Nyssa's Hobbit Hole

Category: grief (page 1 of 9)

A couple of notes: Spanking and No, the new girlfriend did NOT change my abusive ex

A couple of quick notes on things that I have seen today while, as usual, sucked into the Web when I’m supposed to be doing other things:

First:

Elizabeth T. Gershoff writes an opinion piece, The era of spanking is finally over, based on the announcement yesterday by the American Academy of Pediatrics that

recommends that adults caring for children use “healthy forms of discipline” — such as positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviors, setting limits and setting expectations — and not use spanking, hitting, slapping, threatening, insulting, humiliating or shaming.

…”In the 20 years since that policy was first published, there’s been a great deal of additional research, and we’re now much stronger in saying that parents should never hit their child and never use verbal insults that would humiliate or shame the child,” said Dr. Robert Sege, first author of the policy statement and a pediatrician at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

…The statement goes on to describe how several studies have found associations between spanking and aggressive child behavior, depressive symptoms in adolescence and less gray matter in children’s brains, among other outcomes.

Gershoff hopes that the new statement will finally cause massive change in how parents discipline children, and notes changes that have already been made over the years.

She writes,

There are practical reasons to stop spanking. The main one is that it does not work. Some parents may say, “But it does for my child.” A child may cry and stop what she is doing in the moment, but numerous studies involving hundreds of thousands of children show that spanking does not make children better behaved in the long run, and in fact makes their behavior worse.
It is hard for parents to see this in their day-to-day interactions, but the research is clear: We consistently find that the more a child is spanked, the more aggressive he or she will be in the future.
Spanking also teaches children that it is acceptable to use physical force to get what you want. It is thus no surprise that the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to be aggressive or to engage in delinquent behaviors like stealing.
…The majority of us who were spanked by our parents think we “turned out OK.” Perhaps we did. But maybe we were lucky that our parents did other things, like talking with us about what behaviors they wanted to see us do in the future, that helped us develop self-control and make good behavior choices.

Of course, I see so many people say “I was spanked and I turned out okay” that I doubt the change will happen so fast.

It’s especially ludicrous to hear, on one hand, “They don’t let you spank these days and the kids are out of control,” but on the other hand read studies that say MOST parents still spank their kids.  Okay, so it’s more likely the kids who are out of control actually ARE spanked.   I’ve seen this for myself, a family where the kids were spanked and shamed and slapped over the back of their heads, but the kids still were out of control.

And well, I don’t actually see kids being any worse now than they were when I was a child.  Because yes, I still remember how we were.  I think people of my generation and older often have rose-colored glasses of how we acted.  But we were not angels, despite spanking at home and paddles in our principals’ desk drawers.

Just remember, back when harsh discipline was considered normal, what we had in the world: torture, Nazis, employers ordering troops to fire on their own striking Greek employees, burning or hanging people for being witches or heretics, racism, lynching, sexism, slavery, wars, military brutality (such as whipping for infractions), rape, murder, stealing, lying, piracy, etc. etc. etc.

Obviously, spanking children did not stop them from doing horrible things as adults.  These things did not suddenly appear in a world where spanking was banished.  And you can bet that the people performing these acts were spanked or otherwise hit as children.

Filmed in German and released as Das Weisse Band, Eine Deutsche Kindergeschichte, or The White Ribbon: A German Children’s Story, the film deals with a group of children who will become adults around the time of the rise of the Third Reich. This ‘children’s story’ seeks to discover what it was in German children’s background which may have caused them to support and assist the Nazi party when the time came – much the same questions, and conclusions, once offered by the late child psychologist Alice Miller, who drew a controversial connection between harsh child rearing methods and a tendency toward violence and the acceptance of tyranny. –Monica Reid, Twin Fascist Fables: The White Ribbon and The Childhood of a Leader

And also remember, today’s narcissists were probably spanked as children.  I know several of them who certainly were.  Sure didn’t drive the narcissism out of ’em.

Second:

And speaking of narcissists, more news on abusive ex Phil:

To recap, in the summer, I discovered that his own sister temporarily filed a restraining order against him.  I’ve also learned that she and his mother were involved in a lawsuit with him last year, with him as the plaintiff, though the details are not online.

From his Facebook profile, I learned that he was engaged.  His profile has been quiet ever since, and he did not respond to a question from me (simply “how are you”), though  I know he saw it.  But from hers I’ve learned all sorts of things:

She is around the same age as his controlling mother–whom, by the way, she writes that he finally broke free of about a year or two ago.  (Makes me wonder if she was a kind of replacement for his mother.)

She identifies as an empath.  (I don’t know if that’s a real thing or pseudoscience, but narc blogs commonly say that empaths attract narcissists.)  She believes in Christ, but also in various New Age things like astral projection.

(I’ve noted that Phil tends to have girlfriends who believe in New Age: One ex channeled a spirit in the middle of a makeout session.  I believed in Charismatic sign gifts and other psychic phenomena in those days.  Persephone is a Wiccan who’s written spell books, though in those days she told everyone she was Methodist.  Phil showed no sign of believing in such things himself, so I believe he looks for this in girlfriends as a sign of gullibility so they can be manipulated.  He manipulated my psychic beliefs severely, weaving a web of deception that lasted for many months.)

The engagement ended over the summer when she learned that he was diagnosed with Bipolar II and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (though Disorder is more likely, because he’s neither deformed nor retarded).

It was a mutual decision, because he hadn’t been taking his medication so his brain was heavily damaged; and under the influence of the disorder, he had turned manipulative and probably worse.  He has been in and out of a mental hospital on suicide watch for months.

She didn’t want to leave him, but neither did she want to be abused.  She was still supposed to stay in his life and support him–but then he cut her off.

She has been in a terrible state since then, very familiar as I was once there myself.  She has blamed it all on the diagnoses; sounds like there are several, though she only named two.  She has said that the real him wouldn’t hurt a fly, and that the disorder causes the bad behavior.

But there’s been a change recently.  She speaks of being blind, duped, used, of learning truths she didn’t know before he got sick.  (She’s also been posting memes and videos about narcissists.)  She talks as if she was more in love than he was, despite all the flowery words he told her once upon a time.  Flowery words which, by the way, he said to me some 24 years ago.  I can even tell you when, and what we were doing, because it’s in my memoir.  And her, she has a Facebook post which he wrote saying all those things.

I’m sad and hurt for her.  I’m angry at him.  I see it all happening all over again.  I remember my friends telling me what it was like seeing my relationship happen all over again with the girl he ended up legally marrying (1996-2007).

For a time, I thought he would change.  I thought this woman could do it.

I wondered if everything he did could be pinned on the FAS, if the real him was truly not responsible for the abuse, if he was truly Dr. Jekyll while Mr. Hyde was an illness beyond his control–but that could be eradicated by doctors.

I thought that because of the diagnoses and care of the doctors, which none of Phil’s exes ever had (he was diagnosed in 2010), Phil would finally turn away from his abusive behaviors.

But no.  Take this as a lesson to you: They simply don’t change.  They aren’t “different” with the next girlfriend.  She won’t “save” him.

And it isn’t your fault.  The abuse is not your fault.

It’s all his.

This is a lesson I, too, have been learning, trying to take it into my head and abolish all the lingering doubts, put there back when Phil insisted I was to blame for it all.

This knowledge is helping me to heal.  Hopefully it will help her as well.  She’s a sweet person who deserves much better than this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Struggling through waves of grief over Dad’s passing

My dad died last August.  I was at his bedside.  Then came the funeral, I went home, and it was back to my own life.

I had a lot to do: We had a cat in failing health peeing all over the basement, so every day I had to clean up after her multiple times.  The tub/surround desperately needed replacing, and that required contractors, lots of $$$, and a loan.  Hubby wanted me to deal with that, and it took some time.  I’m working on a novel that requires extensive research.  And of course, there’s typical life stuff: housework, kid’s school, church, club, etc.

In the midst of all that, a large group of obsessive trolls began stalking me on and off.

But now the tub is finally replaced, with beautiful new tiling.  The trolls lost interest.  The cat is, unfortunately, now passed, leaving me with much less work to do in a day.

And now my brain is starting to force the grief upon me.  I didn’t try to push it away before: I just had stuff to do and had to focus.  But for a long time, details of being by my dad’s bedside, and then losing my dad, were kept in a little spot in my brain, because they were too painful and disturbing.  But now the grief’s been coming out, over and over again.

At night, I sometimes dream about death.  Much of it is about my own mortality, the old fear arising yet again that death is truly the end, that the atheists are right and we go to nothingness.  The fear of the end of Me.

Just the other night (this was written March 25), I dreamed of someone whose eyes were forced open after he died (yeah, I know it’s usually the other way, but this was a dream).  Somebody said that brain waves continue after death unless your eyes are propped open: Then they stop.  This made me wonder if forcing the eyes open meant that you truly went to nothing, while before you still were alive someplace.  I wondered if forcing the eyes open meant interference, truly killing someone.  It freaked me out, and I woke up.

I dream about life slipping away, aging, faster and faster all the time, looking back and longing for youth.  I dream of my son’s life passing too fast.

Two months ago, I dreamed about my dad.  I wrote it down, and decided to use it in my novel.  I’m not sure if I want to write it here, or just let the world see the fictionalized version.  Maybe I already did write it here, but forgot.  But it was upsetting.

I constantly imagine the death of someone who has just died, whether in reality or fiction: not going to Heaven, but going to endless sleep.  I remember myself in surgery a couple of years ago, going up onto the table, then suddenly nothing until I woke up later on.  I imagine it being like that, but without waking up.

I remember details of my dad’s death.  I begin to whimper.  I remember he’s gone, that it’s all over.  I wonder if I will ever see him again, or if the afterlife is all just a fanciful dream we fool ourselves with.  (The atheists don’t seem to understand why we don’t find their version of death appealing or their message comforting.)  I could swear it was only just, say, my college years and he was driving me home for Christmas Break.  Or that I could still call him up on Father’s Day or his birthday.

I hear something or see something on TV that reminds me of my dad’s last hours, and it floods back.

Then I shake it off because I have to go on.

I recently told my husband something of this, because we just realized the cat was dying, and we were watching for the signs.  After checking the Internet to find out what they were, I realized she was probably in pain as well, but hiding it.  It reminded me of how my dad suffered, and watching for signs that he was about to leave us.  My husband said I needed a vacation.  Yet the house keeps needing to be cleaned, meals need to be cooked, bills need to be paid….While the grief and the mid-life crisis continue in the background….

 

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Reblog: DABDA | Grace for my Heart

A post which says that losing a relationship should be respected as a source of pain and grief, not just losing someone through death:

It’s Narcissist Friday!        Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance The stages of grief I have often felt that the death of a marriage should be considered as sad as the death of …

Source: David Orrison, DABDA | Grace for my Heart

 

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Experience makes my writing richer

The grief of a parent passing is not just my grief, but everyone’s.  There are exceptions, of course–parents who terrorized their kids, kids dying before their parents–but it is universal.

Going through this myself, has given me new insights and maturity.  It also has altered the novel I’m working on, the rewrite of Unwilling Time-Traveler.  In the rewrite, Bismarck’s father dies, but it was just a note here and there, explaining that Bismarck had just inherited the family estate.

But now, I had some grief and trauma from the bedside experience, which I wanted to purge somehow.  I wanted to write about it, but not as a blog post or in letters to friends.  Some things are just too disturbing for that, especially when it’s about your own loved one.

But here was a chance to put it into words, not about my own dad, but about a fictional character.  A way to portray those moments, but altered to fit a different family.

And in putting that into my book, I have also altered the plot again–now combining four characters into two, and turning things into a slightly different track and focus.  Now Bismarck’s brothers, who before were just bit players off to the side, are taking on a larger role, absorbing them into two other characters who were more prominent.  I’m excited to see how this will change the story.

Last fall sometime, I thought my story was done.  Turns out that was just one possibility for how the story could go.  At a recent writer’s club meeting, one of our published authors (traditional, not self!) noted that writers get stuck on a story having to go the way they’ve already written it.  But until it’s published, you can alter it any way you want to.  You can change scenes, cut scenes, alter characters, change the plot.

And my story–though the first version was fun to write–keeps changing as I come up with new ideas and focuses.  Bismarck used to be evil, but over time he’s become a flawed but well-meaning character.  Madge’s true love used to be Torsten, then became Scott–and now has become Bismarck himself.

I hold onto every version of my story, not just in case I change my mind and want to revert to an earlier one, but because those earlier versions were fun to write.  I may want to read them over again years from now.  But the one that ultimately gets sent to publishers–We won’t know how that’ll look until I finish it!

 

 

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The undercurrent of grief after Dad’s passing

One thing I’ve noted about grief after the death of a parent from disease, is that it’s different from a romantic or friendship breakup: There was no rejection.  It is acute, but in a different way.  I wonder at the lack of tears.

But then, I cried quite a bit the day of his death.  Not after, but before.  I knew it was coming, I was by his bedside, his breathing had become rough, and he was now in a comatose state.  His pain made me cry.  I couldn’t bear it.  Seeing my mom, his primary caregiver, worn out, made me cry.

I had hoped to spend all week spending time with him, watching TV with him since the lung cancer was taking his breath away.  But it took him so quickly that he was barely verbal the first couple of days I was there.  He’d been fighting two other forms of cancer but beating them.  Then the third was discovered, and the nurse gave him only a month.  He didn’t even last that long.  Even my brothers could barely stand it.

The first day I arrived, a Sunday, he could speak a little, and responded when we all surrounded his bedside.  He knew I was there.  The second, he managed to say a few intelligible sentences, though you could tell his mind was going.  The third, I don’t remember if he spoke at all.  The fourth, late in the evening, he left us.  As I told my mom, I didn’t have enough time.

Before he passed, I tried to still sort of spend time with him.  His bed was in the living room, so I turned on our old favorite shows, as a way to watch them “with” him.  He could barely attend to anything now, but Mom kept saying he could hear.

But the day he passed, as I heard his breathing, I began to break down.  But after he passed, I didn’t cry anymore.  Just once, on the way home after the funeral.  Maybe a few tears come to my eyes once in a while.

Maybe it’s because the pain is finally over for him.  Maybe it’s because we knew about this possibility for two years, as he battled the cancer.  Maybe it’s because the anniversaries haven’t started coming.

Well, actually, they have.  Remember how, after 9/11, we referred to it as “Tuesday,” before the first week passed?  It took a while before we called it 9/11 or September 11, because it had only just happened.  But we’d note it was Tuesday, or a week ago, or whatever.

Well, little things happen: I see it’s the same time of night that he passed.  Or I see the date written someplace.  Or I think, “It’s been a week.”  This evening, it’ll be two weeks.  Or I think, “The funeral was a week ago.”

I go about my day normally, attending to things normally, enjoying TV shows and such.  But then late at night, or first thing in the morning, I’ll remember.  Or a smell will bring it back.  Or last night, watching the premiere of Queen Sugar on OWN network, as their father died.

I can understand why men in WWII came home and didn’t want to speak of what happened.  You don’t want to remember the bad times.  You want to remember the good times.  You don’t want to remember the death, but the life.

And yes, I saw and heard things that were traumatizing.  I’ve told my husband, I’ve told a friend, and my family saw them too, but I haven’t spoken about them elsewhere.  I certainly haven’t written them here.

I just want to remember the good.  I want to remember the things which I wrote in Dad’s eulogy.

Pop Evil’s “Torn to Pieces” was based on real-life loss of a father:

 

 

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