Need a reminder today? I’ve got it for you.
It’s okay if all you make for dinner is mac & cheese or Ramen. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if the laundry has piled up. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you cry in the shower longer than you lather your hair. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you go to bed early and sleep a lot. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you can’t socialize with friends right now. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you forgot x, y, or z for the kids. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you feel angrier than ever. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you can’t find the motivation to run errands. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you don’t want to see anybody. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you turn away from your favorite hobbies. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you can’t find the steam to “hustle.” You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you have to let go of certain relationships. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you prioritize which bills get paid first. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you can’t remember everything everyone expects you to. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you don’t want to “put yourself together” the way you always did before. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you sit on your couch all day and watch the show you’ve already seen a dozen times. You’re busy trying to heal.
It’s okay if you explain yourself to no one. You’re busy trying to heal.
Because it’s okay to put your healing first.
The superficial, patriotic noise & nationalist pride of today’s America do not bring me joy on this Independence Day, and give me no cause to celebrate.
They can have Old Glory. I made my own flag.
As a DV survivor, ally, and advocate, I choose and fight for personal freedom & autonomy every day.
As such, my flag features the color of domestic violence awareness: purple,
seven stripes to signify the average number of tries it takes a victim to leave their abuser,
raised fists, empowered, in diverse shades, representing all genders & orientations, and
its own declaration, which is to say we will not turn away, back down, or let the superficial, patriotic noise & nationalist pride shake our survival—or our will to fight for what’s right.
I won’t apologize for calling it what it is.
Because it’s abusive to pick and choose which scriptures prevail and which ones get conveniently swept under the rug. Which ones are to be interpreted literally and which ones, under no circumstances, aren’t.
It’s abusive to decide which “sins” are permissible, as in humanly forgivable, and which “sins” are to be openly shamed. Which “sinners” are to be turned away and excommunicated, and which are to be welcomed with open, accepting arms.
It’s abusive to preach about agency — the will to make decisions for oneself — and then dictate what decisions must be made (or else).
It’s abusive to use your religion as a means for power and control over others.
It’s abusive to favor the men, to place them on pedestals, to hand them more power because of their penis, to believe the men before the women in dynamics of domestic abuse, to shame and discard the women after divorce but not the men who are the abusers.
Self-righteous judgment is abusive.
Misogyny is abusive.
The patriarchy — in church and beyond it — is abusive.
The double standards and hypocrisy of organized religion are abusive.
Demanding conformity is abusive.
Using the man-made church, and its doctrine, and all related, interwoven coercive control (defined by Laura Richards, a criminal behavior analyst, as a strategic pattern of behavior designed to exploit, control, create dependency, and dominate) is abusive.
And what’s more, as if all that isn’t enough, spiritual abuse enables domestic abuse.
I can’t and will never see it any other way,
because my life was forever changed by it.
I’m bettin’ the chances are good: yours was too.
I’m no wiz in the kitchen but I’ve been working for years on this recipe that I’d like to share.
It takes time to make, fair warning, and it can get super messy. Also, while the specific ingredients I’ve listed are important and necessary—I haven’t found any substitutes—it’s okay if you decide you need an extra dash here or can omit a spoonful there. Trust yourself as you go.
There is no clever name. It doesn’t need to be fancy. We’re going to call it Happiness.
Here’s what you’ll need.
* 1 vat sense of self
* 1 warm batch self-love
* 1 room temp batch self-love (for backup)
* a dollop growing intuition
* 1 bunch boundaries
* a single sense of humor
* lots of water (every day)
* large sack independence
* medium sack solitude
* full carton broken patterns
* 2 cans trigger spray
* homemade peace (cannot be store bought)
* good sleep (to taste)
* therapy (as needed)
Bake to desired consistency.
Wait, I know, I know. Supplies are running low everywhere, not to mention you may not know where to even look for some of this stuff. Don’t panic. I’ll help you find them. Message me. My sources are reliable.
Also, I know you’ve been holding onto the expectations of others, and that lifetime supply of people pleasing, just in case you’d need them again—I did, too—but we’re gonna throw that shit out. It’s stale and lost its flavor years ago. We don’t need it. Never will.
Oh! And everyone else’s opinions. We’re gonna put those in that dark corner, way back in the pantry. We can forget about them for now. We’ll just check on them occasionally, see if any is useful.
Pick the apron with the colors or pattern that give you a zing of joy. Use your very favorite spoon. (I know you have one.)
Turn on some music, if you want, or stream your comfort show in the background. Or relish the silence around the soundtrack of your mixing and stirring. It’s your choice today. And tomorrow. And next week.
Do you think we should add anything? I’m open to suggestion, so long as we don’t get too many cooks in the kitchen, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, go on. Get to it.
Chef’s Note: The messier you get with this recipe, the better it turns out. I promise.
Guess what, you?
YOU are capable of change and growth and healing.
YOU are capable of an authentic life driven by deep joy, satisfaction, and stability.
Your abuser is NOT.
(A supporting text that will help you understand why is Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men.)
Your abuser will never be reflective, self-aware, or humble. They will never consider that they’ve done anything wrong, or are responsible for anything which has failed or hurt or had any negative effect and attention.
They aren’t capable of holding themselves accountable, or hearing/validating anyone they’ve done wrong. Especially you.
They won’t participate in individual or couples therapy, unless it’s with an approach meant to fool and manipulate the expert and/or convince them *you’re* the one with the problems who is responsible for the abuse and your failing relationship.
They can’t sincerely apologize or change who they are—they merely play to their audience, mirroring and mimicking what they know is expected of them. Remember, they are experts at manipulating others. And they are clever people-readers.
They will never fulfill their promises, or become who they’ve pretended to be. No amount of catering, countering, or wishing on your part will ever make that different.
So I repeat, YOU are capable of change and growth and healing.
And this is your superpower. With it comes great responsibility…
but even greater reward.
THEM: “You’ve changed.”
YOU: “I had to. Can’t you see?”
Not everyone’s going to understand or support the transformation that’s required of your hurting and healing journey.
Some will think that when you finally start expressing your opinion, you’re being argumentative.
Be opinionated anyway.
Some will believe that your new signs of independence mean you’re selfish and self-absorbed.
Be independent anyway.
Some will get mad when you assert boundaries, because they benefitted from your lack of them before.
Assert them anyway.
Some don’t like it when you start doing, behaving, being differently.
Break all your unhealthy patterns anyway.
Some assume you’re incapable of making your own decisions.
Make them anyway.
Some will get offended when you tell them “no,” because they think it’s about them.
Say “no” for yourself.
Learn. Grow. Change. Evolve. Find enlightenment. Love and protect yourself.
You deserve it.
Solitude is hard to handle when you’re used to chaos.
Being alone is difficult when you’ve been conditioned to codependency.
Sitting quietly with only one’s thoughts can be torture when those thoughts are dominated by triggers at every turn, and memories of the abuse.
But I’m asking you to give it a chance.
Solitude is where we taste peace at long last.
Being alone is how we manifest independence, a necessary counter-measure to the patterns of abuse.
Sitting quietly with only our thoughts is how we create the space to hear ourselves, and learn who we really are, with no one else’s bullshit getting in the way.
My unsolicited advice is to learn to get comfortable with it. Use it to your advantage.
Inside and around solitude is where the magic happens.
My best friend collects heart-shaped rocks. I’m not sure you would believe the sheer amount and variety her devotion has rendered. It’s impressive, and makes one want to start their own collection.
She gave me this one. Can you guess why by the visual?
Yep. Because it’s scarred, just like my own heart.
Marked by deep grooves that will never completely smooth into non-existence.
And the reason I’m bringing it up is because, as survivors of domestic/intimate partner abuse, we often fall into the trap of thinking someone else will and should fix our cracks and broken spots. That our rescuer is just over the horizon, running our direction with all the salve and bandaging we might need.
But I’m sorry to say, this isn’t true.
And it’s one of the first truths in survival we must face, that no one is going to swoop in to save, mend, or heal us; rather, we simply have wounded and unrealistic, romantic notions of such things.
This is (in part) because we have no idea yet the difficult journey before us. We only know that we want to stop hurting, and to be loved and valued and to feel safe, and on some level that we don’t want to be responsible for making these things happen ourselves. It’s just too much to face. Too big an undertaking when we are so low.
But listen, anyone who *does* swoop in, who allows us to believe they’ll “save” us, is more often than not a vulturous predator who’s taking advantage of our vulnerabilities.
Can you agree with me that that’s the last thing we need?
What we need, instead, is for patterns to stop and cycles to break. We need to teach ourselves about abuse, and learn about self-love. We’ve got to train ourselves to the red flags, and establish boundaries that will protect us into the future.
We must wield our own salve and bandaging, friends.
Because it is the only way we truly heal.
I gave this pep talk to my kid this morning, and it just occurred to me that you might need to hear it, too.
(I’ve tweaked it some, since you’re probably not an almost-17yo dude. But I watched as enlightenment crossed his face, and I hope it reaches you, too.)
When you worry others are irritated with you,
that others are blaming you for <insert here>,
that you annoy them and they don’t want to be your friend/coworker/companion anymore,
that’s a trauma response.
And it’s because you’ve been conditioned, by someone in your life, to believe you’re an irritation and annoyance, that you’re the responsible one when things go wrong (and especially if it’s not done their way), and that you have to circumnavigate and/or avoid and/or counter every possible negative emotion they (or anyone else) may experience, at your own expense.
When this anxiety tries to consume you, pause. Remember this. It’s a trauma response.
The chance that your friends and cohorts and loved ones are ready to discard you is so far from likely. You’re not annoying. You’re not bothering them. They’re not prepared to un-choose you.
(So stop feeling so awful, for one, and for two, quit apologizing just for taking up space and being an individual.)
And in the off-chance someone is irritated or triggered by you?
That’s on them. It’s not your fault, your responsibility, your issue to fix.
Find your center.
Let calm find your spirit.
You are worthy. You are loved. You are human.
Many pieces of our American society — especially through the arm of Western religion — make you think that forgiveness (releasing another from the harm they’ve done you) is required for your peace and well-being.
My hot take is that forgiveness toward the one who abused you is not necessary for proper healing and happiness.
Because wrestling yourself toward that end only keeps them top of mind and maintains their hold on you. That’s not healthy, nor is it productive.
Not to mention, peace comes from educating yourself about what you went through and why,
learning red flags,
identifying your triggers then mastering control of your reactions to them (more often than not),
and determining what healing looks and feels like for you. You and no one else.
Happiness comes when you’re able to define it for yourself. Authentically.
None of this requires releasing your abuser.
Honestly, forgiveness of self may be where it’s at, anyway.
You don’t have to carry the weight, regret, guilt, anger, sorrow any longer. Let it go.
And let go of this expectation impressed by others that you can’t move on or begin again until you forgive someone else.
Your conscious removal of the negativity and trauma can be self-motivated and self-propelled, with no stipulation connected to your abuser.