Friday, November 26, 2010

Tough Topic

I don't know why, but I feel like I need to post this link on here. It is a very tough topic to discuss. It is about verbal and emotional abuse. The article was published in the June 1996 Ensign. When I read this, I was floored to realize that I could recognize many forms of this abuse in my own life. I think verbal and emotional abuse are more dangerous because the victim doesn't even realize what is going on and often tells themselves that it isn't a big deal, that we can deal with it or it isn't worth bringing up. We tell ourselves that we are just being sensitive and it is probably just in our head, or that we deserve it. But slowly over time it wears on you and wears on you until you start to believe that what you want doesn't matter, you are stupid, it is all your fault, etc. I have often been told, "Can't you take a joke?" I learned to make myself the butt of jokes so that people thought I was laughing at myself and knew how to have a good time because if I ever expressed that what someone said hurt me, I was made to look like a fool and a poor sport. Along with my low self-esteem, it was a dangerous combination. I was so desperate for people to love me that I would put up with anything. It allowed men to abuse me verbally, emotionally and sexually. Then I would think that it was all my fault, that there was just something about me that made men want to do those things to me, that I must have asked for it somehow. I carried it for years as my fault and beat myself up everyday over it. It wasn't until recently that I have learned that I was not at fault. I have been beating myself up over something that someone else did, taking all the blame. I would hear about abuse victims often feeling like they were the dirty ones and that is why they wouldn't tell anyone about it. But I thought to myself, I really am a bad person. That is why I didn't tell anyone.

So maybe I feel the need to share these things so that someone doesn't make the same mistake I did. Maybe the form of abuse is so subtle that you don't think that you should take any action against it because it will just stir up trouble. You want to be Christ-like and turn the other cheek. I have had all of these thoughts. This article opened my eyes to the ugly truth and now I am so sensitve to any form of it that I feel sick to my stomach whenever I hear it. I sometimes hear spouses do it to each other and I recognize it for what it is now. I can't believe how much it goes on and all in the name of teasing or just being truthful. If it is hurtful, it isn't teasing or fun. Sometimes you might say it in jest, but the person hearing it doesn't know that and takes it as truth and you can never take the effects of that comment back. I have had many experiences like that, things that have affected me for life.

I was given a formula for whether or not something should be said.
In order for you to say something out loud to someone, it must meet two out of three of these criteria.
Is it true?
Is it nice?
Is it necessary?

After I read this I discussed it with my husband and my children and we did a Family Home Evening lesson on it. I keep a copy of it in my journal so that we can constantly be checking ourselves to see if we are doing better. I hope that you can find it useful.

I hope I don't seem like a downer, but there are just some topics you can't laugh at or take lightly and need to be addressed and stopped before the cycle perpetuates. I actually had someone say to me, "You like being mocked, don't you?" And I stopped dead in my tracks. I have taught people that it is okay to mock me because I can "take a joke", but in reality, sometimes it hurts. Or one instance where someone said to me, "but you should just automatically know I love you." So what I'm hearing is, I must look underneath all the garbage and the rude, mean things they say to find the underlying love that is hidden somewhere. That is not how love is supposed to be. I actually thought that if someone was teasing me and giving me a hard time, that must mean they like me. That sounds like kindergarten all over again. Well, if a boy pulls your hair then he must like you. So abuse equals love? CRAZY!

So that brings me to another topic. Change. I have changed. I no longer want to be verbally abused as a form of love. I no longer want to be manipulated. I no longer care about what others think of me. I am no longer so desperate for someone's love that I would let them do what ever they want to me. These changes aren't visible, tangible things that people would be able to look at me and say, "I see I can no longer manipulate Kris." I mean I wish I could wear a sign that says, "I don't tolerate abuse anymore." It would make it so much easier. The thing about change is, there are many people around us that don't like it when we change. Especially those we are closest to because they have gotten into a routine that suits them just fine. If you change, that means the people around you are going to have to change, as well. One example is family. You try to go home and have a nice visit and how many of us fall back into our old routine because our family members have gotten used to treating us a certain way? We oblige to make the visit as nice as possible, with no drama. Or in our marriages. I have seen instances where one spouse tries to change and the other spouse, who is the abuser, goes crazy because they no longer have control over that person and they don't want that change. There are people around you who don't want you to change because it will mean happiness and freedom for you and they are miserable so they can't stand to see that you have overcome your demons and are happy now. These people do everything in their power to bring you back down and put you back into your box. I mean, how dare you try to come out of your shell when they didn't say you could. I have dealt with all of it, all the while telling myself that I will be the peacemaker at the expense of my own self-worth. But I KNOW who I am now and no one is going to ever use me or abuse me again. Now if I hear something abusive towards me, I address it immediately. It isn't always pleasant, believe me. I don't like confrontation, but I also don't like being made to feel stupid or less than I am. If I feel like I am being manipulated, I end the conversation.

Let me know your thoughts on the article. I also felt that it was important that I watch my tongue with my children. How many times do I say something in frustration that maybe is not true or nice or necessary that might break their poor little heart and injure them more than a slap would. So even if you don't think you have to deal with these things in your life, it is just nice to be aware of the different forms and make sure you protect your loved ones from it the best you can. These things were very difficult for me to share. I hope that you all take them in the spirit it was intended and that was to hopefully help people see that they don't have to put up with it and if you have a problem with saying abusive things, you will be able to recognize that it is abuse and try to change it.


Spring and Lars said...

AWESOME KRISSI!!! I'm the same way and have had many instances where others couldn't handle the "new" Spring and unfortunately the relationship deteriorated:( I think the most prevalent problem in today's world is that we all have a skewed idea of what LOVE really is and how it SHOULD be expressed. Thanks for the inspiration. Love you...REALLY:)

flr said...

Hey Kriss. I really am amazed at your ability to express yourself - even your deepest emaotions. You are soo articulate and what you write hits so close to home that it is scary. Thank you for sharing and daring to say some of the unspeakable thinks from our/your past. It helps others of us not feel so alone or so different. Love you. You have always been very special to me even though I do not express it or show it well or often.

Millie Motts said...

Well said, well written. Amen!!


Shari Nelson said...

Hey Chris, I also admire you for saying these things about yourself and others. I have been through some experiences in my life that I am afraid to share-still. I also know that I may be one of those people you are talking about who does not express things very well. I grew up this way, it was what I was taught and the only way I know how to express myself. It is a very difficult road to take to try to relearn how to speak to people. I don't mean to hurt anyone when I express myself. I tend to be negetive without meaning to. I have a lot of fears that I have to face and it takes a lot of time to figure these things out. My advice is to try not to be to harsh on those that are trying to do better. Sometimes it is hard to tell that's why the Lord says to "turn the other cheek." Most people are good, but also speak up when you don't like something people are saying. Give them a chance to explain or say they are sorry is my motto.
Good post Chris.