How to be Christ-like

We had a grad party this weekend for my oldest. I shared something personal with a Christian friend of our family. I told her about some struggles with my youngest daughter. Instead of empathy, she got a bit riled up and told me I needed to cast out Satan. Then started talking about the culture and how evil it was. When I mentioned my daughter broke her tibia and was upset she couldn’t drive, she rolled her eyes. I walked away.

Later she asked my husband & I where we attended church. I snarkily said, “Church of the Holy Comforter” meaning my bed. She got defensive, “I’m just asking”. But I know her. She’ll write me off and act like I’m trash because I don’t go to church. She already was being super rude.

Is it not obvious to her that she acts like a religious nut? And is it any wonder then why I don’t want to attend church? I mean, if she acts like that and we are supposed friends, I can only imagine what people I don’t know well will act like.

The concept of Christ, in and of itself, is beautiful. His dying to save humanity. His selfless life. His deep love for people. But often times all I see in his followers are judgments, criticism, and pointed fingers. Empathy is nonexistent.

I hold on to the beauty of Christ however small it is right now. I don’t feel like I love God or want to pray or read the Bible, but I do recognize the goodness in His life. If God is real (which I haven’t judged against as of now), then he’ll have to swing me back through his own methods. And it won’t be from judgy church members or finger pointing Christian “friends” .

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Father of the year

We are planning a grad party for my oldest. My husband took the week off to help because he’s that kind of guy. I love him even when he decided to take on extra projects that I hadn’t planned on doing. Probably, he feels like our home reflects us, so he feels he has to get it all done before people arrive on Saturday.

I care what my house looks like but not as much as he does. We aren’t entertaining royalty. We are hosting people who are somewhat overly critical and 75% of them I don’t like. And I swear to God, I don’t not care if they think my yard or our house isn’t good enough. I’d prefer they just stuff their faces with food instead of yapping at me about my weeds in the garden.

Nonetheless, my husband decided to take on this backyard project. This isn’t the greatest photo but he’s putting in edging and weeding all along the perimeter of our fence line.

This job alone will take all week. Plus we have our house to clean, food to get, tables to pick up, and on top of it, he wants to reseal our driveway. Oiy.

Some of these things I have asked him to do throughout the year but he’s too busy. Seems like company motivates him to get it done. But if it were up to me, I would leave it and work on it throughout the summer.

Maybe I’m lazy at hospitality. I just don’t like the idea of being stressed out just to have people over. Isn’t the point to celebrate a milestone? Then why get all bent out of shape about things that are left undone? That’s life. And most things in life take longer than a week to accomplish.

My husband tends to be way more laid back than I am but not in the hospitality department. Maybe it’s because guys think of their houses and yards as extentions of themselves. These things are not who I am. They are just things I own (or that own me lol) not who I am.

I am grateful for the hard work my husband does to make things look better. It helps to have someone who knows what they are doing and who wants to do it. But at the end of the day, I hope he knows his yard and house doesn’t make him a better or worse person.

It’s his heart and the love he has for his family that matters most.

Obsessing

The last few weeks, I noticed I had been obsessively thinking about harsh words said to me. This led to various other words said to me over the past 10 years. Since it was done by two different family members recently, my mind decided to pull up instances from other siblings and nieces and nephews as if to prove their case: I was the most unlovable human on the planet.

The thing is my family has no feelings about murdering me with words. As long as they get the final say…who cares if they break me. I thought about what would happen if I wasn’t here. Would they feel any guilt about how they demean and devalue my existence with their words? I concluded they are incapable.

I realized today that I’m still obsessing about it but can’t seem to stop. Why do so many people seem to just hate me? I thought about how I avoid a lot of things now. I don’t attend family events for obvious reasons. I don’t try new experiences. I stay close to home.

On top of it, I avoid expressing myself to most people these days. All of this started because I expressed myself after my mom died and told my siblings off. They were trying to steal money, fighting over clothing and photos, and I raised my voice and told them how rude they all were. Then after that, the insults of my mental health started. I was bipolar, didn’t take responsibility, and I should’ve known better.

So when I got invited to a wedding and didn’t go, because I was still avoiding my family and didn’t want to be ridiculed, I was insulted anyway. I was rude, insensitive, a jerk.

My older sister called me unloving and told me I needed to forgive myself. My other sister said I was unforgiving and bitter.

There’s a bunch of other crap that was said, but my main solution has been to avoid and block my family from accessing me or my kids. I ignore invites. I don’t leave my familiar places.

Each time people chose to insult me or my character, I get so hurt, I can’t handle them or thinking about them anymore so I cut all ties and try to forget them.

I don’t feel like this solution is all bad. My family is not healthy. They are extremely toxic. But where I find myself in life is not so great. I avoid and isolate myself. If I get triggered, I shut down and can’t function the rest of the day. And I obsess about what they say. Most recently, I’m a bitch, I hate everything, I’m a miserable person, and I ruin everything. Whether true or not, I feel the weight of the accusations.

When I was in counseling with my husband this past week, it followed me there. This unlovable person causing more problems, ruining everything, and being a bitch. My husband gave the impression he had to walk on eggshells around me because he has his own issues with emotions… That is, they make him uncomfortable. I’m emotional but I feel wrong for feeling. Or so I’ve been told numerous times over the years.

The counselor got it. He saw how I felt like the problem but reminded me that I was healthy for expressing emotion. He joked how my husband is probably the ticking time bomb because he tries to keep it all together.

Even his pep talk didn’t help. I still am obsessing over things. Still. And I hate it. I guess I didn’t realize how much I obsessed about it until this week. And I also didn’t realize my habitual reaction was to avoid and isolate.

Besides my recent family issues, I think the hurt stems even further for me. Growing up, I was physically and emotionally abused. My older brother terrorized me a few different times, chasing me with knives and trying to set our house on fire with us still in it. No wonder no one in our family can function as adults. I don’t think I dealt with it really.

I always thought that I had. I could do adult things and be normal, but I’m realizing how much anxiety I have as an adult. Most of it is a fear of being mistreated. I’m terrified of being rejected by new people. I always seem to be waiting for the ball to drop. I struggle to look people in the eyes when I talk, I feel like my thoughts and ideas don’t matter, and I second guess my decisions constantly. My husband says I have a low self esteem. I often don’t feel comfortable in my own skin unless I’m in my house away from people who will most likely hurt me.

Honestly, I’m a paranoid weirdo who realizes I don’t like being this way. This obsessive stuff is driving me crazy. I am seeing a therapist in a few weeks and if she can’t help me, I will switch to someone who can.

I guess I’m a bit sad too. I wish I had realized sooner what I was doing to myself. Plus thinking through all of this is hard too. Knowing that I have these big fears and my solution is to hide makes me feel regretful. What would my life had been like if I had been free to express the real me?

Fighting Depression

Trigger warning: If you struggle with depression or suicide, please don’t read this post as it may be a trigger for you.

I feel on edge this week. News of the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain is heart wrenching. Today I read a post on facebook about the importance of checking up on people even if they seem fine. Kate Spade talked to her father just hours before her death and seemed happy. Sometimes it seems that the solution to check in isn’t always the help a person needs.

I have such sad feelings about this topic. My brother committed suicide in 1995. No one knew he was even depressed. Mental illness wasn’t talked about as much back then, although the year before, Kurt Cobain took his life and that made headline news. But, it was still hush hush in most circles. We certainly didn’t discuss it in our family. Church people thought people took their life due to sin, Satan, or bad lyrics in music pulluting the mind. All are ridiculous assumptions but that didn’t stop their words from hurting my family a second time.

Twenty plus years later I still feel the monster beating at my door. My daughter struggles daily with depression. I hate how dark things get for her. And the battle to find solutions seem to only work in part. Being in church made things worse for her. She felt even less human. Christians still view depression as a sin issue. I am not sure she’d ever feel loved in a church setting.

I wake up often with anxiety and struggle with panic attacks. I know I can’t control everything. I fight so hard to get her help, to support her, to keep her from dying. Some days it feels like she is slipping away. Some days it is like she doesn’t have depression. I start to battle my own feelings of hopelessness. And other days I’m fine.

Reading about these celebrities makes my heart ache. My daughter says she doesn’t want to live her entire life with depression. She says she doesn’t want to be my age and still struggle with these thoughts. But I can’t guarantee she won’t. I can only tell her to focus on this day. Can I blame these celebrities for giving up when I see just how much my teen struggles? I wonder if someday I’ll be the one saying “I just talked to her. She seemed so happy.”

That thought kills me.

I know what it does to a family to bury one of their own, thinking if they could have just done more, things would have turned out better. I know what people say, what they think, and all the after effects of suicide. I know that those left behind struggle with their own hell.

The truth is that we can only do so much. And as hard as it is to realize, sometimes a person can live their whole life fighting a disease and will die. We see this with cancer or heart problems or other more acceptable forms of an illness. But with suicide, we try to place blame on the family or on the person who took their life. Maybe we should look at it another way.

If a person has cancer, should we blame it on them for dying? Is it the family’s fault for not doing enough? Or maybe, we can agree that it is the disease and it’s no one’s fault.

I will fight… I don’t want regrets or to say I could have done more. And I hope with help my daughter survives. But I also know the possibility remains that I will lose her. If celebrities have money and access to help, support, and services yet still die, we know that it isn’t that we should’ve done more. How can we fight against a person’s own mind and the darkness they become experts at hiding?

Sometimes some things are beyond our control. And that’s the hardest truth to embrace in this life. All we can do is try but the results are not in our hands.

With help, many people do survive and live wonderful lives but the tragic fact of suicide dampens this fact. I hold on to hope in the stories of countless people who fight and live and go on to bring light into this world because they have a perspective others lack. Depression sucks but I have hope in the people who fight it and are stronger for doing so. Their light and strength help us to keep fighting this deadly disease.

God, I just don’t know

My stance on God these days is, I just don’t know. He might care about me. He might not. The Bible might be true. It might be a giant lie. God might be doing something but he also might not be doing a damn thing. I just have no confidence to swing either way. I’m not done with God nor am I a believer, at least not a wholehearted one with no doubts. I’m not ready to say he doesn’t care or doesn’t exist, but to the level he is in my life, that’s up for a ton of debate. I clearly have not decided what to believe.

My entire life has hinged on this God thing. When I was growing up, I was not lovable enough unless I was doing things for God. I needed faith and a sinless life. I never really read the Bible but the church we attended pushed this “works based religion” and I believed it. I was young and brainwashed and grew up pretty angry at God.

Then I found myself in my late 20’s still trying out this God thing. I couldn’t just walk away. So I sat in churches of a different kind that told me that God loved me no matter what. That he paid for my sins. That I only needed to believe. So I read the verses and thought I knew exactly what they meant.

Later, I attended a church that took this a step further and claimed I couldn’t even take credit for my belief. God had elected me to believe and no one could snatch me from him. But I was to be so thankful and grateful that I’d only ever want to love him and serve him. So for years, I felt guilt that I couldn’t love God. It wasn’t that I didn’t try but that my love felt forced. It was an obligation. A duty.

So we switched churches and I was told more of the same but this time, I sobbed in the pastors office. “If God created me, why am I supposed to be different? Why didn’t he just make me how he wanted to begin with?” I still felt as if who I was would never be enough.

I heard stories of changed hearts, growing in grace, loving people who were abusive and cruel because “that’s what Jesus would do. ” I knew people who adopted children, took in criminals, and didn’t press charges when stabbed by a criminal. This was how a Christian lived. Do not take revenge. Give up your dreams and be an orphanage. Or go on mission trips and start up a church. I wanted to do none of it. It all made me cringe. It just wasn’t something I felt born to do. But there was guilt associated with this because the vast majority of church people felt called. Why didn’t I?

I’ve always been a bit of a lone ranger, a person who questions the culture and societal norms. I’ve never been much of a follower. This has put me in positions where I’ve been shamed for not going with the flow. I’ve been told I need to be more humble, to love more, to try to have grace for others, and to fit in. But I don’t want to. So then I am treated like I am an evil hearted person. More shame.

I wish life was simple. If God was real, he makes himself utterly elusive and distant and only some have managed to hear from him, or so goes their stories. It seems a hard thing to swallow. Just read the Bible… Everything I need to know is in there. A bunch of verses that have been disputed over the ages. But I’m supposed to figure it out? And honestly, couldn’t have God made the text a little more clear? If he knew thousands or millions of people would rely on it for ages to trust in Him, why make it so difficult and a source of conflict? Didn’t he see that coming?

Let’s not forget how women are treated…nothing more than sex slaves and property. But within the pages is a story of God’s love for me. Why can’t I see it then?

And his people are reflections of him but they are horrible. Some use Christianity to hide evils. Abuse is rampant. Power trips are seen in every church you attend. Mixed in with the good stuff is a whole lot of brainwashing… Everything from sexual and spiritual abuse to theft to hiding criminal activity from the authorities. Yet this is who Christ called to represent him? It’s embarrassing.

I want to believe there’s a power that loves me. I want to believe my life doesn’t just end and that it matters what I do today for eternity. But I’m struggling to know it. To feel it deep in my bones. To live it and breath it. Maybe it’s because it’s just not true. Or maybe it’s because I’m not one of His. Or maybe the answer lies somewhere I haven’t seen yet.

If I just believe just doesn’t cut it anymore.

Nothing more than feelings

There are times when stress really changes me. I start to feel insane. I wonder if I should even be around humanity. Seems like I’d be better off away from everyone.

I don’t know when it started but over the past few weeks, I just feel like I don’t really matter. I don’t know if I’m just sick of being a mom or tired of no one really caring. I’m confused by my own thought processes at times.

Maybe it started when my sister told me I was a miserable person. They say even when people insult you, there’s some truth in it. Problem is I think there’s a lot of truth and then can’t seem to find any good in myself or my life. She told me I hate everything and then insulted my marriage by saying I’ve barely stayed married.

Of course, there is something to be said of verbal insults. It can wreak havok on the mind and heart. Maybe this is where I started to veer off.

There’s been a few difficulties with my older kids. They prefer to snap at me and huff off. Then I start to feel like I really don’t matter. I’m just a means to an end. If I try to get my kids to change, they are completely inflexible and take out their anger on me. Simple requests turn into stomping and snippy remarks. Maybe I’m just tired of being everyone’s doormat. So today, I walked out and went to the gym after telling my kids how I was only trying to help. I came back and they all cleaned up their rooms. So maybe I need to set better boundaries. It’s not ok to treat me like crap just because your annoyed.

Enter Facebook where everyone can sit behind their computers and be fake as hell. I deleted the thing but ended back on there. I have deep regrets. My siblings and I don’t talk much. I don’t talk to my nieces and nephews. There are a few I do, but overall, I know they are back stabbing phonies. I have kept my distance but I do try to be kind. So when they friend requested me, I decided I’d try it.

It was my brother’s birthday and we aren’t Facebook pals. He acts like I don’t exist. But despite that, his wife and I are friends. Or something. So she posted a pic of my brother and I wrote, “tell my brother happy birthday.” I didn’t have to write a damn thing. I owe him nothing. So when his daughter responded with “why don’t you tell him yourself”, I told her to suck it. No one wishes me a happy birthday and the phone goes both ways. Further, I don’t owe them my serenity. She blasted me with a bunch of garbage so I blocked her and her mom. Honestly, I don’t have time for their drama. But thanks for proving how nasty you are.

My sister in law then told my sister that it was a joke and I was being a bitch. Yeah, real funny to be attacked when I was trying to be kind. I guess my family has no idea what that is since they are so full of shit.

And now I’m back to feeling sick of life and people. I feel like people only ever look for my flaws or imagine some if they can’t find something. And it seems like I’m constantly reminded of how little I matter to most people. They think the absolute worst of me. My own family of birth thinks so little of me. Then I go home and my kids seem to hate me too. What’s the point of my life? To live in a world where I maybe matter to two people?

I do the block and delete and try to restore my sanity but most days I’m just fighting to exist. It sucks when you feel like the world is against you.

Always trying to grab on to hope until someone comes along and reminds you that you aren’t good enough.

I don’t miss them. I just miss the idea of having people care. They never did but I thought they did. And in return, I thought I mattered too. Lately I’m not so sure anymore.

Words Have Purpose

Words–seething, taking on a life of their own until they grow into a monster you don’t recognize.

It’s just words.

Letters strung together, connected, pronounced. From day one we use them.

Mama, daddy, no, yes.

We ask for what we want. We learn to say words calmly or shout them. We learn to whisper. We spend years learning language skills and definitions and English skills. We sit in counseling offices trying to analyze our feelings caused by the hurt of another’s words.

Just words? They are so much more.

They bring life or death to a sad heart. We can use our words to raise someone to greatness or tear them down to specks of dust. And while there is a whole lot of uses in between, our words will linger after we’ve said them. And so will the feelings they initiated.

I’m not as careful as I should be with my tongue. I have regrets. They are so much more than mere letters and punctuation. They are poetry to the soul; a savior to the hurting. Or they can inflict a tsunami of pain; an emotional grave.

But I will admit words have damaged parts of me that I haven’t quite come to grips with. Even the nice sounding words can damage if the intent is wrong.

Oh you are so sensitive.

I think you’re imagining things.

Are you sure that’s what they said? That sounds made up.

Just move on.

Don’t be over dramatic.

Our words tell us what we believe. And to not be believed stings as much as being called a name.

Invalidation.

Changing the narrative.

Minimizing.

Deflection.

Projecting.

Look it up. Using words to minimize a person’s feelings, shame a person for feeling as they do, or blame shifting to take the heat off themselves… all such a damaging way to communicate.

We all do it sometimes. But if you are characterized by this kind of thing, know you are hurting good people.

I carry with me decades of scars from words said to me in anger. I carry around the reminder that I’m crazy or fat or ugly or not good enough every day. And then when it’s said again, I’m brought back to the various times it was said before. I see all the faces who verbally strangled my joy. I feel the same way I did before and then add another confirmation to the pile. How can anyone ever see the truth?

Words can be spoken by others and can harm you, but you have your own super power. You’ve carried it with you since you first learned to say “mama” or “dada”, knowing they could help you. You instinctively knew to run towards them for love. And deep inside, you still have that. It is a well of love that you can give yourself. It speaks the truth.

You are amazing.

Look how far you’ve come.

You can do this.

You are brave and strong.

You matter.

You are beautiful.

You got this!

You are loved.

And you can remind yourself of how amazing you really are. Despite what others say or think. Despite how many people have tried to rob you of joy.

You can speak kindness to your own heart, believing in the truth. And the more you speak it, the more you will live it.

Use these words to resuscitate your heart. And whenever anyone tries to tell you otherwise, remember they are hurting and trying to push their pain on to you. Don’t let them.

Be a warrior for your heart. Because you matter. I believe in you.

Goodbye Family

I don’t have much family. Most of my holidays are spent with my in-laws. It’s a lot different than how I grew up…spending time with a family of 8 kids. Now my family is basically non-existent. That is, except for my triplet sister.

I’d like to say we are best friends but we aren’t. There’s always the facade of us being close. Maybe it’s intentions. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. I guess at this point I’m tired of trying to make the relationship into something it isn’t and never will be.

I guess I hold out hope and have done so for years despite being made to feel unimportant, ignored, or belittled for expressing disappointment.

When I was 25, she got married. I was 9 months pregnant with my second child. She decided not to include any family in her wedding and planned her Disney wedding which I only saw photos of after the fact. It saddened me that I was not included. Her husband’s brother & family attended. I tried not to feel upset about it, but it hurt.

She ended up divorcing that guy which was fine by me because while she was married to him, I was the evil sister who he determined was not worth talking to. She and I rarely got along. And when we disagreed, her husband encouraged my sister to think the worst of me. I always had some evil agenda or was planning something corrupt. This from a guy who habitually lied on his taxes, made my sister support him while he collected unemployment (never looking real hard for a job), and expected by sister to do his online school work for college. When my sister miscarried her baby, he told her that the baby probably wasn’t his anyway. And then she left him.

So when my sister got engaged again, years had gone by and we’d had our ups and downs, but we mostly stayed amicable. Except when we didn’t. Then she’d accuse me of being judgmental (for not going to a family function with toxic people) or said I was bitter (for staying away) or gave me guilt trips about how I had cut off family and how unloving that was. But somehow we’d work it out and I’d forget all the mean things she said. And so she asked me to be her bridesmaid and I said yes.

But, then it began. Her new fiance dictating all the plans. She wanted his daughters in the wedding on her side so none of my daughters would be in the wedding. In fact, the only family or friend she chose was me. I commented that it was traditional to have her friends and family, not her husband-to-be’s family. But I decided not to push it. It’s her wedding.

She asked to have the wedding in my yard. I said ok. But then her new man said no. So then they decided to have the wedding 1.5 hours a way in a wooded, tick infested area by the lake. She told me to pick a dress I liked. Seemed like she didn’t even care what I wore. She told me all the people who were helping.

This pissed me off for various reasons but mostly because I had offered to help a bunch of times and she apparently didn’t want my help. She blamed it on me being too busy (which if asked, was not an issue). I was also upset because the location was where her fiance and their family could stay in cabins since they owned the cabins. I would have to rent a hotel. And it was a drive for me and with our medical bills, I wasn’t able to afford that. Plus hello. Ticks anyone? Am I gonna wear a bridesmaid dress and cover myself in DEET? Ugh, the stupidity.

When I told her I couldn’t afford it, she said I didn’t need to stay. I could just drive home. So again, I was nothing more than a guest. She didn’t care if I was apart of her day or not. As long as she got what she wanted.

After this and a bunch of other passive aggressive comments she made toward me previously (saying I didn’t support her), I snapped. I told her she was an opportunist. Then I bowed out of her wedding, although she didn’t seem to care. Just said “ok”. I told her that was hurtful and she replied “omg” because apparently I’m just so irrational with having feelings.

Then today, after giving me the silent treatment, I told her it was dysfunctional to avoid & ignore conflict. She responded that I insulted her. Then told me that everyone thinks I’m a dick for how I’m acting. This told me all I needed to know. She ignores the situation with me and decided to rally up the team to bitch about me. And they all think I’m wrong, based on her narrative I suppose. I’m sure she made a point to mention her failings in the argument.

Needless to say, I don’t know if I’m the toxic party here but all will be well with her and I going forward as long as we are not in each other’s life. I’ve dealt with this shit for years and today I’m done. I’m done having my name run through the mud and her telling one sided half true stories. I’m done being punished for saying I’m hurt. I’m done being an after thought. I’m done with the silent treatment and conflict avoidance. They can all have each other.

My entire family is a toxic bunch with gossips and shit stirrers and emotional abusers. The question now remains if I am also toxic and how can I get as far away from them as possible. I know I’m not completely toxic because to ask that questions shows a sign of empathy. I don’t think any of them know what that is. They are self absorbed users who get mad when you don’t think the world of them and so insecure, they punish you for pointing it out.

I thought my sister was different but I guess I was wrong. It was a lie I believed probably to hold on to the fact that I have no one left from my family of birth. I have only me. And I hate that because it feels like I’m the common problem. Maybe I’m the toxic one and they are all great people. I can’t seem to say that with a straight face.

All I know is that I sat here today wanting to die, being reminded not just of this betrayal but the thousands like it from her and my other siblings. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of being gossipped about. I’m tired of being excluded and punished. Maybe I am a drama queen or I over reacted or I make things about me. Maybe. Or maybe I am still trying to bounce back from a lifetime of pain and it’s hard to not be triggered by another knife in my back.

Say NO to Nouthetic Counselors

Some people don’t know how dangerous they are. They sit behind their podiums, blasting their well-thought out theology, and never know how much damage they are inflicting. If they do start to wonder, they push those feelings aside and say, “It’s God’s Word. My feelings don’t matter.” And so goes the sad case of abuses all across the world in evangelical circles.

My husband and I have been going to counseling. At first, I wanted nothing to do with it because the guy is a Christian counselor. I thought,” What a bunch of crap!” So at first, I wasn’t game.

But our marriage was falling apart. I was convinced my husband was emotionally abusive because he neglected me, ignored me, and invalidated most things I said. I was about to leave him.

Some people told me counseling was worthless. Since I thought he was abusive, the thought was that he was good at convincing a therapist too. And I would just be further abused. And in all honesty, he showed all the signs of emotional abuse except it never seemed personal. He seemed to just be ignorant of the fact that how he acted hurt me a lot.

So I struggled with what to do.

Two years before this point, I had sat in a counseling office at church. The dangerous theology was spewed and believed by everyone but me. The pastor / counselor told me I was subject to my husband. He told my husband to love me like Christ loved the church. This never quite sat well with me just like “spare not the rod” never sat well with me in parenting. How can loving someone consist of a power trip, control, and one being over the other? How could God love me but then tell me I’m less than my husband because I am female?

It never made sense. And besides that, issues were never discussed. Bible verses were used to cover over “sins” but we never discussed those in any detail. I was sent home and told to submit. All my husband had to do was be a leader, whatever the hell that means.

When we left the church, I just was so angry at so many things. The teachings that I was less than. The idea that I didn’t matter without my husband. The constant invalidation not only from my husband but from men at church that I trusted.

I remember statements about other women too where the pastor said the husband needed to get his wife under control. But then there was always that love part thrown in. Like that means anything? Being willing to lay down your life in every way except control or leading the family or having to work. How very “Stepford Wife” of you. The hypocrisy was blinding.

So after that experience which dragged on for many months, I was just unwilling to go. I couldn’t take more invalidation or being told I didn’t matter. I couldn’t handle another blow to my already fragile heart.

I told myself I’d go one time. If during that meeting, I even once felt invalidated or not heard, I would be done. The meeting came and I felt completely like crawling out of my skin. Most of the emphasis was on my husbands fragility and self-worth. He talked previously with the counselor about his childhood. I listened with little empathy. Everyone has had a shitty childhood. Get over it. I thought to myself. But I kept listening. I didn’t feel invalidated but I still didn’t feel as if the root issue was being addressed.

I walked out rather pissed. Was I just supposed to feel sorry for him? All this talk of childhoods and maltreatment but little concern for how I feel. I decided I’d go one more time but I’d be more verbal.

Two weeks later I was back again. I expected this to be my last. But I shared many things and to my surprise, the counselor knew exactly what to say and how to address it and even told my husband that he was invalidating my feelings. He threw out some ideas to help us. I honestly didn’t feel like connecting with my husband or trying to work at our marriage but I decided to hang in there.

We’ve gone several times now and most times I’m not the one putting in the effort. Instead, I see him trying to change. This is huge because in the past, I was the one with the problems and I needed to change. So after seeing that for a few months… that he was serious, things have begun to turn around. I now trust that my efforts are worth something.

I often criticize Christians on this blog, but I can’t say anything negative about our experience with a Christian counselor. He has truly shown Christ in his dealings with my husband and I. It’s a breath of fresh air after our last experience. It causes me to wonder if there is a world of Christians that are actually sincere. I wish I knew more of them. It’s so drastically different than my dealings with those male pastors who believed in a man centered society where women just went along quietly. Psh.

I later learned the differences between these counselors. While both claimed Christianity, only one man was qualified to help me. The first counselor was trained in nouthetic counseling (NANC). Do a search and you will find horror stories of these so-called counselors.

One website describes it this way:

To become a Nouthetic counselor, one needs only to be very familiar with scripture and the Bible. There are no educational requirements—in fact, the idea of Nouthetic counseling is that it is done by friends, family, and fellow members of the church in an informal method, not as a type of therapy or formal counseling.

According to the Certified Biblical Counselors website (where my former pastor was certified), they offer training through videos and online courses and an exam. They also have you record counseling sessions and then review the session, critiquing your approach. Otherwise, anyone can basically counsel if they are willing to pay the fee and undergo limited training. The only way they won’t is if you are a sex offender. Oh joy.

The thing that really pisses me off is they feel they are able to handle any issue with a Bible verse. This quote was on their website regarding abuse:

In 2018, the ACBC annual conference will focus on the problem of abuse and show how the resources of Scripture equip Christians to counsel abused persons and those who have harmed them.

It’s ridiculous! A monkey with a piece of paper and literally no training should not be counseling abuse victims.

In contrast, our trained counselor studied at a reputable college and has an MA in marriage and family therapy where he underwent hours of supervised sessions and was trained on how to use scientifically backed therapies. Other counselors have been trained in DBT, cognitive behavioral therapy, and EDMR for abuse and trauma. They aren’t just given a degree. They put in hours of study and build up their practice and continue in their learning.

Of course there are counselors who suck, but overall I’ve seen a huge difference in my family because of therapy.

In my opinion, nouthetic counseling is abusive and causes more problems. It adds shame to trauma and abuse victims and is dangerous for those who should be seeking real help in the form of therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists.

If I had stayed in that church, I know by now I would’ve been divorced and my husband would still be listening to their chauvinistic BS. I’ve met people in other churches that push for trained counseling instead of nouthetic because they know how dangerous it is. I’m thankful they know where to draw the line. For these churches to counsel people with hardly any training is a sad, abusive practice. Its taken our marriage years to bounce back after their corrupt teachings. I credit the educated therapists who undergo extensive training and know how to listen and apply that knowledge in a healthy way. Without them, my family would be no more.

I Want The Simple Life

My daughter jumped off our roof the day before Mother’s Day.

A thousand things went through my head. Was she suicidal? Is she bipolar? Was she gonna be OK?

I arrived home to chaos. My son was terrified. She was laying in the grass, face covered, sobbing. My husband was on the phone.

I rushed out of my car.

“What the hell happened?” I was panicked at the scene. My husband told me she jumped from our roof. I immediately snapped, “You jumped? What the hell?!” My concern turned to anger.

Maybe it seems like I should have more empathy, but in the past year, I’ve literally dealt with way more than I can handle. Last summer, it was cutting and suicide threats. Then it was hospitalization and a month long program which diagnosed her with depression and anxiety and placed her on meds. Then she told us she was bisexual and had a girlfriend. After that, she shaved her head.

She attempted to convince her counselor she was going to kill herself again but we decided to watch her and remove sharp objects. She backed down. Then she refused to take her meds so I had her see a psychiatrist who put her on new meds. Then she jumped. And I cried buckets because it just never seems to end…all the emotional strength it takes to parent just her is something I no longer have. Plus I have two other kids and I feel like they get ignored a lot so my depressed child always knows we care. It’s downright exhausting.

There are many days I just want 18 to come. I see a lot of people missing their kids and going through empty nest but I feel like I will embrace empty nest. I will jump up and down to no longer be stuck in this emotional black hole.

My child ended up getting surgery for a broken tibia and had a titanium rod placed through her bone. It’s been a painful lesson. And we realized, she was just being a teen. She honestly thought she could clear the roof. She regrets being foolish and is suffering through pain, missing out on summer fun, and being stuck at home. I think she’s getting that she has put us through a lot based on conversations we’ve had.

My husband and I went away for the weekend. We’ve been married 20 years now. When we came back, I got depressed. I had fun just being with him. How often does our time just involve each other? Rarely ever these days. We are constantly dealing with our kids. It’s always stress. And I miss just being with my best friend.

I love my kids and always will. I sacrifice my time, energy, and entire life for them but sometimes I miss being a wife–getting attention, connecting, having fun. So we are back to life and stress and routines but I long for the day when things are boring.

Lately I just try to appreciate the moments of calm. I run off my anger at the gym. I praise my kids when they do things without me… Even if it’s small. The more I can encourage independence, the less stress I have to carry. I try to connect in small ways with my husband. I take what I can get.

Life won’t always be this way, but lately it feels so damn hard. There are parents who don’t have honor students and wish they had normal kids. They crave the simple things, but mostly peace. There is no such thing as normal, but we strive for a sense of it anyway.

I will keep loving my daughter in this hard to breath place, hoping relief will come someday. Maybe we’ll look back and laugh. I really hope so.