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

Advertisements

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.

 

Truth teller.

truth_teller

I am the truth teller in my family. Because of that I have been scapegoated and disowned. I’m well aware of the possibility of my family seeing this, but due to the indifference I’ve been able to develop toward them (which I think is healthier than the hatred and rage I used to feel), I can now say this without guilt. It’s also the only way I can ever “communicate” with them about how I really feel, as if that would make any difference. It won’t, but at least they will know, and they should know. I’ve hesitated about ever writing a post like this, but I’ve kept this inside too long, and need to get it out there for all to see. That’s what this blog is for, after all.  It’s about MY life, not theirs.

1. I was trained by my family to be a victim (scapegoated child). I was never given the emotional tools to do well in life, or much financial help either after I turned 18. My family had money, but would not pay for my college education. I had to pay for it myself and take out loans. (My father did pay for my son’s college education. I’m not bitter about this but grateful at least he got help).

2. I live in poverty because I lacked those emotional and survival tools to do well on my own. I have had extremely low self esteem my entire life and felt incompetent in most things because of the way I was treated. In addition to having no confidence and being painfully shy (which is a handicap out in the world today), I also can’t connect in any meaningful way with people, so I am all alone in my 50s as well as poor.

3. My family, who still has money, refuses to help me. Not that they should have to at my age, and not that I would ask, but they never have (except during the few times they were shamed into it by people in authority, but I won’t get into that here because it’s irrelevant). In loving families, when a child, no matter how old, is struggling, everyone pitches in to help. That doesn’t mean support them forever, just help them get back on their feet so they can make a fresh start. But my family isn’t normal. My mistakes are not tolerated. I failed to meet their unrealistic standards of perfection, so I don’t deserve a second chance. But this shouldn’t surprise me. They are a family of narcissists, both covert and overt, with my mother at the helm. Others in the family live well and get help when they need it. But not me.

4. I have been disowned, even though I was a “good kid” who never got in serious trouble, didn’t do drugs, get in trouble with the law, etc. No, I wasn’t “easy” (I had lots of BPD and complex PTSD episodes and severe mood swings), but overall, I wasn’t a bad kid, just really fucked up in the head. They hold it against me that I “went back” to my sociopathic malignant NPD ex, even though I was so victimized at the time I felt like I had no other choice. I felt like I had nowhere else to go. But I think I would have been disowned anyway, because I was the scapegoat of the family and singled out for this treatment when it became clear I was the one who saw through all the lies and bullshit.  Even though I’m no longer with my sociopathic ex, as far as I know, I’m still written out of the will.  No one ever tells me anything.

4. My mother has triangulated against me and turned the entire family against me so everyone thinks I’m crazy and evil and wants nothing to do with me. She has actually told her relatives I deserve nothing and “brought this on myself.” No one in the family (except my children and my father) talks to me.  (My mother and I do exchange cards, but they are very generic and impersonal).   I’m never invited to any family functions. I’m grateful at least my kids  know I’m not this horrible person the rest of the family thinks I am. Actually, they told me they think I was a good mother who did the best I could with what I had to work with.  That means a lot.

4. They throw their disdain and contempt toward “the poor” in my face all the time, quoting Tea Party screeds about how all poor people are lazy and leeches on society and deserve to be poor. This is done to shame me and make me feel like an outsider, which of course I am.

scapegoat_child

I try not to be bitter about all this, but it’s so hard sometimes. To survive, I had to become indifferent toward them and think of them as pathetic little victims themselves, otherwise the rage would have destroyed me. Actually, I do have love for my father, who I do believe loves me. But he’s under the thrall of the rest of the narcs, who keep telling him how useless, crazy, and undeserving I am.

That’s what I get for being the truth teller in my family. The one who can see through all the bullshit.

Until I found the narcissistic abuse community, I felt all alone. I’d never known anyone who was treated this way by their family of origin. But my experience seems to be a common one among so many victims of narcissistic parents. So many of us have “failed at life” because we were never given the tools to do well, or allowed to develop any self confidence. We were always told we’d fail at anything we ever did and not allowed to try things when we were young. But then later we were blamed for not achieving great things in life. I’ve never seen so many people living in poverty in their 40s and 50s except among other children of narcissistic parents.  Why is it that so many of us don’t discover what we’ve been up against until so late in life?

It’s incredibly painful to realize our own family doesn’t love you and probably never really did.  I used to envy others for their loving families and still do, but it’s time to move on.  Indifference is the only way I can cope with having been rejected by the people who were supposed to love me unconditionally.

I’m getting enraged now so I need to stop writing this and go back to being indifferent.

Further reading:

Why Family Scapegoats Become Lifelong Victims

It’s All About Image: The Skewed Values of Narcissistic Families

 

Being discovered online by your narcissists.

Woman using tablet outdoor.

Back during the winter, I made the mistake by sharing an article on a social media platform that several members of my family use, including my narcissistic mother.

It came to my attention (through my son) that they did in fact find my blog and it was being read. I was horrified, but I was fortunate because not a word about it was ever said to me. Oh, I’m sure they talk amongst themselves about what a horrible person I am to have a blog where I talk about my family the way I do, but it’s not as if they weren’t already saying mean things about me behind my back anyway. I know they probably still read this blog, but I no longer care. In fact, sometimes I think it may be a good thing for them to see in print was I was always too afraid to say.

Another blogger I know has a far worse family than mine. The psychological abuse this woman suffered, especially at the hands of her MN mother and sister, was so extreme that the stories she tells about them would be hard to believe if I didn’t know they were true. Her family REALLY hates her, and her sociopathic mother has turned every member of the extended family against this woman.

She just wrote a blog post about getting several ugly and hateful anonymous messages, after she too made an error where she might have “leaked” the fact she has a blog about her narcissistic family. Based on what she has said about them, I think these people are extremely dangerous, far more dangerous than my family ever was. So even though this woman and I are no longer friends (that’s another story I won’t get into here), I am worried for her. So I’m asking for your prayers and positive thoughts that nothing untoward happens if it’s true that her family found her blog. These people are incredibly toxic.