Statement by a Christian minister.

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Things are getting really scary.

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There’s a reason why I haven’t posted in so long.   My PTSD is at full bore and I can’t focus. I can’t write because my ability to concentrate is shot.   I seem less able to cope with problems as they come up.  I feel constantly on edge.   My anxiety is unrelenting; it keeps me up at night and darkens my days.  I’m often on the verge of tears, and frequently close to white hot rage.    Getting through each day feels like a herculean accomplishment, but there’s no attendant pleasure in a job well done.   Life is more burdensome and the future seems very dark.

There have been problems involving my daughter and addiction again.  That’s bad enough, but I’d be able to cope with that more easily if my country wasn’t collapsing into so much rubble.   Lately, the destruction seems to be accelerating and the things that are happening are becoming more nightmarish and blatantly oppressive.  America has become a place I no longer recognize.

It’s not just Trump.   It’s the fascist patriarchy the Trumpian-retooled GOP has become.  Because of Trump, it has become a party run by a group of  all-white, almost exclusively male sociopaths who despise people of color, non-Christians, Democrats, LGBTQ, migrant children — and women.   Perhaps women most of all.   Their misogyny seems to have no bottom.

The slew of abortion bans attempting to overturn a law that has been in place for 46 years is clear evidence of how much this group hates women.    I don’t care how you feel about abortion, or what your religious views are, the federal government has no business making rules about what should be a personal decision between a woman and her doctor (and in some cases her husband or partner).    The fact that two states made no exceptions for rape and incest, even if it’s a child raped by a relative, proves to me the patriarchy cares nothing about preserving life, or about a woman’s emotional or physical health, but about oppressing women and girls.    The GOP is reminding me more and more of the Taliban.    How much longer until they start making laws mandating restrictive clothing?  How much longer until we are told what we can own and how much money we can have?   How much longer until we lose our right to vote?

The hypocrisy of these men (and a few women) is astounding.  This group is anything but pro-life, judging by their callous and cruel treatment of migrant families and children, their blithe lack of concern about the endless school shootings, their neverending attempts to take away our healthcare (including making pregnancy and even just being a woman a preexisting condition), their contempt for laws that protect our environment, and their unmitigated greed, hunger for power, and lack of empathy.

This is why our founding fathers wrote the separation of church and state into the Constitution.  Mixing religion and government never leads to anything good.  It corrupts both, and theocracies are without exception violent, hellish places to live, especially for women and people who deviate from the governing religion.  One only needs to look at some of the Middle Eastern countries or medieval Europe to see how bad things can get.  Here in America today, we have a group of fundamentalist evangelical Christians who have way too much power and who wish to replace the Constitution with biblical law.  They appear to be succeeding in their efforts so far.  Such an outcome seemed unthinkable at the time of Trump’s election.

We are falling behind other developed nations in every way.   As they move forward into the future, we are becoming an oppressive backwater, a country resembling a repressive Middle Eastern theocracy or a violent banana republic more than a forward looking democracy.    There’s been an uptick in police brutality, and no one does anything about it.   We have a president who chose an attorney general to be his personal lawyer and “fixer” instead of representing the People.  Trump stomps all over our Constitution and the rule of law.  He and his sycophants break the law on a daily basis and are never held accountable.     There are no checks and balances anymore, and the Democratic Congress seems weak and ineffectual, unable or unwilling to contain Trump’s destructive impulses.

No one wants to come here anymore.   On social media, I have heard people from other countries say they have cancelled trips to America because they are too afraid.  I don’t blame them.   There is much to be afraid of.   People who are able to are leaving, especially the young, who rightly see no future here.

I have a terrible feeling about where this country is going that I will leave unsaid.  But I think anyone who is awake and aware sees what’s coming.

We ar running out of time.  We must rise up because no one is coming to save us.    If we don’t, we are complicit in our own destruction.

America will not climb out of the anti-science hole it is jumping into

This is a depressing article. But I’m reblogging it because it must be said.

Please leave comments on the original post.

The Secular Jurist

By Robert A. Vella

There is a quiet movement afoot in America and perhaps other western countries which no democratic society could withstand should it propagate much further.  It might even pose a more problematic existential threat to modern civilization than the current ones we face – rising populist angst, anthropogenic climate change, and war.  This movement is rooted deep within our human psyche.  It feeds off our dissatisfaction and distrust of authority.  It is fertilized by our fragile and insatiable egos.  It is often cultivated by disingenuous interests.  It is our growing predilection for anti-intellectualism;  and, more specifically, our increasing antipathy and animosity towards science.

One might assume I am referring to political conservatism, religious orthodoxy, and other doctrinaire ideologies which assert their own precepts as paramount.  One might also assume I’m referring to pragmatic reactionary movements typified by the technophobic attitudes of Neo-Luddism.  But, those assumptions would…

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Pictures from Tampa and Clearwater (4/20/19 – 4/28/19)

I took fewer photos than I have on earlier trips to see my son in Florida, but that was fine because I actually got more time to spend with him, and I just wanted to enjoy our time together.

Here are the pictures I did take during my week there.  We both had a fantastic time.

Tampa River Walk, Tampa.   I took these on April 20, the first night I was there, after the 12 hour long car ride.   These were taken just before, during, and just after sunset. I was sore from the car ride but still managed to walk quite a bit.  It was definitely worth it!

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I’m the one in the gray sneakers. 

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Clearwater Beach

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Sign greeting me in my hotel room.  The beachy decor was adorable.

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The surf was rough on this day (4/24) due to storms in the area, so there were few people swimming,  and there was a rip current warning.  The waves were very high for the Gulf.

I will never get enough of those Clearwater sunsets:

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Anclote Key sandbar (via boat ride from Tarpon Springs):

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The photo doesn’t do this justice.  Anclote Key is a state park and camping area, accessible only by boat, about 4 miles out in the Gulf of Mexico.  It is very remote.  The sand is as white as snow, and is almost blinding in the sun.  The many tidal pools are filled with shells and hermit crabs.

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My son took these two photos of the seabirds at Anclote.  This post wouldn’t be complete without them.

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Dessert at Hellenas Greek Bakery, Tarpon Springs.

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A beautiful day in the Blue Ridge mountains.

I took a nice long drive today to one of my very favorite spots, in Sunburst, NC.   There is a campground there, an actual swimming hole (which I posted about last summer), and the most beautiful scenery you could ever ask for.

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Closeup of the running water and moss

 

Further reading:

Day Trip to Sunburst, NC  (if you’re a butterfly fan, you will want to take a look)

 

Why aren’t we flooding the streets to protest this presidency?

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Thousands of protesters flood the streets of Seoul, South Korea in a candlelight march to demand the removal of their despotic president on November 19, 2016.   They succeeded.

In America in 2019, no one is doing much of anything to protest or resist a despotic, sociopathic president who is a clear and present danger to democracy and the rule of law as we have always known it.   We are in grave danger of becoming a totalitarian, fascist regime with the loss of all our rights and protections, and yet are content to sit on our couches and tweet our discontent or just blithely go about our business as if everything is normal.

Why is that so?

There are many, many more of us than them.  The power is in our hands.  It always has been.  All we have to do is use it, as South Korea did in 2016 to remove their despotic president, and many other countries have done (even countries where speaking against the government is a crime), and yet we don’t.   Why not?

Sometimes I’m most clearheaded very early in the morning, before my head gets filled with the garbage of daily life.   I answered my own question upon waking up this morning.   I decided to post my thoughts on Twitter in a series of threaded tweets.  To my surprise, my thread went viral, with many retweets and hundreds of comments I am still trying to reply to.    It seems that my early morning musings hit a nerve, so I decided to post it here too.

Feel free to share your thoughts.

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My backyard just got a lot bigger and more interesting.

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Pioneer plants and grasses are beginning to overtake the bare ground the removal of the blackberry brambles left in its wake.

I’ve been living in this 1908 farmhouse since 2012 (yes, it’s really 111 years old!).  Until earlier this year, the backyard sloped down rather steeply and seemed to end with a very thick, overgrown patch of blackberry bushes, that alas, never produced any edible blackberries (grrrr!) and had become an unmanageable tangle of brambles that had become invasive and made the grass at the base of the slope very difficult to mow.

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Another view.

It all started with a lost septic tank.

When our septic system needed to be pumped last fall no one knew where the septic tank was at first.  It hadn’t been pumped in at least ten years!   In fact, when I moved in I mistakenly thought we were on the city sewer system, but when I began getting strange odors coming from the sinks, bathtub and toilet, and finally some kind of brown sludge coming up through the drains, I made an emergency call to my landlord and he arranged for the system to be pumped.  But first they’d need to look for it, because even he couldn’t remember where it was located.

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Lots of snakelike roots and hanging vines.

Well, they finally found it.  It was located under the blackberry brambles, so all of them had to be removed, leaving a large, mudpit shot through with thick roots that gave the entire back of my yard the appearance of a giant snake pit.  But I was shocked at how much more space there was too.   The land behind the brambles went back pretty far, down into a ditch far below that may or may not contain a small stream.    It turns out, all that land belongs to this property.

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There’s a fallen tree that goes way off into the distance, though it’s hard to see the other end.

I did nothing to clean up the area, other than toss some grass seed on the dried mud.  Now it’s May and nature is taking over again.  New plants and tufts of tall grass are growing lushly and there are even pioneer trees and shrubs beginning to take over the once bare soil and cover the sinuous roots.

Thinking like my cat.

My imagination went a little crazy.  I thought about my tuxedo cat Sheldon quietly slithering into the natural nooks and crannies in the trees and shrubs, and all the secret cat trails he has probably discovered, where he finds heaven knows what.   I imagined being a cat, and in my mind’s eye I saw trails leading off into the dark woods beyond, even though there don’t appear to be any there right now.  Maybe we can bushwack some of the shrubs and vines and make a trail, even though in all likelihood any trail we create would lead to nowhere more interesting than the newish housing development there behind the trees, much of which can be seen in winter when the trees are bare.

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I always have loved the golden light of late afternoon and early evening.

 

An abandoned school in Ruskin, Florida: a detour.

I was reminded of Easter Day this year.  It was my first full day in Florida after arriving there the night before.  We had gone to visit my son’s partner Josh’s family in a place called Ruskin, which is just south of Tampa.

There’s not much going on in Ruskin, Florida, but across the road from Josh’s mom’s comfortable doublewide where we spent the entire day eating a motley assortment of potluck dishes as though it were Thanksgiving (and getting just as sleepy later), are several trails that go off into the woods for quite a long distance, but all wind up in the same place:  an old abandoned school that burned down sometime in the 1970s.

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My son and a friend after gorging on potluck Easter dishes all day.

No one knows if the fire was an accident or arson, or if anyone died in the fire, but seeing the darkened red brick and yellowed concrete walls of the old school (there are only three walls left standing and two of them are crumbling) suddenly emerge out from the junglelike brush and Floridian forest plants, was a rather spooky (but cool) experience.

I didn’t take photos, because my son was taking better photos on his more expensive and much better camera.   It was nice to have my hands free so I could swat the hundreds of mosquitoes that swarmed around me and were happily dining on both my arms and my hands.   I finally resorted to waving my arms around wildly to ward off the clouds of mosquitoes, but the next day both my arms were covered in itchy red welts.  I’m glad I had the presence of mind to wear long pants and sneakers, rather than shorts and flip flops, like two of the people who accompanied us did.

Although I didn’t take pictures of the school ruins, a friend of my son’s did — on Christmas Day of all times.    My son was along for that hike too.   There’s also a video of his friend jumping (and almost falling into) a creek, but I’ll spare you that.   I guess that’s what people do in Florida on Christmas – they go hiking and hunt for old ruins in the woods.   We made the same hike on Easter.    That seems significant.   So here are four photographs of what they saw on their Christmas hike, and that’s pretty much the same thing we saw on our Easter hike.

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Credit for the above photos:  Tahoe Wolf  Ⓒ 2018

Back at home.

So, getting back to my newly opened up backyard.    It’s kind of ugly still, and there probably aren’t any interesting old ruins from decades ago, but it has promise.  There’s more there to explore, and over time, it will become more eyecatching as the patchy almost bare ground becomes covered with new plants and flowers.  I might toss some wildflower seed down there to help it along.

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Looking back up the hill at the burned out hulk of the apartment building that partially burned down in late January and killed a woman who was trapped inside (I posted about this and included a video of the fire I took on my phone that got used on the local news).

I’m sorry that I have no “before” pictures of the blackberry brambles that were blocking our access to anything beyond (and hiding our septic system), but frankly, they weren’t that attractive anyway.

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This is the ugliest angle of my house.  This was taken looking back up the hill at its backside, which is devoid of shutters, has old ladders and other junk propped up against it, and the grass is way overdue for a mow.   Still, I liked the juxtaposition of the stark white against the deep green and blue sky.

Guest Post: How Addiction Leads to Personality Disorders

How Addiction Leads to Personality Disorders
By Sharon Torres

Personality disorders such as narcissism and sociopathy are often blamed upon the nature vs. nurture model. When people’s brains are wired to have these kinds of problems and it is coupled with childhood trauma, these are possible causes of having a psychological disorder.

However, there is another side of the story where personality disorders don’t just come from childhood trauma nor a natural brain wiring–it comes with the development of an addiction. I hope that my experience with being in a relationship with someone who is suffering from both addiction and a personality disorder will provide you with insight into how one caused the other and vice versa.

My story of narcissistic abuse

I was a naive girl in college back in my home country. I always dreamed of having a perfect relationship so I kept myself free from exclusively dating unless I was certain. My cousin then invited me to a social ball at this college, and this is where I met my dashing, charming, ex-boyfriend.

My ex was a senior of my cousin, so he was required to introduce me as his partner in the social ball. This young and handsome bachelor was known among his batch mates and he was known as the heartthrob of his class. This is where it began–after the party, he added me on Facebook which was to my surprise! I wasn’t even able to take a hint that he noticed me.

After hours and days of talking, the friendship quickly grew to something romantic. Looking back, I believe it was the love bombing phase in our relationship. Since he knew that I took the bait, he was eager to win me.

This romantic phase turned sour when we eventually became a couple after 3 months. I started to feel neglected, and I discovered something he had hidden from me throughout that getting-to-know-you phase–he had a drinking problem! Still, my rose-colored glasses stayed on. I was determined to “change” him and make our relationship better.

Little did I know that those hopes were just that–mere hopes. He was deep in denial of his drinking problem, and when he had fits of rage he would say things that he didn’t mean. He would threaten to break up with me, curse me, suddenly stop responding to my calls, blaming me as being too “controlling.” He would even talk to other girls just to show that I was easily dispensable. Being naive as I was, I thought that these were normal relationship conflicts. I took the verbal and emotional abuse as though it was something that I should work on. When he was sober, he would lure me in again through his sweet words and coaxing. The pattern repeated itself again and again, which ultimately tore my self-esteem.

My relationship with my ex was full of heartache and pain, until one day, I chose to free myself from this vicious cycle. It took me one whole year to finally get away from this narcissistic abuse after months of hoovering and questioning my decision. Needless to say, I do not regret my decision. I am happily married now to another man, and the difference was clear as day. Looking back, I realized how one’s personality can change due to having an addiction problem.

Why is addiction linked to personality disorders?

Addiction of any kind, whether it is drugs, alcohol, or other substances, can affect a person’s physical, mental, and emotional state. The addictive component found in these substances changes the brain’s wiring through continued use. In the case of alcoholism, the brain is led to the release of endorphins, which are the natural feel-good hormones of the brain.

The problem with continued, increasing use of these substances is that it quickly escalates from tolerance into dependence. When the brain and body are dependent on drugs and alcohol, functioning without it becomes a disaster–this causes the multitudes of withdrawal symptoms, anxiety, distress, and the dreaded changes in personality.

According to several Colorado addiction resources, a person who is addicted to substances may show one or more of the following traits:

Impatience. When a person suffers from substance use, it is their source of comfort and gratification. Without it, they may often find themselves having an attitude of impatience. They are impatient towards their partners, become unreasonably demanding towards others, or may show fits of rage because of their inability to wait.

Easily aggravated. Anger is another issue that may often appear due to substance use. When the body is largely dependent on drugs or alcohol, it may easily suffer from physical symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, cramping, or fevers. Additionally, it can also affect the person’s mood because of the many discomforts without the substance.

Impulsive. When combined with being easily aggravated, people who suffer from substance abuse and personality disorders tend to say or do things that they may regret later. They are prone to getting in physical fights, reckless driving, having multiple partners, or doing other dangerous acts that could affect them or their loved ones.

Manipulative
Manipulation is one of the hallmarks of personality disorders such as sociopathy and psychopathy. People who are highly manipulative will do anything to get what they want–without a sense of morality of their means to get there. In the same way, people with addictions can use other people and situations to their advantage, and this is because they need the immediate pleasure of consuming the substances they need.

Abusive. Abuse is not just through physical means. They can also involve verbal and emotional abuse, which are hard to determine especially if you are blindsided in your relationships. Most people who suffer from personality disorders along with substance abuse will use rudeness, cursing, and other forms of hurtful words at their peak of anger. A steady, loving relationship ensues respect from one another–and although conflicts are bound to happen, it does not involve hurting each other physically or through words. If you are a victim of abuse, seek help right away.

It is important to understand that people suffer from personality disorders due to their genetic or familial predisposition to them, from an abusive or neglectful early childhood, or from other early trauma. They learn that using substances make them feel “in control” of their disorder. In the same way, people also develop personality disorders due to continued substance use. It is a two-way cycle that exacerbates and increases the risk for both.

If you feel like a loved one is suffering from a personality disorder coupled with substance abuse, there are addiction resources to help them out. They offer medical treatment, counseling, and lifestyle rehabilitation to help them take a shot at recovery and to manage their personality disorders.

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Sharon Torres is a freelance writer who is chronicling her experiences through this thing called life. She believes that if you always move forward in life then there is no need to look back. Her favorite writer is Phillip K. Dick.

Visit Sharon’s blog at: http://sharontorreswriter.blogspot.com/

Family problems.

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I thought I’d return from Florida well rested and ready to tackle real life again.   I did have a wonderful, relaxing time and got to spend a good bit of it with my son, unlike other trips there, when he had to work most of the time.

Since returning, my daughter and her husband seem to be coming after me for blood.   I’m too emotionally distraught right now to even go into much detail about what happened, but in a nutshell, she is gaslighting me and lying about things I did/said, making me out to be a terrible, selfish person who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but myself and prefers my son over her.

This started well before I left for my trip.   I pushed it on the back burner, but her behavior lately has been bothering me.  It reminds me very much of her father’s abusive behavior before I finally had enough and made him leave the house five years ago.     She has been calling me terrible names, saying I said things or did things I never said  or did, and calling me narcissistic and “clinically insane.”    She thinks I’m crazy because I sometimes am critical of her or tell her I don’t like the names she is calling me.   In other words, reacting like a normal person does when attacked.   She’s gaslighting me.   I told her to stop, for whatever good that does.  She insists it’s not gaslighting.  Instead she flips it around and accuses me of gaslighting her.

It seems she is projecting onto me, and became a narcissist or some facsimile of one when I was not looking.  Her husband, who seemed sweet to me at first, has become quite cold toward me.   I think she has turned him against me.

We share a crowded house, and I don’t earn enough to pay all the bills on my own (and am too old to take a second job, nor should I have to take a second job!) but she angrily attacked me this morning for “being a bitch” to her,  and said she would no longer pay any rent to me because of that.

She says she needs to save money to move out.   That would be perfectly reasonable under other circumstances.   It would be fine if I earned enough that I could afford  to give them a break so they could save money, but I don’t and she knows it.  I could be renting out her room instead and she knows that too.   I also doubt she will actually save money and move, since she has never been able to save money before and can’t seem to hold onto a job.

Her brother wants to mediate (he’s good at mediating) but there’s no way for that to happen since then she would know I told him everything, and she is predisposed to not cooperate since she’s jealous of the more positive attention she thinks he gets from me.  They have become distant from each other partly because of geographic distance, but also because she thinks he judges her harshly (he doesn’t, but is reasonably critical and she can’t seem to deal with criticism).

I’m not sure what to do.  My daughter went out in a huff after flinging a litany of insults at me, and is currently (most likely) over at her father’s house (where I’m pretty sure they are all sitting around badmouthing me and talking about what a crazy, narcissistic person I am).   And yes, I do realize how narcissistic and paranoid I sound, but I’m absolutely sure that’s what is going on.   I feel like I’m reliving the nightmare I went through before I finally worked up the courage to go no contact with her father.    He freeloaded off of me too and told everyone I was the crazy one when I objected to his crazymaking antics and exploitation of my good will.

Now she is accusing me of “playing the victim.”   It appears that gaslighting comes naturally to her.  She must have been paying attention when I talked to her all those times about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, because now she not only knows all the terms and phrases, she has weaponized them, using them against me.

When did my daughter become her father?   I never thought she would become a gaslighting abuser or a narcissist because she always seemed like a high empathy person to me.  It’s like I turned around and instead of seeing her standing there, it’s her father all over again.

Until recently, and since her father left the house (at my insistence) in 2014, my daughter and I  have gotten along great.  I’m not sure when things started to go downhill or even who changed.  Was it her or was it me?  I feel like it was her.   But I just don’t really know.   It seems like it started to happen around the time of her marriage in January.  But her husband doesn’t seem like a narcissist to me, just a quiet guy.  But since he doesn’t talk a lot, I have no idea what he is actually saying to her.    All I know is that during the past few months, our relationship has been very tense and prone to lead to arguments.  I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells with her, and I know that’s a huge red flag.

Maybe she needed to go out and just calm herself down and give herself some space.   So I will see when she returns if she’s more reasonable.  But if she still refuses to cooperate with my house rules, I may have no choice but to make plans to move out myself and leave the two of them to figure out how to pay for everything themselves.   That’s not being spiteful, but I simply can’t live with someone (even my own daughter) who takes advantage of me the way her father did years ago.   It’s a form of abuse and extremely triggering.    I know she will be furious if that’s what I ultimately decide, but what else can I do?  I feel trapped and helpless.  I feel like I have no power or control over this situation at all and very few options open to me financially.

I guess I’ll see how things go after she calms down.   She’s done this sort of thing before and then apologizes later.   She always does say her father treated me like crap and I should have left sooner.    I just don’t know what to think anymore.  It’s times like this I just feel so backed into a corner and helpless.

I just had to vent.  To get this off my chest.   This post reminds me of my early articles, when I first started this blog and was realizing I had been abused throughout my life, and set about describing the mental and emotional abuse that was inflicted on me by my ex and by my family.   It seems I still haven’t broken that pattern and it snuck in again when I least expected it.

I have no idea what to do, really.

Birds and scenery at Anclote Key, FL

I had a wonderful time with my son in Florida. It’s amazing what a week away can do for your soul. I stayed away from the news, and therefore had no idea what was going on in Trumpland, and didn’t really care either (I was able to put my concern on hold while I was away).

I will post a selection of photos I took later, but my son, who is a professional videographer now, took these amazing photos of some sea birds when we went out to Anclote Key (a national park consisting of a group of small uninhabited islands and sandbars about 4 miles into the Gulf of Mexico from Tarpon Springs). This is a wonderfully remote place, accessible only by boat.   The many tidal pools are a shellers’ paradise.   There are two ferries that go there  several times a day.

I had a great time, and got to spend more time with my son this time than last year, since he took a few days off work, but it’s still good to be back.  (Well, sort of).

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