About luckyotter

Recovering from C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse from childhood. I was married to a sociopathic narcissist for 20 years. Proud INFJ, Enneagram type 4w5. Animal lover, music lover, cat mom, unapologetic geek, fan of the absurd, progressive Christian, mom to 2 Millennials, mental illness stigma activist, passionate anti-Trumper. #RESISTANCE

Spooky trees.

SPOOKYTREES

 

This was taken looking up at a wooded area that had been partially clearcut to make room for an apartment complex (I took the picture from the parking lot, looking up a steep hill toward the forest).   New plants and shrubs hadn’t had a chance to take root in front of the trees, so you found yourself looking deep into the forest.  Behind the pale trunks the dark green depths appeared almost black.  Adding to the creepiness was the fact a thunderstorm was about to start.

ETA:  I iked this enough I decided to make it the new blog cover photo.   It was time for a change.

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Two kinds of stealth trolls

I think it’s relevant to post this again, since we spend so much time online these days. These are trolls that hide in the shadows. Be on guard against them.

Lucky Otters Haven

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In two earlier posts I wrote about online bullies and trolls (not exactly the same thing, but close enough). I won’t explain here how they differ and are the same (you can read the articles which I’ve posted links at the end of this article), but I neglected to mention stealth trolls. Stealth trolls seem benign, but can wreak havoc on web forums and social media. I will describe two types of stealth trolls. There are probably others.

The Concern Troll

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The Urban Dictionary defines a concern troll as:

A person who posts on a blog thread, in the guise of “concern,” to disrupt dialogue or undermine morale by pointing out that posters and/or the site may be getting themselves in trouble, usually with an authority or power. They point out problems that don’t really exist. The intent is to derail, stifle, control, the dialogue. It is viewed as insincere…

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I can’t tell the difference.

 

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Above is a photo from AP News showing Central American migrant families rounded up and contained by US armed guards.   According to the accompanying news story, the federal government is making plans to separate children from their parents (yes, they plan to continue and even increase this horrendous and cruel practice) and house the children in former army barracks.   They are also planning to cut off or reduce all supportive services to these children, including English language lessons, recreational programs, legal services (young children as young as two have already been forced to represent themselves in court), and other services such as mental health counseling — at a time when the children are traumatized by family separation and need it most.

Not cruel enough for you?  Oh, it gets even worse:  border patrol agents are being instructed to confiscate migrant childrens’ medicine.

The cruelty, as it’s been said, is the point.   This is what happens when a narcissistic sociopath and his same spectrum sycophants and henchmen consolidate power and inevitably, as they always do, choose scapegoats (always vulnerable or marginalized populations) on which to unleash their hatred.

The photograph shocked me.   All the photographs from our southern border are  shocking, but this one stood out to me because I was immediately reminded of the old black and white photos from Nazi Germany of SS guards rounding up Jewish families like cattle (and of course separating parents from children, a common practice by the Nazis, which was harrowingly depicted in the movie Sophie’s Choice when the title character played by Meryl Streep was forced to choose between her young daughter being taken away or losing both of her children). 

This is fascism, in case there’s any doubt.  We are living in a fascist state with a fascist leader, and just as in Nazi Germany,  most people are either too afraid or too apathetic to mobilize against it.   Or they’re in denial and don’t think it’s that big a threat.  Or…they approve of it (usually justifying it with callous comments such as “they shouldn’t have come here” or “it’s a deterrent.”)

Okay, fine.  Let’s say you don’t care about the fact these are mostly poor families who walked thousands of miles to escape certain death in their home countries (not the “rapists, drug dealers, and gangs” who find other ways to get in).   Even if the parents are culpable (which they aren’t),  what about the children?  Did they have any choice in the matter?

The Germans were exactly like us.   As with Trump, only about a third of the German people actually supported Hitler, while the other two thirds either didn’t believe there was a real threat or saw the threat but didn’t think there was anything they could do.   Only a few people, such as Sophie Scholl and her resistance group The White Rose Society, dared to speak truth to power.   Hitler and the Nazis would never have been able to rise to power or killed six million Jews (and other marginalized groups such as Gypsies, homosexuals, and the mentally deficient) had the German people believed the threat was real and mobilized to fight back against it.  They learned the hard way, and now it looks as if we may have to learn the hard way too, unless we mobilize and fight this evil right now.   We are running out of time.

I’m astonished and dismayed by how little mobilization against encroaching fascism there has been in this country.  How few protests and marches.  People just shrug their shoulders, turn off the news, and go on with their lives as if nothing has changed in the past two and a half years.   Even the British turned out by the millions to protest Trump last week during his visit to the UK, and he’s not even their president!   We should be ashamed of ourselves.  Why are we letting another country do our work for us?    Are we really just a bunch of sheep?  Are we really going to idly stand by and look the other way while children and their families are being tortured and allowed to languish and die in the American version of Nazi concentration camps?

Below are two groups of photographs, each group containing the above photograph rendered in black and white and placed next to similar photographs from Nazi Germany to emphasize the fact there is literally no difference in the plight of the captives.   I can honestly say I had trouble telling which photograph was the recent one.

If these photographs bother you, good. They should.

Can you tell the difference?

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Montage credit: Jackie Starke

Credit: Jackie Starke

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Montage credit: Jackie Starke

I’m glad my dad was spared this.

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my dad’s passing.  He died of complications due to advanced Parkinson’s.  He was 90.

Although I’m missing him today, a big part of me is glad he’s not here.   Although a lifelong Republican, he would have hated Trump.  I know it would break his heart to watch the country he saw rise out of the depression and WWII to become a prosperous world power and a nation the world admired collapse into rubble in the hands of the overgrown tangerine hued toddler in the White House.

 

If you’re suffering in these dark times.

ladyliberty

“Ever since he was elected, I can’t sleep, I can’t function, I cry all the time.  I can barely work. I want to ignore the news, but it’s always there, HE’s always there, always sucking me in like a black hole, and it’s destroying me.”

“Trump is destroying and dismantling everything near and dear to me.  I don’t know how much longer I can go on.  I’m back to smoking and drinking heavily because I don’t know what else I can do.  It just seems hopeless.  He has destroyed the future.” 

“Whenever I hear the stories and see the pictures of those poor migrant kids and their heartbroken families, I just want to scream.  What kind of society separates families?  What kind of society imprisons children who have done nothing wrong?   What kind of society makes it a FELONY to leave food and water for hungry, exhausted, and thirsty women and children who have walked thousands of miles to escape from certain death in their home countries?  A cruel, heartless, psychopathic society, that’s what.  I wish I could leave.” 

“I feel like I’m living in a nightmare that I can’t wake up from.”

“This isn’t my country anymore.  Women are being treated as second class citizens, or chattel.  I feel like my daughters have no future here.  We are seriously considering leaving for a country that respects women and girls instead of treating them like the Taliban treats their women.”

“I’m scared every day.  The anxiety and grief is relentless.” 

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ashamed to be an American. 

*****

These are actual quotes from people reacting to what’s happening in America under Dictator Trump.   What struck me about these comments is how eerily reminiscent they are of the sort of comments people who grew up with narcissistic parents or are in abusive relationships make.  The dynamics are identical;  what America is experiencing is simply narcissistic abuse on a very large scale.  The main difference is, it’s a lot easier to go “No Contact” with an abusive family.  Unless we are pretty well off financially or have family or close friends in other countries to help us get resettled, most of us can’t just up and leave.

In normal, civilized, democratic societies, politics doesn’t dominate people’s everyday lives.  Before Trump, I could ignore the news.  It usually bored me.  I had other, happier, interests.  People in functioning democracies have that luxury, and can focus on their families, friends, jobs, hobbies, educations, and other interests.

In failing states, and in dictatorships, politics dominates peoples’ lives because their very survival hangs on the day to day whims of their often cruel rulers, rulers who rarely make policies that benefit them and are very likely to make policies that outright hurt them.

There are four main ways people normally react to a formerly benign government being taken over by cruel dictatorship or other malevolent regime.  I have taken the liberty of borrowing Pete Walker’s “Four F’s” of C-PTSD, because what is happening to Americans is very much akin to C-PTSD and PTSD.   Even people who support Trump and his inhumane policies are analogous to the flying monkeys in a narcissistic family.  They cope by identifying with the abuser.  Some may be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.  Trump’s confidantes and high level enablers, of course, are also flying monkeys (and Trump’s “golden children”) and are probably on the narcissistic or psychopathic spectrum themselves.   The rest of us are the scapegoats or “forgotten children.”

So, without further ado, here are the four primary ways people in failing states and impending dictatorships (and abusive families) react to the trauma (and make no mistake, it is trauma):

1.  Sell out to the political system (abusive family) and meekly succumb to whatever new laws and restrictions, no matter how draconian and cruel, are forced on them (the Fawn or Fear reaction);  

2.  Flee to another country (No Contact) if they are able (the Flight reaction);

3.  Numb the soul and mind through alcohol or drugs (there’s a reason, besides their highly addictive properties, why the opiates are a huge crisis right now: people are trying to numb their psychic pain).  It’s also why alcoholism is so high in certain failed states and dictatorships, such as Russia, Belarus, and Hungary.   Some people don’t turn to drugs or alcohol to cope, but are able to just turn off their emotions and feel nothing anymore (Freeze/dissociative reaction)

4.  Refuse to normalize what is happening, even though not doing so makes one extremely vulnerable to great suffering, and an overwhelming sense of sadness, existential grief, stark terror, and other unpleasant emotions that are part and parcel of a serious existential threat.  However, this painful awareness also leaves one open to righteous anger, a galvanizing force which can be the catalyst to changing a dangerous and toxic political system.  (the Fight reaction).

This last group are the survivors.   They are the ones who, by facing the reality of the trauma inflicted on them by their government, are most likely to create positive change starting in their communities, and finally in their state, and even on the national or world scale.   They tend to be the young, the people whose future matters the most, and whose leaders have so callously failed them in favor of their own self interest.

emmarodriguez

Emma Rodriguez, a victim of the Parkland school shooting, stands in silence for six and a half minutes, with tears rolling down her face, to protest gun violence at last year’s March for Our Lives event.  It was an extremely powerful few moments for everyone who watched.

One only need to look at the Parkland school shooting survivors (especially Emma Rodriguez) to see how great suffering can lead to great courage and eventually to change.   The same can be said about 16 year old Swedish climate change activist, Greta Thunberg  (please watch this video), who has parlayed her terror about her own and her peers’ future into worldwide activism that has galvanized young people all over Europe to demand an end to the use of fossil fuels.  Not only that, the adult lawmakers are actually listening.

gretathunberg

So, if you are feeling a lot of emotional or mental pain right now, if you are grieving the America you knew when you were young, if you find yourself feeling terrified or close to tears, or angry much of the time, please know that these reactions don’t mean there’s something wrong with you.  On the contrary, they mean something’s very right with you, and you actually have an intact soul that is uncompromised by evil.    Once you begin to normalize the “new normal,” and accept it, that’s when your soul has begun to die.

Use mindfulness techniques, visualization, prayer, or seek counseling to deal with the unpleasant and painful emotions.  Mental health professionals say their caseload is WAY up since Trump became president.  Many of them, who tend to be politically liberal, are as upset and alarmed by this regime as their clients are, so they will be able to empathize and assure you that you are not the one with the problem, but reacting in a normal way to something that is abnormal.

Every time you feel the depression, fear, or rage crop up, remind yourself this isn’t bad: it just means you have an intact soul.  You just need to know what to do with those feelings.

Write about your feelings, like I do.  Write a protest song.  Sing!  Scream!  If you’re good at organizing and are fairly social, use your rage to plan a demonstration or a march in your community.   Write letters to your representatives.  Register people to vote, or volunteer to work on the campaign of a political candidate you admire.

Don’t forget you will need to replenish every so often and do unrelated things to take your mind off the political situation.  Balance is important.   If you need a day to rest, or go to a movie, or the beach, or just sleep in, don’t feel guilty.  Your body and mind needs these breaks to replenish so you can be more effective as someone who helps bring about change.

I also recommend reading Pete Walker’s helpful and easy to read book about C-PTSD, Complex C-PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving.   Because that’s what we’re dealing with under Trump and the sycophantic GOP.

*****

Further reading:

The Four F’s of C-PTSD

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving (book review)

12 Ways to Resist Without Losing Your Mind

Cher and cat.

One more blast from the past.

This is a wonderful picture of Cher and a black and white cutie in 1974 (I want that cat!).  The photograph was taken by Richard Avedon, who died in 2004.

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And good Lord, that cat looks like my Sheldon!

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Gestalt “prayer”

This quote by the famous gestalt psychologist, Fritz Perls, was very popular in the 1960s, but in this age of mind-everyone-else’s-business and judge-your-neighbor, it’s been almost forgotten.    I think it’s time to resurrect his sage advice about minding your own damned business.

perlsquote

 

Kitten love!

Here are two more pictures of Shadow (renamed from Blackashell, which just doesn’t roll off the tongue as easily).  It’s Shadow not only due to his color, but also because he’s very attached to me and follows me around like a…you guessed it…shadow!

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Judging by the size of his feet, he’s going to grow into a big boy!

Can you resist that face?

Happy World Otter Day!

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The Death of Democracy: Who’s behind it and why

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The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

As humankind marches relentlessly towards a profoundly uncertain future, there’s one political change most everyone agrees is likely to happen in the 21st century – the ultimate death of democracy.  Some insist that democracy was never a good idea, and that allowing ordinary people a voice in governance was foolhardy.  Some believe that democracy has outlived it usefulness, and that it is now insufficiently responsive to an increasingly complex world.  Even some supporters freely admit that the forces arrayed against democracy have become too powerful to resist.

Putting aside the value and effectiveness of democracy for a moment (we’ll get back to it later on in this post), let’s examine the four main challengers to democracy and their distinct motivations:

CONSERVATISM.  The philosophies of laissez-faire capitalism, Christian fundamentalism, and white nationalism, have coalesced into a generally unified political ideology throughout western societies…

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