Monday, November 21, 2011
In Priscilla’s case, she emerged from adolescence with a broken spirit due to the fact that her heart had been broken by a continual onslaught of one life-changing disappointment after another. She had been “set up” by an extremely dysfunctional childhood to be easy prey for the Deadly D’s of “dependence” and “defilement” even before reaching puberty.
My next book, Murder on Murder Creek Road — which is moving through the publication process as we speak — will dramatically flesh out the raw, but real, details of Priscilla’s defilement. Also, the reader will be allowed to watch behind the scenes at how she managed to redefine herself while the mystery of the murderous plot unravels.
In this post we will first examine the dynamics of how Priscilla was set-up in childhood to live many years of her adult life thoroughly bogged down in the swamps of the fifth Deadly D — defilement.
In the post following this one we’ll discover how Priscilla finally learned to get “unstuck” by disciplining herself to take each deliberate step to “redefine” herself. Learning to redefine one’s self is actually about learning to set “healthy” boundaries. This process should have been learned in childhood. But, if one’s childhood years were spent in a dysfunctional setting, then the child has effectively learned to become an emotionally unhealthy, boundaryless adult. This condition is definitely NOT a good thing.
We’ve already talked at great length about the “false identity” being the lies you were taught in childhood that became your “truth”. Consequently, the first step of redefining one’s self is to clearly identify the lies in order to redefine our personal truth. We’ll put flesh on this process by using Priscilla’s experiences.
Priscilla was the youngest member of her family-of-origin. She was at the very bottom of the totem pole, meaning she had the least amount of power. Consequently, she was the most “compliant” one in the family. Since she was especially compliant, very eager to please everyone else, she wholeheartedly embraced all the lies she had been told about herself as “unquestionable truth”.
Once she deliberately began the redefining process by carefully examining what she had been led to believe about herself, the following is what she discovered.
She saw herself first and foremost as a very weak person. She believed she would always have to lean on someone more “powerful” than herself in order to merely survive in life.
She saw herself as someone whom other women would always dislike, perhaps even hate. Her childhood served to thoroughly convince her that she would never be able to please another female. Therefore, she would have to attach herself to a man as her only hope to survive life’s challenges.
She saw herself as a being who had absolutely no rights. She believed she had no right to do anything that pleased and/or nourished her personhood. All her energies and efforts had to be directed at pleasing others — never herself.
She came to accept that her very existence depended upon her ability to discern what would please the man and then to perform as best she could in that capacity. Also, she felt she had no right to tell a man “no” to anything he desired from her.
Pretty ugly stuff … right? Can you see how Priscilla’s “false identity” literally drove her from one destructive relationship after another with men? Her dependence upon a man led to the expected destination of being defiled by these men. Not all addictions are physical — like alcohol, drugs, etc. Emotional addictions can be just as destructive to the individual as the physical ones.
This first step of the process, clearly identifying the lies, is so very painful that most people simply won’t do it. Oh, they’ll find some reasonable-sounding excuse to side-step this process. But the truth is, once the individual gets started, the intense pain associated with this crucial first step quickly frightens him or her away.
Look at this quote from Henri Nouwen, author of many books regarding healing of damaged emotions”
“You have been wounded in many ways. The more you open yourself to being healed, the more you will discover how deep your wounds are. You will be tempted to become discouraged because under every wound you will find others. Your search for true healing will be a suffering search. Many tears will need to be shed. But do not be afraid. The simple fact that you are more aware of your wounds shows that you have sufficient strength to face them.” Henri Nouwen
If I could sum up Priscilla’s dysfunctional self-concept in one statement it would be this: She believed she was a pathetic weakling who was completely unworthy of anyone’s approval, let alone love. Her one-word definition of her personhood would be “pathetic”. To this day Priscilla cringes whenever she hears that word on television or in conversation with others. She had been told that she was “pathetic” over and over again by her only sibling. This devastating practice continued well into her adult years until she finally learned to simply walk away whenever the verbal abuse began. She couldn’t stop her sister’s assault, but she didn’t have to stick around to hear it.
The next step of this “healthy” process is to search your memory in order to capture things that non-family members have said about you. Since childhood taught you to see yourself through the eyes of your family-of-origin, it is imperative that you now diligently seek to see yourself through the eyes of friends, people who have come to know you in a different setting.
For instance, when Priscilla was going through one of the most difficult experiences of her adult life, the people closest to her kept commenting about her “inner strength”. Naturally, she felt they were merely trying to encourage her by telling her something that wasn‘t necessarily true. However, at one point, her closest girlfriend stared into her eyes and said, “Priscilla, your sister constantly tells you how weak you are. The truth is, she’s the weak one. You are very strong. Look at all you’ve overcome. It takes genuine strength to do what you’re doing each and every day.”
Another lie Priscilla had always believed about herself was that other women would never accept her. Again, during that same difficult period, there were three special women who tenderly embraced her, nourished her, and helped Priscilla find her way through the frightening emotional tidal wave she had been forced to endure.
These are just two examples of how important it is to the overall healing process that you learn to dispel the lies buried deep within your psyche. Probably the hardest thing Priscilla had to do throughout the entire “suffering-search” process was to fully accept that she was not a pathetic weakling. It had become her “identity”. Trust me … it’s never easy to give up your identity. Never!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
We’ve all probably heard the expression, “She died of a broken heart?” Recently scientists have discovered that a heart broken by emotional distress can result in a serious heart condition. The world of science has named this condition “cardiomyopathy” or “broken heart syndrome”. The physical stress brought on by the emotions can cause a person to experience the same symptoms as a heart attack. Usually, however, this condition causes no permanent damage to the heart.
Ordinarily, this term refers to an emotional state of feeling extreme sadness, being severely grief-stricken, and experiencing intense loneliness through some act of rejection.
WHAT BREAKS A HEART?
Based on personal experience, as well as the experiences of others closest to me, it is this author’s opinion that "disappoint-ment" is the root cause of what generally breaks a person’s heart.
One expects a romantic relationship to turn into marriage, yet it doesn’t. Or one gets married only to experience a painful divorce. Maybe an individual has suffered the loss of a spouse or child and finds her hopes and dreams for future happiness dashed in an instant. The list of ways we can be disappointed is endless. People will always disappoint you. Heck, life in general disappoints us.
However, I would suggest that the majority of people will never really realize how the first huge “disappointment” they experienced took place when they were little, powerless children. We are born with intrinsic needs that we inherently expect to be met by our parents. But, since our parents probably experienced the same disappointments in their childhoods, they disappoint us in the same way. And the beat goes on without anyone realizing what happened. Unless and until one realizes how his/her heart was broken in childhood and deals with those unresolved issues, this person will pass the dysfunctional baton down to his/her children. In other words, you will break their hearts with the same unrecognized, unintentional disappointments that you experienced. Hurt people … hurt people.
WHAT USUALLY HAPPENS TO A PERSON WITH A BROKEN HEART?
Disappointment can lead to “discouragement“. Even though the individual was born with certain talents, he/she may not posses the “courage” to explore their god-given gifts due to the fact that their heart is stuck in disappointment. Discouragement greatly diminishes our confidence. Without the necessary courage and confidence to explore one’s possibilities, one could end up living out his/her life in a state of quiet, perhaps even hidden, “despair”.
Despair is a persistent feeling of hopelessness. When one’s heart has been broken by deep disappointment, the individual usually feels “invalidated” as a person at the same time. Ask anyone who’s been betrayed if he or she felt invalidated by the betrayer’s lack of loyalty. You’ll almost always receive a “Yes” answer. Any form of rejection invalidates the rejected person on some level. Lack of loyalty translates into being “unworthy” to the heart of the betrayed person.
Whenever someone’s heart has been broken by disappointment, which then led the individual to live with discouragement, quickly followed by despair, this person has unknowingly become the poster-child for “dependence“. In order to survive these unseen forces that literally have taken control of his/her psyche, this man or woman will turn to some brand of “dependence” in order to survive. Be it drugs, gambling, sex, shopping, etc., the afflicted person must find their own brand of addiction in which to lean upon as a means of survival.
Like Priscilla, many women find themselves desperately depending upon a man to cure their ills. In her dysfunctional way she thinks if she can just latch on to the right man, she’ll be okay. She foolishly thinks he’ll take responsibility for her well being and do the things she doesn’t have the courage or confidence to do for herself.
Unfortunately, whether your particular choice of addiction has come beautifully gift-wrapped or not, they all lead to the same unsavory destination — “defilement“.
When a woman has allowed herself to become completely dependent upon a man to validate her personhood, she cannot have any boundaries in that relationship. Meaning there’s nothing she won’t do to get and keep her “fix”. She has come to believe that she cannot survive without a man in her life. (My new book, Murder on Murder Creek Road, reveals a lot about Priscilla’s acquired dependence upon men.)
If you remember nothing else about this post, remember this: Any form of dependence has it’s own “flavor” of defilement. Defilement means being ruined, damaged, destroyed, polluted, abused, or violated. It may come gift-wrapped in a handsome, Prince Charming-type man, but if it’s your “fix”, it will eventually defile you. Any form of addiction will ultimately lead to the same distasteful destination.
About now you might be saying to yourself, “Well, this is certainly depressing. Is there any good news in this post?” The answer is “Yes”. And here it is: If your heart has been shattered by the Five Deadly D’s, you can choose to stop the train, get off and “redefine” yourself! However, it has to be a conscious, deliberate choice of your free-will. By not making a deliberate choice to redefine yourself, you’ve already made a “default-choice” to remain on the run-away train. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking you didn’t have a choice. By not deliberately choosing to change, you’ve chosen to remain stuck! It’s that simple.
“How do I redefine myself?”, you ask. As suggested in the above paragraph, one must first decide to be proactive, not reactive. The next time we meet I’ll share with you how Priscilla redefined herself.