Category Archives: Personal Evolution

Focusing On Empowerment

Spending years working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in various capacities added so much to what I had already learned from my personal experiences with both. For the last thirteen years, most of my head space has been dedicated to finding better ways to serve that population. One of the more effective positions I held was facilitating a seventeen-week course called Pattern Changing For Abused Women. I was a student of the course at first, following my departure from the abusive situation I had found myself in. I was amazed at what the authors of this rebuilding technique were able to pull together. It was so comprehensive and truly had the potential to alter behaviors of survivors, driving them toward a future void of likely victimhood. I say potential because the work required to obtain substantial change in oneself, while well structured and communicated, must be completed by each student in order to reach that potential. Many simply weren’t motivated and felt more comfortable staying with what they knew. They found themselves right back in the cycle of violence that had brought them to the class initially. Yet there were a few, myself included, who demanded real change from themselves. They weren’t going to repeat the same mistakes as before. It was my personal success combined with that of a few in my class which motivated me to become a facilitator of the program. That position, working with local police on their Domestic Violence Response Team, being a member of a county-wide Sexual Assault Response Team, and serving as a domestic violence shelter Resident Advocate for the Coalition Against Rape and Abuse, enriched my understanding of what we as a society aren’t doing. Add to that my endless hours of researching academic studies on which specific psychological and emotional mindsets serve to lure one into a world of violence. The totality of this information pointed to one common denominator. Accountability.

It’s very easy to dismiss accountability with a quick well-liked phrase such as victim-blaming. Tossing this term out at anyone who has discovered a true and viable way to impart enough knowledge to a survivor, so that he/she can find their way to empowerment and independence, is the perfect weapon for shutting down a different way of discussing the issue of violence against women. By the way, domestic violence and sexual assault have male victims as well. Ignoring that because the reported instances aren’t high enough to garner attention is a dangerous and certainly absurd choice. That dismissal simply adds to the division between genders and points toward women being deemed more worthy of protection. It’s hurting us as a society and it lends more chaos to the movement toward equality for all. We’re not helping ourselves with this perspective. Meanwhile, many women are still finding themselves feeling powerless as they continue the use of a coping mechanism termed ‘learned helplessness’. This takes me back to the idea of altering lifelong patterns of behavior that lead many into a place of dependency and complete lack of the concept of accountability. The Pattern Changing course I mentioned above is just one way to address reconstruction in behavioral patterns. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is another. Some may have the gumption to make these changes on their own. I know plenty who have done it precisely this way. There’s more than one path to independence and empowerment.

My determination and perseverance held the hand of my willingness to take responsibility for my participation in making my life a living hell for many years. When I was ready to be honest with myself, while getting fully involved in rebuilding my foundation, I found out what true self-reliance and accountability could afford me. Complete empowerment. There’s no greater gift one can give to themselves. Putting all of this in place changes the course of one’s life for the better and likely for the duration of their existence. To withhold this information is unethical. To withhold it in response to societal pressure is a cop-out.

Having come this far and seen with my own eyes the benefits of conveying this information to others over the years propels me forward whether anyone wants to hear what I have to say or not. I don’t care that the majority needs to maintain the use of terms such as victim-blaming, rape culture, and the like. Those who feel the need to call themselves ‘activists for women’ would serve those women better if they offered them something that would lend itself to removing the potential victim from the grasp of intimate violence. There is accountability to be owned by the activist as well. And I’m going to be sounding off about it. Should this make me the target of those resistant to hearing the truth, so be it. My choice has a worthwhile payoff. That being, there are many people who would like to make real improvements leading to the removal of the violence we are all touched by.

Teaching survivors and victims that they can alter their future behaviors, become more independent, and feel true empowerment is not just a nice thing to offer, it is the best thing to offer. Without making changes to their current behaviors, survivors will once again find themselves as victims. Not necessarily or only to the same perpetrators of the violence they specifically suffered but victims also of the consequences that come from doing the same things over and over again. We owe each other more than protection after the fact, we owe each other the truth. The truth that developing self-confidence, improved self-concept, and taking charge of one’s life, really owning it, will bring a level of empowerment which will reap significant benefits not only for those who get their hands dirty and do the hard work of rebuilding themselves, but also for their surrounding communities and society as a whole.

If there aren’t any victims to prey on, those who have become so entrenched in their own aggression will have no one to feed on. This philosophy isn’t cold or lacking in empathy. On the contrary, it is the most compassionate and responsible thing we can do for ourselves as members of humanity.

So consider rethinking your stance on what it is to spout out politically correct terminology in order to maintain your place as a quasi-activist. Maybe take just a few moments to imagine a society without available victims to satisfy the horrifyingly dysfunctional predators. Whether you can imagine it or not, I can see it, I’ve been living it, and I’m damn well going to share it.


Filed under Egalitarianism, Feminism, Personal Evolution, RadFems

You Were Wrong

You thought that chipping away at me

Would remove my core.

You thought if you stole my beauty

I’d never be loved again.


You thought that scarring my skin

Would find its way to my heart.

You thought that stealing my sex

Would mean I was yours.


You thought that cutting me off from the world

Would make me lonely.

You thought holding me captive

Would mean I wasn’t free.


You thought beating me down

Would make it so I’d never leave.

You were so sure

But you were wrong.


Filed under Atheism, Personal Evolution

Atheism: It Just Fits

I haven’t written about my atheism and how I arrived here since I started this blog several months ago. I’ve often wondered why I haven’t the desire to do so. In those times of consideration I’ve come to the same conclusion. That my lack of belief in gods, the supernatural, miracles, divine intervention, prayer as a useful tool, and so on is truly a well-reasoned and thoroughly analyzed understanding of reality. The peace this feeling has given me is so deep that I find it challenging to describe. What I can tell you is that it just fits. Beautifully.

All of the dependency on God that I had for much of my life has been erased. At first I felt a great sense of loss. Feelings of disorientation, resentment, and nihilism loaded my mind. I had so much I needed to work through. I was audibly irritated for a while. I know I hurt and jarred many with my commentary and rhetorical questions. My sarcasm was in high gear. A clear sign of my hostility toward the fact that I had been indoctrinated as a child and forced to shuffle along with the herd, being kept in place by those who saw themselves as deserving of that level of authority over me. I didn’t shuffle passively. I’ve always been curious and certainly felt and continue to feel entitled to ask questions. My stance on perceived authority has been and remains rebellious. This pattern became super loud now that I had the atrocity of religion in my sights.

I see religious indoctrination as an act of violence against humanity. To take a new and currently forming mind of a child and mold said mind to suit the needs of a cruel, all-encompassing machine is most unethical. Add to that the seduction and consequent assimilation that is exercised and cultivated by religious enthusiasts toward adults who are in seeking mode and you’ve got a big old ball of horrifyingly injurious human behavior. The potential achievements that can come from the human mind should be nurtured and encouraged vigorously. Religion and its supernatural cousins stand like a concrete wall between potential and its realization. This is completely unacceptable. Of course I am aware, and have been since my early teens, that religion came about as a form of government. Boundaries and rules are necessary for a productive society. But truly, people, we’re way beyond the point of needing government to be driven by religion now. It’s simply absurd.

When I first began using twitter I was tweeting about politics, news, and the bullshit that goes along with all of that. Eventually I bumped into one or two outspoken atheists and I felt like I had struck gold. Intellectual and emotional gold, that is. As I watched them go head to head with theists I was comforted to see that there were many more minds out there that shared my world view. At that point I was already beyond my nihilism by approximately two years. I had offered my family and friends, some religious, my renewed exhilaration for life and all the contemplations that created it. Some were excited and some were disturbed. It made no difference to me. I knew I had made my way to the true beginning of the rest of my days. So I tossed myself into this lovely sea of free thinkers with complete abandon. As I made my way around the atheist section of the twitterverse, I found that what I had to say and what I had learned was nothing new. An amazingly beautiful sensation to be sure.

Now more than six months later I have found myself in a space in my real life where it’s not even necessary to discuss my atheism unless I’m involved in a civil debate more often triggered by questions about my perspective from theists. On twitter I see these debates being handled rather well. I enjoy seeing the different styles of those I follow and applaud them whenever I have the opportunity. My interest has rested, temporarily, in the area of intellectual, psychological, and emotional empowerment. I find that the more one feels their own worth, the closer they get to utilizing reason and logic to find their way through life and all of its challenges. The continued use of reasoning often allows for a more developed and tempered recognition and use of emotion. If one can set up this sort of mental foundation they are more likely to think independently and ultimately will offer a greater contribution to themselves and the world around them. I have no desire to remove anyone’s coping mechanisms prior to giving them the opportunity to at least grasp the notion that there may be another way. Religion, faith, prayer and the perception of an all-powerful being looking out for specific humans are all coping mechanisms. Albeit primitive but nonetheless utilized by many to ‘get through’ life. Life isn’t something to get through. It’s a beautiful mess of fun, fearful, risky, indulgent, satisfying, challenging, and sometimes brutal experiences. All to be relished and appreciated. I wouldn’t want to pray my way through such an incredible and fleeting experience. Would you?

I’ll continue to express my opinions and share my experiences as I see fit. That’s the reward of becoming and being a free thinker. As for the strong foundation I have built as I moved along the path to atheism, it just fits. And I’m realistically certain it will remain.


Filed under Atheism, Personal Evolution

It’s Almost That Time

My atypical mind

Serves as your food

You binge freely

Sucking out every last morsel

Leaving nothing for me.


I cry before I hit empty

Please, please save some for me

You pay no mind

And push beyond my reservoir

There’s not one drop left.


While I hang

By a fragile cord

You watch me sway

And poke around for more

My wound releases its final tear.


You stand there perplexed

How can it be

I was always so nurturing

Now I’m useless

Now I’m a taker.


I drag my shell

To a place where it can sleep

You follow me there

And peek inside

Calling for more.


I beg you

To let me be

You cry rejection

I can only hear my own voice say

It’s almost that time



Filed under Atheism, Personal Evolution

A Whirlwind Goodbye

Standing in the middle of my kitchen, the images of all that I’ve experienced in this house of horrors swirled around me.  My five dogs were sitting there with their heads cocked to one side. I looked into each of their beautiful faces and wondered how I could possibly live without them. I’ve spent years with these guys. The youngest was two, the oldest was nine. I trained some of them as puppies and frequently retrained them all as they grew older. Each one is precious with their own quirks and their unique position within the pack. My husband knew that every pup he brought home would be like an emotional anchor around my neck. Surely I would not abandon them. He counted on that. But my day of departure was drawing near and the probability of being able to bring them with me didn’t exist. For one thing my husband would use that as an excuse to hunt me down. One more excuse, that is. The other reason being that these dogs needed all of the space they had become accustomed to. The yard was huge and fenced in. They loved playing out there for hours each day. They weren’t tiny dogs either. The lightest one weighed 70 pounds. The heaviest was 115 pounds. They were happy here. Taking them to a tiny apartment just to satisfy my guilt and maintain my attachment would only amount to a self-serving gesture. I needed to let them go.

As I continued to develop my plan for leaving I was amazed at how this was all going undetected by the monster. For someone who put so much energy into breaking my spirit he sure as shit didn’t have a bit of mental access to radar. I’m not complaining, mind you. Throughout this termination process I was still fighting off sexual assaults like a boss. My demand for my own well-being was strong. He grew tired of the immense struggle it took for him just to get off. During the last two weeks of my stay he found himself a new target. For the sake of full disclosure, I must admit, I couldn’t believe my luck. Could it really be this easy to slip out of here while he’s preoccupied with his new obsession? As it turns out, no. He felt entitled to us both. A repulsive yet real truth. I wrestled with the idea of leaving my dogs as well as my responsibility to this woman. I knew way more than she did about him. I knew what he was capable of. As I witnessed their quasi-courtship I felt intensely conflicted about where my ethical obligations rested. I was focused on the details of my escape plan and that served as a convenient, although temporary, distraction from these outrageous choices as they merged with his torment of me. I was being fucked in every way I could have ever imagined possible. Regardless, this was no time for a ‘woe is me’ meditation. So I walked forward.

The last few days in that house felt as though I was training to compete in a cliff diving competition. One minute I would be rational and practical, the next I would be shaking from head to toe with a swell of nausea that left me weak. It didn’t matter. I knew that pushing through this wasn’t going to kill me. Armed with that reality I stepped into my final phase of victimhood. My friend who had sent me the money for the apartment called frequently now. I still felt rather removed from others emotionally but I chose to roll with it despite my lack of trust in any human being. It was also during this last phase that my youngest sister reemerged into my periphery. I had decided to take the risk of rejection and call her. She did not hesitate to respond with warmth and compassion as I let her in on the life I had been living for the last few years. She thought I was the one that had rejected her all along. Now she knew and not only did she accept this information she began calling frequently as well. Now I had two women, very strong women, applauding my efforts from the sidelines on a daily basis. Everything felt so close to being over. I could see the finish line and I wanted so badly to bust through that ribbon. I just didn’t feel as though I deserved the peace on the other side. I would be leaving behind creatures that I loved with all my heart as well as a woman who had no idea what she was facing. I had choices to make. Crazy, ball-breaking, heart wrenching choices.

Two days out until takeoff and I was washing the dishes when I heard a knock on the door. It was the jerk-off’s girlfriend. I opened the door and welcomed her inside. She explained that she thought he would be there, I told her he wasn’t but that I’d like to speak with her. She pulled up a stool as did I, around the island in the kitchen. She was quite nervous and her vulnerability pulled a level of empathy from me that left me feeling somewhat satisfied about the nature of my character. I began telling her what has gone on over the years and that I felt she was heading for a disaster that she may not be able to survive. I was careful not to be overly dramatic in my speech and maintained a matter of fact tone. It was imperative that she believe me. She was so smitten with him, understandably so. He was stunningly handsome, had a substantial income and knew how to weave a great web. She was the new fly. As I revealed my experiences she began shaking her head from side to side. She was unable to hear me at all. They had only been together for a brief time but whatever was missing in her she was sure she had found in him. There was no way she was going to let me take that away from her. I didn’t reveal my plans to leave. I could see that she had already formed an allegiance to him. I tried more gentle persuasion but she wasn’t having any of it. I had to move on. I wasn’t about to go down that rabbit hole ever again. She would have to go it alone. I gave her my best effort. I risked too much in doing so. My best needs to be enough.

Although my choices were made I continued to feel a sense of dread and the anticipation of utter regret. I’m grateful to this day that my ability to adhere to logic was stronger than my creeping remorse. I worked my first day of my new job and came home ready to push myself through this strangulating birth canal. I quickly gathered  some clothes and toiletries placing them in a small canvas bag. I was going to have to make do with what I could grab and make a run for it. The symptoms of acute anxiety nearly swallowed me whole. I kept walking. Heading toward the door as fast as I could knowing he would be home soon, I stopped dead in my tracks. My dogs had been following my every step. Curious, as is their nature. I hadn’t really noticed it in all my scurrying but here we were. Standing face to face at the door to the outside. A door that became a symbol of all my choices and my passage to freedom. I loved and hated that door at once. I knelt down and took each sweet face into my hands, one at a time. I spoke with them gently and deliberately. I knew intellectually that I was doing this for myself but still, I’d like to believe they understood somehow. “I love you so much. Thank you for loving me through all of this. I’m sorry. Be good to each other. Goodbye”.

I stood up, turned toward the door and rotated the handle. Stepping outside I drew my keys from my pocket. As I locked the mechanism behind me I took a long, deep breath. Then, for the last time, I walked away.

This had been a most difficult and challenging period for me. When we call on ourselves to reach a higher level of awareness we sometimes can’t see the impending consequences. For every action we take, every choice we make, there are chips falling. Where they land can be perceived as one more opportunity to understand ourselves that much more. In taking risks that demanded a leap of faith I am satisfied, finally, with my outcome.



Filed under Atheism, Personal Evolution

Me and Dr Ballbreaker

As I embarked on my chosen experience of being reparented I kept a close watch on the behaviors of both my psychiatrist and my psychologist. They were each male and exhibited great professionalism. I’ll refer to my psychiatrist as Dr Dad, my psychologist as Dr Ballbreaker. Dr Dad put everything in motion. He had his contingencies as did I. He agreed to mine and his were that I be honest about my physical state at all times, that I show up at least once a week for behavioral therapy, every three weeks for an assessment by him and that I promise not to attempt suicide. If I missed one session with my therapist or Dr Dad all bets were off. I had been able to respond well to structure for my mere survival so this was easy for me to adhere to. Suicide was not an option. There were several times I knew I was likely going to expire and a handful of times that I wished I could die in those moments for the physical relief it would bring but suicide just isn’t my thing. And so we began.

My first session with Dr Ballbreaker was quite irritating to me. He was mild-mannered and quite intelligent. He was also a bit smug. He assumed by the way I looked (many marks from pulling at and picking my skin on my face, neck and hands to self-soothe and of course the ever attractive missing teeth) that I was out of my mind for laying out my plan for therapy with precision and determination. I also had a strong feeling that he resented being the one guy in the practice that had been assigned to me as there were several doctors on staff. No matter, we were stuck with each other. He began asking questions along the lines of, “How was your day”. Really? Dude, I’ve got work to do. I began by telling him about the very recent death of one of my dogs. That Moishe’s death had left me feeling utterly hollow. Dr B was an animal lover as well so we were able to meet there. Then he moved into what brought me to therapy. I froze, shocking even myself. What if I tell him and he decides to intervene after all? I would be dead in a matter of hours. So I became silent. He tried other ways of prodding. I sat there giving him the ‘fuck you’ gesture with my middle finger. I simply held it there for about 20 minutes. Staring at him, trying to intimidate him. He wasn’t having any of it. Dr B just kept asking questions as if I was answering them in tandem. Finally I said, “I think the session is over”. He replied, “Okay, see you in a few days”. Fuck! There was no way out of this now. I couldn’t imagine if we would succeed, all of us together. I was afraid that they would feel compelled to intervene. I trusted no one. I was fucked. I went home and played the obedient wife as if nothing was in motion because at that point I couldn’t see what was already beginning to transpire.

My next two sessions with Dr Ballbreaker were more contentious. He decided to fight back. I told him I felt he lacked the competence to get me where I wanted to be. He responded by telling me that while I was clearly intelligent enough to work this through he doubted I had the spine for it. Very good move on his part. But I wouldn’t budge. He decided to give me a test to take home. It would take maybe 1.5 to 2 hours to complete. He said it would help him see exactly what level of psychological damage I may be presenting. I agreed to take the test. I love tests. That was the only motivation I had. He handed it to me, I told him to go fuck himself and he said to have a great few days, “Jen”. The balls on this guy!

The day came to reveal to me the results of the test. We had scheduled a long session. I sat there as he read me the entire thing. Every now and then he would look up to see my reaction to the devastating information I was hearing. I held it together for a while knowing I would begin to sob at any moment. He could see that, and kept going. Wise man, indeed. According to this test I was the fucking personification of meshuggeneh. Toward the end Dr B gave me his summary. He said he wasn’t sure if I could get beyond the damage to my mind. I was incapable of trusting anyone, I was lost in the confusion of having been the sole target of a madman’s rage while all along knowing it wasn’t personal. Nothing made sense and yet I was functioning as if it did. There was a lot to break through and break down. Dr B stopped speaking. My tears came on. Full force. There was no fucking way I was going to accept permanent damage to my mind. It’s all I had. Throughout the entire ordeal, years of beatings, unspeakable torture and even bringing his friends in for rape fests, the one thing in my body that didn’t betray me was my mind. I fucking love my brain. It’s the best one ever. No disrespect to all of you Mensa members out there, but I have so much fun with my brain that I can’t imagine a better one. I wasn’t going to give it up without a mother fucker of a fight. Dr Ballbreaker had finally broken my balls. He hit the one thing I cherished more than anything else. He strategically threatened it. He asked why I was crying, as I explained, he welled up with tears too. He gets it. I now trust him.

Over the next several months I filled my weeks with dental appointments, therapy appointments, consults with Dr Dad and writing my contemplations down almost daily then mailing them to Dr B for safe keeping while continuing to convince my husband that nothing was changing. The double life aspect was truly exhausting although well worth it.

Dr Ballbreaker and I just kept climbing. One day when I entered the office to sign in the receptionist began to weep. I was confused and said as much. Dr B came over and conveyed to me that the staff were truly amazed at the transformation they had witnessed. None of them knew any of the details of my experiences but he assured me that the physical changes were dramatic. I didn’t see it but I believed him. Anyway the receptionist was fucking crying. That’s telling. Am I right?

There were several times when my husband took a fleeting notice of something changing in me. He was turned on by the physical changes but I chose to take the hits over the rapes. Fuck him. It didn’t always work but I felt right about my choice. He also continued his spontaneous and unexpected physical attacks. One day I turned around in the driveway coming back from retrieving the metal trash cans left on our street. He grabbed one of the lids bouncing it hard off of my face. I just kept walking. Bleeding the whole way back into the house. Washed away the blood, applied pressure to the wound and went on with my day. These days were coming to an end. And I knew it.

In therapy we covered everything from my childhood on up. It was interesting to observe my perceptions changing over time. Some from maturity others from experience. Revisiting things that made me happy or sad in the past was a worthwhile effort. Being able to watch the event again in one’s mind but this time with a wisdom unknown back then affords us the opportunity to wrap the experience in another package. That exercise can relieve us of so much weight. I highly recommend it. Dr B and I worked hard every session. He moved my appointments to the end of his work day. Poor guy. I definitely took him on a ride. Each session I showed up with a list of 3 things I wanted to accomplish before our next meeting. I demanded it from myself and he helped me to set up a structure in which to achieve my goals. I wanted to feel confidence, worthiness and fearlessness. There were a few mental obstacles standing in my way, PTSD being one with its many manifestations. I needed to learn how to manage it all. I had to give it my best shot.

Down the road from all of this work the escape plan began to develop. I met with a few ethical challenges during this time. I plan to describe all of that in my next post. Oh, and god nor faith had any influence on this experience. Reason being, they’re bullshit. Amen.


Filed under Atheism, Personal Evolution

Pieces Of A Scary Puzzle

One day, several years ago, I crawled on my hands and knees out of a situation that was nothing short of my worst nightmare. I had been living with a man whom I had married five years prior. I left with more than I had when I entered that home. I left with the knowledge that I, and I alone, am completely responsible for the conditions of my life and my perception of them. The action I took that day set in motion a journey through unchartered territory. The excitement of that prospect still inspires me now. Although I had many scars, less teeth, a permanently injured back and a big fat dose of PTSD, I still had more. Much more.

I remember moving into that house with high hopes for an exciting future. I had a decent job and was attending college. I was ambitious in both keeping myself on the dean’s list while maintaining a supervisory position at work. I truly believed that I was on the right track. I insisted on projecting a positive attitude even when things started to change. I really never saw it coming. And that’s what gaslighting is all about. One piece of me at a time was being chiseled away and I didn’t see it until I was almost gone. And no, faith didn’t save me. As a matter of fact it seemed to have abandoned me. Of course that’s inaccurate because how could something that does not provide any tangibles abandon anything? At that point I didn’t have the luxury of time for contemplation. I was surviving one moment at a time. I was forced into isolation by the threat of serious physical harm. Isolation is something I’m quite capable of enduring. As a matter of fact I prefer it. The problem with this isolation is that it was actually solitary confinement. My options were removed. There were days, sometimes weeks on end, that using the bathroom was prohibited. When I was permitted to use the facilities, he came along to supervise. Needless to say my organs were not capable of normal function. That in itself was a deliberate method of dehumanizing me. If I was sent to the store alone for groceries I was expected to return immediately. He would be waiting by the door or even in the driveway to check the mileage and the time stamp on the receipt from the market. If anything was off, even by one second, there would be hell to pay.

There was a time I attempted to escape. It ended with him finding me and beating me brutally. Choking, punching and ultimately kicking the shit out of me with his steel-tipped boots while I curled up in fetal position trying desperately to protect my head with my hands and arms. That left my back exposed and he certainly took full advantage of it. When it was finally over, as he stepped back with a sense of pridefulness. I raised my head cautiously to access the situation. In that moment the blood gushing from a cut above my eye flowed and continuously obstructed my vision. I decided to stay down until I knew he had left the room. I recovered eventually and almost completely. Without the help of medical professionals naturally. Rarely do victims of domestic violence ever see the inside of an emergency room.

This is as much as I’m willing to reveal at this time. There are more instances and varieties of the violence and methodical torture I endured during those years but I have learned that even the most seasoned psychiatric, legal, and law enforcement professionals can cry or become sick when exposed to this horrific reality. Many think they want to know the details. They are almost always wrong. I am quite willing to accept that the images in my head and the torment they periodically provoke are mine alone to experience. I’ve worked for years with therapists who knew I craved the closest thing to recovery I could get. They knew I was willing to do whatever work would be necessary to understand what happened, why it happened (his psychosis) and ultimately to harvest every fucking benefit I could from those years. I deserved that. And I got it. Later in this post I describe how these professionals and I began our work together.

I laugh to myself now when I read a statement by someone or actually hear them say  how they would handle it if they were to find themselves as the target of a series of barbaric, violent beatings and rapes. How they would fight back and surely get away even if there was more than one perpetrator or a firearm to their head as there was in many of my experiences.  It’s a whole different ball game when you come face to face with a violent, calculating and determined psychotic individual. Add to that, this disturbed person is your spouse, your partner. His predatory nature was operating the moment he met me. He chose me as the object of his desire in ways only someone who has experienced this specific kind of hell can comprehend. That word, object, is the most telling part of the whole experience for me. The objectification itself cleared the path to understanding what had really happened there. It’s that concept that allowed me to realize that my personality, my attitude, my IQ, the way I look, my background – everything about me that makes me Jen – was inconsequential. I was meaningless in this situation. I was a body and that is all. I went on for a couple of years seeing this shit-storm through the lens of emotion. I negotiated, pleaded, and begged for each incident to end. All to no avail. I finally was able to see that my emotions, although a natural reaction to such events, were not serving me in any way. And if I myself didn’t truly factor into this equation, what did? I had to get out of my own way. I needed to remove the subjective me-ness and look at this situation from intellect alone. This revelation changed my life completely. To this day it’s the thought process I function within. So there I was. Armed with the facts. I don’t factor in here. No attempt at emotional manipulation will save me. Also, this mother fucker is nuts. No reasoning with him, no offers of logical alternatives would even have anywhere to land. It was up to me to find my way out. My family by this point had been completely cut off as were my very few close friends. It was time to stand the fuck up and walk.

I somehow was able to convince Nutjob that I should see a doctor to help me become more compliant and that it would really assist him in keeping me under control. This worked like a charm. I know, I can’t believe it either but I’m certainly grateful that it did. Off to a team of outstanding professionals I went. Right down the street from our home. Crazypants had a good job with amazing medical benefits so I waved that around in the doctor’s office to insure I had their attention. On my first visit I laid out precisely what I wanted to achieve. The rebuilding of my self-worth and my personality. I wanted to take advantage of the fact that my original foundation was obliterated. I was keenly aware that I could start from the bottom and by my own specifications, reparenting myself with the goal of fearless badass being my final result. I had one doctor for psychiatric supervision and another for cognitive behavioral therapy. They chose to accept the challenge. The one condition I lay bare before them was that I expected complete and utter confidentiality no matter how enraged they may become by what I was about to expose them to. If they chose to intervene I’d be thwarted. With each of us signing on the proverbial dotted line I began my climb toward freedom.

In a little under a year I had managed to keep my growing awareness under wraps at home. I guarded my hand with great determination. The details of this process will be coming in a future post. For now just know I succeeded. Since then I have offered my experience to anyone who feels they can gain anything from it. My manner of seeing my situation from a more clinical perspective is at times off-putting to some. I understand that intellectually but I have no interest in nor could I change a function that is an organic part of me and the way my brain works. It’s that function that served me best then and continues to do so today.

One final note. In reading the blog entries posted by @JoshuaDamnIt I felt like I may just be understood after all. I strongly suggest you follow him on Twitter and follow his blog.

As for me?  To be continued.


August 20, 2013 · 4:04 pm

How I Got Here

As the offspring of a father who is a secular Jew and a mother who is a practicing Catholic, I had an opportunity to pay attention to philosophical, behavioral, psychological and emotional differences in my parents. A front row seat. Well, more so middle-row due to my birth order in a pack of five. I paid close attention, as is my nature, to which displays by my parents intuitively felt logical. I was so driven by logic that one of my father’s pet names for me was Spock. A term of sideways endearment that when used told me I was on to something worth pursuing.

In my many mutually beneficial debates with my father I learned the art of questioning what is. To this day that remains my favorite past-time. My mother was the perfect product of her upbringing. A second generation Irish-Catholic with five siblings, she kept along the lines of behavior that were conveyed to her by actively Catholic parents. In her attempt to maintain the dogma she was comfortable with we were sent to Catholic school. This is the place where my suspicions regarding religious faith and compliance developed.

I was willing to go along with the teachings of the Old Testament at five and six years old. The Ten Commandments, specifically not lying, stealing or disrespecting one’s parents, not only made sense to me but they also seemed logically digestible as the consequences of doing the opposite were not comfortable. It was around the third or fourth grade that the sequel or New Testament was taught. I began to notice some glaring contradictions. I was compelled to inquire about these teachings and their logic. For example, why after being told to worship one true god was I now being asked to include this baby in my perception of the one true god as being separate but part of? What? So now my new fourth grade teacher was telling me to worship and heed the advice of some human that isn’t really human? Even in this moment I can remember vividly the anxiety that crept inside my body. I promptly raised my hand and earnestly offered the question, “Aren’t we going to be punished if we honor another god”? My fellow students along with my teacher audibly gasped. I was confused although I remained in an anticipatory stance waiting for her answer. Instead she addressed the class as a whole and said, “Now kids, the reason Jennifer is confused about this is because her father is Jewish”. As you can imagine my genealogy became the focus of my fellow students. Mouths were hanging open and the whispers ensued. At that point my teacher went on teaching as if to say, “My work is done on that matter”. Naturally it did nothing to deter me. The whole mess was becoming more illogical and my suspicions only grew. As time went by and the idea of god magically impregnating a woman named Mary and then making her marry another man who she didn’t really love just caused complete and utter distrust for me. I suggested to my parents that maybe I should go to Hebrew school because the original story was a vehicle I could ride. That didn’t get me anywhere for two reasons. One, my father was an atheist and made no attempt to convince anyone otherwise. Therefore Hebrew school made no sense to him. He had a loving relationship with my mom and he wasn’t going to screw it up by arguing the validity of her religion. Second, my mother was so indoctrinated that she was sure her middle child would go straight to hell if she didn’t accept Christ as her lord and savior. I was doomed to Catholic school through the eighth grade and placed in the last row of desks in each religion class for the remainder of my stay. Evidently word had gone around that I was a possible risk to an otherwise obedient classroom.

I’ll skip ahead to high school when my mother became exhausted from having two more kids to attend to which allowed my developing philosophies to fall off her radar. Certainly she would send us off to church on Sundays but we accomplished other things during that hour like riding skateboards and a whole host of typical teenage activities. It was during this time while attending a public school that I became exposed to a gazillion more ways to think about metaphysics – or not. I essentially held on to the omniscient-being-in-charge idea and followed my intuition for moments that required moral judgements. Yes, the presence of a moral compass is not contingent on the practice of or even introduction to a religion. It’s existence is dependent on other variables and not limited to genetics, social conditioning and environmental factors. So I was fine.

As I worked my way through early adulthood I had a nagging feeling that I was missing something. Due to the conditioning elements in my childhood I assumed I was lacking the label of a faith. I was very close to my paternal grandfather who had been raised in a very religious, conservative Jewish household and community. I opened up conversations with him on religion. He had great pride in his Jewishness yet not so much the religious aspect. He felt that exclusiveness was insulting and the world just doesn’t function well that way. He told me that being Jewish means to question everything and find your own answers. Also to keep going and evolving in your understanding because to be satisfied is to be complacent and possibly compliant. I loved that because it was true to my nature and authentic to my personality to delve, research and dig around. He and I discussed this topic and others over time until I was thirty years old. When he died I began to reach out to others that were capable of these same open debates and discussions. That lead me to a local Rabbi who tolerated my relentless queries for a few years. During that time, although I was considered a Jew by his reformed congregation due to paternal lineage, I insisted on going through all the classes and rites of passage that I felt I had missed out on in my youth. What made it easy for me to hang there for a while was the non-requirement of believing in god in any certain way or at all. I was fascinated for another four years. I then began to notice the organization-type factor. The same herding techniques I had noticed in Catholicism. My grandfather’s words were clear in my memory. The sense of exclusiveness coupled with the complete realization of the fact that beliefs are not at all associated with moral behavior, common decency or peace of mind, woke me out of the illusion.
I walked away.

For the next few years I wrestled with the idea that I may not believe in anything supernatural. I was anxious about that. Not even the thought of being “spiritual” instead of “religious” could be entertained. It was all such horseshittery. And I just kept walking. As each year passed I became more relaxed in my own skin. My intellectual pursuits were my focus as they should be and still are. My relationship with reality was now firm and I knew I had reached my goal. I finally got it. There’s nothing to get but facts. Being an anti-theist is healthy and rewarding. It’s delicious, really.

I have many people to thank for escorting me to this understanding. Some are present in my life, some are past and some are on Twitter. I’d like to acknowledge those on Twitter so anyone who is struggling or just needs to connect with likeminded people, here they are:



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