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.

Also see:

Abusive ex Phil has a new bride

Is this why my ex Phil was so abusive?

So Phil, my abusive ex-husband, is back in the hospital

Abusive Ex: Blame it on him, not mental illness

 

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Repost from 2016: Healing from abuse by friend: “Our movie” no longer stings

Yet another milestone reached in healing my heart from the betrayal by my former best friend:

A few months ago, I DVR’d The Trial, a 1962 movie with Anthony Perkins and Orson Welles, based on Franz Kafka’s unfinished work of the same name.  I wanted to see it again, but I wondered how I’d take watching it again: My former best friend and I watched it–dang, nearly 9 years ago now–back when he lived with us.  We loved it, and it sort of felt like “our movie.”

You see, I don’t know how it is for neurotypicals, but I attach sentimental value to movies I see with close friends.  That movie now connects to them, no matter how many years have passed, especially if I saw it for the first time with them.  Such as Addams Family Values, which I saw in the theater with my best friend from high school.  Or Wayne’s World 2, which I saw with my college roommies, or Lord of the Rings, which I saw with several old college friends along with the Hubby.

I watched many movies with my former best friend while he lived with us and after he moved out.  I don’t remember them all, but the ones I do remember, have attached to him.  So I have avoided those movies ever since.

Last year, I watched The Apostle for the first time since 2008, when I saw it with Richard, my former best friend.  Then, too, I feared that it would twinge my heart to watch it, but no, it didn’t.  Same with many songs which attached to him back then; I hear them now and then on my favorite Goth webstream or in my MP3s, but they no longer twinge my heart.  They used to be so painful to hear that I didn’t listen to them for years after Richard–who turned out to be a narcissist–betrayed me.

I feared The Trial would hurt to watch, while at the same time looking forward to watching it.

(First I wanted to re-read the book, which I first read in 2010.  I then lent it to Richard, but the betrayal happened, so I got it back from him, and it was covered in spaghetti sauce.  I thought I cleaned it, but found yet another stain before reading it a few weeks ago.  Yet more evidence that he wasn’t the friend I thought he was: He didn’t even have consideration for my books.  😛  )

I feared it would hurt to read, but it didn’t at all.  I barely thought about Richard while reading it.  Then tonight I watched it and–no, no pain at all.  Well, other than the typical purist reaction to a favorite book being adapted into a movie and things getting changed.  I barely thought about Richard while watching, except to think, “Hey, it’s not painful after all.”

I guess time really does heal, even when you think the hurt is too deep.  Think of how it would feel to Sam if Frodo finally threw him over for good: That’s how deep the wound was for me.  Only to discover later that Richard apparently didn’t feel at all the same.

Of course, I don’t know if actually physically seeing him again would hurt like it did back in 2010 and 2011, when he came to my church.  Maybe, maybe not.  Probably not nearly as bad.

When I saw him back then, after a year of healing and recovering, I came home and bent over crying, then was plunged back into a deep depression.  So you see, this is why I haven’t wanted to see him at church again.  (I haven’t wanted to see his wife, either, but that’s because she’s probably the meanest person I’ve ever known.)

I have worried about this for years, especially when the hypothetical merger of my church with his, became reality earlier this year.  But I still haven’t seen him there, so I doubt he wants anything to do with my church.  So I don’t think I should worry and wonder about that possibility anymore.  Which would be good, because that worry has been gnawing at my stomach for years now.

There are several movies which I haven’t seen in about 9 years, since I saw them with him, even though they’re old favorites.  I have avoided them on purpose.  Maybe it’s time to pull them out again.

 

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Reflections on Emily Yoffe’s article: Why I keep perseverating on the abuse, and why forgiving the abusers may be unneeded: Repost from 2013

I originally posted this here in 2013: https://nyssashobbithole.com/main/refections-on-emily-yoffes-article-why-i-keep-perseverating-on-the-abuse-and-why-forgiving-the-abusers-may-be-unneeded/

Emily Yoffe recently wrote in The Debt: When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?:

Bruce Springsteen’s frustrated, depressive father took out much of his rage on his son.

In a New Yorker profile, David Remnick writes that long after Springsteen’s family had left his unhappy childhood home, he would obsessively drive by the old house.

A therapist said to him, “Something went wrong, and you keep going back to see if you can fix it or somehow make it right.”

Springsteen finally came to accept he couldn’t. When he became successful he did give his parents the money to buy their dream house.

But Springsteen says of this seeming reconciliation, “Of course, all the deeper things go unsaid, that it all could have been a little different.”

I get this.  This explains everything.  He kept driving past the old house because he wanted to fix it somehow.

This explains why my mind has had so much trouble closing the door on Richard and Tracy: Not only did their constant presence on my blog keep me mired in the past and their hard-heartedness, seeing all the proof I put up that they were abusive, but refusing to apologize and make it right–

–but I kept going back to the situation because I wanted to fix it somehow, make it right.

Figure out what happened.

Figure out if I had it pegged correctly or was way off.

Figure out if I could post just the right thing which would get Tracy to realize how badly she had treated and misjudged me.

More importantly, figure out if I could post just the right thing to get Richard to realize how badly he had treated a loyal and devoted friend who would have done anything for him.

Yoffe also writes:

In a 2008 essay in the journal In Character, history professor Wilfred McClay writes that as a society we have twisted the meaning of forgiveness into a therapeutic act for the victim:

“[F]orgiveness is in danger of being debased into a kind of cheap grace, a waiving of standards of justice without which such transactions have no meaning.”

Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor at the University of Chicago Divinity School, writes that,

“There is a watered-down but widespread form of ‘forgiveness’ best tagged preemptory or exculpatory forgiveness. That is, without any indication of regret or remorse from perpetrators of even the most heinous crimes, we are enjoined by many not to harden our hearts but rather to ‘forgive.’ ”

I agree with these more bracing views about what forgiveness should entail. Choosing not to forgive does not doom someone to being mired in the past forever. Accepting what happened and moving on is a good general principle.

But it can be comforting for those being browbeaten to absolve their parents to recognize that forgiveness works best as a mutual endeavor.

After all, many adult children of abusers have never heard a word of regret from their parent or parents. People who have the capacity to ruthlessly maltreat their children tend toward self-justification, not shame…..

It’s wonderful when there can be true reconciliation and healing, when all parties can feel the past has been somehow redeemed. But I don’t think Rochelle, Beatrice, and others like them should be hammered with lectures about the benefits of—here comes that dread word—closure.

Sometimes the best thing to do is just close the door.

How can I forgive someone who refuses to repent? who would continue to violate my boundaries of being left alone, if I hadn’t switched to self-hosted Wordpress and blocked them at the server level?

Even though my old blog is no longer maintained, and even though they are blocked from the new one, my abusers/stalkers continue to check my old blog at least every other day.  They know about the new blog, so I am quite certain they have tried to come here, but can’t get in.

The biblical passages on forgiveness seem to refer to, forgiving someone who has repented.  If my abuser refuses to admit to abusing me, how can I absolve her of it, treat her as if she never abused me?

Even a simple “hello” if I see her at church, would feel like soul murder.  How can I possibly do that?

I can, however, accept that she abused me, accept that she refuses to admit to it, and treat her as I would a rattlesnake. 

You don’t need to forgive the rattlesnake if it bites you; it’s doing what comes naturally, and would not be sorry for it.  You don’t say hello to a rattlesnake; you give it a wide berth and then run the heck away from it.

 

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Music’s Painful Associations: Repost from 2012

As I wrote a year and a half ago in Fighting the Darkness, there are a whole slew of songs and albums I couldn’t listen to after the friendship breakup with Richard, because they were too painful, reminded me too much of him.

Pretty much my entire Goth collection was included.  I listened to steampunk and rock/metal mostly, to get away from it for a while.

I can tell it’s getting better, though, because several months ago, I began listening to my Goth station on Pandora.com again, began listening to my collection again.

It’s still far too painful to listen to certain bands/songs, though: “Headhunter,” certain New Order songs, Sisters of Mercy, Dead Can Dance, and the Siouxsie and Birthday Massacre CDs which arrived and got “stuck” in the CD player while Richard lived with us.

But as for the rest–Going without my Goth music is like being in a desert for nearly two years, even with the new wonders of steampunk and the old familiarity of rock/metal.

I was starving, I was parched; I couldn’t go without it anymore.  I listen to my Wolfsheim MP3s as if I had been deprived of them for years.

The power of music to bring back memories, and the way music is filled with various associations from your own life–where you were when you listened to it, the friend who introduced it to you, what you were doing–this is well known and documented.

Unfortunately, it also means that old favorites start reminding you of things you can’t stand to remember, at least for now.

The most amazing part is discovering that losing a best friend is far more painful, with far longer-lasting pain, than breaking up with someone you were dating.  Maybe it’s because–even if you thought that person was the “One”–you soon realize that dating relationships usually end eventually.

A best friend is supposed to be forever.  They’re supposed to have your back no matter what; even if you move away, you can still friend them on Facebook or send them e-mails.  They’re supposed to be there to mend your heart when it’s broken.

They’re not supposed to turn into Judas, betraying you, throwing you to the dogs, and letting you get punished for a crime you did not commit, when they know d**n well that you’re innocent.  (I feel kinship with Ben-Hur on this as well.)  They’re not supposed to be convicted of strangling one of their kids.

While with ex-boyfriends etc., you eventually realize that couples just aren’t always meant to stay together forever, and you get past it.  It’s not a betrayal to break up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, and one day you may even be friends again.

But breaking up with a friend–that’s it.  You can’t “just be friends” because you already were friends and that ended.

I have to face the truth about Richard’s character, that it is not what I thought it was, that he is a terrible, horrible, abusive, malicious narcissist.

There’s no way to go back to this “friend” because of his lack of remorse for what he did to Jeff and me and (from what he wrote to me) for what he did to his kid…

…no hope anymore that he will change his ways…

…nothing but recollections so painful that I can’t listen to music that reminds me of him anymore.  Not even old favorites.

[Update 9/13/12: I always associated the song “Wings of a Butterfly” by HIM with Richard because it came out around the time we were becoming friends online/on the phone, and I downloaded and played it all the time then.  Right after it on my MP3 list was “Speed of Sound” by Coldplay, so the two became linked in my mind as well.  Today, “Speed of Sound” came on the radio, and I had to squeeze away the tears.]

As it turns out, music and religion both bring such powerful associations.  For many months, I could barely get through a church service without tears threatening to spill out of my eyes.  The word “mysteries” was just as painful as listening to one of the songs above….

Another blog post, Still, My Soul Be Still, also expresses the pain of songs associated with abusers.

Songs that express my feelings lately:


Godsmack–Whatever
And I don’t need your
Sh*t today
You’re pathetic
In your own way

I feel for you
Better fuckin’ go away
I will be here
Better fuckin’ go away

And I’m doing the best I ever did
I’m doing the best that I can
And I’m doing the best I ever did


Morrissey–Suedehead
Why do you come here
When you know it makes things hard for me?
When you know, oh
Why do you come?

It was because
Everything that I did
I wrote it down
On the wall
You had to sneak into my room
‘just’ to read my diary

Oh, it was just to see, just to see
(all the things you knew I’d written about you…)
And oh so many illustrations
Oh, but
I’m so very sickened
Oh, I am so sickened now


Mary J. Blige–No More Drama
NO MORE DRAMA
No more drama in my life
So tired, tired of this drama


Steve Taylor–Svengali
Oh, Svengali
Wide eyes mesmerize 
Ain’t he clever
Cry out oh Svengali


Whiteheart–Dr. Jekyll Mr. Christian
Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Christian,
It’s a mask you wear to hide,
You got a notion God’s a potion, and it works most every time,
Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Christian.

Experimented with your eyes just to get a bigger piece of pie,
I really think you do believe, yet you use religion to deceive,
So when it’s time for you-know-who you feel the change come over you.

Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Christian,
It’s a mask you wear to hide,
You got a notion God’s your potion, and it works most every time,
Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Christian,
What is faith?
What is a lie?
Don’t you know that, can’t you see that God is not your alibi?


Wolfsheim–Find You’re Gone
It seems I’m glad… I find you’re gone
I find you’re gone…
I find you’re gone…


Peter Heppner (of Wolfsheim)–I Hate You
You may think I will forget,
and that time will wash away all the things
you should regret.
But I will find a way:
do not think I can’t wait.
I hate you from the bottom of my heart.

I hate you.
I hate you from the bottom of my heart.
I hate you–
I’ll kick and I’ll break you,
and I won’t tear myself apart.
I hate you.
I hate you from the bottom of my heart,
of my heart.
You can’t make your words unsaid,

and no matter how much you ever try to make
me forget,


Shinedown–Bully
It’s 8 AM, this hell I’m in
Seems I’ve crossed a line again
For being nothing more than who I am
So break my bones and throw your stones
We all know that life ain’t fair
But there’s more of us we’re everywhere
We don’t have to take this back against the wall
We don’t have to take this we can end it all
All you’ll ever be is a faded memory of a bully
Make another joke while they hang another rope so lonely
Push them to the dirt till the words don’t hurt can you hear me
No one’s gonna cry on the very day you die you’re a bully


Sick Puppies–You’re Going Down
If it’s a fight I’m ready to go
I wouldn’t put my money on the other guy
If you know what I know that I know

It’s been a long time coming
And the tables’ turned around
Cause one of us is goin’
One of us is goin’ down
I’m not running, it’s a little different now
Cause one of us is goin’
One of us is goin’ down

 [Please comment on original post.  I opened it for people who want to discuss their own painful music associations.]

 

 

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