Monthly Archives: July 2013

The cycle of life . . . Grieving your Relationship

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Thinking about what to write this week, I started thinking about how everything in life seems to have a cycle attached to it. In the animal kingdom, certain species hunt another in order to survive and at the same time, prevent over population.

I then looked at human behaviour and found the following:

The cycle of abuse:
Abuse between two parties usually happens in a cycle of three stages. What do I mean by this?

1) The Incident i.e. a form of abuse occurs: either physical, sexual or emotional. The abuser will pick on you for not dressing properly or being disrespectful towards him. He will start to get angry and start shouting at you, swearing at you etc. You will do everything in your power to stop the abuser from being angry so you will apologise and promise not to do it again. This could go on for quite a while before the tension becomes too much for you or before the abuser starts physically abusing you by pushing, hitting or punching you.

2) Making-Up stage: Later the same day, maybe the next day, the abuser will apologize for the abuse, promise it will never happen again, he will probably blame you for causing the abuse “you made me do it” or “why do you make me so angry?” or the abuser may even deny that the abuse took place or say that it’s not as bad as you say it was

3) Calm stage: The abuser will act like the abuse never happened. At this stage, no physical abuse will take place. All the promises he made in stage two will be met. He will buy you flowers and chocolates, take you out for supper/date-night, take you on a holiday etc. You think everything is over and that it won’t happen again. This is called the “honeymoon” stage.

When you least expect it, stage 1 will start again and continue through to stage 3. This will continue as long as you allow it to continue. You have the power to stop this cycle of abuse from continuing.

Each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship. The entire cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.
Sometimes, as time goes on, the “making up” and “calm/honeymoon” stages disappear completely.

Five stages of grief:
According to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, when a person is faced with the reality of impending death or other extreme, awful fate, he/she will experience a series of emotional stages, also known as the “five stages of grief”: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance.

Kubler-Ross acknowledged that these stages are not meant to be a complete list of all possible emotions that could be felt, and that they could occur in any order. She also acknowledged that not everyone who experiences a life-threatening or life altering event feels all five of the responses, as reactions to personal loss. Each experience is unique to the person experiencing the event. Let’s look at the five stages.

1) Denial – “I feel fine”, “This can’t be happening to me”. Denial is usually only a temporary defence for the individual. Denial is usually heightened awareness of the event to come. Denial can be conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, or the reality of the situation. Denial is a defence mechanism and some people can become locked in this stage.
2) Anger – “Why me?”, “It’s not fair”, “How can this happen to me?”, “Who is to blame?” The individual recognises that denial cannot continue. Anger can manifest itself in different ways. People can be angry with themselves, or with others, and especially those who are close to them.
3) Bargaining – The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone the inevitable. Bargaining with a higher power: “If you stop this or save me from this, I will change my life”. Psychologically the individual is saying “I understand that this is going to happen, but if I could just do something to buy more time . . . “ People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. When facing a break-up, bargaining can rarely provide a sustainable solution.
4) Depression – “I am so sad, why bother with anything?”, “I miss my partner, I can’t go through with this”, “How am I going to survive on my own?” During this stage, the person begins to understand the certainty of the event. Because of this, the person may become silent, refuse visitors and spend a lot of time crying and feeling sorry for him/herself. This process allows the affected person to disconnect from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer the person up who is in this stage of grieving. It is an important part of grieving that must be processed. Depression could be referred to as the “dress rehearsal” for what is to come. It is a kind of acceptance with emotional attachment. It is natural to feel sadness, regret, fear and uncertainty when going through this stage. Feeling these emotions shows that the person has begun to accept the situation.
5) Acceptance – “It’s going to be okay”, “I can fight it, I may as well prepare for it”. In this last stage, individuals begin to come to terms with the inevitable. This stage varies according to the person’s situation.

Although Elizabeth Kubler-Ross originally applied these stages to people suffering from terminal illness, she later expanded this theoretical model to apply to any form of catastrophic personal loss (job, income, freedom) which could also include the end of a relationship or divorce, drug addiction, imprisonment etc.

How does this theory apply to other areas of our lives?

Grieving a break up
Denial – The person left behind is unable to admit that the relationship is really over. They may continue to call the former partner even though that person wants to be left alone.

Anger – The partner left behind may feel angry for the pain the leaving partner causes them.

Bargaining – After the anger stage, the one left behind may plead with their former partner by promising that whatever caused the breakup will never happen again. Example: “I can change. Please give me another chance.”

Depression – The person may feel discouraged that his/her bargaining plea did not convince the former partner to stay. This may send the person into depression causing disruption to life functions such as sleeping, eating and even daily bowel movements.

Acceptance – Moving on from the situation and the person is at the last stage. The partner left behind accepts that the relationship is over and begins to move forward with his/her life. He/she may not be completely over the situation but is weary of going back and forth, so much so that they can accept the separation as reality.

Where are you now?

Which cycle on you in and at what stage of the cycle are you right now?

Have you stagnated in a particular stage?

Are you struggling to move on from where you are?

What do you need in order to move on?

Who can help you to move on?

Do you have family/friends/colleagues/community/church/pastoral support?

Are you a survivor of domestic violence or gender based violence?

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If you are a survivor of domestic violence or gender based violence, we would appreciate you answering the following three questions, please.

The information will be used to prepare a presentation for a Women’s Day afternoon tea for a church group and under no circumstances will your name be mentioned.

Reflecting on your situation you have survived, how would you answer these questions?

1) As a survivor of domestic violence/gender based violence, what are you thankful for?

2) What support would you have liked from your community while you were going through your situation?

3) How important would support from your church have been and what would you have liked your Rector/Pastor to do for you to help you?

Thank you for your willingness to assist us with this information

Teens – Be smart, use good judgement

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Have you ever considered why teenagers don’t think the way we (adults) do and why they do not realise the consequences of their actions like adults expect them to?

Adolescence/teenage years/puberty usually starts around 13 years of age up to around 18 years of age. This is the transitional stage from childhood to adulthood. It is usually a time of changes of how teenagers think, feel and interact with others and how their bodies grow and develop into adulthood.

As adults, various parts of our brain work together to evaluate choices, make decisions and act accordingly in each situation. The prefrontal cortex is a section of the brain that weighs outcomes, forms judgements and controls impulses and emotions. This section of the brain also helps people understand one another and communicates with other sections of the brain through connections called synapses.

Scientists have found that teenagers experience a wealth of growth in synapses during adolescence. As the brain develops, it prunes away the synapses it doesn’t need to make the remaining ones more efficient in communicating. In teenagers, this process starts at the back of the brain and moves forward, so the prefrontal cortex, the vital centre of control, is the last to be developed. As the synapses are trimmed, an insulating substance called myelin coats the synapses to protect them.

For this reason, the prefrontal cortex is a little more immature in teenagers compared to adults; it may not fully develop until their mid 20s, and if the prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, using the other brain structures would be difficult. Studies have shown that most of the mental energy teenagers’ use in making decisions is located at the back of the brain, whereas adults do most of their processing in the frontal lobes. When teenagers do use the frontal lobe, they tend to overdo it causing much more of the brain to get the job done than adults would, and because adults have already refined those communicating synapses, they can make decisions more rapidly.

Adult brains are also better equipped to notice errors in decision-making. An area of the teenagers’ brain that is fairly well developed at an early stage, is the nucleus accumbens – the area of the brain that seeks pleasure and reward. Now, what does an underdeveloped prefrontal cortex combined with a strong desire for pleasure and reward have to do with stereotypical teenage behaviour?

Hormones are largely responsible for what goes wrong in adolescence. Teenagers can seem like emotional time bombs, capable of exploding at any minute into tears or rage. Their behaviour is rebellious and risky and they seem to always be in trouble.

Part of communicating with teenagers may need the insight that they’re not necessarily hearing what you say. It is a combination of the prefrontal cortex and the heightened need for pleasure and reward that drives some of the most frustrating teenage behaviour. The undeveloped prefrontal cortex is unable to curb any impulsive behaviour so the potential for thrills outweighs the negative outcomes. Teenagers seek buzz to satisfy the reward centre in the brain, while their prefrontal cortex can’t register all the risks these actions entail. The teenage brain does not register delayed gratification – the appeal of fun is too strong.

On the other hand, risk taking may be a necessity for emotional growth and development. To leave the parental nest, teenagers need to be comfortable taking a few chances, otherwise they will never leave their rooms in their parents houses, but not being able to control the thrill-seeking impulses, can have devastating effects, especially when combined with smoking, drinking and drugs. This is also usually the time when teenagers start learning to drive a car and start engaging in sexual behaviour.

In the developing prefrontal cortex, synapses are selected based on whether they’re used or not, so behaviours that shape the brain are more likely to be maintained if started at this age. At this stage, the brain is acting like a sponge; it can soak up new information and change to make room for it, a concept known as plasticity. Plasticity can help teenagers pick up new skills.
Source: http://www.science.howstuffworks.com/life/teenage-brain1.htm

On the other hand, classifying people as adults at age 18 is technically incorrect because research has shown that the brain actually only completes development (matures) between the ages of 18 and 25 years. This includes the areas of impulse control, planning, reasoning, thinking before acting, the regulation of emotion, abstract thinking, resistance to peer influence and the ability to delay gratification. Maturity therefore needs to be decided on an individual basis.

It is therefore no surprise that teenagers are not capable of thinking and behaving like adults and expecting them to will set them up for failure.

So before you shout at your teenager for not listening to you, think about what has been said here and try to meet your teenager half-way.

I Got Flowers Today . . .

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I Got Flowers Today

I got flowers today.
It wasn’t my birthday or any other special day.
We had our first argument last night,
And he said a lot of cruel things that really hurt me.
I know he is sorry and didn’t mean the things he said.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today.
It wasn’t our anniversary any other special day.
Last night, he threw me into a wall
and started to choke me.
It seemed like a nightmare.
I couldn’t believe it was real.
I woke up this morning sore and bruised all over.
I know he must be sorry.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today,
and it wasn’t Mother’s Day or any other special day.
Last night, he beat me up again.
And it was much worse than all the other times.
If I leave him, what will I do?
How will I take care of my kids?
What about money?
I’m afraid of him and scared to leave.
But I know he must be sorry.
Because he sent me flowers today.

I got flowers today.
Today was a very special day.
It was the day of my funeral.
Last night, he finally killed me.
He beat me to death.
If only I had gathered enough courage and strength to leave him,
I would not have gotten flowers…today.

By Paulette Kelly
© Copyright 1992 Paulette Kelly
All Rights Reserved

Domestic Violence – Enough!

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How does domestic violence affect the woman?

How does domestic violence affect children?

Have you watched the movie called “Enough”?

Do yourself a favour and watch this movie – it will change your life.