Entombment of Stress; What’d those pork chops ever do to you?

Did you know that stress comes in two forms? It does: eustress and distress. Eustress is the good stress, the kind we need to get and keep motivated. It provides incentive to get the job done. It spurs us on to action, to accomplish things. Everyone needs a little bit of stress in their life in order to continue to be happy, motivated, challenged and productive. It is when this stress is no longer tolerable and/or manageable that distress comes in. Distress is the bad stress we have. It’s when the good stress becomes too much to bear or cope with. Tension builds. There’s no fun in the challenge. There seems to be no relief, no end in sight. This is the kind of stress most of us are familiar with, and this is the kind of stress that leads to poor decision making. Stress can be really sneaky. It’s not always obvious to us, or others. It can build up slowly, like magma in a volcano. It can even explode on us and onto others when we least expect it—again, like a volcano. Stress is dangerous and entombs us. We are ‘bound’ like Lazarus with the ‘ribbons’ of distress. Lazarus couldn’t move because of the burial wrappings/ribbons. Likewise, stress can incapacitate us and hamper us in our ability to function. Distress affects our health, our emotional state, our relationships, our jobs, ministry, and other areas of our lives.  Physiological symptoms of distress include an increase in blood pressure, rapid breathing, and generalized tension. Behavioral symptoms include irritability, overeating, loss of appetite, drinking, smoking, and negative coping mechanisms. To read more, https://brocku.ca/health-services/health-education/stress/eustress-distress.

A dear friend of ours, whom I shall call Percy, recently exhibited distress with a co-worker by ‘going off on them.’ It surprised Kevin and I to hear about this because Percy is a very calm person. He smiles an awful lot, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen a scowl on his face or heard him raise his voice. My husband is a lot like this. He rarely gets upset, but when he does, look out! It takes people like Kevin and Percy a while to build up to outbursts and anger, but when they do, it’s very distressing. You know it took a lot to get them that upset, and you hate to see them in that state. I had a co-worker who was like this. Her name was Mary Alice. She was so upset about something one day that, when tenderizing pork chops for dinner that night, she tenderized them so much you could almost see through them! I heard about this the next morning as I checked with Mary Alice to see how she was doing. She was able to laugh about the pork chops then, but I guess you could say she took her distress out on those poor pork chops. A few days later, I jokingly asked her if she had any more pork chops for dinner, to which she laughed and said no. It was such a joy to see her laugh again. I hope Percy can relieve his distress so he can go back to work and be happy. God bless you Percy!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

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Children of Alcoholics

To a man and a woman, God has given a wondrous gift; only a man and a woman can bring a soul into existence, a soul that was meant to know God and His divine love. Children of alcoholics find it very difficult, if not impossible, to know God. A prison of denial and cyclic dysfunction entombs them. Instead of love, they experience abuse, both physical and emotional, and neglect.

An alcoholic family has three simple rules: Don’t see, don’t talk, and don’t feel.

  • Don’t see when daddy beats mommy when dinner is spoiled because daddy has come home late after spending most of the night in the bar drinking and having run out of money.
  • Don’t see when mommy falls trying to climb the steps after a drinking binge.

Don’t talk:

  • Invent lies about daddy being unable to work because “he has a bad back.”
  • Invent euphemisms about mommy “needing her medicine.”

Don’t feel:

  • Don’t feel fear when in the dark of night the front door slams open and daddy drags mommy off the couch, “smacks her around” and demands to be fed, and then hits her some more when the sandwiches and beer aren’t ready soon enough.
  • Don’t feel disappointment when promised vacations and Christmas presents, like other families have, fail to happen. Enwrap yourself in a cocoon and don’t feel anything.

In this tragic bleakness, there is hope and help. If you know the family, look for the signs and trust your instincts. Look for the signs of physical violence, bruises, especially repeated marks on arms, face and backs of legs. Children don’t get bruises and welts on the back of their legs from “falling.” Look for the emotional signs: lethargy, withdrawal, clinging to a person or object, easily startled at a sudden noise.

The best strategy is to spread a “safety net” beneath the child, to catch him or her when they “fall,” and fall they almost certainly will. Be consistent. Children of alcoholics long for a caring adult (caring, not indulgent) who is consistent in their interaction.

Knowledge is power. Before a crisis, find out about help. Contact the Department of Social Services and ask about referrals and intervention. If you have any contact with a school, ask to talk to a school counselor, and ask how to contact a certified addiction counselor. If you have a personal physician, particularly one who is part of a group or network, consult them.

Speak out. Silence buys into the “don’t talk” rules. Even if someone threatens never to speak to you again because you have insulted his or her family, speak out and save the children.

There is always hope. Pray and ask God to protect innocent children.

Contributed by Jim Farley

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Bound and Entombed by Addiction

Addiction is many things, and it takes many forms. Some of them are subtle; others are obvious. Some people are addicted to well-known chemicals: marijuana, heroin, cocaine, as well as those chemically manufactured: “speed,” methamphetamine, and oxycodone. Some people are even addicted to their own body chemicals.

But, perhaps, the most destructive is alcoholism. It is widespread across age, race, gender and economic status. It is culturally encouraged. Watch any televised professional sporting event and count the number of commercials for alcohol. It destroys relationships, especially families. Each alcoholic has a spreading circle of fifty people affected by the disease.

Some of the signs of addiction are easily recognizable; physical impairment and slurred speech. Some are personal, making promises to children and failing to keep them. Children learn to expect disappointment. Another sign is economic impoverishment. Dad cashes his pay check in a bar, spends the money on drinks for himself and his friends. (Alcoholics are always popular, at least for a while.) His family experiences hunger and perhaps homelessness.

There is hope. Thankfully, there are resources available:

NA – Narcotics Anonymous

AA – Alcoholics Anonymous, and

COA – Children of Alcoholics.

We pray: Lord, help me to recognize what I have become.

Contributed by Jim Farley

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Would you describe your family as “dysfunction junction?”

I’m talking about the ‘entombment’ of family issues. For twenty something years, I went through rejection by my husband’s family. (For more information on my experience, read “From Agnostic to Deacon, A Story of Hope and Conversion” available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle formats. If you live in Charlotte, NC, you can go to Park Road Books to buy a copy.)

Kevin’s family decided I was too ‘backwards.’ I didn’t fit their perception of what they expected me to be. My mother-in-law’s mental illness didn’t help. Only after my parents-in-law died did our immediate family realize that my low self-esteem at the time had only made matters worse. Now that my self-esteem is much stronger, my relationship to my sister-in-law, in particular, is much improved.

The number of things that can hinder family relationships are too numerous to mention, so I’ll focus on just a few in the next blog post. I’ve already mentioned self-esteem (see my blog post entitled Entombment of Rejection just a few posts ago).

  1. Incorrect/negative perceptions, assuming.
  2. Finding fault, judging others or criticizing. This one, I hope, is self-explanatory.
  3. Overstepping your bounds.

I think that’s enough to go over for now.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

The Entombment of Rejection

This type of entombment can take many forms, some of which are:

Rejection by others:
Abuse, bullying, deliberate ignoring, unacceptance, and unkind teasing.

Rejection of yourself:
Self-destructive behavior (such as alcohol or drug addiction and self-mutilation), self-loathing, and poor self-esteem.

For now, I will talk about self-esteem.

Poor self-esteem makes so many things in life difficult, particularly our relationships with others. It makes sense that if we have a poor opinion of ourselves and don’t love ourselves (appropriately), it doesn’t help our opinion of others or our ability to love them as they are. We have to start by working on ourselves. After all, we can’t give to others what we don’t have (for) ourselves, i.e. love, respect, and kindness.

How do we know we have an inferiority complex, poor self-esteem or are insecure?
– By listening to our words to others about ourselves:
– Do we put ourselves down, i.e. say we’re stupid or an idiot… a lot?
– Do we unduly criticize ourselves over and above what is normal?
– Have we forgiven ourselves for mistakes committed in the past OR do we ‘should’ on ourselves? In other words, do we say ‘I should have done this’ or ‘I should have done that,’ but didn’t?
– Do we allow others to get away with things they shouldn’t, i.e. hurt us physically without doing anything about it? (We can discuss ‘enabling’ behavior later.)
– Do we feel the need to brag or boast about something in order to ‘prove’ to others we are a great lover, a good worker, a good parent, etc.?
– Do we do this because we need to convince ourselves of this, because deep down we doubt we are what we are boasting about? Because—think about it—if we are convinced, why do we need to convince others?
– We think whenever people are talking it’s about us.
– We are supersensitive and take things (said to us) personally, i.e. we respond (defensively). i.e. ‘What did you mean by that?’

In my next post, I will spend a little time talking about what to do if poor self-image is holding you back.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

What is Entombment?

I wrote a blog post back in April 2015 entitled “What is Entombing Me?” about Jesus and Lazarus and their being in a tomb. It talked about how the Father called Jesus forth from His tomb. I also described how I underwent a meditation about pretending I was Lazarus in a tomb where it was cold and damp. As Jesus called to Lazarus ‘come out,’ so we can ask His help to come out of our tombs. When we meditate on these scriptures about Jesus and Lazarus, I hope we can start to see how all of the wounds and baggage that we carry can entomb us and hold us back from living as Jesus wants us to, to be free of what entombs us.

Entombment means being bound up, confined by, enslaved by, under duress, or emotionally imprisoned by something. It is being overwhelmed by it to the point that it seriously limits us in our ability to feel joy, interact with others, and even go about our daily routine. Depression is one kind of entombment, but so is unresolved anger (whether at God or others).

What do we do about it? Once we recognize this state of entombment in ourselves:
First of all, we pray. We ask for wisdom and enlightenment to see the situation for what it truly is. Then we pray for guidance on how to handle it. One of the options is to seek out a reputable source of help, whether it is a Christian counselor, a spiritual director or mentor, or—last but not least—the Bible. Of utmost importance, particularly when we feel afflicted, is to talk to God even more often than we already do. If you don’t talk to God (or pray), then it’s a good time to start. God is available 24/7 (all the time), you won’t get a busy signal, and He has a toll-free number!

The Bible has many passages that are useful for meditation. One of my favorites is Psalm 23: “The Lord is My Shepherd. I shall not want.” Please see my meditations on this Psalm from February 2015. You can find it fairly quickly if you go to the right sidebar and scroll down until you see “Older Posts” and select the month. NOTE: You may find more entombment posts under April 2015.

Another good one is Psalm 139 taken from the New Revised Standard Version. It has a very intimate account of God’s nearness:

13 For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.

I may do a separate post in the future with a list of Bible verses for help with entombment.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Personal Entombment

Forms of personal entombment:

Anxiety

Inferiority complex/poor self-esteem

– Are you addicted to others’ approval?

– God doesn’t make junk; you are not ‘junk.’

Have you ever been abused in any way (spiritually/emotionally/psychologically, physically or sexually)?

Had a traumatic experience, i.e. accident or another event?

Is there depression or addiction in your history?

These are just a few. The list is extensive.

I would suggest getting yourself a notebook/journal and keep a record of your thoughts, feelings, and related events. For those of you not familiar, this process is called journaling.  (You don’t have to be a good writer. This would be just for your eyes.)

In your journal, start to record the situations and feelings where you feel entombed or trapped.

Next, reflect on the circumstances that are involved.  What memories do you have where you felt that way? (Memories can be powerful, whether they are positive or negative.) Do you remember something from childhood when you first felt that way?

Journaling is a valuable tool to help you see if there is a particular ‘theme’ or pattern. Doing this should help clarify what may be going on and bring things into better focus. Sometimes just being aware how you react or feel when certain things happen can be beneficial. For example, I have a friend who hates raised voices. It makes him cringe. When he reflected upon it, he realized that this stems from his parents arguing and his mother throwing light bulbs when he was a child. He wanted to stay out of the way, to feel ‘safe.’ Knowing the source of this reaction has helped him be more aware of why he reacts that way. I encourage you to give journaling a try.

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Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams