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.

Why did I choose Therapy?

I was looking at some posts and videos about therapy today, just to see if other people are sharing my experiences.

I found some surprisingly negative stuff, people saying therapy is for people who can’t face reality, yada yada.

Well, a lot of people have written articles debunking therapy myths, so I can’t add anything new, but I’d like to share why I chose Therapy.

  1. it was not because my depression and anxiety are so debilitating I cannot function.

I can sleep, eat, and work, I don’t feel bad all the time. The feelings are not usually very strong when I do, more of a nagging “something isn’t right” kind of feeling.

The reason I decided to seek therapy despite that is A. I didn’t want it to turn into that because I ignored the problem, and B. I don’t want to act in ways that will hurt the people around me.

With abuse and trauma and neglect, the problem is all you’ve seen demonstrated is the wrong way to handle stuff, therapy cannot replace good parents, but your therapists ideally is showing you a healthier way to listen and talk about feelings and problems, and helping you find what will work for you. In place of being shown it as a child, you can choose to learn it as an adult.

2. I didn’t want a pity party.

What drew me to therapy versus just some kind of support group sort of thing was I wanted to be able to learn and apply for myself so I don’t end up dependent on other people for everything in my life. My therapist acknowledges my life was hard, but doesn’t linger on how that makes me a victim, I’d hate that.

3. I ran out of options

The thing is, therapy is not always necessary. A strong friend group, family, and community can help you the same way.

The problem is, if you need therapy, that’s a  good sign you don’t have any of those things.

That was the case for me, I have loving family members, but not ones who are very emotionally healthy and strong in the areas I need to grow in.

I have friends, but few I can really talk to, I end up encouraging them, more than they contribute to me. Also, people don’t want to talk about abuse, it scares them.

My community was somewhat supportive, but not on an intimate level where I could talk things out and figure out how to move on.

I’ve sought these things for years, and not had as much success as I could wish, so rather than wait until I do, Therapy seemed the wiser choice. Give me some breathing room to build better relationships.

Of course, it can be frustrating not to have those things, but to not have them should not be the end of emotional healing and growth.

4. Therapy is a way to acknowledge my need for help.

It’s dangerous to try to handle everything yourself, but I am tempted to do it. Therapy is a commitment that will keep me from being able to do that, even if I wanted to. It also keeps me talking to my family about my struggles because they are aware of what I’m doing.

5. Therapy is not an escape from the hard stuff.

I did not want to ignore what happened by putting a band-aid on it. Therapy does not do that. The idea is to face it with the attitude that it does not define you, and you can keep it that way by developing healthier habits.

A little look at what this is for me:

A lot of the process of healing is something I’ve been working on for years. So, my therapist knows she is not talking to a novice. So far she focuses on what I need to be encouraged to keep doing it. And to not give up on thinking it can get better, which was what I was tempted to do, and still am sometimes.

I lived in the ad situation for years, it affected me in ways I’ll still be discovering for years, and that’s okay. Because good emotional health does not depend on knowing every thing that bothered you ever before you can be good again. It depends on knowing how to treat it when something comes up.

Also, having issues does not mean you live out of them, as I’ve said before.

One of my defining issues for years has been “It’s my fault”, my dad used to blame me for literally everything that upset him about our family.

My therapist says he was all the more angry at me because I refused to accept his blame. My dad upbraided me for “fighting him” which meant all I resisted and argued and called him out on over the years. he didn’t break me. But he tried, and just knowing he tried was traumatic.

Perhaps some of you know what I’m talking about. Maybe the person didn’t go all the way with a threat, or an attack, or a bad decision, but just that they did part of the way was scary, and you didn’t know if they’d go further.

The more my dad tried to scare me, the more I fought it.

There’s a quote I found about depression that goes like this:

Quotes about Clinical Depression (42 quotes)

That’s what it is like for me. I was holding my family together by sheer enduracne, it felt like, until I just couldn’t do it any more. I ignored my suffering. Or I faced it alone with God because I had no one to talk to.

I came a lot further because of God, but turning to God can become a way of avoiding it, not because God does not help, but because you can stop actually seeking his help in your attempt to use that to justify not needing anyone else. God’s help may be in other people.

6. I thought God told me to.

Avoiding therapy was stressing me out more than my other problems were, now at least that is off my plate.

I did not want to need help, but the thing is, I also do not want to live my life by that desire. The one to be stronger than other people just to make it easier for myself. Being smart has always made college classes easy for me, yet in classes I do struggle in, the worst of it the people who have an easy time and have no pity for those who don’t.

I’m the classmate people ask questions of and what the homework is, because I don’t mind telling them. Would you ask the person who acts like they are better than you for knowing?

Even if I stumbled through without therapy, I don’t want to be the type to judge people for needing it. I have had a weakness for being afraid of people who are broken, partly because I lived with it for so long, but I want to have compassion for them and be able to help them.

(Note: I know someone who thinks that handling things on their own has always gotten them through life just fine, but this same person rarely if ever confronts people about what they don’t like, shares their feelings, admits to needing help, or is able to sympathize with other people. They are not a bad person, they are a kind person in many ways, but you just can’t talk to them about anything really deep and expect understanding. So it can be deceptive to assume you are fine just because you feel fine, maybe you aren’t miserable, but your life could be lacking so much meaning in it because you settled for barely getting by on your own.)

7. Therapy will, I hope, make me a better person.

My hope is to be a better sister, daughter, wife, friend, and christian for gong through the hard steps of therapy now and not later.

In all honesty, it can feel like it’s only making it worse. After a session I feel like my insides got poked with a stick on all the raw spots. I can feel off for days afterward.

But even with physical sickness, treatment can make you feel worse.

I used this analogy with my sisters (two of us have or have had braces)

Therapy is like getting braces.

Your teeth may be really messed up, many teeth problems can cause serous issues later in life if left unchecked, like breathing problems, infection, or bone damage from incorrect chewing. Teeth can grow in on themselves and be very painful.

But you’ve had them that way your whole life, since they grew in, you’ve grown up biting and sleeping the way you do, you’re used to how it looks. It’s just your teeth.

So, when your parents make you get braces, it feels awful. It’s painful for the first few weeks, and then with each new tightening, the pain is fresh all over again.

If you’re like me, you have a bunch of appliances, it gets stressful changing the new methods time after time, just when you got used to it.

And then, finally, you have that perfect smile you always wanted, the work is over right, only took 2 and half years…

Metal Braces Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

but, then you have a retainer, or your teeth will go back into their old habits.

49024 Orthodontist | What Happens If I Don't Wear My Retainer?

You see how it’s the perfect metaphor?

Teeth are as stubborn as thought and behavioral patterns, if you aren’t careful, they get out of hand fast. They are hard to correct, and without diligent care, braces can get pretty gross and give you cavities.

Therapy is like braces, it hurts, every session can feel like a new tightening, until you get used to it. even then, what if a new element is introduced later that starts the pain up all over. Even if in reality it’s only a couple years, at the beginning, that seems like forever.

And afterward, you know it won’t stay fixed without help. You have to “retain” what you learned in therapy in order to maintain a healthy  life.

Maybe not getting braces won’t be fatal (it can be with extreme dental problems) but it will leave you in a lot worse shape than if you just bite the bullet for a couple years.

My dad, ever the example of what not to do, did not wear his retainer or keep gong ot the dentist, and his teeth got crooked again and he ended up with a painful infection, had to get most of them replaced.

And you may not be so lucky with emotional and behavioral problems.

My dad almost preferred not having the real thing, it can be easier that way, dentures and fake teeth don’t rot, right?

Just so superficial relationships with people who won’t challenge you may last 20 years, but never be anything really valuable.

I like to keep my real teeth just like I’d like to feel my own feelings with really deep relationships. So, I’ll take the harder but healthier method.

Therapy does not get me out of hard work, it just keeps me form blowing it out of proportion. It keeps things in their proper place, much like braces do.

That’s what I have for you today, I hope if some of  you were wondering about what therapy is like, this answered your questions. This is just my experience of 4 sessions, so I’m barely getting started and not all therapy is the same, but it’s what I have available.

Until next time–Natasha.

Normal?

Today I’m feeling better… I got in touch with a therapist, set up an appointment, fingers crossed.

You know, though, Anxiety and Depression is very frustrating for me. I’ve dealt with them my entire life, and the only time I have been free of them is since turning my life over to Jesus. Yet, periodically, they come back. Always in a different guise. School, sickness, emotional issues.

In times of stress, like currently, when my family life is rough, I didn’t always feel depressed before, but it’s like there’s nothing else, so my mind goes to that.

Being worry free can actually be outside my comfort zone.

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I read that one thing people with Depression feel is Self-Loathing. I always thought that meant I hate who I am, and I used to, but Id on’t any more. I don’t always love myself, sometimes I am downright frustrated with her, but I wouldn’t say I hate her.

Only, I’m noticing, the times I’m more frustrated with her, are when I feel anxious or depressed.

It’s not enough to just feel bad, I feel bad about feeling bad. I feel like I should know better. Like it’s a waste of time. Like if I could just stop focusing on it, I’d be fine.

Come to think of it, that’s what my parents always told me. Well, it was either that, or telling me how much worse they had it than me, and how they considered suicide, etc. Not exactly reassuring.

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It’s easy to see suicide as some kind of quick fix, if you lose sight of what’s important in your life. Right now, that’s tempting for me to do, because it looks like I’m experiencing a lot of what my dad experienced. It’s been ages since I had a really good experience with God, saw a real breakthrough, and my finances are not great, plus my family is a mess.

All of those things are things that caused my dad depression. He indulged it, it cant be said he really tried not to feel that way. My dad never worked proactively on his emotions, he just tried to remove stressors. I wonder if he feels better now that we are out of his life, as a huge stressor for him. My mom thought he might be relieved.

Well, good, I thought. So am I.

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So, I’ve found myself in my dad’s position. Things are a little less desperate. I’ve not had quite the same level of trouble as him, but it feels much the same.

My dad does not like being happy. I do, but I can feel uncomfortable with it, like I can’t trust it. Misery was company so much of my life, what do I do without it?

Yet, I could see potentially there being a plan in this somehow. I have dreaded becoming like my dad. It’s why I hate the idea of having depression, but why does that scare me so much? Is it because I saw it ruin my dad for being in our lives, and he was never happy, and he was always angry at me?

It’s like for me, there is no in between, if I have it, that’s the end of my life as I know it. I’ll never, ever be able to be normal. It couldn’t just be a phase.

Out loud, that sounds dumb. Many people move on from depression. Many only have it as a phase. Those who don’t can still learn not to be ruled by it. Knowing that doesn’t make me feel any better, it feels like a rationalization.

I have always felt like there is something wrong with me, deep down. It seems to be a weakness common to human beings to feel, especially women, but in my case it makes sense. I was treated like there was something wrong with me since I was a baby.

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#relatable

Always blaming myself for the lack of love in my life. Always afraid I was just too wrong to be happy, or fulfilled. On and on the cycle goes.

I used to try to fix that by self-improvement. When that didn’t work, I gave up on it and tried to move toward accepting myself. When that still didn’t quite do it, I thought I should move to focusing on God. Then to trying to enjoy life.

All the while, walking around with the emotional equivalent of a hole in my chest, spilling all the hurt out.

What could I do? It was hard to explain this to anyone. People praised me for how joyful I was. I thought I was.

I think, I am too. Sorrow does not suit my nature. Though I can describe all this, it might surprise you to know how little of it I can easily stay in. Half a day at most. It’s not easy for me to stay sad. It is easy to worry about being sad.

Anxiety is the sneaky agent of losing joy. It sneaks in when direct sadness would alert you too much to the attempt.

I get so furious at myself for feeling bad, and then I start this inner dialogue of all the reasons I don’t really feel bad, and if I’d stop thinking like this, I’d be fine.

What if I just had a reason to be sad? What if my parent’s response was not always to say I should just choose not to feel that way, but to listen? And listen without trying to fix it with cheap advice. Just be encouraging and kind. I do not even know what that feels like–well, I had one friend once who got it. But I moved and we got out of touch.

I have always found it hard to just feel feelings, without panicking because I feel them. I am not a very emotional person, that could be because I am terrified of emotions. They seem so uncontrollable, and I never had anyone who would pick me up if I fell apart.

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I expressed this fear to my family not too long ago, and they had no answer for it. Nothing. No reassurance they would be there for me if I did. I have been hanging on by my fingertips it feels like.

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God has been my outlet. I could cry and rage to Him, and not feel He could not handle it. Lately that has not been so easy to do. All the suppression seems to be reaching my prayer life too. I can sit an roll the problem over and over gain in my mine, never learning anything about it, but I can’t just cry it out, rage, and maybe feel better.

Oh, gosh, I actually do need therapy don’t I?

Evolution of the Big Brain
It’s kind of hitting me this week that all this isn’t normal.

 

The thing is, I didn’t choose to be this way. I’ve tried many, many times in my life to open up to my family, and to other people. With the same result of being brushed off, and shut down. No real help in learning how to process emotions well. I was fortunate to have an outlet, I was able to get this far because of grace.

But, if people do that to you, eventually you pay the price. It makes me angry, like, you all screwed this up, took out a loan from love that you couldn’t repay by making yourself depended on us for you happiness, but I’m the one who’s paying back that interest.

Somehow, it’s easier to blog this than it is to say it. I hit the same roadblocks when I try to talk, like “you just can’t say that in this house.”

 

Err, how am I going to do therapy?

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Well, I pray that’ll be worked out in time. The COVID crisis isn’t exactly helping, face to face is out, and I prefer that. But I don’t think I can wait till it’s available again.

One thought that does sometimes help, even when I feel helpless, is this:

I did not choose to have this happen, to be pushed into this dark hole, but, I can choose to leave it.

I can do what my dad didn’t, and try to get out. Early on in life. (Well, he did, but he didn’t address the real problems.)

The last year has felt like one long test to see if I will become like my dad, and do the things he did, I keep choosing not to. Lately, when I hear the same crap coming out of my mouth as he used to say, I think “This needs to change too.”

I hope that this is the right way to go about it.

Well, I guess therapy will give me something new to post about. Who knows, maybe I can help some people understand it better?

(I mean, you don’t have to talk about it, but I tend to talk/write about everything, I don’t really care much whether people know or not, once I commit to something.)

With that, I think that’s about all. Hey, thanks for reading my basically venting-about-my-life post, stay safe and healthy–Natasha.

The D-word.

Time for some real talk.

I don’t like to get super vulnerable on this blog because I prefer writing about other stuff,

but I also write about what’s on my mind, and lately, it’s been the D-word.

Depression.

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I loathe depression. I’m one of those people who grew up with a constantly depressed parent, and even my other parent never seemed happy to me.

I struggled with depression for a few years while living in fear, then it was gone for a while, it came back whenever I went through a dark place where I was fearful or stressed a lot.

I always just put it down to the stress.

I have never been one to wake up with a dark cloud over my life every single day. I do not have mood swings. I don’t like to sleep a lot.

So far, I’ve never thought about it being a medical issue, and I still think that is unlikely.

But, I got to see Depression modeled for me by my father. It made for a very stressful last 8-9 years of my life.

My father would tell us, when business got bad, that he had considered ending his life so we could get the insurance. That he would get really low, and think about it. Unlike me, who has always been horrified at the idea of taking my own life (even though I have been plagued with thoughts of it at various times throughout my life) he seemed to feel it was a viable option.

It put a lot of anxiety on me and my sisters, and my mom. We wondered if he meant it.

I now think that my dad wanted attention, from us, from God, and turned to desperate methods to get it. And I have now experienced he same temptation when people disappoint me, to do the same thing.

The extreme selfishness of saying things like that just to make a point has long been apparent to me also.

I have spent years trying to get the horror of those moments out of my system, it’s still a work in progress.

Somehow we kept on, and we didn’t talk about it. Ever. I learned to keep my fears to myself, as well as my fury at how he tormented us.

Now, I’ve been paying the price for all that repression by having a lot of stress that seems to just come from nowhere. And I get depressed.

I think that the idea of depression scares me more than the feeling itself. For me, sadness tends to be a short feeling, but to come repeatedly throughout the day or week or month. I will shake it off, but then something triggers me to worry again, and with that comes the Depression.

“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression,
But a good word makes it glad.” (Proverbs 12:25)

Every time in my life I have ever felt depressed, it was because I had anxiety, and it was persistent. Then the Depression would make me more anxious, and I would start to have a panicky feeling, I think it’s called Extreme Anxiety or something.

The Bible also says, “There is no Fear in Love, but Perfect Love casts out fear’ (1 John 4:18)

I was not loved well as a child, or as the young woman that I am now. Since last year, I have only realized just how much I was neglected and abused, and that I still am.

Frankly, God is the only reason I did not end up a Basket Case, but I am still a Hot Mess.

On top of that, I am an Empath, and I feel the suffering of other people very keenly. So, growing up in an emotionally negative house really was stressful for me.

I am also the one who tends to try to hold myself and my family together in a crisis, and this last 8 months has felt like one continuous crisis.

Recognising Depression and Fighting it Off ! - Conceive ...

The Depression showed up 3-4 months ago, probably because the stress continued for so long unabated. At first, I did not feel this way, but the constancy of the situation, and how little it changes it beating me like the ocean beats a stone.

Yeah.. now that I write it out, it kind of seems obvious to me why I feel this way.

Not to mention now we have a National Crisis too, always helpful.

Somehow, I am hanging on to my sanity by prayer, worship, and being able to still laugh at things with my sisters, but it gets tough a lot.

I’m sure I am speaking some of you’s language. Right?

I can’t say for sure why I find it so terrifying to have negative feelings. I remember a lot of times my mom and dad would tell me not to have it, refuse to come and comfort me after a nightmare, and force me to go places that terrified me to go to. With zero reassurance along the way.

I had to tough it out, deal with it myself, and if that ever became too much… well, they might help, but my dad had a way of saying the worst possible thing, and my mom has a way of saying she just doesn’t know how to help.

That led to me feeling my problems are either just too big and complicated to be understood and I shouldn’t be so much to handle…or they are actually way worse than I thought.

So, I tried to solve them myself, or to pray through them.

I was lucky to have a few friends for brief periods of my life that showed me my problems did not have to be overwhelming. But it did not last. I was so hungry to be listened to and not shamed, I quickly got needy, and that lesson has now made me very hesitant to ever open up to people.

That and a few other bad experiences after trying it.

Yep…you know, I’d expect this to be surprising, but I don’t think it is. Anyone whoa voids talking about heir weaknesses as much as I do on this blog is bound to be uncomfortable with it.

I’m not afraid of people judging me, if they did, I’ll laugh it off, I don’t take that very seriously.

What I don’t like it the idea that people might think it’s all I want to talk about, that I live here, that I have no life outside of my issues, and I am very against that.

Part of how I cope, in time where I cannot completely overcome, is by remembering I have interests outside of the areas that trouble me. There’s a world out there, I am a part of it. I enjoy things still. That’s my therapy a lot of the time.

I just can’t stand people who make their problems a badge of honor. To me, they are just problems, if I’m in a good place, I’ve stopped thinking of them as a mark of shame, but I won’t parade them. I hate that.

It was always important to me to be normal, and the realization that my childhood and teenager years were not, in fact, normal, has been a shock. I’m still fighting it, that I could be that jacked up from all that.

50 Fighting Depression Quotes : Battling Depression Quotes

I may not be crazy, or hell bent on destroying my life, but I do have issues.

If Depression is one of them, that’s probably normal.

It’s important to be to choose differently than my dad. He let his Depression and Anxiety push him around, he didn’t try to stop it, he left it up to us to drag him out of the pit, and we couldn’t do it.

I have anger too. I have found that Fear leads to Anger. Anger is like a drug.download (4)

It could have been so much worse, the gladness I still have, even now, is all due to God preserving me. Sometimes (a lot lately) I wish He’d work faster to heal me, and I doubt that He will. Yet, little by little, I am also learning to not give into those thoughts.

Today I have felt pretty bad, but there’s been less intrusive thoughts and less doubt than there was two months ago. One thing the Enemy cannot do, and that is, last forever. There is always an end to it. Every dark time in my life, I came out of into a better grasp of happiness and joy.

This will be one of them, even if it takes a year. (Though, please God, make it shorter than that.)

I am not a quitter, that is the main reason I made it this far, and now I am trying to get counseling. I didn’t want to, but God has sort of impressed on me that it is not right to go through this alone, and I should not have to, I always had to in the past.

World Mental Health Day: 16 famous quotes on fighting depression ...

I guess it’s a change I need to accept, I cannot be a loner anymore. I never wanted to be one anyway. (Hence blogging about it.)

Hey, if you read this far, thanks for your interest in my life. I do like how people are always ready to hear personal stories, it gives me hope social media has not ruined us for understanding each other.

More posts about anime, and life, and whatever else I think of coming soon–stay warm and healthy–Natasha.

 

Britney Spears's mom posts encouraging Instagram message

 

What it’s like to be an Empath.

I looked at my Home Page post today, I hadn’t updated it in ages, boy, it was rough. Now that I’m used to blogging, I feel it was too rigid.

But it’s a great reminder how I didn’t know what I was doing 5 years ago, almost, and now I do–sort of.

In many ways I’m still an amateur who doesn’t know how to market themselves, but I have a blast writing this anyway. And thank you for reading it.

Between shifting family dynamics and shifting cool perceptions, this past year has not gone as I expected.

You know what I have discovered? A lot of people don’t put in effort to understanding each other.

Shocking, I know.

Seriously, though, I am that semi-rare individual who studies people around me constantly and I have done it for as long as I can remember. My mom even confirmed that I did it as a toddler. It’s in the genes, I guess.

Not sure whose, neither of my parents are like that.

I realized I am something called an Empath.

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“An empath is someone who is highly aware of the emotions of those around them, to the point of feeling those emotions themselves. Empaths see the world differently than other people; they’re keenly aware of others, their pain points, and what they need emotionally.

But it’s not just emotions. According to Dr. Judith Orloff, author of The Empath’s Survival Guide, empaths can feel physical pain, too — and can often sense someone’s intentions or where they’re coming from. In other words, empaths seem to pick up on many of the lived experience of those around them.” (Andre Solo. 13 Signs that you’re an Empath. Link here: https://highlysensitiverefuge.com/empath-signs/)

1. You take on other peoples’ emotions as your own

Turns out the feeling I get when other people come in a room, like I am feeling their energy and emotions, is something empaths tend to feel. That’s number one on this list.

6. Tragic or violent events on TV can completely incapacitate you

So, it’s also why I hate scary and tragic stories, it’s never just a story for me.

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Poor baby.😢

 

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Freaking why?!!!😠😣 (Not the ship, the afterward.)

(I love both shows, by the way.)

Also, apparently, I can tell when people are lying (No#10.).

Being an empath is also the reason why I am an introvert. I don’t need alone time because conversation and activity drains me, people drain me because I pick up on all their energy and emotions(No#2 and 3).

It is as natural as breathing to me to do this, it blows my mind that other people do not walk around constantly noticing this stuff.

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Oh, yeah, right, that’s why.

Every little change of expression and voice come across to me.

Another sign mentioned in the post is being able to feel pain and even sickness(No#8).

I’ve talked about this before, but all the way up to my tweens, I would feel sick after reading about sickness, or feel pain after reading about an injury. Hypochondria, in other words.

It used to scare me, it no longer does, but there are times when I still feel it, even if I don’t think I have it.

Now imagine this, having a confrontation with someone, only you can feel their anger, sadness, and frustration as well as your own, the entire  time…

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“I can feel your anger…” (Not an empath, just to be clear.)

Some of you who have a hard enough time dealing with your own want to curl up into a ball at the mere thought of that.

That’s my life. I’m Natasha, Nice to meet you.

And yeah, if anyone is every BS-ing me, I can tell pretty quickly.

I never used to believe my impressions of people, I thought I was just mistrusting…and I can be. But I am very often on point to a degree that amazes my family.

This even works with fiction. I can predict show plot points very easily. I pick up on patterns of characters. and the author, based on what they feel and how they act when they feel that way.

You may have see reviews that over analyzed every detail of something, that’s me.

However, though I have experienced all 13 of the signs of being an empath at some time in my life, I do not deal with all of them all the time, anymore.

I realized I could not take that pressure. It’s easy for me to compulsively take care of people, but I still have feelings of my own that I have to divide from everyone else’s.

The reason I want to share that with you here is that all of us, obviously, have a personality type.

But you are not limited to your type.

I am an empath, I will always pick up on what people feel, but I have grown much stronger at rejecting negative feelings when they are not my own, and positive ones, when they are false. I will feel their pain but I do not have to carry it.

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Suck it, Pain. You think you’ve got it bad.

It could be easy for me to be a sucker. What’s an annoying sob story or pep talk to you becomes a barrage of emotions flung at me, and if the person believes it, I can tell.

And if they are wrong, I have to consciously choose to reject what they said.

If you wonder how this can be dangerous, then  think bout this, I come form a background of having an Emotionally Abusive Parent.

The delusions of emotionally abusive people is that they often think they are right. Emotions are tricky like that.

Even when my dad knew he was wrong, he used my  emotions against him. He could tell when I was weakening, and he’d latch onto it.

This man liked to tell me, when I came to apologize for some stupid fight that he usually started, that he was going to give up on trying with me.

I would feel his pain, yet, I also would feel his intention to make me feel bad, and get furious.

It was not fully fake but it was never honest.

Take that, multiply it by dozens of incidents over the years that I’ve lost count of, and you have a really bad set up.

You might think as an empath that I am easily offended…

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…but as this blog and the book it was talking about point out, not all empaths are HSP (highly sensitive people).

I was once, but I am no longer very easy to offend.

In fact, instead of being weaker emotionally, I am actually stronger emotionally than many people. My ability to process other people’s emotions and my own at the same time has made me stronger, because I have to hold both.

And I had to learn to let stuff go, otherwise it would always weigh me down.

I have evidence that the empath ability starts at birth, as even as a baby I reacted poorly to people who were stressed or angry.

Empaths aren’t really easy to explain with science. Unless you believe in mind reading (and you’d be surprised at the evidence that mind reading is actually somewhat possible, though not like in sci-fi, where it’s conscious concrete thoughts) how will you  explain that we can actually feel feelings and read people so accurately.

But there is, as always, a biblical; explanation where science has not yet reached(though it’s getting close.)

In the bible there is a gift of the spirit known as Discernment.

Someone with this gift can tell truth from lies, and one emotion from another, and make sense of it.

Discernment is dangerous without wisdom.

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I can attest that empaths who do not have wisdom can end up very unhappy and make the people around them miserable. Also, we tend to get asked for advice, and if our priorities are not straight, we aren’t going to give it well.

Discernment is gift from God, but you can have it without knowing God, just like with other talents. People who do can end up in a world of hurt.

But walking with God and letting him refine and hone my gift, I have enjoyed it a lot for the most part.

God helps me avoid pitfalls, as I can’t always be right. Where my gift comes short, He will provide an answer.

Being an empath enables me to be interested in a lot of people, and to always have new things to notice about them.

If you were to ask me, after all this, what the hardest part about being an empath for me (as it is like a job in many ways, to monitor all the people around you without even wanting to) is, I would say this:

Trusting yourself.

When you know what everyone feels, deciding what you feel is right, is hard. Sometimes they can be so passionate, and yet over the wrong thing, that it’s hard to say no.

You doubt whether you made the right choice, because you can sense their disappointment or anger.

But if you keep giving yourself enough credit for when you are right, it gets easier.

I am at the point now where I can stick to my guns even if I know someone is getting upset with me. I just have to choose to think that what is right is more important that if they get upset.

And that’s an interesting thought. Because many people now say that what people feel is more important than what’s right, empaths might be more likely to buy into that, yet here I am, saying I don’t.

Which is why I say, your type does not control you. You are still a person with free will. Whatever your natural inclination are, you can choose better, if you know that there is a better.

Learn to make your type work for you, don’t let it drag you by your hair, if you have hair.

And that is all for this post, stay honest–Natasha.

 

 

Anime Bondage: Fairy Tail

It’s been awhile…hey. 😁

Well, I think anime fans, sorry, weaboos, might laugh at me for using Fairy Tail as an example in this series.

I’ll admit Fairy Tail is on the lighter-hearted side, this is more about an anime trope that fairy tail introduced me to, but I’ve since realized is common.

It’s really pretty sad how common it is, and unquestioned.

For lack of a better term, I dub this trope the “I am too much of a sinner to be happy.”

In Fairy Tail, the character who fell under this trope was Jellal, who also happened to be criminally underused, and the other half of one of the better ships.

Saltiness aside, I was a bit surprised.

As someone who’s grown up on American media, and English Fairytales, I expect happy endings, pure and noble characters, and positive messages.

While anime features characters so relentlessly good they’d almost meet George MacDonald’s standard of the “common good uncommonly developed” it is a lot darker as a rule than our stories. Happy endings are hard come by and can feel rushed and incomplete compared to the rest of the story.

I started to like anime because it showed very real problems and made love and goodness the answer to them.

But I started to get frustrated the more I realized anime is incomplete also.

Here’s the skinny on Jellal if you don’t know:

Jellal is a villain in season 1, but he’s being controlled by another character. he began as a very brave, kind, and noble boy of around 8, and in a moment of weakness to hatred, was possessed by dark magic from a different villain looking for a victim.

Jellal goes on to try to kill all his old friends, and resurrect the Black wizard Zeref, causing a lot of pain and suffering along the way.

Later he survives being blown up (like you do on anime) and loses his memory. he meets his love interested again and tries to prevent a catastrophe. Then gets arrested and imprisoned. About 6 years later (time skip) he gets out and forms a group of former villains turned good guys to try to atone for their sins.

At this point he meets up with his love interest, Erza, again, and turns down her offer of a relationship and forgiveness. Telling  his new friends that for someone like him, love is out of the question. Love and happiness.

He then spends most of the show running from just that, and treating his own life as negligible. At the end he is told he should try to live to make Erza happy. We’re given a hint that he intends to do this, but it’s not shown.

Now, I’m happy it worked out in the end…but the pattern went on for a long time. It’s gone on longer on other animes. Including freaking Naruto (almost done with that finally.)

The reason I would call this attitude of self-inflicted punishment bondage is because it does not even work, even if it were acceptable.

No one ever changed themselves by punishing themselves.

I’m more concerned with how unchallenged the idea goes on anime then that it appears in the first place.

It’s even on my favorite MHA when Iida chooses to leave his hand injured until he can deserve healing.

It’s a very real struggle people have. My dad is one of them. In the past I’ve wondered about it myself, if I need to punish myself for things.

I remember it was humorously explored in one of the Anne of Green Gables books, the 7th one, Rainbow Valley. Where four children elect to bring themselves up by implementing rather creative punishments whenever they do something wrong. It does not work.

Interestingly, the Bible has strong words to say about people harming themselves, and treats the idea of self punishment as rather abhorrent.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves. You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body.”

Leviticus 19:28 “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.”

In 1 Kings it says of the prophets of  Baal “And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them.”

This worship practice is not something you’ll find God telling His people to do.

Now, we are sometimes told to repent in physical ways, dust, ashes, sackcloth, fasting, but there is no health damage in any of this.

The same applies to emotional damage. Making ourselves miserable is discouraged by the Bible.

In speaking of guilt, Paul says “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Cor 7:10).

After repenting initially, we are supposed to receive God’s forgiveness, and give up thinking about our sins.

We no longer need to be haunted by regrets.

The reason for this is that God takes even our mistakes and uses them, once we’ve repented, to bring us into more freedom. We have to take sin seriously in order to want to be free of it, true repentance is not wallowing in guilt, but acknowledging how serious sin is, then trusting that God can deliver you from it.

There are many christians haunted by regrets, but that is not biblical. Some churches have taught it because they misinterpreted the teaching of the bible…or ignored it.

In my experience, actually, it’s not the chruches fault. A christian chooses to live in regrets.

I have had, since becoming a christian, been mostly free of regrets. Early on I embraced the idea that I do not need to beat myself up anymore about my past.

Probably because I watched my dad live that way for years, and saw how little good it did, and then had to deal with him imposing that on me because we treat others how we treat ourselves.

I let my past go, I only wished he’d do the same. I still do.

And so, when it comes to the self-punishment thing, I just can’t get on board.

From a logical standpoint, nothing is really accomplished by choosing to keep yourself either injured, or emotionally empty.

One might say ” I do not deserve love.” But welcome to the human race. None of us do.

Love is not about what you deserve, it’s about what you need to be a full person.

Jellal never has much success atoning for his sins while he is doing it out of guilt, the few times he does it out of love are when it ends up working out. Contrast it to Erza, who learns earlier to start forgiving herself and living out of love, and has success after success against impossible odds because love’s power fuels her.

The bondage of guilt is one any honest human being has to face, but we do not have to stay in it. God’s forgiveness sets us free if we just ask it.

And human forgiveness is good too. Honestly, more people need to learn to accept each other’s forgiveness and quit worrying about it.

Perhaps I leaned more on the christian side for this, but I can’t separate my idea of forgiveness from my faith.

Christianity is a very free religion in that way. The only one I know of that says guilt can be completely gone, that you can no longer require punishment, and can live free and happy no matter what your past is.

Until next time, stay honest–Natasha.