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.

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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.

Marketing A Culture: Genocide, Racism, and The “Others”

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We want to talk about racism in the past tense like it was something that happened rather than something that is happening. No one likes to admit that while we can send an expedition to Mars, our country still cannot overcome this disease that’s plagued us since the inception of our nationhood. Like smallpox, racism came across the ocean from Europe to infect a land and a people who had never been exposed to its deadly effects. While it’s true the indigenous people of the US were not always peaceful amongst themselves, slavery and racism was as foreign to them as the other diseases brought here by the settlers. Sure, we’d like to say none of that is relevant in 2015. It only takes this one picture to prove otherwise.

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Normally the discourse of racism is centered on either African American lives or the lives of immigrants, and it’s true that those groups are subject to hate even yet today. However, the one group’s voice no one seems to hear is that of the very Native Americans from whom this country was stolen.

It’s a historical fact that Native Americans were taken from the shores of this country as slaves long before any Anglo Saxon settled. It’s also a historical fact that Columbus, while never setting foot in the United States of America, did enslave and kill countless Native people to our south. In fact, the whole idea of slavery hit our shores because Columbus designed the idea of enslaving Native people on the sugar plantations he started. Most of us know Columbus was no hero—he was just an attention seeker, lost in the world, trying to make a fortune. In the process, he committed genocidal acts. Without recounting the entire history of the US, suffice it to say Native people have been treated in the same manner as any other minority: they have been enslaved, forced to assimilate, and made into a group of “others” pushed aside and largely forgotten.

Ask my grandson who the Indians are and where they live. He is in kindergarten, and the only conversation he has really had about Thanksgiving is what he’s learned from his public school education, so he will answer “I think they’re out in the woods looking for food still”. We correct his school-led misguidance at home, but many kids don’t know any better. “Indians” are still portrayed as wild, uncivilized heathens who hunt wild animals under the cover of the forest. It’s sickening. No one tells these children the truth, but the school mascot of my grandson is the “Brave” complete with headdress, so they do learn it’s supposedly acceptable to appropriate the very culture Europeans tried so hard to eradicate. Call them uncivilized. Steal their culture when it suits our needs. That’s the Anglo-Saxon way, apparently.

Which brings me back to the picture. While walking through a Wal-Mart store (a place I despise, but that’s a different article for a different time, but yet another solid reason to boycott them), I noticed this bow and arrow hanging out for display. We’re a small, largely agricultural community, so archery equipment and guns are typical here. That’s not what bothered me. It isn’t the aspect of hunting that bothered me, either. My own family hunts. What astounded me enough that I snapped a picture were the words “Lil Sioux”.  Those words punched straight through my brain into my soul. There they were in big, bold letters as if buying this plastic archery set would somehow transform the child for whom it was purchased into a Native American, and not just a random Native American, but a Sioux. It can’t be lost that many associate the strong Sioux leaders of Sitting Bull or Red Cloud with the picture of what they believe all Native people to be. Seeing this inanimate object hanging there as if one can buy what real Native hunters and warriors spent a lifetime learning made my skin crawl. It was culture for sale. Moreover, it was more false ideas of what being Native really means, as if all Indigenous people are just running around with bows. It wasn’t lost on me that while someone decided to market how great it is to be a Sioux warrior, one great Sioux warrior remains falsely imprisoned as a political prisoner yet today, having been imprisoned since the late 1970s, Leonard Peltier. We will never admit that in a public display at Wal-Mart, though. Nope. We’ll just continue to market a culture for white profit whilst committing cultural genocide on the very people from whom we steal.

I wish I could tell my grandson that racism “was,” but instead I have to tell him that it “is”. I can’t look at a display such as this and think any differently. Had this been a different type of display with pejorative, racist term about another ethnicity, it surely would have been removed. It probably would have never been displayed at all, although that’s debatable. What is glaringly obvious is that we, as a Nation, refuse to recognize our racist underbelly. We hide the seeds of racism in areas many never look, one of which is the Native American community. We let them lie nearly dormant there while we steal away from an entire people what is their own: their identity. Racism hasn’t been eradicated. Hell, it’s not even close to being wiped away. The seeds of racism are still here, hidden away in store displays and mascots, team and school names, classroom discussions and lessons, movies and depictions. One need not search hard to find them. All we have to do is open our eyes to the real meaning behind the words before us in bold print. The very people we owe our success to—we took all the land and resources from them after all, we continue to disparage, and as long as we let these seeds stay buried in our treatment of one people, they will vine out to all people. Don’t think racism matters because it doesn’t affect you?  Just wait. The finger will point at you one day, too.

 

(Cover photo via: https://awakeningthehorse.files.wordpress.com/2014/07/culturalappropriation1final.jpg)

Make Your Voice Heard

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One of the first things my Gam said to me when I turned 18 was: “You can vote now!”

She’s 99 years old, and for her, voting meant a great deal. Her generation wasn’t that far removed from the time when women couldn’t vote. Voting meant so much to her. It was a way for her to make her voice heard. A woman who worked in factories, constantly fighting sexism, ageism, and other discriminations, who had lived with abusive parents and an abusive husband, Gam knew what it meant to have that voice taken away. She wasn’t about to be silenced. Moreover, she didn’t want me to be silenced, either.

Gam was a feminist. She never knew it. She never wore a moniker or said “I’m a feminist,” but she was. She believe in the right to reproductive choice. She believe women could perform equally in the workplace. She believed single women could make it on their own. Most importantly, she believed that women were equally as important as men in politics and other ruling institutions. My Gam has spent the entirety of my life telling me that I am strong, not in spite of the fact that I am female, but rather because I am. I am strong because I can stand on my own just as she, and women before her have done. She would expect no less than for me to go to the polls today and exercise the Right to Vote that so many women fought for.

It’s my duty as a citizen. It’s my duty as a woman. It’s your duty, too. Whether you’re male or female, it is your civic duty to make informed choices and vote!!

A man told me yesterday evening that he wished I couldn’t vote. He wanted me to “stay away from the polls” because I was a “threat to him changing the country back to the way it belonged”. I’ll be damned if I’ll throw away everything my Gam, and all the women besides her, fought for. I’ll never let him drag me back into being a silenced voice. Don’t you let him, either.

VOTE!

The Abuse We Don’t See: Prince Charming the Emotional Abuser

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You’d think after escaping one abusive marriage there’d be no way I’d get involved in a second abusive relationship. How could anyone not see the red flags? The truth of the matter is, those flags fly in so many different colors, it’s hard to see one type of abuse when you’re so busy looking for another. Not to mention women are generally conditioned from childhood to hold some responsibility for the abuse they suffer.

My marriage was my measuring stick for new relationships. I’d never date a man with addiction problems, a man who was unfaithful, or a physically or verbally abusive man. To my credit, I didn’t. Instead, I dated a sneaky abuser. He was the proverbial, cliched wolf in sheep’s clothing—the man who would charm me out of my own self-worth and never leave a mark. His abuse looked an awful lot like him being too much in love and overly interested when it began. By the time the relationship was over, I was left spinning like a top out of control looking for the reasons why, all the while feeling the deep pain of his relentless emotional abuse.

Never once did this man put his hands on me. He never called me vile names or told me he hated me. In fact, he was so smooth with his abuse and control, I’m not sure he even realizes he was an abuser.

When we first met, we were 14. We were fond of one another, but nothing ever came of our teenage love affair. 25 years later, we met again online. I hadn’t heard from him for 15 years, but the light still shined brightly above his head. I had been separated about 9 months from my first abuser. He’d been single for about 5 years. The whirlwind that encompassed me left me breathless. He was all I’d dreamed. His words were perfect for a woman like me—a woman who was still licking the wounds from the first battle I’d fought. Looking back, his words were too perfect. Everything I needed to hear came flowing eloquently from his lips.

I’m not the jealous kind of guy who birddogs around checking up on girls.”

“I’d never ask you to put me before your kids.”

“You deserve to be happy and retain some independence.”

“I value you as a human being, and appreciate your talent and intelligence.”

Who could question those words? No one ever tells girls to beware of too many right answers. Our parents tell us to look out for guys with no job, no car, too many kids, prison records, and addictions. They just never tell us “The Charmer” can be equally as dangerous.

He made me feel magical. I’d never felt so cared for in my life. Although he lived 500 miles from me, we maintained constant contact. He texted and called every chance he got. We talked for hours on the phone. Within just a couple of months, he’d proposed. I was to move to be with him the following fall. It was like a Disney princess story. He told me how he could never picture himself with anyone else. He said I was the only woman who could ever make him happy. I was beautiful, intelligent, amazing, angelic, the light of his path, and the star of his night. What I really was becoming was a cake that’s had far too much icing slathered on. I was being smothered in too much sweetness. All the sugar coating he was doing was covering up his other side.

We’d been talking a few weeks when he first accused me of having another man in my house. My son had coughed, sending this man’s imagination into a spiral. I spent the better part of the night explaining that my home is small and my son was in the bathroom when he was coughing, and that there was certainly no other man in my home other than my sons. He wasn’t buying it. From that moment on, everything I did was suspect.

My Romeo then began to demand all my online login information, including my banking. I was to deactivate any social media accounts, or rather, let him deactivate them so he could change the login and email account information. This way, only he would have control over when they were reactivated. He would need all my phone records, the numbers of all my friends and family, and even needed to call some of my relatives just to make sure I wasn’t still seeing my ex-husband. Text messages were no longer fun, but a manner to keep track of me. I was to text him every 15 minutes, and if I was leaving my home, I was to text him who was going with me, and send pictures as proof.

I dismissed all this insanity as him “caring”. He was “too far away to see for himself”. He “loved me so much, he was afraid to lose me”.  He wasn’t calling me horrible names or hitting me. How could caring be abuse?

What I never saw coming was his “caring” escalating into more horrendous allegations, and more in-depth monitoring of my life.

I was accused of giving him a sexually transmitted infection ( something he didn’t even have), of sleeping with my teenaged son’s friends, of developing relationships with people in another state in between us who I was supposedly seeing at the gas stations on my way to his home,  and many other horrid things. Yet, I continued the relationship. Sure, all the things sounded like he pulled them straight off one of those TV crime shows, but hey, he was just so much in love with me, right?

Eventually, he started to control the time I spent with my family. He let me know that even though he lived away, he could have someone watching me. He didn’t want me to perform certain hygienic procedure such as shaving, because that meant I was going out with someone. I was no longer allowed to wear makeup unless he deemed the occasion appropriate. He insisted I change my wardrobe. I was required to send photos from the classes I was taking so I could prove where I was and who I sat by. No part of my life belonged to me anymore. Even my showers were timed.

No matter what he did, though, I found an excuse. I absorbed the blame because I’d probably “done something to make him think bad things”. As crazy as that sounds, it’s what most women are programmed to believe.

If we’d only be better, stronger women, men wouldn’t have to act so high handed with us.”

“If we were more capable of controlling our morals and emotions, men wouldn’t have to control us.”

“Other men wouldn’t try to have sex with us (even when it’s rape) if we’d just not act like whores.”

“It’s our jobs to make men happy, so when they’re not, we better figure out how to make things better.”

“Its men’s’ jobs to protect us from the world and ourselves.”

“If we didn’t make men so mad, they wouldn’t have to yell at us, hit us, etc.”

All those lies were what he tried to pin on me. I say “try” as if he wasn’t successful. He was. He made me feel like a piece of dirt. I carried around guilt for things I’d never done. I felt guilty for his own self-induced worry and pain. He never had to own his own paranoia and abusive behavior. I shouldered all that for him. It was my fault, of course, because he “just loved me so much it made him crazy”.

I can’t count the nights I was kept awake by him calling me, making accusations, breaking up with me, saying he wished he never met me, and leaving me in a crying heap trying to figure out why. Many holidays, weekends, and birthdays were ruined by his own paranoid delusions. I kept patting his back and rubbing his head telling him it was all okay and that I understood. I excused every horrible behavior he exhibited no matter the cost to my emotional well-being.

Meanwhile, my other personal relationships were falling apart. Friends were furious with me for allowing this. Family members threatened to confront him. No one could stand him but me. I was lost in a world of abuse sugar coated with the word “love”.

Our relationship eventually began to dissolve. The marriage couldn’t happen because we lived in two separate states, and seeing what my son had saw, he was no longer willing to move.  5 days following our one year anniversary, Prince-Not-So-Charming broke up with me for about the 12th time. I was devastated. He even found a way to make his desire to be single my fault because I couldn’t move until my son graduated, and I also didn’t make enough money to help him build his financial portfolio. He said I was driving him crazy, and so he was done.

No matter all the abuse, all I could feel was that I wasn’t good enough. I felt like if I’d been a perfect person he’d still love me. I’d cry for hours trying to prove to him I was faithful and loving. The key is that, even though he abused me, even though he was hurting me, I was apologizing. I was trying to make reparations for things I’d never done—never even dreamed of doing.  He continued to manipulate me even though we were no longer together. All he had to do was text or call, and because of a year’s worth of conditioning, I was Ms. Hop To It.

It took almost 3 years for me to escape the emotional abuse he dealt out. He’d long since moved on by the time I did. Him finding another serious relationship was the best thing he could’ve done for me. His new relationship facilitated the end of our communication for several months. I then had time to heal, to reevaluate the situation, to mourn the loss of my dream, and to call him what he is: an abuser.

He still calls me from time to time. Sometimes I answer the phone–sometimes I don’t. I no longer feel a sense of obligation to this man. He’s simply an old friend, but I tread lightly. He had crawled up inside my brain, rotting away my sense of self like a worm into an apple. It took a good amount of time before I could cut away all the damage he’d caused, but I did it. I certainly won’t allow him the chance to infest my mind again. I don’t bother trying to psychoanalyze him. It’s not my problem what his problems are. I’m just happy to have my life back.

Looking back, I wish I’d known that “too nice” should be reason to worry. I wish I’d had the strength to say “Hell NO!” when he began accusing and controlling me. I wish I’d known that it’s not a woman’s job to be perfect. There are just so many myths I wish I could’ve seen past. Now, I just wish that some other woman, whose friends are warning her to “stay away from him”, will see past the “I love you” and face what she knows deep down inside: he’s an abuser. Don’t let his words excuse his actions. Abusers are the best manipulators. Your intuition is your armor. Stand strong. Be brave. Lose that Asshole!

If you need help escaping an abusive relationship call: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Don’t Armchair Quarterback The Ebola Conversatoin

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You know what really angers me to no end? 4th quarter armchair quarterbacks. Nah, I’m not talking about football. What I’m talking are those people who just now decided to join the Ebola conversation.

Ebola isn’t new. We’ve been fighting this disease for decades—4 at least. The troubling thing is, I can’t count the people I know who didn’t give a shit 20 years ago, 10 years ago, 5 years ago, even 1 year ago.

To them, Ebola was a “foreign disease”. It was a “them” problem. So many people just shrugged it off because this virus only affected a small part of Africa. Who cares then, right? Dark-skinned foreigners die from a virus? That’s their problem, right? They probably brought it upon themselves somehow, right? —All these and many other ridiculous statements that I’ve heard prior to this year concerning Ebola.

Oh, but you let this shit show up on American soil? Now they’re ready for business.

I’m not sure why it never occurred to folks that this virus could spread, what with the advent of global travel, the automobile , the airplane and such. (in my snarkiest voice ever))Why—how could we—the great and mighty US citizens –ever fall victim to such a disease?

But now, these assholes are sitting upright in their recliners shouting at the top of their lungs, pointing fingers, and panicking.

We “liberals” probably planned this to “thin the herd”. “Liberal pansies” afraid to deal with this “the right way” (what the fuck ever that is) caused all this. Yes folks, once again it is the fault of Obama. Obama “single handedly gave us all Ebola”, and we’ll probably all “be dead by December”.—Such is the talk from the people who didn’t care last year when people in Africa were dying. These loudmouths didn’t care 2,3,4,5, 10, 20, 30, or 40 years ago, either.

Is this the way to handle a global crisis? Are we just going to point fingers and say “he did it”?

The truth is, it doesn’t really matter who dropped the ball. What matters is it was dropped—and way before this disease ever touched American soil. Now, we need a solution. Blaming the current administration isn’t a solution to Ebola any more than blaming Peyton Manning will make the Broncos win last year’s Super Bowl.

All pointing fingers does is create a bigger divide. It brings nothing to the conversation of stopping this disease. Not to mention, had anyone in power so much as breathed the thought of addressing this years ago as a measure of humanitarian aide, these same fools who are whooping and hollering now would have been up in arms demanding we stop. (See where not wanting to help folks will get you?)

So far, three people in the US have been diagnosed with Ebola. Several more are in quarantine. Meanwhile in Africa—thousands of people have died, thousands have contracted the disease, and fighting it becomes increasingly difficult without clean, hot water, soap, and a vaccination.

The conversation doesn’t always have to be about us. Sometimes, believe it or not, we’re supposed to make the conversation about people who don’t even live on the same continent….and guess what? By doing so we also make life better for us all because we can explore a cure and vaccination.

This shit of people not caring about people who live differently or look differently from them exhausts me. It tires me even more that those people who didn’t care now place blame on folks like me because we are “liberal”.

So while they’re busy playing Politic Dick, what they seem to do best, the rest of us can figure something out. In the meantime, prepare yourselves for an onslaught of disinformation, conspiracy theories, and tales of panic.

Just in time for Halloween—Terrified Loudmouth Conservatives