The Good Guy

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He’s going to be the greatest guy…until he isn’t.

Your friends will love the way he makes you laugh…until he won’t allow you to be their friend anymore.

They’ll think it’s just you being in love. So, they don’t think much of it.

Your family will adore the way he holds you close…until they see the look on your face.

They’ll believe the lie you tell them… again. I’m tired. I’m stressed. I’m really happy. So, they don’t think much of it.

Your neighbors will think he’s the greatest guy, always working on things around the house… until they hear the shouts and cries late one night.

They’ll believe it was just a lover’s quarrel, and no one really wants to get involved anyway. So, they don’t think much of it.

On first glance, no one would believe the guy who carries the conversation like him, always offers a helping hand, talks about protecting you, and generally looks like a normal, clean cut guy would be who he is.

But when the shadows fall and you’re all alone,

You’ll believe the words he says when he tells you if you could just be trusted he’d give your debit card.

You’ll just know he’s right when he says it’s your fault he can’t trust you.

You’ll absolutely believe he just gets so angry because he loves you.

As you dry your tears, he’ll comfort you with a quiet

I’m sorry I had to yell like that

You just make me crazy when other men look at you

I love you too much to not make sure you love me too.

I wish you’d remember when I tell you not to say certain things.

I wish you’d just put dinner on when it’s time.

I wish you’d not hide things from me.

Then, while you’re driving to work careful not to make an extra turn, in your mind you hope,

Today is finally the time he’ll believe you

Today is the last time you have to send him pictures of where you are, show him receipts, and let him check your phone

Today will be the last time he writes down the mileage on your car.

And it could be

Because today could be the day he finally snaps.

Today could be the day his “love” makes him tighten the grip around your neck a little too much, a little too long.

Today could be the day he finally pulls the trigger.

But you don’t leave because no one will ever believe a guy like him in the daylight, a guy who wears a suit and washes his car twice a week, could be the monster he becomes in the dark when no one is looking.

Who would you tell anyway?

Emotional abuse isn’t a crime

If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, there is help. Please call -1-800-799-7233. Please know computers and cell phones can be easily monitored and never wiped completely clean. Call the number. Get help now. If you witness abuse, don’t dismiss it. Victims will often make excuses for their abusers, especially when confronted in front of them. EMOTIONAL ABUSE IS ABUSE, TOO! Just because there are no bruises or police reports doesn’t mean there is no abuse. Get Help Before It’s Too Late. Over 10 million people are the victims of domestic violence each year in the US alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

A Quick Religious Comparison: We’re Not So Different

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Remember when we were all kids who fought over whose mom made the best cookies, whose uncle belched the loudest, or whose dad was actually a super man? As we grew, we learned those petty points of contention were never going to be solved; everyone’s own mom, dad, or uncle were the best, at least by their own perception. It’s also likely they were probably all quite similar, just as many of the things we fight about as adults. Unfortunately, we no longer work out our angst with do-overs on the ballfield to prove who’s the best. Instead, we wage literal war against one another not only with words, but also real military weapons, fighting over whose god is best, or who is the most righteous.

While these deadly battles play out in villages and towns torn to shreds while children look on, the looming question is: what does any of this matter? Just like everyone’s dad was a superhero in his own right, each religion has their own important figure who is probably wonderful. Moreover, just like all the dads were similar in that they held similar positions: worker, father, provider, protector, each religion is strikingly similar.

Admittedly, this comparison leaves out a great many religions. It will not cover eastern or pagan religions. It completely excludes atheists and agnostics. The focus here is on the big three: Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. Why? The answer is pretty simple. We don’t see many wars fought over Buddha, nor do many Wiccans commit terrorists attacks in the name of a sacred crystal. That statement is only recognizing fact. It’s not meant to say any religion is superior.

Having an attitude of moral and spiritual superiority is what causes us to fight in the first place, so let’s put that aside to investigate how three religions are similar rather than constantly pointing out why one is right or wrong.

I’ve included a nifty Venn diagram I found on the net to help compare some of the bigger components. It’s not my own, but I think it’s fairly accurate. I also think we can add to it.

religion

As we can see, great parts of the beliefs are the same. Only a very few are different. There are some other similarities we can add:

Head coverings—
All three religions include some component of females covering their heads. Catholic nuns wear the habit, which includes a white coif. Married Orthodox Jewish women wear the tichel, or mitpachat. Lastly, Muslim women wear hijabs.
We tend to micro-focus on Islamic religions requiring head coverings for women, but as we can see, they are not the only ones. Furthermore, none of them feel oppressed when they wear them. It’s simply a part of their religious tradition.
We should also recognize it is not only women who cover their heads. Although the traditions vary and may not necessarily be religiously required, Muslim men may wear a prayer cap called the taqiyahs. Jewish men wear the kippah. Although men in Christian religions do not normally cover their heads, Roman Catholic cardinals regularly wear head coverings called the zucchetto and the biretta.

Beards—
Another common denominator betwixt the three is beards. No matter Jewish, Islamic, or Christian, beards can be required. Because of the media, we are more familiar with the Muslim beard, but the Old Order Amish also require beards, as do Orthodox Jews.

Modest Dress For Women-
While it seems Muslim women are the focus of many discussion concerning their modest form of dress, all three religions may require women to be covered and dressed in a modest fashion. This may include sleeves to cover elbows and dresses long enough to cover knees in the Orthodox Jewish and many Christian religions. It could also be a complete covering from shoulders to ankles in the Muslim and other religions. Regardless, the Islamic religion is not the only one to require women to cover themselves, especially if they are married.

• Raising Devout Children
Although we often hear words like “brainwashing” used to describe the way children are raised in the Muslim community, all three religions begin teaching children from birth, specifically when they are old enough to attend school, in the ways of their respective churches. The Catholic Church, in fact, provided all the education and educational materials for most of Europe until secularism gained popularity during the late 19th and early 20th century. While secular teaching was used as early as the late 17th century and was the subject of many philosophers like Locke and Voltaire, church-led education was still the standard until well past the Enlightenment. Yet today, if one so chooses, they might send their child to a Christian or Hebrew school. Muslims do not own the market on educating children in religion.

• Conflict—
There has been no shortage of conflict between the three religions. From the earliest crusades to now, the three have had obstacles between them. The Jewish and Christian communities do not have the long-lasting war we see between the Muslim and Jewish communities, but we cannot overlook the fact Hitler used religion against the Jewish community during the genocide he and others committed in WWII.

To say we have all been peaceful in our religious practice would be what we might now call an “alternative fact.” However, I’ve only listed a short amount of similarities here, omitting the similarities between these and other religions not listed. Why we continue this battle between whose religion is best astounds me. We’re all great in our own ways. We all have downsides. Most importantly, we’re all humans trying to attain the same thing.

It shouldn’t matter what word we assign for “God”. It shouldn’t matter on what day we worship. It shouldn’t matter what book we read the message from. All that should matter is if we would all stop killing each other, we might actually be living the way all three texts expect us to. If we all quit fearing one another, maybe we can see we’re more alike than we ever imagined.

( Since this is not meant as a scholarly paper for publication, I did not cite the information in this piece. All the data and facts are easily searchable, and most is basic common knowledge, anyway. The source of the diagram is watermarked inside the graphic.Thank you for reading. I’ll include a couple links in case you’d like to fact check me.
The history of secular education: http://science.jrank.org/pages/11240/Secularization-Secularism-History-Nature-Secularization-Secularism-1914.html
Islamic Male headcovering:https://www.reference.com/world-view/muslim-men-wear-heads-1cdc44449fd15f2f
Traditional clothing for Orthodox Jewish women:http://www.orthodox-jews.com/jewish-clothing-for-women.html#axzz4XS3f9gRB
)

A Direct Response to Those who Say Women Had No Right to March:

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Social media has been abuzz with opinions in the past few days, mostly involving the women around the world who chose to march in response to, what many assume, is the election and inauguration of Trump. While I would never deny many of us are left feeling disenfranchised by the surreal reality of what’s transpired, let’s get one thing clear, he is not important enough alone to warrant these marches. He’s just gasoline on a pile of smoldering discrimination many experience every day.

For those, including women, who say women are not discriminated against in the US, there is apparently a disconnect between realities. It’s undoubtedly some level of privilege that allows some to say “I’ve never seen this or that”—a privilege many would love to live. However, to be clear, one person’s reality does not mean it is the realty for all. We cannot know what every woman in this nation experiences by glancing through our own windows. To be understood fully, we have to look through all the windows from every level—a task only possible by listening to the qualitative data—the voices—so many like to deny, or worse, squelch. Maybe some have never been mistreated or disrespected as females in the US, but some have. To say we American women have it made as a whole is a damaging misconception at best, a despicable lie at worst.

Here’s the truth many would like to shove off the playing field we call protest:

If you have never been humiliated, belittled, or damaged by the process of reporting a rape within the US, you do not get to say women & women’s rights are important here.

If you have never been slut shamed for wearing the clothes you choose, or worse, been blamed for your own sexual assault because of them, you do not get to say women are held in high regard.

If you have never been denied a medically necessary abortion because a group’s religious beliefs interfere with the process of medical care, you do not get to say women always have the right to choose.

If you have never tried to attain a promotion or raise in a male-dominated field without being told to “get in the kitchen, “ being forced to flirt, or being forced to perform sexual favors, you do not get to say women are treated equally.

If you have never had to fight your insurance company to cover preventative tests, like pap smears or cancer screenings, while insurance is regularly covering Viagra for impotence, you do not get to tell women their lives matter.

If you have never been forced to either abstain from sex or get pregnant, even in the context of a marriage, because you can’t afford the birth control your insurance won’t cover, you do not get to say women have the same choices as men.

If you have never become pregnant as the result of a rape, and then been forced to give your rapist visitation rights of that child, you do not get to tell women they have the same control as men.
If you have never reported domestic abuse, only to be asked what you did to make him mad, you cannot say women have equal protection.

If you have never had to fight your employer for maternity leave, a clean, private area & the time to pump breast milk for your child, you do not get to say the workplace is “woman friendly”.
If you have never had to tell a man you have a boyfriend to stop his advances because “I’m not interested, “ or “No” were not enough, you cannot say men value women’s opinions.

This is just a short list of the discrimination women face in the US. It doesn’t even begin to touch on intersectionallity, or the discrimation felt by other ethnic and religious groups. No, it’s not Saudi Arabia, Guatemala, or India. No, we do not have honor killings and female genital mutilation, although those things happen in the shadows. However, the argument that we don’t have it as bad as them is as ridiculous as saying someone with lung cancer shouldn’t complain because someone with brain cancer has it worse. It’s still cancer, which is exactly why women rose up to meet the occasion.

We stand and fight because a man who not only openly scoffs at, but promotes the degradation of women and other minorities represents the cancer that has lived so long within this country. Trump isn’t the only problem. It’s everything he represents. Sure, maybe he is a good businessperson. Maybe his failures are fewer than his successes, but it’s how he became successful we should worry about. The way he speaks, the way he openly degrades, women, people of color, Muslims, immigrants, and people who live with disabilities is sickening. To allow his presidency to become a larger reign of terror is to let us all implode.

You see, we don’t march so we can have casual Fridays, free cable, or even because we don’t like the word “pussy”. We march because when he says “grab,” “wall,” or “register,” we know what that connotes: assault fascism, and the end of the freedoms so many of us have fought for—not just for ourselves, but for ALL.

A Cycle of Abuse:Understanding Why Women Might Vote for Trump

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If there’s one thing I know, it’s the mindset of the abused woman: how we get there, why we stay there. I was an abused woman; it’s not just observation that gives me this insight. So, when I read this New York Times article about why women chose to vote for President elect Donald Trump, I heard the voices of so many women, myself included, who have excused an abuser’s bad behavior. Many of the reasons some of these women cite could come straight from an abused girlfriend’s or wife’s memoir.

One woman, Kasia Riddle, used the “good earner” excuse, stating the PEOTUS has “good business sense”. Pam Cornett said the words many abused women say when confronted by loved ones about their abusive significant other, telling others they shouldn’t categorize him: You “can’t put him in a box.” There were other varying reasons, but two were particularly bothersome and telling. Guzin Karide says she believes Trump is “a voice for women,” while Sandy Pearson is quoted as saying Trump is a “good man, deep down.” Pearson, from whom the headline of the article is taken, suggests her choice was easy when she would overlook the bad and “focus on the good.”

Women have been conditioned to “focus on the good” for centuries. We are taught from infancy to speak only kind words and to never mention someone’s negative attributes, no matter how bad they might be. Ladylike decorum trumps being truthful, pun not intended, but fitting. We’re even told to smile through pain and difficult situations; our menfolk don’t like to be uncomfortable due to our disapproving facial expressions. We’ve also been taught we don’t have a valid voice in the world. As Karide’s statement suggests, we need someone to be our voice—someone besides a female, someone who the world takes seriously: a man.

Despite our struggle to escape this unfortunate truth, the word of a man, even an abusive man, is worth far more to the world than the supposedly overly emotional, indecisive, misguided, shiftless voice of a woman, regardless of her level of experience or expertise. Thus the reason women for centuries have married men who mistreated them, stayed with their abusers, and focused on men’s “good” qualities instead of giving them the boot. After all, both men and women describe females who choose to be single as “damaged” and “faulty,” or even as “rabid feminists” not to be taken seriously. We don’t even trust other women, let alone expect men to see us in a different light.

Understanding the fact women still rely on men who leave them battered and broken emotionally, financially, and physically makes understanding why some women can look to Trump, and his plethora of male-centric supporters, as the “voice of women,” the man who will “Make American Great Again,” the “good man, deep down” who, regardless of his repulsive rhetoric and actions, will lead us into a financially and socially secure place as a nation. Men have inculcated women to not only ignore, but deny abusive actions and words in order to protect the patriarchy and its power. Escaping this harsh truth is difficult at best.

American women who speak out about their decision to vote for Trump are reminiscent of the hundreds of women I’ve spoken with who try to excuse their abusers.

He only wants what’s best for me. It’s my fault he has to be so harsh.”
“He’s not that bad once you get to know him.”
“He really loves me. He just sounds mean.”
“He didn’t really lie. He just didn’t tell me the whole truth because he knew I’d overreact. ”
“He’s better than someone else who might abuse me worse.”

I’ve heard the stories over and again—different voices, same plot. Women who’ve decided to vote for Trump are largely the same. Just as we shouldn’t judge a woman whose significant other punches them in the face, we shouldn’t judge the women who choose to support Trump. Instead, this should open a new dialogue. Maybe if we changed the way we taught women to respect men and excuse their abuse, these supporters would have viewed our President Elect through different eyes. Maybe if we taught women not to accept misogyny,they wouldn’t accept it from the man who will be in a position of power strong enough to diminish all we’ve fought to achieve.

Why #BlackLivesMatter Matters

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Looking at the recent violence from afar, it’s easy to say what should or should not happen. It’s easy to armchair quarterback when the dime in the dollar isn’t yours to lose. That’s the privilege we have when we don’t have to be out on the field trying to hold our ground. And that’s the problem with many of the opinions surfacing on social media today.

We live in a country that mistakenly believes the election of a black president cured our ills and erased our dirty secret we like to deny. Yet, we live in a country that was built upon systemic racism and sexism, so it’s still okay to shoot a person whose skin color doesn’t allow them to have the so called “freedom” fireworks celebrated four days ago. We still live in a country where it is okay to rape a woman—we can even say it’s her own fault for being too much or something or not enough of something else, especially if the melanin in her skin runs darker than her attacker’s. We live here in this country that decries freedom and democracy, yet men of color are gunned down like rabid dogs in the street for crimes their pale counterparts walk away from unscathed. We live in this country that has built a pressure cooker boiling so hot, it is bound to explode.

We have silenced the voices that have told us for decades they were not going to be oppressed anymore. Moreover, we have denied their truths, their stories, their life experiences so much by hiding our racism behind thin veils and smiles as we utter the word “thug,” hand out swift justice in the street, and deny them true freedom that they simply cannot abide in peace any longer. Yet, here we are living in a country that allows our white privilege to override that truth; we can deny because it is not us crying for our children in the streets; it is not us dying because of the color of our skin.

We live in a country where some can decry reverse racism without blinking an eye, believing this fantasy of white oppression really exists. And for as long as we continue to live this lie, there will be violence. You cannot squelch the voices forever. If words do not penetrate our minds to enact change, those who have been targeted for generations will take action. We live in a country where we should be acknowledging our sick past to try to make a better future instead of teaching lies. We live in a country that is being torn apart from the same problems that have plagued us for decades up decades, and we have the power to make this better. We choose not to. If we want to live in a country where we can raise our children without fear of gun violence, riots, and turmoil, then we need to live in a country that is truly “free” for each human being, and not just a few. We live in a country where not all lives matter, as has been proven in the past week—and this is why movements like #BlackLivesMatter simply must exist. We can certainly end the violence and make every life matter, but we must take positive action. If we want to walk what we talk as Nation, it’s time we get real and end the oppression.

An Open Letter to His New Ex-Wife

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Remember when I was the bad guy? Yeah. So do I. I always knew you had the wrong idea about me. “She’ll learn,” I told myself. His empty words, hollow promises, and blatant lies had reeled you in. But the truth, just like the dirt, always comes out in the wash, so they say. His wash water must look pretty filthy right about now.

It was never me keeping his kids from him as he said it was. He simply never made the effort to see them. He’d show up once in a great while, hang out for 15 minutes, and then his phone would go off and he’d be out the door. Visiting his kids was his cover, I’m sure, but as they can tell you, they only saw him maybe 10 times over the last few years. They’re adults now, but it still hurts them more than his cheating hurts you.

See, they’re his blood. He created them. He has a cosmic obligation to treat them with love, dignity, and respect. Being cheated on hurts, for sure. Now imagine if it was your father who betrayed you. So yeah. I stood up for them. That doesn’t make me the bad guy, though. That just makes me my children’s’ protector.

What you never thought would happen came true. He treated you just like he treated me. I know you’ve been telling yourself all these years that you were so much better than me—that marriage was “forever,” and you wouldn’t just walk away like I did. I thought that once, too. I thought I’d made a vow to live with this man for all my life, and I did everything within my power to make our marriage work. It was only when the lying, cheating, and abuse became so toxic our own children couldn’t live in it anymore that I made him leave. You’re no better than me just because you tried harder than me; I was with him much longer than you. I think I tried plenty hard.  You’re no worse than me, either. All of his actions had absolutely nothing to do with either of us, and everything to do with the fact he is a narcissist who uses and abuses people until they break.

I hate that you’re going through the heartbreak. I feel terrible that another person has suffered like I did. It makes me sick that another child will pay the price for his lack of ability to be a caring human being. I know just exactly how you feel. I’ve been in your shoes, so trust me when I say don’t let him pull you back in. Don’t let his tears and threats of suicide change what you know is true. If he comes back, things will be better for a few days or weeks, but then he’ll go back to his same harmful ways. This man is only capable of caring about himself. You will never be his No. 1. His child won’t be, either. Try and remember that it’s not him you miss. It’s not him you cry for. Who would miss a liar, cheater, and abuser? What you cry for is the loss of the dream your relationship could work. Your tears are you hopes of “forever” falling from your reality, and that’s okay. Mourn them. Just make sure you don’t let mourning lead to more than a little sorrow because none of this is your fault.Don’t let his mistakes and bad choices make you become despondent and depressed. Don’t let more of his lies make you lose who you are, ruin your self-esteem.  Even though they say “It takes two,” in reality it can take only one to ruin a good thing, and babe, the “one” wasn’t you any more than it was me.

 

(cover image via:https://www.google.com/search?q=an+open+letter+to&espv=2&biw=1366&bih=667&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjBmo79zMDKAhWKJiYKHbsnATcQ_AUICCgD#imgrc=Mwpz6YOIcIOy6M%3A)