Thursday, June 27, 2019

Family as a Sacred Cow

I hate the word FAMILY.  Like Henry Rollins, rages about his Dad in his NSFW spoken word act of the 1980s, Family Man,  I spit out the word "Family" like it's a cuss word. It's not a positive thing to me, just read this blog. Even at my UU church, which means well in it's celebration of both mother's and father's day, I stay home. Family is like a religion in itself.

Many of us figured out religion is a sacred cow and we left it. I think the same about family. Not all families are bad, and maybe some have their own happy families but in this society, family is raised on a pedestal, and made to be something it often is not for many people. We are told Mom, Dad and apple pie, and that every home is a loving safe haven. Every church I went to or visited promoted "THE FAMILY TM", as the most important thing, which is ironic given the leader they claim to follow never had a family of his own and seemed be at least low contact with his family of origin.

Family is like a religion almost, where we are given these idealistic pictures that simply don't hold up. My own family history was abysmal, I am no contact from almost the whole lot, religion played a role when I left my family's church at age 17. Going full no contact was a very positive decision for me. I have no regrets. According to the mythos of society, I have broken every rule in "going against family".

Like religion with it's false promises, we are told a "story" about family that does not measure up. I wonder myself why DNA seems to in many cases bring no cooperation or love or understanding between people.Why does it work for some and not others? Such a thing is a mystery to me. DNA seems to bring out cohesion among some people and hatred among others.

The family often is not a crucible of love but one of danger with domestic abuse, child abuse, divorce, martial rape, scapegoating, and crimes of violence. If anything while some bad families are shown in literature, mostly family is romanticized. Father is all knowing, kind and wise, Mother is strong but nurturing and gentle, ready to bring you biscuits and a warm blanket if poor, or ready to bring you some tea and nursing care in a bed with clean white sheets, if wealthier. The Dads on the Brady Bunch, Father Knows Best, Family Ties, always sat down and discussed things openly with their kids and worked things out.  Siblings are shown as having each others backs, and as support for each other through out their adult lives. While some people win the family Lotto, and get great people in their lives they happen to be related to, many do not. Family dysfunction and danger are the reality for many.

Family systems are often part of the control system as much as religion and the majority are run on authoritarianism. "Family" is defined in a certain way too, which ostracizes LGBTQ people, the single, and the childless. Families are utilized for social control, focusing on conformity, and compliance with social norms. In Western culture especially American culture, children are pitted against parents and vice versa. Some even say it is wrong for a parent to be a friend with a child. Why? I could have used a couple friends instead of living with two "enemies". While some cultures focus on cooperation and learning as prime directives between parents and children, this one focused on "helicopter parents", "discipline" and "obedience". Guess which cultures probably have happier relationships between family members.  Also look at the competition of our society, our families have become competition clubs where the "winners" look down at the "losers". Is the family a cell in the matrix of control with religion as an overriding control mechanism?

One thing every ACON that goes no contact has to do is ACCEPT THE REALITY you have been given. One has to rip the rose colored glasses off their face and take a look at what you got. You may dream of Hallmark moments, reconciliation or redemption as show on television but if you are dealing with narcissists it's never going to happen. The myths, messages and lies about our family in this society is something every ACON who wants healing has to contest. Not every parent is loving, not every sibling cares. Some of us end up with roulette spin of bad people who care nothing about us.

It can be hard even for a post no contact ACON, to see how family is constantly shoved down our throats, one of the worse is that it is assumed that everyone has one. This is kind of damaging in an era where there are more single and childless people then ever before. Some people are exploring the ideas of found families, friends you turn into your family because DNA has been proven to be limited in it's ability to bring forth compatible personalities and peaceful relationships. Perhaps family is just a social construct. We know that human beings weren't just limited to nuclear families but once had fuller social circles in tribes. Definitely among the religious right, the change in the definition of traditional families is giving them fits.

With my husband I have told him maybe mankind needs to evolve beyond families. it is a biological prison. We don't have children in our case-- He laughs, we can have these interesting off the wall conversations and says, "What do you want people living in communes with numbered uniforms?" and I joke and say "Yeah that would have been better!"

Family is Overrated

No More FireFlies


If you are paying attention at all and not a Trumpster that denies climate change, the earth is in a lot of trouble....

Some scientists want to shade the sun to cool down the earth. Reading this, I imagined all of  us sitting in a cold dark blizzard saying "Someone screwed up!". Have you learned about the sixth extinction? Scientists are warning about insects and other animal life dying off.  We are screwed, I am old, I at least won't see worse of it. Sometimes I think it's good some of us never had children. Who wants to bring a new person into a world that is collapsing on every level?  The insects are dying off.  When 75 percent of insects die off, there's a major problem.

There's some serious stuff going on. India just reported a heat wave last month, where the temperatures were in the mid 120s, don't things start cooking at just a few more? I know chicken will cook slow at 180.  Europe is experiencing an extreme heat wave this week. Where I live, June wasn't too bad, but now the heat and humidity have kicked in, it's housebound time. The New York times reported that the migration out of Guatemala is drought and heat inspired. As a kid in the 1970s, I remember being given warnings about how the planet would be in trouble and how bad things would get. Well those things are happening now.

We basically are killing off habitats of animals so they are in more danger then ever before. It's kind of messed up how humans can screw up so much. As for any would be deities and earth "creators"... Isn't it piss poor planning to design a planet with a species with the ability to destroy the whole place just trying to keep itself alive and entertained? Why are our food and energy needs wiping the place out? Why can humans make more babies then the earth can sustain? I never knew how fast humans could get pregnant until the Duggars came along, it really showed the importance of birth control. Something is wrong with that.

Many areas of the world are very crowded. China and India are approaching a billion and a half in population. Once I returned as an adult to a place I lived as a kid. It was a suburb of big metro city, but it had at least 10 times more people. The crowds were scary. Today, I live in a nearly empty fly-over state full of wilderness that is more well known for people leaving then moving here. It was shocking. Let the cold scare people away from here, overcrowded states always have the rent skyrocket!

When I was a Christian I used to get in arguments with people who told me the world was not overpopulated. It seems they simply paid no attention to the world around them. How much in denial are these people? Everywhere is far more crowded then when I was a child. 

When young, I loved the woods and while woods were limited to "parks" in the very urban city of my middle childhood, I would go out and hang there as much as possible. The peace and quiet were wonderful. Collecting rocks and leaves were ways to pass time. There seemed to be a spiritual feeling in the woods of calm and quiet, especially with no bears or wolves to worry about in that area. 

Nature is kind of closed off to me now due to disabilities. There's no walk along the lake shore or hikes in the woods. I can't walk more then a quarter of a block on a walker and even that's pushing things. Books like Walk Across America were wonderful to read, with the sights, scenes and people that Peter Jenkins met. Another book was Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, that explored communing with nature.  Today outside of some scenic views one can see by car in my area, and a local Nature Center where I birdwatch from indoors,  most of my contact with nature is via books and nature shows on television.

One isolated positive asset of my family, was there was enough money to go on vacations, I got to see Boston, New England, and the family went out West staying at Best Westerns in a 1980 Suburban. We made it out to Utah and Colorado. I didn't know that then but this would be the most travel I would get in my life. Travel is beyond our financial means. Outside of a good friend that has taken us on day trips to neighboring large cities, travel is a foregone conclusion in our household. This means missing out on some nature scenes. I still have some photos of the trip out West with the mountain peaks and Yellowstone scenery.  There were a few camping trips in earlier childhood where we would go to a Harper's Ferry campground with a pop-up camper. I would run away and disappear into the surrounding woods and parks and go play with stranger's kids as much as possible.


I had some time in nature as a young adult, I lived in a tent at a Girl Scout Camp which is now closed sadly, for two and half months. Some of my day was spent in the arts and crafts tent as I was hired to be the arts and crafts director, but also served as a counselor in the evenings. There was time to traipse around the woods there, which I enjoyed. I centered a lot of the crafts on nature too having the kids make plaster molds of found objects in nature and painting rocks.

When I was in the woods, in one state we lived in, one of the parks had this stream full of fish, and rocks galore surrounding this stream, and I would follow it, collecting rocks.Watching the leaves change color also invigorated me. When I was kid, teachers had us collect butterflies, leaves and rocks. I don't think kids do this anymore. One time in fourth grade, I found a giant moth, that looked like the one in the picture, and it was the star of the day at my elementary school. It helped make up for the gross out scenes of tossing insects into jars of formaldehyde and sticking pins through the middle of them. With my rock collection, I still have my child hood rock collection, it was added to my present day adult rock collection. Now the pieces of granite and marble I found, sit nestled next to geodes, fossilized wood and thunder eggs.

There were times alone in nature, I had spiritual moments, that were hard to explain to others. Later Christians would warn me against  communing with nature. Nature worshipers were supposedly "pagan" and on the hot slippery slide to hell, as they felt at "one" with the outdoors. As a young adult, I would realize my transcendental tendencies, which I later returned to brought me a lot of joy.  One thing I think happened to our world is that civilized people have lost any connection to nature. The industrialization of agriculture separated human beings from the dance of the seasons, and even growing food being mindful of the importance of nature disappeared.

A man the other day said to me, "Remember when we were kids, and you'd drive home from a trip even on a highway, and the entire windshield would be plastered with insects?" I remember, with horror, he was correct and that one simply did not see this anymore. One thing I do remember as a kid, was seeing tons of fireflies, I saw them both in Virginia and Ohio and even as a teen in my present state. Those are now gone. I see a very rare one, but it's rare. I know they don't exist in the numbers they did when I was young.

One thing I learned about myself, is living in huge crowded cities, drove me nuts. The noise of other human beings even with my hearing problems wore me out. I felt crowded all the time and over-stimulated. One thing that helped me mentally was moving to the rural town in the middle of nowhere. I still miss the quiet there, though I obviously do not miss the extreme religiosity, politics and lack of resources. There we lived near a huge park, and would go to it weekly but the place was so rural, my apartment parking lot was constantly full of deer. We once encountered a giant snapping turtle three feet across, that had wondered from a neighboring lake down the street from the huge park, and got it out of the middle of the road. Too bad, there was no camera to take it's picture.

Where I live now is far more crowded but one can get to some woods within 5 miles driving north. There's country and farms, only a few miles south of me. This is considered a rural area just not as rural and remote as where I once lived. Huge cities are not for me. The noise, the smog in the air, the crowds all influenced me badly. There were times in Chicago I thought I would lose my mind, as the cacophony around me never ceased. Everything seemed complicated too, like there was too many choices and everything was too far away.

They paved over everything in my cities I returned to as an adult that I lived in as a child, though a few parks were still intact. I even remember my present smaller town from the 1990s, and it grew bigger and sprawled out with more parking lots, almost to the point I didn't recognize anything when we moved here. My husband was born here and grew up here.  During my lifetime, seeing so many beautiful areas turned into subdivisions, parking lots, office parks, malls and later strip malls which are now emptying around here, was disappointing and heart wrenching. In one city I lived in as a child, they shredded some woods I explored to put a 6 lane highway through the place.

With overpopulation, even when I was a fundamentalist Christian, I adamantly disagreed with then fellow Christians about overpopulation. The world is a lot more crowded then when I was a kid. There was far more people. Even remembering the world population was 6 billion when I was a teenager and now had become almost 8 billion was a fact I could not ignore. I don't get Fox news watchers who deny what they see in front of their face. Back in the 1970s, overpopulation was a big deal. Now no one cares. The religionists of many religions all went nuts, and protested birth control and sensible scaling back. The Vatican preached against condoms and birth control for the third world. All these people are fools, who have ushered in more pain and suffering for our world. Here power and money, run the train. There are people on the right wing , sounding warning cries for declining population, because there may be less cannon fodder and underpaid serfs to be had. Don't think the recent attacks against reproductive rights aren't being fueled by the elite for their own agendas.

There definitely is a growing disconnect with nature. Too many think too technology is going to save the day. While we do have growing technology, the rest of society isn't catching up. Workplaces are still run like 19th century fiefdoms, there's been no evolving of authoritarian institutions for humanity to progress down a positive path. Religions say no to new economic ideas and limits on population. I don't think technology will save the day. Even climate change is such a huge issue, and our money system is so centered on enriching the few, that having scientists even have the resources to invent CO2 scrubbers that work or build enough desalination plants for water-poor regions, just isn't going to happen. One scary thing is that humanity is going to need to figure out that it is part of nature, instead of going down a destructive path that could lead to our extinction.The present path is just not sustainable.

The Expensive Trip of A Lifetime--1996

Many ACONs go through a process of doing anthropology on their own lives. I definitely did. As the years went by, there was new discoveries, the unraveling of lies, exposure of family secrets and even seeing how I was treated in new ways and facing the truth of it all. Things slowed down to a trickle, this many years in, but sometimes there can be new personal revelations even far down no contact highway.

  Yesterday being housebound from heat, I was going through my stamp collection and post card collection.  My post card collection includes unique postcards like wooden ones, and one made into a puzzle, but there's some personal post cards added in too. So as I was flipping through the post cards. I read this post card from my father I got in 1996, it is in his handwriting.

The card reads "Hi, we are having the trip of a lifetime, very expensive but fantastic. No room left in the car so I guess it is time to head North. Love Mom and Dad"

By no room in the car, he means they have shopped so much the car was full.

Some may say this card is pretty innocent, what's the problem Peep? Well, it is the context this card was sent in. You see, 1996, was the peak of my illness and growing poverty in Chicago.

This was the year I would get very ill and I lived in extreme poverty at this time with no car, no phone--we used one at a laundromat around a quarter of a block down the street, and very limited groceries. I lived in a dangerous ghetto neighborhood but rent took half my pay for a 2 room apartment full of mice and rats and drug dealers down the hall. I was in the hospital multiple times including two bouts of leg infections and cellulitis, that put me in for weeks and included sepsis.

My father at this time had gotten a giant settlement check, some nuisance lawsuit, I know it was at least 6 figures. they both went on a spending spree, and "bragged" about it all the time. This was the trip where we went on the bus to visit them, some months later, and where he bragged about spending $7,000 on it.

To be frank, I hate Disney World because my parents loved it like other American Lumpenproletariats who have no imagination of their own. Yeah I know some of the characters are cute but I have negative memories of it. My family was infatuated with Disney World. They bought endless Disney World products and took pictures. When Winnie the Pooh in costume hugged my sister, you would think it was the second coming.  Maybe some narcissists love Disney World because it sells fantasies and it helps with appearances of being a 'caring parent" This is not to say all parents who take kids to Disney World are bad parents, but narcissists love to put on shows. The Turpins went on their Disney World forays to show off to the public after unchaining their kids. I also think it shows the immaturity, Disney World is for children but they went down there as two adults with no children though later my mother would take my sister's kids who were not yet born in 1996 to Disney World multiple times.

It was odd yesterday to have these memories brought back. Sometimes that can be rough but as the layers of the onion keep peeling, there are levels you never would suspect. I was so used to bad treatment, that at the time I thought this was "normal". I had been taught to bootstrap it so long, that I was taught it was normal, for parents to go on spending sprees while one of their adult children was almost dying of severe illness. After all, the bumper stickers all over the place that bragged about "spending their children's inheritance" were already slapped on the back of cars.  I was taught they deserved lavish vacations while my suffering was my "own fault".

Also the extreme narcissistic need to BRAG here is so immense. This of course continued with my brother until I went no contact with him. When you are away a long time, you grow more objective and you see more, you really do. I wasn't shocked. I remember hearing the bragging all the time even then. The post card however gives more evidence of what I put up with and the lack of empathy. I am glad I never asked for a thing back then, but what they had to say to me, said it all.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Why Are The Poor More Religious?

I know poverty via disability [and trauma] in general took me into fundamentalist religion. I believe now religion is hitting the Republic of Gilead danger zone in the USA, because of the disenfranchisement of so many people economically. Heaven seems like your only hope when economic hope is lost. There's a reason my old rural town that had a 37 percent poverty rate has grown even more extremely religious. I believe there is a connection between growing religious extremism, and major economic changes in the United States. Religiosity always is whipped up whenever there is a natural disaster, war or other severe changes in a society. It's happening here and yes it's connected to new drastic laws and Trump remaining in power.

In my case, Religious Hopium was like a weed on the river bank, I grabbed as I was drowning. I have more understanding and compassion for myself for how things progressed. I went to religion to "save me" to "fix my life" believing then in the "magic". This was borne out of desperation and a feeling of utter powerlessness.Life was crushing me. Religion promised me hope. Even now as an ex-Christian, I remind myself, don't ever put any hope like that again in any new religious philosophies, it is a dead end. Many people turn to religion to solve their problems in times of extreme trouble. When people feel powerless, religion and "magic" feel like the only solutions. 

Sadly I do think toxic religion will grow in it's influence especially as we have an American society that grows far more poor and public education declines. We have a lot of people now left out of the warp and weave of normal mainstream society. When people feel powerless, oppressed and like there are no answers that will work, religion is there to offer it's [false] hope. You hold out for your dreams coming true in eternity, and no longer in this world. Life is lived for the great beyond and not for today.

This is one reason people are letting of science and ideas of "progress" and have more hope in a would be eternal heaven then any hope on earth. Sadly this is one reason I believe fundamentalists and evangelicals do not believe in social justice or even openly disdain it like that one paper 4,000 evangelical preachers signed against social justice. Poor people do turn to religion and sadly often extreme versions. A lot of it is human desperation, wanting to change their lives, have things "turn out" hoping God helps them. That applied to me. Many fictional books display hardworking "salt of the earth" people who emphasize strong faith in God like in The Grapes of Wrath.

I do find myself having cynical views now. This pertains to some of those verses that showcase poor people as having stronger faith and being told the world will always have poor people and rich people having less chance of getting into heaven then a camel through the eye of a needle. Talk about manipulation. My deconversion rests on my socioeconomic experiences as well. I do dedicate some of my life to class issues, and justice issues as people know. I also tend to have some jaded views about some religious circles that seem to glamorize poverty as they seem to always think it is a positive character building exercise or that vows of poverty will make people "more holy" or "closer to God". One definitely understands the warnings against materialism, and greed and how one should love their fellow man, but there's things preached about on poverty I don't agree with anymore.

Karl Marx once said religion is opium of the people, I can go with that. There can be positive sides to some spiritual quests, but I believe religion is used for societal control. The ultra-wealthy and powerful of society have definitely used religion to tell the poor to "stand down" and accept their lot, as God-derived.

In this country, we have the prosperity gospel that has infused into everything. God blesses the "good" people and the "bad" ones, or as David Ramsey and the Republican party tell us over, and over, are poor because they were not "faithful" enough or didn't "work hard enough" or obey enough. The strain of paternalism is active in many a faith-based initiative. Here things get complicated as there are GOOD rich and poor people, and ones who aren't. Money isn't a definer of the other qualities of human character, but one worries about religions that grow divisions between people, connecting money and success to goodness. Churches that teach messages like this just prop up the status quo.

Like many others, I thought God would make things better if I obeyed and lived the "good' Christian life. I was told depression and anxiety were sins caused by lack of faith  They emphasized how lazy everyone was, which was not easy for a person who is on disability. A lot of my religious craziness was borne out of desperation and this feeling of trying to climb up a mountain where the dirt always slid back. I never wanted to be rich, I just wanted to survive and live a life with some dignity. However the years in Christianity chipped away at my self esteem in ways I can't even describe.

How much of religion is for social control? I saw too many messages in the evangelical and fundamentalist world where they seem to agree with the message "work will make you free" as they put down unions, worker's rights or any fair and equitable wages for other people. Christianity especially in America has become a vehicle for empire building, that elevates the powerful, that's a problem. I wonder how much of religion was built for self-policing and control among the population too.

Why Are the Poor More Religious? [see above map from the New York Times too]

The Poor and Disabled in Churches


My local community is again up to no good, it concerns oppressive actions against people of color. I don't want to give details since I don't want to share where I live, but it has to do with local megacorporations, extremely wealthy people, seizing of land, and trying to drive a predominantly black and poor population out. What was scary is I saw people discussing things on Facebook and almost all ouside of the poorer community were defending the local megacorporation and extremely wealthy. Some wrote, "They donated money to the poor!"  I thought does that give them carte blanche to do what ever they want?  I found myself kind of horrified to watch implicit racism coupled with Ayn Rand inspired worship of the extremely wealthy and powerful in many of the comments. I live in a very conservative community, and sometimes it gets to a person. Empathy seems to have disappeared. Even some of the Democrats here, seem to be teamed up with the ultra-wealthy. I found myself thinking as they defend oppression of the most poor, don't they realize that's coming for them? I live in an area where the economic divides are growing even more extreme. The growing poverty here has me deeply concerned. Maybe that's all of America now.

When People Ghost You

I hate when people ghost me. Maybe I had my fill of the narcissistic silent treatments. When someone treats me like they are slamming a door in my face, it brings back some of those uncomfortable feelings left from my family. The family of course kept me around enough to observe and control, but the disinvites, being ignored and having doors always shut in my face when I tried to be closer is part of my history.

 I can't trust someone once they have ghosted me, and there's ignored messages. I tried to message the person in question a couple times and then just gave up. I'm not going to chase people down.

With ghosting,  it's cold and cruel, and it's not behavior I like. When I went no contact, or moved on from someone, I usually said why or how, or wrote a email or letter.  Sometimes relationships don't work out because two people are on two very different paths, some are not meant for the long term and of course sometimes things are toxic. I've had polite partings where I've told someone, "oh we are on a different path", and it was left at that.  However ghosting stuff doesn't have that mutual agreement at the end, it just comes out of the blue. It's better to tell someone rather then leave then hanging. Maybe I am just a different person. I have to realize not everyone connects to other people the same way.

I wonder if the "ghosters" know they are hurting people or even if they care? I've told people better you tell me off or even cuss me out then pull that ghosting stuff on me. It's not right. I still worry that I am falling into the mode, of being someone that tries to be there for people, I have few other resources to offer sadly and get into this mode of trying to "help them" or offer some emotional support but while I see them as an actual friend, maybe they don't?  I am not sure. Some of this stuff gets so complicated. There's probably social things Aspie me is never going to figure out or understand.