Just say no
This post—When the Need to Forgive Has Been Hidden—has taken us down some interesting roads. After we learned about adapting in part 1, we explored how dreams can help us. (See the Clues section here.)
Today we’ll look at two more dreams. Get ready to read about a concentration camp, a birthday party, a boxer and much more.
Here and there
Abuse comes in many different flavors and scenarios. We can experience abuse at home, at work, in our extended family, at school, in the neighborhood, at church, in community groups, at meetings or appointments, when we’re out and about or traveling, with people we thought were our friends—anyone, anywhere. There are dangerous people out there. Learn the red flags and choose wisely.
From crushing warfare to victory
A couple years ago, God gave Brandon the next two dreams, which remind me of Before and After, Old and New, Below and Above.
The concentration camp
One morning during our vacation, Brandon awoke suddenly.
Tuesday, March 12
Brandon had a very disturbing dream. He was at work, but the location and people were different. He went into a [computer] server room and realized that a young woman had made a mistake. He told her how to fix it. Then he saw a bus pull up outside and he said, “Oh no. They heard us.” They were taken to a prison-like area. [Brandon] told her to act crazy and then they’d think she was one of them. She did and she was let off the bus. Brandon was put in a large cell filled with other people. The ceiling was low—only three feet high…. They were on their hands and knees with mud and maggots on the ground. Then a dozen little puppies were dropped on top of them. Brandon knew he’d have to kill a puppy by pulling its head off to get out of the pit, like he experienced before, so he made himself wake up.
We discussed this disturbing, concentration camp nightmare and the fact that he must get out of [his job]. It is a sick, abusive place.
Brandon was experiencing severe psychological warfare at work. This nightmare urged him to change jobs. Soon.
Several months later, this dream blended Brandon’s work and family-of-origin issues.
Friday, August 2
Brandon had an interesting dream. He was in charge of a group at work and had just fired some people. He was in his parents’ bedroom with his dad and his sister Hazel. She was one of the people he had fired and she was silently crying. His dad was talking about—maybe Hazel didn’t need to be fired. Brandon noticed a Russian rifle hanging over the fireplace in the room.
I thought about Brandon’s dream…. The people, the place and the Russian rifle all represent enemies…. I texted him: “Remember… God gave you the Victory Dream! That’s what the people, the place, the rifle and your position of authority were all about. VICTORY!”
In addition to the focus on victory, I like to call that one The Just-Say-No Dream. No to incompetent employees; no to Hazel, The Accomplice; and no to the pressure from Brandon’s dad to change his mind. No, no—and, in case you didn’t hear me the first time—no.
In part 4, I discovered the underlying themes in two of my dreams.
Both of these dreams [—The Silent Chaos and The Snake and The Kitten—] showed me two things that can be hidden—the danger of accomplices and the impact of evil.
Did Brandon’s dreams include the same underlying issues as my dreams—the danger of accomplices and the impact of evil? The same hidden things? They sure did.
Dangerous minds, dangerous hands
Let’s dig into the accomplices first.
The first dream—The Concentration Camp—showed a sick picture of Brandon’s workplace.
Many accomplices were involved in the evil. Someone was watching and reporting on the employees. Someone drove the bus. Someone built the cell so low that people couldn’t stand up. Someone gathered the puppies. Someone dropped the puppies in the pit. Someone communicated the orders to the prisoners. And someone planned and supervised each of these steps to terrorize people—to crush them with cruelty and horror.
The accomplices were all around, doing their dirty work. Not caring. Not blowing the whistle. Not leaving. Like I said in part 4, “The hands of the accomplices are covered with blood. They are not innocent.”
The accomplices were exceedingly dangerous. Every single one of them.
Yet they didn’t stand out. Each one had a seemingly-small role. Some of the accomplices and their jobs were hidden.
Compare and contrast
Even in the face of pervasive evil, in the nightmare and at work, Brandon focused on protecting others. He’s a good guy.
Closer to home
Brandon’s second dream took place in his parents’ house—a place where his dad, Andrew, was supposedly the boss. But in the dream, Brandon was his sister Hazel’s boss and he fired her. I love that part because Hazel’s an accomplice. I wonder if the other people Brandon fired were accomplices too….
Hazel was silently crying. What a lovely, yet subtle performance, my dear. On top of Hazel’s drama, Andrew tried to convince Brandon to change his professional decision—to basically relinquish his authority as Hazel’s boss to his dad. Shock of America. The control freak wanted control. Say it with me, Peaceful Readers, like Gomer Pyle: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!” Think of this dream as some Accomplice/Sociopath Double-Teaming. Nice try, peeps, but we’re on to you.
Don’t let the subtlety of an accomplice’s performance mislead you.
Accomplices. Are. Dangerous.
Control vs. respect
Now you may think that Hazel, The Accomplice was just a little prop in this scene, but she was much more than that. She was the lynch pin of control. Hazel had lost her position of proximity, influence and/or control over Brandon; and Andrew wanted to help her get it back.
Did you notice that neither of them was the least bit interested in Brandon keeping what he wanted and needed—his appropriate decision, his position of authority, his respect? What about supporting Brandon for actually doing the right thing? For control freaks and their accomplices, might is right. Since they have the might, they’re always right.
Yes, indeed. Accomplices are dangerous. Now let’s consider the second underlying theme in these dreams—the impact of evil.
The Just-Say-No Dream showed the abusive control in Brandon’s family. What was the impact of their evil? Blindness. Pain. Isolation. It took us many, many years to see the truth of what was going on.
In the first dream, The Concentration Camp, the evil was in-your-face and sickening—involving many, many accomplices. That dream terrified Brandon, and rightly so. The Concentration Camp was filled with confusion and fear—two of the impacts of abuse and evil. When I mentioned the dream to Brandon recently, he had totally forgotten about it. I get that. Like I said in this post about Brandon’s grandmother, “Sometimes in life, there are people you just can’t wait to forget.” That goes for nightmares too.
You may find, like I have, that you forgot or suppressed a bad experience, relationship or nightmare. Then, seemingly out of the blue, the memories return. (See Intrusive Thoughts, part 1 and part 2.) Maybe the time arrived to acknowledge what happened, to grieve and to forgive. We’ll dig into that later.
Lies, lies and more lies
Here’s an important reminder from the first series: “Sociopaths are experts at doing evil. What’s at the heart of all evil? Lies.”
Letter from a sociopath
I matter. You don’t. I’m the boss. You will do what I say. Or else.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Sociopath
I own you. I mean I love you.
Can you find the lies in there? Mm-hmm.
For the first five years of our marriage, my mother-in-law called Brandon during his drive to work. Delia needed to keep up the mind control to make sure Brandon remembered what he owed his “family,” which didn’t include me. Delia, The Artist painted that picture for me when she told me on the phone, “You’re not a part of this family.” Then she hissed and slithered away until it was time for her next attack.
When we’re the targets of abuse and evil, we don’t see or understand what’s going on due to the adapting, the denial, the chaos, the lies, the propaganda, the attacks, the drama, the accomplices and more. The whole situation is overwhelming.
In the last post, we learned this important reality: We can’t think clearly when we’re afraid and/or confused.
The impact of abuse and evil is often hidden.
Our shock, confusion and fear freeze our ability to think and react.
Since we don’t understand what’s going on, we don’t know what to do.
On top of our fuzzy thinking, the lies float around in our heads (e.g., That’s just the way life is or I don’t have any options). Confusion, fear and lies keep us where we are—whether the abuse is at home, at work or somewhere else. We can’t seem to break free. Frozen by fear, misled by lies, we spin our wheels, lingering in The Danger Zone. We hate it, but it’s where we’ve been for so long. We keep trying to placate or fix the abusers. We keep coming back for more until our eyes are finally opened. I’m not responsible for the abusers’ behavior or healing. They are. Truth provides The Turning Point. Even then, it can take time to muster the courage to get professional help and/or to leave. Will the next job be worse?
Sometimes we make excuses for the abusers—especially if we’re dealing with our parents, our spouse, our significant other or other family members. It’s painful to admit that your parents or your spouse didn’t want you or didn’t love you or found it entertaining to hurt you or wanted to control you. It hurts to see that. It hurts to say that. Until it doesn’t. Eventually we learn that others’ failings aren’t about us. Their failings are about them.
We can be hard on ourselves for having stayed so long or having waited so long before addressing serious problems. Forgive yourself. Psychological warfare confronts us with battles we didn’t know how to fight.
Brandon’s Just-Say-No Dream showed the psychological warfare intrinsic to abuse. The Russian rifle and Andrew’s presence testified to that. The location testified to that. So did Hazel’s presence—even though she was silent.
Snapshot of an accomplice
Let’s check out A Hazel Story from this post in the Sociopaths series.
Fork it over
…During my sociopathic father-in-law’s birthday party, my sister-in-law Hazel came up to Brandon and me, insisting that we pay $50 as our “contribution” to the cost of the catered food. Excuse me? Not our party. Not our food expense decision. Not appropriate. If Her Majesty (my sociopathic mother-in-law, Delia) planned a party and spent more money than she should have, that’s not our problem. If she couldn’t afford the catered food, she should’ve scheduled a potluck. We don’t pay for other people’s parties. We pay for the parties we host. Boundaries 101.
Our non-compliance with Hazel’s demand gave her yet another excuse, as part of Her Majesty’s Gang, to hate on us. Whatever.
That’s how sociopaths and their gang of accomplices operate. They say it; we’re supposed to do it. Can you say control freaks?
The accomplice’s tactics
Hazel, The Accomplice didn’t approach us as peers or as people deserving the respect of a discussion ahead of time. She attacked us in the kitchen during the party. I didn’t realize it at the time, but Hazel demonstrated a stellar execution of Chaos Tactic #11 from the last post: Making inappropriate demands—often in front of an audience to apply added pressure. But, wait! There’s more….
This little Fork It Over scenario also demonstrated Chaos Tactic #7: Confrontations and attacks; Chaos Tactic #2: Manipulation (e.g., using an attack—and the anticipated shock—to get what she wanted); Chaos Tactic #3: Withholding basic or necessary information; and Chaos Tactic #6: Doing and saying things to demean us. Attacks always demean the targets. Attacks elevate the attacker to a position of authority and superiority over the worthless targets.
Oops. I forgot one. Chaos Tactic #12: Moving the goal post. We thought we were invited to a birthday party. Apparently, we were invited to a Pay-On-Demand Birthday Party. Who knew?
Hazel used six different Chaos Tactics in one short attack. What a pro. She was well-trained by The Master Attacker and Manipulator—her mother, Delia.
Accomplice = against us
Hazel shows us a good picture of a long-term accomplice. Even though she wasn’t the most abusive of Brandon’s two sisters, she clearly sided with the sociopaths and Sadistic Shelly. That’s really all we need to know about Hazel. Someone who isn’t for us is against us. There’s no middle ground.
We learned this important warning in the first series.
Those who do evil and call it good are not to be trifled with.
God’s word says it better:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20, World English Bible
Attack vs. fair fight
Why did I call Hazel’s behavior at Andrew’s birthday party an attack? What’s the difference between an attack and a fair fight? An attack comes without warning and doesn’t remotely resemble a healthy conversation. The attackers control the engagement 100% because they know what’s coming and we don’t have the foggiest idea. Granted, they may introduce the attack with this sociopathic favorite—“I need to have a word with you”—but the targets have no idea what “a word” refers to. A word is also the understatement of the century; I mean a bald-faced lie. Sociopaths and other flavors of control freaks don’t usually speak with brevity. They often try to control and wear us down with their many, many words and/or with their intensity, anger or dramatic flair.
In a fair fight, both participants have a say about what, when, where and why. Both participants matter in each other’s eyes.
The goal of a fair fight is to work things out or to come to a healthy decision.
The goal of an attack is to gain control by means of abuse.
Think of an attacker like a prize-fighter. The boxer did an extensive warm-up, physically and psychologically, and put on his or her favorite boxing attire, including the boxing gloves—or the brass knuckles, as the case may be. Translation: The boxer got totally pumped up to beat you down hard and preferably leave you unconscious. And you? You had no idea that the scene you were walking into was actually a boxing ring. You thought it was a room or a vehicle or a casual stroll in the neighborhood. Beware.
Just say no
Some attacks are premeditated. Others are spontaneous. Brandon experienced an extremely bizarre attack during a doctor’s appointment on his birthday this month. Happy Birthday to you. Everything seemed fine until the doctor asked Brandon if he’d had his COVID-19 “vaccine.” When Brandon said he already had COVID-19 and he wouldn’t be getting said shot, the doctor ran out of the room and returned with a mask on before dropping an F-bomb and other foul language during his Patient Attack Extraordinaire. Wow.
I told Brandon my conclusion. “You’ve been attacked by many different people in many different settings—your family, bosses at work, and now, by a doctor. What God’s trying to teach you is to say no. Don’t try to be funny or lighten up what’s going on. Say no. No. This is not okay.”
The next day Brandon filed a formal, written complaint against the doctor with The State of Texas.
He said no.
An answer to prayer
When Brandon had The Just-Say-No Dream, he’d recently transferred to a new job at work. His old boss was seriously combative and made the workplace into The Concentration Camp. Brandon’s new boss is peaceful and professional—just what we and our whole life group at church had been praying for.
Brandon’s dreams showed his reality. He went from being terrorized in a concentration camp to being in a place of authority over his own life—at work and with his abusive family.
God is so good.
One of my favorite Brandon-expressions goes like this: “People vote with their feet.” We certainly do. Buh-bye to the abusive work situation. And buh-bye to control freaks and their accomplices.
Forgetting vs. remembering
When we’re rescued from a bad situation, we naturally breathe a sigh of relief, do a Happy Dance and try to forget the nightmare. Been there; done that. Sometimes we delay the processing that we need to do—the reflecting, the learning, the grieving. And the forgiving. Please remember: Forgiving is not condoning.
A dramatic rescue from a situation like The Concentration Camp can be a time When the Need to Forgive Has Been Hidden. Have you experienced a rescue out of a bad situation? Think about that season. Is anything unresolved?
Let’s review the highlights from today’s post.
1. Abuse can happen anywhere—with The Usual Suspects or someone you just met.
2. Dreams can depict our reality and challenge us to dig for hidden truths.
3. Accomplices are dangerous, even when they’re silent.
4. Abuse and evil result in confusion and fear.
5. We can’t think clearly when we’re confused and/or afraid.
6. Confusion, fear and lies keep us in bad situations.
7. Abuse and evil = Psychological warfare.
8. Truth provides The Turning Point.
9. Forgive yourself.
10. Attacks are abusive and are used to control us.
11. Just say no.
12. After a rescue, we sometimes skip the healing work we need to do, including the forgiving.
Psychological warfare sometimes requires a different response than just saying no. When we left The War Zone of the sociopaths, we used our secret weapon: Silence. If you’re in a difficult situation, pray and ask God for wisdom and courage. You may need to consult a great counselor for guidance.
Sometimes we need to walk away.
Other times we need to stay, problem-solve and work diligently to improve a bad situation. Many a broken marriage shows a remarkable recovery—with prayer, wisdom, courage, patience, hard work, forgiveness and the support of a godly friend and/or counselor. Often, one spouse begins The Healing Journey first. As that spouse learns and heals, communication and expectations move in a healthier direction. For a sick relationship to be healed, both people must desire healing and do the work. Pray, pray and pray some more. And do the work.
Truth is healing. We can trust God to bring us truth at the right time. Even painful truth is good for us.
Jesus is The Great Physician. “The Lord bless you and keep you….”
Coming next: Once again, I’m not sure what the next post will include. The colorful before, during and after from Andrew’s funeral? A former friend who became an accomplice? I wonder….
God will show me which way to go. Until then, thanks for reading and for Choosing Peace.
Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.
Truth from The Word: Psalm 12:6-8
Song for Healing: I found this beautiful song today and listened to it again and again and again. I absolutely love it. “Jesus, Strong and Kind” by CityAlight.