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In deepest sympathy…

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I want my life back.

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There hasn’t been one morning since Trump became president that I haven’t woke up with my stomach in knots and my heart racing. It’s impossible to get back to sleep and the first thing I always do is pull up Twitter to find out what the latest calamity is.

I’m edgy with people, edgy at work all the time, edgy with my family.  I can barely function due to the constant nerves.  And it’s all because of the political situation which occupies my mind 24/7 and is growing worse with each passing day.

Self care (which I recommend!) is only a temporary respite from the endless rollercoaster of anxiety, anger, dread, and depression.  Going on vacation helps, but I can’t afford to do that more than once or twice a year.   And even then, in the back of my mind, is the heavy feeling of knowing that soon,  I’ll once again have to face our dark reality.   Self care activities are necessary, but all they do is keep me from falling into the abyss.  They don’t remove me from its edge.

I have NEVER had this kind of reaction before to ANY president.   Even when I didn’t particularly like the president or his political platform, in the back of my mind I always knew he knew what he was doing, was going to protect democracy,  and that we were more or less safe from terrorism, both foreign and domestic.  I could focus on other things besides politics. Since January 9, 2017 I can’t.

I read somewhere that in functioning democracies, people don’t obsess about politics. They can actually live their lives.  Since January 9, 2017 I feel like my life has been on hold and I can never relax.

Maybe in 9 days, we can put some much needed checks and balances back in place to keep this despotic president under control.   Perhaps then I can relax a little.  But I have a feeling no matter how the election goes,  calamity will ensue.   Trump’s base is so huge, so violent and so full of hatred toward most Americans, that I fear if we win,  there will be civil war waged against us (which Trump himself has threatened).   Already there seem to be bands of roving vigilantes and right wing militia groups sprouting up like metastatic tumors in the body republic, and not just at the southern border (where they await the “caravan” which consists primarily of women and children seeking asylum, not rapists, MS-13, and murderers).  I have no faith these groups will be kept in check by our military, and no faith our military will even take our side (even though they’re supposed to protect the Constitution, not the president).

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Two days ago, pipe bombs were sent through the mail to Democratic leaders and reporters by a Trump supporting white supremacist (yet the Trump camp, as they always do, blames the victim, claiming Democrats sent the bombs to themselves).   We were fortunate this time that the bombs were intercepted and defused before a disaster (or many disasters) happened, but next time, someone may die.  And there will be a next time.   We have become as tribal and violent as a third world country — and the violence isn’t coming from Antifa (which is a tiny minority on the very far left that engages in vandalism, not violence against actual people) or the left.   Resistance protests have been peaceful, with any violence that occurs stirred up by counterprotesters (Charlottesville) and far right domestic terrorist groups like the Proud Boys and other far right extremist groups.   The left (which now includes what used to be moderates and Never Trumpers due to the rightward shift of the Overton Window) has been gaslighted, demonized, and smeared by the Trump regime and its cult members to the point that anyone who disapproves of Trump and the toxic fear based rhetoric he spews at his rallies is seen as an enemy.   We have been identified and marginalized.   Removal of our rights and finally elimination will follow.   People are going to die.

If we lose, I don’t even want to think about what’s going to happen.   It’s too terrifying to contemplate.

I just want this madness to end.   I don’t want to have to obsess about politics anymore.

I just want my life back.

 

What is moral injury?

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Moral injury (also known as soul injury), is a serious mental condition similar to PTSD that many Americans are suffering from right now under Trump’s increasingly threatening and authoritarian administration.   This condition is also very common among soldiers who are forced to commit acts that go against their conscience or violate their understanding of right from wrong.

According to Wikipedia, moral injury

refers to an injury to an individual’s moral conscience resulting from an act of perceived moral transgression which produces profound emotional shame. The concept of moral injury emphasizes the psychological, social, cultural, and spiritual aspects of trauma. Distinct from pathology, moral injury is a normal human response to an abnormal traumatic event.  The concept is currently used in literature about the mental health of military veterans who have witnessed or perpetrated an act in combat that transgressed their deeply held moral beliefs. Moral injury can also be experienced by those who have been transgressed against. For example, when one goes to war thinking that the purpose of the war is to eradicate weapons of mass destruction, but finds that not to be the case, the warrior can experience moral injury. Those who have seen and experienced death, mayhem, destruction, and violence have had their worldviews shattered – the sanctity of life, safety, love, health, peace, etc. – can suffer moral injury as well. This injury can also occur in the medical space – among physicians and other emergency or first responder care providers who engage in traumatic high impact work environments which can affect their mental health and well-being.

Moral injury or soul injury is quite common, and can affect entire populations.   It tends to separate people with a conscience and empathy from sociopaths, the latter of which are likely to be drawn to the very person or situation that is causing moral injury and PTSD to the normal population.

Since moral injury is closely related to PTSD, the symptoms are very similar.    Depression, sadness, and even suicidal ideation is common, especially if the victim sees no escape from the threatening situation or tyrannical leader/ government.

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It is under the spiritual perspective of moral injury that Lindsay Carey (Australia), John Swinton (UK) and Daniel Grossoehme (USA), provided a comprehensive holistic defintion of moral injury based on the systematic reviews of Jinkerson plus Hodgson and Carey. [30]

Moral injury is a trauma related syndrome caused by the lasting physical, psychological, social and spiritual impact of grievous moral transgressions or violations of an individual’s deeply held moral beliefs and/or ethical standards due to (i) the betrayal of what is right by trusted individuals who hold legitimate authority and/or (ii) by an individual perpetrating, failing to prevent, bearing witness to, or learning about inhumane acts which result in the pain, suffering or death of others and which fundamentally challenges the moral integrity of an individual, organisation or community.

The violation of deeply-held moral beliefs and ethical standards—irrespective of the actual context of trauma—can lead to considerable moral dissonance, which if unresolved, leads to the development of core and secondary symptoms that often occur concurrently.  The core symptoms commonly identifiable are: (a) shame, (b) guilt, (c) a loss of trust in self, others, and/or transcendental/ultimate beings, and (d) spiritual/existential conflict including an ontological loss of meaning in life.  These core symptomatic features, influence the development of secondary indicators such as (a) depression, (b) anxiety, (c) anger, (d) re-experiencing the moral conflict, (e) social problems (e.g., social alienation) and (f) relationship issues (e.g., collegial, spousal, family), and ultimately (g) self-harm (i.e., self-sabotage, substance abuse, suicidal ideation and death).

Moral injury can be treated with CBT and other psychotherapies, but not everyone has access to professional help.  Self care is of vital importance.  If the news is disturbing or upsetting to you, and is causing you PTSD-like symptoms, take breaks from it, or even ban it from your life altogether.   While it’s important to stay informed, if there’s a real emergency, you will find out about it.  Your mental health is more important than knowing every detail of what’s going on in the world or in the country.

Try to break the hypervigilance habit.  Many people feel more “in control” if they stay on top of current events, even following the slightest detail, but the reality is, outside of practical activities like voting, signing petitions, writing letters, or protesting, there isn’t much you can do to change things.   SItting around being depressed or worrying about what might happen in a week, or a few months, or a year can drive you crazy and make you miserable.   It will drain all the joy our of your life.  Keep in mind that even in the most undemocratic regimes, most people can still find moments of joy and love in the people and the world around them.  Anne Frank was such a person who remained hopeful even while interned in a concentration camp.   Obviously not everyone has the emotional makeup to remain that upbeat and brave, but her story has brought hope to millions.

Spend time with friends and family that you trust, obviously those who feel the same way as you do (things have become so polarized that you might have to avoid friends and family on the opposite side of the political spectrum, at least temporarily).   Be sure to spend time doing fun, nonpolitical things with your friends and family members, not just talking about politics and the news.   Of course there’s a place for that too.  If you want to feel like you’re making a difference, you can plan to attend protests as a group or have letter writing or phone call “parties.”

One way you can follow the news in a more lighthearted way is to watch the late night TV comedy shows, such as Saturday Night Live or Jimmy Kimmel, instead of cable or network news.     You will still get your news (in fact, these shows are often more accurate in reporting than actual news programs) but in a way that can make you laugh and see the lighter side of a very serious situation.    Gallows humor has its place, and can make an unpleasant or unbearable situation seem more tolerable.

Remember that if you are suffering from moral injury, there is nothing wrong with you.  In fact, it means you are functioning human being with a conscience, and you are merely reacting in a normal way to an abnormal situation.  Still, if the suffering becomes intolerable or you find it hard to function, it can’t hurt to seek counseling to learn coping skills.

Almost Sunrise is a documentary film about moral injury.  It focuses on returning soldiers, but should also be of interest to anyone suffering from this form of PTSD.    You can watch a short video and read an article about the film here:

Almost Sunrise / Moral Injury

According to their site, these are the most common symptoms of moral injury:

  • Overwhelming depression
  • Guilt or shame
  • Loss of meaning in life
  • Feelings of worthlessness, despair and remorse
  • Feeling like “I’ve lost a part of myself”
  • Feeling like “I do not know who I am anymore”
  • Feeling intense distrust

Amazing infographic shows just how deep the ocean actually is.

This is going to blow your mind.   The ocean is mindbogglingly deep.  It’s way deeper than Mount Everest is tall —  it’s seven miles to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean (Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench).

We have only explored about five percent of the ocean.  We really have no idea what’s down there or what sort of huge, terrifying creatures may live in its pitch black depths.  It’s really incredible just how much of the earth remains unexplored, and most of it is underwater.

We really live on two planets in one.  The terrestrial planet, where we are, lies above, and the oceanic planet, with its atmosphere of water,  has its own mountains, valleys, deserts, and even its own lakes and rivers (brine pools).

The Depths of the Ocean to Scale (at least what we know of it)

In defense of “Cinderella”: is she really a weak Disney princess?

Here is the Twitter thread in which I found this video.   It’s a good explanation of why Cinderella, far from being weak and shallow (only interested in a dress and a man), is actually incredibly brave and a wonderful example of a strong woman who was her family’s scapegoat and eventually, through her own strong will and by remaining a good person, escaped from her abusive family and still retained her compassion and humanity.

Twitter thread by Lia (edited for clarity):

Cinderella gets a bad rep for being considered a weak Disney princess; a bad role model. But she’s literally one of the strongest! think about it.  She was a victim of being abused by her stepfamily for years, yet still remained a kind and caring person throughout all the verbal and mental torture.

Cinderella overcame her situation in the 1950 Disney classic due to retribution for her kindness and optimism. She remained positive through it, truly believing one day she would have the opportunity to escape her family and make her life better for herself every chance she got.

“She waited for the prince to come and save her” is one argument used against her.  But no, she didn’t wait for the prince to come save her. She wasn’t even looking for a man the entire film. She just wanted ONE night of fun to completely enjoy herself by going to this ball.

Let me remind you of this: when Cinderella went to the ball and danced with Prince Charming, she wasn’t aware of who he was and it wasn’t her intention to fall in love. She thought she was dancing with just some guy and didn’t discover he was the prince ‘til she got home.

My point of this thread in defense of Cinderella is many people hate on her because she didn’t physically fight back or run away.  But look at the time period she lived in.  Women weren’t considered as men’s equals and seen as nothing but the purpose of being a housewife (cook, clean, etc.)

If she had run away from her childhood home, where would she have gone? She would’ve been completely homeless with no money to her name.   Even though she didn’t want to stay, she knew having a roof over head and at least being fed was needed to survive.

In conclusion, if you’re a parent or teacher, reconsider listing Cinderella in the “weak Disney Princess, bad role model for girls” group.   Cinderella was a strong character who overcame being abused and dehumanized for years through her kindness, and found her own way by using the other slipper she had to escape.

 

October sunset.

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I voted early!

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Don’t call yourself pro-life (updated)

I originally wrote this post on October 2, 2017, more than a year ago. It was the day after the tragic Las Vegas shootings.   I really can’t believe that happened over a year ago.  It seems like it was yesterday, but now that we’re living in Trump time, time itself has a way of seeming frighteningly slowed down or speeded up.   In fact, everything seems pretty strange and definitely not normal.   In the two years since Trump was elected, I feel like I’ve aged about ten.

So, here is that post again, with some additions, since so much has happened in a year (way too much to keep up with!).

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Don’t even think about calling yourself pro-life if…

  • You support taking health insurance away from low income, sick, and disabled people.
  • You support abolishing or cutting Medicaid (which covers HALF of all pregnant women and 45 million children).
  • You  support privatizing or cutting Medicare and Social Security.
  • You want to abolish Planned Parenthood, which is NOT an abortion clinic (only 2% of their services are abortion-related) but provides healthcare (including pregnancy care) and birth control information to low income women.
  • You’re OK with a president who allowed CHIP (a health insurance program for low income children who do not qualify for Medicaid) to expire, leaving millions of children uninsured.
  • You support dismantling public schools.
  • You support removing laws that protect college women from on-campus rapists and give more rights to the rapists.
  • You think programs like Meals on Wheels and school lunches are a waste of taxpayer money.
  • You think climate change is a hoax.
  • You support fracking, drilling, and mining on our public lands.
  • You believe in removing laws that protect our air and water against pollution.
  • You think laws that protect consumers from dangerous products and predatory  practices is interfering with free enterprise.
  • You support the death penalty.
  • You support the idea of using torture on suspected terrorists.
  • You believe in detaining documented immigrants, even when it means separating parents from their children.
  • You support deporting refugee mothers and their children, even when it means they could die horribly in their countries of origin.
  • You support deporting productive young people who came here as children with their parents, even when it means sending them back to countries they can’t remember and know nothing about.
  • You think Puerto Ricans who have been devastated by a Category 5 hurricane and have no food, electricity, or drinking water “aren’t doing enough for themselves.”
  • You demand “respect for the flag and the Anthem” but don’t respect people’s right to exercise their First Amendment rights.
  • You’re okay with a president who plays nuclear chicken on Twitter with an unstable rogue nation dictator because his ego is hurt.
  • You think we should “completely destroy” North Korea, even its innocent civilians, women, and children.
  • You’re okay with a president who in all likelihood sold our democracy out to a hostile foreign power.
  • You’re okay with police brutality, especially against people of color.
  • You admire dictators and bullies.
  • You think white supremacy, Naziism, and racism are okay.
  • You’re okay with a president who treats women with disrespect and brags about grabbing their private parts.
  • You don’t see anything wrong with a president who plays golf and complains about NFL players exercising their First Amendment rights when people are dying of thirst and starvation in Puerto Rico.
  • You agree with Trump lifting gun checks on people with mental illness (Las Vegas shooting is a tragic consequence of that).
  • If, even after the Parkland school shooting (and many other school shootings this year), you still don’t believe there should be any age restrictions or background checks for buying guns, and/or you don’t think assault weapons (AR-15s) and bump stocks should be banned.
  • You approve of the Trump policy of separating toddlers and babies from their mothers, and breaking up families as a “deterrent” to other migrants thinking of coming here.
  • You think it’s okay to lock migrants in cages or rip them from their parents or children, even the ones who have come here legally and are only seeking asylum from a much worse situation in their home countries, where their own or their childrens’ lives are in danger.
  • You support the Trump policy of putting migrant children in cages.
  • You believe (as one very sick Republican politician said the other day) a woman who has an abortion should receive the death penalty.
  • You think confirming an alleged sexual predator and rapist who also has an obvious anger management and drinking issues to a SCOTUS seat is acceptable.
  • You always believe a male abuser over a female victim, and think what happened to her is somehow her own fault — or that she is lying.
  • You support a president who looks up to, admires, has secret meetings with, or “falls in love with” brutal dictators of oppressive, authoritarian regimes.
  • You support a president who refuses to put sanctions on or criticize brutal regimes that murder and dismember American residents because he makes a profit from that regime.

I could go on for pages, but I think I made my point.   If you oppose abortion but support any of the things above, you aren’t pro-life.  All you are is a  hypocrite.  Outside of the abortion issue, the Trump regime is the most anti-life group of miscreants, sociopaths, abusers, serial liars, malignant narcissists, traitors, grifters, and criminals I’ve ever seen.

No one has selective empathy only for the unborn.   That makes no sense.  No, the people running this country right now have no empathy.  They are a sociopathic regime headed by a malignant narcissist who uses the abortion issue to pander to his largely right wing evangelical base and keep the support of his dominionist donors.   The only reason this regime wants to overturn Roe v. Wade is to control women (Kavanaugh thinks even birth control should be illegal), NOT to protect the unborn.  They don’t care about the unborn, or anyone else.  All they care about is wealth and power.

Grey-rocking: if you can’t go No Contact.

This article has been picking up in views lately, so I decided to reblog it. Several people have told me they’ve found it helpful. I know this trick has helped me in dicey situations when I can’t go No Contact with a narcissist.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Lately I’ve been hearing a new term in the narcissistic abuse community: grey rocking.  I don’t know if it’s a new term or not, but I haven’t heard it before.

How to Grey Rock a Narcissist.

It’s always best to go No Contact (or Very Low Contact) with the narcissists in your life, if it’s at all possible.   But sometimes it isn’t.    For example, you may have underage children with your narcissist and shared custody of them.  Or your boss or a coworker may be a narcissist and you’re not willing to leave your job.  Or you may be in a marriage or relationship with one, have no options for leaving right now and are biding your time until you can save enough money to leave.    Or perhaps you’re still living at home with narcissistic parents and don’t have a place to go yet.

In these types…

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