Category: recovery from abuse

Thought I’d recognize the 10-year-anniversary, but it slipped right by me.

July 1, 2010 is the day we felt forced to end the friendship with our narcissistic abusers, Richard and Tracy.  It was a trying day, when I was blasted with abuse by Tracy as she crowed about it on Facebook, while Richard betrayed me by never telling anyone the truth, instead deflecting all blame onto me.  Meanwhile, Tracy felt convinced she was right, when she was all wrong.

It felt like the end of the world. I couldn’t stop crying or my mind going over and over it. I felt like I wanted to die.

I struggled going to church, which only reminded me of Richard.  I struggled with sleep.  I struggled with getting up and going about my day.  I longed for my betrayer to apologize.  I longed for Tracy to finally recognize she was wrong and admit how she’d abused me.

The ten-year anniversary has passed.  On the one hand, wow has time flown by.  In many ways, 10 years ago feels like yesterday.  But on the other hand, that feels like a totally different world, like it was so long ago.

So long ago, in fact, that when the anniversary finally came, I forgot about it, and it passed.

But I still want to celebrate 10 years since we finally kicked Tracy to the curb.  She was the worst person I’ve ever known, and I’ve known some abusive a**holes.  She was racist, ableist, abusive, controlling, foul-mouthed, vicious.  She was no Christian, though she pretended to be one.  The entire time I knew her in person (and not just on the Internet), I struggled because I didn’t want to be around a bully like her, but felt forced into friendship with her whether I liked it or not.  Seriously, forcing somebody to be friends with you does nothing but create resentment.

And the fact that I did finally gather up the strength to cut her off, has given me more confidence in myself.  It has proven to me that I can trust my own instincts, even when other people tell me I’m being ridiculous.  This experience also taught me about narcissism and other Cluster B disorders, something I knew nothing about, before.  Without that knowledge, would I have recognized Trump for the monster he is, or tried to tell myself (like so many others–especially the news media–have done the past few years) that he isn’t really so bad as he appears?

This experience taught me that even the person I consider my best friend can be a narcissist, the telltale signs of it.  My subsequent friendships have been healthier, as I stay away from problem people and enforce boundaries.

I am much happier now, ten years later.

 

Reflections on healing from abuse in the past decade

So I picked up Sunday’s newspaper and saw what looked like Richard sitting at a training session in Madison for the 2020 Trump campaign.  It was blurry, so it was hard to be sure, and I couldn’t find the picture on the newspaper’s website to make certain.  But it sure looked like him–same size, same hair, same head shape, glasses–and had me thinking–

Well, I could say what I thought, but let’s just say I’m disgusted at the idea of him helping that potential antichrist get re-elected.

The end of the decade has me thinking a lot about the beginning of the decade, and how it’s gone so lightning-fast that 2010 might as well have been yesterday.  The events are still so clear in my head–Heck, the events of 2000 still feel like yesterday as well.  Two decades have just flown by so fast that I feel like I stepped into a time machine that suddenly aged me 20 years without me even feeling it.

That’s the thing that scares me about aging: that I’m going to blink my eyes and be 66.  Then I’ll blink again and be dead.  If I’m going to be 50 in several years, couldn’t it at least FEEL like it’s been 50 years, rather than maybe 25?  A century doesn’t sound so long anymore.

Things that happened in college are finally starting to feel like a Long Time Ago, at least.

But what a decade!  It feels like the late 90s and 00s were me starting to process and resolve what happened to me in college, along with a huge amount of religious questioning and revamping.

The 10s have been me processing and resolving the narcissistic abuse that Richard and his wife committed on me, along with the narc, emotional, verbal, and physical abuse I witnessed them commit on others including their own children.

In the midst of this, thanks to Facebook, I’ve discovered that my abusive ex’s behavior can all be blamed on his own diagnosed mental illnesses and narcissism–and NOT ME.

Then midway through the decade, we survivors of narcissistic abuse have been subjected to someone just like our abusers, becoming president–and this time we can’t escape the person or go No Contact.  So I suppose it wouldn’t be surprising if my abusers are now supporting this person who is really just like them.

Though it is surprising in a way, considering how Richard used to go on about freedom and human rights of immigrants etc.  Now he appears to be supporting a fascist who has a Nazi (Stephen Miller) advising him on immigration?

But this is yet another thing that helps resolve the abuse that happened at the end of the 00s.  In 2010, nearly 10 years ago now, I was in agony over whether we had done the right thing in breaking off relations with Richard and Tracy.  I was stuck in an endless loop of trying to remember what happened and figure out what was right, along with terrible grief because I thought Richard was my best and dearest friend.  Writing and blogging about it was the only way I could finally stop that loop; researching old e-mails and other things helped me clarify what exactly had happened and why I felt the way I did.

The first half of the decade, I longed for Richard to apologize and make things right so that we could be friends again.

Almost ten years later, I don’t feel that way anymore.

One reason for that is what was revealed about his and Tracy’s character during this decade.  There was Richard’s conviction for choking one of his kids.  There was the two of them stalking me online, complete with a threatening message sent through Facebook.  (They were both blocked, so they set up a fake account for the purpose.)  Then they stalked me in person as well for a while.  That stopped, and I’ve received no more messages, but to this day they stalk my blog.  They were just on it a few weeks ago.  That’s EIGHT YEARS of stalking my blog, as of next May.

EIGHT YEARS.

I even know where Tracy works these days because she reads my blog at her workplace.  Aren’t you supposed to be working and not stalking people at work?

There’s also learning how many ways my supposed “best friend’s” actions were anything but: the selfishness and lack of empathy, the mansplaining, the one-upmanship, the criticism and mocking, the mind games, the belief that he knew better than I did about *everything*.  And don’t forget the gaslighting whenever I called out some abuse he or Tracy had been doing.  And defending one of his friends after this person sexually harassed me, telling me I needed to “get over it.”

The only excuse I can come up with for putting up with Richard for so long, is that he had me under such a spell that I couldn’t recognize how badly he was treating me.  (He even told me he hypnotized me without my knowledge.)  I knew Tracy was abusing me, because she had no such spell over me.  But I kept missing how Richard himself was also abusing me.

Now, ten years later, it’s all so clear and easy to recognize that I’ve long since stopped wishing he would come to us to make things right.  Now, ten years later, I have a group of good friends online and off, who don’t make me cry all the time, or tell me I have to change myself to make them happy.  I’ve met so many good people that I no longer fear that the next person I befriend will be a secret narcissist.

Oh yeah, another thing just happened: A couple of weeks ago, I found a message Richard sent to me on a gaming forum.  It was in my old purse, which I was clearing out; back in 2008, I printed it out and put it there so I could tell the parish council his ideas on how to revitalize my church.  I never took it out, so forgot it was even there.  Now I read it, and found this in the second half:

And your friends [sic] husband just helped Satan seize complete control of this country.  The next time I pay taxes I will have killed a baby because your friends [sic] husband helped bring about that “change.”

Seriously, I do not want to hear about anyone who voted for Obama, supported Obama or whatever.  Obama is a murderer who supports murder, and anyone who voted for Obama is not an accomplice but a murderer as well.  Those who voted for someone who supports killing newborns, which is all a baby in a womb is newly introduced to life [sic], a “newborn” are murderers [sic], directly and indirectly.  I do not mean to sound mean but this issue is the most important.  God curses those who sacrifice their babies to idols, which selfishness is the worst idol of them all, and the lands of those who murder their own are usually decimated within a generation or two from those who did so, historically.  Well, that’s about another four to eight years from Roe vs. Wade, is it not?

(Check….Well, it’s been eleven years, and we’re not decimated yet.)

When I read this a couple of weeks ago, I decided to hold onto this unhinged rant as a reminder because it’s so nutty.  So my friends [sic] husband was a murderer because he voted for a Democrat–one under which the abortion rate dropped, I might add?

Republican policies drive abortion UP and into back alley butchery; Democrats try to solve the problems that lead to abortion, making the numbers go DOWN.  Republicans have been lying to us about abortion for many years.

As I ponder this, I think, “I thought he was more sane than that.”  But then I begin to remember the many insane far-right conspiracy theories I used to hear from him, how he turned away from Evangelicalism and yet still sounded like the extremist Evangelicals fighting in the religious right culture wars.  I remember how both he and Tracy used to go on and on about things that made me want to roll my eyes, all coming down to those wacky far-right “alternative facts” that I had already discovered were all lies.

This kind of thinking is one of the biggest reasons why I ran screaming from Evangelicalism all those years ago.  It’s one of the reasons why I turned away from the Republican Party and hated the TEA Party.

Meanwhile, Richard himself, after writing the above, nearly killed one of his own children a couple of years later.  He’d be in jail now but for a hand-slapping plea bargain.

Meanwhile, the same person who wrote the above, is he really supporting the worst person who has ever been called a US president–a criminal, a rapist, a serial liar, a wannabe dictator who is doing his best to dismantle everything that keeps this country a democracy?  A man who has been enabling our country’s enemies to destroy us, too, who looked the other way at Khashoggi’s murder?  A man who doesn’t care about children (and adults) being tortured and dying in concentration camps on the border?  A man who uses every narcissistic trick in the book to surround himself with butt-kissing sycophants and gaslight everyone in the country?  A man who my 90-year-old acquaintance recently said reminded her of Hitler?

Even “Anonymous,” the Trump administration official who wrote “A Warning” and who obviously is right-wing just the same, wrote that we in the Resistance are correct about why Trump does and says what he does.  There is no altruism in Trump; cruelty really is the point.

So was it Richard in the picture, possibly Tracy beside him, campaigning for Trump?  I keep looking at it and I’m almost certain it is.  It looks just like Richard, and certainly fits with what I know of their politics.  Anyone who actively supports the current Republican party (including during the days of Scott Walker) and Trump, anyone who actively campaigns for them, I don’t see how I can possibly have anything in common with such people.

Because these days, supporting the Republican Party means supporting evil and the demolition of our great democracy.  It means supporting racism, torture, mistreatment of immigrants, oppression of various minority groups, yanking food and health care and help away from the poor.  It means ignoring cries that someone has been sexually assaulted.  It means permitting persecution as long as your favored group commits it.  It means forcing women to carry babies to term even when they are at high risk of dying, or the father is her father, or they’ll be so poor they can’t even keep a roof over their heads, while doing absolutely nothing to help those women so they don’t see the need for abortions.  It also means that if the 15-year-old girl does carry the baby to term, she’ll now be seen as a bad sort of girl who (gasp) has had sex.

It makes me not want to hear about anyone who voted for Trump, or supported Trump or whatever.

Many of us are saying that we can now see and understand how Hitler took control of the hearts and conscience of the Germans, because we see it happening all over again in our friends, neighbors, and family.

So while it seems like July 1, 2010 was just yesterday, my grief on that day is long gone.  I’m out of the spell; I have no illusions anymore about Richard’s character.  And I’m glad of the decision we made then to break off relations with him and Tracy.

 

Cuddling, narcissistic recovery, and nonsexual affection:

I read a few posts over the weekend that I want to share.

The first is Where Are You in Recovery? on the One Mom’s Battle blog, a post written by Sandra L. Brown, MA, Director of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education at saferelationshipsmagazine.com.  The 2016 article written in 2016 addresses not just recovery from narcissistic abuse but the role of narc bloggers:

For instance, of course, one must disengage from the relationship, one needs pathology education to know what kind of relationship they are healing FROM, and one needs to recognize their symptoms of trauma in order to know what to work ON.  But these are first steps in what we consider the ‘early’ recovery level on the path to healing.  75% of survivors of narcissistic abuse develop a trauma disorder like Acute Stress, PTSD or CPTSD. Despite this, many and sometimes MOST survivors never get beyond early recovery.

In the past, I’ve been confused on whether I had PTSD or CPTSD, or if that’s supposed to be for, say, shooting survivors.  But this confirms that I most likely did have such a disorder.

The narcissistic abuse field is relatively young. Many survivors don’t realize that this field is only 11 years old. When you consider how long it took the domestic violence to get up to speed with their theories, and trainings, and therapists trained, 11 years is a drop in the bucket. The first information about narcissistic/psychopathic relationships and abuse was in the 1st Edition of my book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ (Sociopaths & Narcissists) in 2008. There has been theories to work out and research to do and treatment approaches to figure out. We are just getting around to a formalized therapist training in a Model of Care in 2019. There hasn’t been much in the way of trauma therapists that understood these relationships for treatment. But what has been prolific, is survivor’s manning-up with books, blogs, and social media.  Survivors have had to rely on other survivors in the absence of a trained psychology field.  …In the absence of a trained psychology field, most survivors find information in a blog or social media site and stay, never progressing to the next stage of recovery because of so few trained trauma therapists in pathological love relationships (PLRs).

So it’s no wonder that I never heard of narcissistic abuse before 2010, even though I knew the word “narcissist” (as in lover of self above all others) and knew a lot about abuse: The information just wasn’t out there yet because even the psychologists didn’t know much.  And we bloggers have been a crucial part of getting the word out and helping others, because we have firsthand experience with such people.  But so many of us are still “stuck” because, again, even the psychologists don’t know enough about it.

We also hear a lot about empaths and codependents.  Empaths sound kind of New-Agey to me, so I have cast that a wary eye.  Also, codependency seems to make YOU into the pathological one, as if you’re somehow to blame.  So this part was interesting:

A pathological relationship happened because of your personality trait elevations which are part of your hard-wired nature and are ‘targeted’ by pathological partners. Our research with Purdue University on your personality made that abundantly clear, that you have high-normal personality traits that are a perfect fit for a pathological partner. As opposed to what you may read, this is NOT simply about ‘empaths’ and ‘codependents.’ Those labels are not research.  The true research shows you have personality trait elevations BEYOND mere hyper-empathy (and over 60% of you did NOT test as codependent), that are impacting your risk factors called ‘Super Traits.’ Since your personality is hard-wired, and these traits are always targeted by pathological partners, it makes sense that you need to understand your own risk factors and how to guard those traits in the future. Once trauma symptoms are being consistently and successfully managed by you, education on your Super Traits is the next step of recovery.  A mental health professional works educationally with you about the researched and known personality traits and their FACETS that are known to be a risk factor in you. (If they are suggesting you are an empath, you are in the wrong place and they are not educated.)

…We can see that this level of recovery is necessary for prevention of future PLRs because your personality and its risk factors will always be with you. Without understanding HOW Super Traits work in your thinking, feeling, and behavior there is nothing to prevent another PLR when your personality tries to do what it has always done with incoming information and red flags.

One reason many of us are still “stuck” is the lack of trained help:

We are well aware of the scant few trauma therapists trained in PLR Recovery. An online course for their training is currently being developed and when done, will house a database of therapists trained in this Model of Care approach for your use. Survivortreatment.com

I don’t know anything about this institute, so I can’t recommend or endorse it.  However, I hope that this will turn out to be a breakthrough for survivors of narcissistic abuse.

Along with this, came two other blog posts which helped validate my experiences in narcissistic abuse.

The first was Dad Goes Off On Wife And In-Laws After They Tell Him To Stop Cuddling His Teenage Daughter.  He posted on Reddit to find out if he was the a**hole or not; the overwhelming response was that he was not, that there is nothing “sexual” or “inappropriate” about cuddling.  A similar conversation came up over on the Love Joy Feminism blog, when a post about a 19th-century book brought up the question of what was considered normal and platonic behavior and touching (such as cuddling or hugging or stroking hair).

Both conversations made it very clear that the common restrictive view on cuddling in America is neither the rule in the rest of the world, nor healthy.  Supposedly even Americans used to behave a lot more freely, before the 20th century, so when we read a 19th-century book on girls cuddling (or about Frodo and Sam holding hands) we think “OMG GAY” when it’s not.  And some–just as I have in the past–wondered if our lack of cuddling/other nonsexual touching is the reason why people in America have so many pathological issues (such as shooting up schools).

The Love Joy Feminism discussion also touched on the fact that modern Americans get hung up on the idea that close emotional connections must be romantic/sexual, so if two teenage girls become BFFs they start thinking they might be gay–when it’s just a normal, straight friendship.  Not knocking the fact that many people are actually gay or bisexual, but most people are not.

In my childhood, people saw demons and Satan everywhere; nowadays, they see sex everywhere.  Maybe this is also why people have gotten so hypervigilant about opposite-sex friendships, when 20 years ago, the common thinking seemed to be that opposite-sex friendships are normal and jealousy is bad.

Quotes from the comment section:

Single adults, definitely – one (bad) reason that people can end up desperate for a relationship, and cling to unhealthy ones, is that so many of us have a natural desire for touch and intimacy, and we’re only ‘allowed’ to have an outlet in romantic relationships.

 

Platonic yet intimate female relationships make my marriage work. Another reason society would be better if we stopped sexualizing all overt emotional expressions and physical affection. We all have different needs and to expect all those needs to be met by one person in our life is a tough order.

 

Because so many shows right now are really irritating me with that. We get connected to a character that identifies as straight, she gets a good friend, and boom they’re an item. Not every female magically becomes bisexual when they develop close intimate friendships with the same sex. In fact most don’t. I get that they’re trying to increase LGBTQ presence in the media, but it still seems to be developing as a titillating plot point. Not one that represents real life. Which is why they probably don’t do the same with males. Two females kissing is a fantasy for many adult males and that’s why they use it. It also confuses kids way more than helping them. I’ve actually had to help my youngest understand that just because she notices how attractive a girl is doesn’t make her gay or bi. It’s not that I care if she was but she’s not. And some of her friends have actually made fun of her for being supportive of her female friends. Like she’s not allowed to be complimentary or something unless she’s gay.

 

Oh my gosh yes. That’s my only real pet peeve with the increase in LGBTQ relationships on TV. It seems with girls (and only girls, never boys) that once a certain level of intimacy sets in, they evolve to a romantic relationship. And that’s just not accurate in real life. I actually am quite affectionate with my best friend both verbally and even physically. Lots of hugs, lots of I love you’s, etc. My youngest daughter has the same type of relationship with her best friend. Always remarking how cute she is, how much she cares, lots of physical affection. Right now they are both in fits because they have no classes together next year. They’re both straight though. Emotionally intimacy and general physical affection is a lovely thing IMO. Not everything has to be seen through the lens of sexual attraction.

Quotes from the Reddit thread:

This is a result of America’s puritan bullshit and had actually led to “cuddle starvation” across the nation. Look it up. It basically means that people become depressed because of a lack of cuddling and affection since we reserve it for romance.

 

Let me guess, you’re American? Americans always sexualize things that have nothing to do with sex. Why the hell should a daughter not be alowed to cuddle her father if she wants to?!

 

Also sleeping on people while watching a movie is just one of the best feelings in the world. I do it with close friends regardless of gender (and am somewhat well known for my inability to stay away during movies). Ive fallen asleep with my head in a cousins lap during many a post thanksgiving meal football game. If you’re both comfortable with it – why would it be weird?

 

I hate to bring up the concept of “Toxic Masculinity” everywhere but this is a pretty textbook case of the inlaws trying to push it I think. This disgusting idea that men shouldn’t be affectionate is so goddamn damaging on both an individual and wider scale, and sadly we’re still in the stage where normalizing touching and all that is a fight.

I don’t want to rehash why this last part is especially meaningful for me, but longtime readers of my blog will know.  Basically, I have had my motives maligned and sweet, beautiful, platonic expressions of affection turned dirty, and it was very psychologically and emotionally damaging–and abusive.  For a time I had begun to open myself up to others more with physical affection, but this scared me back into my shell.  Meanwhile, I see others do the same thing with friends, or here online I read about them doing that, and it’s okay for them to do it!

But these three blog posts have been very comforting for me the past few days.  And in the current state of the world, comfort is good where you can find it.

 

Abusive Ex: Blame it on him, not mental illness

I previously wrote about this here, here, here and here.  New information has come to light to explain a few mysteries.  I intend to put the contents of this post at the end of the “Epilogue” chapter in my college memoirs.

If you’ve read the previous posts, you can skip the next few paragraphs.

In summary:

My abusive ex Phil–who manipulated, controlled, emotionally and sexually abused, and sexually assaulted me back in college–has mental illness.

I was his first wife, not legally but spiritually; this only lasted for several months, until he tired of me, having blamed me for his behaviors.  Because it was not legal, he had no trouble breaking it off and then moving on to someone else immediately.  (We’re talking maybe a week later.)

Then his next, legal marriage, only lasted for about ten years, ending 12 years ago.  In all those years since, he has not remarried–but was about to in July of 2018.  In those years since, we also became somewhat friendly again, with apologies exchanged, and communication via social media.  So I learned about his new fiancée through his Facebook.

But the following August, she revealed that Phil is severely mentally ill.  She said he has Bipolar II, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and other disorders which she did not name.

Her description of him as “wouldn’t hurt a fly,” and her friends’ descriptions of him as this wonderful human being, threw me for a loop because of how he treated me.  But she was beginning to see that “other Phil” that I had known–and said the illnesses were to blame.

They broke up; she said it was a combination of her not wanting to be treated the way the “other Phil” treated her, and him wanting to deal with his mental illnesses on his own.  She said he was on suicide watch.  She was supposed to be there as his friend, but then he “ghosted” her and she felt hurt.

New information:

Well, now she has revealed something else.  I’m not sure when she found out about it (November?), but recently she began posting memes about narcissism, liars, and the kind of man who has a string of “soulmates” who they wooed in the same ways with the same words–then tossed aside when they got bored.

(Some time ago, she re-posted a Facebook post he made about her: He listed all the things he loved about her.  The wording was the same as a list he made of all the things he loved about me.)

As she put it, he “checked out” months before August 2018, with “promiscuity” that put her “health at risk.”

So he cheated on her.  (I wonder if he still believes birth control is evil?)  Even this one, could not tame his inner beast.  Even this one, he tired of and threw away.  If she could not, then no one could.  She no longer speaks of his mental illnesses being to blame for his bad behavior.

And I can’t say I’m overly surprised: This same guy told me he wouldn’t be able to control himself over the summer if I went back home without him, which is one reason why I wanted him to stay with me at my parents’ house.  This guy would praise the physical attributes of every girl he saw out of the house, and every woman he saw on TV inside the house, and say he wanted to take them into the back of his van–then call me possessive or jealous for being upset.  This guy would tell me he wanted a harem, and which girls he wanted in it (including his brother’s fiancée), and then call me jealous.  But when I found myself falling for a nice guy in my friend-group, Phil became enraged with jealousy and then tried to force me into confessing my little crush to the guy.

If even Doris was not enough for him, then nobody can be.  If even she no longer excuses his behavior because of mental illness, then I have no reason to.  Earlier I wondered if a person with Bipolar and FAS can be excused for abusing and otherwise mistreating another, because that “isn’t really him.”  But it was really him.  It’s not just an illness, but Phil’s character.  Phil is a narcissist and to blame for what he did to me.

It also says that I am not to blame.  I still get little “time bombs” going off in my head when I hear or read something that reminds me of Phil saying I did something bad.  I start thinking, Was I really the one in the wrong?  But this tells me there’s no way I could have brought better treatment on myself from him.  Now there is somebody else, without my input, coming to the conclusion that he is a narcissist.  He hurt somebody else even while she still thought he was wonderful.

 

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

 

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.

 

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.]