Friday, July 31, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 35 - A Letter to a 'Friend'}

I've mentioned others' responses to all of this before.  I've given examples here and there.  Today I'm going to share an email I sent back to one of these 'others' that I speak of.

His name has been changed here to protect his identity.  But, 'Donald' is just one of the many people who have responded with similar thoughts and words.  Donald has been a friend of mine since before I even knew Joel.  We were tight.

Donald knew Joel too...and he sent a message to Joel at the beginning of July after it came out that Joel had been continuing to lie to and betray me, and I chose to continue to be open about what was going on with us.  Donald's response to that is included in my email here.  Joel sent him an email that admitted that it wasn't a good idea for Donald to stick up for him right now...that he really had 'betrayed me in many ways over and over the past few years.'  And 'encouraging him to apologize' to me.  Donald sent an email to me saying that he was sorry for talking about me to Joel.  He asked me to forgive him and said it wouldn't happen again.

I appreciated that.  But, these things also needed to be said.  I pray that it made him think...and I pray that it will make some of you who think like him really ponder what you are doing.  
donald, this is michawn.  you said this…
~"Hello Joel, this is Donald.  I had read part of a post of Michawn's a while back, and I commented and told her it was weird to post stuff like that.  Then today I just read a post of hers.  Honestly she sounds like she's lost her mind completely.  I am really sorry you are having to go through this.  I wish Michawn could keep her mouth shut and stop self destructing and alienating herself.  I will pray for you daily, I am so sorry.  You are probably a saint for staying married to her.”~
and this (after joel simply said that things were very difficult and that he shouldn't have lied and done things behind my back)…
~"Don't kick yourself Joel, Satan is the "accuser of the brethren".  You and I are both just sinners that are forgiven and washed white as snow, clothed in His righteousness.  Lucky for me, my wife isn't bashing me and my family to all our friends.  As far as the way you get treated I don't care if you've been cheating on Michawn all along, it doesn't make anything she does any less rotten.  You are such a good guy and I have all kinds of respect for you.  It seems glaringly obvious that Michawn is eaten up with self righteousness and bitterness, and she wants you to divorce her so she can be "vindicated" so to speak by religious people.  One thing is certain though, even if your own family and Christian friends tell you to divorce Michawn, they have no idea the pain it will cause.  So I want to encourage you to simply do your best to do what's right.  In the long run, you will be very happy you did.  I always remember those cool MTN bike rides when you'd school me on a junk bike, and then we'd have a great prayer time.  You have an amazing relationship with The Lord, and no matter how lousy things seem he hasn't gone anywhere.”~
you might be thinking to yourself right now, ‘why is she doing this?  this just proves my point further.  i said i was sorry.  she needs to just get over it.’  
the problem with that way of thinking is that it doesn’t actually tackle the problems at the root.  it doesn’t actually address the reasons you were wrong for doing what you did in the first place.  just saying you’re sorry and sweeping it all under the rug doesn’t address those beliefs that you have, those root/core beliefs, that directs you in such a misguided way.  
you mention memories of joel.  you mention what fun you guys had, the special times.  you mention his amazing relationship with God…present tense.  you mention that he is such a good guy…present tense.  even though you’ve spent no real time with him in over a decade.  
what do you say about me?  that it sounds like i’ve lost my mind completely.  that you wish i would just keep my mouth shut.  that i’m self-destructing.  that i’m alienating myself.  that to stay married to me would require a sainthood.  there is more about me that you mention that you have accepted as truth, but i think you get the picture.  
it’s interesting to me…why no memories of me, donald?  why not remember who *i* am?  you know…that girl that you liked to hang out with because she was cool…because it was basically like having another fun dude around.  the one you did things with like wakeboarding.  the one you didn’t mind just asking to go somewhere because you knew it wouldn’t get weird…we could just be good friends.  the one you told pretty private things to…because you said it was easy to talk to me.  the one who, when you had a wedding to go to in dallas, you knew i could ride along and just be fun for the day.  easy breezy.  
if i seem different, donald…why would that not be a red flag for you?  why would that not concern you and make you want to reach out to me instead of bashing me into the ground?  why would that make you stop being a friend to me?  
donald, i don’t really use touchy feely language.  don’t get hyper emotional.  don’t take things too personally or make mountains out of molehills.  i am still *that* girl.  
but, if i did use touchy feely language, i would say that your reaction to all of this has…hurt me.  it’s hurt me badly.  
sadly, your reaction to all of this is status quo.  it’s the way counselors react, it’s the way pastors react.  it’s just…the reaction. 
it damages. 
it doesn’t matter who the wife is in the situation.  it doesn’t matter what she’s like.  it doesn’t matter if she’s a person who has never overreacted in her life.  it doesn’t matter if she actually always makes molehills out of mountains instead of the other way around.  none of that matters.  she will be accused of all of those things in every meeting and every counseling session.  doesn’t matter what *proof* she has of what she is saying…she is the one who will go down.
no matter who she is, she will be made out to be crazy, to be hyper-emotional, to be a trouble-maker, to have ‘lost her mind completely,’ and all kinds of other things.  
the husband will be made out to be a saint for staying with her.
why would you automatically assume that joel is innocent and i’m to blame?  why?  you knew us *both,* donald?  you loved us *both.*  
sadly, this is what ‘friends’ and the ‘church’ do to women who are being sinned against in a marriage.  they beat them down even more…until all they can do is leave and stay quiet (because when they talk, they are only accused of more).
a friend of mine calls it ‘the man code.’  it’s funny…even on the things that joel has admitted, instead of being held accountable and walked through natural consequences that come with those things, he has been praised for his ‘honesty’ and admired for accepting his failures.  believe me…he has never been ‘accused’ by anyone.  doesn’t matter if they have all the proof in the world and he’s admitting it.  
i’ve done nothing wrong.  i’m not crazy.  i’m not bitter.  i’m not alienating myself.  
but…i will not leave and keep quiet.  not only is what joel has done wrong…these reactions are wrong.  reactions like yours.  reactions that, without even any questioning, accuse and bash the wife.  
if your *only* beef with me is that i went public…well, if men in the man code, the church, our ‘friends' had actually held him accountable for what he’s done and mentored him towards right things in the first place, we would not be in this position.  had someone…*any*one...come to my rescue, i would not have been forced into that position in order to save myself.  
that could have been you, donald.  instead, you chose to believe the lies of the enemy and assume those things about me and bash me…someone you knew, someone you loved, someone you called friend.  
you could have done that, not only for my sake, but for joel’s sake too.  
you chose differently.
you say you were wrong to talk about me in your conversation to joel.  you said you’re sorry and that you won’t do it again.  
sadly, that’s not the root problem here.  sadly, the problem is that you believed the things you were saying in the first place.  
This was written the first weekend of July.  At this present time, I still have gotten no response to this email I sent him.  Again, I pray that it at least made him think about his perspective and the reasons behind his actions (reactions).  And I pray that any of you who have the same inclinations will really listen to what the above email says, examine yourselves, and realize the error of your ways.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 34 - Comp to Egal Marriage Video, True Colors, My Babies}

I'm posting more regularly this week.  I posted yesterday if you missed it, or any of the posts from the past few days, check them out.  I got a message just this morning saying what an eye-opener yesterday's post was.  So...don't miss out on something that might help you.  

Today I am going to just share three things really quickly...again that I shared on Facebook in the past week.  The first is a really eye-opening and educational video.  The second is something that needed to be shared in response to others' responses.  And the third...the bottom line is that I have some out-of-this-world children.  They are amazing.  And I'm so grateful for them.  

So...let's get started.

I posted the video above on Facebook last week with the following words:
i listened to this a few months ago. listening again tonight. crying all the way through it again. soooo much i relate to. soooo much like us. praying for this kind of revelation, the kind they our marriage...and for all couples.
There are so many things that are so much like us here.  She has giftings that don't just fall into the 'following/support' giftings.  He is a leader, but doesn't have the giftings/personality that falls into the typical patriarchal type leader.  And patriarchy is what complementarianism, even in its most mainstream form, promotes.

He was leading...and doing that the only way he knew how.  She was trying to follow along...even when it was killing her.

Thankfully, he saw 'that horrified look on her face' (you'll hear that part in their story).  Thankfully, he saw and felt like he couldn't keep doing that to her.  Thankfully, as time went on, he saw what the lifestyle they were living was doing to her and to their marriage...and he stopped.  Joel has never done that.  Joel, and his counsel, just continue to see it as a failure on my part...a failure to be the 'biblical woman' God creates us to be.  A failure on my part to follow.  I let satan in, they say.

Please watch this.  It is very very eye-opening.

I posted this picture with these words:
this is so very true.
if joel should ever really actually finally see this all for what it is and the blinders be removed...if that happens and he starts to say the same things i've been saying for years now...all of you people who were supposed to be *for* me who haven't been...all of you family and friends who, for instance, only 'like' something i post after joel 'likes' have shown your true colors already.
you've shown them all along. but esp. in the past 3 1/2 years. and of that, many of you *esp.* in these past 3 weeks (ohhh, how you've shown your colors). you've not only shown them, but some of you have put your colors on display as if raising them up on a flagpole.
you made your choice. so...if Joel ever comes around to the's too late for you.
**you should have believed *me*...not waited for joel to say it.**
again, there are people in everyone's and close friends...who are *supposed* to be *for* them. no matter what. *even* if they're in the wrong (which...i'm *not,* but even if they are). *even* if you don't agree. waaaaay too many of you were not/are not *for* me. you've raised those flags of your true colors, even if only by remaining silent. and i've seen them. so you can stop taking your cues from joel and *then* 'supporting' me. that's not support. won't work. too late. you can stop thinking that if/when this ever 'blows over,' things will be back to normal with us. they won't.
i don't hold grudges. but, when i see true colors like you've shown, i know what i need to do. i resolve to protect myself and my kids from you and your harmful, very wrong ways. ‪#‎notbackingdown‬ ‪#‎resolve‬ ‪#‎imteachingthembravery‬ ‪#‎imteachingthemunconditionallove‬ ‪#‎imteachingthemconflictresolution‬ ‪#‎imteachingthemtofightagainstinjustice‬ ‪#‎imteachingthemwhatfamilyreallyis‬ ‪#‎imteachingthemwhatatruefriendis‬
Truly...if there has been a pattern of you doubting me or opposing me in my life, no matter what (for instance, even if 1>you haven't even asked me about the situation, 2>you choose to not get the full story by asking and trying to understand, or 3>regardless of the facts and proof you are presented with that clearly show that opposing me would be wrong yet you still choose to do so), then it's just time to part ways.  If you do more damage in my life than good, that is the only option.  There's nothing unbiblical about that.  It's not a forgiveness issue, it's not a lack of grace.  In fact, it's actually the biblical thing to do.  If you don't agree with that, you need to read your Bible again. kids...

Ahhhh...the bright lights in all of this.  The people who love and support and really do see truth (I mean, they are here...they see it...they know).

I posted this picture (you can click on it to enlarge it) with the following words the other day:

i really do have *the* most incredible kids. really. they have *all* shown such love and care to me through all of this, always...each in their own way.
one of them today came to my room where i was eating a bit of lunch and said she had brought me a little encouragement. she had made me this bracelet! y'all. !!  (insert lots of hearts here) ;)  
 my kids were already awesome. but, when i see how they've grown through all of this, i'm just in awe. *this* is how you care for others. they know.
this is a quote from my famous friend (or she will be if she keeps saying things like this). my children just completely embody this...
"We have been invited into the fellowship of the suffering so God can grow our mercy and compassion and help us grow brave about speaking up against injustice on the behalf of others." -- Ali Elam
so proud of them and who they are. so grateful for them. ‪#‎inlove
They are truly the most beautiful people I know.  

There is so much more to share.  I will continue to post information regularly.  It is helpful to me...but, I've heard from so many of you that it is helping you too.  So many of you relate.  I'm so so glad it is helpful.  That is the point.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 33 - Couples Counseling Not Recommended}

Keeping it relatively short tonight.  Will post again probably tomorrow.  Just some stuff I posted on Facebook in the past week (with some extra discussion below) that I want to post here.

I posted this a week ago with this link about how typical couples counseling isn't recommended when there is any type of abuse going on:
a friend sent me this link last night. unbelievable. i asked her if these people had been following me for the past few years...that's how spot on it is.
"Attempting to address abuse through couples therapy is like wrenching a nut the wrong way; it just gets even harder to undo than it was before. Couples therapy is designed to tackle issues that are mutual. It can be effective for overcoming barriers to communication, for untangling the childhood issues that each partner brings to a relationship, or for building intimacy. But you can’t accomplish any of these goals in the context of abuse. There can be no positive communication when one person doesn’t respect the other and strives to avoid equality. You can’t take the leaps of vulnerability involved in working through early emotional injuries while you are feeling emotionally unsafe — because you are emotionally unsafe. And if you succeed in achieving greater intimacy with your abusive partner, you will soon get hurt even worse than before because greater closeness means greater vulnerability for you."
 These are some small excerpts that particularly grabbed me from that link...

"...many Christians believe that its sole goal is the full restoration of the marriage. Instead, the rightful primary goal of therapy is the genuine safety and emotional well-being of those who have been victimized, and only secondarily the transformation and potential restoration of the abuser."

"Unless there has been deep heart change, any apparent outward "progress" will not likely be sustained. The behavior will sprout up again like a weed that has been lopped off at soil surface and not carefully extracted at the root level. This is part of the cycle of abuse. If the wife allows her husband to come back to the family home based on his promises to do better without lengthy and solid proof of inner change, it may be nearly impossible to get him to leave again if the abusive attitudes and behaviors come back."

"Even if the wife is not fooled, it is too easy for the husband to fake his maturity or progress in front of the counselor. Either he can persuade the counselor that he wasn't really the problem in the first place or that he has sufficiently changed."  In the link it gives a scenario where the husband might intimidate the wife beforehand and convince her not to speak out about what is really going on.  That has never happened with us...Joel doesn't engage in that kind of abuse.  But, he wouldn't need to anyway...because the counselors have all believed him at his word...and not believed me when I insisted that yes, he was (is) the problem and that no, there had not been any progress whatsoever.  They just didn't believe me, which goes back to the issues of male bias, gaslighting, the shared responsibility lie, and the just really scary complementarianism theology.  Also, another factor, as I shared with someone the other day...Joel started talking to others about all of this, and me, from day one (starting in January 2012).  But of course the things he was saying were things like ‘she’s depressed’ ‘she’s not herself...there’s something wrong with her,' etc.  So...many people had been hearing for over a year or 2 that I wasn’t ‘believable’ because of my ‘altered state.’  So many people doubted me by the time I actually started talking about it (August 2014).  I had already been discredited over and my very charming and very 'concerned' husband who 'only had my best interest at heart.'  I mean, with that being the case (smh), why wouldn't they believe him?  And why wouldn't I be discredited in their eyes?

"The counselor may attempt to establish rapport with empathy for the husband's concerns and complaints. If he accepts these as a contributing factor to the abuse, he may inadvertently tip the already unhealthy imbalance of power even further in the husband's direction. The counselor may also encourage a reinforcement of traditional gender roles so that the husband will "man up" and decide to protect his wife and children. In an abusive marriage, this can be wrongfully interpreted as a sanction to exert even more authoritarian control. That's like putting the fox in charge of the hen house."

"Then too, the abused wife is often pressured by the counselor to forgive and forget. She is warned to never consider divorce because that is supposedly a cardinal sin. It's all on her if this doesn't work out, because her husband is obviously "trying to do right" by coming to counseling. She must be just a bitter wife who isn't willing to work on her problems, right?"

"The wife may be accused of tempting her husband toward adultery if she refuses marital intimacy due to lack of trust. If she has insisted on him moving out, she may be criticized for "kicking him out." She may be grilled as to how she provoked the abuse through her inadequacies, and chided for being disrespectful of her husband's leadership in the family. The assumption is that if she would just show more respect, he would naturally love her more and not abuse her. Unfortunately, in these cases, an attempt to show "respect" to her husband may serve to validate his craving for power and enable more mistreatment. And, as her husband hears this inquisition of his wife by the counselor, he has that much more to hold against her and over her."

"The counselor may also sense that the wife is depressed and assume that this is either the cause of the marital problems or that her depression is twisting her perceptions about what has happened. Could it be that she is actually depressed because she's in a horrible marriage, rather than the other way around? Or it could be true that she is just *very tired and burned out* (emphasis mine) because she has exerted herculean emotional and physical effort to make tough choices about boundaries, whether he still lives in the home or not. This stress takes a huge toll on a woman's body and soul. On top of that, now she is made to feel guilty for not being "joyful in all circumstances." Instead of the relief and affirmation she so desperately needs, she gets piled on with more burdens and accusations. What is worse is that in a couples counseling session, the husband picks up on this theme and uses it as leverage to make his wife feel even more incapable of dealing with "her problems." One more bomb for his arsenal..."

"If the wife is savvy enough to catch onto and protest about anything inappropriate in the counseling session, the penalty for her resistance may be condescension from the counselor, who has a vested interest in protecting his professional reputation. If she shows visible distress or raises her voice, she may be seen as irrational or too emotional, and told to calm down. Her mental stability is then in question, which may make the counselor doubt what she shares. The husband can then smile and nod his head in agreement with the counselor. See what he has to put up with? No wonder he gets so frustrated at her! Never mind that he might have been subtly baiting her and pushing her secret emotional buttons so that she would lose it in front of the counselor."

Is this hitting home with anyone else?  There's so much more good stuff in the link...and lots of suggestions as to what to do and what counselors can be aware of to help these specific cases.

I couldn't believe these examples, of my reality, written write there for me to see...yet I wasn't even the one who wrote it.  Just. Spot. On.

Please...if these things have happened to you, know that we are obviously not alone.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 32 - Plowing, Simplifying, The Gerasene Man, and Wounded Soldier}

Before we get started, let me just say that yesterday was a super hard day.  We'll take 1/2 of a baby step forward and then about 10 giant leaps backwards.  That is the trend.

Example:  Yesterday Joel told me that he had applied for a job.  This is a job that we had discussed before and I was not on board.  He applied anyway.  He says that if he gets offered the job, he is going to take it...he doesn't care if I'm on board or not.

That just doesn't sound like what a marriage should be, does it?  That's not how marriage works.

But this is what I've been dealing with on the daily since January 2012.  This is what it's been like.  He just keeps moving, just keeps going...plowing over his wife and children.

And that has been the counsel he's gotten just keep going and making the decisions, regardless of how I feel about it.  He is, after all, 'the head.'

You guys, no.  That's not right.  What it actually says is "Submit to one another in love."  Joel hasn't done that in years.

Yet...I'm the one who gets blamed.  And he's 'a saint for staying married to' me.  

The people who think that and see it that messed up.  Their belief systems doom them to living unbiblically and in an anti-Jesus way.  Again..."submit to one another in love."  When one is down, you reach down to pick them up.  When one is hurting, you stop and nurse them back to health.  When you both aren't on board for something, you pause and wait until you reach an agreement.  It's a partnership.  You're a team.

Submit to one another in love.

But no...hasn't been that way here in years.  Just wanted to illustrate to you just what I'm dealing with here...just what it's like...and give you a picture of just how hard it is.  And has been...for years.  Now...moving on...

First, just a couple of quotes that are so relevant.

"Everything is more complicated than you realize and the only way you 'get' that is through experience."

"Onlookers try to simplify and coach when they don't even understand what it's like."

If you've never experienced something like what I'm going through, it's amazingly complex.  We still have people who suggest things like 'have you tried reading The 5 Love Languages?'  And while they are well-meaning, it's just so incredibly MUCH more complex than that.  Like, wow.

One friend said, "You can not possibly understand another person's circumstances until you've been there! This is why passing judgement on anyone is not right."

It's again where empathy has to come into play.  Empathy...not sympathy.  If you don't have empathy as a part of your life, you need to get it.  Or, if you just can't come up with it in your life...stay away from hurting people.  Period.

Now for a few things that I've posted on Facebook...

I posted this a few days ago with this link.
i hesitate to even share this. why? oh, because i have been falsely accused of having mental disorders these past few years. there *is* a stigma surrounding mental illness...but, that's not why i refute having one (or a few...i've been accused of several). i refute having mental illness *because i don't have one!* lol. (truly. the people who have accused me of these are not 'professionals' anyway and are just grabbing at straws.)
but...i do want to share this. because knowing about mental illness *is* important. but, also...everything that is said about mental illness in this article/written sermon can also be said about *any* challenge you feel stuck in and *anything* you are faced with that is out of your control.
my situation is not an internal is very much external. it is very much circumstantial. do those things affect you internally after a certain point? for me, yes...but not in the form of a mental illness. people say, 'well, you alone are responsible for you' if i'm not literally yoked to another human being.  :)  so, barring unyoking myself (which believe me, some have suggested i do...and is definitely a possibility...and is one of the reasons why we actually separated last summer), yes...i'm stuck in this external situation. these things that are happening are not at my hand or up to me. i have no control over what someone else does. 'well you have control over how you react'...yes...and i've done nothing wrong in how i have reacted.
this article brings up lots of great points. first of all, she describes how 'off' and 'not herself' she feels after traveling. to that i definitely relate and say that if she felt that 'off' after just a short-term trip with only herself to be responsible for, you can imagine how 'off' and 'not myself' i felt after *living* that way, in a complete gypsy lifestyle, completely unstable, for *years*...and with 4 little ones to boot. that. was. my. life.
no wonder i needed a break. a break i never got. a break i still haven't gotten.
she says after a week of recovery, "But all week long, I had the luxury of knowing – it’s going to get better in a few more days. I’m not acting like myself, I’m not thinking like myself, and I’m not feeling like myself, but after a few more days, I’m going to be back to myself again.
"And then I thought about all the people who don’t have the luxury of knowing if or when or how things will possibly get better. When the thought of feeling 'like themselves' seems completely unattainable."
in my situation (in 2012 anyway), feeling like myself again *was* attainable...but it wasn't allowed. it's still attainable...but the damage that has been done since 2012 is extremely extensive.
she talks about the gerasene man who had demons (luke 8:26-39). she says, "This man is trapped by a situation over which he seems to have no control, he is ostracized from his community, and when Jesus asks his name, we learn that he has no identity outside of these demons. They define how he spends his day, how he responds to others, and even how he names himself."
it does define you. and how you spend your day. how you respond and the plans you make. stay in a situation long enough...and that situation becomes your life. not because you are weak, not because 'you just need to focus on other things'...but because that is reality. why try to pretend it away? instead, it needs to be called what it is and dealt with. Jesus knew this...thankfully this man had Jesus Himself to come and listen to what was defining his life and *believe him* and deal with it for him from the *very real* problem that was plaguing him.
he was trapped. he was ostracized. not unlike what happens today...what has happened to me, and what happens to so many others who face hardships. another quote:
"If someone in our congregation goes to the hospital, has cancer, or needs surgery, the meal train usually can’t be made fast enough. If someone in our congregation has a mental health diagnosis, needs therapy or hospitalization or treatment, we don’t make them casseroles. More often than not, we don’t even talk about it. And with the stigma associated with mental health issues, even today, most of these people remain isolated, going through the experience completely on their own."
true of mental illness. but, also true of many other things that could be inserted in that very paragraph...marital problems, or any other issue that is 'just not talked about,' even when the person experiencing it *wants* to talk about it. those people remain isolated...and go through the experience completely on their own.
why do i talk about it? why do i refuse to be silent? many reasons, but this is one: "The problem is, when you and I aren’t willing to name our challenges, they trap us in and shut us off from the hope of resurrection. When we tend to hide or not talk about mental health challenges, or *any sort of challenges we’re facing,* that’s what leads to shame, and stigma, and isolation. But I love what Brene Brown, a social work professor and author in Houston, says about shame. She says that shame can’t have words around it. When we’re brave enough to name whatever demons we are facing, they suddenly don’t have the power over us that they once had. ...Friends, we’ve got to find a way to muster up the courage to name our demons, just as Jesus did, and just as Jesus can empower us to do. And we can’t name them if we’re not brave enough to talk about them. That may not mean that they immediately leave us. That may not mean they ever leave us. But I firmly believe that the God-given courage to name our challenges breaks down the shame that tries to keep us locked inside ourselves."
i love that Jesus saved the gerasene man. i love that Jesus not only saved him, but Jesus crossed boundaries into a place no 'self-respecting jewish rabbi' would ever go to save him.
not only that, but Jesus used the gerasene man mightily because of his experience. this man was commissioned by Jesus Himself to share the Good News...even before the disciples were.
"Perhaps the first step to crossing boundaries is talking...Being brave enough to voice and name the challenges we face. Providing a safe, non-judgmental space for others to share their stories with us, and for them to know that they are loved, heard, and cared for in this place.
"Unfortunately, in today’s text, the community around the man isn’t able to respond in this way. In fact, they actually ask Jesus to leave them, the text says, because they are seized with great fear.
"And it is the un-named man, the man whom people call the Gerasene Demoniac, who Jesus sends off to declare what God has done for him. Ironically, he is the first person in Luke’s gospel whom Jesus empowers to share the good news. Even the disciples, up until this point, have not yet been sent out."
there is purpose in suffering. suffering in our own lives...and there is purpose for us in the suffering that we see around us. but, in order for those purposes to come to fruition, we have to be honest in our own suffering. and, when others are suffering around us, we have to be willing to hear their honesty, believe them, and walk with them in it without judgment.
I am so praying for Jesus to come Himself or for someone acting on His behalf to come and to save me in this situation that is out of my control.  Thank you for your prayers, too.

I also posted a beautiful song.  A cousin of mine commented, "Michawn, this is you and you will rise."  Amen.  Don't have any idea what my life will look like or if I will be married or single again when I rise...but I will rise.
Wounded soldier on the ground, 
Broken, bleeding, beaten down, 
Feeling defeated, feeling not needed, 
Alone, abandoned on the battleground! 
Wounded soldier, faithful friend, 
Beaten down by those you defend, 
Your heart once open, now pierced and broken, 
Needing hope to rise again!
Let me bind up ev'ry wound 
Let me comfort ev'ry pain 
Let me carry you to a place of rest, 
Shelter from pouring rain 
Let me hold you! I can be right where you are! 
Let me hold you in the shelter of my heart! 
When you're weary from the battle and all hope just seems so far, 
Just remember I am with you faithfully guarding your heart!
While the battle rages on I will hold you through the night, 
In the shadow of the cross I'll be your Champion; fight your fight! 
Let me hold you! I can be right where you are! 
Let me hold you in the shelter of my heart!
Wounded soldier, you'll rise again! 
You can trust me. I always win! 
When you face harshness or total darkness, 
I'm ever watching, faithful to defend! 
Wounded soldier, faithful one, 
When you're fallen I'll help you run! 
With ev'ry testing I'll bring you resting 
And say to you, "My child, well done!"
Let me bind up ev'ry wound 
Let me comfort ev'ry pain 
Let me carry you to a place of rest, 
Shelter from pouring rain 
Let me hold you! I can be right where you are! 
Let me hold you in the shelter of my heart! 
When you're weary from the battle and all hope just seems so far, 
Just remember I am with you faithfully guarding your heart!
When you feel you can't go on, you be weak and I'll be strong 
With the power of my strongest love from my heart's deepest song! 
Let me hold you! I can be right where you are! 
Let me hold you in the shelter of my heart!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 31 - Defeating Complementarianism, Gaslighting, and Victim-Blaming}

I've posted a few more things on Facebook directly.  I want to update the blog here with a couple of those things that I posted...and then at the end I'm going to give a resource that was given to me.  I'm not even completely done with the first session, but it's incredible information that I can so relate to.  I'll explain more below.

I posted the following on Facebook last week.  This is the article that went with's an excellent article.
~these quotes (this one and the one down below) are taken from an article i read this morning (link below)...
"The problem is that we continue to be ignored because our voices have been determined to be of less authority and therefore of less value. Complementarians are quick to argue that men and women are equal in value, but when one gender is stripped of power, while the other holds all the power, “value” becomes a patronizing word."
i never thought this was the case...*until it happened to me.* until what i had to say wasn't nearly as important as what my husband has to say. until, no matter what he's done, the shift is always turned towards me and the question asked, "what is it that *you* did that drove him to that?" the answer is always 'nothing.' but that is unacceptable. therefore, the focus lands on me completely and it becomes, 'wow, wonder your marriage is failing. you have a wife that just won't accept any responsibility.'
the 'male bias' is alive and real (among men *and* women)...and is super scary. it was evident in *every. single. counselor* we went to (8 in total)...that's when i was still living with all of this in private (which i did for over 2 1/2 years). when i started talking about it, of course i got even more blame. as my friend puts it, "In Christian circles there is a strong unspoken message that women can't be outspoken or blunt or discuss their husbands."
this is the common mindset (and people have actually voiced these very things): "oh, your husband has been lying to your face for the past 7 months and controlling circumstances covertly in order to manipulate you into getting what he wants? that's because you expected too much of him. that's because you asked him to do something that was too hard. no wonder...poor joel."
after it came out about his lying the past 7 months, this was the response he got from a friend of ours...someone who i knew even before i knew Joel...someone i was really tight with who i honestly always thought would have my back. he said to joel: "honestly, she sounds like she's lost her mind completely. i am really sorry you are having to go through this. ...You are probably a saint for staying married to her."
no accountability for anything he's done. it's all on me, always. and it's not because i'm speaking out about it now, so you can't blame that. remember, it was that way with the counselors when we were trying to deal with it in private too.
on the rare occasions that joel admits his wrongdoing, saying only very basic things like 'things are very difficult. i should not have lied,' he gets responses like, "don't kick yourself joel. satan is the 'accuser of the brethren.'"
do you see how insane that is? really.
i've found that men (and women, but esp. the men) have often complained to joel about me...their complaints are in how i've handled *his* sin. no mention of his sin, mind you. no, it's all about how i've been wrong in how i've handled it.
and as far as them complaining to my husband about me, as my friend put it, "Why do Christian men think it's ok to judge and attempt to regulate other women? It's like the comp theology empowers men to offer accountability to all women. So stinkin' superior." 
another quote from the link:   
"Complementarian theology focuses on treating women really well and with much 'value' but little to no respect. Many would argue with me about that, but I receive emails weekly from ladies who are caught up in both marriages and churches that say they 'value' them, but silence their voices, leadership gifts, and attempt to mold their personalities to someone more 'biblically suitable.'
"It crushes my soul as I read these women’s stories. I want to tell them to run for their lives, but their greatest suppressors are their greatest loves – their husbands and their churches. I know it is not that easy. I know that it is painful. I have been involved in situations like this and there are costs to deciding you have had enough."
i have decided i've had enough. after *years* of this...i've had enough. i'm not announcing divorce or anything. but, this treatment will no longer be my church, in my marriage, in family relationships, with 'friends.'
my voice matters. what happens to me at the hands of others matters. when ignored or bashed when *i've* been wronged...i will not back down. and i will continue to run for my life away from what i've experienced, from these mindsets, from anything or anyone who puts less value (by their actions) on others.
i was accused of posting 'feeling sorry for myself posts' recently. do i think this is a really, really wrong thing that has happened (and continues to happen) to me? definitely. do i wish someone would do something about it? (*don't tell me i'm not trusting God to do something about it...*we* are His hands and feet on this earth...i should be being helped in this situation, not being accused and blamed and joel should be held accountable instead of people saying to him 'poor joel, you're a saint' or 'satan is the accuser'...yes, God relies on other *people*). it'd be great if someone actually held the right person accountable here.
but, i'm not 'feeling sorry for myself.' that is not my motivation for posting, just fyi. this is a real problem. yes, i want to share my story, even now. but, my life and what's going on in my life at the moment is just *one* story of how God's people have it wrong. people need to see that. *you* need to see that. and it needs to be addressed, so this doesn't keep happening to others. so that it *never* happens to my daughters.
change needs to happen. and *that's* why i post these things.~
And then I posted the following.  I posted three different links to go with in the original post and two in the comments section.  You can find those here, here, and here.  They are so very informative, each one of them, so please check them out.
~"have you ever heard of gaslighting?" my friend said a few days ago.
and then it was clear. i couldn't believe they actually had a *word* for what i've experienced, basically all my life, but esp. after marriage and kids.
it's crazy, because i am one of the least 'sensitive' people you will ever meet. yet still...the people in my life have consistently gaslighted (not just joel, but others as life is filled with gaslighters). can happen to anyone.
"that's just your perception" (can't tell you how many times i've heard this in the past few years)
"why are you making this a big deal?"
"why are you being so sensitive?"
again, the crazy thing is...*i'm not a 'sensitive' person.* lol. i don't wear my heart on my sleeve...never have.
here is just a little blip (link below) about gaslighting and what it is. in the comments, i'll link to another article that gives a bit more info about stages (although not linear stages) of gaslighting and more details in general (each article has typos, which drives me crazy...but, just look past them this time). sad, manipulative, abusive. this is so dead on.
thankfully i have actually never really doubted myself. that first year and a half of our marriage declining, i did think and hope that i could fix it...that if i was just more disciplined, if i just got away and connected with God more, that if i just kept trying to follow my husband, etc., maybe the tide would turn. after that first year and a half though, when nothing worked and i was just simply more exhausted and run down and even *more* barely able to function, needing to be taken care of more than ever (instead of blamed for needing a break)...i never doubted myself again. what i was asking for was extremely logical and normal and needed. i just wasn't being given what i was asking for, what was logical and needed.
all because it was thought to be just 'my perception.' i was 'making mountains out of molehills.'
and that is how gaslighting works. for the past 2 years it hasn't worked on me though. i think that's why some people have such a hard time with me. because i won't just take it. i won't just sit quietly and let people manipulate me. i won't just say, 'yes, maybe it is just my perception.' or 'yes, you guys are right...Joel is the best man alive and has done nothing wrong, i'm so lucky to have him' or 'you're right...i'm just making a big deal out of nothing.'
again, this doesn't just happen within our marriage. but, within this trial, in talking about my marriage, others have accused me of many things or just ignored me and not cared for me...they have ignored this huge tornado that i've been in for the past few years. at times i've been struck by lightening within that tornado (a specific traumatic event has happened)...and they want to just pretend like i'm on some beach somewhere soaking up the sun. they want to be able to neglect me here in the tornado and lightening, or even speak very painful words or think horrible and untrue things about me, and then just pretend like everything is honky dory. because...i should just overlook it. i shouldn't make a big deal out of it. again...gaslighting. that is what that is. but, i'm done receiving that kind of treatment in my life. and the broken relationships are there to prove it.
i see through the gaslighting. hopefully you can recognize this here too.
anyone else have experience being gaslighted? it is all too common, sadly. and very, very destructive.~ 
Gaslighting is a huge problem.  Huge!  I heard from several of you saying that you've had personal experience with it too.  I've known many women who have experienced this within their marriages.  And it's actually really common within certain regional cultures and within certain belief systems.  So, even I had experienced it and been around it all my life to a certain degree, even before these issues arose in my marriage.  I just never knew there was an actual name for it.  I never knew that it was something that people recognized as wrong.  How incredibly sad, right?!?  How validating to see that is wrong!

While gaslighting isn't an all-male activity, it's definitely more prevalent as a male-to-female offense...and definitely more prevalent within a belief system that is hierarchal, which is why the subject of defeating complementarianism (the first subject above) is so important.

I've posted more on Facebook since this.  I will post those things here on the blog soon.

But, those other resources I wanted to tell you about are available here.  It's three different teachings that are free to download and they are rocking my world right now.  Soooo good.  A friend of mind who knows my situation sent this link to me and said she thought they might help me.  She was so right!  The titles of the teachings are "Shame and Abuse," "How Hierarchy Leads to Abuse," and "Facing Nabal: Working With Men Who Abuse."  As I said, I'm only partway through the first one so far...going slowly and taking notes. But, some of the things being discussed describe the situation I am in exactly.

And it also touches on possibilities of why the people around me have acted the way they have.  It's quite common for the victim in a situation to be blamed...and that is a common defense mechanism at work in the accusers.  Such wisdom that I've never heard before.  But, totally makes sense.

How does that play out?  It's common with any type of 'bad thing' that happens.  But, the speaker gives an example of some work he did with a group in Africa.  This is from my notes:
the woman who is raped and brutally injured in the african village and then bullied and mocked and shamed by the other women of the village…they are blaming the woman for her rape…that way as long as they are not like that woman, they won’t be raped.  the truth is that they are just as much at risk of being raped by the militia, but they can’t deal with that reality…so they blame her and say that it must have been something she did.  they are acting out of their own fears.  it is their way of having some semblance of control.
So very sad.  But, so very, very true.  I can look back and see examples of this all around me my whole life.

Just because we can explain it, doesn't make it all.  But, it does give insight into why they react that way.  Now it must be recognized and changed so that the victim is no longer blamed.  Ever again.

I highly recommend these teachings given by very, very highly qualified and experienced professionals.  They cover many different subjects, not just victim-blaming...that is just the one excerpt that I chose to write about here (and the reason I put it in the title, although so much more could be said about that subject).  These teachings are very eye-opening and helpful.  Why not check them out?  (just add to cart and fill out the information; at the end it will say 'no payment required' and allow you to download)

I'll be back in a couple of days to catch up here some more and give you more of an update.  Thanks.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 30 - Lies, Deceit, Unfaithfulness, and the Shared Responsibility Lie}

Remember my last blog post?  It was titled "It's Here.  FINALLY!!"  Well, very looooong-awaited break wasn't here after all.  It wasn't time, unfortunately.  Again I am denied any time for healing.  Instead, just more trauma and damage for me.

In order to catch up here on the blog, I'll share here what I wrote on Facebook last Friday:
this is not going to be what is considered 'mature' at all. but, i'm done caring. it's not going to be what some of you think a good little Christian girl should do. you are going to think that i'm completely inappropriate and bitter and nasty. again...i'm so done caring. sometimes it is just time. time to call people out. time to stop being someone's (or a few people's) punching bag. time to stop protecting people who do wrong over and over again. time to stop being the 'nice' one. so, don't read if you don't want to see something that might upset you. because, it probably will upset you. but, it's time.
also, if you choose to comment, the only comments allowed to remain here will be comments that are supportive and encouraging of *me.* support and encouragement for joel or his family, or any comments that voice any kind of disapproval with this post...those will be deleted. yep...if you can't tell, i'm 'all done.' here we go...
today i found out that my husband has been just bald-faced lying to me since december. *december!!* think he's so innocent everyone? think he's so charming? charm is soooo deceptive.
he's been talking with his family...that same family everyone thinks is just soooo Godly and almost-perfect. that same family that was so divisive. that same family that said completely horrible and false things about me. that same family that never took the time to talk to *me* about *me* (yet didn't hold back in talking *about* me)...or believe anything i said. that same family that gave joel incredibly wrong counsel...that he followed. that same family that, after joel and i got back together and when we tried to work things out with them, they refused. when they refused, we knew we had to cut ties with them for our own health.
apparently that was too hard for joel though. why do i say that? because he started secretly calling his parents and siblings. *secretly.* completely behind my back.
they *knew* that he was doing it secretly. that's a great family, right? a family that continues to encourage their son/brother to do things behind his wife's back? especially when he so very badly betrayed her before and they are trying to work things out...that's awesome, right?
so, many of you will think this is the *wrong* thing to do. many of you will think that it is, like i said, completely inappropriate. but...
it is time to stop just being patient and nice. it is time to stop protecting people. it is time to march forward assertively and bravely...and not take these things quietly and lying down.
joel's family, i'll just tag a few of you...Judy Ebersole, Rose Martin, Judy Groff, Kendie Miller...some of you may not even know about this. but, you *need* to know what your 'perfect' family members are truly like and what has been done...and what continues to happen. and, you can let joel's parents and siblings (they were blocked months ago so cannot see this) know that, as long as joel is allowed to live under my roof, we will have *nothing* to do with his family. enough is enough. and 3 1/2 years?...that is *quite* enough! i'm sorry they have all ruined it for you extended family. most of you i dearly love and i know you are innocent in all of this. the 'casualties of war' so they say. all of you family who we are still friends with on here, we will allow time for you to see this, and then you will be blocked. boundaries must be set...and actually kept this time.
but chin up, family...if this proves to be too hard for Joel to do, then guess what? he's all yours again. we'll see what happens.
Then last Sunday I wrote this and shared this article:
thank you for the sweet and encouraging comments on my last post. and for the sweet messages and texts i got. i truly appreciate each word from each and every one of you.
Joel commented on it too and admitted his wrong. a few people 'liked' his comment. i deleted it.
here's the problem...he continues to screw us over and people just admire him when he admits his wrongs. but, nobody ever holds him accountable or asks him, 'ok, what are you going to do about it now? are you going to stop? you need to stop!'
then, he later recants those admissions of wrongs in private with me. and nothing ever changes. i think you can see that by now.
no wonder divorce happens in situations like ours. nobody ever comes to the rescue. nobody ever even tries.
a dear friend of mine posted this today. i can sooo relate.
my husband is not an angry man. but, he is accusatory (and his family, counselors, and the church have followed his lead). and he is never held accountable for his wrongdoings.
"Abuse doesn't always manifest as a black eye or a bloody wound. The effects of psychological abuse are just as damaging."
"My church mentors tell me to read books and listen to lectures on praying for my husband and understanding his needs."
"He's a master at deflection. His actions are no longer the focus; I'm the one on trial now."
all you church people, all you 'mentors' and 'friends'...does it make you uncomfortable when i talk about this publicly?
do you know what should make you uncomfortable? that nobody has held him accountable, so he has been allowed to do this and destroy our marriage more and more with each passing day. that nobody has come to our rescue. that people like mentors and pastors and counselors have turned their focus toward me (who has proof of his wrongs) and away from him (who has only accusations and charm).
i know most of you are accusing me even now. 'i can't believe she's saying all of this.' 'Facebook is not the place for this!' 'i thought they were better than this.'
well, *i* thought the church was better than this. i thought our friends and mentors were better than this. i thought pastors and counselors were better than this. i mistakenly thought someone would come to our rescue. to my rescue. it's been 3 1/2 years. no one has come. so don't turn up your nose at me. instead, take a look in the mirror. 
Those were the first posts I'd ever put on Facebook directly...I've always only posted updates about our marriage on the blog and then linked to the blog posts on Facebook.

About this, some have implied, or even outright used the words, "public shaming."  Believe me when I say that this was not at all about 'shaming.'  That's not how my brain or motives or heart works.  But, after years of enduring these things silently and with no real help, what I won't do is continue to be silent.  It's not about shaming at all, but it is about exposing sin and continued mistreatment.

"The truth is like the sun:  You can shut it out for a while...but it's not going to go away."

The lady who is raped...when she speaks out and says what happened, is she publicly 'shaming' her rapist?

The child who was molested...when that child speaks out and tells, is that child publicly 'shaming' the molester?

The battered she 'shaming' her abuser when she speaks out and refuses to stay in that silently?

No...they are exposing things that are very unhealthy and very hopes that it will stop in their own lives, that it will prevent others from being hurt by those people, and to inspire others to speak out against wrongdoing too.

That is what is happening here.  To accuse me of anything less makes me wonder about those accusers' own hearts and brains and motives.  How scary that that is where their thoughts go.

If the people in the above scenarios have tried all of the usual ways of speaking out and getting help, when nobody comes to the rescue in private and the behavior still continues and they then make the choice to use whatever means possible in order to *stop* the behavior...that is not 'shaming.'  That is surviving.

Don't mistake that.

Even before those two posts on Facebook...even before I knew about the lying...I wrote this last Wednesday:
I write this with a sad, but resolved heart.

Joel and I tried.  We really did.

Almost anyone else in *my* particular shoes would have called it quits a long time ago.

I held on.  I worked through it, I forgave, I explained, I communicated, I helped and guided...and then I did it all over again...then all over again again...then all over again again.  That has been the cycle of my life for the past few years.

It is one thing when someone can come to the realization of some things they are doing wrong, repent, and then be able to, after working on it, stop those things.  It won't be immediate.  But, it should come.

It is quite another thing when that person comes to the realization of some things they are doing wrong, repents, and then just keeps doing those things...always having a hard time even *recognizing* those things in their life, always having to be told when those things spring up again, always having to be convinced of their wrongs.

For the person on the receiving end of the constant offenses, it can be very detrimental.  And there comes a point when that person just gives up and says, 'no more.'  When that person has held on for years already, has been through so much mistreatment, has stayed in spite of slander and inappropriate behavior and abuse...that person deserves to then be taken care of.  For that person, instead of being taken care of, to be expected to then keep putting up with those behaviors and *keep* teaching and guiding and convincing the other person how to live and be a good person and good husband and good partner and teammate...that is not right, that is continued abuse, and that can't continue.  It's incredibly unhealthy...and there comes a point when you have to just stop.  When you have to admit that, if that person hasn't 'gotten it' by now, they won't ever.

That has finally happened.  I've finally admitted it.  If he hasn't come to a place of understanding his actions/thoughts/beliefs by now, he won't.
So as you can see...I could tell something was wrong already.  Things were back to bad already.

I didn't finish that post.  I just left it there.  We worked it out...again.  I forgave...again.

Crazy...I didn't even know the full extent of things when I wrote that.  I hadn't even found out at that point about his lying and how he had, like a sociopath, worked meticulously to cover up his continued communication with his family for 7 months.  How he had gone so far as to spiritually fast food for 21 days in order to get closer to God and in hopes of getting more answers about how to make his marriage better...the whole while lying to my face.  What a legalistic ritual...what a way to 'look the part'...all the while sinning drastically against the one with whom he was supposed to be One.  That kind of religious spirit literally makes me sick to my stomach.

But, can tell even here by my account of what happened even before I knew about the lying that this all has nothing to do with a 'forgiveness issue'...or a lack of forgiveness (which I still get accused of).  When the sin and wrongdoings continue and continue and continue and's not a question of forgiveness vs. lack of forgiveness.  And it is an incredible lack of discernment and understanding of forgiveness to even think such.

I woke up a couple of mornings ago to a message from a friend sending me the link to this article and saying this..."One could see how Joel's relationship with his family parallels an affair."  So interesting that she said that.  This is what I sent to a trusted friend last weekend after I found out about Joel's continuous lying for the past 7 months...
when i think of all the times during the past 7 months that he had to play off a call from them when i was in the room and call them back later.  when i think of all the times he erased phone records and deleted emails and texts...with the sole purpose of keeping those things from me.  when i think of how his family attacked me on Facebook publicly, twice, in april...and all the while he had been, and was, talking to them behind the scenes.  when i think about how, the 2nd time they did that, we had just finished a week-long intensive time of reconnecting and things seemed 100% better...when they attacked that very day, he wanted to call his sister to tell her to stop and i specifically said not call her.  we talked about it at length...and i did not want him to call.  the agreement was that we would not talk to them for a year (i still thought he was abiding by that agreement).  he could comment back, but not call.  i found out this past friday...he called her.  when i think about the times i blogged about how we had started fresh, we had severed some ties that needed to be severed...and all the while, those ties hadn't been severed at all.  his family was just sitting back laughing and content, saying to themselves, 'no...we have him...not you.'  he and they were in this together...i was on the outside.  he and they were conspiring against me, and that had been going on since january 2012.  when i think of the times on mother's day and father's day, when i thought that surely he was having a bit of a hard time with it, but he didn't say anything and i almost did, but decided not to bring it up.  why didn't he say anything?  why wasn't he having a hard time?  because he called them on mother's day and father's day.   
it was all so deliberate and intentional and premeditated.   
he has a mistress.  and it's his family.  
i told him this weekend that he had two choices.  he could divorce them or he could divorce me."
So far he has chosen to divorce them instead of me.  (*Yes, it's 'family.'  But, if people are toxic to your life or marriage, you have to let them matter who they are.*)  So, the divorce part of this article does not yet apply to us...hopefully it won't...we'll see.

But, let's talk about this idea that what has happened with Joel and me can be equated to an affair.  Was it a sexual/physical affair?  No.  But, it's not only physical affairs that are wrong.  Emotional affairs are also wrong...and very detrimental.  I've spoken to many people who have lived through affairs...many who say that, in many ways, emotional affairs are even harder in some ways to overcome.

A friend of mine who has lived through affairs in her marriage said to me after this past weekend, "Michawn, what is happening with Joel is so much like an affair.  He is choosing that over you.  And has been for years now.  He is not on your team.  He is betraying you over and over and over again.  He is being ONE with them, not you!  When he leaves them to be with you, he feels like he is betraying them and grieves.  When he leaves you to be with them, he doesn't feel that.  That is the opposite of what is right."

So very, very true.  And because of that, there are soooo many things I relate to in the article I was sent a couple of mornings ago.  Read the link above and I think you'll be able to see why.  Here are just a few things I relate to...

-Concerning this guy's focus and work: "What really jumped out at me is care for the wronged person in a divorce. Contrary to popular opinion in certain religious circles, there can be a wronged person who did not contribute to the divorce. I realized that there are many people in evangelical circles who need to hear this."

-"Dave endured an ecclesiastical trial for divorcing his adulterous wife. This broke my heart. Not only was his world turned upside down due to his former wife's infidelity, he had to face another trial by his own denomination. He understands the pain of those who have had to withstand such cruelty." Believe me when I say that what Joel has done and continued to do has turned my world upside down.  But, also believe me when I say that I've been 'on trial' since the news broke, with family and 'friends' if it wasn't enough that I was being pummeled into the ground by my own husband...the 'church' and family and 'friends' had to join in on the pummeling.  It's been a definite eye-opener.  And I'm still experiencing this...I will experience it even more after I post this, I'm sure.  It has almost meant the end of me.  I pray I survive.

-He mentions exposure to 'toxic Christianity'...boy have I been exposed to so much of that the past few years!  And it can see toxic Christianity all in the comments from last weekend even...some of which I even decided to just delete.  Wasn't going to address those things anymore.

-"I started it as a pastoral care resource to those who have found themselves in similar dire straits and for other Christian leaders interested in helping. Little is out there for evangelicals on these matters, and what is out there is often times very destructive spiritually and emotionally. My efforts on the blog are especially concentrated in correcting–as I see it professionally and personally–horrific pastoral care failures and wickedly twisted practical theology on these matters. Plus, I spend a good deal of time encouraging people as I know how important such encouragement was for me when I was in the pit."

-"I spend a great deal of time writing correctives to what I call “The Shared Responsibility Lie.” This is the idea that adultery/infidelity is partly the faithful spouse’s fault. It is not. Pastors–of all people–ought to know better as Jesus was clear such sin flows out of the sinner’s heart–i.e. the adulterous spouse’s heart–alone (e.g. Mark 7:21-23)."
**The Shared Responsibility Lie is a huge problem.  It is one of the reasons our marriage has never been repaired.  All of the counselors we ever went to were sooo busy trying to figure out what I was responsible for in the demise of our marriage...they would not/could not accept that I had done nothing wrong and had done nothing to lead to the death of our marriage.  When they can't come up with anything, they then try to make things surely I must have a disorder of some sort, etc.  If they will go to such lengths to hold their Shared Responsibility Lie, that is so very wrong and so very scary.  The responsible persons just keep going with their sin...and nothing ever gets solved.

-Regardless of the lack of a physical affair here, Joel has been, in a word, completely unfaithful.  "Faithful spouses have already been abused, in my opinion, and are extremely vulnerable after being sucker-punched by their faithless partners. Now, the pastor is telling the faithful spouse that God demands that they remain married to the person who raped their soul..."

-This..."position is not qualified with the need for complete repentance upon the cheater's part. Such repentance takes second-seat to avoiding divorce and remarriage. For someone big on matters of holiness, this is a very odd position to hold."  And that's what the focus has always been from counselors, commenters, people in general..."don't get a divorce, stay married, just forgive him, you're just going to have to move on because divorce would be worse and is not right" etc. etc.  No focus on his focus on what HE needs to do and on the things (these sins) that are causing all of these problems in our marriage in the first place.  Sins that just continue and continue and continue.

-"Such teaching also causes damage in how people see God. It teaches the wrong things about God’s heart on these matters. Such teachings alienate people from God and can damage their image of Him."  So many over the past few years, and even as recently as today, have expressed concern over this coming between me and God.  To that I say that those people do not know me very well at all.  AT ALL.  :)  Praise God I have been able to see through these damaging teachings.  Praise Him I've been able to ignore the sad and scary advice of people who hold to those teachings and instead I've been able to listen to God alone.  I don't speak out against God!  If you have thought that, then you need to re-read what I've said.  I speak out against all of the things done and believed in His Name that don't represent Him at all!!  And I will continue to do that until the day I die. kids are watching Mulan 2 as I type this.  Mushu just said, "Without trust there can be no relationship."

And that is the bottom line.

Another friend said last night, "Yeah, trust is the part you can't fake."

Do you know what else I heard the other day while watching something?  This:

"I just want to point out that I have been holding up all the walls of our house, I have been holding you up for 20 years...and I never complained.  But when I fall down on the job, for exactly 2 months, you rip me to shreds the first time it got difficult.  I won't soon forget that."

Oh how that hit home!  As just a reminder, none of this would have ever happened in the first place had my husband listened to me, believed me, taken care of me, and protected me.  I had been happily going along with our lives, no matter how crazy they were (and they were very crazy and unstable), for over a decade.  Never once did I complain.  I didn't even 'fall down on the job'...I didn't get to that point because I knew how to recognize that I needed a break, and I made him aware.  Because we were supposed to be partners, I never once thought I'd be ignored.  But...I was refused that break, or any semblance of a reprieve.  It was too 'difficult' for him to lay down his plans and expectations.

Instead of that break and reprieve, I started receiving accusations and opposition...from my husband, and then others.  That continues to this day.

In fact, the more I talk about it, the more I get accused and opposed.

But I won't stop talking about it.  Because for every 10 accusers and opposers, there's a very, very hurting all-alone woman who is going through very similar circumstances.  Or a hurting all-alone woman who has already gone through it, but she has never been able to talk about it.  Most people ('friends,' the 'church') turned against her...just like most have turned against me.  But, she knew she was in the right...and she didn't, she wouldn't, back down.  No matter what they said about her.  To hear of another person's know of another woman who is going through's healing balm to her soul.

So, our we are, 3 1/2 years later.

--Continued lies, deception, and unfaithfulness leads to more and more distrust.

--Trying to continuously find something that I've done that has caused all of this, buying into the Shared Responsibility Lie...that just shifts the focus away from tackling the real problems and what could actually fix this all.  It's ludicrous.  And it's gone on way too long.

These are the things that continue to happen in our marriage right now.

Maybe one day it will be different.

But for now, it continues.  The same things I've said all along are happening.  My story has not changed not one iota.

"Just because you choose to turn a blind eye to it doesn't make it any less true."