xenologer: (human monsters)
CN: ableism! abuse!

I'm neuroatypical in, oh, a fair number of ways. Couple of common ways, couple of oddball ways, whatever. Some of these ways can be a drag, and some work in my favor. I'm also someone who has spent a fair span of my life being abused by other neuroatypical people whose neuroatypicality was, uh... we'll say it wasn't incidental to the fact that abuse was happening.

So I want to make it clear that I'm straddling the line a lot of people want to draw between Innocent Disabled Victims and the Cruel Abusive Personality Disordered Monsters who prowl the planet creating drama and more Innocent Disabled Victims. I want to make it clear that that line is not actually a border between two countries, or even two categories. It's a line between people we've decided we're not allowed to draw boundaries with and people we are.

That's fucked up on both counts. But let's back it up a moment. In conversations about the scariest of mental illnesses, the biggies like personality disorders or anything that comes with delusions, what I find entertaining is the inevitable participation of Normal Good People With Empathy who are pointing to people they perceive to have less empathy, declaring them a subhuman menace, and defending their ejection from participation in human society on the grounds that they are a net detriment to the social context they’re embedded in. The so-called high empathy good people say this. You can tell they have plenty of empathy and are therefore safe because they want all the weirdos and the freaks and the crazies down in a cage next to Multiple Miggs.

Every time this topic gets discussed, those good people ride in to save us all from the people with no empathy. They’re reliable that way.

And my goodness, to hear them friggin howl every time a mentally ill person says, "You don't have to give us anything you can't or don't want to, but you also don't have to talk about us like we're not people." You'd think every single one of them checked their Facebook only to learn from their Notifications that they'd woken up in a bathtub full of ice with a kidney missing. You got us, you just barely-recovered desperately-overcompensating ex-codependents! Today we tell you to draw boundaries with the mentally ill WITHOUT dehumanizing us, and then tomorrow we’ll be hanging you on our cars to use as blood bags on the Fury Road!!

You figured out our evil plan.

[cackling intensifies]

In seriousness, though, they're so attached to this strategy, and it's only tonight I really found enough distance to actually give thought to why they're so determined to defend not their right to draw boundaries, but their right to do it this particular way.

When they do this, what are they doing really? What function does this behavior serve? To me, it looks like the pendulum backswing of people who have, like I have, lived that codependency life and are D-O-N-E DONE with it forever. And good for them. Seriously, y'all, codependency: not even once. The way to avoid falling into codependency, in my experience, is learning that just because some people are pitiful doesn't mean they're entitled to me specifically falling on every single one of their grenades.

What I see in these desperate people is an extra step, an unnecessary step, a step that will come back to bite them in the ass sooner or later.

This extra step is a patch to make it easier for them to say no, but all it actually does is narrow the circumstances in which they allow themselves to say no by permitting a boundary to be set only in circumstances where they can justify pre-emptively shitting all over the hypothetical transgressor. This is a good way to get themselves psychically revved-up to do the hard work of policing the boundaries of their own lives, but it comes at a cost both to the people around them and to themselves.

The cost to the people around them is straightforward. They get to deal with someone who, secure in their own impeccable coping, cannot set a boundary without kindling all their pent-up indignation and frustration and anxiety around the feet of the person they're approaching and then lighting them up, because you see they are so healthy and drama-free and just cannot be around any more negativity or manipulation and that is why they require instantaneous compliance with a sudden feelingsbomb that anyone else less ferociously defensive might have simply stated as a two-sentence request, complete with please and thank you.

The cost to themselves is that they have made boundary setting exhausting for themselves, and they've made it very difficult and high-stakes in situations where they don't actually want to heap vitriol all over a loved one whose goodwill they may actually wish to maintain. The cost to themselves is that they have turned advocating for themselves into a fundamentally unsustainable activity, one that can only be done in bursts of crisis. They have robbed themselves of relating as a cooperative activity.

Because, you see, they're done with "crazy," and thought they could leapfrog the part where they attempt to come to some kind of understanding of what it is and how it happens.

I have a lot of personal internalized ableism myself, particularly around borderline personality disorder. In my experience BPD has been like lycanthropy. It’s nobody’s fault if they get bitten, but anybody who’s been bit then has a responsibility as a human being who is equal to other human beings not to pass on the curse by forcing others to warp around their disordered coping.

I know there are many people with BPD who weren’t abused whose accounts are also valid and important, but in my family that isn’t how it worked intergenerationally. People just kept getting bit and biting other people and passing it on and passing it on and everybody was both a survivor doing their best and the brutalizer of the next generation. Nobody was to blame for being bitten as children; they were only children. But they grew up and they bit their own children and that was a behavioral choice.

You’d never know I’d been bitten to interact with me. I took Measures. I overcompensated to make myself safer to be around, and as a result have other diagnoses impacting me, but at least I’m not biting anybody. The curse stops with me. But that doesn’t mean I’m the first one in the chain of victims who counts, either. I’m just the first who decided she’d rather be a safe robot than a mad dog, since I never saw humanity in the array of my potential futures. I was a child; I did the best I could, like all children. Which of us is human? All of us? None? For how long? Is there a cutoff age? Who decides when that was?

(I mention BPD more here than antisocial personality disorder because of family experience. Other people who've lived closer to ASPD could give you finer detail than I could.)

The point of my personal divergence here is that there's no intuitive way I can see to separate abusers with personality disorders and their victims with abuse-rooted personality disorders. Maybe some lives look more clear cut. Maybe some people live there, and maybe they can map that territory in a way I'll find comprehensible, but right now I have a clearer mental picture of the skin of Mercury. For me, there is no line. For me, there is no way for anybody to say, "It's okay to draw boundaries with the bad ones, but not the good ones! For them we must give all! The bad ones get nothing!" Because who is that, even? Who is so bad they deserve literally nothing? Who is good enough to deserve anybody's everything?

We don't have to dehumanize anybody or put anybody up on a Perfect Patient Who Seeks Help pedestal to decide whom we get to draw boundaries with. That's lingering codependency brainbad talking; I'm telling you it is. It's telling you that someday the right person'll come along and you'll be ready to turn your soul to mush for them and it'll be awesome and you'll be such a good person finally! And if you can work up the courage to say no, to save yourself, to refuse to let yourself be spaghettified into the black hole of someone else's tragedy, that it must be because they're a Wicked Bad Inhuman Monster and you should Tell Them So, so you'd better beg your codependency brain for an excuse, for an indulgence you don't need!

Consider this.

You’re a person too. Nobody’s sanity needs to come at the cost of your own. That’s not increasing the world’s net sanity; that’s just shifting it around. It isn’t sustainable. You are a person too and you deserve your own compassion.

You can say, “I can’t do it; I can’t be the one,” without saying, “no one should do it because those freaks aren’t human.”

You don’t owe anybody your blood, your kidney, your spinal fluid, or your sanity. You can say no to people and have them still be people. Some particularly desperate recovering codependents don’t seem able to draw boundaries with equals, only with people they’ve depersonalized. That’s what gives me the creeps. But please don’t apply my discomfort to the bare reality of your legitimate right to decide what to give and when. You are a person too, and and slash and burn harvesting doesn’t work any more responsibly in the human heart than it does in a forest. I trust your pace and your right to regenerate and I hope you do too.

And maybe once more people trust their right to say no, they'll stop having to arm themselves up with fear-aggression to saw everybody else down to something less than people before they feel righteous enough by comparison to speak the words.
xenologer: (do not even)
TW: mention of all kinds of bigotry

I was going to write this as a FB comment in reply to a thread, but that would likely have resulted in me losing it forever to the flood of other content. And good gracious, what a waste that'd be. So far I have two parts to this. One is establishing the distinction between "offense" and "harm" that I'll be using. The second is intended to establish that verbal bigotry is itself harmful, rather than merely offensive. Then I'll explain why this even matters to me. There are various subcontentions here, but those are the main points.

Read more... )
xenologer: (cocky Kamina)
"You can discover what your enemy fears most by observing the means he uses to frighten you." -- Eric Hoffer

This is a major page in the "destroy your abuser" manual, at least for me.

I remember this when someone tries to isolate their target from me because I am a source of external "influence" (aka support and validation and connection to reality). Losing their victims, their targets, their sources of energy, is the worst thing they can imagine and therefore it's how they punish everyone who steps out of line. I remember this when someone compares me to people who have hurt me, because it's always someone who has matured into their own abuser. I remember this when someone trains their targets to infiltrate the lives of those who've escaped to deal crueler and more intimate damage, because they live in perpetual paranoia that they'll be betrayed first.

This is why none of my parents can control me the way they have learned to control each other. I grew up learning them like their fears were cautionary marks on maps of a minefield, and I can detonate them any time I want from any distance. The real reason I don't punish them is that there's always the slight chance that they'll learn as much about my fears as I have learned from them. It's not a big chance, but it's there. I'd rather they go on trying to control me using their own weaknesses rather than my own, even if it means they live easier lives than they deserve. I'm just too important, certainly moreso than they are. They're not worth sacrificing myself for, so I won't sacrifice myself over them either. Their normal baseline level of self-created misery will do.
xenologer: (Ravenna)
Content Warnings: abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, family, harry potter, mental illness, substance abuse

WTF I Just Saw This Wall of Text Why Did You Do This

I know a lot of genuinely good people. Good people often lack a sort of... brutal realism. To put it in the nerdiest possible terms, Hufflepuffs make excellent friends, but they might not spot what a Slytherin does. A Slytherin with any kind of sense of balance will do the right thing and use their cunning and cynicism to watch everybody else's backs.

So, my beloved good-hearted Hufflepuffs and straightforwardly honest Ravenclaws and doggedly honest Gryffindors, I'm gonna try to do the right thing and share what I've learned from learning how to... well, "make people useful" sounds bad, so I'll just say "manipulate people." I can't think of too many ways to use that for good except to reveal the social bad guy secrets so they at least won't have the element of surprise. Nobody deserves to be blindsided by some of this crap, and right now I'm gonna focus on one big big big trap in particular. Some of this comes from actual therapist literature, and a whole helluva lot of it comes from needing to develop certain skills to survive that are not ethical to use in the adult world. Other people's mileage may vary but unfortunately... it probably varies less than a lot of people think it does.

Why I Picked Triangulation

We're all from the internet, and one common experience a lot of us have had is that anybody even remotely interesting is broken or at least a little cracked in some kind of a way. Some people can learn what the world really looks like entirely from watching bad things from a distance, but they are few and far between. People with personality tend to develop it from contact with the actual world.

Unfortunately, people who have bad things crash into them or even just near them can pick up bad habits. After all, the habits that help us survive in emotional wartime aren't always the ones that serve us best longterm. I've tended to think about it like lycanthropy; getting bitten is nobody's fault but that doesn't mean it's okay to pass on the curse.

One of the most insidious versions of this is triangulation. More info about this here. The very very short explanation is that crappy families can often shake down to a trio of roles, with members shifting between them. If someone is consistently scary, they become everybody else's Persecutor (and it's not much of a stretch to see how). Scary people often have at least one person attached to them who sees it as their job to moderate or insulate the scary one, and to those who're getting scared, this person might be their Rescuer. And of course, the Victim of all of this is just that: they're the victim and none of this is their fault.

Where this becomes entertaining (in an abstract sort of way, if you can look past the tangled knot of human suffering feeding itself) is that the Persecutor frequently sees themselves as the innocent Victim who is to blame for nothing, and they have the same Rescuer as the people they scare the crap out of. The Rescuer is the Rescuer to everybody, because at some point they decided it was their job to save everybody from everybody else and themselves. (Full disclosure: I have done the Rescuer thing, bigtime.)

Thing is... when the Rescuer is surrounded by people they're just trying to help and... well, rescue... there's nobody to protect them. And since they've bought into the triangle (or they wouldn't have accepted a role within it), they have to identify who's Victimizing them, and who's their best chance at Rescuing them.

(Victim and Rescuer are the roles people tend to want to be in. Persecutor is usually a role they reserve for someone else.)

Common Example (CN: Addiction, Emotional Abuse)

Read more... )
xenologer: (bye bye)
I am bothered by people who insist that because their gaslighting attempts are unsuccessful, a higher-level brainwashing force must have gotten to me first. Is the notion of DECISIONS so foreign to some people? I am not an empty vessel to be filled with pre-conditioned allegiances according to the first programmer to get hold of me. I am an independent creature. Maybe if these sad failures grew a little initiative they'd realize they always were, too.

April 2016

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