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.

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