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: (always shine)
CN: family pains, complicated heritage thoughts, white privilege white privilege white privilege. Maybe don't read this if you are full up on navel-gazing White Thoughts for the year. It is okay to have zero interest in this. It isn't a pressing social issue I have here. It is just personal.







When I don't wear makeup to choose how my face looks, I see people in it I try hard to avoid resembling any other way. There is my mother's smile on my father's mouth. There are my mother's eyes with my father's near-black irises. There are my father's cheeks with my mother's cheekbones. There are my mother's arms with my father's hair on them. There are my mother's hands with my father's bitten cuticles.

The only people I can look at myself and see the stamp of their genes without cringing and looking away are people I don't have the right to talk about because our family got back so quickly to being white that I'm constantly weaponized against the family I have most worth my loyalty just by existing and receiving the training that formed me to hurt them without even trying.

And I hate it. But I'll never be a totally safe neighbor to my Penobscot fam. No matter how I try, the poison that is all the rest of my blood will never be 100% gone. It may end with me, but poison has a way of leeching out. Ethnic cleansing turns children into battlefields, and my life is easier because I'm a battlefield considered won for whiteness. I'm a born traitor. It's not a guilt thing. It's just an ugly truth. The only way for me to give back to the best people I see in the mirror is to give back in the ways that involve me myself the least.

So I give money. I chew off the faces of white people who assume I'll be glad I'm a weapon against the best in me. I spread the word about things that matter to the family I can't go too near. But I stay away. Otherwise I would hurt them even more from that more intimate distance and I'm sick enough at the harm I cause as it is.

This isn't a problem worth solving. Me feeling scant detriments amid the overwhelming benefits of white privilege isn't worth spending time and energy on that could be going to ethnic cleansing's primary victims who are still being screwed over by the white supremacy protecting me. But sometimes people remark that I don't post anything "personal" online so here is something personal.

In some Frankenstein movie (idk if it is from the book) someone referred to the monster as "evil stitched to evil stitched to evil," and in my case it is mostly true. It's visibly true if you know how to look. There is a little bit of good in me, though, just enough that I can feel myself as a living betrayal of it. Sometimes it feels shitty is all, that the best I can do for the source of that tiny bit of pride, is hold myself at a distance from the folks I have to thank for it.

But the people who filled my veins with poison and themselves punished me for being able to see each other in me? Nah. I help them keep winning no matter what I do (at best sometimes managing to be slightly less helpful than I was designed to be).

I don't hate myself by a long shot, but whiteness? I'll be its weapon until it's gone. That I do hate.
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)

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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.
xenologer: (one)
Narrowing down my effective social circle for a while. The number of instances of people treating me like I am invulnerable because I won't collapse if they treat me like a mere human? It has reached a certain threshold. Beyond this threshold, I start removing these well-meaning fumbling moral infants so that their mistakes don't continue coming out of my hide.

Don't break commitments to me without doing me the basic courtesy of letting me know when those commitments are becoming burdensome to you BEFOREHAND. Don't use the fact that I keep my commitments against me. Don't use the fact that I have standards for my behavior to sacrifice me for the personal growth of your pieces of shit for friends and family. I am not your meatshield and I am not their scratching post.

I'm hesitant to assert my humanity because I don't identify particularly well with it, but please at least try to recall that I am a fellow sapient organism and have enough respect for yourself to apply the same standards of care and consideration to me that you apply to the delicate flailing baby glass flowers you call friends and family. It's been years since I treated myself as obligated to endure shitty treatment just because I can, so you can catch up to that or you can get the fuck out forever and lock yourself in a tiny box until you have learned how to be a member of a socially-oriented species.
xenologer: (angel/11)
Sometimes I want to tell Mitch that Brian and I are poly. The only problem is that I know that he would tell my mother, and my mother would pretend to be fine with it… until she had too much to drink. Then all of a sudden she would have all kinds of things to say about the way that I live my life and she would invent whatever she needed to so that it would fit her idea of what kind of person I am. I think the most insulting part of all would be her assuming that I’m as much of a failure as a human being as she has always been. I don’t want to hear theories about how weak and stupid I am. I don’t want to hear her compliments that she only gives when she wants to follow it up with a slap to the face.

So unfortunately as a result Mitch does not get to know. I cannot trust his wife.
xenologer: (one)
First off, here's some basic background on psychopathy and how it gets discussed, for those here who don't spend a lot of time and effort on this kind of thing (which it's cool if you don't because we all have to do different stuff so we can come together and pool our data and have that be useful).

In addition, while the terms "psychopath" and "sociopath" are often used interchangeably, not all medical professionals agree that they are equivalent. I'm going to use them interchangeably here because they occupy the same space in what I have to say, but in other contexts the differences can matter quite a bit.

There's also a blog and accompanying message board run by people who are willing to be identified as psychopaths and sociopaths or as having anti-social personality disorder.

To empaths--a term that gets used a lot by diagnosed psychopaths to refer to people whose emotions and cognition are more typical--a psychopath is a frightening monster, because after all... without guilt, who can be good? Without fear, who can be good? Without empathy, who can be good? This is a well-known sort of concept of a psychopath, and I'm not saying I cannot understand why it's so common. Criminal psychopaths have been studied far more extensively than non-criminal psychopaths (to the point that it's actually very difficult for anybody without a criminal record to get a diagnosis), probably because when people commit awful crimes there's a stronger urge than there was before to figure out what makes that person tick.

I think what I'd like to do is give another perspective. I'm not saying it's more correct or that all people should come at things from this perspective, but it seems to me that a lot of empaths are very very bad at considering what they look like to psychopaths, (which I suspect to be because empaths are "normal" and normal people don't have to care what Others think of them because Others aren't really whole valid people, which is a hilariously hypocritical attitude for empaths to have toward psychopaths, but I digress).

So I am gonna speak from a personal perspective here for a moment, so this bit'll just be about my background, my understanding, my perspective, and how I have changed as a person over time. I tend to use both first and third person pronouns when I talk about both sociopaths and empaths (for reasons I am about to explain), but since I am presumably talking to more empaths, that makes empaths more likely to be the "they," as my whole purpose is... sort of to Other the bejesus out of you so that you can walk with me through what that looks like.


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Okay so we get it Xeno you're a big giant freak. Why tell us?

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Sociopaths vs. ...versus whom, really? Who else is there? What's the actual opposite of a sociopath?

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It'd be nice if things were a little different, and even if I am not sure what I'd change, low-empathy individuals wouldn't be the only ones making adjustments.

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xenologer: (Lisbeth)
TW: abusers, enabling, codependency, etcetera
TW: non-flashy animated gifs

Some people would really have an easier time moving past their childhoods if they chose not to live there any more.

This is not directed at any one of my friends, because I know so many of them that it would be difficult to even say which of them makes me feel this way the most. It's possible that this comes my way so often because I know a lot of people who need to hear a particular kind of "why do you do things you know are bad for you because you complain a lot and then keep doing it" sort of bewildered frustration to reality check their own repetitive thoughts and counter-act some gaslighting coming from other corners. I am open to this possibility.

I just find it really frustrating, and the contempt can be hard to swallow. I don't have contempt for people who stay with an abuser, because often that happens because of financial, social, or safety consequences they are not prepared to endure. Furthermore, a lot of people who're being abused have to convince themselves it's not abuse so that they can adapt to the new normal and stay above water. Additionally, codependency is a helluva drug just in general. All that stuff I know. I also know that it is hella disempowering to offer people advice, feedback, or anything beyond active listening unless they explicitly say that that is what will support them most effectively at that moment.

What I get sick of is friends repeatedly coming to me specifically to commiserate about relatives on whom they are not financially dependent, do not rely upon for access to health care, and therefore contribute literally nothing but toxicity to their lives. Actually, let me refine that. The ones who piss me off the most are the ones who expect me to be somehow onboard with this approach of building abuser-resistant structures to hide in until the worst of the latest tantrum subsides rather than ceasing to go out of their way to include the tantrum-throwing little shit. Because that's the thing. If you do not rely on someone for any of your actual practical needs, and if they do not provide you any emotional or social support, you do not need them; you are going out of your way to include them in a life that doesn't actually use them for anything otherwise.

Don't say, "You know how you have to X," or, "All you can do is Y," because I think you had better adjust that pronoun. I don't have that attitude. Maybe this is different for people who didn't grow up with at least a couple of contingency plans in case someday they had to kill their parent. Maybe for people whose abusers aren't that bad they can afford to create a fantasy world in which if they just stand still and let themselves be stabbed in the eye enough times, their abuser will learn to regret what they've done enough to... I don't know, stab them someplace less vital in the future. Maybe some people can afford to grow up without ever having seriously considered that what they need is a life without the abuser.

I just don't fucking get that attitude, though. You know why? I couldn't afford it. I couldn't afford to just accept the standards of my abusers and hope that doing so would ensure my survival, because yeah sure that works all the time. "GTFO" was on my to-do list from a very young age because I knew that a space I controlled was the only place where I would ever have a breath of a chance.

And y'know what? I was right.

Of course I was! This shit is obvious!

So! Don't act like what you're doing is all anyone can do. It is what you are doing. Do not presume to know what options I saw and what actions I took just because you clearly never had to look as hard as I did. Do not presume that repeatedly going out of your way to subject yourself to your abuser is just what's done. I don't know whether to feel envy or disgust when it comes to people who never had to learn the hard way that you need to not fucking do that.

There comes a time when I just want to tell them that I'm tired of hearing about problems they must not care about enough to solve. That's a shitty thing to say, but as someone who deserves to be proud of making the correct decisions, I sure as hell think it. If they just came to get my heart bleeding for them whenever they need to feed on my sympathy to refuel for their next deliberate pursuit of being hurt.

This is what finally got me off the codependency schtick.

There is no amount of therapizing or personal work or other emotional heavy lifting that I can do on my end to compensate for the shitty decisions of people like this. They cannot be saved, because you can do every imaginable thing to create a world in which they can live free of their abuser, and I guarantee you they'll have them over for dinner, list them as an emergency contact, or invite them to the wedding. They will undermine you every step of the way because they like where they are and they're gonna stay addicted to the abuser cycle until they decide to get clean.

I can't do it for them, so unless they're gonna come to me for real fucking talk about how incomprehensible it is to me that they are obviously going out of their way to seek out abuse, they can keep their... fuckin'... emotional self-harm nonsense to their damn selves. You cut yourself in the feelings if you wanna; I clearly can't stop you.

What you cannot do is sit down with me and solicit my feedback like there's anything I'm gonna say besides, "Actually no I don't do that thing you are doing. Because it is obviously not working and I stop doing things that are demonstrably bullshit once it is demonstrated that they are bullshit." It doesn't take knowing me that long to expect that I will respond to bullshit like you are feeding me bullshit.

I don't care if you ate it first; I don't want your bullshit.

Now, I have on at least one occasion had someone discuss an abusive situation they're in because they needed someone to not just disagree with the brain weasels, but outright dismiss the brain weasels as inhabiting such an alternate universe of bullshit that their brain weasels are not even saying things that are comprehensible. Some people do eventually appear to benefit from a reality check that rough; some of that set even know this about themselves well enough to solicit it. This is great. I can do that and will happily do it because if support to you looks like "hey tell me this bullshit is bullshit because it is bullshit right?" I am pleased as punch to say, "Yes. It is bullshit for a myriad of reasons that I will happily detail as exhaustively as you like."

What I am not pleased to do is pretend that we all have the luxury to live in fantasy enabler land where if you stick around they'll learn to stop hurting you. What I am not pleased to do is pretend that we all have the luxury to keep hope alive. What I am not pleased to do is hide the sensible, pragmatic, and often merciless decisions I have had to make for my own good which I am proud of because I took care of myself and that makes me fucking awesome because someone I know is cruising for some enabling of their enabling.



Get out.

I'm not going to go approach all the people in these situations and tell them my very important opinions on the subject, but I am allowed to post in my very own journal that I am proud not to be them. I couldn't afford to be them, so I wasn't, and I damn well will be proud of that. If anybody has a problem with the fact that I actually chose survival strategies that work and that makes them feel bad, they absolutely can take that messiness elsewhere because I am not here for it.

Support me or learn from me or ignore me, but get the hell out of my way and don't hate me for doing shit right. I had to. So I did. Try it sometime.
xenologer: (always shine)
TW on this whole entry because I am sure there's gonna be a whole lot of ablist shit in here that not everybody needs to see me wade through and get over. Also .gif action is happening, which I am going to start trying to remember to warn for specifically.

Sometimes holding my shit together has its disadvantages. Sometimes I (briefly) envy the people who don't.

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xenologer: (human monsters)
This sums up basically everything I feel about the nasty impulses I learned from my parents.

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xenologer: (Ravenna)
When you are sitting and waiting and bracing for a thing
even if for once it doesn't come
you are
living it.

Maybe she doesn't break anything tonight
like you thought
she would.

Maybe just this once,
you find out that he had
to say about you when you weren't there
this once.

And maybe, just for tonight
it matters to somebody
when you say no
and however much you're
willing to give is good enough
without anybody needing to steal
parts of you
without anybody needing to hold you
and silent
and cut out of you what they think
have earned.

But when you are
sitting and
waiting and
bracing for a thing
even if for once it doesn't come
you are already living it.

Even if it doesn't happen tomorrow
this tomorrow any tomorrow
or every tomorrow
it has

Even if it doesn't come
it will always
have always
been there
in the nothings you worried about.
xenologer: (happy!)
It was lovely.

Perhaps most important were the people.

I got to hang out with the next generation of Thalians who despite being quite young are some of the most well-grounded, thoughtful, and entertaining humans I know. The children of my friends are also my friends. What a funny age I am!

I also had some serious bonding time with someone I only sorta knew, but had always gotten good vibes from. It turns out that she wanted to go get bubble tea with me because she'd always wanted to try it.

I suggested that we eat at Noodles & Co. since she's sort of into raw food stuff, but when she realized that I would also dig Skyline for chili spaghetti, she expressed a profound love of Skyline and we ate there instead. Turns out she just likes the raw food thing and is not actually making a whole lifestyle out of it. Which, y'know, it's all good either way, but it was amusing to be all ready to adjust and then to find out that actually what she really wanted was the thing I'd chosen not to suggest out of consideration.

Life lesson, right?

Then bubble tea!

Then we talked about haters and relationships and parental generational shifts and baggage and went back to my place so that I could make her mix CDs and we drank tea and talked more. We may have a sleepover. We will probably watch Spice World. I am pretty jazzed about it.

I only got like three hours of sleep but that's okay because I have friends and sleep is for when I am not busy being pleasantly surprised by profound human connections. Like maybe in an hour or two. We'll see how long I can sustain articulate consciousness.

Happy, though! Yay.
xenologer: (Lisbeth)
CaptainAwkward #247: Marrying into a family with awful boundary issues, or, secrets of dealing with Highly Difficult People
Here are some underlying principles that might help you in dealing with Alice.

You cannot control Alice’s behavior. You cannot predict Alice’s behavior. You cannot prevent Alice’s behavior. Alice is gonna do what Alice is gonna do, which is cry and shower displeasure and guilt on her family, who will cheerfully pass it onto you, because that’s how they roll.

Alice is going to throw tantrums and be shitty NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO. I think that is helpful to know. Keep reminding yourself. Alice will find ways to be shitty and intrusive, because she is a shitty intrusive control freak who needs to make everything about her and who will projectile vomit blame all over everyone.

Also, Alice is not going to get better. She is not going to have a sudden revelation of self-awareness and stop this stuff. She may mellow with age and time, but she is always going to be somewhat like this.

Here’s what’s powerful about realizing this: Once a person shows that they don’t give a shit about the social contract and have no shame about throwing adult temper tantrums in public, it kind of frees you from giving a shit about what they think of you. They hold the threat of their tantrum (displeasure, guilt trip, sulk, whatever) over the family if they don’t get what they want, but you have the power to say “Huh” and not really even acknowledge that it affects you. (...)

When Alice throws a tantrum, she wants you to inventory your behavior and wonder what you’ve done to upset her, and she wants you to walk on eggshells and be worried about upsetting her and to actively try not to upset her (Secret: This will always be a mysterious, moving target and you will never figure out how to prevent upsetting her). Her family wants this too – it’s like they are afraid she’ll turn green and bust out into nothing but purple shorts and wreck the secret flying Avengers lair dining room. Once you figure out “Oh wait, what did I do to cause this…NOTHING, because Alice reacts like this to EVERYTHING” you are free of running that little guilt-game on yourself. Alice, like Hulk, is always angry.


I will say that the de-escalation techniques that Captain Awkward mention do work. It is a tried and tested way of talking someone down out of the Crazy Tree to continue talking to them like they aren't having a complete shit fit because eventually they will realize that your ruthless sanity cannot be impacted by their childish bullshit, and if they want their way they're going to have to stop throwing feces and sit down on the ground under the Tree with the adults and actually work shit out like a human.

I will also say that this is fucking exhausting, and some people aren't worth it.


Yeah, I fucking said it.

Read more... )
xenologer: (Lisbeth)
This link goes out to everybody I know who remains friends with abusers and resents the implication that because you think the abuser is okay, that you think their abusive actions are okay. Well, if you stick around, that's what you are saying.

If you make excuses for abusers and refuse to defend your loved ones, at least be willing to tell them to their faces that really you would adjust your life in this minor way out of respect for their pain, but you just don't care enough. BECAUSE. YOU. DON'T.

And you aren't hiding it well.

Own your priorities or change them. Pro Tip: If you aren't willing to openly state your priorities and what you care about because you are afraid you'll look like an ass, you probably are just trying to hide that you really are an ass. You will be a lot less likely to seem like an asshole if you work on BEING less of an asshole.

You don't have to be a rapist to be complicit in rape culture.
xenologer: (Lisbeth)
Okay, so. I'm reading a lot about how Dynasty Young's mom shouldn't have sent him to school with a taser, generally because two wrongs don't make a right yada yada self-defense perpetuates the cycle of violence blah blah I am a privileged piece of shit who can count on people to sympathize with my problems and either protect or avenge me should things really get messy etcetera etcetera some Just World Fallacy in there as well because if Dynasty got expelled then he and his family definitely did something wrong here or it wouldn't have happened.

Here's my deal.

Victim-blaming is siding with the assailant. Yes it is. Yes. It is.

Considering that the school board basically told Dynasty it was his fault for being bullied because he comes off as being too gay, I think they know why he was being bullied and what was happening to him just wasn't important to them.

Now, it could be said that it wasn't important to them because they don't do jack about victims of bullying in general, which has been my experience. However, considering the victim-blaming Dynasty received, it doesn't sound like the school board disagreed with the bullies' opinion of LGBT people. They just might have liked the bullies to "express" that opinion off school grounds.

From what I learned about how public schools handle bullying, the right thing to do is always to tell an adult, but it's not generally going to do any good. There are certain kinds of people whose lives are just plain worth less to everyone else, and members of those groups always learn where they stand sooner or later.

For the record, my parents didn't send me to school with a weapon that was against the rules for me to have or that could be confiscated. Note that I didn't say they sent me with nothing. My dad just understood that if I can't count on administrators, then they must be assumed to be extra hazards.

If Dynasty's mom made any mistake here, it's in not treating the administrators as being as much her son's enemies as they really turned out to be. Dynasty deserved that weapon, but it gave administrators the excuse they needed to help homophobic bullies make his life miserable, and of course they took that excuse and ran with it.

Still, giving them an excuse to help homophobes mess with a gay kid's life doesn't make it her fault that they did. The administrators are still accountable for the fact that they took that opportunity and used it to make the situation even worse by picking the victim of bullying to make an example of.

That is such a cynical way of looking at it.

I don't mean to sound overly cynical here, because I am an optimist that we can make things better. The world doesn't have to be like this. However. This is what the world is like now; this is what we've got. I don't think Dynasty mattered to the administrators, because certain kinds of people are often treated as disposable, particularly for the sake of "keeping order."

The difference between me and a cynic is that I know we can do better than this. I just am not so starry-eyed that I'm willing to candy-coat what Dynasty's really up against and how long the list is of people who'd lose ZERO sleep over harm to this kid because of his orientation.

But! But! How can you say that adults don't care? I'M AN ADULT! D:

I think so many adults want kids to trust them SO BADLY that they've forgotten how few adults kids can really count on. We're not supposed to tell kids, "We can't protect you so you'll have to learn to protect yourself." But um. For a lot of kids it's true, and I think a lot of people reading probably learned that firsthand.

For those who didn't? Take it from me. Failing to teach children the real limits of what they can count on adults for is not merely teaching a lie--it's teaching a potentially dangerous one. There's generally a point at which politely requesting help from the powerful but disinterested authorities fails. As activist type people (which many of my friends are) many of us are aware of it, but get squeamish about applying it to children, because then we're including ourselves in the group of people that they can't always depend on, and that hurts.

It's still true, though.

I cannot romanticize my own younger years nearly hard enough to forget that. Maybe some people can, and anybody can talk a good long line about all of the things Dynasty's mom could have done beyond getting the school board and an independent panel to review the situation, but it seems like everything on that list amounts to a polite request for justice.

We all know how effective those are.

The only reason to make those polite requests is to preserve moral high ground for later. Basically: Do it so that you can say you did. You will need to be able to say that later for when every adult who promised to have your back inevitably betrays your trust, because your only weapon against them is your ability to destroy their credibility. Talk to them first to set up the shot.

It's not going to help, though. Maybe a lot of adults don't remember that, but some kids don't have the luxury of forgetting.

Also posted this over at Dissent of a Woman. As usual, if you want to share this, that's awesome, but if you could keep my LJ and Dreamwidth between us, I would appreciate that.
xenologer: (bye bye)
It is hard. Getting it? Hard.

Getting it is especially hard if you're like me have a lot of friends who are mentally ill or elsewise having problems that really should be the purview of an actual mental health professional. I have thought more than once in the last week that if mental health care were more widely accessible, my social circle would be cut in half.

I am feeling a little rantypants about it.

Seems like every social circle has at least one person who is the cheap substitute for a therapist for everybody else. There are several problems with being this person. The first is that people pretty much only talk to you when they want something.

They know that you won't offer advice unless they ask, so they will talk to you about everything because nobody else they know learned the trick to just listening. They also know that if you do offer advice, it'll be geared toward figuring out what they really want and not necessarily a specific thing that they should do because you want it. You are fairly reasonably familiar (even if not always from personal experience) with diverse relationship structures, and supportive of the innumerable array of orientations and gender identities, and so they'll never hear, "Well have you ever tried not being who you are?"

You see that, though? Those aren't the qualities of a friend. That is a résumé.

Read more... )
xenologer: (bye bye)
Great Pervocracy entry on escalation and de-escalation of conflict.
How much conflict there is in a relationship, or the seriousness of the conflict issues, are not predictors of whether there will be violence. The biggest predictor is the degree to which conflicts in the relationship escalate. (...)

De-escalation means bringing someone down from an irrational, emotionally hyperaroused, screamy-hitty state, but it does not mean appeasement. It can sometimes mean talking someone down by comforting and reassuring them, but that's far from the only method and it's only useful if they're just mildly agitated. If they're screaming or threatening violence, saying "honey please honey it's okay" is usually not the best way to de-escalate them. Setting firm limits is not just more empowering for the de-escalator; it's more effective.

This is a skill I have, but now that I'm an adult? I don't use it with the same person more than once or twice. If someone is up in the crazy tree and it's my responsibility to pull them down and keep things from getting ugly, now that I'm an adult and have some agency in my life? Nope. Screw it.

I've watched too much of this crap in my young life and been trapped in with too much of it, too. Tolerance = gone.

I think that is the thing that's hard about having these skills: knowing when it's okay to stop using them. Just because someone can de-escalate like a frigging conflict sorcerer doesn't mean that it should always be their job, and it certainly doesn't make it their fault when the other person doesn't dutifully submit to their wiles and act like a grown-ass human being.

That was my big realization. Yeah, honestly, I can corral and manipulate people into being less awful to me. But who the hell are they to make me need that skill all the time? Who are they to put me back in the kind of circumstance that taught me how to do it in the first place? Do I really owe them shit?

A lot of people asked Holly to write this entry on de-escalating oneself, and I think that it's really important so I'm going to link it as well. The Pervocracy Guide to Not Doing Stupid Things Because You're angry. Or, as I like to call it, how not to be the kind of person I kick out of my life.

Part of the reason why I'm so happy in my current relationship is the way we handle conflict. My super-cool headshrinker calls it "sophisticated." I call it "problem-solving." Identify problem. Solve it. Be less upset, due to absence or at least reduction of upset-making stimuli.

xenologer: (unlikely weapon)
My mother used to tell me when I was a kid that everything happens for a reason, and everything works out in the end. It sounded good, but then I got to thinking about the Titanic.

Yes, because of that, new regulations and expectations were put into place about lifeboats and emergency procedures and all of that, so from one perspective it works out. But what about the more than a thousand people for whom everything didn't work out in the end? Everything can't work out in the end for everybody. We have to assume that all events in the universe are engineered for the benefit of a few at the expense of others (such as arranging for more than a thousand people to die so that I will have a seat on a lifeboat if I go on a cruise in 2011).

At that point the best you can do is hope that you're one of those who are predestined for good things, for whom the universe is specifically arranged, because if you aren't? Oh, if you aren't.

The fear that I might be one of those "extras," one of those expendable NPCs in the great plotline, frightened me.

So the idea of fate, of a plan, seems reassuring at first glance. Like a lot of common platitudes thrown around by believers, though, it doesn't create the universe they think it does and that much is OBVIOUS if you think about it even a little.
xenologer: (human monsters)
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Temple in The Reapers are the Angels. At least, I felt like that growing up. The world was full of monsters, and it was just me and them. Sometimes you find someone to protect, and you do it because that's just what you do. Sometimes someone's got it in for you, and some of the time you can even see why. If you can stop them from getting you without losing so much of yourself that you hate them and start gunning for them just as hard... well, hell, you win at being a human being.

Things are good now, though. Things are so good that I feel pretty sheltered from everything that used to be commonplace to me. Neither the world nor I myself am what I thought I was looking at back when I was angry and frustrated and doing my best to fight for the scraps of companionship available to me. I live in a different world now than I did then, except that I don't. I'm still who I was then; I'm just not that person right now.

Can't complain.

April 2016

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