazy.

Last holiday season my son got the flu and I couldn’t leave the house to get the birth control pills. There was a holiday, they were closed, I had to wait a week. You are supposed to wait a week if you miss a few days. That was the best week of my last few years.

The pain stopped. The intense hunger turned off like magic. I was no longer a slave to the stove. My caloric intake was reduced by a thousand per day. I was logging, and it was ONE THOUSAND less calories a day. No more obsessive cravings. And I was so chill. Kids got into a fight? Pull them apart and send them to different rooms, have a chat. No problem. Not my usual MO. I usually have a bit of yelling first. I didn’t know what it was from, it didn’t register until I started back on the pills and my pain and irritability started up again.

I threw them out. Okay so I have them in a bag in my car to go to the medicine recycling box at the local Sheriff’s. You know what I mean.

I live like a nun. I don’t need these pills for the usual reasons. I got some cysts. I can take it. I lost four pounds. I stopped being afraid of being found. It doesn’t seem possible now, for some reason. I started talking in therapy. I don’t do so much of a standup routine in there anymore, now I tell my therapist what happened. I got my knee fixed, my cabinets rearranged, my room tidied up, my closet sorted. Shit I put off for months is getting done. I am blogging more. I am feeling more. I am having symptoms of dissociation. Not sure if I like the last one, but it feels more real than not caring. I sleep a lot less. I wake before the alarm, and sometimes I have to take melatonin to fall asleep.

This is all from birth control. I wish I had figured it out years ago.

Consolidating Power

I spent my therapy session explaining political history and party loyalties and background of my ex’s country of origin to my therapist. The entire session, and still I was not done. But she did not know, you know, WHO he was. She does not take notes on our sessions, she is afraid to enter them into her database, since my identity is supposed to be concealed and her system is linked up to cloud.

Not that he is famous, outside of the borders he fled.

But today I read the news from there and his party has mended their rifts and taken up arms again.

I don’t want him to gain any power, from anywhere. I don’t want him to gain support or get organized or start to use his rank again for anything. I want him to stay penniless and addicted to his vices and far away from us-forever.

I don’t want to worry that he is coming for us.

Dissociation

So here is my theory on the past few weeks of crazy:
Hearing someone was in love with me and not confronting the issue immediately led to a loss of taste. Dissociation. Extreme stress.

This happened immediately after I was overwhelmed with emotions that did not fit the situation. PTSD emotional flashbacks caused by a trigger.

So what happened was some sort of inner tape went on replay. Emotional flashbacks that lasted days. Then I reacted to the stress of this skew in reality by dissociating (losing my taste) and that caused me to not want to eat at all. The lack of calories kept me in the stress reactions and also nixed my ability to sleep. Like: What? We are starving? Must be an emergency!! No sleep! Need to be alert! My really experienced stress hormones kicked into overdrive and would not calm down until I force fed myself a healthy amount.

The morning after I wrote a post on it, the morning after I had a conversation with him where he assured me he had zero plans to visit me, I woke up with the tape off, and my food was food again instead of tasteless cardboard.

I have dissociated before, the year after I left I did not even once recall any abuse or abusive incidents. I had a few dreams of being afraid but no recall was available to me. I was just surviving, trying to take care of the kids and starting over from nothing.

So I can’t say I don’t have dissociation any longer. I think I do. I thought one could only have dissociation from childhood. If that is true, I wonder what happened to me? The therapist calls it emotional neglect. Surely that is not enough to create dissociation.

I knew dating would be a bad idea for me. I am so glad I don’t try. Not everyone is going to wreck my life or kidnap me- but apparently my lizard brain believes the opposite.