Sunday, February 5, 2012

Susanna Barlow and cruelty she endured, continued...

Photographer for photo of Susanna Barlow is Marie Nielsen

Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:

Examiner article

As the interview article shared, Susanna Barlow grew up in an abusive childhood in a polygamist family. She described how she was able to move out of this world.

She explained, “For a girl one of the only ways to get out of the environment was marriage. For some sisters, marriage was just another similar environment to the one they had come from but for me, I was determined it would not involve abuse. I insisted on being twenty years old before I was married. Arranged marriages were common and the single man I married at age twenty was a total stranger to me. Nevertheless, I felt I was strong enough psychologically to stand up to him, if necessary. Shortly after we were married he began to question the religion and doctrines that both of us had been raised believing. We both left the polygamous lifestyle and broke off relationships within the culture soon after. It was not a dramatic affair. It was more of a personal journey.”

Susanna talked about her family ties today, “It took some time after I left the community for the real authentic relationships to percolate and rise to the surface. Some of my dearest and closest friends are my sisters. There exists a deep love between the siblings of a similar age that shared in the abuse and starvation. I often refer to them as my war brothers and sisters. A deep understanding that goes beyond words is felt and is a great comfort. My father and mother have come to terms with my choices and I feel that even though my relationship with them is not what I would hope for, it is honest and real. The abuse is no longer a secret. Anyone who feels that they cannot hear the truth simply avoids talking to me. But most of my brothers and sisters have come to terms with this. (On a side note, nearly half of them have left the culture.)”

She not only survived but she found health again, mind, body and spirit. Susanna shared, “Healing is so personal! There is no manual for it, and what inspires one can backfire for another. There are as many paths to healing as there are wounded people. I suppose the main ingredient to healing for me has been a desire to not let the abuse control my life and my personality. I wanted to be free from it. I found that ignoring it and moving on was not freedom but a kind of grim resignation that I had to live with the heavy chains of suffering all my life. Sure, I was used to carrying those chains of suffering and it certainly would have appeared to others that I was fine. But on the inside it was a slow poison that was killing me. Forgiveness became my guide. I had to understand forgiveness and learn to apply it or my soul would wither and die. When I speak of forgiveness I am not referring to common definitions of the word. I spent a dozen years reading, studying, and doing personal contemplation to understand the mystical meaning as well as the practical application of forgiveness. What I have discovered has led to profound healing in myself. Forgiveness for me, my own definition of it is this: Forgiveness is making room for more. Traditionally the concept of forgiveness is about letting go and loving the person, event or thing that was the cause of suffering. While that is part of the process it is only a small part. The real challenge was to make room for the abuse, the pain, the humiliation and suffering within my soul, my being. Rather than push away, dissolve, fix or correct it, forgiveness is an act of honoring and making space within me to allow those things. When there is space— there is not pain. It only hurts when you are trying to make it go away. Forgiveness does not absolve anyone of anything. It only opens one up for a complete and whole understanding. Forgiveness has been the foundation of my own healing.”

Her past has shaped her future, she clarified, “My own past of abuse has not haunted me as much as it has galvanized my determination to raise my children with love, to promote freedom from pain and suffering and to respect all human beings as equal. It has determined my value system and given me personal experience to understand human suffering and cruelty. I believe it has made me a better parent, wife, friend and person. My past has been like a giant boulder thrown in my path. Instead of that boulder being an obstacle that blinded me and left me a victim it became the foundation upon which I have risen up and built a better life for my family and myself."

Susanna’s advice to someone who feels imprisoned by life’s circumstances, “Everything you need to change your life, to achieve happiness and success is inside of you. The power is yours; you were born with all the ingredients to make your life everything it was meant to be. Don’t look outside of yourself for answers or compare yourself with others but look within. It is all there!”

Her closing words, “My life and my passions are inseparable. To live anything but a passionate life is no life at all. I have responsibilities of course; raising six children, running a household with school, braces, horse riding lessons and all the other activities but all of those things are brightened and enhanced by the thrill of living in harmony with my interests and joys. Writing fulfills me in ways I could never have imagined. It is as necessary to my life as breathing and eating. I love poetry and find it the most challenging kind of writing. I have written humorous skits, and boring business letters and I feel so complete after having written. Reading is also a deep passion that satisfies me and has enriched my life. I like to be physically near books, I love the words inside of books, the covers, the smell of them and of course reading and talking about them with other book lovers. Painting in all mediums is another joyful passion as well as drawing and sketching. Art is the essence of my passionate self. I have a deep love for animals as well.

Everything I have been through and experienced has informed my writing, my art and my relationships. Life is my passion.”

You can contact Susanna, read inserts and/or buy her book and learn more about her through her website, Susanna

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