Many good things happened this week that I have wanted to share, but I have been busy and haven’t taken the time.
I have been spending most of my time crocheting items to sell at Teric’s Treasures, my Etsy store. I am super proud of a couple decorative pillows that I made. It was a complicated pattern, but the pillows turned out beautifully. I made them in a light blue and dark blue. I’d like to someday make one in green and the other in red, but I needed a break so I moved on to making cute hearts that can be used as coasters or strung together in a garland. I also made a really cute Owl cup cozy, but I’m not satisfied with the way it fits our coffee cups so I think I will change the pattern a little. I haven’t yet taken pictures of the hearts (or Owl) but I have taken a picture of the pillows, which I have posted for sale at my store. Oh, and I made a woven heart basket which was constructed very cleverly. It also is posted at the store. Here are the items:
This last week EJ, Danny, and I took several walks through our forest. I always love how Danny just meanders around in our general direction. He loves the little meadow where the deer tend to rest. We know they rest there because the grass is flattened in that area. I also saw more pileated woodpecker damage. I think it’s amazing how they shred a tree.
Earlier in the week I went with JJ to the college because he wanted to buy his books. First, though, he went into the Admissions office to ask why their site lists his status as “Pending.” It prevents him from getting student aid. He was told that the computer is showing that he is missing some…prerequisites or requirements (or something) for admission, but they can’t find anything that he is actually missing so they think it’s a computer error. They have an expert looking into it but they told him not to buy his books until that matter is taken care of. He was a bit disappointment and frustrated.
We’ve had fun celebrating Hanukkah. We light the candles together when we can, but when EJ or JJ are working, I celebrate alone. I’ve only had to celebrate alone once or twice. JJ bought peanut M&Ms earlier in the week so we could play the dreidal game on a night we were all home together, but we ate all the candy before we could play the game. Oh, well.
There is one thing in my week that distressed me:
There is a “heart-melting” video that is making the rounds on FB. It is actually a German commercial and as the accompanying article describes, it “shows an elderly man spending several Christmases alone; with his children providing a different excuse each year: ‘I just wanted to call and let you know that we can’t make it for Christmas this year… we’ll try again next year. It’ll work out, I promise. Merry Christmas Daddy!’ Time passes and tragically the children receive news of their father passing away. The advert shows each child wishing they spent more time with their now departed dad. The children return to the family home to attend his funeral and pay respects; but as they enter the dining room, their father appears and says: ‘How else could I have brought you all together?’
Many seemed to think that this video was heartwarming, touching, true, but it did not melt my heart. Instead, it greatly distressed me. The man in the video was not loving. He was an emotional abuser. How do I know? Because he lied, deceived, and manipulated his children in a terrible way by pretending he was dead. And since he obviously couldn’t call his children to inform them of his “death,” he no doubt drew in others to help him pull off the deception. This is classic Narcissistic Abuse.
When I commented about this to one FB friend, she said, “But the children wanted to be with their dad, left him loving messages, and at the end they laughed and enjoyed a wonderful time together.” However, that was merely a fantasy story created by a skilled storyteller to tug at heart-strings. It is not reality. I would have said nothing, but such a video creates a false reality, encourages a myth, that adds to the pain of parental emotional abuse victims who already have to struggle with the general belief that if there is a schism between parents and adult children it is always the fault of the children. Now that’s not to say that children can’t be abusers. Some are. ANYONE can be abusive. I’m writing about parental abuse because that is my experience and because the video is about an abusive father who lied, deceived, and manipulated his adult children into visiting him.
People are quick to fall for a skillfully-told story. Emotional abusers are excellent storytellers, able to create a false reality in which they can appear extremely loving to others while either making them their victims or drawing them into helping them abuse victims. They escape accountability because their stories are so well-told and people don’t pause long enough to figure out whether or not it’s true.
The Disney movie Tangled is actually a story of emotional abuse, as many fairy tales are. The witch wraps her abuse of Rapunzel in loving-sounding words that can be laughed away if confronted. Only at the end, when Rapunzel understands and opposes the witch does the witch reveal her ugliness, which is the way Narcissists are. The TV series, Once Upon a Time also describes emotional abuse in an episode in which a wicked queen has manipulated her daughter, Regina, into marrying Snow White’s widowed father. In a scene in the video below, the queen very “lovingly” manipulated Snow White into revealing Regina’s secret love (a stable boy) by exploiting Snow White’s love and longing for her own mother. Once Snow White revealed her secret, the queen killed her own daughter’s true love. This caused a lot of pain and ruined lives for years afterwards.
In reality, lies, deceit, and manipulation erode trust and destroy relationships. Just to be clear, I am defining these words in the following way: Lying means not telling the truth. Deceit is creating a false reality–making something appear to be something that it is not. Manipulation is using dishonest tactics–such as lies, deceit, guilt, shame, twisting truth, withholding information–to make others do what you want them to do. Those who use such tactics can make themselves appear to be loving–especially to outsiders–but they actually have a deep selfishness, lack of love, and disrespect of their victims. It’s all about the abuser and what he or she wants, without consideration for others.
In the German video, after he revealed that–surprise!–he’s actually not dead, the Dad asks, “How else could I have brought you all together?” How about with honesty? How about giving your children the freedom to make their own choices? How about choosing a different day for a visit if Christmas doesn’t work. Or maybe the Dad going to visit them? How about asking God to work things out? Duh. Do you understand the complications that could arise from this deception? Finances adversely affected (if they have to miss work or can’t afford a trip), schedules needing to be altered and possibly ruining others’ holiday plans, arranging bereavement days off from work. All for a lie. Let me tell you that a loving family will not need to use lies, deceit, or manipulation to motivate them to spend time together. They will be honest, respectful, and understanding toward each other and allow each other the freedom to make their own decisions based on TRUTH. Dishonest tactics will not draw a dysfunctional family closer. Instead, the victim will end up feeling used, disrespected, angry, resentful, hurt, distrustful. Lies, deceit, and manipulation will drive relationships farther apart until they are eventually destroyed.
Abuse experts say that predators always go where their prey is. This includes human predators. Child molesters, for example, will become teachers, Scout leaders, Sunday School teachers, or clowns at birthday parties–anything that will put them in the path of children. Churches are often the hunting ground of Emotional Abusers because there they find people with a conscience who seek to love and forgive unconditionally. Emotional Abusers usually groom their victims to accept abuse by first pouring on love and acceptance and then by slowly taking it away and eroding self-confidence and self-esteem. I sometimes wonder if abusive church leaders groom their flock to accept abuse by teaching them that they must unconditionally love and forgive even if there is no repentance. By teaching potential victims that it’s unBiblical to defend yourself or hold others accountable, they make their prey powerless to escape. Does this surprise you? Jesus warned that many would come in as wolves among sheep to destroy the flock and that it would increase in the Last Days. Ps. 37 says:
The wicked plots against the righteous and grinds his teeth at him…The wicked have unsheathed their swords, they have strung their bows to bring down the poor and needy, to slaughter those whose way is upright.
I think that one of the most horrendous things is that not only does a victim suffer at the hands of an abuser, but she (or he) also often suffers at the hands of those who disbelieve her and who defend the abuser. Many times Christians will rush to “give grace” and “not judge” the abuser because “he’s wounded” or “he needs to be loved to Christ.” (Here’s an interesting article called An Unholy Alliance: When Mob Forgiveness Meets Selective Grace.)
Meanwhile, victims are told things like
Are you sure you are not overreacting?
How can you say she is abusive? She’s so nice.
I don’t think he’s manipulative. He’s just clueless.
You must have done something to deserve it.
You need to be more loving, more forgiving.
Do not judge.
No one is perfect.
You need to stop being so negative and bitter.
If you see the problem, you are the problem.
You should never give up on anyone.
Your perspective is flawed because you are seeing through the trauma of abuse.
The last one I listed is one that I encountered several times this week. It frustrates me because if someone told me about their challenges of raising special needs children, I’d believe them because they are experiencing it. The same is true if they described their challenges of having a child with a life-threatening disease, or of living on a farm, or of struggles at work, or whatever their experience is. But when it comes to abuse, including the effects of dishonesty on relationships, people assume that the victim’s perspective is skewed because she was wounded. How about believing the victim because she has experienced it and knows firsthand the damage it causes?
Today I read a blog written by a victim of parental narcissistic abuse. Her story is horrendous. In one post she wrote: You would think that if you told someone about the abuse you suffered at the hands of your mother, that person would be understanding and sympathetic. You’d be wrong. Suddenly, you’re the one with the problem because you just can’t see all the things your mother did for you, how hard she worked, how much she sacrificed. Talking to someone like this and getting these responses is like being abused all over again. Why don’t people understand? Why are they so quick to blame the victim when there’s abuse? Why in the world do they question your account of what you suffered at the hands of your Narcissistic parent?
In another post, the blogger shared a link to Project Unbreakable which is a photography project aiming to give a voice to survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. Victims were photographed holding signs on which they had written things their abusers–or those they confided in–had told them. I went to the site and it was hearbreaking. After sharing the link on her post, the blogger continued,
“I should make a poster that reads the following: “How would you feel if you were gang-raped? You couldn’t handle that.”
This was said to her by her mother after she had told her about the older foster child in her home who molested her.
This blogger also writes a different blog called Narcissists Suck. It’s an extremely thoughtful and well-written blog in which she describes Narcissistic abuse and the Biblical response. A few of her awesome posts include:
Ok, so now back to the German video:
My perspective about this isn’t skewed because I am seeing it only through the eyes of one who has been wounded. Yes, of course, people have different perspectives, beliefs, opinions, interpretations about many things but this isn’t merely about a difference of perspective, belief, opinion or interpretation. While people can debate differences, the Dad in this video LIED about his death. He DECEIVED his children into believing he was dead, and obviously had help since he could hardly contact his children himself to tell them he was dead. HE ALSO MANIPULATED them, using dishonest means to trick them into doing what he wants. Listen! The Bible very clearly reveals God’s view of lies and there’s no room for debate. Proverbs 6:16-19 says:
There are six things Adonai hates,
seven which he detests:
17 a haughty look, a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
18 a heart that plots wicked schemes,
feet swift in running to do evil,
19 a false witness who lies with every breath,
and him who sows strife among brothers.
The Bible also says this about lies and truth:
Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth (Joshua 24:14)
God is not a man, so he does not lie. (Numbers 23:19)
9 Never lie to one another; because you have stripped away the old self, with its ways, 10 and have put on the new self, which is continually being renewed in fuller and fuller knowledge, closer and closer to the image of its Creator. (Colossians 3:9-12)
We will then no longer be infants tossed about by the waves and blown along by every wind of teaching, at the mercy of people clever in devising ways to deceive. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in every respect grow up into him who is the head, the Messiah. (Eph 4:14-15)
44 You belong to your father, Satan, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. From the start he was a murderer, and he has never stood by the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he is speaking in character; because he is a liar — indeed, the inventor of the lie! 45 But as for me, because I tell the truth you don’t believe me. 46 Which one of you can show me where I’m wrong? If I’m telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God listens to what God says; the reason you don’t listen is that you don’t belong to God.” (John 8:44-47)
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who change darkness into light
and light into darkness,
who change bitter into sweet
and sweet into bitter! (Isa 5:20)
And there are countless other verses. God NEVER condones lies and deceptions. He hates the lying tongue and those who plot evil schemes and causes strife. He instructs us to speak the truth and follow Him in sincerity and truth. Those who tell lies or support liars are not walking in the truth and, at the very least, are adding their voices to Satan’s. Those who call lies “truth” and truth “lies” are in danger, as are those who join with the wicked in oppressing the innocent.
“Truth is life. Lies are deadly. Evil traffics in lies hence evil kills.”
~ Narcissism Sucks
So this video is not a “heart-warming” story of a father’s love for his children and his longing to see them. Take away the wrapping of skillful storytelling and you are left with a horrendous story of abuse.