Not of My Making by Margaret M. Jones, Ph.D. - Book Review - Q & A
Margaret was here LIVE on May 2nd, 2009 to discuss her book and answer questions.
Margaret M. Jones Ph.D.
Not of My Making: Bullying, Scapegoating and Misconduct in Churches
First Printing 2008
Pluck Press, P.O. Box 516, Stoughton MA 02072-0516, www.pluckpress.com
Dr. Jones’ book is more than a memoir of abusive events in her life and her losses and successes while overcoming them. It is a testimony of her drive to survive and even thrive despite overwhelming odds.
Following her journey from childhood abuse through recovery gives more than just a glimpse into the mentality of a victim. She details how the victim mentality begins and the story of her life in crisis displays some ways in which some victims try to deal with abuse and the emotions and bad self-image that arise from abuse. We see her pitfalls and her triumphs. As a victim of abuse myself I have been more than able to identify with Dr. Jones, even when my experiences of abuse in general and spiritual abuse took place under different circumstances. I found her detailed descriptions of fears, emotions and thoughts echoed in my own.
The book, because of the powerful feelings it describes, also evokes powerful emotional responses. Only someone devoid of emotions would be able to walk away from it untouched. Dr. Jones pulls away the veil concerning the often taboo subject of spiritual abuse and empowers women to think outside the box that society and churches place them in. The book is more than relevant to men affected by abuse as well, but women are more often on the receiving end of abuse because of the pecking order imposed upon them by society and religion.
Dr. Jones’ need for justice and her contempt for keeping up appearances were some of the reasons she was shunned, she wrote. How true this is not only in the religious world but in the academic and corporate ones as well. Bullying and group dynamics as they are expressed in childhood can also overflow into adulthood making life an obstacle course for persons affected by abuse. Especially spiritual abuse can be particularly devastating as it not only can cause great emotional damage but impair a person’s relationship with God. Interpersonal relationships are strained, bent, even wrecked beyond repair.
Part of her answer to her repeated encounters with abusive or at least neglectful by-standing persons in churches was this:
I needed to empty myself of other people’s false projections that had been motivated by their envy. I needed to accept myself and see myself for who I was. I needed to affirm that I was a kind and generous person who was passionate, intelligent, vulnerable yet strong, educated and faithful. That was the answer.
I agree that the key to survival lies in accepting the true self that is planted in reality while at the same time rejecting the faulty self-image that bullies try to impose on vulnerable victims. Abusers try to project a poor self image onto their victims, lying even about the characters of their victims. But their lying accusations of worthlessness and stupidity are never true.
Faith played a major role in Dr. Jones’ recovery and the affirmation that God was always there for her even when it seemed that hardly anyone else was. She knew that God loved her as his own creation and that everything he created was good. This and other solutions that she employed to overcome abuse are sure to be useful to others in abusive situations. Toward the end of the book she describes many eye-opening discoveries after researching the subjects of bullying and spiritual abuse.
Dr. Jones’ book, Not of My Making, has empowered me and inspired me to fight for my rights in a current battle I am waging with injustice and bullying at the workplace that cost me my job. I am fighting not only for the future of my children, but also for my own future. Even though the outcome may not turn out exactly as I like, I will know that I have done my utmost for justice and empowerment in my life. I hope that reading her book will have the same effect on you.
For a preview of her book go to Pluck’s Blog.
Dr. Jones founded PluckPress as a place for survivors to tell their stories. Writing is a productive avenue to explore abuse and recover from it that I often use myself. I am sure that many other survivors will benefit from her creativity and energy to pave the way both informationally and by providing a publisher that is partial to printing the testimonies of abuse survivors.