Giving a good inheritance when you didn’t receive one.

baby sitting on man s shoulder

We have spent some time in the past few weeks helping our son who lost his job last month. All of which has me pondering an old and very painful subject: treating your children well when you were not treated well by your own parents.

I think it is a common theme for adults who were abused as children. The deep conflict and desire to do better for my own children was a continuing internal conflict as they grew–it really peaked when they were teenagers. As I parented them through those rebellious times I realized, for the first time, just how little may parents had cared about me. There were waves of anger then. And pain. And confusion. Along with pointed questions to which I wasn’t sure I knew the answers.  Can I trust myself to be a good parent to my children when I don’t even know what that looks like?

All I knew, and still know, is that I WANT to be able to give my children what I never had, myself. At this stage they are grown. But there are still thousands of things to consider. Millions of moments I can do good for them and to them. Like planning out their inheritance. And giving some of it to them now, if they need it.

Proverbs 13:22 (KJV) A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children: but the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just.

My parents received a real estate inheritance from their parents. However, I won’t be receiving anything from my parents. I was already written out of their estate years ago. The way that unfolded is so unbelievably strange that were I to write out any of the actual details, even if I were to fictionalize them, it would most assuredly give away my identity.

I was ok with that (not receiving any inheritance). While I adore money because you can’t travel far or buy new shoes without it; I don’t really care about it. Besides, all the money in the world wouldn’t have made up for the fact that had I received an inheritance from them I would have been bound to abusive people who think it their right to opine and control—and all the more so if they once gave you something which was (sort of) valuable. 

In terms of wisdom passed down: love, traditions, etc. there isn’t much to speak of there either.

My spouse also did not receive an inheritance. Although, on both sides, there was/is some wealth to go around. The strings and forever-type-of-attachments which went along with receiving the inheritance we might have received; were something to which we both said:

No. Thank. You.

As for us, we were careful to set up a plan for after our death which will treat our children as well as we can; with as few strings as possible. This involved a few moments where we went against professional advice.

So be it.

We will be dead. Who cares. Furthermore, if the kids blow through what we were able to accumulate through a few decades of business ownership–well, they will ‘have one heck of a story to tell’. Therefore a part of me just wanted to leave the whole thing to the courts and fate to decide.

But there’s that proverb I love. The one about the good man who leaves an inheritance for his children’s children.

What does a good woman look like? She is wise. Loving. Prudent. She takes good care of her affairs. She gives her children freedom, and choices. She does not bind them up with strings, expectations, and obligations. She allows them to fail. She doesn’t turn her back on them when they do.

A good father shows up when his children need help. When they lose a job or get in trouble with the law. Without too much judgment. And cleans their garage and buys them a snowblower and chips the ice from their driveway, and then takes them out for sushi that he doesn’t even like to eat.

My husband is a good father. Very good.

Paraphrasing an old saying about good boundaries: a good father (and/or mother) doesn’t carry their backpack for them when they can carry it themselves. But good parents DO help push the bigger boulders out of the way.

Oh, to have had some help with the boulders in my path…sigh…

Which takes some extra money. And time. And energy. And where do you get all those resources; especially when you yourself started life with a negative balance? When you are still recovering from pushing your own boulders all by yourself??? Worse than no inheritance, you received debt upon debt wrapped around your neck like the noose of a slave?

If I let myself ‘go there’ I’d be ticked for days. Feeling sorry for myself; and with a great deal of ‘right’ to go there, too. It would be just for me to do it. But I am too exhausted for it. I know that going there will deplete me of further reserves I don’t have. So I am choosing to see this part of my life as a miracle instead of a pout moment.

Because according to the proverb — the sinner’s wealth goes to those who are just. So maybe God saw to it that we cared about things like justice and truth and so He made sure that the negative numbers we received from our parents would be filled to overflowing in our lifetime.

Even though I am not sure I trust myself to do good to my children; apparently God does trust me to do just that. Because I now have enough holdings to give my children a real inheritance; that they can then pass on to theirs.

I just hope that it isn’t merely finances that get passed along. I hope that there is also plenty of faith and love and wisdom and tradition and that all little and big things we did for ours (that were never done for us) are both appreciated and imitated again and again…to start from less than nothing and to be able to give an inheritance, both now and later… A good one… With nothing attached but love…Well, when I view it that way — I am ready to push more boulders out of the way.

 

 

Receiving holiday cards from ‘no contact’ people.

photo of red mailbox mounted on wall

It started up again. During the season of ‘Christmas Cards’ my husband is tasked with sorting the mail in order to filter out the holiday cards from family members from whom I maintain ‘no contact.’ He looks them over to make sure there isn’t anything I absolutely need to see or know about. You know, just in case someone writes something like ‘I am sorry I assaulted you’ in the margin or something…. Then he gives me a choice on whether or not I want to see it/read it. Sometimes I do. Sometimes not. After I am given that choice, he seems to relish tossing the cards/letters in the trash can.

Witnessing his discarding of the cards actually helps me, tremendously, to get over the boundary breach that is created whenever such cards come into my world.

Yesterday, while looking over the latest card-about-to-be-discarded, my husband commented, “You know, I forgot to tell you but a few weeks ago I read this article about churches that are incorporating electronic tithing. They recommended printing out paper slips for the pews that say ‘I give electronically’ so that when the collection plates are passed, the people who give electronically can still put something into it. The studies show that offering those slips really boosts the number of people who give electronically in a congregation.”

I wrinkled my forehead. One of the things I love best about him is that he often has these very deep insights into things. Occasionally they are so deep (even for me) that they make no immediate sense.

Seeing my confusion he explained: “Your family must think that if they still send us a card, it proves something. Like people who give electronically to churches but still want to throw something in the plate to either participate or to prove to the people next to them that they do actually give…so voila, they have a slip for that which says: ‘we give electronically’. The truth is those people had already given an offering. And they knew it, and God knew it. Why do they need to use a slip of paper to prove it? Seems like a main reason to grab one of those slips would be prideful — doing it just to show other people that, yes, they actually gave something. I think your family is doing this card sending stuff to us just so that they can say, ‘Well, we still send them cards. They are the ones with the problem against us.'”

Indeed. Their continued holiday cards are a lot like a ‘we gave already’ slip into a church offering plate. My estranged family already gave me what they had to offer. It damaged me tremendously. I told them how damaged I was from it. But their response when I passed their own offering plate right back to them was not a deep digging into the pockets of their past. They offered up no new resources, financial or emotional or relational, which could have helped me heal quicker.

All they offered, and all that they are still offering, are empty pieces of holiday papers. Because they already gave; and it sure seems that they aren’t going to give any more than that.

 

 

 

If you love someone set them free. But if you want someone to be tied to you forever: beat them up.

grayscale photo of rope on log

I am reading a book about trauma bonds. It was recommended to me by Lexicon Lover- a blogger/ commentor I admire.  ❤️

I am mid way through the book. It is so helpful. Hard. But helpful. Like most truth.

I can already better understand why the battered wife cannot leave her husband. Why the molested child a friend adopted feels so bad (for telling on her abusive grandpa) that she picks the skin on her arm until it is raw. And I also see more clearly why I had such a difficult time being honest about my own abuse and then separating myself, physically and emotionally, from my abusive family of origin.

The book theorizes that trauma bonds people in ways that peaceful circumstances cannot.

Indeed.

I have also realized things about love, and it’s flip side (extreme selfishness-dangerous levels of narcissism).

First: love.

Love is a verb. And one action it does is it releases. The old adage is cheesy but true (if you love something, set it free…if it comes back to you it was meant to be). True love does not WANT anyone being dependent on them, it hopes for a healthy relationship as two equals who choose it— therefore it detests bondage situations.

Love wants to see others live in independence and autonomy. True love gives selflessly for the sake of the other so that that goal of mutual independence can be reached. Mentors, good ones, know that they are successful when their mentees no longer need them. The mentee may choose friendship at that point but the mentor, if he is a good one, doesn’t expect it going into it. Same with parents.

Abuse is the opposite. It is so selfish that it wants the other to be broken and dependent and tied up to the other—forever if possible. There is no release, no setting free. There is intentional bondage-making.

To me that is evil. And I believe evil knows that if you want to create a near-unbreakable bond you don’t treat someone with a combination of genuine care, affection, and freedom, letting them figure things out on their own. There is no setting free with evil. Never.

That would mean that person had no binding ties to anything, unless they chose to give themselves to God or others. (In spiritually abusive homes, believing in God is not a free will choice.)

Evil knows that if you want to create a tie that binds two people together greater than any other tie on earth, trauma needs to be involved.

So evil, and those given over to it, buys the neglected girl a bicycle and then sexually assaults her a few months later. Six months after that the evil one tells her how special she is to him and praises the bond they’ve always had. A day later the evil one mocks her pre-teen breast size.

That is how you create a type of bondage that lasts near-forever. That is how you hide your ugly deeds and create a slave to cater to your wishes for years, lifetimes if you get your way. You mess with their mind. You beat them up. You bring them to the lowest low of self hatred and then kiss their forehead and tell them they are still your special little princess. Because that’s all it takes to tie them up to you. A mixture of abuse and what seems like love but is just fake affection to hide and further the abusive bondage.

Evil forces a daughter to sit on its lap. And that night it beats her mom up in front of her.

Evil knows this works at trapping. It knows that is how it can make ties that bind, and blind. In such relationships there is no process of the child entering adulthood and being set free, not from homes like that. The child enters adulthood with every intention of breaking away from their family but finds she cannot do it. The pull is too great. She missed the highs and lows and returns for Christmas and another round of verbal battering and perverted uncles mixed with forehead kisses and photographs with linked arms because we just love our little princess so much!

To break such trauma bonds is arduous, exhausting, and, dare I say it: miraculous.

I am praying, that now that I see them for what they really are (incredibly powerful tools of bondage from the pit of hell) that  my own strong bonds with people who inflicted trauma on me, can finally be broken.

Inner Vows (and why I am renouncing them in my recovery).

close up of padlocks on railing against sky

Here are some examples of what an inner vow might look/sound like:

I will not let myself get hurt again.

I will not let someone catch me with my guard down again.

I will protect myself better next time.

I won’t find myself in that compromising position again.

You really can’t trust anybody!

When I first heard about breaking inner vows in therapy, I was confused. I also questioned if such a thing made any real difference. I mean even scripture says to guard your own heart, right??? I thought that’s what I was doing when telling myself to be on better guard next time…

Then I randomly came across the subject of vows and pledges on a Jewish blog. Once a year on Yom Kippur (Jewish New Year), ceremonies include renouncing all the vows and pledges which were made the prior year, including both intentional, and unintentional ones. Indeed, not making hasty vows, not swearing by God or anything in heaven or on earth, letting your yes be a yes and your no be a no — is clearly affirmed by Jesus Christ Himself! Without getting into a huge theology discussion here (feel free to do your own study–it’s a fascinating subject!), there is very real power in words. Particularly if we phrase them as promises, declarations, and/or oaths.

Therefore I began to see what my therapist was getting at. I noticed just how many intentional, and also unintentional, inner vows I had made over my lifetime. I was shocked. And I still ‘go there’ quickly as a defensive response.

In short: I couldn’t control what had happened to me in childhood and I still have very little real control over other’s actions toward me. In an effort to regain a sense of control I made oaths to protect myself. In so doing I also cursed and bound up my ability to receive and give love in relationship with others. Like putting a lock on my heart and tossing the key. The curse needed to be reversed by the one who made it (me), if I was to experience a fullness of heart and come out from the ‘numbing’ effects of abuse and anxiety disorder. I think I’ve been doing that, now. Plus I’m learning, and trying to put into practice, passively accepting hard things — without numbing out again, or, to use scriptural terms: hardening my heart in response.

I thought, myself, all of the above examples of inner vows, and more too numerous to write down. I even said many of these aloud in conversations with others. The issue being that even the quiet unspoken pledges I had made held very real power in my mind and heart. They shaped my relational behaviors. I know better now. But actually living life without making such statements and declarations is an ongoing process. Which is why I was so intrigued by the Jewish practice of erasing all the intentional and unintentional vows each new year!

Part of renouncing is sitting down and doing just that–admitting and renouncing the oath you once made to yourself. The other part is not relying on a simple statement you repeat once a year but actually working out a vow-free life; in real life–for me that means making myself vulnerable (easing into it–starting slow and letting trust build naturally), finding friends and loved ones who have already proven themselves to be ‘safe’ with a small amount and opening up more and more. It also means recognizing those who are not safe spaces and guarding my self around them. Then choosing better use of my time without feeling guilty about doing just that and without needing to make an actual vow (because I am fully trusting myself, and God, in that process).

It is a practice and a process to give and receive trust. To know who is trustworthy and to not feel guilty about ‘moving around’ those who have proven they are not.

Inner vows were binding me in so many ways. I’d give trust away too easily to all the wrong people and places (Social Media is generally not a safe place to share the depths of one’s heart, for instance) and then knee-jerk hole up all over again with a fresh litany of pledges and oaths to avoid this or stay away from that in the future.

Anyone else pondered this subject of making declarations and inner vows?

Please feel free to share any other examples of inner vows and ways to break them.

 

It’s Tough Being Switzerland, (even though I #believe survivors)

 

alpine beautiful bloom blossom

I have mixed emotions about the #metoo and #believesurvivors movements. I empathize with and support other survivors through prayers and well wishes but I really just want to ‘be like Switzerland’ (neutral) in regard to the whole worldwide movement thing.

As an assault survivor I do not want my name, or my trauma, to be made into public fodder.

I know that many other survivors also don’t want to go public with their stories using their ‘real’ names (fearing for our lives is a reality for some of us). Add a bunch of public attention…and victims who wished to remain anonymous are often nosed out by reporters.

From the start I feared this would end up being all about the ‘left’ versus the ‘right.’ Religious versus heathen.

It pretty much has now. And that’s painful to watch.

On the one hand, I appreciate the awareness and the support of so many survivors coming together. I know how desperately victims and survivors need to hear three simple words: “I believe you.” Those three words can be the difference between recovery and an even darker hole.

Others see the pain the family members of accused perpetrators are going through and get angry at the people coming forward with past claims of abuse.

I suggest feeling empathy and sadness instead. Because the reality of sexual abuse is that there are MANY victims, never just one. Perpetrators’ children and spouses suffer greatly as well, even if they were never perpetrated upon themselves. Spouses and children of victims suffer too. This is a testament to the horror which is sexual abuse.

Now that this topic has been pushed into the public conversation, many feel they can give their own opinion…whether or not they have lived through it themselves, or whether or not they actually know the people paraded about in the news.

I live in Middle America, where it is more red than blue. My Facebook feed is full of memes about alleged perpetrators being innocent and alleged victims being liars. There is even a ‘joke’ going around that George Strait sexually assaulted Emmylou Hayes…and other memes urging me to ‘support Kavanaugh’s family’. One minister I follow referred to Kavanaugh’s accusers as ‘harlots’. That was very painful to read.

So today when a Facebook ‘friend’ shared a photo of Dr. Ford’s lawyer walking behind Hilary Clinton with a ‘does this surprise anyone’ headline…I thought to myself:

Nope. It doesn’t surprise me. I saw this coming. I suspected the me too movement would become a toxic political ‘football’ and that the ones hurt the most by that thing flying around would be survivors (who may be triggered by public vitriol).

Plus, I went through a big ‘end times’ phase before I got sick with PTSD. During my studies I learned things like thesis + antithesis = synthesis. I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but it’s probably already too late for that. So: I sense the Hegelian Dialect is at play here.

What is the synthesis we are being pushed toward?

Hang on, I’ll get there. First of all, I believe the escalation of sexual abuse, particularly in the Christian church, is an act of pure evil. It is by design. It is one of the ways the enemy is seeking to destroy Christians before his time is up. And it’s working. Because not only is this evil damaging victims of abuse. Ministers and church goers are being swayed by their emotions (through well-placed memes and photos) and taking up the mighty sword of ‘the pen’ in hasty response. (Things we post on Facebook and blogs are ALL self-published materials–by us, even shared memes from others become our property and responsiblity when we share them). Engaging in public battles we can’t possibly know the real facts about, is not normally seen as Christ like behavior. But yet it is applauded tine and again by Christians. As in most things; there is a proverb for that.

Therefore, I am afraid that we are collectively being ‘synthesized’ (thesis+antithesis=synthesis) to accept chaos and lies as normal.

Liar. From the one side.

Liar. (and: harlot) Shouted from the other side.

What to believe? Who to believe?

Everyone’s trust becomes ruined. Which is why I have a hunch this is a battle that Satan himself encouraged just for the love of chaos and the churning out of more lies.

John 8:44 When he (Satan) lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Oh, I’m not some kind of saint here. A part of me really wants to get personal and use my own sword in the debate, since I have also been called ‘crazy’ for claims I have made about my own past abuse.

But I don’t know Kavanaugh or his accusers, I don’t trust any media outlets right now, and so I cannot opine one way or another. A ‘that is really awful’ and ‘I am going to trust God to sort it out’ response seems the only wise Christian response, to me. So I hope to remain like Switzerland, even though its getting tougher all the time. As long as I have Jesus as my rock though, I don’t need a view of the Matterhorn.

1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.

Matthew 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.