Dee's Blog
Tue 09/30/2008
Words are Inadequate
Topic: Stained Glass

When we have had the stained glass of idealism shattered--whether in families or institutions or simply by facing the realities of life and the suffering that it brings--we always have stories for which there are no words adequate to accurately convey the story.  That's what Leslie Van Gelder says in Weaving a Way Home

I think she's right.  Such has been my experience with quite a few of my own personal journeys or mini-journeys.  

Seems to me that those who fail to understand this phenomenon end up believing that they are the only individuals in the world who cannot adequately convey to others what they have experienced or suffered.  Truth is, if Gelder is right (and I really believe that she is), we may do well to stop struggling with the idea that we are "the only ones in such pain and isolation."  It helps when I remember that, for I can look at others with a different set of eyes and with arms more open to the world, even if I cannot comprehend the myriad of unique stories that I'm half afraid to hear from others at times. Or simply cannot fully relate to because I've not been in their unique situation. 

At times when I am more able to bridge the gap between myself and another person, I find that I am asking questions that invite sharing while having a heightened sensitivity to what other can teach me.

I become so interested in learning and rejoice in the ways the world is opening up to me, as never before.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 9:30 PM CDT
Thu 04/17/2008
The Problem with the Truth
Topic: Stained Glass

Have you ever noticed?  In families with addictions, just as in churches with perpetrators.  Or maybe we should reverse it and say churches with addictions and families with perpetrators--works the same no matter how you slice it.....

People in denial would prefer to believe the addicts or perpetrators instead of those who want to see change in the institution. 

Those who really shatter the stained glass are the "trusted" ones.  Yet others, by believing the cover stories told for self-protection, manage to not see the shattered glass.  Or to ignore it by not taking a stand.

It's often lonely to be within the system, looking courageously at the broken glass.  Sometimes all you can do is weep.  Before finding ways to create new glass formations that may or may not involve the people in denial.   Whether from a position inside or outside of the broken system in denial.

That's what Parker Palmer would call standing "in the tragic gap."  Which is really the only place that offers hope.  Either for the hopeful.  Or the system.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CDT
Updated: Thu 04/17/2008 8:07 PM CDT
Wed 12/05/2007
The Scariest Opportunity
Topic: Stained Glass

"Kids are such a study in conflict and comparison and contrast.  Raising them is an adventure I’m sure I’m not prepared for.  It’s a scary, scary thing."   That's a quote from a good friend and survivor with two youngsters. 

Even for people who have the "luxury" of living a boring life, people who seem to have been born with everything in order, a silver spoon in their psychological makeup, with parents who had the same.   People who know just where they are going or not going, so that nothing much ever has to change except for death and taxes.  The latter over which we have little control at all, the former we just may be able to forestall for years with healthy living.

You probably have already discovered that I don't think a boring life is much of a luxury. It may provide some stability for kids, provided it's in a stable location.  Yet I'm not sure those kids are prepared for many real challenges. 

The problem with abuse and violence is that it comes from outside.  Unless we are the abusers.  So, as parents, we aren't creating challenges that have the potential for learning and growth.  Or at least we are challenged in trying to do that as others are creating challenges that have the potential to destroy us or our loved ones. 

Recently one of my readers asked for guidance on just how to navigate all of this, in regard to the church and spiritual growth of children.  That's an area that may create conflict with a spouse.  Or just internal conflict, as you compare the situation of your offspring, having to deal with the extra burden (or maybe it's the extra opportunity) that comes when you have found the courage to stand up to things that are far from okay. 

While thinking on these things, may I remind you that you are leading your children in a potentially positive way and in a very spiritual exercise, as role models, by choosing not to be so boring yourself. 

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Thu 12/06/2007 7:41 AM CST
Tue 12/04/2007
The Challenges and Blessings of the Spouse
Topic: Stained Glass

Early in my years of advocacy, I met a middle-aged survivor who had never married.  She felt that her survival journey had been less painful because she had not had to deal with a spouse who might have different sets of preferences for her difficult decisions.  It's hard to know if she was correct or not. After all, one cannot see the other side of things with complete objectivity.  We always see our situation through a glass darkened by our experience. 

It could also have depended on the individual's outlook.  She could just have easily said that it would have been so much easier if she had had a spouse to share the burdens. 

Vice versa, too, for those who are married or have a stable significant other.  There are pro's and con's to either situation.  Even the healthiest of marriages seem to need a degree of space whenever a crisis comes along.  In order to insure that the other(s) in the family are being nurtured, but not smothered.  A difficult road to navigate for sure!

For the next few days, I'll be examining the growth opportunities, as well as the pitfalls, that come with close relationships of survivors and advocates.   Not just with spouses, but with children who are bystanders, even if not direct victims.

It seems especially timely because all of this often seems to be more pronounced as the holidays occur.



Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Tue 12/04/2007 7:53 AM CST
Mon 12/03/2007
The Necessity of an Enlarging Tiospaye
Topic: Stained Glass

Let's go back to that stained glass that got shattered, the glass that we are in process of reassembling.  Sometimes it refers to family, but sometimes it refers to friendships.  Often for readers of this blog, it involves relationships at church. Or the institution itself.

As we take stock, preparing to move from indecision and doubt toward a life where we are able to trust ourselves and build stronger lives, it soon becomes evident that we are in process of evaluating many of our past and present relationships.  It can feel a lot like a divorce. 

One difference, though, is that a person can stay forever divorced and never marry again.  By contrast, one cannot stay forever "divorced" from all relationships. 

It takes time to decide what we treasure and what we abhor in people.  Especially if we are in the process of so much change in our thinking that the qualities we treasure or abhor seem to change themselves.  On a daily basis! 

Recently I found a delightful new word.  Tiospaye.  It has to do with all of the people or resources on which we can draw when we have a need. 

With a well-developed tiospaye, we are going to have a variety of people.   Some professional, some just good friends or reliable family members.  Some will be helpful when we need to discuss a financial issue.  Others on a parenting issue.  And so on.  Nobody can fulfill all of our needs, and that's often where we get side-tracked as we turn to people who aren't prepared to address certain needs or issues, whether they think they can or not. 

For many years, I expected to be able to get all of my needs met by people in the faith community.  Today I don't even consider whether they are people of faith in most matters.  I want to know how likely they are to be relatively reliable in understanding certain problems. 

How has your own tiospaye changed in the past ten years?  Has it grown or shrunk?  Is it adequate for your current needs, especially when it comes to spiritual or emotional issues?  How important is the church to you in your tiospaye?  If it has become less important, how have you been able to find replacements for the individuals who provided you with a sense of security?  

Is your stained glass today more beautiful, despite the shattering it has experienced, or is it more like a drab broken window?

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 12:01 AM CST
Updated: Mon 12/03/2007 7:22 AM CST
Fri 10/05/2007
Your Stained Glass Story
Topic: Stained Glass

Sometimes I get discouraged as I see the stereotyping that seems to abound in some survivor groups. Truth is it is very difficult to find many statements that are universally a part of every story. Especially when it comes to reactions or outcomes. Some of you know that I am cautious about the words I use that might indicate that all lives are permanently “damaged” and that all survivors are “sick” or “wounded beyond hope of recovery.” There are just too many stories that show immense creativity and transcendence, even in the midst of the tremendous change and losses that are sustained through the storms of abuse.

There is a wonderful new site that brings hope of raising the consciousness of people of faith, especially clergy and church leaders, in regard to domestic violence.

No matter what your violation, no matter what your story, I hope that you will look at the general principles presented in the “stain glass story” that The Rave Project presents on it’s remarkable site:

I believe you’ll see yourself in a new Light. In turn, may you offer this Light and Hope to others.

Posted by Dee Ann Miller at 6:30 AM CDT

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