A Sad Reality

This month is Domestic Violence Awareness month and it is definitely needed and deserves attention. More recently I’ve had the opportunity to work with some women who have experienced it. While DV impacts both men and women, so far professionally I’ve primarily worked with women. People seem to be always quick to judge this population and I have to admit that women quite often catch the short end of the stick in the court of public opinion. There’s an opinion that women who stay with cheating spouses are just doing what is expected of them and in many situations men aren’t questioned when they leave a relationship if the tables are turned. The truth is that it’s not always easy to get out. Abusers often control finances and seek to isolate their victims from close family and friends. It’s even more complicated when children are involved and there are questions about next steps and potential custody battles. It’s also important to realize that abuse doesn’t always have to be physical. It can be emotional and verbal as well. In order to make a plan to leave the relationship, one has to come to the understanding that it’s an unhealthy/abusive situation. I’ve had women tell me that every marriage has ups and down and that they don’t want to be quitters by leaving when it gets tough. Many have been encouraged by pastors and faith leaders that they should just submit to their spouse and just bear their cross. It’s important to understand that most victims don’t leave their abusers on the first attempt AND that they are more at risk for increased violence when they try to leave. This is why it’s important to be a supportive friend because you don’t know what someone is going through. Many times women won’t open up to their friends or relatives because they feel ashamed and may feel like they have failed in the relationship and/or marriage. Be present, be aware, be supportive. Learn and recognize the signs of an abuser and don’t give second chances.

Greenleaf

I rarely binge watch shows on Netflix anymore due to having better things to do with my time. But this week I made an exception for a show caught my attention. Greenleaf. I had heard good things about it, but due to never having cable (or time to research how to watch it online), I never watched it. While the show is fictional, I think that it gives an accurate portrayal of what has played out in a lot of big church settings. One of the leading characters, “Grace” spends the entire season fighting for the truth. While her methods are unorthodox and her family is largely unsupportive, she remains on a mission to expose the truth. Her tenacity is driven by the death of her sister who completed suicide–and was abused. As the season unfolds, one sees the numerous challenges that other members of the family are experiencing but trying to get through. Greenleaf is a shining example of the attempt to “keep things in the family” and ignore signs that something is amiss. The show is definitely emotional but it shows how religion can be used as a coverup for people to do what they want without being held accountable under the guise of being a spiritual leader who doesn’t answer to man. The show held my attention and I’m definitely interested in watching Season 2 to see what unfolds.

Single and supportive 

Like many people, I often find myself annoyed when I’m added to groups on social media without my consent. Usually it’s a subject matter I’m not particularly interested in and serves no real purpose to my daily life. Not too long ago I saw a post from one of the groups that I had been inadvertently added to. The group was specifically for single women and someone apparently thought that I could benefit in some way from the content. Let me make a quick side note. There are some people who flaunt their singleness like a badge of honor telling any and everyone how happy they are to not be “tied down” to another person. Good for them but it’s not my thing. But I digress. In the group one of the administrators had posed a question asking how the members in the group were doing in their current state of singleness. The typical responses were extremely positive with respondents saying that they were having the best times of their life and that they were working on themselves and actively pursuing their spiritual path. However, one post from a member stood out in stark contrast to the others. This lady kept it 100 and basically said that the single life (for her) sucked and that it was lonely. Almost immediately the replies from other members started coming in. They chastised her for being lonely and said that she needed more prayer, and church attendance because something was wrong with her. The pettiness came out full force with accusations of bringing the group down and “focusing on the negative.” It was sad that the supposed purpose of the group was to be supportive of single women but quickly became a group of bullies after someone honestly shared how they were feeling. I don’t know what the moral of this story is but I’ll just say that if you join a support group just first make sure they are actually supportive. Or, develop a support system of real people who won’t jump down your throat when you’re honest about your feelings. 

The other side of lonely

Loneliness has been a companion for me during the past few years. Partly due to my personality and partly due to circumstances. It’s commonly thought  one’s loneliest times occur in sadness and hardship. When you’re going though a lot and there’s not an encouraging word or a should to vent and cry on. As someone who has experienced this, I can attest to this feeling and it is indeed pretty darn lonely. However, there’s a different kind of loneliness that I experience from time to time. It’s not as easy to explain because the circumstances are different and it hurts differently. This loneliness occurs whenever I accomplish something or reach a milestone in my life. I actually had the distinct pleasure of experiencing it this past week. This particular type of loneliness stems not from sadness but from happiness. I’m 23 and I’ve been super super blessed/lucky/fortunate to be able to accomplish many of my professional goals. Bachelor’s,Master’s, Post-graduate, etc. But with each of these accomplishments I feel the absence of a significant other pretty acutely. A person who has seen all my hard work and can be happy for me with the informed perspective of someone who has witnessed the challenges I’ve faced on the way to get where I wanted. And while it genuinely sucks to feel the absence of something like that so acutely, I’ve almost gotten used to it. I say “almost” because its not something I’ll ever be ok with but it’s my life. While I do stay in my feelings at times, I also know how to self-regulate and pull myself out. A skill that’s probably due to countless hours of CBT class. I say all that to say that sometimes it’s harder being happier alone than it is being sad. At least in my experience.