Tuesday, August 28, 2018

When You Refuse to be Meg Any Longer

These two videos are from Scapegoated Daughter. Meg has been mentioned on this blog before, watching Family Guy can be uncomfortable, because of this character.  She is the scapegoat of the family, and is ignored and put down all the time. While they expose the scapegoating ,at the same time, the show advances it, because they always have HER GIVE IN or COP OUT.

There's one episode where Meg goes to prison, and comes home hardened and she starts beating up her family, and she "owns" them for once, but backs down hating what she has become. Sadly instead of no contact, she gives in to them.

That episode really bothered me, because there were times when in reaction to my abuse, I would go off, and while I did not get violent enough to have cops called or hit anyone, it's like I was becoming THEM, and it was the only time there was ever a glimmer of respect. That sums up how many people become narcissists when raised by narcissistic parents.

 This one was definitely a disturbing episode. I only see Family Guy very rarely, but Meg has been kept a scapegoat. I have a bad memory about Family Guy,  it was on in the background at a family gathering and my brother joked that I was like Meg. I know he said it once on the phone as a "joke" too.

  "Three months later, Meg returns home with the mind and attitude of a hardened criminal, complete with a new thuggish and rebellious look. She immediately begins abusing her family, retaliating to the many years of abuse she had endured under them, such as rapidly beating up and curb-stomping Peter, raping him in the shower with a loofah, and using Lois’ shirts as toilet paper (while also keeping a "poop bucket" next to her bed and refusing to empty it until it gets full). In addition, she continues habits she picked up in prison, and beats up the kids who make fun of her at school, specifically Connie D'Amico and her friends, whom she hits with a sack full of unopened sodas, cracking three of the popular bullies' skulls open in the process, and tongue-kissing Connie afterwards, for which she is suspended. Wanting to start a new life away from home, Meg ambushes Brian in his car and threatens him with a gun to drive to Mort's Pharmacy so she can rob him. Brian, however, shows her the article he wrote, in which he describes her "far sweeter and kinder" than the typical American girl. Touched by the fact that Brian actually cares for her just as she was, Meg changes her mind and returns home with Brian; having changed back her normal personality in the process. Back at home, she makes a bad joke involving Wesley Snipes, and Peter, presumably not amused at this, ends the episode by saying "Always end on a strong joke".

In that episode while I do not condone the violence shown, the message was creepy near the end, where she backed down and said it was her lot in life to be abused. Where was the humor in that? I know it's a cartoon show but it made me wonder if there were any narcissistic writer's on staff, justifying the position of past scapegoats in their lives.

I had people tell me that it was my lot in life to maintain the role within my family, we probably all did, hearing...."but they are your family".  It is only in our modern more enlightened times, that people have heard about no contact and acted on it. Societal acceptance of leaving one's family except for the few boys who ran away to join the circus or the military was even less accepted. We are talking generations of people who believed this is the way things had to be.

Scapegoats who do stand up for themselves are programmed to feel guilty and apologize. I think of the times I apologized and cringe. To even do no contact most of us had to shut down all the "normal emotions" to make it stick, including false guilt. Emotions when it comes to malignant narcissists, are only tools for their manipulation since they do not have any except anger.

 Brian, the dog, is the only one with compassion, though Brian probably would remind some of us ACONs, as the standby enabler who behind the scenes tells us we are right about our "crazy parents" but who does what they want anyway. I had a few of those types who while they admitted behind the scenes I was a "nicer person" or they actually agreed with my stance on something would toss me under the bus post haste.

 Some years into no contact, I realized the depth of what was done. I got smart about how people argue or show one up, seeing the "game" from the outside definitely schooled me on how to avoid narcissists or being their target. Life got a lot easier for me as I was able to escape new narcissists. In fact one giant positive for me is having a life that is now narc-free.

This episode that was posted, where Meg argues with her entire family, well many of us past scapegoats have lived that. In part two she asks an interesting question, "Can this family survive without a lightening rod?" That's a good point about scapegoats being the emotional trash can. The answer is no, they would choose someone else to serve that role. She continues on the second video, "Maybe when I feel bad that means they don't have to" That sums up scapegoating quite well. It's also interesting, Stewie ,the baby, is basically a sociopath.  Some theorize malignant narcissism and sociopathy run in families. Perhaps Peter Griffin is on the histrionic wing of narcissism as he goes running to cry in the closet.

That also explains why people who treated us like they didn't want us around for years, when we finally walk, try hoovering us. I had recent hoovering attempts, they are desperate for their "forgive and forget" schemes and to get the scapegoat back in line. This many years down the road, it's kind of worrying, but other ACONs have faced this too. Since my new found happiness has been hard won, I am not going to turn my back and still plan on going forward.

 I worry about this cartoon though over all in it's treatment of a scapegoat. What messages is it giving society about scapegoats?  I know it's just a cartoon and obviously they get a lot of the toxic family dynamics right, but is there are a reason they always have her "give in"? Well I guess if she went no contact, the character would no longer be "there" to take any more abuse.

I think about how in many a family sitcom, there are scapegoats all over and this is almost seen as a natural way things SHOULD BE. That goes hand in hand with the dominator society values. They got to sell them on our programs where to treat people this way is seen as natural and normal. Where  in family systems, there's competition and "winners and losers" I like humor too, but sometimes the messages aren't so good. Years ago, it bugged me that every sitcom seemed to have a character that was the butt of everyone's jokes.  As a kid I hated how Rerun was treated on "What's Happening?" 

Even in the Simpsons, you can tell the parents genuinely care about the kids, but that's not true of the Griffins. One saving grace is that Meg says she will not see any of them once she turns 18, so she knows about no contact.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Punk Rock

“Punk rock is just another word for freedom.”
Patti Smith

I'm a goth before a punk. Goth music itself was an out-growth of post-punk but I was into punk music too when I was young. I still like to hear some of it too. My husband is really into punk music. I guess when we met, some of these mutual interests coincided. We always talked about "do it yourself" which impacted my idea to do my own art shows years ago and the "ethos" of punk. Yes, we are different couple. There was politics in punk too, like when the Clash stood up for striking miners and advanced political and social justice.

The worse thing in punk was "selling out".  We are now in an era, where we need some more music that stands up instead of corporate manufactured music. The music made what some called "ugly" beautiful. You didn't even have to be able to sing to play punk music. You could do your own thing. Some connect punk rock to rebellion, but is rebellion a bad thing? It made for some damn good music.

Punk bands I used to listen to and still listen to at times now,  included The Clash, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Minute Men, Buzzcocks, Lard with Jello Biafra, Husker Du, Dead Milkmen, Public Image Limited, Violent Femmes, and L7. My husband introduced me to the Ramones and many others.

Gym Notes

I've had two people come up to me at the gym and give me encouragement. One woman told me she was "proud" of me. For daring to even be there? Hey I will take all the positive messages I can take. Why not? Other fat people should not be scared off from the gym. You may not fit on all the equipment but some will work for you.

 I hope I can make it back soon, I am housebound tomorrow. We have been averaging twice a week. I check the weather to see when is the next time I can go. I'm continuing with the weights, and the stepper, it's slow going but some exercise is better then none.

Exercise seems to affect my problems with depression, in that, if I exercised one day, there is less depression. There's no miracles, I am still in bed too much at home controlling swelling, fighting thrush, but I have been able to add on the weights so some stamina is growing. :)

The Least


This cartoon is supposed to represent religion or Christianity.  Religion definitely had that affect on me. My deconversion brought me freedom from false guilt and shame. Even the endless patrolling of one's own thoughts for "evil" or "thinking off God's holy reservation" got old. 

One could translate this even to the ACON world, when we were in the fog we were in a cage we refused to or could not see.  I think about that issue how so many in this world are "programming for self-imposed cages". Many live their entire lives never getting the saw out or dare thinking of escaping.

The fear of eternal torture for many keeps the bars locked down tight in the religion world, and the fear of being alone or "having no family keeps the bars locked down tight in the ACON world until one escapes. I know what's it's like to be standing on the threshold of the door, like the bird so trained for the birdcage, it is scared to fly out.

In this world, there's a lot of mind control, and the best mind control is when they get you to form your own bars and keep them locked down for them. Self-policing at it's best.  Getting free will change your life.

Turning 50

My 50th birthday is this week. 49 sounds a lot better then 50. It's strange, I never prepared to grow this old, and in some ways that threw me off. I struggled so long to stay alive, I figured whatever time I have would be short. Remember I was disabled in my late 20s. People who weigh over 400lbs are told the Grim Reaper is about to take them out at any second. Yeah Lipedema changes that equation. However I almost did die far younger.  Every birthday is better then the alternative.

Being old is weird to me. I feel like I am 25 years old inside and need at least 25 years rolled back. Time got away from me somewhere around the year 2000, it's like it accelerated, and that worsened around 10 years ago. Even the years sound funny to me, 2020? What the hell, in my head it's 1987. In some ways, for me being 50 is far more troubling. I got behind and never caught up, though surely there's lots of people in my boat. I did get to be happily married even though there were no kids. However many of us all think we will have "made it" by 50 and that didn't happen.

Aging is hard to deal with. You ponder appearance issues, wrinkles, grey hair, and now the health problems that come automatically like needing glasses which I got last year. The passage of time seems so ignored by people. Inside of me there's a little voice, that yells, "Hurry up, Hurry up, there's only so much time before it's all over!". One ponders how much time is left with strange algebraic equations in my case about how long someone with COPD could live and could I be the world's fattest woman to live the longest ever?

It's strange when I was in my 30s, I wanted to hang around older people, and I did. This is one reason I lost so many friends, that's one draw back of befriending people older then you. People don't live forever. I have some older friends still and this is an inner worry.  Now I want to hang around people who are younger then me too. That's been a transition. I won't be ageist but inside I still feel young.

 I don't want to cut my hair short in tight curls, and don't want to wear white sneakers, and old people "uniforms". I still want to dress goth, listen to rock, and read comics.  Will the nursing homes in the 2040s and 2050s, have Gen X listening to Depeche Mode and U2? It's always funny to me how nursing homes, seem to hold on to the swing music and big band junk when the people who are old in there probably would rather be listening to Jimi Hendrix and The Doors.  In the 1990s, the red hat society ladies who were growing old were all in vogue, many have probably died off now. They tried to make growing older fun.

Some older women talk about a certain invisibility that takes over them with age. I'm not sure if I have felt that. Marriage has spared me from having to look "sexy" to attract a man though he likes a lot of my outfits and dresses.  Being Aspie already sets you aside. I feel for women who probably enjoyed life, being active and healthy, I wonder if aging is different for someone like that then me, who was in such bad shape early on. 

Some people never marry and stay single for life. That is probably very rough. There's the Elder Orphans out there who have no one. Only my spouse keeps me from fulfilling that criteria. Elder Orphan, what a sad name, it gives me pictures of little old people on canes or walkers left out in a street somewhere, with begging bowls at their feet.
Some of us never have kids. Society pictures every older woman sitting at her long dining room table with their giant families gathered around them. There's people I went to high school with that have a dozen grandchildren already. I just don't relate to them. What of those who don't have families? I could barely take care of myself. Probably if you have kids, its easier to age, you feel like you are leaving something behind in the world and it's people.  The only way I could have had kids in my case is if I had gotten pregnant as a teen, and in my case the family support would not have been there.

That's a rough part for us people who never had children. I sometimes post on child free boards, telling them to know what they are getting into especially when they get to my age. For me, being childfree was less of a "choice", but this is something to be concerned about. Some of us wonder who will take care of us when we are old. I and my husband sometimes have gotten sick at the same time, and that's one of the times when I've had those thoughts.

Some people when they age worry about getting ill, or incapacitated. I already crossed that Rubicon. Still others worry about ending up alone, and or ending up as bag ladies. This can be a society that is rough on the old.

At UU fellowship one lady read a poem about aging. That lady is probably 25-30 years older then me. She said they had a "croning" ceremony for those who hit their 50th birthday at her far larger UU church years ago. I found that interesting. They did it for mothers as well as non-mothers. In native cultures, there is more respect for the elders, and for their wisdom. This is something we have lost in society, isn't it. I had many older ladies lead me when I was a young woman, who were "mentors". We definitely need that. Allow women who have lifetimes of experience to share those experiences.

As one's life progresses, old age can be a time of regrets. That's a rough thing being an older person who has regrets. Maybe all people do.  I was sitting in the living room with my husband talking about this week and turning 50 and saying,"Where did the time go?". I said at least I found love in this life, that was a great thing not everyone managed but told him I felt sad about the struggles and that we had such a hard life. It is strange, I said, "But we tried our best didn't we, and we had some good times along the way!"  Right now, it will be time to make use of the time we got left, the best we can.

Aging is inevitable, so I will try not to cry over this birthday like I did when I turned 40. Turning 50 feels strange though like I had arrived at a point I never expected.


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.