I want to comment on the whole half-time show/Super Bowl discussion, as I feel it is important to articulate and put it in perspective.
First, I heard the argument that our female bodies have been controlled by the patriarchy for centuries and we, as women, should be able to do what ever we want with our bodies. Well, yes we CAN do whatever we want with our bodies, but that doesn’t mean we SHOULD. There is dignity. We can get our point across in other ways.
Stooping to the level of pole dancing and basic pornography in front of millions of people is not making our case. We need to understand the primal functions of men and women. You cannot expect a man not to get aroused when he sees a woman behaving in that way. That is not fair. Shoving that provocative behavior in a man’s face to prove a point is so wrong. And it is not in integrity. And it is playing right into the patriarchy. If you don’t think the patriarchy wants us up there pole dancing for all of them to see, you are living in denial and ignorance.
The Super Bowl is known for being the largest site for sex trafficking each year and it is also the day of the year with the highest level of domestic violence. We as women – the nurturers, the caregivers- have to really think about what we are doing, when we are doing it – and who will be affected. WE have control over our own behavior. We need to act wisely.
Let’s consider who is directly affected by all of this narcissistic, pole dancing, grandstanding. All of those poor girls who will be trafficked as a result of the men who are now hyper aroused by the pornographic behavior they just watched that is INTENDED to arouse – needing to find a release. Men who are not able to control themselves because of biological reasons. You can say that they SHOULD be able to control themselves but that doesn’t mean they WILL. Biology is biology. And not everyone is playing with a full deck of mental health.
Now I am not saying that a woman is responsible for being raped or assaulted because of what she wears or where she goes or what she does; however we need to be smart as women. We have to be aware at all times because that is the world we live in. We cannot dress or act in provocative ways and expect a man not to be aroused. That is complete ignorance. No, a woman is not responsible for a rape because of what she is wearing or doing. Absolutely not. However, shoving porn in a man’s face to purposely arouse him is also not ok. That is called teasing. Neither is appropriate behavior.
Second – JLo can do whatever she wants. However, she does not represent me or my views as a woman. She is not a torch bearer for female equality. What woman pole dances in a pornographic way who does not want millions of men ogling after her? Let’s look at what she gains. She gets all of this attention and energy. And she gets people to follow her on social media, etc. She gains more popularity. And I might add, she seems to be working through her own insecurities about aging. She is not dumb. She is using that female power platform for her own gain – NOT to empower us all as women. Nor do I think she is a voice for every woman that has been sexually assaulted and wished she had not ever been noticed.
Yes, JLo has a voice, but it is not my voice she represents. I would NEVER flaunt myself in public in that way. I do not have to. Real power comes from within, not from flaunting your body on national TV. It is appalling what we have stooped to as a nation. If we as women want things to be better, we have to BE better too. You cannot have the “me too” movement and then this flaunting of our bodies provoking the male population. There is no dignity or respect in that – and it confuses the issue.
If you want to pole dance, knock yourself out. Yes – it can be something sensual and appropriate with someone that you love. But do it in the privacy of your home, not on national TV to wow everyone with what great shape your are in – or to have a good majority of the male population fantasizing about you. How completely narcissistic.
It is in our humbleness that we speak volumes. We have spent so much time as women working to be taken seriously. This kind of behavior sets us back. It does not move us forward.
Domestic Violence is such a huge, complicated and insidious topic. One blog post cannot possibly encompass all of its facets; however, it can give some important insights. To begin, abuse is based on entitled behaviors. The abuser lives in a world where they believe they are above the rules. Interestingly, they may obey the rules in public – at work or in front of friends and relatives – but behind closed doors, it is a different story. Here is one snapshot version of abuse:
She never thought it could happen to her. She lived an affluent life – and worked very hard to get there. She was the catalyst behind her husband’s climb in the medical field – although he would never admit it or give her credit for the way she supported and empowered him to succeed.
The abuse started when her first child was born – very common in abuse patterns. As a couple, they had decided that she would stay home with their children and forgo an outside career path. She was elated and totally satisfied being a stay-at-home parent. They were the best years of her life and the best work she felt she had ever done. She felt it was her calling to raise these fabulous beings – what an incredible experience.
But her greatest loves also became her greatest weakness. The love she had for her children was quickly turned against her and used to control and abuse her. She loved her children more than anything and would do whatever it took to protect them and keep them safe. Her husband knew this – thus it became her prison. He knew her children meant the world to her – they were her beautiful angels. He thought that fact – and their affluent lifestyle would keep her imprisoned in their facade of a marriage – that she would never leave. He knew she wanted the best for their children – to have the things she never had growing up – the advantages of privilege and unconditional parental love.
He thought he could behave and do whatever he wanted to her because she would never disrupt this “perfect” world by divorcing him. And yes, she thought long and hard about it – it was not a decision she took lightly. Yet, day by day – with each child that was born, his abuse became more terrorizing. She lived in constant fear. Her deliberating over the decision to divorce was not about what would happen to her – she knew she could withstand whatever she needed to. She was more concerned about what it would do to her children – she wanted to make sure they would be safe.
She consulted an attorney months before she made the decision and was assured that she would be taken care of financially – she and her children would be able to carry on with a similar lifestyle. However, nothing was further from the truth. Instead, she was badgered and bullied in the court system. Her rights and the rights of her children violated at every point.
The abuse they had all suffered during the marriage left no marks – it was verbal and psychological – no traces of evidence – the perfect plan. He knew that. He threatened to hit her once – was going to punch her in the face. She saw him stop and reconsider – probably because it would leave a mark – evidence. He was too concerned with his public image to leave a mark others could see.
Once they separated, he was able to shut down her access to their bank accounts – she was at the mercy of his and his attorney’s dirty tricks. She quickly started going into debt to cover living expenses. There were so many lies and dirty tricks pulled on her – things she never expected. She was told she would need to start working again and was given some fictitious salary she supposedly was going to be able to earn because of her education level and skills, even though she had been out of the work force for years – in order to support herself and her children. This amount was used in the financial negotiations.
He fought her for custody even though she had been the stay-at-home parent – another common pattern. It is well-know that it is best for children of divorce to have a similar living arrangement after divorce if it is financially possible. However, the court did not make sure her children were taken care of in this way. The court allowed his reign of terror to continue and actually aided him in carrying it out.
He wanted to take her children away from her because he knew what they meant to her. He knew that when they suffered – she suffered. That was the only thing he had to use against her and punish her. He knew she wasn’t upset about leaving him – she had fallen out of love with him years ago from all of the abuse. But she would be torn apart to not be with her children or to see them harmed. They were her greatest loves – she would do anything for them – anything.
She spent years in the court system with his constant attacks. She was given minimal spousal maintenance. He was so intent on financially ruining her that he sold his practice and tried to reduce child support – while at the same time fighting her for custody. It took years and all of the retirement money she received from the settlement to fight him – finally gaining full custody of her children so they could be safe. She fought against judges, attorneys, parenting consultants, parenting coaches, and therapists.
In the end, she did win. However, it was at a huge cost to her and to her children. She lost everything including her home. Her children endured years of hardship, while one of their parents was living a life of ease and wealth. They were punished for holding him accountable for his bad behavior, while the family court system sat by and did almost nothing.
Abuse strikes all economic levels. It is a myth that it only affects men and women in lower educational or income levels. In fact, the more intelligent the abuser, the more severe and calculated the abuse. My work as a therapist is to help educate women and men who are caught in the prison of abuse to understand the dynamics so they can find a path of peace and freedom.
Love never dies – other things die, but love endures forever – it is a powerful force that stands strong in the face of whatever comes its way and it cannot be taken down. Lifetime after lifetime after lifetime – it only grows stronger.
Only ignorant fools believe they can tamper with love – how silly of them- playing their foolish games of lies and deceit. Love is too smart for that – too vast and all encompassing to be affected by small, petty people with petty lives who are filled with jealousy and envy at not ever having experienced the gift of true love. They can only scratch at its door.
It is all an illusion. True love is forever. It can never be broken – the bonds too deep and secure – eternal in the cosmic vastness of existence.
Love gets past the guards of deception – nothing can block its way – for it is always there. It was there at the beginning before time began – the great experiment. And it has not been affected – it has not. It is still true and unyielding. Patiently waiting – its knowing beyond the conception of small minds. Power beyond measure.
A common myth in abusive relationships is that they are codependent – codependency is a label that refers to people who are chemically dependent on substances such as alcohol and narcotics – so that when they try to quit they suffer traumatic physical symptoms.
Applying that label to human relationships is very misleading. If you feel “addicted” to your partner, you are probably feeling the confusing effects of his inconsistent on again/off again behavior. This is called intermittent reinforcement and is intended to keep you off balance. Gaslighting is another way to keep you off balance – making you doubt yourself and question your sanity.
This irrational behavior is confusing and can keep you stuck in a mental loop. That is where the problem lies – in the abuser’s behavior. The fact is, many women stay in spite of this behavior, not because of it. They suffer a loss of confidence that makes them worry about whether they can survive without their abusive partner
It is important to understand what codependency really is and that it has nothing to do with staying in an abusive relationship. This line of thinking blames the victim and makes her question herself – making it even more difficult to move through the mental fog and leave.
Being clear on the terms codependency and gaslighting can be extremely helpful in identifying what is really going on. Then the responsibility rests on the abuser and not the victim.
The happiness revolution is designed to keep us so focused on trying to be happy that we are distracted from what is really going on. We are not designed to be “happy” beings – that is a scientific fact – happiness is not our natural state as human beings.
We need our critical thinking and discernment skills in order to protect ourselves. Our anxiety and depression are not guiding us to get happy; rather they are informing us of what is not balanced in our lives and how far we have strayed from our authentic selves – our inner centered awareness.
If we are caught in some fake happy la la land – then we will not see how we are being taken advantage of -how we are being misled -how our sovereignty is being pulled out from under us.
In addition, chasing this impossible paradigm of happiness distracts us and devalues us – we think we are doing something wrong when we are not able to be happy. When we are sad and frustrated, we are guilt tripped into focusing on being grateful for what we have – again, that is not the point. It is not that we are ungrateful, but rather that things are not in alignment with who we truly are – that we on the outside are not in alignment with our inner authenticity. Gratitude is not going to “fix” that.
Sitting with ourselves and really opening up to what our anxiety/depression, etc. are trying to tell us is the way. To be with the unpleasant feelings – they are our teachers.
People talk about shame many times in a superficial way – from a perspective of privilege. The shame of losing a race, the shame of failing a test, the shame of getting turned down by a prospective date. These are entitled shames. In these instances, we think we have experienced shame, but we are not even close to the deep dark shame that exists for many.
Shame is a very complicated and deep wound. We are indoctrinated into shame early on in life. There is deep shame rooted in the feelings of not being enough – not being accepted for who we are – for our authenticity and uniqueness. If we were raised with narcissistic parents, we were rewarded for giving emotional support to our parents, but shamed for needing that emotional support in return. We then began a pattern of giving away energy without ever getting our emotional needs met in return so that we could be loved and have our basic needs met for food and shelter. The flow of energy was imbalanced and unhealthy. That is one form of shame we can experience. There are many others – deep, dark and paralyzing.
When I think of shame – I think of people shamed for their very existence. For instance, the migrant workers who courageously risk their lives to come here and pick the fruit we eat -their bodies broken from horrendously difficult conditions – so they can support their families at home – shamed by structural violence. I think of the woman who was sexually assaulted and carries the shame of being violated – who now has the task of working through the trauma that was forced on her – her life forever changed. I think of innocent children physically and mentally abused by unconscious parents – courageously making their way into adulthood – trying to survive – trying to make sense of life when there was no sense in anything they experienced. I think of young boys shamed for showing emotion – carrying the scars of having their authentic expression being ridiculed and shut down. I think of the shame of financial abuse inflicted on women leaving abusive relationships – access to joint bank accounts shut down, losing their homes because money is withheld from them, bearing the stigma of financial incompetency that was not their fault, but rather a result of their partner’s illogical need to get even and debilitate them – just because they don’t want to be married to someone who abuses them anymore.
If we are going to talk about shame, let’s get real about it. We are terrified to go into the depths of shame – yet we need to probe those depths in order to truly heal. What are the deep dark secrets we have been avoiding by filling our days with constant purchases and activities – not allowing ourselves the time to sit and just be in order to let the things that need to come to the surface rise up for acknowledgement and healing. It is in sitting with our emotions and feelings from those horrific experiences that we will find our most profound answers. It can seem terrifying to face the unknown, yet on the other side of that fear and terror is liberation.
Watching the movie “Christopher Robin”, I was struck by all of the profound wisdom of Winnie the Pooh. In this version, Christopher Robin is now a middle-aged man dealing with the pressures of profits and bottom lines. His view of the world has changed since his childhood interactions with Pooh and all of their friends. Even though he assured Pooh that he would never forget him, he has in fact, forgotten Pooh and left “childish” things behind for the more practical pursuits of earning a living in a world where companies do not seem to care about their employees. Where making money is the only goal to be obtained at whatever the personal cost, including working long hours and spending more and more time away from family.
Christopher’s wife is watching him slip away and reminds him that his life is right there in front of him and it is passing him by. However, he is so engrained in the work culture and providing for his family that he cannot see it.
Meanwhile, Pooh is still in the hundred acre wood – but is troubled – he can’t seem to find his friends, Tigger, Piglet, Rabbit, and Owl. On his journey around the wood, he passes by the tree where Christopher Robin used to be and hears his old friend calling to him – the door is open. Pooh trusts this sign and decides that he needs to seek out Christopher Robin – he will know how to help Pooh find everyone.
He ventures through the open door into the tree from which Christopher Robin always appears in search of his long lost friend. The timing is perfect as Christopher Robin is “lost” as well – lost in the expectations of the “real world” and so very far away from his own morals and values. Pooh, in his unassuming way, eventually leads Christoper Robin back to what really matters. Here are some of his wise Poohisms:
Christoper Robin’s boss emphatically states that “nothing leads to nothing.” However, Pooh counters – “doing nothing often leads to the very best something!” When we search so hard for things thinking we need to always be doing something to get something, we miss what is right in front of us. We miss the path that wants to open up to us if we just pause and let it happen.
Christopher Robin doesn’t understand why Pooh isn’t blindly rushing off to find his friends – Pooh calmly replies “sometimes when I’m going somewhere and I wait, somewhere comes to me.” Whatever is meant for us will come – we don’t need to go find it, it will find us if we only give it a chance. If we are open, receptive and patient.
As Christopher Robin and Pooh search the wood for their friends, Christopher gets frustrated because he is in a hurry and wants a plan. This is not Pooh’s way, rather he explains – “I always get to where I am going by walking away from where I have been.” Again, he is teaching us that we will get to where we need to go by following our inner guidance and being patient – all of the worrying and planning in the world will not move us forward, rather it can impede our forward flow if things don’t show up according to our “plan”. Stopping and relaxing knowing that we always get to where we are going by following the steps as they are shown – one step at a time – is all we need to do.
Pooh explains – “sometimes the thing to do is nothing”. Is it the same as “good things come to those who wait”? Maybe. Sometimes just waiting when we don’t know the next step is the thing to do – so the next step can be shown to us. We don’t need to stress about it. Rather if we can enjoy the quiet time or the time in between, we are in a better frame of mind to take that next step – and also maybe better prepared. Sometimes, we need to learn things before we can move on from a situation – or we need to heal. We don’t always need to be pushing for more – getting caught in that chaotic cycle keeps us out of the flow of life in a never ending search for something in the future that is supposed to make us happy when happiness is right here in front of us – if we just let it in.
Pooh spins our culture’s constant push to improve and achieve – he explains – “people say that nothing is impossible, yet I do nothing all the time.” What a wonderful turn around from constantly striving to relaxing and just being. Giving us permission to sit back and allow ourselves some space to contemplate – to just be with ourselves and see what we are all about -to get to know ourselves and our desires and preferences, rather than endlessly pursuing some status quo definition of success.
Christopher Robin admonishes Pooh for talking to people and causing a scene. “You’re different – people don’t like things that are different” he tells Pooh. Pooh thinks about this trying to understand, dumbfounded he replies – “so I shouldn’t be me”, leaving Christopher speechless. How can he get his friend to understand that the real world doesn’t like or want deviations from the status quo – people are quickly put back in their place for being different and not fitting in.
Yet Pooh continues to be himself – living in the moment unaffected by the rules and restraints of society. He wants Christopher to buy him a red balloon because it “would make him happy”. When they lose the balloon, Pooh wants Christopher to get it back for him. Christopher doesn’t want to be bothered and tells Pooh he doesn’t need it; however, Pooh tells him sincerely – “but it made me happy – did it make you happy?” Christopher dismisses the question finding it irrelevant. What a different world it would be if all it took was a red balloon to make us happy.
By the end of the movie, Christopher Robin is brought back to himself by his childhood friends – back to what really matters. And in finding that place inside of himself, he is then able to come up with a solution to his company’s bottom line that is a win/win for everyone. Yes, this can seem simplistic; however, when we follow what is most important in life – our deeper values, we are able to see solutions that we might have otherwise missed. Changing our thinking changes what comes back to us because it opens new pathways in the brain. It is that simple.