Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Working on new post, but in meantime...

Here's a quote from Bill Maher, whose Real Time HBO show will return in February:

"We have to stay loyal to principles, not people" - Bill Maher

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Canadian woman of Indian descent murdered by her family for not conforming to traditional roles

Her name was Jassi Sidhu.

This story was made into a documentary on DateLine. I watched it several months ago. The friends and family members who supported Jassi have created a website to continue fighting for a full investigation into the actions of those still not prosecuted, including the family members who participated or planned the murder.

Those friends and family members on Jassi's side have created Justice for Jassi. It has a petition, and I have signed it. I hope you will too.

Fight everywhere.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Re-thinking "abuse": word choice and concept analysis

In my very first post on this blog, I posited a definition of "abuse" that expanded on the views of society and law. I used this expanded definition in my post, Child abuse: Not understood at all, but affecting every human rights issue (as noted here)

Since then, I've had a lot of time to think, and second-guess, these earlier attempts at expanding the definition. These days, I'm thinking that I'd prefer using other words to describe parental oppression (or at least potential oppression, questionable behavior, things worth examining, etc.)

unnecessary criticism,
excessive criticism (criticism that may be justified in moderate doses),
parents lying to their children,
social normalization of parental excesses: ("all families are psychotic", dysfunctional family comedies, etc)

What I'm proposing is that we examine the differing behaviors that parents do and ask "is this justified?" And sometimes the answer may be "yes,, if". Other times we don't have a yes/no, but only commentary. Really, the behaviors exist on a continuum.

Perhaps we should address some behaviors separately rather than place them under the banner of "abuse". That is not to say that such behaviors are definitely right or non-harmful, but that we need to give them names other than "abuse", at least for now, because otherwise the word "abuse" comes to mean too many different things to mean anything knowable.

For example, I heard a MySpace friend and Bill Maher suggest that letting your kid eat high-fat foods that make him fat should be considered "child abuse". I would rather it be called "neglect" or "overly-permissive", though you can argue that since the parents are giving the kid the food, they are actively inflicting the harm, thus fitting the definition of abuse. Maybe that's good enough reasoning. But I think of abuse as denying your kids too much freedom, as opposed to letting your kids have too much freedom. Too much freedom can fall under the "overly-permissive" category.

I should concede that the mindset of this blog biases me towards viewing abuse as a greater evil than over-permissiveness. It's the libertarian in me: "give me liberty or give me death", "I'd rather have the inconveniences of too much liberty than too little of it". Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson respectively. I want to think there is a wisdom in this bias, at least for those of us who claim to support free societies.

But ignoring the damages of over-permissiveness puts me in no camp of wisdom. Yes, letting your kids have too much freedom is the cause of many young people acting out. Ideally, good parenting steers away from over-permissivness as much as from abuse. Though decisions come up where a parent may have to weigh on one side or the other. And we can't demand perfection.

Though I am hoping we can demand correction over time. What was done today need not be done next time. To do this requires a willingness to question and examine the behaviors of ourselves and others acting as parents...and a willingness to let ourselves be questioned and examined including by our own children.

After all, those whom we have authority over have a right to question us, the ones who have authority over them. An authority holder who reacts with a "how dare you!" is one that wants to be an unquestioned authority holder, even if she does not think that way consciously. We must walk the walk.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Long time, many busies

Hi gang,

Been out there for a loooooong time. Sorry for the MIA. The easy answer is that I'm prepping for grad school this fall. Housing and what not. And with mom discouraging me from leaving her house - saying it'll never be cheap enough, you'll never find a place - getting out of here is a top priority...though of course these feelings always have to be balanced with a rational temperament as I maneuver through many demands: my (hopefully last) undergrad summer course, taking a diagnostic test for grad school, trying to remember my online friends, jogging, therapy, flossing, budgeting, thinking about doctor visits, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Of course, many of you out there probably got it tougher. But whether you do or not, I'm happy to listen to all your stories in dealing with controlling/toxic/abusive parents and on your personal journeys to build and define your own lives, neither complusively obeying nor compulsively rebelling against the endless commands, irrational or excessive, which they have no right to speak (no matter how much money their giving you).

My head has never stayed on earth for very long, but I'm still here, and I will still listen.

Onward, to the next assignment...

UPDATE: Never forget to take mental and physical breaks. They are necessary for success, survival, and flourishing.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rob and Arnie have transgender journalist Autumn Sandeen

They actually introduce the discussion in a way suggesting they've been enlightened:

Rob/Arnie (don't know which): "For those of you out there who think that free speech means you can say anything, without any consequences, this show is not for you. Conversely, for anyone here who thinks the solution is to silence all discussion, this show is also not for you....

"For anyone [who is a fan of me] who thinks that this situation is about silencing opinion, like my opinion, let me tell you: If I honestly thought that this was about my opinion being silenced, I wouldn't be here".

Damn. This did disarm me. But don't let your guard down too easily. The devil is in the details of what they will acknowledge and won't acknowledge, AND how they truly feel, or might feel, REGARDLESS of what they say.

I have not listened to the show beyond these first few lines. I got a train to catch. But, I will listen later, and you folks can listen here:

A series of podcasted segments, start with the first one.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rob and Arnie capitulate, according to Pam's House site

Have the parental-violence-endorsing bastards given up? Check it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Pam's House Blend has post on Arnie and Rob's violent dialogue

Autumn Sandeen writes, "Nonviolence In Response to the Rob, Arnie & Dawn in the Morning Tirades On TransYouth"

Autumn Sandeen is a transgender person and a primary journalist for the murder trial for victim Angie Zapata. Angie was a trans-woman who was beaten to death by a man she dated who found out she used to be a man. He was charged with both first-degree murder AND a bias-motivated crime (another word for hate crime). He is now serving life without parole.

Justice was done for Angie, but we need to keep an eye on those whose words may incite others to committ violence, especially violence of parents against their own children.

I had written an email yesterday to the the Vice President and General Manager John Geary of the radio station, KRXQ-FM.

You can write him, or Arnie & Rob, or anyone else you can find - please tell me!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Two radio hosts encourage parental violence against transgender children

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) examines the media's portrayal of gay and transgender people and the political and social issues surrounding the gay/trans communities. Today in my email, GLAAD sent me an action alert about two radio hosts who had this to say about children who question their gender identity:

ARNIE STATES [13:27]: If my son, God forbid, if my son put on a pair of high heels, I would probably hit him with one of my shoes. I would throw a shoe at him. Because you know what? Boys don’t wear high heels. And in my house, they definitely don’t wear high heels

ROB WILLIAMS [17:45]: Dawn, they are freaks. They are abnormal. Not because they’re girls trapped in boys bodies but because they have a mental disorder that needs to be somehow gotten out of them. That’s where therapy could help them.

....... ARNIE STATES [21:30]: You got a boy saying, ‘I wanna wear dresses.’ I’m going to look at him and go, ‘You know what? You’re a little idiot! You little dumbass! Look, you are a boy! Boys don’t wear dresses.’


Their transcript plus the audio clip can be found at this GLAAD action alert, which also gives contact information for the radio hosts and the radio station.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Links on restraining orders

Since many of our toxic parents are (currently) non-violent, we may not qualify for the domestic violence restraining order. Specifically, we might need the harassment restraining order.

But for violent situations, try the order for protection, or the domestic violence restraining order.

Also scroll down for other links.

For those of us in non-violent situations, it would seem that employment and an affordable place (ideally in that order) may likely be first steps before attempting the harassment restraining order. And for those starting school in the fall (like me), you will want to focus now on finding a place for the fall, supported with the right financial aid and/or employment.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good post about overcoming toxic parent holiday guilt

On the LGBT site, Pam's House Blend. There is a lot we can learn from the gay experience of intolerant family members.

This post includes over 120 comments, including those from straights. Here's a good one by heterosexual married woman, Louise:

"I'm straight yet have been there, making the choice of birth family versus adult family. Have all but disassociated myself away from the majority of my family because of my father, who got drunk and screamed that I should divorce my husband during the last holiday we spent at my parents'. I was 3 months' pregnant with our younger child and started to cramp from the stress, as well as saw our 2 year old cry in terror of her grandfather. My husband calmly said, 'Louise, let's go home now' and we drove back the 100 miles during a bad snowstorm to get home.

"No regrets. I grew up that day. We are cordial and he will never get drunk in front of his grandchildren again.

"At first it felt odd to 'not be home' for holidays, then over time we set our own traditions and look forward to the days rather than dread, as was the almost 30 year pattern for me.

"Other people will not change their opinions on your life, unless forced to choose to do so. And even then, it's not up to you- all you can do is decide how YOU are going to react and leave the choice to them."

Amen, sister.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Child abuse: Not understood at all, but affecting every human rights issue

***for anyone just discovering this blog, check out my first post here, "Introductions, concepts, and beginnings of a fight"

Child abuse: beyond law and people’s

We have an inadequate concept of what child abuse looks like. We wouldn't recognize an abusive parent if we saw one. They look exactly the same as non-abusive parents to anyone who does not live in the home. Any friend, co-worker, or boss whom you know has children at home might be abusing them, and you'd never know it from what you see in your friend, co-worker, or boss's persona when their in front of you.

I'm not saying we should start spying on parents. The law should only intervene and investigate if there is probably cause to think that abuse is happening in the home. But the law's definition of abuse is confined to certain behaviors, mostly physical, and does not cover the full range of ways that a parent can psychologically, emotionally, and financially manipulate their child
throughout the child's life and adult life.

Yes, abused children could be adults, middle-aged adults, maybe older if the parents are still living. We don't think an aging parent is of any harm to anyone, and we look down on adults who put "stick" their parents in a nursing home. We see the tears of the aging parent who wonders why the child has abandoned them.

But we don't often see the domestic realities such as when fictional character Ruth, from Six Feet Under has a flashback while caring for her mentally-ill husband George played by actor James Cromwell. In the scene, George is looking in refrigerator and Ruth wonders if he needs help. He says he's fine, but Ruth has a flashback to a time past when she was caring for an
aging relative (maybe mother, but I'm not sure) and she is mean, scowling...and a double amputee in a wheelchair. That last description naturally gets nothing but sympathy from people, and that's a good thing. But we also see the angry "get me this thing now!" with connotations that "you're useless!" "I wasted my life on you!" snaps Ruth and she submits "I'll get it for you!", but that old woman's not in the room. It's only George. Ruth is traumatized and that trauma was one reason why she had such a hard time emotionally trying to care for George.

That old mother/aunt may be dead, but she left her legacy on Ruth's psyche. Consider how fractured Ruth would be if the mother were still living, still demanding, still using those emotional strings of guilt, co-dependence, and "you owe me for putting my whole life into you" mentality that abusive parents hold on to and act out each day on their children, throughout
all stages of the child's life.

Abusive parents are often not caught. That is why the abuse remains and becomes a normal part of the family life and culture. Parents may hit or threaten to hit when the children are children, but the parents might reserve their physical energies when the child is no longer small enough to physically over-power. Words and controlling rules are the weapons of choice when children are bigger. And when the parents are no longer hitting, what can the police

A cop once told me that you can't arrest them on "clashing opinions on life". I'd understand the reasons police and lawmakers are reluctant to make words and arguments punishable offenses. We don't want police raids every time parents and kids argue. I have heard stories of small school kids calling social services merely because the teacher/counselor punished them appropriately. I don’t want to create over-expansive laws, but I do want people and communities to do what they can, using every legally allowable way to help victims escape their abusive parents.

People have power with or without the police. The approval of police or courts was not needed for society to condemn OJ Simpson (Not taking a position on his court ruling). It requires no laws or police for people to give sympathy to children of any age, and deny it to abusive parents.

Lack of understanding, sympathy, and empathy for victims

I once told people online, the legal website Free Advice, about my situation. I could understand “you don’t have a case”. I could understand “it’s not severe enough”. What I got was “grow up” “you’re an ingrate; let your generous parents adopt me”, and my favorite “we’re giving you tough love”. That was two years ago.

There are many people who believe similar things about school bullies, including those that target victims for homophobic, transphobic, or sexist reasons. And there are also those that advocate for “parental authority”, and thus support mandatory parental permission slips for students joining gay-straight alliances, teenagers seeking abortion, students having sex education, confidential health counseling, etc. These things make me question whether
parents are really about “what’s best” for their children, or merely their children’s obedience. Surely parents will say that they are acting out of what’s best, and they will usually believe it. The question is, should we believe it?

Some would think we are obligated to believe it. Why? Because parents have a right to raise their children. Because we should “not give up on the parents”. Because parents deserve the benefit of the doubt. Because parents “always” want what’s best for their children. A college dean once told me that any parent’s love is “infinite”. Yet, despite all these superhuman virtues, we are asked to “forgive our parents” or remember that they are “only human” when they do make mistakes.

Even that word “make mistakes” may be too weak. One of my creative writing teachers told the class his thoughts after hearing the student stories of how each of their parents did not like their career plans. First off, he showed no sign of agreeing with these parents that their kids were on the wrong path, so he seemed a good listener for these kids in that sense. But his words showed his ignorance. In the midst of the students’ stories, he said “they really do want the best for you”. At the end of the students’ stories, he said: “I want to say this: parents love their children - more than life. Their gonna fuk up”. I guess I have to give him kudos for using the words “fuk up” than some euphemism like “mistake”. I’m still upset that he was laughing throughout. Then again so were the kids. It’s possible that, if I had more details about their lives, that I could conclude that the parents were not far enough on the spectrum to be considered abusive (and remember I’m not holding myself to legal definitions of abuse or even standard therapists’ definitions). But I got a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve been eating cupcakes and gaining weight ever since.

I also suspect dysfunctional family comedies like Everybody Loves Raymond, Everybody
Hates Chris
, The War at Home, and Arrested Development. I don’t like the character of the father who doesn’t want his daughter to “date until she’s married” (Oscar Proud, father of the cartoon family, The Proud Family). Obviously this type of fathering is found in purity-ring pacts that daughters “choose” to make with their fathers (if they want to be good daughters, that is).

The two conflicting desires of every parent

I think every parent posseses two desires: the desire to ensure their child’s welfare and the desire to ensure their child’s obedience. These two can overlap in many cases, as when toddlers are told to stay away from hot irons or when parents tell teenagers to stay from things that are ACTUALLY too dangerous for them, not IMAGINED to be too dangerous. And I say “too dangerous” because teenagers are old enough to start taking some of the risks that come with
living a full happy life. Amanda Marcotte once wrote in, Fear of a MySpace Planet, that consensual sex was one of those things teenagers not be barred from by their parents. I’m not 100% sure I agree with that, but she made great points, and it’s worth reading and researching.

But the question is, when the two desires conflict with each other, which will the parent choose? The thing is, a parent will never openly say, “I choose obedience over my child’s welfare”. And likely they themselves would never believe that about themselves. More likely that intentional controlling, they are inclined to control based on the life history and upbringing they had which programmed them with their worldviews of what is and isn’t right, wrong, safe, dangerous, worth going for, not worth going for, useful, useless, acceptable, indecent, etc, etc. And I say programmed because these worldviews are not likely to be reversed by the words of their children who have just arrived in the parents' life after they’ve had decades of solidification of their worldview from the decades before their children were even conceived. And don’t expect these parents to “listen” to their children because the children “don’t know better”. It’s not that these parents are not following standards of accountability. It’s that they are following standards of accountability which are totally wrong (or half right) and they believe, with 100% certainty that lasts forever, that their standards are right.

This is what I mean when I say parents are inclined to be abusive, even while not intending to be. But the main point is that the abuse has the same damaging psychological or physical effects, as if the abuse was intentional. This is why we cannot let intentions be the defining characteristic of what defines abusive behavior.

Victims’ responsibilities only go so far

It is certainly true that any victim of lifelong child abuse, must do the hard work of finding employment and an apartment where they can pay the rent. Ultimately I hope a restraining order is possible, and I have started researching such possibilities. But when the police can’t help you, and you have no other place, you have to find one. Of course, it is much, much harder to make that transition to employment-plus-new-place than it is to spit out the insensitive phrase, “get a job and grow up”. If walking away from an abuser’s wallet was as easy as walking out of the house, I’d be there by now.

And we should expect many more abuse victims to remain with their abusers in
this economy.

This is as much as I can say right now. More will have to be in another
post. There is so much, too much to tell.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A college-age daughter gets cut off by her mother who didn't like co-ed dorms

But she found loans and financial aid, so hope is possible.

Check it (warning 1 unsupportive comment from Dee has popped up)

Though I did catch one wiser wind:

"PS My first year of college I lived in a women’s dormitory. Not only were my room and suite entirely composed of women, but the whole building! One early Sunday morning during finals, we had a fire drill - and more men than I could count poured out of the building!!!

By the time your kid goes off to college, you have raised them. The job is done, and hopefully, you trust them to make decent decisions. - — jrobin276"

Friday, April 24, 2009

An NY Times article on the suicide of two 11-year olds who faced bullying

I liked this paragraph:

"Children can’t see their budding lives through the long lens of wisdom - the wisdom that benefits from years passed, hurdles overcome, strength summoned, resilience realized, selves discovered and accepted, hearts broken but mended and love experienced in the fullest, truest majesty that the word deserves. For them, the weight of ridicule and ostracism can feel crushing and without the possibility of reprieve. And, in that dark and lonely place, desperate and confused, they can make horrible decisions that can’t be undone."

I think it's also sad that there are people who believe that because overcoming bullying (or toxic parenting) can make a kid stronger, the bullying or parenting is justified, even though they will not explicitly say this. "Tough love" is what they say, among other phrases. Thankfully, the author is not one of these people.

Read the whole article, "Two Little Boys"

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Is LGBT acceptance enough to ensure that a parent is non-toxic?

Alice's mom in L Word, "if you did looked prettier you'd probably have a girlfriend by now"

Probably done to show the equal nature of mom-daughter relationships among gays straights. Points for equality. Lose points for embracing this aspect of mother-daughter relationships.

This is toxic parental criticism, mother-on-daughter crime. "I know why you don't have a husband by now" is just as wrong as if you replaced "husband" with "girlfriend" or "wife".

Gay children should not have to endure toxic treatment as a "thank you" to parents who didn't condemn them specifically for their sexual orientation. Condemning your child for ANY false or minor reason, is toxic.

Of course, I would want to research the general trends for how LGBT-accepting parents and non-accepting parents compare on general toxic behavior/attitudes. It's possible that LGBT-accepting parents are, at least, less toxic than non-accepting parents. Being less abusive is still abusive, and thus still unacceptable, but it does show that people who grow up with the idea that their future child should be accepted are less likely to be toxic.

And that's a great start to beating this social disease.

Good quotes from an author condemning the virginity-as-a-must culture

Jessica Valentini, author of Full Frontal Feminism, has written a new book called The Purity Myth.

Got the quotes from this link.

"It’s time to teach our daughters that their ability to be good people depends on their being good people, not on whether or not they’re sexually active."

"So what are young women left with? Abstinence-only education during the day and Girls Gone Wild commercials at night!...the message is the same: A woman’s worth lies in her ability — or her refusal — to be sexual. And we’re teaching American girls that, one way or another, their bodies and their sexuality are what make them valuable."

"Whether it appears in a story about a man killing his girlfriend while calling her a whore or in trying to battle conservative claims that emergency contraception or the HPV vaccine will make girls promiscuous, the purity myth in America underlies more misogyny than most people would like to admit."

"When young women are taught about morality, there’s not often talk of compassion, kindness, courage, or integrity. There is, however, a lot of talk about hymens (though the preferred words are undoubtedly more refined — think 'virginity' and 'chastity'): if we have them, when we’ll lose them, and under what circumstances we’ll be rid of them."

"Some of us get unnecessary plastic surgery — down to our vaginas, which can be tightened, clipped, and 'revirginized' — in order to seem younger."

"And don’t be mistaken about the underlying motivations of our moral panic around the hypersexualization of young women. [boldface by Mysterious Vortex] It’s more about chastity than about promiscuity. T-shirts sold in teen catalogs with 'I’m tight like Spandex' emblazoned across the front aren’t announcing sexiness; they’re announcing virginity. The same is true for 'sexy schoolgirl' costumes or provocative pictures of Disney teen pop singers. By fetishizing youth and virginity, we’re supporting a disturbing message: that really sexy women aren’t women at all — they’re girls."

On politicians' belief in the purity myth:

"Virginity fetishism has even made its way into politics and legislation. In 2007, Republican South Dakota representative Bill Napoli described his support for a ban on abortion that allowed no exceptions for rape or incest by relaying a (quite vivid) scenario to a reporter. He explained under what circumstances the procedure might be warranted: 'A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated.' [boldface Mysterious Vortex]

I found this moment so telling: Napoli couldn’t help but let his misogyny and paternalism seep into his abortion sound bite, because, to him and to so many other men (and other legislators, for that matter), there’s no separating virginity, violence, and control over women’s bodies. When it comes to women who are perceived as 'impure,' there’s a narrative of punishment that underscores U.S. policy and public discourse — be it legislation that limits reproductive rights through the assumption that women should be chaste before marriage, or a media that demonizes victims of sexual violence. And, sadly, if you look at everything from our laws to our newspapers, Napoli isn’t as far out of the mainstream as we’d like to think." [bface, MV]

Check out Jessica Valentini's book, The Purity Myth

She ended this article with a hope for a "new morality" where women would be judged morally on their character not what they do with their body. But for anyone who thinks that her views are now have consensus among the public (who has pre-marital sex 95% of the time, since the 1940s), stay grounded with these blog comments.

Dialogue is what you do when you can't escape or remove a tyrant

Dialogue is toted a lot by progressives, therapists, and anyone who wants to stop the chaos that comes with fighting. It is prescribed on only as an anti-dote to literal war, but also the metaphorical, but still aggressive, wars of words like the abortion debate, the gay rights debate, etc.

We shouldn't underestimate the pain and damage caused by fighting, whether by words in the home or punches in the street. Fighting of any kind causes damage to all involved. But I would say this fact is not necessarily enough to justify the end of fighting.

We know there are dictators in the world who oppress their people. Castro, Kim Jung, Saddam (now dead), the Taliban. We know that they will not be stopped or changed by words. Really the sensible and only solution is to remove them from power. So why talk about dialogue?

The answer: We can't get rid of them in any way close to the ease that we might dream.

Shooting any of these guys in the head will not magically create a non-tyrannical government in its place. The vacuum left by Saddam's death was filled by groups fighting for power with every intention stepping on rights of other groups OR if they are not intentionally going to step, they will UNINTENTIONALLY step because they firmly believe, with a 100% certainty that will never change, that what they believe is "right". This is how toxic parents and many other perpetrators of injustice work: they have good intentions, but they also have an unchangeable worldview that confuses wrong for right, cruelty for kindness, and toughness for love.

These people can articulate very well their good intentions. Always expect a mission statement to be positive and bright. What happens when you look past it?

If we could wave a wand and replace all these monsters with a good, non-tyrannical government that will serve their people, would we waste indeterminate years on "dialogue" to gain some measure of "progress" with tyrants who are proud of what they believe and have no will to change?

Surely we would wave that wand. But since this magic is a dream, and we don't want to start World War 4 (or another Iraq disaster), we have to throw our efforts at dialogue, spending hours on speechwriting to convince the public that talks will accomplish "something" even while we all know people who have the beliefs of tyrants will not be changed.

Those of us fighting our toxic parents don't need to worry about military casualities. We're not asking for weapons or violence of any kind. We don't necessarilly even need money. We just need the social support from people who are capable of believing the RIGHT things.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Parents condemn pre-marital sex. A 17-year old daughter must educate her autistic younger sister

Got to love how conservative religion and parental toxicity go hand in hand. But the daughter finds advice from RH Reality Check,

Check her story, and the good advice given: How can I give my sister sex-ed?

on how to deal with parents:

  • "You might also want to share some of the information and books on sexuality and autism with your parents...Their discomfort with sexuality and them being very conservative about it is going to be an issue, for sure, but it seems possible to at least get on the same page about her safety ...And I'd say that kind of information is what's really critical, anyway, and that you can likely sneak in some pieces about pleasure and identity in that stuff under the radar."

  • "I'll be honest and say that I'm not sure how you can really do completely on the down-low, particularly when it comes both to protecting yourself AND not having things your sister says result in your parents freaking out with her, which could obviously impact her negatively. But if that is what you wind up having to do, I'd see if you can't find someone you know will be supportive of your efforts who your parents respect to call on if you wind up caught in the act, as it were, and need some support."

In short: So it sounds like give some info to parents, stress concern about safety, and find a supportive adult that can get their parents ear (or some of it).

Any thoughts?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Dealing with mixed feelings and refusing to accept that which can't be changed

I'm sure many of us, no matter where we are on our separation journey, have had positive feelings towards our toxic parents. Sometimes we may wonder if we can make them stop saying this or that, perhaps get some change. I think investing ourselves in changing our parents is a lot spent for little results.

I think we need to accept that our parents cannot/will not change, but at the same time refuse to ever find their behavior and personality acceptable. How do we do that?

The answer is an unwritten one, and we discover it each day in how we act, think, talk to ourselves, talk to others, or avoid certain conversations. I think that some conversations are not worth having, because you can't change what people believe, unless there is some other real (not imaginary or wishful) evidence to suggest that they might hear. But the problem is, we are often taught that we should believe people are willing to hear, not because of known evidence about the person, but because it's the good thing to believe.

This is the moralistic fallacy, opposite of the naturalistic fallacy. The moralistic fallacy is when people derive an "is" from an "ought" - in other words, because it would be good to believe that people can change, we can assume people can change. Assumptions are only useful if they are based on facts, and this one is not. It is based on what we ought to believe, because we should "give the benefit of the doubt", "give our parents credit", or "assume the best of people (especially our parents)". All mantras we are taught we should believe, regardless of what observations, and a lifetime of experience, tells us.

I'm not saying kids don't misjudge their parents. Some if not many do. Kids can devalue their parents the way toxic parents devalue their kids. I'm not advocating that sons and daughters in general have an accurate view of their parents, but I am advocating that many of us do, and that view is a clear-cut description of abuse throughout our lifespans, even if the mantras try to push us to "assume the best" of them.

I think some of the problems children of toxic parents have is the mantras - recycled from catchphrases to sit coms of dysfunctional families that " deep down love each other" - confuse the son or daughter from seeing their parent in the evil, cruel light that is the truth. It is an image that contradicts the "honor your mother and father", "sacrifices your parents made", "they do it out of love", "they love their children more than life (but their only human)", etc, etc.

It is a tough road to find people whose brains have room for the realities we have to tell. The mantras create such conceptual frameworks across the brainspan, that our facts and realities might cause an adverse reaction similar to that of the wrong blood type or a non-matching organ. Let's not forget the brain IS a physical body organ, and all our body organs and systems can only take so much accommodation.

The road goes forth. My dad's coming home for the lunch. It might mean some self-control. It is good that I've evolved as much as I have. Also good that American University has accepted me ;)

Now I wait for the other schools, and I wait for more good news...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mother gives pastor permission to pastor to use corporeal punishment on 12 year old


Also read comments about it on Pam's House Blend

Pastor was NOT punished. NO jail time. Fuk. So much for human decency.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When Jerry Falwell died...

Chris Crain said: "The first thing that came to mind was something the first-ever female president of my college alumni association once told me. Talking about the notoriously slow pace of progress on our alma mater's board of trustees, she said, 'What we need for some real change is a few good funerals.' Indeed."

Perhaps a socially-denied truth with regard to all oppressors, including toxic parents...

What I wish people would say if they can't sympathize

If someone did not want to lend a sympathetic or empathetic ear to the adult child of a toxic parent, I would suggest saying this:

"I'm sorry for your pain, but I need focus on people worse off (than you)."

I'm wondering if the words "than you" should be taken off, but I don't want to make too many rules on how people should speak. It's hard enough to expect that many won't spit out "grow up" or "get a job" (even though finding employment and financial independence is a necessary part of freeing yourself from toxic parents).

I sent out four resumes to my temp agency. But hoping to be a scientific research assistant. First and foremost, I need a house after my lease ends!

Emails, craigslist, etc are my friends...who are yours?

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Bob Dylan verse that wise parents should heed...

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'

(From song "The Times They Are A-Changin")

Google search: Wow, I'm not alone

This is my second post on the blog I just started. My mother left earlier today, so had a comforting walk outside to relax. I'm back in my (peaceful) house with my computer, and Googled to find this:

"Divorcing your toxic parents"

Many good comments on that post. Here's an awesome one:

"After reading the book during 5 years in therapy I had a spiritual decision to make. If I didn't cut all ties with my parents I would self destruct. The depth of the parent connection is commonly insidious. I suspect similar enough to warrant a website with open commentary for so many.

"At 40, I've never been more convinced that although my parents are wealthy, retired and happier than ever- they used children to get there. Dad 19 and Mom 14 when pregnancy had to be dealt with in 1950's

"Kids gave them reason to justify their emotional addictions. Their sobriety based on fear was so indestructible that their pure basic instinct was impressive. Spotty history in late 1950's America led to an accidental pregnancy. The right thing to do was marry, clean up Dad's drinking and accept responsibility for getting a girl pregnant. 50 years later it yielded 3 kids that would rather not be around them, but because two of their offspring have 14 children and one sexually abused gay son that is disowned and denied. It hurts to hear sisters, both mothers, relay the latest explosion and disgust from the last visit to Grandma and Grandpa.

"I don't feel bad for my parents discomfort. When I do, nausea and desire to avoid interaction paralyzes me.

"My therapist discourages my guilt plus Toxic Parents [the book] shows me reality. No child deserved what happened to me. While so many suffer in the world, and have real gripes we see on the news, I have my own long boring nightmare of daily amputation of my person, feelings, strength, will, and parental trust. 18 years of that gives me the right to be heard. Not in a context of who got worse but in context of singular experiences I'd trade with those who had worse.

"My parents combination of skill and determination was so codependent that one could only characterize them as a team. Mom the General, Dad the XO. Mom drove Dad, Dad worshipped Mom. Dad has the emotional capacity of age 10. Nearly 70 now, his world was saved by a 14 year old girl he knocked up by accident. She is his world.

"Oh 70 doesn't buy absolution from the past. He will strike, hit, beat, intimidate and scare anyone who comes close. If he approves of you and senses no threat you may enter the presence of his Queen. Their public surroundings were simply convenient tools. Kids were props on a set. Such feelings from children are very common from my interactions.

"I hope someday that parents must pass curriculum tests. Procreation without education is a criminal. Having babies you cannot afford is bad. Having babies you cannot teach and nurture without expecting anything but to protect and land your retirement should be outlawed. Regardless of money, toys, provisions and affluence, if you beat your kids and turn a blind eye to sexual abuse while building wealth for your retirement and community prestige you are a failure.

"When courageous kids speak up about child sexual abuse, parents are usually infuriated, outraged and vocal in defense of their own. They demand retribution and action against the perpetrator. How about a 34 yr old priest violating a 10 year old? Couldn't wealthy community leaders see their own kid just got scarred and horrified for life?

"I wasn't so lucky. I spoke up after many years, even to sue the Bishop for moving a priest 8 times in 10 years for the same complaint with other children.

"My parents said Shut Up. Don't Bring It Up Again. We Have No Knowledge. Kids Don't Understand. Don't Tarnish Our Name. Don't Speak About Shame. We Will Not Support You. How Could You Do This To Us?

"What Toxic Parents did for me is immeasurable. I don't have to forgive, excuse, or even understand my parents point. They are indeed independent. As much as I am blessed with education, wealth, spirituality and purpose to love, serve and give to others, my parents were simply a genetic accident. Probability, luck and statistics prove there's very few winners and a whole lot of losers.

"You do not have to be laudatory for their performance. They live affluence. Never forgive or rationalize abuse. Accountability is expected of everyone under the law. Wealthy or poor parents deserve no rewards for fear, intimidation, ignorance, ego and status in trade for children. Whether you are their hope, their legacy or their burden, your life is your own.

"The price of owning your reality may involved complete detachment.
One might conclude my comments as resentment. I assure everyone that I have sought counsel at professional levels.

"My psychiatrist discourages any further interaction with my parents including their funerals. My 4 year therapist also turned me on to the book. My doctors isolate specific medical conditions that improved once I made a decision. We're talking about antidepressants, surgery, physical therapy and group interaction. We're talking heart conditions, diabetes, blood pressure and the silent killer of hypertension. Healthwise I'm a miracle that shouldn't be sober, walking, talking or writing.

"All of these conditions improved dramatically in just a few years time after I stopped any interaction with my parents. Just as flying a plane, take offs are optional, landings are mandatory. So it's your job to land your plane. Sorry, You didn't choose the takeoff. Detachment is like solo flying. This part you do alone. Existentially, you were always alone. Put these parents in their place for once and you will be relieved. Parents have a child fetish and rarely goes well even if they have money, power and convenient distractions like religion, careers and home improvement ideas.

"At 40, I play music, exercise, write, enjoy my own small business that works. I submit that I'm just as fine a specimen of manhood that anyone could hope to meet. I base my value on integrity, which is doing what you say, and not doing what you've committed not to do. I have recreated a family system complete with mentors, friends and fellowship of service. I won't kid anyone that I've been uniquely rewarded and gifted. However none of it ever came until I read this book along with therapy.

"Non-forgiveness is an option. Never expect resolution or satisfaction. Instead, Rebuild your new family. Choose friends, mentors, and leaders as fine replacements. Detachment can make life easier. It's a tool few have found and used."

- Bobby D, Austin Texas

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Introductions, concepts, and beginnings of a fight

What is a "toxic parent"?

Susan Forward's book, "Toxic Parents: How to Overcome Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaim Your Life" was a godsend to me. She defines it in her book, but I add some details.

"Toxic" could simply be another name for abusive, except that I think society has a narrow view of what an abusive parent looks like. To them, an "abusive" parent is someone defined by three myths:

Myth 1: Abusive parents are horrible people that are easy to spot. Wrong. Abusive parents are usually only abusive when alone with their kids, including adult kids. In front of others, they are usually as nice, professional, and "normal" as anyone. The parents' friends, co-workers, an associates will likely view the parents as "wonderful" or "saints" (common for parents who are doctors). If we kids think about telling these people the truth, we feel little reason for them to believe us...and they might try to "out" us by telling the parent what we told, in the hope of "reconciling us" (which is another fallacy)

Myth 2: Abusive parents are always intentionally cruel to their children. If a parent doesn't mean it, its not abusive. Wrong. Parents can be cruel without intending to be. How? Parents who have exaggerated, distorted beliefs about the dangers of sex may try to stop their children from ever dating, or in some cases, masturbating. And when the kids do date, have sexual relationships, they often hide it from their parents. This is especially true in non-Western immigrant parents (South Asian, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc) who come from cultures where pre-marital sex is condemned.

Myth 3: If a parent is abusive, one can call the police and get rid of them. End of story. I wish. I really do. But the truth is that the only witnesses of these crimes are the victims (as is the case for any domestic abuse). So small children are expected to recognize that their mommy and daddy are criminals and phone the cops? No, they grow up with it, and they learn to accept it. It is the family way, even if they learn the concept of abusive homes ("that happens to them, not us").

Also, as far as I know, the law does not criminilize parents for having extreme beliefs, like hatred for pre-marital sex or thinking that "no good jobs" come from a field that the parent knows nothing about. Ignorance is ignorant, it's scientifically falsifiable, but it's not illegal.

So no one is going to challenge them.

What do we do?

I'm so happy to be done with the 101, because I'm suffering tonight. My mother is thankfully leaving tomorrow, and my strength is needed for things like job searches and apartment hunts.

The truth is that, inspite of all the garbage we are told, these parents do not change by "talking it out". You do not talk someone out of their nature. And its iditiotic to argue that they are this way because we didn't say the right words. They are this way because of the decades of upbringing and neurophysiology that took place before we were born. Good parents can change their views, but if their doing the same shit when your 25 that they were doing when you were 5, 10, 15, 18, 22...then it's fair to say that that is who they are.

Of course accepting your parents nature does not require you to forgive them. Forgiveness should be earned for changing bad bevaiour and mindsets. It should not be obligatorilly given. There is NOTHING wrong with you for refusing to forgive your parents. You don't have "issues", you have values, specifically the value that abuse in your own home is unacceptable, even if you must accept the fact that they will never change. There will be no "healing" if you push yourself to forgive parents who continue to torture and mistreat you, with no reform in sight.

Stop blaming yourself for hating them. Anyone who treats you this way, ESPECIALLY your own parents, does not deserve forgiveness unless they realize the cruelty of their actions and make real attampts to change them. Sadly, this is unlikely to happen.

Which is why you must stop trying to "talk" with them and start trying to talk with yourself, for the purpose of surviving. But ultimately for the purpose of thriving and learning the mental will to resist their ugly control. They are monsters, but YOU are a warrior. Follow the path of self-control of your mind, of ACCURATELY weighing the pros and cons of decisions, INSTEAD of the bigoted, ignorant, prejudiced ideas your parents want you to believe. Learn to tell the difference between a real worry and an ignorant worry (and expect both such worries to come out of the same mouth of the parent. Be on guard to tell shit from reason as your parents will indiscriminately speak both in the same breath.)

Financial independence is key, but you must also learn psychological independence. And you may have to practice the psychology first, because this economy means many more sons and daughters will be pushed to rely on their parents for money. Keep searching and keep striving. You don't have to settle for menial jobs, at least not in the long term.

I pray (though I'm an atheist) that this blog is the start of something beyond hope. We must stay strong and find the strength in ourselves and each other, especially when unsympathetic listeners will tell us to "grow up". We're ALL growing up, and that process is not linear. Backwards, forwards, up, down, zig zag, experiment, make as you go crossed with look before you leap. That is the maturation process for EVERYONE, even the shitheads who think they know it all.

There are no police, no knights, no lobby groups (yet), and no stimulus package...As our President once said:

"We are the change we have been waiting for."