• Christianity Did Not Help Me, It Did Not Work For Me

I was a very devout Christian from childhood up to my early, maybe mid, forties.

These days, I don’t know what I am (religiously speaking).

As I look back over my life, I can see that not only did the Christian faith not help me much, but as some of its teachings were taught to me, it created obstacles in my life, and kept me stuck in harmful patterns or ways of thinking.

Supposing there is an afterlife with a Heaven and a Hell, and acceptance of Christ means a ticket into Heaven upon death, that works out just fine. I can sure see how that is beneficial later on.

Christianity, though, did not really help me with very much in the present life.

Any pain, problems, or stress I’ve had so far were not relieved by the Christian faith.

Prayer, Bible reading, believing in Jesus, volunteering at charities, attending church – none of that alleviated my problems.

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• The Sexist Roots of Codependency – The mindset that makes many women stay in toxic relationships by Melissa Petro

The Sexist Roots of Codependency – The mindset that makes many women stay in toxic relationships by Melissa Petro

I’ve writen posts on this blog previously explaining that Christian gender complementarianism is Codependency for women – it encourages women to exhibit and practice behaviors that make them more vulnerable to being targeted by abusers, con artists, manipulators, and the selfish.

Codependency can also leave a woman trapped in an abusive relationship much longer than normally, whether that is a romantic relationship, a family one, a friendship one, or a workplace one.

I was shouted down any time I mentioned any of that here or on other sites, though, by people who run domestic violence blogs who argue the concept of Codependency is supposedly victim-blaming, and I’ve explained time and again, that no, it is not victim-blaming.

Notice that there is an overlap between the sexist gendered stereotypes women receive (to be caring, nurturing, passive, to endure abuse, etc) from secular society, and what the church tells women is “godly” behavior that they are expected to possess and demonstrate under complementarianism (eg., to be caring, nurturing, passive, to endure abuse, etc).

I have further commentary to make below this long excerpt:

The Sexist Roots of Codependency – The mindset that makes many women stay in toxic relationships

Snippets:

[The author opens by describing a relationship where she had a drug addicted boyfriend named Mark, who she ended up acting as a care-taker for (she both financially and emotionally supported him), and he exploited that; she eventually broke up with him]

….Like many women, I was raised to believe that a woman’s role was to take care of the home and support her partner unconditionally.

In exchange, I was taught, men were the breadwinners and protectors. Women put their romantic partners and their families before themselves; men called the shots.

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• How Being in Codependent Relationships Affected My Mental Health by C. Underwood

How Being in Codependent Relationships Affected My Mental Health by C. Underwood

Snippets:

… However, sometimes we can lose track of who we really are and lose our identity. Most of my relationships in the past have been heavily codependent.

… There is nothing wrong with a little dependency — it can be nice to have the company and some things in life are just better with two. But when we rely completely on another person, it makes it incredibly hard to survive and adjust when you are alone.

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• How to Raise a Mentally Tough Daughter by J. Moye

How to Raise a Mentally Tough Daughter by J. Moye

My parents did the exact opposite as what is taught in the article below.

It’s much more difficult to learn the sorts of things this article is talking about later in life and to put them into practice. My life would’ve been ten times easier had my parents taught me, when I was a kid, to have the skills mentioned in the article I am linking you to below.

My mother, for one, valued “sweetness” in me more than any other quality, and she unfortunately confused “sweetness” with codependency – which meant, I was encouraged to do things such as be passive, to give in and give up easily, rather than be tough, keep on even when things got difficult, or stand up for myself when bullied or treated unfairly.

My dad, with his quickness to shame or mock if I made a mistake at anything, turned me into a perfectionist. My father’s manner of parenting turned me into someone who gave up easily if I was not doing well at an activity, and his method of parenting conveyed to me to not even try new things in the first place, really – after all, trying something new may mean I might fail at it, and in my family, failing is shameful.

(My father, though, would probably not recognize his parenting as such – but that is what it was like for me growing up. I think my dad thinks of himself as a very positive person, but as far back as I can remember, he was always very negative, cranky, and hyper-critical of me and of everyone and everything else. He frames everything in negative terms and worst-case scenarios.)

It’s as though my parents took all the qualities and skills therapists say parents should instill into a daughter to turn her into a confident, resilient, independent adult, and did the exact opposite – much to my detriment.

How to Raise a Mentally Tough Daughter by J. Moye

The definition of mental toughness varies among researchers and academics, but we all know it when we see it on the soccer field.

It’s the kid who bounces back faster from disappointment, who takes constructive criticism well, and who can pick herself up and dust herself off no matter how hard she falls.

What doesn’t vary among researchers is the fact that possessing mental toughness is a predicator of success in not only sports, but also in school and at work.

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• Women Do Not Exist to Help Men Change; Men Do Not Need Women to Transform Themselves, by H. Schwyzer

Women Do Not Exist to Help Men Change; Men Do Not Need Women to Transform Themselves, by H. Schwyzer

The following addresses the MPDG (Manic Pixie Dream Girl) character trope that Hollywood script writers use.

However, Christian complementarians are guilty of doing this very same thing as well – of presenting women as a necessity to change men.

I’d say this is especially true in the cases of abusive Christian  marriages, where complementarians act as though all it takes is the love of a wife to change an abusive man. If that were true, there would be no need of Jesus dying on the cross, or the Holy Spirit residing in every believer.

Such views also rob women of their humanity, and make women only in to accessories who prop up men, rather than viewing women as people in their own right, with needs, fears, hopes, and problems of their own that may not have a damn thing to do with any man.

Emphasis in bold face text below added by me (all links, though, are in bold):

The Real-World Consequences of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Cliché by H. Schwyzer

Women do not exist to help men change; men do not need women to transform themselves.

Snippets:

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a well-known pop-culture cliché. The term was coined by critic Nathan Rabin in his review of 2005’s Elizabethtown to describe the cheerful, bubbly flight attendant played by Kirsten Dunst.

Since then, this character type has been analyzed everywhere, from XoJane to Slate to the Guardian. A list of film examples of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” includes roles played by everyone from Barbra Streisand to Natalie Portman to both Hepburns (Audrey and Katharine)

Rabin claimed that the MPDG “exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries.”

In a recent exploration of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” phenomenon, though, the New Statesman’s Laurie Penny argued that the ubiquity of this stock character in mainstream movies has real-world implications. “Men grow up expecting to be the hero of their own story,” Penny writes. “Women grow up expecting to be the supporting actress in somebody else’s.”

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• Expressing Anger is Healthy. Here’s How Parents Can Encourage Their Girls to Get Angry and Show It by K. Rope

Expressing Anger is Healthy. Here’s How Parents Can Encourage Their Girls to Get Angry and Show It by K. Rope

As I’ve noted before, Christian Gender Complementarianism is nothing but Codependency for Girls and women.

My mother was a Christian who believed in traditional gender roles as taught by the Baptist church, and she was definitely codependent – in part because of those sexist Christian complementarian teachings, but also due to having been raised in an alcoholic family where she took on codependent behaviors to try to protect herself.

One aspect of complementarianism – of codependency – is to socialize girls and women to suppress their anger.

Secular culture also plays at that game as well, but churches lay it on even more strongly, and tell girls and women it’s “God’s design” for girls and women to always be sweet, agreeable and smiley, to lack boundaries – so, if you are female, you’re never supposed to show anger.

Since I’ve abandoned complementarianism and codependency, I’ve had to learn how to show anger, and I’ve had to realize it’s okay to show anger – this comes after years and years, up to my early 40s!, of repressing anger.

One thing that continual repression of anger (and boundaries) can do in a person is lead to, or intensify, depression and anxiety.  God did not design girls and women to be perpetual, loving, sweet, little cupcakes who never express their anger, no matter what.

My mother definitely taught me from youth to place a premium in how others perceived me, that I care more about what others thought about me than what I thought about myself, and that I come across as “likable” and “sweet” to everyone all the time – that was a huge, huge parenting Fail on her part.

Expressing Anger is Healthy. Here’s How Parents Can Encourage Their Girls to Get Angry and Show It 

Snippets:

In telling girls to be nice and stifle anger, we neglect to teach them they have a right to be respected

by K. Rope

….The other book, “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger” by Soraya Chemaly, looks at the extensive research on our gendered relationship with anger.

There is little difference in how boys and girls experience and express emotions, says Chemaly, but there is substantial difference in how we respond. Girls are rewarded for being pleasant, agreeable and helpful.

By preschool, children believe it is normal for boys to be angry, but not girls.

“We are so busy teaching girls to be likable that we forget to teach them that they have the right to be respected,” Chemaly told me. And the effects of that carry into adulthood.

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• When Being Nice Backfires by N. Lipkin

I would say that the following is especially true of women. Women are conditioned when children, more so than men are, to be nice – to lack boundaries, and to be passive, rather than be assertive.

Christian churches who support Gender Complementarianism further pressure girls and women to engage in this highly codependent behavior, which they deem “biblical” and “nice.”

I was bullied over the course of my life, as a child by other children at school, and as an adult by other adults at various jobs I had. One supervisor I had in my early 30s was particularly bullying, and I think my “niceness” (severe codependency) made me an attractive and easy target for that boss, and for co-workers who used me.

When Being Nice Backfires by N Lipkin

We’re taught from a young age to “play nice” if we don’t want to find ourselves in trouble. Being “nice” is a huge part of our upbringing and vocabulary. As we grow older, these early messages can turn into unconscious scripts that impact our personal and professional lives.

The early childhood message to “play nice” is especially apparent in our relationships with others. It is often louder than the call for us to be assertive, set healthy boundaries, or even prioritize our own needs over the needs of others.

But how nice should a leader be? If you’re too nice you risk being a pushover; you might keep an employee beyond their expiration date; you might see deadlines come and go; you might become too close with your employees at the expense of being able to give them tough feedback.

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