Thursday, August 9, 2018

Dominator vs. Persuader Cultures

Any of you ever wonder why the narcissists and sociopaths seem to "succeed" the most with positions of power going to the biggest jerk? One way to analyze this is to look at the structure of the culture itself. We live in a culture that is all about competition and domination. Narcissists live for domination, that's the core part of the disorder, other people are to be CONQUERED, not lived with, not to be happy with but controlled. Thinking about these issues I ran into the concept known as DOMINATOR CULTURE.

On Facebook, I met some high school classmates, and sometimes we talk, some have said, "Oh you were so sweet and nice!" I was quiet, of course but I thought "Oh no I was too nice" Being so Aspie, I never was able to cement down the "Games People Play" to win them. I wish I was more of a risk taker. Sometimes I get in strange conversations with my husband, "I don't want people to think I am weak!"When I was young, I vacillated between Peter Walker's fawn or fight. Sometimes I froze. Many people wonder why does life have to seem a constant battle? What has brought this upon us?

This is a society that is based on control and punishment. Conform or suffer. If you don't fit the norm, you also are punished even if it is for things you can't help. The most dominant societies are ones who have the strongest police states while those who lean more towards persuader culture believe in cooperation. Think of the difference between USA under Trump and Russia which would lean towards Dominator status and northern Europe countries like Sweden which would be closer to the Persuader end in comparison.

From Wikipedia:

Dominator culture refers to a model of society where fear and force maintain rigid understandings of power and superiority within a hierarchical structure.[1] Futurist and writer Riane Eisler first popularized this term in her book The Chalice and the Blade (Harper Collins San Francisco, 1987).[2] In it, Eisler positions the dominator model in contrast to the partnership model, a more egalitarian structure of society founded on mutual respect among its inhabitants. In dominator culture, men rule over women, whereas partnership culture values men and women equally. Other theorists, including Terence McKenna and bell hooks, have expanded on the implications and impact of dominator culture.[3][4] They, among others, argue that adherence to the dominator model over the partnership model denies the possibility of a more equal society, systematically allowing for the persecution of those who are “dominated”—including racial and ethnic minorities, LGBT people, and women.

 As a result, dominator culture not only accepts but justifies the pollution and destruction of the environment. Daniel Quinn, a philosophical and environmental writer, takes on these issues in his novel Ishmael, characterizing dominator culture as Taker culture and detailing its incompatibility with the environment.[11]

I got into a discussion online, with someone from a message board that was centered on religion and how Christianity was centered on a parental/punishment paradigm and arose out of the new ways of living for humanity based on nation states and needing a "strong man" to be in charge which influenced the "nature" of the God they created.  They recommended I read the book Ishmael which I did.  This book Ishmael, talked about Taker vs. Giver [Persuader] culture and seem to warn back in the early 1990s about the environmental devastation and decline of culture now happening. This book blew my mind and helped to describe some of the issues we are facing. This person online wrote this to me to explain it all:

"Korten and Quinn both posited that all cultures and societies fell into one of two types. Many names for both. One is Dominator/Taker/Empire/Abuser/"Civilized" societies, as they seek domination, very coercive and authoritarian, and seek to take. The other is Persuader/Leaver/Tribal/"Primitive"/Non-Abuser societies, where authoritarian rule doesn't exist and those societes are based on persuasion, not coercion, and they don't seek domination.

Today the dominator style is global and the persuader style exists only in a few primitive tribes in remote areas. Few people even know persuader societies exist.

At the core of the dominator mentality is the view that humans are basically wicked and must be restrained and controlled. At the bottom it is fear-based. Such societies are highly controlling and punitive. This creates all sorts of pathologies. You're either victim or victimizer, the option of being neither is closed off, and you get marginalized if you don't want to participate in the dominance game. Such societies are lacking in empathy. Conquer or be conquered. If you're not on top, you're on the bottom, which means you get the worst of everything. It's the fear of being abused that drives people to become abusers.

 The fear of poverty and homelessness that drives greed. It's the fear of powerlessness and helplessness that drives the lust for power. The fear of violence that drives the buildup of huge militaries and Police States. And because these things are mere substitutes for what people really seek (lasting inner peace, inner security, inner fulfillment, tight knit connections with others), there is no such thing as enough. So they are very expansionist, and they hate "leaving well enough alone". And they tend to believe "there is one right moral way to live and everyone must conform". Such societies are inherently coercive and abusive. Fear and pain are the governing emotions. 

Persuader Societies are based on the idea that at heart, humans are basically good, and most wrongdoing comes from ignorance, misunderstandings, and a sickness in the head, rather than malice or evil. They don't divide people into "good" and "evil" the way Dominator societies do. The leaders of such societies don't have coercive powers. This is one of the fundamental misunderstandings of Europeans whey they first encountered Native Americans in the New World. They thought the tribal chief was a king. He is not. He does not have the power to command anyone to do anything. Most of the famous chiefs of history only commanded war parties, not tribes. 

Persuader society tribes did have leaders, but their role was advisory, not coercive. In other words, they were the tribes' chief counselor and advisor, not a commander. Persuader societies didn't have commanders. Even in war the warriors were free to abandon the battle and leave and the war chief couldn't do anything about it. No executing someone for desertion, for example. So Native American warriors lacked the discipline the White Man armies. The chief was the person everyone in the village agreed was the wisest man they knew. It was a duty, rather than a privilege. There's no special wealth or power in being a chief. Chiefs had no servants and their tents didn't look any better or bigger or nicer than anyone else's. They didn't seek power or wealth as there was no power or wealth to seek. They tended to be very egalitarian societies by our standards. Domestic abuse was unknown in those cultures. They didn't treat their children like property the way we do.

Children weren't segregated from the adult world like they are in ours, but were well-integrated. And children weren't the exclusive responsibility of their parents like in our society; they were responsibility of the entire tribe. "It takes a village to raise a child". So the burden and stress placed on parents was far less. And children got to observe the inner lives of a great many people, not just their parents. Children from age 6 on were viewed and treated as full adults, with the full choice of whom they lived with. The kids themselves chose, not some judge in a court who are strangers to the family and knows nothing about the dynamics going on beyond a few sheets of paper written by other strangers.

Dr. Stanley Greenspan, author of "Growth of the Mind" is a child psychologist who specializes in working with autistic children (he utterly rejects the standard ABA therapy for autistics, favoring a far more humane approach). His main contribution to my worldview is his "6 Irreducible Needs of Children".

The needs are: 1. The Need for Ongoing Nurturing Relationships
  1.   The Need for Physical Protection, Safety and Regulation
  2.   The Need for Experiences Tailored to Individual Differences
  3.   The Need for Developmentally Appropriate Experiences
  4.   The Need for Limit Setting, Structure and Expectations
  5.   The Need for Stable, Supportive Communities and Cultural Continuity
A little more detail can be found here, and he talks about in his "Growth" and in book "The Irreducible Needs of Children". 

The are the basic emotional needs of all children, everywhere. All must be met if the child is to grow up psychologically healthy and capable of being fully functional adults, who can hold down jobs and be cable of healthy non-abusive relationships. 

Persuader cultures did a superb job of meeting all 6 needs. Our own culture, by contrast, does an abysmal job. The poorer you are, the less likely it is that all or any of these needs will be met. And when these needs aren't met, what you get is damaged dysfunctional adults. And they tend to go in one of two directions; either they become criminals lacking in empathy, from gangsters to sociopathic narcissistic leaders of any and all types of organization (notice all organizations in this society follow the same dominator authoritarian stratified pattern?), with anger problems and don't care about the suffering of others.

Or, they retain their empathy but turn into timid withdrawn types, fear and pain-ridden, seeing other humans as hostile and untrustworthy. Often very easily emotionally hurt, prone to clinical depression and suicidal thoughts, and often very poor advocates for themselves, because all the self- words, like self-esteem, self-confidence, have been smashed to bits.

The environments they live in is anything but nurturing, with few or no visible means at getting emotional needs met in a healthy way (including the need for stable reliable long term housing, food, clothing, heat)....they often end up seeking pathological escape, via drugs, alcohol, and creating massive drama, and crime. 

In other words, the drug problem is a social issue, not a personal failing. Notice how it's worst in economically devastated areas where stable living wage jobs are lacking?"

I think they summed up the main problem with our culture.  ACONs come out, and escape and go no contact, but and then ask what the hell happened? We ask questions like why does it seem like the narcissists always "win". Many of us ended up losing the whole families because of walking away. Why did this happen? The Domination society supports the Dominators, the controllers who are often the narcissists. 
Some of us who are abuse victims, come out of it all, and then look outside the box realizing the whole system brings abuse. Why are so many of the bosses abusive? Why are work places still run like 19th century fiefdoms? We aren't led in many places by the intelligent and kind but the plotting and evil. We also ask in dealing with our own anxiety issues, why do we feel inside always constantly under "threat?" While I've had kind friends come to my rescue and help me out many times, I've pondered those feelings of fear I have.  What I was I so afraid of? I got tired of being afraid. As I sought to separate myself from my abuse, there was many who wanted to replicate the punishment and fear factory my parents got started. Too high of expectations married to insane demands, based on too low of resources seems to be how things are run with accompanying threats if one does not comply. Being different is equaled with being inferior. Diversity is not acceptable in a dominator culture. Racism and other forms or prejudice are integral to it.

Our entire society seems to be based on abuse. Few admit the system is messed up, to do so can earn one rancor. Conservatives always seem to vote out of their fears. Liberals vote out of more hope. Notice how Trump whipped all those up, with the constant threats. The authoritarianism is conducted via the two prongs of fear and punishment. The lust for power bringing control and dominance, is achieved via scapegoating and built in hierarchies of domination.

Religion can serve as some of the centers of control. At UU church, I got into a conversation basically saying God was an "so cruel" in some versions of Christianity, because the societies moved into nation-state status and were ruled by "Strong-Men" so we got a Strong-Man Dominant "God". Hell became the punishment to keep you in line while heaven was the carrot on the stick in the hereafter.   This is why Christians and evangelicals are so authoritarian where they want a government that rules by punishment and control. Their authoritarianism is growing with the disconnection in society and the increased hyper-capitalist competition. This is why they desire a theocracy and tell you that this life is supposed to be all suffering while they tell you to hold out for anything good after death.

 There is a connection between Western Europe's more free societies and more secular thinking. The Dominator mentality seems married to Christian beliefs about the depravity of man and inner sinfulness. I had major cognitive dissonance as a Christian writing against dominionism online when I realized the whole religion was oppressive and most of it centered on domination.

 Ever wonder why in our society everyone is led to analyze themselves for how "bad" they are? And it's not just the extreme Christians and their rules, there's plenty of arenas this is played out on. The human reason for living seems to be nothing but the addressing of flaws.  Health would be one. Are you a "bad" fatty? Are you wearing your fitbit? Did you got to the gym enough times last week? Work would be another. Are you working hard enough? Did you make enough money? Consumerist society leads one to always look at themselves for short-comings. There's plenty of arenas where we are told we don't measure up outside of religion especially in American society.  So why is everyone so focused on how wicked they are, not just in religion but failing to be healthy and wealthy enough? Even happiness itself often becomes a measuring stick. Are you self actualized? Even if the Dominators don't beat you directly, they definitely have succeeded in getting people to beat themselves up constantly. This way they can control you from within. People who blame themselves for everything that has gone wrong, don't ask too many questions of who is in charge.

While one doesn't want to romanticize tribal culture, they had their "wars" for most life was different. There's a reason native people's protested greatly at being forced into western society. While there was a push to convert and modernize them, no one realized or seemed to admit that they loved their former way of life and did not want to leave it. They were cut off from everything that gave them meaning and dragged into a new more brutal world. Yes the tribes operated differently, societies were COOPERATIVE. Life was to be enjoyed not to be under total punishment and control and profit via labor. They were close to one another and one's fellow man was to be a support not mere competition.  The natural world was not something to conquer or dominate. It was seen as one's home with man part of the world instead of separate and at war with it.

Being in touch with the natural world instead of fighting it also made things different. Our planet is dying but very few are noticing. People are clueless about the natural world and so are separated from it. The scientists warn and show studies and statistics, outside nature lovers who ask where have all the lightening bugs gone or notice far less birds in the sky, people can't discern that our eco-system is sick and dying. Too many are out of touch, and they don't care. We have people in power now who are assaulting the environment. They believe the world is to be conquered not lived in peace. When I was a fundamentalist Christian, they repeated constantly how God gave humans "dominion" over the earth, but then we weren't supposed to get into "green" causes because God was going to give us a "new earth" anyway. Persuader or [Native] cultures, knew our very existence was intertwined with the earth, seasons, other animals and nature. They knew our physical and emotional health and human beings themselves were dependent on the earth not separate from it.

  “The mythology of your culture hums in your ears so constantly that no one pays the slightest bit of attention to it. Of course man is conquering space and the atom and the deserts and the oceans and the elements. According to your mythology, this is what he was BORN to do.”
Daniel Quinn,
Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

So we are in a culture that wants to conquer, not only the planet itself which by the way is doing worse and worse but to conquer each other. When I was young, I was given a version of the future that was far more liberal in outlook then what we have today. We were told technology would free mankind and not enslave it. We were told technology would make our lives all better and more "free". Has this happened? If anything technology has been used to enslave more then free like the amazon ware-house workers under constant electronic surveillance. Work places have not advanced. We got screens instead of more gadgets to lighten the load of daily life. People work many hours not to keep them busy or happy but under the threat of starvation and homelessness. Conformity is demanded more in the work world where to be a little different means you are out. I remember when there was HOPE regarding the future, and now it seems to be nothing but dystopian visions that seem to have looming prisons and guards and darkened skies. This is where the increasing focus on domination has taken us. Where are our dreamers or those asking "What If"?

 Yes punishment and fear runs the whole show. The winner's win and the worse thing is to become a "loser". That's America, punishment city with the most incarcerated people ever before in history. Check out some travel videos onYoutube, Mark Weins is one and Mikey Chen on the Simply Dumpling channel, and you will notice how much HAPPIER people in other countries look then Americans. They are poor, don't get me wrong, but the smiles speak for themselves. While their lives are far from easy, I wonder how many retain at least some Persuader qualities in their lives instead of Dominator ones. It will make you wonder about this place.

The narcissism is woven into the whole game, screw or be screwed. My family would get angry at me telling me I was a sucker and once my father smacked me around saying "You are too idealistic, you will never survive this world" and that I was a "damn hippie". I see him as someone who massively sold out. Both parents worked for the government as  bureaucrats counting body bags for all the Middle Eastern wars. Dominator cultures award those who share in the domination games.

Yes there's no empathy in such societies, Sums up the USA doesn't it? And things are growing MORE Domineering and cold.  In older days I think you could be detached, and "drop out" easier--the places to do that are very rare and limited now nor just live a nice quiet life in peace, but now it seems they want to own your soul too. I do truly believe the narcissists are rising to the top country wide, like normal good people are just being shoved aside. What will change these trends, I am not sure. We need a new counter-culture. There are empathetic people out there, who are questioning the status quo too, to ally with, but there's some deep problems to face.

It is the fear of being abused that turns people into abusers. I've felt that tug at me, that says "well you may as well be a bitch because no one gives a damn".  Thankfully I have kind people around me who have helped me out and been there for me, so these tendrils haven't wrapped themselves around my heart like they have so many others.

Probably every ACON in the world has felt this. Fighting the narcissists by becoming a narcissist yourself and we know too clearly how many golden children they succeeded in this with. I noticed in my own family, even the cousins and extended relatives seemed to push feelings of guilt and empathy away like they were nasty gnats to be squashed. The majority were shut down. I couldn't be one of them. For many of us ACONs, predominantly narcissistic families will hate those they see as having "soft" feelings. They will smack the scapegoat around telling them to "harden" up. Tears are not acceptable. I know mine was mad, because I had not conformed, and questioned the fear and punishment running this society.  The fundamentalist and evangelical Christianity fits into this, where they do believe there is only one moral way to live and everyone must conform. It is abusive. This is one place where hell fits in. A God as "police man" to a destructive society, who tells you that you must conform or you'll burn after this place too. There was one person who wrote on a deconversion board Christianity was formed a "self policing" religion, the powers that be couldn't keep tabs on everyone 24-7 so it was a form of mind control to keep people in line.
I wonder if some feel this difference with Persuader societies, I always had an interest in Native American societies, and while primitive societies had their hardships and own forms of violence, definitely the whole structure of the society is different. Not everything was based on fear and control. People were not seen as evil but seen as sick or not understanding.  Yes they were egalitarian by our standards. It was true the tribe helped raise the children, it wasn't all divided into family units.

With Dr. Stanley Greenspan, his needs are more specific then Maslow's but we can all agree with them. We see many family ills, related to the neglect and those needs not being met. Many children today just seem traumatized. They are told they must measure up. Authoritarian parenting has worsened with many praising spanking or sending irate teens to troubled teen centers where the focus is on "breaking their wills" [breaking their spirits].  There's too many lost and lonely by early ages. Our social structure of divided nuclear families that now all compete within each other is breaking down. While there are still some loving parents out there, many are facing narcissistic and destructive parenting. One disturbing trend is people being against the 'self-esteem" movement or those various selfs like self love. In Christianity they instructed me that "the self esteem movement" was selfish and destructive, I have now abandoned that. Many ACONS are required to go no contact to recover what little of their self-esteem is left. Dominator societies want to dominate their children too. There is a scary point of pride now among those with a dominator mentality who seem eager to destroy their young and deny them economic survival.

Becoming aware of the concept of Dominator culture has been interesting for me, because it has led to me ask what are we afraid of? We can stand against the dog eat dog games, and the destruction and oppression of anyone who is "different' or does not "conform". It leads one to question the "domination" games, and to ponder the ability of finding connection with others, and rejecting false values a society full of narcissists has given us.  Ever wonder why narcissism is such a problem in American society? Learning about the dominator culture concept has helped explain it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Food and Friends

                                        stir fry I made, this is normal weekly food for us.

This is a reading I wrote at the UU fellowship like the Transcendental Movement one. I was housebound that day, so my husband got to read my words. The topic was on The Spiritual Aspect of Food. One thing, these essays are short, we are given 5 minutes, so I have to pare down a lot of the writing which makes for an interesting outcome. It's interesting I do still think of those times. It reminds me like the good times with my one aunt, these were the memories I held on to. 

“Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.” --ANTHONY BOURDAIN

When I was young, my family was Catholic and I attended a Catholic school, where we were educated by nuns. I lived right across the street from this school in *******.   During the mid 1970s the church decided to sponsor a  refugee family from Vietnam. Their family had 5 kids, one older sister, two brothers and a middle child daughter who I became best friends with.

As a child, I did not come from a happy household and sought refuge in other places. Their family would become a safe haven for me. My life was full of Catholic rituals and rites. This included Mass twice a week, Soup Suppers, Confession past second grade, Confirmation Class and retreats.

However my life beyond  the Catholic religion was very involved with being immersed in another culture from around age 8-13.   I heard my friend's parents converse in Vietnamese on a daily basis--back then I knew a few words and got to hear about life in a foreign county.  They were converting to Catholicism but their house had pictures and Buddhist artifacts as well.

The family was given jobs upon their arrival which basically was cleaning and maintenance of the church and school.  My new friend Loan's family had braved being shot at in a helicopter during the fall of Saigon, and escaped with their lives to America. Loan who was in third grade with me barely knew English when her family first came, but learned it fast.

Many hours were spent playing kickball or 4-square in the huge expansive parking lots between all the buildings and exploring the cemetery with it's tombstones dated back to the 1800s. Other times, I would accompany Loan and her siblings as they were given cleaning jobs to do and her parents cleaned the school's long green hallways or polished the church pews and altar.

I was a very socially awkward girl,and mocked for being fat all the time, but with Loan and her brothers I shared a special friendship. This brought a lot of joy to my young life, and leaving on the very day of my thirteenth birthday when my family moved away was especially painful. I would keep contact with her for many years but we would lost touch.

It's weird but one thing I remember at the time was the food. It stood out. It's strange the things we remember so strongly. I probably ate over at their house at least several times a week.

My memories include before I became allergic to seafood as an adult was eating all these crabs that had been spread out on the table which were freshly caught. Unlike home, where meals were angry affairs, with my friend's family, it was smiles, laughter and happiness as we broke the crab legs apart to get the sweet meat out to dip it in soy sauce and fish sauce. I miss fish sauce.  I spent many over nights where there was always a big pot of rice left on the stove and in my mind's eye I picture these very spicy bowls of red meat but with a taste I was never able to replicate. There was a oily sheen and ground up spices in that dish. My friend and I would even eat this dish cold for breakfast over rice from the pot their Mom left out on the stove.

My family served up "meat and potatoes" fare, meatloaf, spaghetti, and other various dishes most of the time. A lot of it was boring and low in nutrition. I don't remember eating a vegetable that came outside of a can until I started working at my salad prep jobs in high school.  My mother sometimes made fancy foods for adult parties, but for most of us our daily fare was two slices of toast with a bowl of sugary cereal like Life Cereal or Honey Nut Cheerios for breakfast and a bologna sandwich with Pringles Potato chips with three Oreo cookies for lunch. Our food was extremely processed. McDonalds was the height of our nutrition. Many Americans were out of touch with food cultures and had become hooked on corporate processed food that had been rolled out as a convenience in the 1950s.
                                        Asian food groceries I bought

At my friend's house, there was rice, egg rolls full of chopped vegetables, slowly cooked meat, rice noodles, various cooked vegetables including a cucumber salad, Ramen with hard boiled eggs, and pieces of pork, and egg rolls full of various pieces of meat, and vegetables and rice vermicelli or cellophane noodles inside fried in wrappings of rice paper. These kind of egg rolls are so hard to find away from the East Coast and outside of Chicago, I found myself during a trip in 2001 telling my husband, we had to go to a Vietnamese restaurant just for egg rolls fried in rice paper and did just that. Before pho became a sensation among foodies, I am sure I had a few working class variations of it. The cooked down red beef "curry" over rice, I ate all the time at their house probably was a version of Vietnamese beef stew called "Bo Kho". Every meal was eaten with some vegetables, herbs, cucumber and cilantro. My palette was well expanded beyond a typical 10 year olds. The flavor profiles had far more depth.

As a fat kid, I was constantly put on diets by my parents. The rare fat disorder Lipedema and other medical disorders would come to knock on my door later on giving me severe weight problems and judgement, but back then I was often a hungry kid.  The diets were severe too. Many times celery sticks and watery gross cabbage soup out of the Pritikin Diet book would replace the pot roast and potatoes.  I hated all the tasteless food, and would go running to my friend's house to eat instead.

My friend's parents were very generous and had no problem with providing meals to a kid like me, there was plenty to go around and no skimping. One week, her father wanted to have a party and many friends were invited. Two large white ducks in cages appeared in their foyer. I was around 10 years old, and was excited that the family had acquired "new pets". I remember crying when my friend told me what they were there for and trying to talk the father out of killing them to eat.

 I remember being so upset about the ducks, I can't remember if they talked me into eating them after their demise. That was something new too. An early example I guess of locally sourced food. I was a suburban kid, I had no idea of farms or where food really came from.

My memories of food, walk hand in hand with friendship with this family and also exploring a culture that was not my own. I often feel a loss that is hard to explain, like I was born into the wrong culture. I envy people who own a culture and who have a food history.

There was something real there, to connect over. Where food is real and can bring joy and is nutritious. This family at least when I knew them kept to their food rituals and recipes and it gave them some foundation as they sought their way in a new country. It was food made with love and history.
                                         chicken and rice noodles with curry

I would keep an affinity for Vietnamese cooking and then would embrace Asian cooking as a whole. I cook Asian food all the time now, and have my husband drive me to ******* ,where I buy the "real stuff" as often as possible within our budget.  I buy bok choy, chili sauce, soba noodles, imported rice noodles, better soy sauces, and sometimes frozen pot stickers and dried nori seaweed.

I do believe I have stayed alive longer trying to incorporate vegetables into the diet, and know the difference in how I feel when something is cooked from scratch then made from a box. The classic American diet, that has been so corporatized, it isn't doing most of us any favor.  We need real food back. Real food makes for more real conversation and friendship too.

That is definitely something lost in American society, the cooking with love and a long history. I think of those old days with my Vietnamese friends and sometimes an old smell or dish will remind me of the friendship we shared. I think in the food I choose to eat and enjoy, these always bring me happiness.

Look for the Helpers

Yes there are helpers out there. I have had caring people help me, and thank you to all of you. That's one thing to focus on, looking for the kind people and sharing my appreciation for them.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Living "Alone" for Ten Days Was Interesting


 My husband has published another book. He is a co-author. I don't want to say the topic for identity purposes but he had to go on some book shows. He wanted the trips to be shorter but it was three cities over 10 days. His co-author put him up on a couch at his office. The publisher paid for the bus and train tickets. Hopefully this book will sell enough to help us get a used car.

This travel was beyond me going especially in the summer heat. He was going to a hotter climate too, where 90s was the norm not just the low and high 80s. I joked that we needed to win the Lotto, so we could rent a tricked out van with powerful air conditioning with a bed in back so I could make it on his trips. That did not happen. It sucks not being able to travel.

 This week, a friend did drive us to another big city that was closer so I was able to go to one of his book shows and meet his co-author. The temperature was in the high 70s. That was nice. We ate out and I looked at the sights, and took pictures. However during these other book shows, I had to live at home alone for 10 days. While he and his best friend had gone to some concerts out of town and come home very late, I had not spent a night alone in 17 years. Was I afraid? You bet.

I am pretty dependent on my husband. It's not just the endless care-taker crud but just the fact he was gone, that upset me.  Oh I missed him terrible. This is where you see the sensitive Aspie stuff come out. I burst out in tears the night he left which I know sounds sad and pathetic and far from age appropriate. What's wrong with me? Yeah this ACON crap can make it so you feel alone in this world too.

 I was worried about the worse things happening to him. What if he got sick or hospitalized, how would I get out somewhere that was 6-800 miles away? I haven't traveled more then 90 miles in the last 5 years and the furthest I've gone was 150 miles since 2011. My husband was sensitive to my needs and set things up so we could talk a few times a day. That helped a lot. This way I knew which towns he was in, and which bus and he stayed in one hotel room one night, and made me feel safer about the whole situation. Overall it was hard. I told him if any other adventures came up, I would be ready to sit in front of the door.

I hired an aide to survive his time away. She was a friend I knew locally who I met last year at a "Resist" protest, and she was a great disabled aide. My apartment left squalor land and became almost normal. She put me in my Flexitouch machine daily. One important part of her job too, was to make sure, I had not fallen and gotten trapped on the floor. My husband has had to get others to peel me off the floor twice this year. I had her do some salad prep, vacuuming, taking the trash out, picking up some groceries , buying me a fan at Walgreens and various other tasks. Before he left, we all met together and I described physical and other needs. I had her 2-3 hours a day with me. She was also someone to talk to. Her help was invaluable. I spared her any open display of my pining away.

While he was gone I did take the bus twice to go buy some food and pay one bill that had to be paid on a certain day at a local grocery store. We paid as many bills as we could before he left, but this bill-- the money wasn't going to be transferred into the bank account until he was gone. So I went. The Dial A Ride comes very fast at 8:00 in the morning. I went early to avoid extreme heat. Sometimes I do that when on housebound days. I may go early to my UU fellowship this Sunday to be "able to make it". Once I held an ice pack on my face to make it to an art class I didn't want to miss. However most of the week I was housebound from heat outside the early morning sojourns.

It was strange being without my husband. We are one of those couples who are very attached. I felt ripped in half while he was gone. That's the dark side of love I guess, when you are separated from someone you care about and how painful it can be. That's a void you can't fill with just anyone else.

People don't realize how close two people can get sometimes, and how it can affect people. It was so quiet, the normal conversations were just shut off. I felt traumatized and kind of shut down. I hadn't spent more then 16 hours where I was on my own since 2001. Then he went on a business trip for a week, back then I didn't have any aides but was younger and could function more on my own.

The silence that surrounded me was weird. I hate being alone. Does that sound bad? I don't mind solitude, he's been asleep and I've showered, cooked soup, ate lunch, saved his, and wrote on here. I'm not someone who can talk for hours and hours, I need peace and quiet but I hate living alone. I know a lot of online and other friends who live alone. Often I think "How do they do it?" 

 Physically most are more independent then me but I think of the emotional stuff too. I lived alone for a few years or in those boarding houses where there were some roommates but it wasn't the same as "knowing" and being "close" to the people you were with. I sometimes think the impact of "not having a family" can complicate some of these issues.  There's people who live alone who don't have a mate and who live alone out there: so called "elder orphans". That's kind of a scary miserable title isn't it? Sadly ACONs are more in danger of being "elder orphans".  I wish they made co-housing for poorer people, that's for sure.

 I often have had worries about me outliving him and what would become of me, and vice versa. "Independent Living" for the disabled can be kind of a scary issue. Will the social workers put me in a group home or nursing home? Can I fend for myself? I guess this trip answered this question. I can with an aide but it was kind of scary. He told me he was afraid to leave me alone so long. I could tell he even wondered about canceling. It was great friends were willing to help. My book club friend came to visit me too knowing I was alone too.

I feel into my strange living alone habits, not cooking much, though I ate enough to keep sugars balanced and bumbling around the apartment reading books and resting in bed. I got sick when he was gone. Maybe it was the stress, and got a bad cold, but fortunately it cleared up.  He called me regular on the phone so we were still talking and that made the time easier. Fortunately his trip went okay and it came to an end and I was relieved when he came home.  I remained busy and usually have something do even when alone or even inside.

I sometimes get afraid of being alone, and know what it is rooted in. I had a time in my 20s during the first no contact, where every friend moved away, and I was living alone in my own apartment. I would go to work and could go days without seeing or talking to another soul. There was one weekend when I had no work hours, I didn't own a TV that worked, and I owed the library too many fines, and I was broke, and I had absolutely no one to talk to or anywhere to go. I still remember that moment and the feeling of desperation. There was a fear that kind of lapped at the edges there. Some of those memories came fleeting back during this week. I kind of went into a Zen Buddhist "detachment" to survive thinking well, you can only control so much and reminding myself this was temporary.

One problem was keeping the OCD from rearing it's ugly head too. I allowed myself to check and make sure the front door was locked only twice at night. This is some of the cognitive therapy stuff I've used for years to keep OCD from getting the best of me.

I told him no more long trips, this one took a lot out of me. I'd probably be like that girl in the Catana Comic latched on his leg going Nooooooooooo!

Staying Goth

This describes me. The 80s were 30 years ago.

Second Sewing Project

I'm still sewing. I've had to handcraft all patterns from clothes I already own. I'm keeping things basic for now. This dress probably will be a fall dress as it is a thicker material. If anyone knows sources where really big people can get decent patterns, please tell me. I have looked internet wide, and they were either custom places I could not afford, or sizes that all ended at size 26 or 32. Even if I got my weight down, those sizes are far away.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

How Bad Religion and Child Abuse Go Together

I found this on a message board, if someone knows the original source, please tell me, and I will cite it here. Childhood Religious Indoctrination often coincides with childhood abuse. This doesn't mean all religious parents are abusive, some will teach a "god of love". The less fundamentalist ones will allow some exploration and critical thinking. However often times religion and child-abuse go hand in hand!

Raised in uber-Catholicism, my religious training included a lot of fear, shame, guilt, fantasy and idealism. My uber-Catholic parents who allowed no freedom of thought, thusly prepped me for the fundamentalists.  In my case, I "rebelled" and deconverted the first time, considering atheism even by age 10, but extreme trauma, abuse and the circumstances of life drew me back into another flavor of oppressive religion.  Right now my deconversion and my no contact ACON recovery are walking hand in hand. It's strange how letting go of an abusive "God" who threatened me with hell, was only possible after letting go of a family that made my life hell on this earth.

This has given me the emotional freedom to even allow happiness to be possible. I think thoughts like: "You can be happy now." and "Enjoy your years left on this earth".  The fogs of endless guilt and shame have lifted. Love in marriage gave me a foundation too.  It's doubtful many therapists would go this deep religiously with their clients, but I believe ties to an abusive God, will keep one in the abuse matrix. In other words, you may free yourself from parental abusers, or they long ago died, but one big Kahuna remains in your head, with the pointing finger of God saying "You're bad!" 

Many of us who do leave Christianity, do arrive at the conclusion that God as presented in evangelical and conservative Christianity is another abuser who has filled the space in our heads. He becomes a stand-in for the abusive parents. Just like ACONS have to learn to avoid narcissists and abusers in day to day life, spiritual examination needs to come in too.

The spiritual does overlap the emotional. I don't believe in demons anymore in the classic sense but my parents often appeared in my dreams as "demonic". They'd show up with glowing red eyes, and always ready to do extreme physical harm to me. It's strange that they were beyond human in my dreams. This may tell of the extreme power I believed they had over me.  They'd cackle, laugh and chase after me. It's not a good sign when the Boogey-men and monsters of your dream life are your own parents and relatives.  Even when I was a staunch believer, it seemed I stood up more for myself in those dreams, more then any imagined or dreamed of deity. After no contact, my dreams were like the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon movie mixed with James Bond films in fighting my enemies.

I have a theory about conservative and evangelical Christianity, I've talked about on a few ex-Christian, atheist and other boards. I believe Christianity itself is based on a toxic parental paradigm. While this exists in other religions, Christianity seems to go the farthest. The religions that seek God more as a divine force of goodness, either allow for the negative aspects of life to be explored or insist on God being loving instead of wrathful and punishing. Even Jews have a tradition of arguing with God. For conservative Christians, God is an abusive, controlling father who is ready to unleash the whoop-ass on you for one broken rule.  You don't dare argue. Too much of humanity remains in infancy, while basing life on "punishment" instead of growing up. What else is hell for but the ultimate grounding, with "Daddy" setting up the system doing the worse that can be thought of?

The harmful childcare practices overlap with the toxic doctrine. Hell is the ultimate punishment, but more punishments are in store with God's "chastisements" and groundings. There was this constant feeling that bad things happening meant God had displeasure with you and the opposite was true too. Most churches today teach that God directs your life and if one is living a painful and hard life, there is that undercurrent, that "you are getting what you deserve". Add in the very foundation that to enter the religion at all in the "born again" sense of things, that one must admit they are a wretched sinner who has wronged God over and over. Self esteem is not grown in this system. It is diminished.  A punishment based life is an unhappy life. Us ACONs who were scapegoats grow up and take too much responsibility, we are mired in a muck of self-blame. Those who are in a Christian religion like this get it from both sides.

Hell is used to keep many an abused child in line. One is told, if you don't obey your parents, you will go to hell!  Some churches will inform young people, if you don't believe the same way your parents do, you will go to hell. The earlier the indoctrination, the more of an effect this will have. I was warned about the hot fires of hell and never being able to escape from an early age. Even to earn Purgatory you had to be "somewhat" good and holy.

Many abusive Christian parents use religion for isolation and control. This happened to me. The most extreme ones, practice separation from the world. I was separated from other people too. I was not allowed to go to parties or visit very many other kids. I was told their parents were wicked or they "drank" or they were "not to be trusted".  I was punished for going to a friend's United Methodist church after a sleep over.

Many focus on Christian fundamentalists and homeschoolers as the only culprit, but there's other religions where religious abuse can happen. I was not allowed to date in high school even as some of my classmates married and had babies by 20 and are grandparents today. There was no junior high dances for me, and before I was beaten down, even as an Aspie, I wanted to socialize with the few friends I had. I was given severe edicts about sex, and told by the nuns and my parents both, that only whores had sex or "boyfriends" and the people who "never did it" were the most holiest of all. When it came to sex and just about everything else guilt and shame ruled.

There's young people coming out of Quiverful and Christian homeschooling families who have told horror stories about their isolation, denial of educations, physical beatings and mental abuse. With some of the most public fundamentalist families like the Duggars, they seem to take a pride in not allowing their children to grow up and keeping them obedient into adulthood. There are extreme cases like the Turpin abuse and torture of their children being exposed.

 The churches themselves teach not only isolation for the parents who aren't supposed to socialize outside of the Christian bubble, but with homeschooling and more stress "isolation" from the "wicked world". During my time within the IFB and Christian fundamentalism,  I didn't like how most of the parents parented their children, they were far too strict. I lived in a small rural town where everyone I knew, even people in other churches all homeschooled their children. The public schools in that place were on the verge of collapse. Some were already experimenting with "courtship" in the way the Duggars do it, 15 years ago. Some of the more extreme people  did believe in patriarchy and women obeying men. They believed college was a waste of time for women and that they should only marry and have babies and focus on being "modest". Fellow progressives, realize where the USA is going. There's a lot of people who support this stuff out there, and I've seen it myself and it's growing!

God is a handy tool for all abusers to abuse. All of them claim God is on their side. God was used to abuse me. I was a "wicked child", and "on the way to hell". I've discussed some of my spiritual and religious abuse here, but there was more then a few times where I was told I would go to hell directly. I listened to some Mission UK on my stereo when home from college, and was told I was a "Satanist". My grandmother after my mother called complaining about finding that UU literature in my college things and told me I would burn in hell. My never questioning GC sister who obeyed all Catholic rules and never missed mass, was the "good girl" and remained so to the day I walked away. Hell is a handy hammer for abusers to use against anyone who dares to show an independent thought. Atheists and free-thinkers online today warn young atheists, to hide their true religious feelings from parents and relatives. I believe this is good advice, but it was too late in coming for me.

God is deemed always as being "on the parent's side" in many churches, Catholic school/Christian school classrooms, and Sunday school no matter how severe the punishments or life style. If your parents beat you, it is seen as God's will and "discipline". A child is always supposed to obey. People in American society under-estimate the danger we are all in from the Republican party and religious right, it's not the religion per se itself but the authoritarianism that comes along with it.

The focus is always on obedience to authorities with obedience to God and obedience to parents. Remember even the adult Duggars are taught they are under their parents authority until marriage, and then the young married women are under the husband's authority. Obedience is supposed to be forced via punishment. The majority of Christian conservatives all support spanking. Pastors world over preach "Spare the rod, spoil the child". The Christian run "Troubled Teen" industry and reform schools have been exposed for abusive practices and totalitarian rule over young teens. Read the book "Jesus Land"

Their love of spanking by the way is connected to their "lock everyone up" legal sense, and support of the death penalty. Their God goes all out to punish, burning people in hell, and drowning millions in the Old Testament. The lack of empathy there comes from the negative example of the God they follow. Everything is about control and punishment. Submission to authority and to God comes first. They do not value freedom or independent thought. There are religious elements as to why freedom in America is dying and some people are demanding a police state.

Add in the impossible expectations. When one worships a God that in conservative Christianity that demands perfection from imperfect beings, with punishment on hand for those who don't measure up, even if a proxy is set up, this carries onto parenting practices. Many narcissistic parents who use religion to abuse are perfectionists, they don't even allow children to be children allowing for normal development, mistakes or learning. Even if churches teach "grace" from God, I saw very little of that in evidence. Appearances were focused on and being perfect. Here too, this helps fuel the never ending shame and guilt.

People are set up for fantasy and magical thinking in bad religion. In my case, due to the extreme nature of the narcissists I was under, I was punished a lot for any independent thought. Being a creative and artistic child, they worked hard to squelch that as much as possible. My mother didn't just attack me physically, but she attacked my very soul, when I would ask questions about God and life.  This would earn me usually some form of physical punishment. I was punished for not conforming. Inside I often thought thoughts that I knew were "non-acceptable" to those around me.This takes a toll on ACONS, as while we deal with our narcissistic religious ideologues, our youthful expression of ideas, and examination have no where to go. We have no positive guidance.

My mother was a rigid Catholic, who lacked all introspection. Whatever the Catholic church said, was true. Many ACONS with religious parents, are trained to shut down their critical thinking facilities, and not to trust themselves. This leaves them more prone to abusers, and false messages and being taken in by predators. I realize the decades of being shamed and blamed, and even dismissed for the first deconversion into my first 12-13 years in UUism, set me up for the later religious Kool-Aid, and that abusive deliverance minister.

 I was prone to neglect "Reality" thinking-- testing things with fact based science and rational thinking and maybe even a good dash of personal intuition. Magical religious thinking increased and that came out of being told to believe that wafer really became the flesh of Christ, and that invisible spirits [demons] hovered around my head ready to do me harm. Bad religions set a person up for failure. We are taught to shut down our rational thoughts about these religions which shuts down our reality testing when it comes to our abusers and the gaslighting. Our minds are imprisoned. The mind control of abusers is enhanced by the mind control of religion.

My doubts about religion actually began 12 years ago, when I noticed the prayers were not garnishing results, I could have deconverted with only 4-5 years invested into a false religious system instead of 16.  I was too scared to leave due to the programming and "guilt" though I left the IFB churches ahead of leaving the religion. One technique they used was telling me Satan will make one doubt. There was a built in religious "answer" to every doubt. Religion did as much as gaslighting to me as the abusive parents.

In evangelical and fundamentalist Christianity, Family and church authority are stressed. Conservative churches almost turn the family into an idol. Remember the group Focus on The Family?  Groups like that stressed severe discipline that was often physical. One's family is cited as a moral guide into adulthood even if that family is immoral. It's like one is never supposed to grow up and separate from their parents and find their own way. Church obedience was tied to family obedience. This was true in every conservative church I attended or visited. Family came first. This is one reason why singles and the childless did not fit into many conservative churches. For those of us who became estranged from our families or had to go no contact, we were shamed. The last IFB church I was in, the pastor did a sermon on how people need to "forgive" family members and go back to them. No contact, in this case would be seen as the ultimate wickedness.

The diagram is also correct about how many are denied REAL information. There is a reason that in evangelical and fundamentalist circles, education itself is being shut down. This is why they see science as a threat because science is reality. Science is making it clear that their child rearing practices are harmful and holding people back. I was told psychology was "wicked" and that secular counselors would lead me to harm. That's so another door on the way out can be closed. History was rewritten to support religious suppositions. Sex was deemed a giant evil. The internet is full of those who talk about how their sex lives were destroyed via religion. Like many young people raised in religious fundamentalism, I was taught sex was "evil" and "wrong". If I never had met my husband, my life path could have very easily ended up being life-long singleness and celibacy.

There are definitely developmental delays. Young people are held back by controlling religions. Their relationships, rational, critical thinking skills and intellectual skills are affected. They are emotionally crippled by religions based in shame and blame. Going no contact can be a growing up process making up for lost years when you were stuck in the mud of abuse and false religion. I hope more people realize how toxic religious systems negatively affect young people for life and enable abuse and abusers. 

Recovering from Bad Religion

Peep's Deconversion Articles