Heap Coals of Fire on Their Head (A 2017 Thought)

Wise and beautiful thoughts for the new year!

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SGM

By Patrick Hawthorne

brazier

In prayer this morning, I could not get the thought out of my head.  “Heap coals of fire on their head.”  This word was for me, but I thought you might receive from it as well.

Many in the West have taken the verse of Scripture, “Heap coals of fire on their head,”  to mean we are to kill people with kindness…that when someone does us wrong, we are to repay with kindness.  While the thought may sound reasonable, it is totally missing the point.

In the time this was written, coals for home fires was contained in a pot called a brazier.  If a home fire went out, it was customary to run over to the next door neighbors to obtain more coals.  Would you like to take a guess on how the fire was transported?  You got it.  It was on the head.  If the…

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Sometimes I yell at God.

angry_at_god

I talk to God a lot in my car, driving to and from work.  Sometimes I talk to him at other times too, like when I’m in the shower or cleaning a house.   Lately I’ve been getting in the habit of talking to him first thing upon awakening, even before my morning coffee.  I think this is progress.

I guess you could say what I do is basically prayer, only it seems friendlier to to me think of “prayer” as having a conversation, and that’s what God and I seem to be doing.  Even when it seems to be just a one sided conversation, with me doing all the talking (which it usually is), I just know that God is listening.   And God does provide answers–maybe not right away, and maybe in ways I don’t expect, but my prayers do get acknowledged.

All relationships have their ups and downs, and my relationship with God is no exception.   Sometimes I’m filled with gratitude and have nothing but praise for my Heavenly Therapist; but there are times when I’m mad at him.  I mean, really furious-mad–spitting foam out the corners of your mouth enraged.   When I get that mad, I yell.  I know God can take it.  Humans are more fragile; you can’t just go around screaming in their faces.  Some people do that, but you might get beaten up for doing it.   I know God won’t beat me up if I yell at him, and he won’t send me to hell either.

I used to be afraid to get angry at God.   But I’ve come to know God well enough to know he’s not going to judge me for stating my opinions or even blaming him for the things that have made my life so ridiculously difficult.   Like any loving father, God loves his children unconditionally, no matter how badly we behave.  God knows what’s in our hearts, and yelling at God at least acknowledges I know he’s present and listening.   And so, yelling at God becomes a form of prayer.

I screamed at God again this morning in the car.  I woke up feeling triggered again by issues that were brought to the surface of my consciousness by my dad’s death almost a month ago (has it actually been that long?)   I was feeling sorry for myself, bitter, enraged, sad, guilty, and regretful all at the same time.   But the primary emotion I’ve been feeling is anger (which I know is a flimsy cover for the hurt and pain that lies beneath that).    I wanted to get it off my chest and needed someone to blame, so I blamed God.

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“Why did you let an emotionally fragile person like me be born to callous, hardened narcs?”  I screamed at the top of my lungs, making the driver in the next lane stare at me curiously (my windows were rolled down).  “It’s not f__king fair!,” I bellowed, not giving a damn that I dropped the F bomb in the presence of the Almighty.  He was going to hear it from me!

“You are Almighty,” I continued, “you have all the power. You could have made things different, but YOU CHOSE NOT TO!  WHY?  You could have let me be born to people who knew how to love me and wouldn’t abandon me and turn against me later.  Who would have helped me build healthy self esteem, who would always be there for me no matter what.   You could have stopped me from marrying a sociopath narcissist who tried to obliterate me  and almost turned my kids against me too!  You could have let me develop enough confidence to be successful at something in this world and take a few risks instead of being a little pussy too afraid to come out of my box.   But, NOOOOOOO,” I screamed sarcastically like the late John Belushi.  “You let me suffer instead!  You let everyone keep victimizing me even though YOU COULD HAVE DONE SOMETHING ABOUT IT!  WHY? WHY? For the love of God (yeah, that’s you–OWN IT!), WHY??? (this said banging my fists on the dashboard after each “WHY?”). Why do you keep letting me struggle to survive, live paycheck to paycheck, even though I work and work and work and work until I feel like I’m going to die?  And then get looked down on by my own family for not being as successful as them!  Why does everyone else get all the breaks in life and I never do?  I don’t have ANY advantages, NONE!  I don’t have financial security, own my own home, I don’t have a supportive family, I don’t have a large circle of friends to stand in for family because I lack the confidence to reach out to anyone!  I have no self confidence, I have no husband or lover, I’m all ALONE in the world, ALONE!  DO YOU HEAR ME? Dammit.  I can’t get close to ANYONE!   And I’m SICK of it!  You let people who do NOTHING throughout their whole lives, who had everything come easy to them, who haven’t suffered more than a chipped fingernail, people  who never lift a finger for anyone else, EVER, who ABUSE others, then they get rewarded even more than they already are? WHY? WHY? WHY?  HOW IS THAT FAIR?  I DEMAND an answer.  Dammit, I am MAD.  What did I do to deserve this, God?  WHAT? Nothing, that’s what!  Sometimes I think you hate me!  Sometimes I wonder why you let me even be born–it would have been better if I was aborted because the pain would only be for a minute or maybe not at all and not for a whole f__king lifetime!  WHY, GOD, WHY? I DEMAND ANSWERS!”

After one of these rants, I’ll feel a bit better–exhausted and a little out of breath, but kind of relieved and relaxed too.    Sheepishly, I’ll apologize for my outburst, and ask God to forgive me.

What I imagine then is a bemused smile on God’s face, for he is all forgiving and doesn’t hold grudges.   I think he’s glad I turn to him in my moments of need, angry or not.  He isn’t going to judge me by my moods or emotions.   Ever so gently and quietly, he reminds me that adversity breeds wisdom and God has given me a difficult path because he has something planned for me that requires that particular kind of training–not because he hates my guts and wants me to suffer.   Finally, in his patient and gentle way, he’ll remind me of all the things I do have to be grateful for right now, that my life is really much more blessed than it seemed 5 minutes ago when I was ranting like a banshee from hell.

****

Antidote to this post:
Changes

I don’t want to become bitter and full of hate.

No-Lord-No
Credit: lynnmosher.com

I’m dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions right now in the wake of my dad’s passing, and rage is probably the dominant emotion I’m trying to process. Not rage at my dad per se, but rage at every narcissist I ever knew starting from the time I was a small child, making my life hell. For those of you who have read my recent posts, you might have noticed the increase in anger I’ve been expressing toward narcissists in general. My posts this week sound a lot like my early posts on this blog, during the first few months after I went NC with my ex.

Rage, anger, and even hatred can be useful, even necessary, when you’re going No Contact. Your survival is at stake. Your anger gives you the courage to escape and overrides any fear that may keep you in thrall to your narcissist. But beyond that, it begins to eat away at your soul and eventually can turn YOU into a narcissist. I’ve seen that happen so many times and it’s tragic. I’ve written about this phenomenon numerous times on this blog so I won’t do so again.

I bring this up because my writing lately seems to reflect a return to a narc-hating mindset. I don’t find hating narcissists helpful, personally. I find it more helpful (for myself anyway) to think of them as a different kind of victim, a type of victim that other victims have trouble understanding because their behavior is so predatory and sometimes incomprehensible. Thinking of them in this way seems to give them less power over me and makes me less afraid.

I don’t want to become an embittered, angry, hate-filled person. I don’t want hatred to take over my battered but still intact soul. I don’t want narc-hatred to turn me into a narcissist. This doesn’t mean I forgive the narcissists in my life for what they have done to me; but I do want to attempt to understand why they do the things they do. I want to understand how and why they became that way. It’s important for me emotionally to do this; being able to understand or at least try to helps me heal.

I know the rage and hate I feel right now is out of character for me, but all my emotions are in turmoil following my father’s passing. I pray that this too will pass and I can return to understanding narcissists without condoning or enabling. I still pray for their deliverance and always will.

Matthew 5:43-48:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …

Spiritual crisis.

sun-breaking-through-dark-clouds

I’ve always hesitated about getting too religious on this blog, since people of many different faiths (or none at all) come here and I don’t want to alienate non-Christians or atheists. But there’s no possible way to write what I’m about to write without at least acknowledging the presence of God (good) and Satan (evil). I will be referencing God because He plays such an important part in what happened to me this morning, but prefer to use the term “evil” or “forces of darkness” rather than Satan or the Devil. It’s all the same thing.

This morning I had a wake up call from God. Like so many other times when God knocks me upside the head with the truth, it hurt–a lot! But ultimately, it proved to me He hasn’t given up on me yet and has shown me the way to get out of the spiritual mess I’ve gotten myself into. But when He’s not pleased, He definitely lets you know. It’s my own choice what I do with this information.

As many of you know, I’ve been struggling with depression, lack of motivation, and strange dissociative episodes, where I often feel as if I’m out of my body. My “muse” seemed to have gone AWOL without any warning. I couldn’t figure it out, and thought I was having some kind of mental breakdown or a relapse into the numb depression I was in before I started to blog.

I didn’t realize until this morning that what was happening had little to do with my mind but a lot to do with my soul. Now when I look back at everything, I can’t understand how I didn’t see it, but Evil has a way of sneaking around and convincing you it’s Good when it’s the worst thing imaginable. Evil wants your soul and will do anything it can to get it, even convince you that bad is good and good is bad, and have you questioning your faith, if you have one.

I felt like God was very far away. I prayed, but half-heartedly, and no answers were coming. It was frustrating. Had God played a trick on me, or maybe didn’t even exist? Or maybe God just didn’t like me very much.

For weeks, maybe several months, my efforts at writing new blog posts felt forced. I felt that I was losing interest in narcissism and would have to take this blog in another direction. At the same time (and this is VERY insidious!) I found myself reading a lot about dark subjects, just because I felt drawn to them somehow. Yes, I admit it: while I want to be a good person and walk on the side of what’s good and right, there’s always been a part of me that’s attracted to darkness, even though at the same time I feel repelled by it. In fact, it’s much the same kind of “attraction” I’ve always had to narcissistic men–both attracted and repelled at the same time. I know it’s bad, and know it’s bad for ME, but rationalize to myself why it isn’t that dark or why it’s okay for me to be drawn closer to it. I thought I could delve into dark subjects as a sort of “spectator,” without getting really involved. I rationalized to myself that I wasn’t offending God because I wasn’t actually engaging in these activities. The power of the demonic is in its insidiousness. The way it sneaks up on you.

false-prophet
Evil can masquerade as “good.” Be careful.

Last week I posted an article (which I removed this morning due to its content) about the use of psychedelic drugs as therapy for Cluster B disorders and PTSD. The article was at best irresponsible and misleading, and at worst potentially destructive, even…evil. But at the time I wrote it, I had somehow convinced myself it was okay as long as I prefaced it with a “disclaimer.” It never occurred to me that although I never would take such drugs myself, even as therapy (for the record, I don’t do any drugs and rarely even drink), that someone else might be convinced to do so, and find themselves in the midst of something they would not be able to handle or even in the ER! They could also find their souls in jeopardy.

That might sound dramatic but let me explain. In spite of my unhealthy obsession with dark things, I’ve shied away from anything involving the occult ever since my bad experience using a Ouija board at age 17. The occult scares me because I believe it’s possible to attract dark forces or spirits when engaged in it. Psychedelic drugs scare me too, but I find their effects (including their effects on me in the past, which were always negative) strangely fascinating. But when you take a psychedelic drug, you’re altering your consciousness and this often involves something called “ego death.” When ego death happens, people tend to dissociate quite badly. At high doses–or on strong psychoactive drugs–you lose your sense of yourself and forget who you are, where you are, or even that you’re human. At the same time your cognition remains intact. It’s at this point that many people either freak out and have a bad experience–or enjoy the experience and begin to think of themselves as “like gods” since they feel like disembodied pure consciousness and “see” things that are unbelievable in the context of the material world.

Several things can happen, and none of them are good. You can have a psychotic break and never “return,” you can “come back” believing the lies you’ve been told (that you’re “like a God” and can do anything God can do), or an outside entity (most likely, a bad one) can enter your body when you’re in this vulnerable state. I do realize some people claim to have had enlightening and even humbling experiences, and that may be the case for a few, but I think it’s the exception rather than the rule, and even then, you may have been deceived by dark forces. Some say that because psychoactive plants grown in nature and God created these plants, that they must have been put there by God for humans to use to achieve enlightenment. That may be the case but I doubt God wants us all tripping to know Him. They may have been given to us as medicine, meant to be dispensed by a doctor. We can’t know why they exist, but I have no business encouraging anyone to use them recreationally or as a method of self-therapy. There are too many risks and too many negative outcomes. It’s opening a Pandora’s box to the unknown. Just because you’re curious about what’s in that box doesn’t mean it should be opened. Personally I think psychedelic drugs are a form of sorcery (and I even said so in the article this post is about), and sorcery isn’t anything I want to get involved with.

I can’t help but think of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge, which may have been a psychoactive plant of some sort. Look what happened to them (and all humanity) after they ate from it! God specifically told them not to eat the fruit but they did anyway. We can’t know why it was put there if they were not to partake, but He must have had his reasons. They listened to the serpent instead who told them it was perfectly okay and not to listen to God. They fell for it and their disobedience led to the Fall. No, I do not believe this was a literal account of creation (I think it’s allegorical) but the message there is still very clear: there are some things God does NOT want us to do, and it’s not for us to question His reasoning. It could be that the answer would be too overwhelming for us to handle.

say_that_meme

It fills me with shame now to think that in posting that article last week, I was doing the same thing the serpent was doing in the Garden. Even with all the disclaimers and admission that I’d be too afraid to undertake any psychotherapy using psychedelic drugs, that article was still incredibly irresponsible to say the least. I can’t believe I even wrote such a thing, never mind actually posting it! But the dark forces can be very convincing and even hypnotic (much like a drug–or the serpent) and while engaged in activities that are more pleasing to those forces than to goodness (or godliness), you literally can’t see what you’re doing or why it’s a bad thing. Evil literally becomes “good” and that’s the lie the dark forces wants us to believe.

I now know why I’ve been feeling so depressed and dissociated. My soul was being pulled between good and evil. Being pulled in two opposite directions, I couldn’t “move,” hence the lack of motivation and dearth of new ideas. It also explains the strange out of body experiences and inexplicable sense of foreboding and panic attacks. These are all symptoms of soul sickness. Someone on another blog has said I seem very confused, and it’s true. I am very confused and have been for some time. The dark forces use confusion to disorient us and make us more vulnerable to their attempts to win our souls to their side.

I want to do what’s right; I want to please God, but at the same time I do find dark things alluring and seductive. All my life I’ve been surrounded by evil, and stayed with a very evil man far longer than I should have. I finally escaped, and found God, but the dark forces still want to get their hooks in me and this was their attempt to do so. I’m not strong enough to resist those forces without God, especially taking my background into consideration. If I deliberately dabble in things (and this includes even reading excessively about them) I’m leaving myself wide open to go down a very negative spiritual path.

This morning I saw a comment about this blog on someone else’s blog. The comments were not positive. The drug article was called out as being “evil.” I never thought of it that way, because the last thing I want to be is evil, but I immediately realized this person was right. I don’t want to post things that could be seen that way or could harm someone’s body, mind or soul. But that article WAS very dangerous and suddenly it was like my eyes were opened. I almost felt as if I’d just woken up and seen things as they really were. I saw myself in the mirror and the reflection wasn’t pretty.

My first reaction was extreme. I felt such overpowering shame (similar to what Adam and Eve must have felt in the Garden when they covered their bodies) that for a moment I was VERY tempted to just take down this whole blog and disappear. But suddenly I felt God’s presence and another thought entered my mind–Repent. Retract the article (as well as others that have been seen or may be seen as irresponsible or damaging to ACONs or disordered people, or ANYONE for that matter) and publicly apologize. I knew that God was giving me another solution because He knows that blogging has brought me to Him and didn’t want me to destroy the gift He’d given me to heal myself. To take down this blog and disappear would be the coward’s way out. It’s the way I have handled so many other things in my life when I handled things badly or hurt someone unintentionally. But God doesn’t want us to be cowards. He wants us to take responsibility for our mistakes, to own up to them, even when it’s embarrassing.
I was wrong. There’s no other way to justify what I did.

Many people might think doing such a thing a public retraction and apology would bring more shame than just disappearing. But ironically, I felt relief and gratitude. Gratitude that God had NOT turned his back on me (as I’d feared) and still has a plan for me. A year ago he was working on my mind; now He’s working on my soul, and the lessons you learn are so much harder. God is endlessly patient with us. He knows we’re human and will mess up sometimes. I messed up big time. I asked for forgiveness but I knew that the feeling of relief and gratitude meant He’d already forgiven me, as long as I never do such a thing ever again.

And God does perform miracles too. Several small (or not so small) miracles happened following my eyes being opened this morning. I could have felt hurt by the negative comments on that other blog, but somehow I didn’t–because I knew that person was right. I didn’t feel depressed today, and I felt inspired to write this article. I realized how much I WANTED to write it. I couldn’t wait to get home to write it. I haven’t felt this excited to write any blog post in months! I just knew that it was what God wanted me to do, and God always knows what we need even when we don’t.

When I got home earlier, there was one other little miracle waiting for me. This:

succulent_flower

A single bright pink flower on a succulent plant in my kitchen that has NEVER bloomed in the three years I’ve had it. I never noticed it until I got home, and suddenly there it was! I felt God’s presence and knew this was Him letting me know I’d made the right choice and was pleased. So I uttered two words: “Thank you.”

I know there will be many more spiritual crises ahead of me. I’m far from perfect and never will be. But I know if I stay close to God and stray less than I have over to the allure of darkness, I may have fewer of them and find I’m a whole lot happier in general.

My delusional fantasy.

deathbed

I think a lot of anger at my parents has been triggered.
For years I’ve avoided thinking about my past or made excuses as to why my family treated me the way they did. I haven’t felt this enraged at them since adolescence. I guess this is good, all that anger has to come out. But what to do about it? I’m also realizing how HURT I feel by all this–that’s another thing I tried to deny or avoid thinking about. I can’t avoid it anymore, and I can’t escape the pain and the rage.
Someone posted the four stages of healing. Anger was one of those stages. But I don’t feel like I can move on by myself from this.

I still dream of a reconciliation–something like, on their deathbeds, they make amends to me and tell me how sorry they were for fucking my mind up so bad I can barely function in the world. Then let me know they are putting me back in the will. I know that’s delusional and will never happen because their souls are gone and they will always think I’m unworthy because I don’t measure up to their ridiculous, unrealistic standards, but I still think that it’s the only thing that would ever make me feel happy. At the very least I would feel vindicated.
But nothing would really change of course; the damage is already done to my psyche and has been that way for a long time.
But I still have that fantasy.
I can’t let it go.
A sense of closure would be lovely, but I don’t think I’ll even ever have that.

My final words about this…

purpose

I’m not angry or upset and I don’t hate you. I don’t pity you anymore either. Pity is a wasted emotion and does nothing but condescend to the person you are pitying. In spite of our differences, I have the utmost respect for you.

You probably will laugh at me for saying this, but I think God used you to show me who I am
and how I fit into this world. When you allowed me to peer for brief moments inside your labyrinth-like beehive (and sometimes hornet’s nest) of a mind, in retrospect I understood on a gut level that you helped me understand how to read and cope with others with your illness, and help others like myself. I learned to be more empathic and more aware (not wary) at the same time. I developed an insight into myself that had always eluded me.

I used to have empathy for you, and in a way I still do, but I no longer of the belief you can get well so I had to let go of most of that empathy, for it would have been wasted.
Being the kind of person I am, it was so hard for me to do that, but I had no other choice.

Try as I might, I never was able to solve the puzzle of you. I had to give that up too. But I solved at least a little bit of the puzzle of me, and that’s so much better.

You more than anyone, know how damaged and broken you are, and I know you’re fully cognizant that you probably can’t ever escape your self created prison that one day will annihilate you.

But in spite of that–and no matter what your true motives, for the means here don’t matter, only the end–I need you to know you did and do and will continue to touch some lives in spite of being what you are. You might hate knowing you did good, but…you did good. Deal with it.

I’m a better person than I was because of the perspective I was given. So I wanted to thank you for that. And for your support of this blog. Everything happened just when it was needed.

Nothing happens without a reason. There is a time and purpose for everything. No one exists without some reason to be here. Everything under God is connected.

My daughter just made me cry.

rowan_me
Molly and me in the car in April 2014. I was 2 months No Contact with my MN ex by then.

My daughter Molly got home from visiting some friends, and admitted that she had come across my blog back in December and read the article about her where I said I thought she was a malignant narcissist (I think I was mistaken about that).

I thought she’d be angry, but instead she told me that although it hurt her feelings, it was a wake up call too, and because of that article, she started to rethink some of her past behaviors. She had time to do that during her 30 day stint in jail too.

Then she actually thanked me. She said, “Mom, even though I was so hurt you thought I was a narcissist, I started to think you were right and realized I do act very narcissistic sometimes, especially when I was doing pain pills (she hasn’t done pills in over a month). I want to say thank you, because I know you would never have written that if you didn’t love me.”

It gets even better.

She continued, “You’re different now, Mom. You seem so much happier now. I’ve read some of your other blog posts and I have to say I really admire you, Mom, for being so honest about everything. I think you’re so brave to be doing that and it’s doing good things for you. I could never do what you’re doing. I really want to change, Mom. I want you to be as proud of me as I am right now of you.”

me_chatting
She took this with her phone while we were talking. I wasn’t crying yet lol.

And then she came over to hug me and we were both crying.

For the record, the article I linked to describes something that wasn’t true. She had a brief relationship with a narc who lied to me about her doing hard drugs and because he gave such a good impression (this guy was a skilled psychopath who could sell ice to a penguin), had me believing him. It turned out everything he said to me was a lie. I wrote about that too, but it isn’t a long post (and actually replaced another one which I deleted).