Posted in Uncategorized

I’m an oppressed Muslim woman?

Here is an important piece from a Moslem woman who declares Islam is not the problem for women, culture is. I agree with her totally. The teachings of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism,Sikhism and Buddhism have peace and love at their centre. All are lead by men in the main, because of culture. Christians, Jews and Buddhists have women leaders, so things are beginning to change. Women are kept down in religious institutions through power and control, the same mechanisms at the heart of Domestic Abuse. One will not change without the other changing. For world peace to be achieved, we must demand peace at home.
Kitty

Seeking Words

Earlier this week it was International Women’s Day and like all other days – Mother’s day, Father’s day, Independence day – it was difficult to acknowledge the day let alone engage in any discussions.

You see, my problem isn’t with the day nor with those who celebrate it, my problem is with the fight. Commemorative days are one out of 365 days, but the fight…well, the fight is relentless. The fight doesn’t take a break on any of those days. The fight means that even when women are encouraged to take a day off to raise awareness about their plight, so many simply can’t afford to. I feel perpetually exhausted by repetitive rhetoric but this won’t stop me from writing about it – so here goes.

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In 1990, Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay called Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack in which she compiled a list of all the invisible privileges…

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Posted in Uncategorized

Blog Housekeeping

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I’m spending today and tomorrow doing some housekeeping on the blog, adding categories to posts, and deleting some that don’t fit the themes I’ve been exploring.  I’m also going to adjust my blog name.  I’ll be continuing with the Healing Meditations on Monday 14th August.  I do hope the changes help when looking around the blog; if not please get in touch.

Sending out peace to you.

Kitty

Posted in Feminist Theology, How Did I Get Here?, Meditations, Women Made of Fire

Healing Meditation (iii)

Most of us who have experienced Domestic Abuse, can later pinpoint the event that caught them in the abuser’s trap.  Abusers don’t take responsibility for their behaviour, it’s always the fault of someone else – she made me angry;  if only I could get a better job; if only my parents accepted me.  Everyone is to blame except themselves.  These meditations are shared from my book WITNESS*, which recounts Sarah’s abuse at the hands of her husband, Jamie.  When Sarah got free of him, after many years, she discovered in counseling the point in their relationship where she became trapped.  It happened after a severe beating that left Sarah cowered, bruised and in shock.  Some time after the attack, with Jamie gone from the kitchen, Sarah got herself to her feet and went into the living room to find a comfortable seat.  When she opened the door, Jamie flew at her again, and told her she shouldn’t make him so angry; one of these days he was going to murder her, and he would end up in prison, and it would be Sarah’s fault.  Sarah loved Jamie, and the last thing she wanted for him was prison; she didn’t have the presence of mind to consider herself, and what he did to her. Jamie made her responsible for his anger, and she took that responsibility.  She had no-one to talk this over with, her mother was dead, and her sisters far away.  In any case the uppermost feeling she had, was one of shame.

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Mother, I place myself in the warmth of your loving arms.
I place my feet on your earth and allow myself to be rooted in the earth, my home. I feel your energy rise in me, supporting me in experiencing my pain.
You were present when he hurt me; you are my witness.
Alone in a small room, he slapped me and punched me and kicked me.
No other human being saw.
Later, he made me doubt my own experience, my own heart, my own mind.
But you are my witness.
He did these things to me.
He shamed me.
He degraded me
He blamed me:
I accepted blame.
You Mother surround the Cosmos;
I have life and breath in You.
Hold me in my pain.
Heal me
Bit by bit, layer by layer.
Mine is a long journey back to health.
You are my guide and my companion.
Remind me when I doubt my own experience.
You are my witness.
Remind me when he denies these acts.
You are my witness.

Image & text © Kitty Nolan 2016

 

*WITNESS also available from:

http://www.authorhouse.co.uk

http://www.amazon.co.uk

http://www.amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

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Posted in Faith Groups and VAWG, Feminist Theology, How Did I Get Here?, Meditations, Women Made of Fire

Healing Meditations (ii)

Many of us who have experience of Domestic Abuse are from Faith Communities, and this has a huge impact on the mechanisms that keep us stuck in abusive relationships, and is also important to our recovery as survivors.  Even when we no longer go to church, mosque, synagogue or temple, or continue to believe in a Higher Being, we have absorbed particular teachings about marriage and family responsibility as we grew up, leaving us with a lot of untangling to do.  This untangling is essential, because we need to recover ourselves, and our core beliefs must belong to ourselves.

In sharing the meditations from my book WITNESS *, the context of the meditations is Sarah’s experiences of domestic abuse at the hands of her husband, Jamie.  Today’s meditation follows the first violence she experienced.  As you will appreciate being punched and slapped for the first time in her life was a shocking experience, and resulted in Sarah leaving.  She took all her belongings, and stayed with her sister Anne.  Not knowing what she was walking into when she drove to get Sarah, Anne describes this a distressing place to be.  Later, they both found Jamie’s continual phone calls difficult to deal with; Sarah didn’t want to talk to him, and Anne wanted to protect her sister.  Eventually the calls wore Sarah down, and, like many women, she went back.

The abuser demands that their victim adopts his belief system, and Sarah, like many of us, found herself on constantly shifting ground: on one occasion Jamie would want an honest discussion about Sarah’s views on a given topic; on another he would become angry because she didn’t agree with him.  Her worst nightmare was when, as a couple, they got into discussion with family or friends, and Sarah disagreed with Jamie; sometimes he was reasonable, others he would be enraged when he left the others.  For Sarah, this meant her own beliefs went underground, and became impossible to examine.

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Mother, I place myself in the warmth of your loving arms.  I place my feet on the earth, which is my home. I allow my roots to sink into the earth and allow you to stabilise me.

I hear you tell me that I am your beloved child;  you take delight in me.  As a parent you enter into my suffering.  You were there when the first blow was struck.  You wanted to shelter me from harm.  You found me a place of safety.  You were with me in my heartbreak.
You were with me when I gave in and returned.  You traveled with me respecting my choice;  aware of my hopes and desires.  You knew better than me, and you knew I did not understand.  I needed to learn, and you stayed with me throughout, calling me back to myself, a patient, loving parent, always.

Image & text © Kitty Nolan 2016

*WITNESS is also available at:

http://www.authorhouse.co.uk

http://www.amazon.co.uk

http://www.amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

Posted in Faith Groups and VAWG, Feminist Theology, How Did I Get Here?, Meditations, Women Made of Fire

Healing Meditations (i)

For many women, and men, trying to recover from domestic abuse, faith communities are important, even though many teachings handed down to us kept us stuck in the violence:

‘Marriage is for life; if you divorce you cannot remarry.’

‘Women are subject to their husbands.’

‘The man is the head of the woman.”

These teachings were part of my upbringing as a Catholic in Scotland, but there are similar teachings in all faith communities.  When I began reclaiming my life after my husband and I separated, dealing with these unhelpful rules was important to me; challenging them took a lot of courage and strength.  Over time the word ‘God’ became too loaded for me, and I preferred the Hebrew word ‘Yahweh’ – I am that I am.  ‘Yahweh’ became a clear space for me, allowing me to honour my own experience, insights and understanding.  All relationships require the participation of all concerned; my relationship with ‘Yahweh’ required me.  Over time I came to address Yahweh as Mother, expanding my understanding of Yahweh, and including the nurturing energy of The Mother.

I thought for the next set of blogs I would share with you the meditations and images from my book WITNESS *.  I’ve mentioned my book in previous blogs, but just to recap:  WITNESS relates Sarah’s account of her experience of Domestic Abuse at the hands of her partner, Jamie.  They lived in a rural setting in Scotland, they were drawn together due to a mutual commitment as Christians, despite which Sarah dealt with most manifestations of domestic abuse, and their children, Erin and David, frequently witnessed this abuse.  At the end of each chapter of WITNESS I included a healing meditation accompanied by a supporting image.

In chapter one Sarah and Jamie’s relationship begins with hope.  They come from different backgrounds, meeting through college and friends.  Shortly after beginning to live together Jamie becomes nasty and undermining for a short time, which Sarah put down to academic pressure.  She met his family over Christmas but who behaved in a way she was not used to, vying for their mother’s attention, and talking over one another. Jamie had an outburst at one of his sisters, and then his father, upsetting the whole household. Gradually things settle when they return home, but it is also clear that Jamie no longer believed in God, and belittled Sarah for continuing in her belief.  This part of herself went underground because she felt shamed.

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Mother, I place myself in the warmth of your loving arms.

I place my feet on Your Earth and allow myself to be rooted in the Earth, my home.

You see me as good. I accept the goodness in myself.

You see me as worthy. I accept the worth in myself.

You see me as beautiful. I accept the beauty in myself.

You see me as desirable. I accept myself as desired.

 

Text & image © Kitty Nolan 2016

 

*WITNESS is also available from :

http://www.amazon.co.uk

http://www.authorhouse.co.uk

http://www.amazon.com

Barnes & Noble

 

Posted in self care

Self Care (viii)

This series of blogs expands on Self-Care 1 where I discussed how essential self-care is to recovering from the damage done to us by Domestic Abuse.  I’ve been following the suggestions in 15 MINUTES TO SELF-CARE , and the last suggestion on the list, Think Positively, can be the most controversial.

Think Positively: What it is not

When something catastrophic happens, and I’m told to think positively, I always want to scream.  This little nugget of advice comes over as a criticism to someone who has learned to see things as they are.  Years of ignoring my intuition about my abuser’s actions, and stuffing down my true feelings, have left me unwilling to gloss over the clear realities in a situation.  We have survived the concentration camp of Domestic Abuse*;  we know there are tough times ahead, and we objectively have the strength to move forward. Thinking positively is not magical thinking; it’s not about wishful thinking; it’s a conscious decision to challenge our thought patterns, a little at a time, and return to our own values and inner selves.  Our thoughts do not exist in a concrete way until we put them into action.

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Let’s have a look at some ways of thinking that keep us stuck, and alternatives.  I found these lists helpful when I was first recovering, because I was so overwhelmed I didn’t know where to start; returning to lists like this helped move things for me.  This table uses yoga poses as an activity demonstating types of thoughts; clearly  any activity can bring up these ways of thinking – the remedies are the same for any situation.

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Number 2: ‘We form strict rules and unrealistic expectations’. is an enormous challenge for many of us, because we lived for so long with our abuser’s rules and expectations.  We internalised these rules, despite our abuser constantly breaking them. We also internalised our abusers statements about ourselves:  I recall feeling crippling anxiety about being able to manage on my own, each time I tried to leave our marriage, I was told I would never cope alone, our children’s lives would be awful, but when I saw the reality I was, and had been living, my outlook changed completely – I had existed as a single parent within our marriage, with responsibility for all our finances, organising the house, and caring for our children.  Of course I had the skills to cope as a lone parent! Reframing our habitual thought patterns is extremely important.

Due to the skills we have used to survive abuse, we often have a strong attachment to making things perfect – if the dinner is perfect he won’t kick off.  The lived reality was one of constantly shifting goal posts; we could sense when an outburst was coming, but could never sidestep it.  Perfectionism became a huge waste of energy, leaving us feeling we aren’t good enough.  Good enough is a concept we need to learn, and adopt.

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To help us adopt this belief that we are good enough, we also need to adopt healthy boundaries.  We are allowed to take up space in the world.  We are valuable beings in our own right, regardless of our achievements.  We are important!

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Carving out a space that is yours is challenging to start with, but helps us create the lives we want to have.  We can stop eating porridge for breakfast, because we do not like it.  We can choose to be vegetarian, because we believe it will improve our health.  We can invite friends over for a meal because we live in our own space, and can choose who to invite into it.  We can make our own happiness, because we value our own likes and dislikes, and trust our intuition about people and places.

So, thinking positively is an active choice to live our lives our way, and to that extent is a beneficial tool in helping shape the lives we desire.

I leave you with this.

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*This is not to belittle the dangers when leaving an abusive relationship; the point that women are most likely to be murdered is when they leave.

I hope this has been helpful.  Please share and sign up for my blog notifications.

Sending out peace to you.

Kitty

 

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Posted in self care

Self Care (vii)

As I said in my previous blog post, it is difficult for us to allow ourselves time for self-care.  We do the basics – shower, hair cut, clothing, food – but it takes a conscious decision to set aside time to look after ourselves, especially in the midst of a divorce, and more so when we have lived with domestic abuse; self-care was not encouraged.  It is so important to give ourselves this self-care, because without it we will struggle to take care of our obligations; our jobs, our families, our friendships.  This next suggestion for self-care will be easy to relate to:

Take Time for a Nap

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Self-care is about learning to love yourself again, and consciously deciding to take a nap every day is one of the simplest ways to do this.  Take a look at this graphic.

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One of the main problems I have with napping is sometimes being left feeling groggy for the rest of the day.  I had no idea drinking a cup of coffee before napping could be a solution to this – despite normally avoiding caffeine, it’s certainly something I’ll try.  It’s also helpful to know the optimum length of a nap to avoid that grogginess.

It’s important to rest your body by lying down; sitting and napping can leave your body achy.  I prefer to nap on top of my bed with a blanket, but napping on the sofa with a cozy blanket is just as beneficial. Temperature and light are also important, so pulling the blinds and covering yourself for warmth – use an eye mask if it helps.

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When the alarm goes, give yourself time to waken properly; don’t rush into doing the ironing or preparing dinner.  Take time for a warm drink, and become aware of the changes in your body and mind. You will be able to tackle the rest of the day with renewed energy.

 

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I hope this has been helpful; remember your feedback is important to me.  If you like this, please sign up for notifications, and do share.

Sending out peace to you.

Kitty