Clearly, it isn’t Monday


dean supernatural laughs then gets serious

Oops. As usual…failure on my part.

I’m actually feeling up to writing a little bit, yay! There are some long stories involved, but for now, I’m just going to run down the litany of changes in my life over the past 2-ish months.

1. Took a medical leave from law school because passing was impossible with how far behind I was and I really don’t know what I want to do…

2. Looking for a full-time psychology job to try to determine if that is what I want to pursue. Since I only have a Bachelor’s degree, my job options are limited to Mental Health Technician (glorified baby-sitter) or entry level research tech. I’ve applied for about 10 of those positions around town. I’ve had 2 interviews, but no job offers.

3. I broke up with the Doc. Honestly, of all the people I’ve dated or even had a crush on, I liked him the best. I clicked with him on a different level. I’m not sure how to describe it. I broke it off because he couldn’t accept my limits. For example, he didn’t want to use safe words.

4. I’ve had lots of suicidal ideation and I’m still struggling with basic things on most days, but despite threats, no hospital yet.

5. My family is disappointed and angry because I’m ruining my life, I want to fail, I can do so much better, I’m just a personality-disordered mess, etc.

6. I’m still giving dating a shot. Since breaking it off with the Doc, I’ve had 2 dates. I skipped one (with a plausible lie because I was freaking out too much). They were with different men. The one I didn’t skip was fine. (Given #4, I find even 1 date is miraculous)

7. I’m making a concerted effort to rekindle friendships and familial relationships that I’ve damaged through isolating

8. I told my mom about IT and… her reaction was surprising and I wish I hadn’t told her. She wasn’t angry and she didn’t blame me, but she won’t let it go.

 

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First Meet…


Guess who ditched? Guess who also forgot to set up a safe call? Just because I’ve been insanely lucky thus far with my blatant disregard for my own safety doesn’t mean it’ll last. *sigh* I didn’t plan on ditching, but I got scared…I keep myself emotionally safe with distance and detachment.

Tara_surprised

Maybe it is more my fault than I thought that my brother and I aren’t close.

Reflections on Buffy Episode s05e06 “Family”


I wrote this post at the same time as “Et tu Tara?!“, but I went on a long tangent; I decided to separate the topics. This is the product…

I mean, every parent threatens to beat their kids in anger. My parents spanked me as a kid, but that is not the same as abuse (hitting or beating). I’ve been hit before, but a couple of mistakes does not equal a pattern of abuse. Monsters are evil. Therefore, in essence, my dad called me evil. Blah, I make them sound awful! They aren’t bad people! They love me a lot! I love them! We get along well. People get angry, especially when they have stupid kids like young me, and say things they don’t mean. Too bad kids are impressionable and if they hear something enough, sometimes they start to believe the words. It wasn’t like they were mean to me; I just did stupid things a lot.

My brother doesn’t thinks “blood kin” are important. He thinks the emotional bonds you have with people, regardless of blood, is what makes family. I’m not sure why. In Tara’s case, when family completely rejects you, finding your own “family” makes sense. Sometimes it hurts my feelings that he doesn’t view us as important. Well, he views us as important but not necessarily important. In other words, our place in his life is replaceable. I think except in cases of out right rejection, abuse, or other extenuating circumstances, blood family always has a place in your life. Sometimes family is unhealthy to be around. For example, I know a woman recovering from her eating disorder who refuses to see her family because they trigger her so much with incessant body shaming of others, etc. That to is a different case. In my opinion, barring unhealthiness/abuse/rejection, just because you don’t care for or dislike certain members does not mean the family ceases to hold value in your life. Fyi, I like everyone in my family! I think my brother hold himself at a distance because he is afraid of true open communication and he learned as a child that voicing his needs and emotions was not okay. To be fair, non-violent communication rarely occurs in my family.

I’m not sure where he learned that. I learned it to, but differently. I attributed my interaction style to teachings that nice people go along with what others want, good people don’t make a fuss, etc. Taken to the extreme, you get children who don’t know how to express emotions because you punish them for it.

I never saw it with him. I thought it was directed at me because I was overly emotional or bad. However, it is possible that by the time I was old enough to understand these messages, it was already ingrained in him. Therefore, the stoicism I took as inner strength, which I lacked, was really a learned behavior.

Furthermore, I’m a submissive masochist, but he is a Dominant sadist! So, it would not follow that our upbringing influenced my submissive side, unless there really was a difference in their attitude towards us because I was overly emotional, bad, or female. My parents made adhere to some gender roles (nothing inherently wrong with that!) and they do treat us differently in some ways. For example, my mom told me she would disown me if I lived with someone before marriage…while my brother was living with my future sister-in-law. She explicitly said as a female, it would be worse for me to live with a man, than my brother living with his girlfriend. However, my parents never said or implied women were less than men or incapable of anything, just different. In fact, since I can remember, I’ve been told I can do anything I want in life and it is important to be able to take care of myself. Haha, I guess that means I can’t be a painter!

The problem with this theory is that we were never punished for minimal expressions of emotion. So, I’m not sure where we got the idea. I know my dad’s family does not express emotions or needs because my aunt is overbearing, temperamental, and abusive when angry. (Yes, that is right, I said abusive. I can recognize abuse even in my family. My nuclear family is not abusive though.) Therefore, the other kids learned to never express their desires for fear of setting her off. This interaction style persisted in adulthood. My mother on the other hand, has no problem expressing her desires. In fact, I’m envious of her ability to sway people’s decisions with reasoned arguments. So, maybe our dad was an example of non-adaptive communication, but our mom was not. In that case, why didn’t we learn from her? She certainly did her best to course-correct us both prior to middle school.

Maybe I am over thinking things. Maybe my emotional issues are only mine. That is perhaps no matter how I was parented, I would turn out the same way. I’m jealous of my brother. He grew up in the same home and came from the same gene pool, yet he has no diagnosable mental illness. Why am I so weak? Why could he adapt, while I could not?

Dean--WTF photo dean-annoyed.gif

I wonder how my brother views our childhoods. Does he see any maladaptive interactions? If so, what? Did they affect him? Is that why he never calls/ returns calls? Or is there another reason? Does he think we were treated differently? Regardless of our upbringing did he notice different attitudes toward gender? Did Mom or Dad ever hit him (spanking doesn’t count) or was that just me? Did they ever threaten to hurt him? Did they ever call him names?

Most of the hitting and name calling occurred after he left for college. He left for college when I was 13. I don’t remember any hitting or name calling before age 11. So, he was not around for most of it. Mostly, he stayed in his room. So, he wouldn’t be present anyway. Also, this wasn’t frequent by any measure! The hitting and name calling I speak of are isolated incidents, arising from specific behaviors on my part. In fact, the only reason I remember each time so clearly is because it was rare!

I think we were treated differently, but I think it was because he was the first child. Therefore, in general, they were tougher on him and more relaxed with me. If there were any negative messages, he heard them louder and more clearly. As a result, he should be worse off than I am, if our upbringing had anything to do with who I am. At the same time, since I was about 11, my parents said certain things about me, but only after I did inexplicable things. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…

Meh, I’m over thinking things again. Every family has foibles. No person, and parents are people, is perfect. My family is no better or worse than any other non-abusive, healthy family. I take that back, my parents were fricking heroic when I was born early. Family is not to blame. No one is, this is just me.

What to Do When Non-Violent Communication Doesn’t Work?


What do you do when non-violent communication does not work in your family?!Felicia Day_don't know how to respond to that

Before school started, Mom was already constantly asking me about work habits, etc. On one hand, considering last semester, she has valid concerns. On the other hand, her constant nagging is frustrating, unhelpful, and anxiety-provoking. I attempted to express myself using the DEAR MAN cognitive behavior therapy skill, which I learned in inpatient treatment because (as I’m realizing more and more!) my family fails at communication. It helped a tiny bit for the first day, but Friday and last night she was at it again, with renewed vigor. I appreciate her advice. Also, I realize she knows more than me. However, I resent her micro-management. It is one thing to suggest I start homework on Saturday morning instead of Sunday night. It is an entirely different thing to suggest that once and then continue suggesting and/or asking how much work I completed every few hours all night! I was mad, but I tried using skills. When you ask me the same question numerous times and make the same suggestions over and over, I feel annoyed, angry, and resentful. I need you to only make a suggestion once and let me decide whether or not to heed your advice and please ask about progress less often. Fine, I did not include the “please”, but that is the essence of my plea.

It didn’t work. She just got angrier and yelled at me, hitting the table hard enough to break some fragile glass ornaments left there from Christmas. Then I started crying, yelling, and cursing. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve cursed at my parents. I feel like a teenager! On one hand, I am living under her roof rent-free. Plus, I admit the eating disorder stunted my emotional growth because once I started using eating disordered behaviors, I stopped learning to deal with emotions healthily. Therefore, although I’ve made tremendous progress over the years, I still view myself as a little behind my peers in emotional maturity. I’ve had more than one therapist tell me this and I know my parents agreed, but no one has said it for a few years. Perhaps I am on par with other early 20-somethings now.

On the other hand, I am 23! I am not a teenager! I am old enough and capable enough to make my own mistakes. Hell, I made a ton last semester, but I am aware of that! I know what I need to do differently and just because I did not study last night, does not mean I am not fixing my mistakes!

I feel suffocated. At the moment, when I see her my first thought is: Regina_don't talk to me

It wasn’t just last night. If it was just one night of needling, I wouldn’t be angry. Even so, I don’t know if I am right to be annoyed or not. Maybe this is that whole teenage-rebellion stage coming a few years late and I should simply listen to her…BUT I am not a teenager and I should be able to make my own choices. I know I owe a lot to her, I know my parents are extremely kind to pay for my first year of grad school and let me live at home without rent. Yet, their generosity doesn’t change the fact that I am an adult.

Ha, the problem is this post feels so whiney! It IS whiney and that is characteristic of a teenager. On the other hand, sometimes people have legitimate reasons to complain.

Last night moving out sounded nice. At this point, it is not worth the extra few thousand in student loans. Inevitably, I’ll have student loans, but I can avoid ~$12,000/year by living at home until the end of school.

I know I can’t give an objective view of all our interactions, the scope, or the frequency of the interactions, but based on what little albeit biased information you have, what should I do differently? Did I do something wrong in my initial attempt to use non-violent communication skills? How can I make things go more smoothly (I.e., no fighting, yelling, screaming, hitting of tables – or people)?

Her advice has merit. In fact, I know it is the best course of action. The way she tried to change my behavior is irritating. Should I do what she says, don’t procrastinate, just to avoid conflict?

I think I’m over-reacting. Then again, I wasn’t the first one to yell, cry, etc.!

Et tu, Tara?! or Only Broken People Submit


So much for Tara’s submissiveness being a good thing or even neutral. willow suprised

I re-watched “Family” yesterday. More love to Tara! *hugs fictional character tightly*

In combination with instances like this

Tara_I am you know. Yours

I think her general demeanor shows Tara is submissive. However, as usual in mainstream TV, it is not healthy for her. Buffy has a sadomasochistic relationship with Spike, but it is also unhealthy. Furthermore, it culminates in Spike attempting to rape Buffy. Back to Tara…

Tara’s family finds her in Sunnydale. Clearly, she is afraid of them. It turns out (I assume you’ve realized by now, my blog is full of spoilers for my fandoms, stop now if you don’t want to know what happens!) her family lied to her about the origins of her magic. They told her it came from being half-demon and her entire childhood they emotionally abused her, berating her, terrifying her, and feeding her self-loathing. Her male family members, especially her father, are obviously dominant. For Tara it seems her self-consciousness and fear of herself translated into a shy, quiet, easygoing, submissive demeanor. Her female cousin implores her to return saying Tara is selfish because with her gone, her father and brother must take care of the house by themselves. Her dad says demeaning things like, “I won’t be threatened by two little girls.” Her brother threatens her with violence. Earlier Tara even responded to an order with “Yes, Sir.”

Her submissive nature stems from childhood emotional abuse. This episode occurred in the 5th season. From then on, until her untimely, tragic, death in season 6, she becomes less and less submissive and more outspoken.

To me, her character background, coupled with her character arc, implies submission is for broken, wounded, scared people. Once they conquer their fear, they will no longer be submissive.

Do you think Tara is submissive? If not, why not? If you do, do you think my interpretation of Tara’s submission is correct? If not, why not? If so, do you think it was intentional?

Emotional Incest


2014 started out wonderfully with flashbacks of my early teen years. The times when Dad would disappear for days or months at a time without a word. I never felt safe. Things could appear normal for long stretches and then seemingly out of nowhere, Mom would come home with puffy eyes, screaming about Dad and his whore again. Last night I heard some of the same phrases I used to hear, “I’d never in a million, no billion, years want you to marry a man like your father” or “If it weren’t for you and your brother, I’d have left years ago.” Images of slamming doors, yelling, and sliding to the kitchen floor in tears after Dad stormed out of the house, raced through my mind last night…memories I thought were in the past. The things he did to her, not just cheating, are unconscionable and inexcusable. I thought I quelled the anger, but since hearing my mom last night, it’s bubbled up inside me again.

Faith_hurt the showerFaith_hurt the shower

On one hand, I told my mom years ago she had my blessing if she wanted a divorce, even if that meant years later when things seemed “okay” because I knew what he had done to her. On the other hand, over the past few years, I let the anger and fear slip out of my grasp. I let my guard down. I thought things were healing between them. So, I am sad.

Worse still, I fear the revolving door…Every time he was emotionally manipulative and/or abusive or she caught him cheating, she would swear it was the last time, this time they would get divorced. Yet, a few weeks or months later, before the final divorce papers were signed, he would come back, apologizing and promising to do better. And around and around we go… I fear the cycle restarting more than I fear their divorce.

Maybe this is why my brother never talks to us. 😦

I also fear her pain. My mom and I are close. Doctors use the word “enmeshed”. Yet, just like instances of alleged physical or verbal abuse, things are never simple. In a house with 4 bathrooms, we’ve shared a bathroom since I was 11. The change happened when they realized I was purging. For a time, we shared a bed. That is not as disturbing as it sounds. She made me sleep in her bed for a few months because she was afraid I’d hurt myself at night. I only went back to my own bed when my dad came home. Coincidentally, my most recent suicide attempt was a few weeks after my dad returned from “business” and my brother returned from school for the holidays.

The definition of emotional incest:

“Other scholars have used the term ‘enmeshment,’ ‘co-dependency,’ and ’emotional abuse’ is another related concept as well. For the sake of this short series of posts, I will use the term ’emotional incest’ because I think that if you can get past the ‘ick’ factor of the word incest, this construction is actually very descriptive.

Emotional incest involves an unhealthy relationship between parent and child in which the child serves as a sort of emotional ‘spouse’ to the parent. This can be mother/daughter, father/daughter, mother/son, or father/son. Here are a couple definitions, some using the term ‘covert incest’ and others using the term ’emotional incest.’

Covert incest occurs when a child plays the role of a surrogate husband or wife to a lonely, needy parent. The parent’s need for companionship is met through the child.  The child is bound to the parent by excessive feelings of responsibility for the welfare of the parent. The demand for loyalty to the lonely, needy parent overwhelms the child and becomes the major organizing experience in the child’s development.

 

Covert emotional incest begins when a person perceives and responds to a family member as a replacement or substitute for a partner.

 

This form of incest is described as a relationship where a parent turns a child into a partner or confidante that is inappropriate to the child’s age and life experience. Or to put it another way, when a child is manipulated into the role of a surrogate wife or husband by a needy parent. While some refer to this as covert incest, others refer to it as emotional incest.

You get the idea. Emotional incest takes place when the (emotional, not sexual) relationship between a parent and a child becomes like that between two spouses, except that given the immaturity of the child the relationship is one-sided and the parent feeds off the child emotionally while the child ends up feeling responsible for the well-being of the parent.” via patheos.com

Yep. That was us. I still feel responsible for her well-being. In fact, thinking about it, I remember feeling jealous, even resentful, that my brother did not feel responsible for her.

Is it still emotional incest now? Back then I was 15 – 17 years old, now I’m 23. I am an adult.

 

Use Your Words


You know how you tell a 2 year old to “use your words” when they start a tantrum? Apparently, this lesson didn’t go much past age 2 in my family. The other night I had a random thought. BDSM involves lots of overt, clear verbal communication. In contrast, my family is the opposite. My mom wanted to spend time just as our nuclear family (Mom, Dad, Brother, Sister-in-law, and I) before they left town, but my uncle and grandparents wanted to spend part of their last day with them to. I tried and failed to encourage my mom to express her wants about spending some time as our nuclear family; I even pointed out she spent $100,000+ on hospitalizations to teach me to use my words to express emotions. She refused, saying it wasn’t important. This is a stretch, but maybe my brother and I’s mutual interest in BDSM is partially due to the clear verbal communication, since we grew up in a family that encouraged not expressing your wants, needs, or feelings. Obviously, a lot more would go into anyone’s predilections; it is just an interesting observation.