Sunday, October 23, 2011

Tell Me Everything by Marilyn Meberg

Marilyn Meberg has a master’s degree in counseling psychology.  As a counselor, teacher, mother and wife, she has spent decades helping women gain freedom from their fears, their secrets, and their pasts.

I had never heard Marilyn speak but on the first day of the Women of Faith conference in San Antonio I was looking at the book table and found myself attracted to Marilyn’s book, Tell Me Everything.  My decision to follow my spirit and purchase the book was confirmed after I heard her speak on Saturday afternoon.  I started reading the book on the trip home and couldn’t believe how she seemed to have been “reading my mail”.   I have included here some of the concepts that I found to be of particular interest.

Marilyn described how many people today are living with an unknown and undiagnosed infection that’s silently growing inside them, causing them pain and suffering. Some of these infections are emotional rather than physical and may be in the form of an addiction, or behavior.  It might be an incident that occurred sometime in the past that seems too horrific now to even think about let alone share.  Maybe it’s not even your original secret, but your life is infected by a loved one’s secret that you are desperate to keep secret too.  It’s poison can burple up through the layers of your emotions to cause you to respond in bizarre ways to ordinary events.  These secrets can make you sad and even sick.

Marilyn related the story of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s  book,The Scarlet Letter, where the character Hester Prynne came upon Arthur Dimmesdale walking through the woods seven years after her initial public censure.  The speak for the first time and Hester attempts to assure the minister that his good works and humility had gained him penance.  But Dimmesdale cried out, “Happy are you, Hester, that wear the scarlet letter openly upon your bosom! Mine burns in secret!”  Because Hester’s secret became known, she was not haunted by the fear of public exposure as was Dimmesdale.  But in both cases there was great pain: Hester’s public, Dimmesdale’s private.

The reason it is so hard for us to admit to the secrets hidden in our hearts is that we’re ashamed of them.  But …shame is not what we do, it’s who we perceive ourselves to be.  Shame is a core indictment of our very essence.   Perhaps most helpful to our understanding is that at the very core of shame lives the panicked fear of abandonment and rejection.  If you really knew me and the nature of the stuff that lives in that dark corner of my heart, you’d not only be shocked, but worse yet, you’d be appalled.  If you’re appalled, then I have every reason to assume you will reject me.  If you reject me, I will experience abandonment, which is the most devastating emotional state in which to live.  

One of the greatest driving forces of our nature is to feel connected to other human beings.  To truly experience connection is to experience oneness; without it, we can withdraw into a world of lonely isolation.  When our secrets become too powerful, shame becomes an identity, a state in which we feel different, despairing, and helpless.  The person who has trouble receiving love because she believes that somehow love has to be earned; she has to qualify. 

Simply hearing the words “I love you” sets off  myriad internal responses, such as: “You wouldn’t say that if you really knew me.” “Once you know me you won’t love me because I’m not as good or successful as I may appear.” “I guess I’ll marry you, but you’ll never get very close to me because I’ve got to work very hard so  you’ll continue to think you love me because love is based upon what I do and not who I am.”

Meberg discusses the power of abandonment memories to hide away in the secret recesses of our mind.  We may have completely forgotten a powerful memory, but nevertheless, it may have an unperceived influence on our lives – our behavior, our thoughts, our attitudes. We go about our lives carrying secret , troubling pictures we don’t even know we have – or if we do know we have them, we’d like to throw them away. But since memory doesn’t throw anything away, we try to forget the troublesome  photos. When that happens, the images – the secrets – get pushed down into the unconscious, where the album is protected and safe.

But the fact that those pictures are in the album and that we sometimes receive flashes of them tells us we need to look at them, exclaim over them, and perhaps cry over them.  When we acknowledge the hurt, pain, confusion, or embarrassment they may produce, our next step is to show them to the Father who, incidentally, already sees them, and then to ask His help in processing them. 

Abandonment memories can be harsh and hurtful.  An unperceived buried memory of abandonment may be a “secret” hidden within us that causes us to feel emotional pain we can’t understand – until that memory is brought into the light of God’ healing.  

God intends that His good and perfect creation will be appreciated by us; that it give us pleasure. For many people, the challenge is to keep pleasure in a state of balance. When a pleasure takes control of our lives, problems occur; dark secrets are created.  The portion of the human brain scientists refer to as the “pleasure center” is the part of the brain that reacts enthusiastically to chocolate, pizza, pasta, or any favorite food or activity that provides pleasure.  The pleasure center also loves the concept of “more”. “More” keeps us craving and not satisfied. The result can produce behavior that invokes shame – and causes us to create the dark secrets we hope no one else will discover about us.

The “more” pursuit can produce addictions. There are 2 key neurotransmitters in the brain: endorphins and dopamine, which have much the same molecular structure as morphine.  So when the addictive substance wears off, the newly created receptions need more.  If they don’t get more, the pleasure center is out of balance because more of the addictive substance is needed to produce the same high.  That “more”, if not satisfied, creates cravings. Addiction of any kind serves a crucial function – it distracts from pain.  All addiction is about distracting the user from feeling pain.  That pain may be current or buried deeply beyond conscious knowledge, but pain drives the addiction.  The victim thinks, Those feelings are so overwhelming, threatening, and persistent, I cannot cope with them. 

Counseling is a place to learn why there was a particular vulnerability.  Understanding the source, or the secrets, behind the predisposed condition can give clarity, but it cannot heal.  Only God can heal.

Women of Faith 2011 - San Antonio Texas

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending the Women of Faith conference in San Antonio Texas with a group of women from my area. The music and speakers were top notch and included Amy Grant, Sandi Patty, Lisa Welchel, ( or Blair from Facts of Life) and one of my favorite new singers, Mandisa!  It was my first time to ever attend this conference and I have included here some of the things I learned this past weekend. 

Patsy Clairmont is a recovering agoraphobic and through her humor she provides hope for healing as she shares from her own struggles.

Patsy shared three things we need to learn to say everyday:

Yes – to God and His plan for our lives.
Thank You – to God for everything He provides.
No – to anything that distracts our attention from His purpose.

Life is messy.
People are textured.
God is mysterious.

God designed us to be connected one to another.

Sarcasm is anger which has gone underground and comes up as a clown.

God calls me not to sit as a spectator on my own life.

We can’t afford to not have boundaries on our emotions.  No one needs to hear everything you think is on your mind.  Whining to get what we want or using silence is a learned behavior.  We need to put away childish things and grow up.

Fear hangs out with 3 friends – Anger, Shame and Guilt.

God has designed us with a WILL that is stronger than our EMOTIONS. 

Recognize the power of words when they are placed.  Be an encourager!  Splash joy, and hope, and confidence on others.

Andy Andrews is an internationally known  speaker and author of The Traveler’s Gift, The Final Summit, and The Noticer.  His works have sold millions of copies worldwide.  Both of his parents died when he was 19 and he found himself literally homeless, sleeping under a pier or in someone’s garage.  Then he asked the question that would ultimately affect millions of people. “Is life just a lottery ticket, or are there choices one can make to direct his future?”

In his story about The Butterfly Effect he shares how you can live a life of permanent purpose which begins when you know that everything matters.  Every action matters.  There are generations yet unborn whose very lives will be shifted and shaped by the moves we make and the actions we take today.  And tomorrow,  …. and the next day. 

Some of the ideas that spoke to me through Andy were :

I have been created in order that I might make a difference.

When we invest in ourselves we control the outcome.

Perspective brings calm.

Smarter people in our society have a greater problem with fear.  Smart people get disabled by fear.  Fear is a misuse of the creative imagination that God put in you.  We imagine our way to self-destruction. 

Every GOOD thing that happens in your life happens not because of how you FEEL but because of how you ACT.  Every GREAT things will happen because of how you act when life is not fair.

Andy compared people’s needs to canaries, goldfish, puppies, and kitty cats.  Canary people need quality time. Goldfish need a clean bowl.  Puppies need praise (You’re such a GOOD BOY !!).  Kitty cats need touch.

Brenda Warner  surprised us with her "talent" by doing the splits on stage !!!  She also shared her story of how her child was dropped in the tub at the age of 4 mos. by her husband who later abandoned her for another woman.  Brenda was serving our country as a US Marine and was married with 2 children when she became the victim of infidelity and divorce at the age of 24. She found herself living in a Section 8 apartment on food stamps as a single mom trying to balance nursing school and the challenges of a special needs child.  She lost her parents in a natural disaster at the age of 28.  She has learned the blessings and pressures of fame and fortune being married to an NFL superstar by the age of 30.  Her husband Kurt and their SEVEN children live in Arizona. 

The one concept that Brenda shared that really spoke to me was the idea that you cannot allow your past to define who you are today and it’s never too late to become who you might have been. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Stuffers by Lesa TerKeurst

Have you ever tried to keep the peace by avoiding confrontation and just stuffing down the issue? I have. And it hurts. It hurts me. It hurts them. And it certainly hurts relationships. Instead of keeping the peace, it actually slowly erodes the relationship.

I stuff because:
· I don’t feel safe enough to confront this person.
· I don’t have the energy or the time to get into a conflict right now.
· I don’t know how to address it
· I don’t want to seem hypersensitive
· I don’t want to get rejected
· I don’t want to lose control
· I don’t want to make things worse so I convince myself I can just let it go

But if I’m completely honest, as a Christian woman, I sometimes stuff because it feelsmore godly to stuff.
I read verses like Proverbs 10:19, “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise,” and I decide to hold back my words. And I plant in my brain, “It’s godly to hold back your words.” And then I reinforce this thinking with other verses like, “Proverbs 15:19, “A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel.”

I want to keep the peace. I want to speak the truth in love. I want to be gentle not confrontational.
And these are good things. If I can do this without bitterness forming than great! That’s called healthy processing. But there’s a big difference between healthy processing and stuffing.

Healthy processing is where I think through the issue and diffuse the hurt. Maybe I do this through prayer and studying my Bible. Maybe I do it by talking to a counselor or mentor in my life. Maybe I just give it enough time where I decide it’s not that big of a deal after all. But here’s the key: the end result is the hard feelings dissipate. If they don’t dissipate, they get stuffed.

And that’s where trouble is found.

That’s where barriers are built.

Barriers shut communication down. You determine another person isn’t safe and label them with words like, “Demanding. Irresponsible. Volatile. Selfish. Defensive.” No matter what they do or don’t do, this label is a barrier filter through which everything they do will be processed.

You know the label you’ve placed on them but they don’t.

You just mentally stick it across this person’s name in your brain. The problem is they don’t know it’s there. So every interaction you have with them going forward is confusing.

They know something is wrong but have no clue what it is. Eventually, this relationship will shrivel up and die because it’s been deprived of the life giving necessity of open communication.

Boundaries, as opposed to barriers, provide safe passage ways for communication to flow. It may be tough for some to stay within the boundaries you’ve set but at least there is clarity on what works and what doesn’t.

Some examples of healthy boundaries are:
If you continue being thirty minutes late to events, I will take a separate car.
I need a better work ethic from you in the office, or we’ll have to make some changes.
If you keep spending over our budget, I will cut up the credit cards.
I can’t lend you anymore money until I see you making serious efforts to find a job.
I want to bring the grandkids to see you, but if you just surf the web while we’re there, it’s not worth it to come.

If you won’t stop drinking too much or using drugs, I will take the kids and move out.
The difference between the two is honesty. When we build a barrier with a person it’s either because we’re afraid to be honest, tired of being honest and getting hurt, or feeling like the relationship isn’t worth the hard work honesty sometimes takes.

When we build boundaries we are being brave enough to be honest but wrapping it in a love that keeps the relationship safe for both.

Barriers set relationships in a regressive pattern that leads to destructive isolation.
Boundaries set relationships in a progressive pattern that leads to effective communication.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


Co-dependency is a learned behavior that can be passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. It is also known as “relationship addiction” because people with codependency often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive. The disorder was first identified about ten years ago as the result of years of studying interpersonal relationships in families of alcoholics. Co-dependent behavior is learned by watching and imitating other family members who display this type of behavior.

How Do Co-dependent People Behave?

Co-dependents have low self-esteem and look for anything outside of themselves to make them feel better. They find it hard to “be themselves.” Some try to feel better through alcohol, drugs or nicotine - and become addicted. Others may develop compulsive behaviors like workaholism, gambling, or indiscriminate sexual activity.

They have good intentions. They try to take care of a person who is experiencing difficulty, but the caretaking becomes compulsive and defeating. Co-dependents often take on a martyr’s role and become “benefactors” to an individual in need. A wife may cover for her alcoholic husband; a mother may make excuses for a truant child; or a father may “pull some strings” to keep his child from suffering the consequences of delinquent behavior.

The problem is that these repeated rescue attempts allow the needy individual to continue on a destructive course and to become even more dependent on the unhealthy caretaking of the “benefactor.” As this reliance increases, the co-dependent develops a sense of reward and satisfaction from “being needed.” When the caretaking becomes compulsive, the co-dependent feels choiceless and helpless in the relationship, but is unable to break away from the cycle of behavior that causes it. Co-dependents view themselves as victims and are attracted to that same weakness in the love and friendship relationships.

Characteristics of Co-dependent People Are:

  • An exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others
  • A tendency to confuse love and pity, with the tendency to “love” people they can pity and rescue
  • A tendency to do more than their share, all of the time
  • A tendency to become hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts
  • An unhealthy dependence on relationships. The co-dependent will do anything to hold on to a relationship; to avoid the feeling of abandonment
  • An extreme need for approval and recognition
  • A sense of guilt when asserting themselves
  • A compelling need to control others
  • Lack of trust in self and/or others
  • Fear of being abandoned or alone
  • Difficulty identifying feelings
  • Rigidity/difficulty adjusting to change
  • Problems with intimacy/boundaries
  • Chronic anger
  • Lying/dishonesty
  • Poor communications
  • Difficulty making decision
For more information go to the following link:
Mental Health America - Article on Codependency