Emptying Out.

You know, recovery can be really sucky.

I experience a lot of mood changes, small things make me want to cry, small things make me want to laugh, more feelings than I’ve ever experienced before in my life go through me in a day, or a few days, after something triggers me.

It doesn’t help that abuse was also tied up with a lot of spiritual things in my life. I don’t envy anyone else who’s experienced it more than me, but even on a small level, it’s doubly disturbing to have human cruelty mixed up with spiritual problems. not that it’s ever not tied together, deep down, even when it’s hidden.

Between times like that, I can feel normal, level, happy. Like my old self.

Now, I don’t know who my actual self is. The one who doesn’t get emotional easy, or the one who gets emotional over everything, or both. Probably both.

I always wondered if my calmness could also be a bad thing, like why don’t I get moved easily? Why do emotional displays annoy me more often than get to me. (Which can still be true.)

Generally, I can empathize more with anyone I feel is trying to improve, but still getting tripped up over their feelings. While people who wallow in it annoy me.

For others, it’s the opposite. they don’t like people who try to stay positive and progress, they like the more “realistic” Everything sucks attitude. Emo anime characters come to mind.

Anyway, I’m not about the self-pity party, but I have to take how I feel seriously at the same time, treat myself with kindness.

A lot of days I end up saying to myself “It’s okay to feel bad, but it’s not okay to let that rule you. You can feel sad, and not be depressed.”

I have to come to terms with the fact that I’m sort of a trailblazer in my family when it comes to focusing on the good stuff, but not ignoring my own needs.

I have a father whose whole side of the family is obsessed with their own feelings, and that is all important to them. If they aren’t happy, no one can be. Everyone else is to blame.

And I have a mother who’s side of the family is about never talking about your pain or anger, and always soldiering on. Even if it means losing connection and communication with your family members. They go silent, and you freeze to death.

Where does that put me?

Well, the good thing about two opposites as parents is you end up seeing the pros and cons of both and if you try, you can find a different way.

Not ignoring my feelings can be a problem though because it is very hard not to dwell on thoughts and feelings that are negative for me. It was never modeled for me as a kid, and neither was positive self talk.

Here’s where I find myself. Two feelings are at war in me almost all the time, almost every day. One is negative, sadness, anger, anxiety, etc. The other is positive, joy, gladness, hope, triumph over the battles, love even.

Love is odd too, it runs very high sometimes. I think it’s a way to take my mind off myself.

I’ve been told to watch that Inner Critic, that it’s a big part of being stuck in an abusive cycle.

But I don’t have a very strong Inner Critic, I haven’t for a while.

When I get down, the thing that goes through my mind is more:

“God loves me.” “I love you.” “I love this person.” “I will not be ruled by my emotions.”

Sometimes another voice starts up “How do you know you’ll ever get better?” “Maybe this is the rest of your life.” “Maybe you are crazy.”

I guess if I am, everyone is. Crazy people aren’t the ones who hear stuff in their minds, they’re the ones who are dumb enough to believe it when it tells them bad things.

Going mad can be a choice. Giving your ind over to darkness is a choice. If at some point it ceases to be a choice, it’s because you gave in too much.

Yet anyone who can become a Christina at least can become sound in their mind again, according to Romans (5 I think).

Humans have survived great suffering, even torture, with their minds intact because they would not give in to it.

The process of Recovery can feel like an emptying of everything. For better or worse, something that was always in your life is now gone. Probably for good.

When you are emptying out, certain temptations become hard to resists (The Screwtape Letters covers this well).

Sexual temptation is big for many people. For me its more the temptation to dwell on romance. It could easily turn into pitying myself because I don’t have it, but I try to just enjoy watching it, seeing any kind of healthy love.

I guess I internalize healthy depictions of romance and parent-child relationships because I know I have a void of examples in my life, and I need to fill it.

I notice I’m not the only one. There’s a YouTuber I watch who loves good parents in fiction and sweet, touching moments because they know they didn’t have that, and they want to learn to be a better kind of parent.

You don’t have to have seen a good marriage growing up to see a better dynamic on TV or in a book, and know it’s the real deal. The classic Pride and Prejudice evens mentions Elizabeth’s ideals of marriage are not based on her own parents. Jane Austen got it.

I also am a more open shipper, I don’t have a “ship type” like edgy boy and upbeat girl (though I enjoy those, often.) I try to glean a lot of different examples from all kinds of couples, I don’t know what my marriage will look like yet, you can learn a lot form fiction.

I find as I feel empty, it’s best to focus on good things.Wholesome things.

You give out what you put in. I’m drawn to shows about overcoming emotional problems, neglect, and abuse.

In fact, just to really expose myself, here’s a list of the stuff I’ve been watching since my dad moved out:

Fruits Basket (in the process, actually)

Naruto (ugh)

MHA (aww)

RWBY (err!)

Fairy Tail

Lovely Complex (great show)

Say I Love You

Instant Family (movie)

Married at First Sight

She-Ra

Dragon Prince

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Miraculous Ladybug

Fruits Basket again

There’s more, believe me, but just on that list, anyone notice how many of those shows deal with the topic of abuse and emotional growth? Pretty much all of them.

I have a type.

The thing is, going into most of these shows, I had no idea they would be like that, it just happened.

This happens in my life a lot, I’ll start learning about something important, and suddenly everything I watch and read will be about that, not because I typed in in some search engine, it’ll just turn out that way.

I think it’s a Divine Gift. A way for a girl to grow who never had a lot of good mentors in her life to help her.

And it is possible to be shaped by books, movies, and shows, anyone who says different is lying.

Music too. I mean I started listening to Skillet in just the past year, and a lot of their songs are about that stuff. And the Oh Hellos.

Focusing on all this is a way to not feel so alone in my experiences, and as I can’t exactly join a support group right now, that’s good.

There’s more to the process of moving on, but I think I’ve said enough for one post.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

 

She-Ra Season 5 tanked the characters.

I have not really admitted to being a She-Ra fan on this blog, and the truth is, I’m really not a fan. I got vaguely interested in the show because a reaction channel I like talked about it, I mostly just watched it to laugh at it, but then I got interested in the depiction of abusive relationships–for obvious reasons.

So, I watched up to season 4 and then when season 5 came out last week, I watched it too, interested to see how they’d wrap things up…

SPOILER ALERT (duh)

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If you care

 

Now, to be honest, my emotional investment was low in everyone except Entrapta and Hordak, and that part was pretty good, so I enjoyed some of the season.

I was never the biggest Catra fan, but l had moments of enjoying her arc also.

But in my opinion, about halfway through is where they dropped the ball, and they dropped it off a cliff.

I’m aware a lot of you readers probably haven’t even heard of this show, as I have international followers, and followers who probably have better stuff to do than binge Netflix kids shows.

Why should you care?

Well, in what it becoming the typical Netflix American fashion, this show tackles both LGBTQ issues (if by tackles you mean subtly promotes the lifestyle in a cotton candy way that you’ll never see with a real gay couple, at least, I’ve not seen any act that way) and abuse. I can’t really explain why it’s so popular to tackle abuse on kids shows now, but I’m not against it if it’s done right, since I certainly wish I’d seen more about it before so that I knew what I was experience was at least not right.

I don’t think they need to call it “abuse” because kids should not be taught to throw that word around until they can understand the difference between abuse and discipline or acts of anger from an equal.

And just to be clear about why I’m going to criticize the show, this is how I qualify behavior as abuse:

  1. Power. Power is the absolutely crucial element of any abuse. Power over the other person, not power to enforce what’s right. Verbal or emotional abuse is just as much about power as physical abuse is, and can be more effective and harder to trace.
  2.  Confusion. Discipline is given for a clear reason, or should be. Abuse can be about one thing one day and the opposite thing the next day. The victim is constantly confused about why they are in trouble.
  3. Justification. Abusers justify what they do with crap reasons that put the blame on everyone else. they don’t just have outbursts of temper, they say those were appropriate reactions. Without the other two elements, justification isn’t abuse because all of us do it, but when someone does it with that kind of malice, it’s become abuse.

Another element that doesn’t have to be it, but usually is is that the two people are not equals, one is a parent, boss, or tyrant figure, and the other is their subordinate or dependent. It can happen between equals in a different sense, where one tries to usurp the other and become the top dog, no matter what the cost.

So, if you watch She-Ra you can probably guess the rest of my thoughts from here on out.

She-Ra depicts it’s MC Adora as the victim of abuse from Shadow Weaver, one of the main villains. then Adora’s “friend” Catra overthrows Shadow Weaver and starts posturing and acting like her…and trying to kill Adora.

I’ve had many a rant about Sasuke and Sakura getting together after all the crap that no one ever calls them out for (except the fans).

But this show managed to trump the bad idea of that ship.

So, after a redemption arc more rushed than necessary, Catra and Adora get together…

*Deep breathAngryComputerGuy-1024x581-799x445

Okay, here’s the deal.

You spend 4 FREAKING SEASONS portraying the stages of leaving an abusive relationship, gaining Independence, discovering who you were meant to be, and learning to communicate with healthier friends. You do a decent job with all that. Have some real cathartic moments of characters calling each other on their crap. Have your MC learn to stop taking blame on herself for stuff beyond her control, choose her own path, etc.

You do ALL THAT right,

And then your big answer at the end is to GO BACK TO THAT PERSON who abused you and make nice with them, and then get in a romantic relationship?

‘Cause that’s realistic.

I mean, it’s not uncommon for victims to go back to their abuser, but it is uncommon for survivors who get out of it to ever willingly put themselves back in. Even when the plot demands it, Adora is hesitant to trust Shadow Weaver.

Someone would say “Catra isn’t Shadow Weaver, Catra was a victim like Adora, so it’s different.”

Ah, no. No, no, NO!

There’s a few reasons that won’t hold up.

  1. The obvious one? Catra tried to kill Adora several times. I know, I know, if people can ship Sasuke with Sakura and Harley with Joker, that won’t stop them. But consider what the point of Adora’s whole arc at the end of Season 3 was? She gave up trying to talk Catra off the ledge, and just stopped her. My World's On Fire, How About Yours? — So when I first saw the ... It was great. In Season 4 she’s in the next stage, learning to just not care what Catra says or does to try to get under her skin. (It’s a fun phase, you feel so free). Season 5 marks the time for Catra to have her own arc, of learning to let go of control, to not give in to anger, and to forgive. Then either at the end or in a future season, a reconciliation could happen, but by no means would it be romantic. That would take years, if it happened at all (which it wouldn’t just to be clear. Once you’re out, you’re out. Unless you’re still married, maybe. A kid isn’t going to move back in with an abusive parent. Sorry.)

2.   Adora was already moving on. As I just said, Adora had gotten over a lot of the anger and guilt she felt over Catra, she realized it was Catra’s choice to screw over the world, not hers. She wasn’t even obsessing over stopping her, she was treating it like a chore. You don’t want to, but you have to.

And that, my friends, is the best place to be in.

As someone who’s kicked an abuser out of my life, let me say, I don’t enjoy reinforcing that. I don’t like making him suffer. I do get catharsis out of seeing the same tactics no longer work on me or anyone else, but I know it’s not over. I have to see this through till the end, but it’s not all I think about.

3. It would never, ever happen.

Even in fiction, two victims of the same abuser who were raised together are not going to end up in a relationship, and this is why:

When an abuser has multiple victims at the same time, usually a parent, but it can be a boss or tyrant also, they will pit them against each other to curry favor. They get a kick out of making one scapegoat feel small, and the other feel dependent on them for their self esteem.

Case in point, I’m the scapegoat in my family, and one of my sisters is the “good sheep” (commonly called Golden Child) but when she caught on to the abuse and began calling it out, she fell from grace within 2 weeks. No joke. It took about 3 days to go from being the good kid to the same basket case as yours truly. Why? She changed, but our dad didn’t.

The scapegoat will realize what’s happening to a certain point, and resent the abuser, and usually, they’ll resent the Golden Child too. Sometimes they get over it and realize the other person was also a victim, like in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (a much better handling of the same dynamic), other times they turn on their fellow victim, like in the new show The Dragon Prince, with Claudia and Soren (another much better depiction.)

The Best Nebula Quotes From MCU Movies, Ranked By Fans Assorted Thoughts on The Dragon Prince Book Three | Manic Expression

Even if you reconcile, you never get away from the fact that they were in that with you and will always remind you of it. Ideally, you both go on to live independent lives, and stay close, but you know you can’t be dependent on each other, or the cycle continues.

Growing apart is actually good for abused siblings, because abuse traps you into one little circle of people. I hardly ever had friends over growing up, play-dates didn’t get set up, nothing. I think there was just this instinct to keep to ourselves. It’s not malicious on everyone’s part, it’s just there, darkness hides, that’s all there is to it.

People who marry victims of abuse may find the family will either make them a part of the cycle, or always resent them for being outside it, and it causes more problems in marriage than most realize. If two abuse victims get married who never got over it, then it’s likely they’ll become part of both cycles in some way, directly or indirectly, and so like attracts like, it’s what’s normal to you.

All this to say, Adora and Catra’s best case scenario always should have been parting ways at the end of the show. Even if Catra had joined Adora at the start of it, eventually she would have needed to find her own path, apart from Adora, to find out what it’s like to not revolve around Adora and Shadow Weaver.

Adora’s whole journey in seasons 1-4 is learning not to revolve around Catra and Shadow Weaver, which the ever unhelpful Glimmer does not make easy.

Certainly, once Catra started trying to kill her, any chance of being close like they were before was out the window.

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I am all about forgiveness, but I am not about stupidity. We have flaws. You can forgive, but some things you should not forget. You need to remember, so you value your freedom.

It’s like how we remember 9/11 and Memorial Day, and JFK’s assassination. How the Israelites remembered being set free from Slavery on Passover. You need to be reminded that freedom is hard, costly, and has to be maintained. Or you’ll lose it.images

In my mind, Season 5 was doomed as soon as Adora went back for Catra after Catra told her not to. Not because I was against Catra getting saved, but because I think it needed to be someone other than Adora. Glimmer, Bow, Entrapta, anyone it wouldn’t have been codependency with.

They could have still saved it if Adora had understood what needed to happen after saving Catra, but she goes right back to blaming herself, worrying, and saying she “doesn’t want to lose her”.

On most shows, this would be a red flag that the person was getting too obsessed with the other, but nope, its okay now, because…uh, no reason really. The fans wanted the ship, I guess.

Catra’s arc is undermined by the fact that she is not letting Adora go, but still basing her self-worth on Adora and Shadow Weaver.

Even to the point where Shadow Weaver successfully manipulates her into running off again, so, she learned nothing, really.

This “ship” hit all the wrong branches on the abuse-victim tree for me, and it was infuriating to see it be endgame.

I both think it was never going to be romantic once it was depicted as two abuse victims trying to deal with their past, and that it should never have been romantic once they were free already, and that even if it was going to be at all costs, they could have at least tried to be mature about it.

But nope, let’s just kiss and do the love defies death cliche (I love that cliche when it’s done right, by the way).

Now, you may think, I just don’t like gay ships.

But let me counter with this, I watch a reviewer of the show who does support gay ships, and he has made the abuse comparison in each season of the show.

Here’s the problem, he still ships it (and no, he’s not gay himself, he just wants to be progressive.)

Now, he called it abusive, before I did, in fact. But he still ships it. Do you see the problem here?

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I suppose someone who hasn’t been abused can make glib comments about it, but overlook it in the end if they get the butterflies from the sickly sweet shipping moments.

But let me spell this out for anyone who might think I’m being too harsh:

Abuse is hell, at least, it’s pretty darn close.                         images

Abuse tears apart who you are, and gives you nothing back but poison. It’s selfish, it’s isolating you from anyone who might help you.

When you are finally out of it, you dread somehow getting tricked into going back. You have depression, guilt, fear, anger, rage, grief.

It can feel like you’ll never be a normal person. You’ll never have a happy life. This will blot out the sunshine forever.

All this can go on for years, at the very least, months.

And that’s AFTER you got OUT. Not even mentioning what it was like while it was happening. Not feeling safe any day of your life because that person is there, or will be, or may find some way to hurt you even if they aren’t there.

Words can not describe the amount of loathing I would feel to ever willingly subject myself to that again, as well as the paranoia that I someday will. The only thing that keeps all that at bay is knowing God is there, having my back. I can’t imagine how I would feel if I was not a Christian and the same thing happened…yikes.

So, seeing someone dismiss that on the grounds of “cute shipping moments” kind of makes me want to throw up.

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This is my issue with the show, in summary. They threw out all that good writing in order to ship the characters, which is a terrible example for kids, and gay people, for that matter. Don’t get back into an abusive relationship, just don’t.

There is no going back. Even if you forgive the person, and miracle of miracles, they are actually sorry and learn to be better, distance is what maintains that.

Abuse is about control, distance is the sincerest form of repentance for an abuser, and the truest form of freedom for a victim.

In a perfect world, with perfect people, it wouldn’t matter. But the world isn’t perfect.

And that’s also my other problem with the show’s ending.

It’s a pastel pink, gay paradise. Literally. No one mentions the people who just died, we see no funeral, no one mentions Angella even though her husband is just getting to see his home without her for the first time, no one talks about all the damage they’ll still need to repair.

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And no one even thinks about how Catra still has a crap ton of issues, and needs to resolve them without Adora’s help.

Nope. Best friend Squad, my foot.

They make it look perfect, because any acknowledgement of the real problems that still need to be dealt with breaks the illusion that this could actually be the ending.

Don’t say “Disney does it all the time” not the same thing. At its worst, Disney doesn’t end with abusive relationships.

Paradise is a good ending when the main problems have been resolved, or the path to resolving them has been made clear for the audience, not when there’s a lot still to do.

Freaking Naruto ended better than that… and it was awful.

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Anyway, yes, I did turn this into a rant, but I hope it’s clear why I feel so strongly about this.

To me, it seems the writers must not have talked to anyone who has been abused, because it’s just so repulsive to you if you have gotten out of it.

I don’t by any means wish to make my abuse story a badge of identity to myself, I detest that mindset.

Force Captain Badge | She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Wiki | Fandom

 

But if the subject comes up, as it clearly did, I think I have the right to call them out for doing it wrong.

I still liked some things about season 5, but the conclusion is not one of them.

Until next time, Stay honest–Natasha.

At First Sight–3

Okay, last couple but first, I hit 1,000 likes on this blog! (Cue trumpets and streamers).

Party Streamers Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

Thank you all so much for coming around and reading my stuff, I never knew if this was going to work out, and after about 4 years, it’s been a really fun journey of finding my writing style and interests. If I went back, I could trace kind of how I grew up through this, I started it when I was 16, and I’m 21 now. That’s an important chunk of my life and this is like a documentation of what I was into and learning all that time.

Okay, now that I’ve acknowledged that, let’s get back to the show:

Interlocking Rings Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

My favorite couple was Jamie and Doug, mostly because I freaking called it, but also because Doug was just this gem of a person, and he was actually funny. No joke, he did stand up comedy as a hobby, and his down to earth approach to the whole experiment just gave it legitimacy.

If everyone who tried it had Doug’s attitude, it might be a good idea to do.

Jamie was a basket case, but no more so than I am, or anyone else who’s had a hard childhood and been left to deal with it was best as they could.

I did like that Jamie admitted her issues, and worked to overcome them. The whole thing was a trial by fire for her, she had problems with trust, and committing and feeling safe, getting married was like the “kill or cure” method for her, much like for Jason.

but Jamie was humble enough to admit she got herself into this and she needed to give it her best shot. Also, I would have been psyched out by the pressure too, so I couldn’t’ really judge her for crying and panicking, I’ve had those moments.

Like Jamie, when I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into something, I can break down when it suddenly grew from an idea to a reality. As a teen I was sometimes shy, and anxious about being away from home. I’d go to Church camp, or on a mission trip, and some break down would inevitably follow, because I bottle my emotions up and don’t ask for help till I’m so overwhelmed I get physically sick.

I’ve worked on that lately, but I sometimes still wake up and have gagging episodes of stress induced reactions. (Also allergies and environment contribute).

Or I get really drained emotionally because when I feel things, I feel them keenly. I think it’s an empath thing.

Anyway, Jamie’s reaction was too real for me because of all that, but Doug was the kind of person who would have made me feel better. Calm, not taking it personally, funny, and patient.

See, the breakdown is kind of an unintentional self-sabotage. You believe you can’t do something, so you go into panic mode to get other people to come to the same conclusion, you think they will. When someone believes in you regardless, and encourages you, it’s a bonding moment.

Like Jamie, I have trust issues and have had to pull myself together so much, I don’t really know when to let someone else help me. By the time I realize I need help, I’m really worked up.

So, again, this show was kind of enlightening, maybe the reason I am this way is like her, it’s my response to the past. Like her, I also know I am this way and want to work at it, but my own weakness trip me up.

Doug was great, he deserves respect for how much he put up with, and he didn’t grudge her for needing time. Jamie herself alter regretted being quite so challenging, but we all know, she almost couldn’t help it, she was fighting her demons as hard as she could, and she went along with the counselors advice even though she admitted she wouldn’t have been comfortable doing it if it was just up to her.

her guts to do it regardless matched up with Doug’s willingness to put in the work. They were the best match. I wondered why the experts seemed to doubt it would work out. It might just have been to create tension, bu they thought Jamie might be too mistrusting.

It’s rough because she really was struggling, but you could tell Jamie is an overcomer. She works on her flaws. It’s not always a pretty picture to do so, but life isn’t always picture perfect.

And that’s why I think maybe we can learn the most form their example.

Even assuming you find someone who is not abusive, not selfish, and not a quitter, you have to make it work. It won’t work for you by itself.

Doug expressed his attitude that it was too much to expect it to go perfectly. he hoped for the best, but he was going to give it his best try even if it wasn’t what he wanted. Jamie did end up being what he wanted, and he put work into it. Jamie kept pulling back, and then trying again, it was a long process. It almost ended when Doug lied to her.

But Doug showed way more maturity than Vaughn did, in that he took responsibility, did not justify his actions, admitted he was still working on it, but then said it really wasn’t important enough to toss the whole thing out over.

and yeah, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Jamie was hurt by Doug, certainly.

The people close to you can and will hurt you, deeply, where it counts.

It’s not even because they are flawed, though that’s part of it, it’s because people are easily hurt. We misunderstand each other, often without meaning to we base our assessments of each other on assumptions.

I have friends who have triggered my abandonment issues by doing things that aren’t really that bad, maybe aren’t bad at all, but any little lack of engagement can make me feel like they are losing interest in me.

Why?

Well, I had a dad who told me he would give up on trying with me multiple times, till I could predict when he would say it. I realized it was cowardice after awhile, but also the message that I was not worth enough to him to push past his own insecurities was hammered in.

And that, by the way, is very painful.

Cinema has a habit of making insecurities and backstory justify everything, as I mentioned in the last post. But they don’t.

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I know because the people who succeed most as what really matters, they do it because they push past their insecurity.

If you know you are insecure, and you let that define your life. You don’t risk love because you  know you tend to mess it up, you don’t risk trying to win because you know you will fear failing, then you are giving in. You let the darkness win. End of story.

It will always be the end, until you yourself decide you’ve had enough of unhappiness.

In my life, about a year into being a Christian, God presented me with the challenge of choosing to heal, to lean into His love, and not let people define what I could do.

I am still living that out today. My life is far from my dream version of what I want. But, in 8 years, not everything you want will happen.

The point is, even if I’m still waiting for some things, I have changed.

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I choose to love people even though I not only know to expect hurt, I actually can predict exactly how it will come. Being an empath, I can gauge what people feel about me, and if they are really concerned about me, or themselves.

It made my past more hurtful, because I stopped being able to lie to myself about my dad. I knew he didn’t love me, I knew even, that he hated me.

Yet, I did not stop loving him. I still do.

I don’t love my dad because I get something gout of it. At this stage, it is doubtful I ever will get a thing out of it. But he is my dad, he’s a person, and I can understand him, even if I don’t look up to him.

I would want to be loved despite my flaws. Jamie and Doug’s story hit me about where it counts the most.

Before marriage, you may know the person, but you won’t really, truly know them, know what sets them off, what they fear most, what they hate, until yo live with them nonstop.

You can go into it with the attitude that they’ll help you fix all your problems and won’t ever have any of their own that aren’t minor.

Or, you can do what Doug did, and realize that no one is perfect, everyone has a past.

Doug didn’t judge, he just accept Jamie and her family as what they were. Warts and all, as the saying goes.

His outlook was that he could not be disappointed, if he didn’t put unrealistic expectations on her. He was hurt a little, but he didn’t go into a tailspin when it didn’t go the way he wanted, because he knew it wasn’t all up to him.

He knew also that Jamie was dealing with past memories and he couldn’t expect her to not react based on that sometimes, but he had to be responsible for himself.

I don’t think he’d put all this into words, it was just in his actions and manner.

 

And hey, guys, that’s all it has to be. Don’t worry about trying to say all this stuff. Just do it, and the girl will get it eventually, if she’s Miss Right.

But this can just as easily be a Man thing too.

Women have a harder task in marriage often because men will resist help even more than we will. Men get told that’s normal. Jason and Cortney kind of ran into that problem.

But, when God made Marriage, it was actually the needs of the Man he was considering. Eve was made for Adam to solve the problem of loneliness, to give him his other half, because as our modern lingo has put it “I can’t do life without you.”

Adam really couldn’t do life without Eve, plain and simple.

And men, if you’re reading this, this is great news for you. It validates the fact that you have needs, just as much as women do, and in fact, God designed companionship with that idea in mind.

It’s like Women know this more because we are made to be the answer to the problem. I mean, you’d better know what problem you’re supposed to be helping, right?

So, if the first man himself, even before sin, needed a woman, then every married couple should know that the man need his wife’s support just as much as she needs his.

(It’s kind of telling that it took God to point this out even in the first story, though. Men still don’t always get it. Until they see it.)

So, ladies, don’t think your man doesn’t need you to be patient, caring, and not take things personally with him either.

Grayhugsjuvia

And personally, I am expecting my husband to need that. In fact, I expect him to probably have less of an idea why he needs it than I do. Again, women tend to know more about this. I’m okay with him not getting it right away as long as he know sits important, and thank God women are naturally more patient then men, usually.

See, it makes a kind of sense doesn’t it?

Anyway, I think the real difference can be most women will not just be supportive silently, like men are, they will explain it. But there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as you don’t over do it.

Jason and Cortney also demonstrated this, Cortney was far more verbal about helping Jason, but Jason still did it, he just didn’t talk through it as much.

And we need both the words and the deeds, sometimes women don’t need to explain it either, other times men need to be able to explain it.

Doug and Jamie illustrate why, actually.

Now that we have a fallen world, misunderstanding is not likely, it’s guaranteed. I don’t care how in sync you are, you’ll misread each other.

Case in point, my sisters and I can guess what the others are going to say, we talk in unison all the time, some people think we’re twins (we are all at least a couple years apart and it’s weird.) Plus, I’m an empath and can read their emotions really well. And we still have miscommunications almost daily over dumb stuff. We have almost all the same opinions on things, and yet we still step on each other’s toes. And we’re all girls.

So, you can bet two people of the opposite sex who have not grown up in the same house are going to the same thing, probably way more often than we do.

It’s okay, just accept it and don’t let it get to you. I think more couples need to hear that advice.

Anyway, in summary, Jamie and Doug just basically showed how to be married, not just how to date, and be a friend. Marriage means sharing all your problems, event he ones you can’t help each other with, but you still need to talk about, just so you know it.

Glad they stayed together and got their own spin off show. Which I may watch if I can.

And so, that was my experience of Married at First Sight. Did I surprise you with what I took out of it? What I didn’t like?

My thoughts on the experiment are that they got lucky, because they missed something that the two couple who succeeded demonstrated.

You just can’t plan for this one thing: Drive.

If people choose to make it work, they can make almost anything work. If they don’t try, then no matter how compatible they are, it won’t work.

Monet and Vaughn were the most compatible by the test scores, but Vaughn didn’t know how to live with anyone.

The other two couples got that they had to make it a success, no one else could do it for them.

So, they did. Because both people were on the same page.

Marry someone you know will work at it, that’s my takeaway.

And no test can predict that. It’s a choice moment by moment, and it can be undone at any time, the person has to daily decide to do it.

So, no, I’m not about to let scientists choose my husband, but it’s also not really worse than choosing one without asking any of the real questions. It’s not invalid, it’s just risky. Better to know yourself what you should look for in a spouse.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

Can check out my other writing on Amazon and Wattpad 🙂

 

 

https://www.wattpad.com/user/worldwalkerdj

Arrival at UA by worldwalkerdj

At first Sight-2

Picking up from the last post about “Married at First Sight.” I’m going to talk about (cue MC announcer voice):

Couple No#2

Ugh… Monet and Vaughn.

First of all, I like Monet fine. She’s got sass and guts, and I think she tried to be the mature person.

If you clicked on this post because you watched the show, I bet you know what the attitude towards Vaughn was. People did not like him, and with good reason.

I feel bad for the guy in a way, but he was one stubborn jackass, and he said a lot of stuff on public television to incriminate himself, so I think it’s fair game now to critique what happened.

Now, Vaughn came off as kind of self-satisfied even before the marriage happened. He seemed to have high standards, but not about the things you’d think would matter. He and Monet both wanted a more traditional set=up, the man leads, and takes charge while the woman cooks or supports.

Monet was no cook, as it turned out, and Vaughn didn’t let that one go.

However, Monet also didn’t like that Vaughn lacked direction in his life, he had a job, a  nice set up, had been in the military, but didn’t have a real life goal planned out.

What bugged me and my sister about Vaughn was how familiar he was. He hit all the sore spots we’d had from our father. In fact, we recognized the exact same turns of phrase, tones, and ploys that out dad used. Word for word, sometimes.

Like our dad, Vaughn was always changing what he said. He’d want one thing one day, and the next day another. A classic sign of an abuser is their changing their wishes every other day and blaming you for doing what they said to do the day before.

Vaughn also attacked Monet’s personality, even though he asked for bubbly, her cheerfulness wore on him, apparently. He didn’t feel like talking, he did feel like sex a lot, and they had sex a lot. Mistake one, I thought.

I am not against sex in marriage, of course. But getting right to it and not setting up any kind of trust or parameters first was probably appealing to the baser instincts in human sexuality, and that’s not a great foundation fro marriage.

I personally would not have had sex with someone I just met, because in my mind marriage is binding once you’ve had sex, annulment is only acceptable when it hasn’t come to that yet. The Bible teaches that it’s sex that binds a couple together spiritually and physically, and so the only grounds for annulment would be if that binding hasn’t happened.

The Bible says that even if you divorce, if its for any reason other than infidelity, to remarry is to commit adultery. There is grace, thank goodness, as many people remarry before becoming Christians, and the word is clear that we should not leave our spouses over that, don’t add another split to the first one, but don’t make that mistake again.

This made rooting for Monet and Vaughn complicated. I would not live with a man like that, but I wouldn’t consider myself free to divorce and remarry till he cheated. I have little doubt he would have, however, from his attitude. And them, it’s fair game.

But even so, it’s a tragic thin to divorce, and why this experiment was risky.

It was frustrating to watch this couple, because the longer the show went, the more signs of abusive behavior Vaughn showed. He didn’t hit her (that would have put an end to it at once, I think) and I don’t think he’d be the type to do it, he was more of the passive abuser. The emotional manipulator who tries to make themselves out to be the victim, while contradicting themselves and criticizing you for what they praised the day before.

Vaughn also did what I thought he would do, after seeing how he and his mom interacted on camera, and got her involved in their fights. Which, guys, you should never do. If your mom has to take your side against your wife, you’re relying on her too much. your wife had better be cheating on you or abusing you if its gotten to that point. Same thing with husbands and fathers. No woman should get her daddy to chew her husband out unless her husband is violent and dangerous, or cheating. I think that’s just common sense.

It’s your parents job to parent your significant other. It’s beautiful when in-laws can give nurturing care to each other, but they are not “raising” your spouse. Respect has to be maintained.

Sorry for that soapbox moment, but jeez the counselors should have told Vaughn that.

Actually, I was amazed these “experts” did not spot this behavior a mile away.

I think I figured out why, since the whole thing had to be anonymous, they didn’t ask the parents and friends of these people what they were like.

But hear me on this, if you’re single, you will never get a real idea of someone’s character till you ask the people who have to live with them or interact with them on a regular basis. Even workplace people will know more about them in some ways than you will, as their SO.

The guy I’ve been crushing on for years has a great family, and I’ve some knowledge of how he interacts with them. Not as much as I need, but enough to look promising. I have lots of friends who I can tell a lot about by how I see them talk to their families. One family interaction can speaks books worth of knowledge about a person. Even if it’s 5 seconds long.

The audience found out later that Vaughn told his mom how Monet was treating him badly, and omitted that she apologized. Color me not surprised, I expected as much, my ad used to dot he same thing, still does for all I know.

Vaughn talked to Monet just like how my dad would talk to my mom, but to Monet’s credit, she saw through the bull-crap. Not being in love gave her no room for blinders or rose colored glasses, I think she held back during the initial filming out of consideration for privacy, but later she called him out on it beautifully.

To my chagrin, the experts and show host did not really side with her enough. They didn’t admit to making a mistake and not accounting for Vaughn’s destructive tenancies.

Now, the thing is, his mom would not have called him abusive. He’s her little boy, though she did give him some flack for how he acted. But you don’t need the relatives and friends to tell you they’re abusive, you just need to know to ask the right questions. Here’s a few to try:

“Does he/she take responsibility when they screw up, and apologize quickly?”

“Does she/he try to fix their mistakes, or do they repeat them?”

“Do they use the phrase “no win/can’t win/don’t know what to do to make it better a lot?”

“Are they consistent with what they say they want? Do they ask you to do contradictory things like be supportive but also call them out on their crap (not that you shouldn’t want both, but do they change it from day to day)?”

“Do they say you are not making it possible for them to be happy?”

and

“Do they come to you every time someone hurts their feelings and ask for sympathy?” (If you are a parental figure, and they are a grown adult. Clearly a teenager can still do this without it necessarily being a red flag).

If you answered no to the first one, and yes to the others, warning.

Now, if your spouse or SO displays only one of those behaviors, or displays them with only one type of person, namely, not just the ones close to them but one personality type, then I’d say they might not be abusive.

You can have some symptoms of abuse, but it hasn’t permeated your whole life and outlook and you can probably be made to see its wrong and grow out of it, with enough time and patience. Even if not, if you are only like that with one or two people who are not your family, it probably won’t wreck your marriage.

What that means is that being abusive is not your characters, it’s just a flaw in certain parts of it that may not dominate your life, most of us have flaws that could be seen as manipulative and abusive if dialed to 90, and if they were like that all the time, but to be clear,  a husband is not abusing his wife if he says once in a while that she could nag him less, he is abusing her (emotionally) if he says that every time she has a problem with him.

Likewise, a wife is not abusing her husband if she sometimes cries to get her way, or uses other lines like “don’t you love me?” if she only does it once in along while and can be reasonable at other times, it may just be an old habit she’s not completely over, but if she does it so regularly you can predict it, that’s probably deliberate manipulation.

Not manipulation is abuse, and some manipulation is actually good. People like to feel they are being managed if it’s respectfully and shows an understanding of who they are as a person, and is not using them. It’s the secret behind “sweet talking” someone into something while they know you are doing it.

Needless to say, that wasn’t the case with Vaughn. Monet was right to say he didn’t want to be helped. Even in public, he blamed her and would not recognize his faults or unrealistic expectations.

He wanted a wife to meet his needs, but he did not do more than the bare minimum to look good for the public.

Another thing I learned from watching my parents, and that Vaughn replicated:

Touching gestures can be part of abuse.

My dad bought us gifts after telling me “f—you” as a parting shot while leaving us to manipulate my mom. He said “maybe you’ll appreciate me more if I’m not around” which is a line Vaughn used too, straight up.

My dad would be docile a few days after a big blow out. I don’t know if he got sex out of it, I don’t want to know, it’s not my business, but he would act nice. Another tried and true abuse tactic.

He’d get the flowers on Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Birthday, etc. He’s been doing that since moving out too.

What was telling to me, however, was how little he understood about my mom. I came to realize that he never asked her what she liked, or tried to learn, just as he never did with me.

Once I told him that my mom didn’t like being praised lavishly in front of all of us, that she found it awkward, but my dad would over do it just to make a point of it, and demand we follow his example, like we were bad kids if we didn’t.

When I told him she didn’t like it he was stunned, and asked her if it was true, she told him it was. She never told me that, but I knew my mom.

I, for one, am okay with praise in front of other people, but my dad didn’t often praise me in front of people, he would tell them my faults however, real or imagined, to total strangers, to other people in the family.

I had my well-meaning uncle give us a talk about respecting parents that demonstrated how little he knew about us. He noticed I had tension with my dad, but failed to notice how my dad talked to me, and did not hesitate to embarrass me in front of others. Probably he did not know, a family has plenty of trigger words that only make sense to them.

If I said “You don’t like to play games with me” to you, you might not take it personally. Or “you don’t usually do nice gestures like…” maybe for you, that’s just an observation about your personality. But suppose you have a history of fighting with someone over that very thing, now, you’re embarrassed. See?

Vaughn did the same thing to Monet, insulting her personality and ways of showing love, and getting his mom on his side, to where his mom talked to Monet about it. That was on her too though, she should have known better. She gave good advice, but she didn’t have the whole story. I didn’t blame Monet for being mad, but to her credit, she did her best.

But Vaughn, of course, didn’t treat his mom like that. Abusers are rarely abusive to their parents, in my experience. They feel powerless with them, or have an idealized vision of them, as above reproach. he compared Monet to hims mom and what he saw with his dad.

But for context, Vaughn’s dad die when he was 12, too young to see a lot of flaws in his parents. There always are flaws. Learning them is rough on kids, but essential to learning that people aren’t perfect and you must not expect them to be. Kids who don’t learn this with their parents have a harder time adjusting to their spouses quirks. As observed by the author of “Pygmalion” (better known to most people by it’s screen version “My Fair Lady”.)

(Now my parental figures are so flawed, my husband could probably surprise me most by being unlike them, more on that when I cover Jamie and Doug.)

Vaughn never learned that marriage is hard, and he seemed very arrogant. If he was unfixable, only God knows, but he was not ready for a relationship. Even having his flaws called out on TV and pointed out by many viewers did not humble him and if at that point you can’t reexamine yourself, I don’t know what would help you. Monet has my sympathy and respect for standing up to the host and holding her ground.

Here’s one last thing I took from their example, and it was really eye opening, don’t skip this part, trust me.

Media likes to sell us the line that abusers have been abused, and maybe 9 out of 10 times that is true, but Vaughn proved to me that it is not true every time.

Also, destructive attitudes are a choice. Her’es why this was odd for me.

My dad always blamed his past (red flag) for his bad parenting. He’d say he never got shown the right way, his parents were awful, etc. They were, but it wasn’t why he was abusive.

See, abuse always comes down to control, but a man may feel out of control for many reasons.

Vaughn, it could be, missed out on a father figure teaching him what it was to be a man, but here’s the thing, I don’t know that it would have made a difference.

His whole attitude was self righteous because he thought he knew what a good marriage looked like, only very careful parents would have caught that, and he hadn’t been in enough relationships for them to have done so.

I had accepted that my dad abused because he was abused, but Vaughn changed my mind. He wasn’t abused, clearly, yet he was still abusive.

See, you can develop wrong ways of control without it being shown to you, human nature is what it is, after all, the abuse starts with someone, doesn’t it?

My grandpa was a lot like my dad, personality wise, but he had a very happy remarriage with my step-grandmother. She managed him, he let her. It wasn’t abusive, though far from perfect. To the last, he really cared about her, and didn’t act like she was around just of his convenience. It was really sweet.

Actually, my grandparents ton my mom’s side also were married a long time, while her mom remarried a lot of times, so it really doesn’t run in the family.

My dad’s mom is abusive, but she is far less aware of it than my dad is, and its more of an annoyance than anything to take seriously. She can still be kind sometimes. She just can’t see why it’s wrong to talk the way she does. But her verbal abuse was from misery, not control. She never controlled anyone but her husband all that effectively with it, she just grated on people.

My dad is worse than either of them, because his abuse was personal, it was often intentional to some level, and it worked. Far, far too well.

In the same way, I don’t think Vaughn had abusive parents. I think he liked control. But he is not your typical image of the guy with his life falling apart who take sit out on others, that’s actually the problem. he thinks he’s got it together, and he has no need to improve, any woman would be lucky to have him, clearly the problem was with Monet.

Well, I think I’ve explained it thoroughly. If you take anything away from this, I think it should be what I took away, that you decide who you are. Not your parents. download (7) 6486314-images

You can end up worse than your parents. Anime has it wrong, backstory does not explain everything.

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I know people who’ve gone through emotional healing for their past and still suck at relationships because they have not taken control of their future self.

Also, you are not destined to be abusive if you were abused, thank goodness. Just don’t marry someone like that.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.

 

At first sight-1

Okay, confession time.

All of us with internet access are binging a lot right now, aren’t we?

So, I up and watched a show that I knew my family was going to judge me for watching, and some of you might too.

No, it’s not Tiger King, or whatever.

It’s a show that just came out in the last few years: Married at First Sight.

If you don’t live anywhere you’d have seen commercials for this, then let me sum up the pitch for you: Arranged Marriage by scientists instead of parents.

Willingly consented to by the adults.

Sounds crazy right?

Not so far fetched, the research behind the success of arranged marriage is that there’s only about a 4% divorce rate, as opposed to the less than 50% but still sizable amount of marriage as we see it. (Though, I have a lot of international readers, so some of you might be from a country where arranged marriage is still normal. I don’t judge, I think it’s fine… I wouldn’t do it, but if the person is okay with the practice, I don’t see a reason to hate on it. Marriage is marriage.)

Before I get into the show, I guess I should make my stance on the experiment clear:

While I do believe arranged marriage is perfectly fine (it’s biblical, as is freely chosen marriage.) I do not believe in total strangers with degrees in whatever choosing someone for you to spend your life with. I wouldn’t trust them to know me well enough to pick someone for me. However, I believe Marriage is sacred, so if you’re in, you’re in. Don’t flip around with it.

(Why I plan on being very careful who I marry.)

However, since the 3 couples were daring enough to try it, I thought, why not see how it worked out?

Spoiler alert if you care:

 

download

If you don’t like spoilers 😉

 

So, two of the three couples in season 1 stay together. Jason & Courtney, and Jamie & Doug.

I have to wonder, it almost seemed planned. The couples were all so different, they demonstrated different things. I did like how real they seemed to be, despite the cameras, which they later admitted put a lot of pressure on them. Also, apparently people on Social Media put on the heat to tell them to get along.

Reason No#1 I don’t want a public romance story, ugh, can you imagine? (I mean, if you can, then #respect.)

Anyway, my sister joined me on episode 2 and we ended up watching the rest of the season together, and we kind of agreed.

Now I called that Jamie and Doug would stay together from the beginning, I even said they should be paired up during that stage of the show, and no, I did not know they had their own spin off show about parenting (but I kind of want to watch it now) I just thought they were saying the same things, and Doug seemed like a solid guy, Jamie was more honest about herself, I thought.

Turns out the experts agreed, after a lot of testing and discussion. Whether its a credit to my instincts, or a detriment to the scientific method that it took me ten minutes of screen time to come to the same conclusion is anyone’s guess.

I thought Jamie and Doug demonstrated the values and outlook to last, and I was also more hopeful about Jason and Cortney.

But even before the marriage part of the show started, Vaughn and Monet rubbed me the wrong way. Vaughn especially.

I think the show was edited to highlight it so that the audience could figure it out, but even so, it didn’t stop social media for giving the couples some flack.

Imagine having a crowd of people rooting for your marriage to work out. I guess if we believe the Bible when it says we have a great cloud of witnesses, then all of us are living that.

My sister suggested I devote one post to each couple so I can say all I want to say, but I have more to say about two of them, so I think I’ll talk about Jason and Cortney here.

Couple No# 1

They had instant chemistry. I think because both of them were younger, hotter, and had less failed relationships or bad experiences under their belts. Courtney had a good family, Baptist background, though she was not particularly religious. All this made her a good candidate for the experiment, the experts thought.

But credit where credit is due, I had to respect Courtney for her attitude. She was determined to treat this like a real marriage, to be a person Jason could trust, to be like a good friend would be as well as a wife. To help him move past his insecurities.

She also could be more grounded than one might expect from her more peppy way of talking.

Jason was a stellar guy who is used to putting others first, a good marriage quality, but had difficulty trusting. (I’m not saying anything he didn’t admit himself on camera, and I think it’s best if I can stick to that as much as possible and avoid speculation).

Jason knew how to be a good giver, but not a good receiver, and Courtney wanted to see him grow. She herself was more ready for the wifely role, and her weaknesses were not really brought out by the challenge. I think she had more of handle on herself than the other candidates.

While they were a good match by logic, and the compatibility tests, that is not what made it work out.

Jason fought his insecurities the whole way, almost tempted to duck out because he didn’t know if he could count on Courtney to be there, he was going to be really busy, and his mom’s health was failing, would a total stranger be able to handle that.

But actually, I think that was why it worked out. Courtney accepted that she couldn’t know everything about Jason beforehand, that her family did not support her decision, and that life isn’t always easy. She wanted to walk with someone through it, they said it felt like “us against the world.”

But they chose to let that bond them, instead of blaming each other for what was beyond their control.

The thing is, it would have been easy to blame each other, just like Adam and Eve did in the garden, just like you’ve heard many couples do, and like I heard growing up.

Is it your spouse’s fault that A, B, and C happened? No, but it’s easy to project that blame on them. “Why did you do this?” “Why didn’t you do that?” On and on.

It’s not Jason’s fault his mom has cancer, or that being a fireman takes so much training, he did his best to work around that for Courtney. She could have decided he wasn’t ready to be married. He must have felt that way from what he said.

Courtney was busy too, and her family thought she was nuts. Jason could have decided she just wasn’t stable enough in her life for marriage.

But they didn’t blame each other. Cortney accepted the time conflicts and resolved to work around them.

Jason put in effort to leave Cortney notes and gifts when he couldn’t be home, to show he was invested.

And mind you, neither of them were in love at this point. It’s easy when you’re in love, you’re obsessed with the person, you think of them all the time, so gestures are easy to make.

When you aren’t in love, you went in not expecting the butterfly feelings, and if you decided to give it your all despite that, you’re far less likely to pull out if you don’t feel that magic right away.

That was the point of the experiment, and these two got it.

They ended up falling in love after all, it was really cute. They were not in love like we see some young couples, the only talk about each other and get all dreamy kind, it was more solid, like marriage tends to be. They tried each other, and they made the grade.

I had to appreciate that, and I’m happy for them. I also hope the media leaves them alone from now on, though there’ll probably be some 5 year or 10 year check up that’s nobody’s business, but ratings.

Can abusers be “good” people?

Weird title I know. Before anyone gets triggered, it’s supposed to be ironic.

But this is about something I notice especially in the church, but I think it’s outside it too, we in the Church just have it more.

Why is abuse so prevalent yet unnoticed?

I’ve heard several stories of it going on with Christian parents, sometimes physical, but more often verbal or emotional, and it slips by, or worse, the church encourages it.

And as a young teen, it began to puzzle me how with my own father, the people around him thought he was a good guy.

His pastor thought his heart was very for the Lord, mistaking guilt addiction for a strong conscience and self deprecation for a penitent attitude.

People would see him kneel in worship and say he looked so devoted. Not knowing that a lot of the time, he was either thinking very depressing thoughts about what kind of a sinner he was (and that is not worship, by the way, though it can be part of it, but it should be leading you back to appreciating how good God is) or he was judging the church of less committed/less humble people.

I knew all this, but I doubted my own thoughts.

Also, I had the conundrum of knowing my dad was a good businessman, tried to be very fair to his customers. He taught his employees a good work ethic.

He was a good man in other ways (still is, I guess) loyal to his country, committed to honesty and fairness in the legal system.

He didn’t drink a lot, or smoke, or do drugs, he provided for us. He spent money he didn’t need to, and didn’t like to share his snacks, but not to the point of poverty.

All this to say, from the outside, my dad looks like an exceptional citizen. Better than most. And a good Christian.

It’s not unique to my family. As I said, I hear similar stuff, my therapist’s abusive father was a pastor… you’d be surprised (I hope) at how common that is.

It’s the personality type, I think. The kind of men who are drawn to positions of leadership can easily become addicted to control and authority and their own way. They don’t start off intending to be abusive, but they have a weak character and the pressure gets to them, they lack the maturity to recognize the bad behavior, so they use their position and biblical knowledge to justify it.

I’m sure there’s articles out there about this oddity, but I’m just going to give my perspective on it (if it lines up with research, it says more for my perception, right?)

There’s two reasons for it, though I think at the core, they are the same reason.

  1. Mental/psychological

The problem with abusers is they’ve usually been abused. Or they have some weakness that makes them unable to recognize destructive behavior, or they don’t care. Most is the first one.

When you’ve been abused, it feels normal to you. It’s hardwired into your mind. Even if it made you furious, the biblical sounding quote holds true

“Good begets good; evil begets evil;” (Paul Auster).

Evil leads to more evil. You do it because it was done to you. But no one wants to feel they were as bad as their parents. So, they come up with reasons it was okay.

My grandfather once told my dad, not that long ago, that he treated him badly partly because he didn’t know what to do, and partly because “you were kind of an a—h—”

Which still hurt my dad after 50+ years,

My dad told me the same thing. He told me he didn’t know what else to do because I just wouldn’t listen otherwise.

I’ve heard the same words come out of my mouth, I am now trying to break that habit.

It’s so, so easy to convince yourself it’s not as bad as all that. They’re not a bad person. Or you aren’t.

Abusers don’t know any other way to handle people, and even if they’ve seen it demonstrated by friends or movies or books, they often are blind to how they can apply it to themselves.

Yet, they have some awareness that what they do is wrong. My dad used to periodically apologize for it, promise to do better, to never do it again. To be more loving and considerate of my needs.

One time, the last time, was right before he left. He’d come back after his pastor so unwisely counseled him to do so, and brought us flowers and candy and cupcakes. IT was mockery, my sisters and I agreed, because I used to express how my love language (it’s a style of relating described in a book series by Gary Chapman, popular in the Christian culture in America, if you don’t know) was Receiving Gifts. I had hoped my dad would try to love me better by doing it, but he never did, except once in a very long while he’d get us a movie, not me specifically though. He got me presents to make fun of me a couple of times. Fried worms, pimple/acne soap, that kind of thing. (IF you think that sound cruel, it was.)

My dad actively showed his contempt for everything about me, so these gestures meant nothing, only rubbed it in. We didn’t touch the stuff, I tore up a note he left and threw it away.

So, when the apology came, along with a fake smile and penitent look, I didn’t even look him in the eye and said I wold not talk to him, he still told me anyway, to my chagrin. My sister was there, and refused to talk to him, with more success. It was a reminder how little my comfort mattered, or my acceptance.

My dad basically gave up on me ever accepting his behavior, made it the same as rejecting him, and excused all his abuse on those grounds. It was my fault for not being a better daughter, was his line of thinking. And sometimes almost exactly what he would tell me.

This is how abusers think. Otherwise, most of them, at least the Christians or otherwise moral ones, would be too horrified at themselves to live with themselves.

My dad also suffers from bipolar depression. Or did, he does not really anymore. He went off his medication, and actually got better. But the things that cause depression, he never learned to deal with properly. My dad does not have manic, uncontrollable mood swings like you hear about, instead he has a tenancy to dwell on the negative, to lose his temper quickly, and to feel guilty and low about it afterward, instead of seeking help and to change by changing his attitude, he simply tries to stop himself, that never works.

But he’s trying so hard, he has to have an excuse for why it doesn’t work, rather than it just being a hopeless case, no one wants to fee hopeless. No one is hopeless, really, but people who will not allow for God’s grace will end up stuck in a rut they cannot leave.

So, the excuse is, it’s our fault, and abuse is justified.

Abuse is not about hating you family, at first. C. S. Lewis observed that once you mistreat someone, you begin to hate them. The author of “The Enchanted April” also observed that you can dislike someone after you’ve deceived them. The feeling of guilt gets tied to your idea of the person, and you dislike them to avoid disliking yourself, or along with disliking yourself. This was even in the Peabody and Sherman movie.

An abuser hates the person they abuse after awhile because they know, deep down, that they are wrong.

A revelation for me was realizing how right I was fro years that I was really not th eone to blame for the situation. I had never dreamed my father would lie to himself so effectively.

This brings me to the second reason:

2. Spiritual/human nature.

We can make all the theories of mental psychosis we wish, but they all are just fancy ways to disguise to ourselves that human beings are deeply flawed, born sinners, and cannot be good. Even our good has so much selfishness, pride, and fear mixed into it that it would not be called pure good by any honest critic.

Pure good, some say, does not exist. Those people do not believe in God. They deny that the evidence that we feel there should be a pure good proves it must exist, for if all we had was mixed, it would be all we would know to expect.

Every child who is shocked at its parents for doing something wrong for the first time is completely justified, we all know we ought to have been perfect. That is why parents get so ashamed and often angry at their kids for calling them out (and yes, you can guess I was that kind of child.)

Really, people mock naivete and it is foolish to expect people to always be good, but it is not unreasonable to think they should be.

Abusers fall into an ugly place on that scale. They must not be found out, for their whole world would crumble. They are not naturally good. They cannot seem to help but be abusive. Even if they could, their fallen nature makes it too tempting not to try, and they can play off others weaknesses to get away with it.

My dad and I both have perceptive skills that go above average. We see things about people they don’t see about themselves. In my case, it makes me an empath. I have chosen to try to use this gift to help others.

In my dad’s case, it made him a nightmare of emotional abuse. Able to read people’s weaknesses and their emotions easily, say just the right thing to throw them off, and yet, enough of it was true to make you wonder if the problem was with you.

I found out there’s a word for one of his tactics: Gaslighting.

He’d deny saying and doing cruel things, say I was just overly sensitive, or I was trying to make him out to be worse than he was, I had this image of him.

I think he really believed it while he was saying it, yet he’d confess at other times to mistreatment.

Still, he was right when he’d say I have self worth issues (I wonder why) and anger and mistrust of him. He was not wholly unaware of what we felt.

Which makes it worse, really.

But human nature is to be easily corruptible.

One last way my dad would appear to be a better person, that I think is commonly why this does not get exposed.

There were times I would stand up to him, boldly, angrily, and tell him off, and he’d listen. Be too surprised to stop me; or, I think, recognizing I was for the moment, out of reach. Perhaps, a part of it is he knew he was wrong, deep down.

The last time this happened was several months before the blow up that led to moving out. I told him he could not threaten me with violence anymore, that he had hit me once, and that was unacceptable, and threatening me again was wrong.

he didn’t disagree. He redirected the conversation, eventually I told him to stop trying to “help” (read: control) me, and then, in a final offer of peace, I asked him to pray about it all and consider what God told him.

I knew soon what happened, we were watching a movie and I commented on one of the characters, and my dad said in a defeated, woebegone voice “maybe his daughter doesn’t want him to help her anymore.” I knew immediately he had not done what I asked, and would not do it. he was determined to take what I said in the worst possible way.

I knew also that more anger would follow that, now that he had dismissed all I said. So I was not surprised when it melted down after the family got back from vacation.

Sadly, my sister had made what seemed like headway on the vacation. Having some really honest conversations, telling my dad to stop doing what he was doing, and how they really felt. It looked like he might change, but he acted the same toward me after getting home, and then within the next week, things got crazy.

It had gotten, I suppose, too close to home for him. he felt his glass house was cracking.

And, here I am.

But trying to understand how an otherwise good man coudl be so cruel, even evil, to his own family has been a hard task for me. One my therapist is assisting with.

Yet, as MHA has noted, being a hero in your profession does not make you a hero with your family, or anyone outside your comfort zone of control.

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And Miraculous Ladybug has shown how a man can convince himself his end means justified every abuse and exploitation of what should not be exploited.

Hawkmoth ヽ(´ー`)┌ | Chat noir

Anyway, I hope this post has been interesting for you, since it ran a little long, and until next time, stay honest–Natasha.