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.

Date: 2013-08-18 02:21 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] inverarity.livejournal.com
ext_402500: (Default)
I haven't had your formative experiences, thankfully, but I agree with you.

That said, I confess I feel much the same way about people currently in abusive relationships. I understand - really, I do - about battered syndrome, so some people need a lot of support to get their head out of the mindset that this is "normal." And some people are in situations where leaving means potentially living on the streets, or being in peril of their lives, and might include their children, and obviously they need a strategy more comprehensive than "Just leave." But I find it very frustrating that people who keep going back to an abuser, or finding a new one, over and over again, when they don't have to, are supposed to be given unlimited patience and sympathy and any kind of reality check is "victim-blaming."

Date: 2013-08-18 09:16 pm (UTC)From: [identity profile] virginia-fell.livejournal.com
Abusive relationships I tend to look at differently, at least while the person is still in them. Being abused--surviving abuse--requires you to internalize a very different set of psychological rules that make you kind of ill-suited to actually rebuild your life as a place without the abuser, since one of those rules is "they are the center of the universe now." The prospect of leaving literally collapses the whole world as they see it, at least from what I have seen in my family and from people outside it. So that I can kind of understand, even if--again--I still kind of feel like learned helplessness as a habit is kind of a luxury that no, not everybody has.

With abusive family members, though, who are utter non-contributers? I'm shocked by how many people keep going out of their way to re-introduce people like that into their lives.

"I know if I invite this person over they'll be terrible but I have to because they're my sister." Uhhhhhhhhhhhhh no? I don't know who told you that but actually you are a sapient creature who can choose not to do what someone else wants them to?

"I know my dad will try to ruin my wedding, but I have to invite my dad." Do you? Why? Really, articulate even a single reason why there is no imaginable universe in which you just... don't.

"I know if I give my mother my home address she'll just randomly show up all the time to try to manage my life for me, but you have to give your family your home address." No? There isn't some "ordinarily you have some agency but if your kin ask to know where you live you will be irresistibly compelled to answer them honestly" geas that we are all just sort of born with.

People who still have some reliance on their abuser? I get why it'd be super important not to alienate that abuser. I have been in the position of spending years and years appeasing them because the cost of independence is no health care, no home, or ending up in the custody of someone worse. That was my life for a good while, so I am under no illusions that those circumstances make it easy or even advisable to create a life without that abuser.

People who go out of their way, though? There comes a point when I feel about as bad for them as I would someone who deliberately stared at the sun until they went blind.

Internal locus of control. They gotta fucking acknowledge they've got one, that making decisions which aren't obvious shit isn't some kind of superpower I have that they don't; it's an option that I choose to take and they choose not to.

I made a series of choices. I've decided I'm gonna be proud of that, even if it means acknowledging openly that other people turned those choices down. There is such a thing as a practical and impractical response to abuse, and tired of denying myself pride because we're supposed to say "there but for the grace of Glob go I," like it has nothing to do with our choices or theirs, like abuse is a fuckin' meteor that has an equal chance of crushing anybody anywhere at any point in their lives.

Date: 2013-08-19 01:26 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] veronica-rich.livejournal.com
Sometimes I wonder if it's at all incumbent on me to try to make an effort to talk to my dad's mother (I don't know if you remember that whole sordid business four years ago when Mom died, but maybe) before she dies, as she's in her 80s now. But then I consider the fact she's also had four years to try to reach out to me, and has never done it - and that I had a good reason for cutting her out of my life. So while I think it's just human for me to still be conflicted, I'm not as bothered as I might be by it.

Date: 2013-08-19 01:31 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] virginia-fell.livejournal.com
Oh I so remember.

She's a grown ass woman and if she wanted to make things less shitty, she's just as capable of being not shitty as anyone else in the world. So yeah. Totally got your back on that whole "nope" thing.

Date: 2013-08-19 03:14 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] admnaismith.livejournal.com

Once again, I'm completely blown away at how Awesome you are.

And no, you're not the crazy one, though I guess there are still plenty of fools still trying to convince you that you are.

You just may have missed the trope from those Jung-friendly adventurer stories where the villain goes, "You can't kill me--I'm part of you!" and that's supposed to numb the protagonist into inaction.

(Envisions Vader telling Ashley Skywalker, "I am your father!" and having Ashley reply, "Yeah, tell that to someone who cares", followed by a light saber blow to the head)

It gets frustrating, watching people you maybe care about, who ought to know better, giving slack and deference to all the horrible people in their lives, and yet they don't give you, who are good to them, the same courtesy. You're the rock and you either don't get hurt easy or don't show it easy, and so trampling on your needs is OK. But Heaven Forbid we inconvenience Creepy Marvin their brother.

You know what I do with my life, you know I spend a lot of it finding ways to have compassion for people a lot of folks say don't deserve it. It isn't easy, but I do it.

What I don't do is have much respect for who they've become and what they've done.

What I DO do is have a ton of respect for who you've become and what you've done. And you make that very easy indeed.

Goddess I wish there were more like you. I'm blessed to know a few others like you, and I treasure your friendship and the way your example pushes me to do better as well.

Date: 2013-08-19 03:20 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] virginia-fell.livejournal.com
You are the absolute best and you say the most wonderful things and I feel like you actually like me for the creature I actually am in real reality and that is such a tremendous feeling.

But yeah, I've never understood the Jungian Shadow villain who is like "I AM YOUR FLAWS!" and the hero goes "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I CAN'T POSSIBLY HAVE FLAWWWWS YOU LIIIIIIIIE" instead of, "And?" I think I would make a terrible Persona protagonist. *laugh*

Date: 2013-08-19 04:23 am (UTC)From: [identity profile] admnaismith.livejournal.com

I DO like you because of who you really are, or at least, who you seem to be.

I'm also capable of learning from mistakes, which evidently sets me apart from a lot of people in your life. Maybe some of those people are insecure and don't think themselves capable of doing much on their own, and therefore are either intimidated by your abilities or jealous of them, and try to pull you down as a defense mechanism, or become emotionally dependent on you and want you to carry them and do other things they should be learning to do for themselves. You might decide that some of them are worth the investment to push them towards recognizing their own core, which it seems to me is the key to voluntarily stopping those destructive behaviors and becoming part of the solution not the problem. And others, not worth the effort, or you have other stuff you need to do to make your own life what you want it to be.

Another mistake I've learned from is failure to communicate how much I appreciate what I like in people. When I gush on you in response to a post like this, it's not flattery. It's me remembering that people need to be told these things, and that a lot of people are neglecting to tell you, in particular.

Just so you know, someone sees, and is impressed. :-)

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