Tag Archives: Adult Children of Narcissists

Imagine There’s No Haters

25 Mar

Most controlling parents seem unaware of how much their expectations and punishments suck the life out of their children long after they leave home. I still occasionally feel guilty whenever I cut my hair, eat certain foods or befriend people I know my parents would disapprove of while I was growing up, but I don’t think anything is more oppressive than trying to control your children’s music.

Most parents in my youth tried to stop their kids from listening to music because of hate–hate toward feminists, hate toward Catholics, hate toward gays, hate toward atheists and humanists and basically anyone who didn’t fit their world views.

For my entire childhood, music was a constant battle with my father. When I was nine, I asked to go to the Heritage Singers (Christian) concert, but my dad said they were too worldly so he wouldn’t let me go even though his sister who lived next door, offered me a ride.

I cried because being the new kid at school was hard enough without knowing the songs the other kids would be singing on the bus after the concert. My dad thought that was the end of the discussion, but my grandma (his mother) had an idea. She bought a Heritage Singers record and played it over and over while we made doll clothes until I had memorized all the songs. On the morning after the concert, no one remembered I wasn’t at the concert because I sang all the songs just like everyone else who was allowed to go. Decades later, I moved back into the area and met one of the now grown up boys from the bus. The first thing he said was, “I remember, you’re the girl who always sang those Heritage Singer songs on the bus.”

My desire to enjoy music continued to be oppressed by my father until I left home. After a while the Heritage Singers were allowed in our home, but John Denver was the next banned. When I was twelve, I babysat for a woman who loaned me her John Denver records. I felt like I was in heaven listening to Country Roads, but my dad told me John Denver was “too rocky,” and to give the records back. The next time I babysat, the temptation was too much and I borrowed the records again. This time, my dad told me to return them and then he belted me when I got home.

By the time I was fifteen, the Heritage Singers and John Denver were playing at our house all the time, but there was always new music to fight over. Next it was Donny and Marie Osmond who were outlawed. In time, my mom convinced my dad that it was okay for me to listen to the album, “Paper Roses” by Marie.

When my friend Teresa introduced me to Black Sabbath and I mentioned this to my dad, I was informed that listening to Black Sabbath might mean the loss of my soul. For Sabbath keepers, the words black and Sabbath sounded quite sinister in the same sentence. I soon left Black Sabbath behind in exchange for the wicked enchantment of Barry Manilow’s, “I write the Songs” which I was told was an impersonation of Satan Himself.

After I was convinced to stop listening to Manilow because he was possessed, I spent the night at my friend Diana’s house and discovered something even more evil. She taught me to dance and sing with a fake microphone (hairbrush) to the tune, “I am Woman,” By Helen Reddy. I had now discovered the greatest warp and evil of all–feminism. Not only just my Dad, but my mother convinced me that feminism was the embodiment of a woman disconnected from God and I was given Bible verses to memorize.

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I wasn’t the only kid in my family punished for music, but I was the first born so I had to pave the way. My younger siblings took listening to John Denver for granted because they never got belted for his music. They also went underground. Most of them listened to the radio with earphones and they did not talk about it to avoid the fights that music caused in our family.

I remember watching my father chase my fifteen-year-old sister up and down the single wide trailer we lived in with the belt, yelling that she had Satan in her, while the song in question played loudly. It was Don Williams singing, “I believe in love and I believe in babies.”

My struggles took on a spiritual quest when our youth leader loaned me an Amy Grant cassette and my love for music merged with my desire to know and hear from God. Amy sang in my alto range and her song, “All I have to be is what You made me,” brought bucket loads of tears to my eyes.

I figured my Dad would be glad I was listening to Jesus songs, but I soon discovered it wasn’t the words, but the rhythm that he considered so evil. My parents informed me that all syncopated beat was satanic. I considered running away from home when my dad pulled over on the way home from church to unravel the Amy cassette and throw it out the window in front of a dozen cows. My heart wept, not only for the loss of music, but I knew I had no money to buy another to replace the borrowed tape. I felt too embarrassed to tell the youth leader what happened.

By the time I left home, Amy Grant was at the top of my list of luxuries I planned make room for just as soon as I could get my own place and I intended to rock out to, “That’s the Day That I’ve Been Waiting For.”

My father still doesn’t agree with me on music. As much as three years ago, he asked me to listen to a video by a preacher who teaches that syncopation is the seat of all satanic power. I disagree. I said, “No I think selfishness is the seat of all Satanic power” and that ended our conversation.

God has made up for all the musical oppression in my childhood by giving me such a gift as the man I call husband–a piano player whose music has shared my passion and joy for thirty years. A man who also allows me the freedom to be myself and treats me with equality.  A man who applauds me if I play my anthem, “Fight Song,” by Rachel Platten and who introduced me to, “Quiet” by MILCK.

Music has such a profound effect on our lives. I’ve learned a song doesn’t have to be labeled “Christian” to have a spiritual meaning. Christian is just a word, but it is the Spirit inside of us who determines what we see and how we interpret the words, tunes and rhythm.

I’ve always enjoyed the sounds of the Beatles, but during my growing up years, my parents never allowed such humanistic music near me. Still, when I caught strains of songs like, “Happy Xmas, the War is Over” and “Imagine,” at the mall or in the grocery store, I was mesmerized. My heart soared to Lennon’s genius words and music about people and love. For this people loving girl, it sounded a lot like heaven.

I find it sad how God’s enemy has used Christian parents to beat and shame their children over music. God created music as a gift for us to share with each other and enjoy–not to fight over. So since I’ve spent a lifetime apologizing for whatever music I am listening to at the time, I’ve decided to deconstruct the lyrics of Imagine. It wasn’t until one of my favorite groups Pentatonix recorded it that I took the time to really listen to the words and what they mean. As someone who was raised to think of this as a bad humanistic song, I was surprised to discover it’s all in how we choose to interpret the meaning of the lyrics.

I’ll break it down for you because in this age of hate, lies and abuse put out by religious people who claim to be going to heaven, perhaps it’s a good idea to reframe and make these lyrics our own.

“Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today”

This is the mouthful of music that has incited a thousand self-righteous Christians and yet when we consider all the damage religion has done in this world, these lyrics are profound because they challenge the mindset of people who are so confident in going to heaven, that they don’t mind destroying the earth–cause well God’s going to make it new anyway. But can such an attitude honor God? It’s still his handwork people are destroying. In the name of heaven should we decimate the earth and everyone in it? It reminds me of the saying, “So heavenly minded, but of no earthly good.” A pretty sad state of affairs.

I don’t believe the Bible teaches an ever burning in hell, so this part of the lyrics just reminds me that the early Christians didn’t believe in hell either. They didn’t scare people into the kingdom like we often witness people doing today. They loved people to God (more on this on another verse).

“Imagine all the people living for today.”

Jesus Himself tells us to live for today. He says don’t worry about tomorrow.

“Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace”

Since 911, we have seen the rise of nationalism in the US. People worship the flag and the ten commandments–sometimes more than the hand who wrote the law on stone and sets us free. Maybe they’ve forgotten that if Jesus lifted an earthly flag it would probably be a white flag, because He said his kingdom was not on this earth or his disciples would fight for him. Jesus didn’t send drone or bombs to get revenge, he eventually allowed his enemies to beat him and kill him. I’m not saying we should all bow over and let the terrorists win, I’m just saying we have better ways to deal with evil than to retaliate and kill more innocent people.

If we could realize this fantasy of no countries, it could end dualistic and the “us vs. them” tribalism that comes with it. This would end all wars and there would be nothing to kill or die for. In a sense this verse is quite ironic after what is written in the first because it would actually create a heaven on earth.

“And no religion too.”

For many super protective Christian parents these words are the blasphemy at the heart of the song, but that’s only because they choose to see it that way. Religion has launched thousands of bombs and killed millions throughout history. Religion, void of God’s Spirit is lethal. So if humanists ask me to throw out what some call religion, it won’t affect or change my personal relationship with Jesus.

“Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world”

This is the heart of the gospel. We don’t need to use the misused term religion to see this is what Jesus taught. This is how the early church lived. They gave up their possessions to spread the Good News. In such a heaven-like world there would be no greed or hunger. This is the true brotherhood of man Jesus dreamed for all of us when He said, “Love your enemies. They will know you are my friends if you love each other.”

“You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one”

When we listen to the stories and teachings of Jesus, we realize Jesus was the original dreamer and John Lennon’s humanistic lyrics simply echo a heart cry for the true kingdom of God. Imagine there’s no haters. What a wonderful world to live in. No more narcissism or selfishness–only acceptance and love.

I believe Jesus prayed a prayer for all of us–regardless of human labels because it was Jesus who created humanity. Jesus was the ultimate humanitarian and he prayed to the Father that we would all be one–just as he and the Father are one.

You might say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one–and what those Christians who shun this song as mere humanism have missed, is that Jesus dreamed this first.

5 Reasons You Should Watch the Shack

6 Mar

Isn’t The Shack just a made up story? Yes. Is it even based on biblical facts? Yes, in some ways, but I like to think of it as an allegory. Pilgrim’s Progress wasn’t a true story either. But wait, God is a man and not a woman, right? Well, who of us has seen God? These are some of the questions people have about the movie, The Shack based on Wm. Paul Young’s book by the same name. This book and movie have taken a lot of heat, but most of the critics haven’t bothered to read or watch it. If you are one of the skeptics, allow me to share five reasons why you might want to watch The Shack.

1. If You Have Ever Suffered a Huge Loss and Wondered Why

The Shack tries to answer the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Many of us in hard times after a death of a loved one or some other terrible event have asked, “Where is God if he is sovereign?” This movie attempts to answer this question through telling a story about one man broken by a terrible childhood and then a loss in his adult life.

2. If You have Father Issues and Feel You Can’t Trust the Father

Early in The Shack we see Mac’s father beating him with a belt. If you grew up with a narcissistic parent who beat you, put you down or abused you in any way, you might find it very hard to trust God. This is because God’s original plan was for parents to act in the role of God to their children. When we were small and unable to provide for ourselves, we relied on our parents for everything. When they were abusive, it gave us the idea God might be abusive too. Part of the reason for this is that little kids can’t see the abuse. They won’t assume their parent is abusive, they just think they are bad. As children, we absorbed our parents’ sins and now as adults, we still feel unworthy. In the Shack, Papa goes out of the way to make sure Mac knows he is worthy of God’s friendship and love. That word friendship came up several times between Mac and Jesus. It reminded me of one of the least repeated verses in the Bible where Jesus says:

“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

One of the problems we ACoNs have with our parents is they often won’t release us to be their friends, because they want us to be their servants and slaves for life. Of course it is a form of love to serve our parents–but not when we are adults who are forced to submit to a narcissist abuser.

The Shack reminds us that God is not at all like a narcissistic parent, he is always concerned about what is best for us. In the words of Papa, God says, “I am especially fond of you!” And what is so amazing is that he is especially fond of every person in the world, but it doesn’t take away from the wonder and love he has for each of us as individuals. God is a good parent who loves every one of his children equally, but differently.

3. If You Have Been Afraid of God’s Wrath

In The Shack, Mac asks Papa what about God’s wrath. And Papa says, “What? What are you talking about?” Mac thinks God is vindictive and revengeful toward sinners and Papa reassures him this is not true at all.

If you have not discovered the fact that God’s wrath in Romans 1 is really about God letting people go to their choices and not about revenge, then study up on it. There will be fundamentalists who disagree, but a thorough study of the subject might back up Young’s ideas in The Shack.

This film gives a great example of letting go through the art of storytelling. While it has theological tones, the story itself is well written, well directed and well-acted. People without a religious bone in their body could still enjoy The Shack—because it is a well told story and the heart of this movie is not about religion, but relationship.

4. If You Struggle With Judging or Forgiving Others

It also shows how we can let go and still honor our losses.This movie is not just about losing someone dear, it also carries the message to stop judging others and forgive them–despite the horrible things they have done.

Every abuser was formed most likely by the abuse of their parents going all the way back to Adam and Eve. While judging and forgiving seem to be at odds with each other, the way we can deal with both healthfully is to let go.

In the situation of narcissistic parents, we are healthier for letting go. The burdens we carry don’t have to hinder us and tie us down, God can turn our pain into wisdom as we grow stronger until we learn to fly. In this story, like in many of our lives, there were characters who needed to be forgiven and there were nightmares that came from the darkness that could only be put to rest by looking to Jesus as our brother and friend.

I was particularly touched by one scene with Mac and his father. Once we see our parents’ wounds we can forgive easier and we can realize they didn’t mean to harm us, they were broken by the fall too. How many children’s hearts would be turned back to their fathers if parents only they owned what they had done and asked for forgiveness? Of course, we realize most narcissistic parents will never do this, but we can forgive them even when they don’t say sorry. We are the ones who will heal when we do this.

5. If You Have Trouble Trusting God in Any Way

About ten years ago, I went to a seminar where the speaker asked if Jesus was behind one door and the Father the other, which door we would choose to go through. My answer was the Jesus door because I thought Jesus was the good guy who had saved me from the Father. That night I learned some things starting with the fact that Jesus said he and the Father are one. God’s wrath is letting us go to our own choices. There is no revenge in the Spirit of God. That whatever Jesus would say and do for me is the same as what the Father would say and do for me. I was first in shock, then in awe of God.

The next morning I got up at dawn and looked at this amazing and gorgeous sunrise full of pink and gold. As I stared up at it, I felt the Spirit speaking to my heart that this display was for me. That Abba, Papa, Father–whatever we call God was shining his love on me and I began to weep. I asked him, “Father, can you really be this good?” I will never forget that morning—it was the day that changed everything in my life. I have never had a worry about the future or my salvation since. My feelings were similar while I watched The Shack. I was profoundly touched by God’s love.

The Shack gives us a little God’s eye view of humanity where we can see how God loves every person. One of my friends who went to see it with me said, “I wish I could go and stay at the shack for a long time.” Why? Because to dwell in that shack is to be nurtured and loved unconditionally by God. To get answers from God. I believe The Shack is a little taste of heaven and it will change your heart, but you’ll have to see it for yourself.

NOTE: Some will have theological questions about this, while I am not a theologian, I will share a little of what I have learned from others.

Some Theological Questions About the Shack

God as a Black Woman?

The biggest criticism of The Shack has been its portrayal of a black woman as God the Father. But people who have trouble trusting God as a father might need to see the feminine face of God. God said, “Let us make humankind in our image.” If Eve as Ezer Kenegdo was created in God’s image, then certainly God has a feminine side. Jesus himself said he would like to gather the people in Jerusalem like hen gathers her chicks under her feathers (Matthew 23:37). There is a Bible verse which says, “Even if a mother forgets her nursing child, I will not forget you” (Isaiah 49:15,16).

The fact is God is Spirit. None of us have seen God. We know throughout the Bible God has manifested as the angel of the Lord in various places (Genesis 22:11–15). And God has manifested as a human even before Jesus was born, when three visitors came to Abraham and at least one of them was God. Even here, maybe the number three has significance (Genesis 18). When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit was manifested as a dove (Matthew 3:16). Paul says Jesus was manifested as a rock for the Children of Israel (I Corinthians 10:4) and he was also the cloud which protected them by day and night (Exodus 13:21).

The Shack portrays God manifested as a black woman, an Asian woman and as a Native American Father. I see no reason why such portrayals would shock anyone who understands how God bends close to the earth to meet each hurting human in the place where we most need God.

Universalism?

Other critics have accused Young of writing about Universalism which states that no one will be lost but all will be saved. I didn’t get this idea from the book or the movie. But it is important to note that God is especially fond of everyone—the question is will we allow God to heal us? Some may not, but it has always been God’s dream to save everyone–he just won’t force anyone.

When Mac asked, “Then are there to be no consequences for sin, Papa says, “Oh there’s always consequences.” Then Papa describes how God gives everyone freedom of choice–if this is true, then God either must win every soul to his way of thinking, or lose some.

I was reminded of two verses:

1. The Wages of Sin is Death (Romans 6:23).

Some say the wages paid by sin is death. This is the law of sowing and reaping. Some call it karma. Jesus taught about the parable of the sower. If there is no sowing, there will be no reaping. We all will reap what we sow.

2. It is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4).
Some say sinners can’t follow God unless they are scared into it, but that is not God’s way, that is the enemy’s lie. How do we know this?

God has not given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

The true biblical explanation of God’s wrath is actually letting go (Romans 1:18-32). We would all be wise to notice this passage is about all sin–not just the ones mentioned by the fundamentalist Christians. I believe when God lets go, the Holy Spirit releases people to their own choices.

The poison vine Sarayu warned Mac was deadly when helping him dig up the weeds in the garden of his heart, reminded me of how sin kills us. And if we refuse to allow Sarayu AKA the Holy Spirit to help us clean up those toxic parts in our hearts, we could become damaged and in danger of walking away from God altogether.

Disconnection from God is what is so deadly for all of us humans. This is why God’s enemy puts up so much opposition to The Shack. If people are afraid to watch it because some Christian warns them it’s dangerous, they might miss out on trusting God and having a better relationship with him and that could be a tragedy.

Where the Spirit of God is there is freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Let each person decide for themselves.

Be a One Woman Riot

25 Feb

When I was a kid, if my siblings and I argued or made too much noise, we were put on silence. Silence meant we were not allowed to speak or make any noise. If we found a way to communicate through spelling letters through sign language or motioning, we might even be put on frozen statue. Frozen statue meant you were not to move at all. No touching or laughing or smiling because a smile meant you might be up to something. If you did not obey the rules of silence and frozen statues, then you could be beaten with the Persuader. Such was the “fascist regime” of my childhood. And while I loved my parents, I hoped to leave such control behind by the time I reached adulthood.

Of course I didn’t realize when people can no longer control you with the belt, they will guilt and shame and shun to push you into doing what they want. Even as a young adult, I rarely spoke to my siblings about what happened in our childhood because to do so was considered breaking the ultimate rule of family togetherness. Family togetherness means you never speak of the past—not even to each other–all must be forgiven and forgotten.

Family togetherness also means you never, ever speak about the family to outsiders. And in case you are wondering, I’m doing that right now. I’ve been doing it for seven years and I have had less phone calls from my parents than you can count on one hand. Every year, I get an email from my mom acknowledging that I was born on my birthday, but my attempts to have a real relationship with them is very limited—not because I don’t want to have one, but because they feel I have broken the rules of family togetherness and they basically have no interest in my life.

Simply speaking about things that happened over thirty years ago makes me a monster to them, but I am writing a memoir—not out of anger toward them (actually I hope to portray them with love and compassion) but because my childhood was unique and strange and it was very hard for me to grow up when I got out into the real world.

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So why can’t I keep quiet? Because if I don’t speak up, no one will ever have known that I was alive or what happened in my life. No one will know what it is like to have Mt. St. Helens blow up your life and be isolated from other teenagers and denied an education while you wait for Jesus to come. I have to speak it because it was not just their lives that were affected by their choices, it was my life. These are my stories, not so much theirs, but they do play a major part.

I’ve mentioned how the current US administration brings on my childhood PTSD. It’s the authoritarian rule. In the past no matter which party was in office, it was not a huge deal because presidents from both sides respected the U. S. constitution and at least made an effort to treat all people as equal. But my PTSD was most recently triggered this last week by the treatment of the press by the White House.

I took some journalism classes in college and the first thing we were taught is the press is the watchdog on the White House steps and to imagine it being muzzled reminds me of many fascist regimes throughout history and the losses of freedom including religion. The worst part about this is that so many, even within my religious community, seem unable to see this.

My sweet grandma always kept a diary. I call her sweet because whenever I walked into the room, she made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. And she wasn’t playing favorites, I’ve seen her greet my male cousins and brother and my sisters in the same way. I think it could be fair to say she was kind to even her son in laws who really never seemed to respect her very much. There was a lot of eye rolling because she didn’t cook much and she did CPR on cats at least twice to save their lives. It’s true she talked to cats and raccoons and skunks and birds. She was like a Grandma Doolittle and many people were nervous about the skunks she fed on her back porch. It could be said about Grandma that she walked with skunks and angels.

Grandma talked to Jesus and about Jesus every day. And for decades, she kept a diary. The contents were often mundane about the weather or her pets, but sometimes they told stories of her faith in God and how he came through for her. She lived through her parents’ divorce which mortified her and separated her from her siblings and she endured the great depression and worked as Rosie the Riveter during WWII and endured many sad events such as losing her first born child at birth. Grandma lived a life of faith despite her pain.

When Grandma hurt her hip and ended up in elder care, my parents took all those decades of diaries and burned them in a big bonfire. They took away her voice before she was even dead. My siblings and I were appalled when they told us but no one confronted them because we knew it would make things harder in our family to get along.

Silence. Silence from one party can mean sadness, anger, disconnection, or even death. But forced silence is another thing altogether. Forced silence is a form of control to murder another’s voice. Or even another’s right to determine the truth by hearing more than one side of the story.

During the Women’s March I saw a video of a group of women singing a song by MILCK. My husband played it for me because he thought I would like it and when I heard it, my eyes immediately filled with tears. This is why I must write on. I can’t stop my blog or my memoir as hard as it is when I have no family to support me in telling my story, I will press on because Jesus cares.

Jesus never asks us to keep quiet about our pain or to ignore injustice. Jesus comes to each of us with love and forgiveness, but he always, always leans in to listen to our pain. I have a friend who had an abortion decades ago and she is still feeling ashamed about it. I asked her if her little boy ran over his pet turtle on his bike and was feeling horrible about it, would she care about the turtle who was not in any more pain now, or for her child? She said her child of course.

Jesus is like that. He knows we have all messed up big time at some point in our lives, but he cares more about our hearts than anything we have done wrong. This is true for parents as well as children.  But the one thing Jesus doesn’t ask us to do is be silent when we have been hurt. We are free under God’s government to share our stories and to tell our stories because this is how we overcome (Rev. 12:11).

So I don’t know about you, but I am nervous about this changing of the guard from a land of freedom of speech and diversity to a land where we are threatened to be quiet if we have a different opinion or color of skin from the powers that be, this is not how God runs his government. Jesus runs his government on freedom for all and he says we will know the truth and the truth will set us free.

If you have been shamed and abused, don’t worry if someone scapegoats you and calls you a monster. Don’t let them shut you up. You are not alone. You are one of many. Tell your story. Embrace the messy truth, speak the honest truth and cherish the value of your own voice. I’m doing it for myself, but I am also doing it for Grandma and all the women before us who were forced into silence. Let’s not be quiet. We can each become a one woman riot! Viva la resistance!

Put on your face,
Know your place,
Shut up and smile,
Don’t spread your legs,
I could do that

But no one knows me, no one ever will,
If I don’t say something, if I just lie still.
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let them hear what I have to say?

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone
Anymore

Cuz no one knows me no one ever will,
If I don’t say something, take that dry blue pill
They may see that monster, they may run away
But I have to do this, do it anyway

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh I can’t keep quiet

Let it out let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands

Let it out, let it out
Let it out now
Must be someone who’ll understand

Let it out, let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands

Let it out, let it out
Let it out now

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone,
No, not any more.

-Written by Connie Lim and Adrianne Gonzalez

Don’t Let the Narcissist Define You

24 Feb

One of the most damaging things that happens to ACoNs is when the narcissistic parent tries to define them. The narc will try to define you to yourself, friends and other family members. This is part of the gaslighting treatment and we must diligently refuse to allow such lies to influence us. Let fools and flying monkeys listen to those lies, but never allow the narc to define you.

I once wrote a poem about how other people in my family told me how to spend my money and what music to listen to and how to dress and what foods to eat. I wrote how it bothered me to be controlled. This was not a saga of teenage rebellion against parental authority––I actually wrote this poem when I was thirty-four years old. It was a vague and shaky beginning to my awakening, but it would take me another ten years to fully wake up.

What was so weird about this poem is that I shared it with one of my sisters who told me it was a very selfish poem. She said it was all about me—

Me wanting to listen to whatever music I liked,

Me choosing to spend my own money,

Me eating whatever I liked,

Me dressing or wearing my hair however I liked,

And me worshipping God the way I felt led.

What’s really lame is I actually believed her. I felt ashamed for being so selfish that I tore up the poem and threw it away. I don’t blame my sister, she was only repeating the narcissistic things told to us growing up. This is the way we were raised–-to give up all of ourselves to please our family members. Well, I don’t buy into that game anymore. It was all part of the game I could never win.

When my sister called me selfish for wanting to live my own life, she was only being a flying monkey and repeating what our parents  had called her on multiple occasions. We were taught what we wanted was selfish, but complimented and told we were “thoughtful” if we did what they wanted.

Part of the problem is whenever I did things the narc didn’t approve of, they tried to define me as selfish or rebellious. Maybe this has happened to you. Have you found yourself feeling ashamed for being human and having human needs like desiring respect, fun and love? Don’t let the narcissist lie to you.

Any intelligent and mature person knows we all have choices and God himself gave us these choices. He doesn’t stop people from making even harmful decisions. Any form of control over another’s life choices by one adult toward another adult reveals a lack of God’s Spirit.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.

The heart of the problem in every dysfunctional family is someone trying to define someone else and trying to box them into their expectations. And it doesn’t go away when we grow up.

When we care about social causes, they call us liberals.
When we tell the truth and it exposes their lies, they accuse us of lying.
When we refuse to let them walk all over our boundaries, they peg us as controlling.
When we stop allowing them to use us, they call us stingy and selfish.
When we find a grace-filled picture of God, they call us heretics.

The bottom line is even if we did everything they wanted and sold our souls to please them, they wouldn’t appreciate it and they would still be looking for some way to judge and criticize. That’s because narcissistic people merely want to use people until they drain them dry.

Many of us have been pushed into a corner by a narcissist who wants to control us. When we spoke the truth, they lied and tried to make us look bad so no one will listen our stories or want to hang out with us. They want to scapegoat us so we can feel banished from the camp and left alone to die. If this has happened to you, there is still hope.

Remember it’s the family scapegoat who gets away. Others continue this group fantasy because they want to feel better about themselves and they can only do this by thinking of someone they deem worse than them. Of course this slows down their own journey of healing and makes them unsafe to be around, but we can’t control what they do, they will have to wake up on their own someday.

Giraffe Girl, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/219220213/teal-giraffe-giclee-print-whimsical-girl?ref=shop_home_active_1

Prints Available in Etsy Shop

We are now in a time that people are calling “post-truth.” This is certainly a sad development when we consider that Jesus said it’s the truth which will set us free. Jesus had no room for alternative facts. He called out the lies and said those who lie are from their father the devil. It is now time for many of us to stand even taller in our truth.

In this post-truth age, we might need to call out truth like Jesus did when he exposed the Pharisees. It’s true there could be danger in this. Remember Jesus was accused of being a law breaker for healing people on the Sabbath. True other-centered love often trumps the laws of the land. Jesus was accused of touching the unclean and eating with sinners and outcasts. Because of this, some called him a false prophet—others even suggested he was filled with the devil.

Jesus said when his disciples danced they were judged for being happy and when they didn’t, they were told they were too sad. Jesus knows what it’s like to play a game you can never win, but he refused to let others define him. He stood for truth and he is the ultimate Truth about God. So no matter what label people, pastors, politicians and activists wear, if they don’t look and act like Jesus, there is no truth in them.

My message to you is don’t let the narc define you. You are not the sum of whatever the selfish narc wants to make you look like. I love this quote that Mother Teresa put on her wall,

“In the final analysis, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.”

Not only is this the truth, but we can’t allow other people to make our choices and we cannot allow other people–especially narcissistic people, to define us.

You are not selfish to make your own choices. God gave you those choices.

You are not a grudge holder for asking the narc to make things right if they want to have a relationship.

You are not being petty to ask them to be honest with you and about you.

You are definitely not a liar for telling the truth to refute the narcissist’s lies.

You are not unloving to ask for what you need.

Let the narcissist deal with their own bad choices, you are not responsible for their choices.

And you are not selfish to go no contact when people treat you with disrespect and animosity.

If you are a Christian, allow Jesus to define who you are–but please don’t let the narc define you.

Don’t Let the Narc Mess With Your Heart

14 Feb

Think about all the lies, the put downs and the gaslighting.

All the times you tried to explain your heart
to someone who was committed to misunderstanding it.

All the times your empathetic heart was used by the Narcissist,
who said it was your own fault.

All the times the Narcissist stepped on your heart,
then said you were too sensitive.

All the times you were told to ignore your heart,
and sit down and shut up and put up.

Think about the beatings your heart has gone through.
Think about all the times you ignored your heart—
because of the Narcissist.

There was a time when your heart said, “Speak the truth,”
but the Narcissist said, “Shut up.”

There was a time when your heart said, “Watch out,”
but the Narcissist said, “Don’t worry.”

There was a time when your heart said, “This is a lie,”
but the Narcissist said, “Trust me.”

Listen to Your Heart, cherilynclough.com, https://www.etsy.com/listing/505157007/listen-to-your-heart-print-valentine?ref=shop_home_feat_3

There was a time when your heart said, “Remember,”
but the Narcissist said, “Forget.”

There was a time when your heart said, “I’m worth it,”
but the Narcissist said, “You’re not worth it.”

The truth is you ARE worth it–

You are worth speaking your truth,
You are worth explaining your fears,
You are worth remembering your pain,
You are worth sharing your heart
And you are worth having a relationship with someone
who treats you with respect and honesty.

It’s way past time friend, to listen to your heart.

Love is Resistance

19 Jan

Most of us who have studied narcissism and dealt with it in our families see lots of red flags in our new president’s character. So how can we as citizens of God’s kingdom make a difference? We might not approve of the choices of the president, but we don’t have to contribute to fear, we can find subversive ways to bring hope and love to the people around us. Sometimes love is resistance.

At this point it doesn’t matter who any of us voted for. I say this–not because I think this man will be a better president than Bernie Sanders or Hillary Clinton, but because whoever we voted for it is now a moot point and thinking about this will only tempt us into arguments and living in the past.

In this present moment well over half of the Americans who voted are disappointed and many are afraid. People are worried about losing their healthcare, their jobs and in some cases, even their lives. We can’t fix all these issues, but what we can do is walk alongside those who are marginalized and hurting.

We have several choices–we can sit paralyzed with despair and act helpless, we can choose to be indifferent and sit on the sidelines, we can choose to sit in self-righteousness over whether we voted for the right candidate, or we can forget about self and embrace the hurting in our communities with empathy. Our highest calling is to encourage the hurting around us and roll up our sleeves to include those who might be excluded. We have an opportunity to extend kindness, love and grace to our neighbors, friends and coworkers.

There are many things we can do to encourage the people around us.

  • We can march with women this Saturday (you don’t have to go to Washington, you can even organize your own march.)
  • We can practice good self-care, regardless of what is going on at the capitol, joy and peace come from nurturing ourselves and others.
  • We can go to places we might not normally go and listen to people who are not like us.
  • We can speak up when we see injustice happening.
  • We can let our voices be heard even before things happen.
  • Whether our friends voted or see things the way we do or not, we can always be kind.
  • We can share our gifts with others whether those gifts are music or baking cookies or writing a blog or book or giving a massage.
  • We can just be there for all people we know and let them know they matter.

heart-cookies-with-words

My subversive political act for the day is sharing cookies. I’m not saying my cookies will change anything in the political world, but it’s my way to reach out and add some joy and kindness in the world. Sharing cookies is not about food as much as it is letting people know they are valued and not alone. These cookies are going to the hospital where my husband works just to spread some cheer on a rainy January day.

I’ve been thinking about how Jesus shared food while He was on earth. He broke bread not just at Passover, but every meal he ate with others. And many of those others were outcasts of society or damaged, fear-filled citizens of a brutal Roman kingdom. Jesus didn’t fix their laws, but He came to let all of us know we are all of value. He also told us not to worry about tomorrow, because today has enough trouble of its own.

So no matter who we voted for, no matter what we have to give, the most important thing we can do right now is come alongside others and let them know they are not alone. This is the way we can bring courage to our communities. We have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but for today, we can share what we have with those around us. Let’s all go out and spread a little love.

P.S. If you want the cookie recipe, you can find it here.

MLK and Advice for the ACoN Soul

15 Jan

Being a white girl, living in a white neighborhood and not knowing any people of color, Martin Luther King Jr. was never mentioned in my childhood home. His birthday was never celebrated as a holiday until I was twenty, but I actually never learned anything about him until I was in college and we had peanut soup on the cafeteria menu and someone explained it was in honor of him. By then I was interested in civil rights because I’d begun to have friends of color who explained to me just how hard it is to grow up with racism.

For years, I thought of King as a wonderful man of God who believed in non-violence and had great quotes, but it wasn’t until I discovered the level of narcissistic abuse in my own family that I really began to resonate with King’s sayings. Perhaps only those who have had to fight for their freedom can truly appreciate his statements.

It’s true, he was fighting for civil rights, but Martin Luther King Jr. brings wisdom to the collective human race and he especially speaks to all who have been oppressed. Today, I hold many of his sayings close to my heart because I have found his advice useful for any people who have been mistreated and Adult Children of Narcissists certainly fit into that category. Now, more than ever these words ring true across our nation.

Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent
about things that matter.
-MLK

Anyone who has been marginalized or abused knows this is only too true. When one of my siblings once told me, “We can never live until our parents are dead,” I cried because I didn’t want them to die, but I wanted to live.

There is something about the human soul that despises being silent about the things that matter and yet many of us were taught we had no voice. No matter what kind of abuse you have suffered, finding your voice is a vital step to your recovery.

 

mlk-1000

King, in few words, has undone a lifetime of silence because he gave us permission to say, It’s not okay for people to marginalized me or lie to me and lie about me. It’s not okay to triangulate behind my back and I don’t have to put up with rude behavior–whether it’s calling up my friends to talk about me or writing rude things on my social media wall.

Now, when we have people who are blatantly abusing others whether in private family gatherings or in the media, it’s time to let our voices be heard.

Injustice anywhere
is a threat to justice everywhere.
-MLK

King calls us to accountability for all members of the human race. It doesn’t matter if we share the same skin tone, or gender or social status, when any one is marginalized or harmed, we must take it personally, because the threat is real and we are each called to be our neighbor’s keeper.

Of course there is often opposition when we speak up. Our abusers will often say “Not right now–wait until after dinner or the holidays or until we get a better leader,” but King has given us permission to say how we feel and share what we think with no apologies especially when he said:

The time is always right
to do what is right.
–MLK

King even had some advice that could be used for Flying Monkeys:

He who passively accepts evil
is as much involved in it
as he who helps to perpetrate it.
He who accepts evil
without protesting against it
is really cooperating with it.
-MLK

The ultimate measure of a man
is not where he stands in moments
of comfort and convenience,
but where he stands at times
of challenge and controversy.
-MLK

I find courage in these quotes, because even now there are people bowing to the powers that be–both within the denomination I grew up in and in our nation, but I cannot and will not forsake the principles of Jesus to please any human no matter who they are. Such a reminder is all the more meaningful when I realize King once stood on such principles and paid dearly for them with his own life.

And this brings us to some of the best advice King ever gave:

I have decided to stick with love.
Hate is too great a burden to bear.
-MLK

I’ve read about survivors who are bitter about their past abuse and are filled with contempt for their abusers. They have trouble forgiving in part because their abusers won’t say sorry, but they continue to carry the burden of their abusers with them everywhere. I can understand how they got there, but King offers us a higher path when he says:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness;
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate;
only love can do that.
-MLK

This gives us permission to let go of the past and lean into the light. Somewhere on this planet there is a survivor playing beautiful music or painting an amazing work of art or writing a fantastic story of hope. Just knowing there are people who have survived much worse than I have endured and they are still carrying on to serve other people gives me hope and joy.

So in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., let us live our lives by speaking of what matters even when it is unpopular. Let us watch out for those who might not look like us, but who in character deserve and resonate with our own cries for freedom and justice for all.

Let us forgive and release those who have meant us harm and let us carry the light of love wherever we go–to work, to school, to church, to the boardroom, to the neighborhood–because we have a choice.

Every man must decide
whether he will walk in the light
of creative altruism or in the
darkness of destructive selfishness.
-MLK

Healing from Narcissistic Abuse–Remember to Release

30 Dec

So this last year you discovered you were in a narcissistic relationship or even raised by a narcissistic parent. You’ve probably also discovered the narcissist will never see it, will never agree with you about this and of course will never change. Bottom line the narcissist is not interested in your happiness.

Realizing this probably brought a sense of peace because now you no longer need to jump through hoops to play a game you can never win. You’ve survived the holidays with a good friend and a couple of pets, but now what? It’s time to

RELEASE:

re·lease
rəˈlēs/
verb
 
1. Allow or enable to escape from confinement; set free. 
“the prisoners would be released” to set free, let go/out, allow to leave, liberate, set at liberty

2. Allow (something) to move, act, or flow freely

It’s the end of the year–time to remember and release. It’s time to clean out the closets and give back everything you don’t need. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need more guilt trips, shame or arguments about who I am and what I believe or how I choose to live my own life.

So where is the line for narc returns? Where in the world do we give all this crap back? Not to a store. Not to a friend or spouse, and certainly not to the narc.

Of course we are speaking of all the non-material junk dumped on us by critical, judgmental and narcissistic people. It’s not like taking a sweater the wrong size back to the store. At first it seems there is nowhere to take it, so we hold it all inside wondering how to absorb the pain. But you get to decide how this story ends.

Remember how those twin towers fell on 911? They imploded because they could only hold so much stress. People implode differently, we can only hold in so much heartbreak and stress and if we don’t figure out how to let go, we will eventually crash. Many have paid with their health, but narcissistic relationships are not worth trading for your health, so it’s time to remember and release.

You can call up the narcissist and demand an apology, but if you are dealing with a bonafide narc, they won’t say sorry. You probably know that will never happen.

You can play the victim and whine to your friends and spouse (whining and telling your messy story are two completely different things). You can feel like a victim, but then you’d be giving the narcissist even more power to ruin your life. Maya Angelou wrote, “Don’t whine, whining just lets a brute know there’s a victim in the neighborhood.”

Sharing your messy story will help you get your power back because it heals you and those who listen. You can also journal. It’s fun to release our stories—through writing and art. A couple years ago, I took an art journaling course from Brené Brown that was really fun and healing. This opened me up to taking more art classes online and I have found profound healing through making and releasing art. Telling our stories heals us, but it also heals others. It’s good for all of us to know we are not alone.

You can defend yourself and try to correct all the lies the narcissist has spread about you to friends and family, but the truth is it’s not you, but the narc. And your true friends already know the truth and the others won’t care.

Sophia Owl, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/22403369-sophia-owl?asc=u&c=541259-soul-sanctuary

My favorite Art I made in 2016–A reminder! Prints and cards available here

You could also join the narcissist in beating yourself up and giving shame messages to yourself, but ouch, why even go there? Shame never comes from Jesus.

We remember and release. It’s a lot like catch and release if you like fishing. Don’t be scared of what you will find in the past. If you invite Jesus into the past, He will sort through this mess with you. If you don’t do religious stuff, you can still go through the spiritual practice of remember and release.

Maybe it’s been awhile since you cleaned out your closets, if so, you might need to go all way back to 1999. But no matter how far back you go, remember and release will help you make room for a better new year.

You can write a letter to the narc and tell them how much they hurt you and mail it in a bonfire. Remember the narc doesn’t care how you feel so this part of release is important, but don’t mail it to your narcissistic parents or ex-lover. This is just so you can acknowledge what happened and forgive yourself for letting them do this to you.

Whether you tell your story, journal or make art, if you are a Christian, Jesus is different from the narcs and He cares about people who are abused, so He is leading you away from the narcs. Some Christians will say give it to Jesus, and that sounds nice, but to date no one has actually shown me what that looks like. A friend suggested we invite Jesus into the mess and that seems much more feasible to me. Jesus is knocking on the New Year’s door of your heart and he is asking to come in, we don’t have tidy up our hearts for him—he already knows all of our secrets and he loves us anyway.

If you are not religious, you can still find gratitude for your journey with different signs along the way where the universe or karma was bringing you to a better place. Someone is watching out for you despite the pain. Open your eyes to this new and healing journey.

Remember and release has nothing to do with forgetting. As a matter of fact when we journal, make art or tell our stories, it helps us to remember and release our pain so the healing can continue.

After you clean out the closet of your heart from all the junk the narcissist dumped on you, chances are there will be a big empty hole left where the hopes and dreams you had once resided. That’s okay, it just leaves more room for new people and better dreams.

It’s time to start dreaming now how to make 2017 a better year. What have you always dreamed of doing? What will help you live a better story? It is only through releasing that we begin to live a more whole-hearted story.

I plan to RELEASE:

The Narcissists to play their own games
and eat their own word salad without my help–I’m so outta here!
Release the Flying Monkeys to their illusions
Release my own expectations of other people
Release all guilt and shame trips
Release weight
Release fear

And let’s not just release negative things:

I plan to
Release BOOKS I am writing
Release ART I am making
Release LOVE!

What are you going to release?
Please feel free to share in the comments.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
-Mary Oliver

 

 

 

Celebrate Only in Freedom

20 Nov

This is the time of year we hear lots of quotes and comments about being grateful. Sometimes we even read or hear admonitions to be grateful for what we have and for those of us who have fractured families, it can feel like a slap in the face.

Such messages usually come from superficial friends or people totally in denial and of course the flying monkeys. They come in a mixed bag of word salad disguised as compliments and good advice when in reality these people are completely ignorant about narcissistic abuse or devoid of brains.

This week someone complained how the main narc in their family keeps doing rude things. I wonder how long they will keep going back for more punishment. I mentioned there’s no way around the fact this person is a narc. If it walks, talks and squawks like a narc, what more proof do you need?

Some people might mean well, but we can’t take advice from them because all their nice platitudes don’t apply to narcissistic abuse. I’m sure you’ve heard these remarks:

“Well we’re family and family sticks together.”

Yeah, like super glue between your finger and your thumb? With some people you can’t get anything done.

“Be grateful for who is still alive–we never know who won’t be with us next year.”

Very sad! And you know what is even sadder? People who are still alive being lied to and lied about and treated with no respect. What kind of life is that? No thank you!

“We need to forgive and forget.”

This is often said by the abuser. When the abuser says it, it’s because he/she doesn’t want to remember their abusive behavior and they certainly don’t want to apologize for it. They just want you to forget the knife they put into your back so they can have the thrill of doing it again. Narcs are not normal people. They do not have empathy for their victims and some get a high from hurting others. When the flying monkeys say this, they are just channeling the narc, because they can’t think for themselves.

“Why can’t we all just get along?”

Because we can’t give up honesty and freedom to get along. When the family peacemaker says this, whether they are aware of it or not, they are acting as a flying monkey and taking sides with the abuser. Or they self-righteously feel good about themselves because they are not the ones in the drama. They might feel good about saying, get along, but getting along is what kept slaves in their place. Getting along is what sold many Jewish people into the hands of Nazis. Getting along is what keeps people in gangs. Just sayin’.

If you have family members or friends spouting these platitudes and asking you to come to the big family dinner, here is a litmus test to see if it is worth your time. Ask yourself these two questions–

1. Are they honest?
2. Do they treat me with respect?

Honest Elephant, Cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/23109846-honest-elephant-words

Prints and Accessories Available Here

I don’t think this is asking too much, because without honor and respect, we’ve got nothing.

So back to being grateful. I am grateful! I am grateful every. single. day. for my freedom filled life!
I am grateful for so many things, but the height of my gratitude is to know that God is not like a narcissist and gives me freedom to make my own choices. I am grateful for the knowledge I have about narcissism so I can quit trying to play a game I could never win. I am grateful for freedom.

A few years ago after the Worst Thanksgiving Ever, I wrote a poem and shared it with one of my family members. It was about other people telling me what to eat and how to worship and how to spend my money. I was thirty-five at the time and trying to find my voice and trying cut the control strings from my family of origin.

My poem basically said I was reclaiming my own right to these things. My family member listened to my poem, then said, “Wow! That’s a very selfish poem–it’s all about you.” I was stunned. The words of this family member echoed what my parents had taught me and I didn’t know how to separate myself from the lies, so I ripped up the poem and asked Jesus to forgive me for being so selfish. It would take me another ten years to wake up.

So every holiday I am very grateful to be awake, I am grateful to no longer be brainwashed to live my life to please other people. I am grateful to discern lies from truth. To know myself and know my God.

So if you are feeling sad about all the mind twists and gaslighting and being ostracized this holiday season, remember to look for the silver lining. Here is the sad truth: narcissistic people bring us joy only in their absence. If they weren’t narcs, they would use honesty and respect to bring us back home, but by their very nature, narcs find truth, love and freedom impossible.

So here’s to a narc-free life–with truth, love and freedom! I can drink to that!

The Sound of Gravel–Book Review 

16 Sep

There’s no place like home–unless it’s a shanty reeking of mice droppings without indoor plumbing and hot showers and there are live wires hidden everywhere. The house Ruth Wariner grew up in was more like a booby trap than a home.

Located in the village of Colonia LeBaron, her childhood home was in a compound started by her grandfather and led at one time by her father who was considered a prophet in the Church of the First Born of the Fulness of Times–a spinoff of what most would call fundamentalist Mormonism. Ruthie never knew her father because he was murdered by his brother in an act of Cain and Abel betrayal. She was not even given her father’s name. Her father had dozens of children. But this story is not about Ruth’s father, but rather what transpired as the result of her mother becoming the second wife of another man. This is the story of betrayal and survival, poverty and resilience and a story of teenage hate for her narcissistic step father and a pitiful love for her mother.

We rejoice with young Ruthie as she discovers her new friends are actually her half-sisters and she finds out she is not alone. We sigh with annoyance every time her mother becomes pregnant because we wonder how she will be able to clothe and feed yet another mouth in this world where men are rarely home to help with the chores because they are off spending time with another wife.

Although I was NOT raised in a Mormon cult, I once again found some things in common with a polygamist’s daughter. I’ve also reviewed The Witness Wore Red by Rebecca Musser. Despite the similarities of growing up with Mormon fundamentalism, these two women’s stories are quite different just as two Baptists, Catholics or Adventists can have completely different stories.

I like to think of memoirs as true life fairy tales where young girls who spend their childhoods cooking and cleaning and babysitting get to find joy eventually. We can learn from each of our stories and we need all of our stories to build a better future.

So back to what I found in common with Ruthie:

1. The most obvious was her physical situations which included constant moving, using an outhouse and sleeping in inadequate beds and shivering in the cold without heat due to extreme poverty and lack of electricity and hot running water. Which is mostly the result of the second thing I found in common.

2. We were both raised in a religion focusing on isolation from the world where a call to separate from Babylon includes conspiracy theories and fear of the government. A dream to be self-sufficient and prepared for the desolation or time of trouble. This includes conversations and fear messages about the end of the world with an emphasis on salvation by works.

3. While Ruth’s step father and mother did things my own parents would call unthinkable, there was a common thread of constant moving, parental control, lost education, teaching children to lie when it’s convenient for the parent and using children as house slaves while taking their money. Her step father has all sorts of broken down cars he plans to fix which once again I can relate to only too well.

4. There are many smaller similarities which bring familiarity to Ruthie’s story for me. My first memory is of my own mother baking bread in juice cans and sorting dried pinto beans. Ruthie grew up sorting beans and baking in juice cans too. Like myself, she was the main daughter that her mother relied on to care for the younger children. It’s like our mothers got the same memo on how to raise a daughter to do your chores.

There were two very ironic moments in the book for me, the first was where her grandparents shook their heads sadly and said they felt powerless to help their daughter and grandchildren because of her step dad. I’ve seen such shaking heads only too well–although I did not understand the depth of it until I left home. Her step dad asking her grandparents for a loan to buy a trailer for them to live in was de je vu for me too.

Speak the Truth, cherilynclough.com, http://www.redbubble.com/people/littlered7/works/13762555-speak-the-truth-healing-flowers?asc=u&c=540575-healing-flowers

Prints and Accessories Available Here

The second most bizarre moment for me was about music. It seems like such a little thing, but music connects us with hope and one of my biggest struggles with my father throughout my childhood was his oppression in trying to control my music. The scene where Ruthie’s step father listens to Kenny Rogers “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me, Lucille,” while Ruthie begs him to listen to John Denver’s “Country Roads,” could’ve been taken from a chapter in my own book with the exact same songs. As a matter of fact I have a chapter written which includes these songs in a different order but reading Ruthie’s version freaked me out.

Other than these things, whatever harm my parents allowed by their actions was mild in some ways compared to the negligence of Ruthie’s mother and the evil of her stepfather. My own parents would consider the things Lane her stepfather did unconscionable. And my mother is a germaphobe who would bleach any signs of mice droppings and never serve me a fly in my food. However as we all know from counseling we cannot compare our stories as one being worse than the other. All abuse is abuse regardless.

Without giving away the plot, let me just say Ruth Wariner survived the unthinkable several times over, yet she wisely tells her story with the innocence of childhood, much like Jeannette Walls does in “The Glass Castle.” As Wariner describes her family’s drama in understated tones, she chronicles her private traumas with skill and uses her real life plot twists to keep the reader turning page after page wondering what else could possibly happen to this girl.

This book contains triggers of various kinds, so read at your own discretion with a box of tissues. However Ruth does NOT write as a victim, she writes as a shining star–one who shines most brightly against the darkness of evil. In the end, Ruthie triumphs against the face of false religion and abuse and learns to speak the truth–even when her voice shakes.

Ruth Wariner, thank you for sharing your story in The Sound of Gravel with the world. You truly deserve your place in the Sheroes Hall of Fame!