Using writing, and meditation, and ice cream, and reading, and dreams,

and a whole lot of other tools to rediscover who I am,

after six years living with a man with OCPD.

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Day in the Life (without OCPD)

Because I'm really, really content right now, yet as we get closer and closer to V-Day and all the ads and propaganda about True Love kick up a notch, I suspect I'm going to feel some pangs of regret/missing ex OCPD b-f, I want to document for myself what a day in the life, without OCPD, is like.

Saturday morning:

Fed the cat, went back to sleep.  Did not:
  • Have to deal with an EME and unromantic demands to do something about it right now, without being properly warmed up and aroused.
  • Have to get up because it was "time."
  • Have to deal with noises created by OCPD ex b-f designed to wake lazy sleeping me.  (Though he did not work and I busted my ass at a job all week long.)
Upon awakening, I:
  • Did not have to do anything "first," that is, make breakfast, perform yoga, etc., in proper order as designated by OCPD ex-bf.  Was able to do all desired activities in the order desired by me.  Even making a morning phone call to sister before yoga.
  • Did my yoga when I was ready to do so, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast.
  • Looked at my e-mail, without any jealous snooping/tantrums.
Looked at pictures passed to me by older sis, including some of ex b-f snuggling up to my then-teenage stepsister.  (She, too, had a major crush on him back in the day.)  Was amused and not made jealous by pics, although given the way he leaned into her, etc., I understood better why she (and I) developed crushes on him.  His MO was to make young girls feel special and wanted.

Love love LOVE this pic of my mom
and her younger bro, about 1943.
Navy for him, Coast Guard for her.
He was about 19; she was 21.
Scanned some pictures of parents into 'puter, went to - even though I'd gone the night before, had forgotten cat food.  Nobody giving me sh-t about additional trip to g. store, or expections of time arrived back, or of bringing back "the wrong thing," or impulse buying something unexpected.  Or of not turning 'puter off before going, or of not finishing scanning of photos before going.

Return from g. store, finish scanning photos, edit and post new blog post.  Read friends' blog posts.

Make phone calls to couple of g-f's, without jealous tantrums for cutting into "our" time for watching MythBusters reruns or NASCAR or some other boring sh-t on TV that only interests him.  Turned TV off immediately following yoga DVD and not planning to turn on again till next yoga session.  Relish peacefulness of home without blaring TV constantly on.

Simmer big pot of OWN recipe spaghetti sauce.  Using ground turkey, which ex b-f would never use though he admitted it was healthier and tasted just fine, on the ONE occasion I was permitted to make my own sauce recipe.  No big slimy onion strings.  Sauce thick enough to hold spoon, even at angle.  Read research items for novel while simmering sauce.

Lighted yummy scented candles throughout apartment.  OCPD ex b-f so paranoid about possible fire caused by candles, they were not allowed, even though on occasion he would drop lit cigarettes on carpet/couch.

Finish box o' wine and separate unibrow into two arches without derogatory comments about "preening."  Ponder actually being able to have box o' wine, since never allowed enough space in OCPD ex b-f fridge to store box o' wine.  Space must be reserved for gallons of mustard, salsa, and other funky food items consumed only by him.  "My" food, including water pitcher, must always be kept on "my" side of refrigerator, and not infringe on "his" side of refrigerator.

And now the refrigerator is mine, all mine, bwaaa-haaaa-haaaa-haaaa!

Do some pleasure reading.  Turn heater on to warm up apartment for upcoming bath, even though it is not yet cold. 

  • Prepare and enjoy yummy dinner at 5 pm instead of after 7, because I am physically hungry at 4:30. 
  • Eat salad first, instead of holding back till after pasta, even if the other is the "right" way. 
  • Eat pasta with parmesan/romano sprinkle blend instead of just parmesan, because that's what I like.  (Plus my ground flaxseed, of course.)
  • Enjoy soft breadsticks instead of rock-hard garlic toast that leaves roof of mouth scraped raw.
  • Enjoy enjoy enjoy own absolutely delicious pasta sauce.  So happy not to be choking down horrible nasty watery sauce with big gross chunks of onion and tomato and too-spicy Italian sausage and having to pretend enjoyment.  
Put leftover pasta sauce into fridge/freezer immediately instead of being constrained to leave on counter until it cools off (and collects multiple bacteria.)

Wash some dishes, get on 'puter. Wash some more dishes instead of having to finish one or the other.

Deeply inhale and savor fragrance of lit candles.

Run and relish hot bath, with book and glass o' wine, even though it's not the "regular" bath night.

Stay up late working on novel.

Interspersed in all this, I fed and played with the cat, did some housekeeping chores, laid out my work wardrobe for the upcoming week, and felt... Happy.  Peaceful.  Grateful.  Unstressed.  Excited about the future, about my creative endeavors, about my social engagements with friends.

Until I experienced the freedom, I never realized how much I felt weighted down by OCPd ex-bf.  By never, ever having an entire day free from criticism, disgusted looks, random sniping, or the dread that any minute, the roof was going to blow off because I hung a towel "wrong" or sneezed "incorrectly."

Now, I feel like Snoopy.  (Btw, does anyone else think Lucy might be OCPD?)

Why would I - why would ANYONE - trade these happy feelings for the smug social convention of being able to say, "I'm in a relationship" with someone who makes you feel like crap, most of the time?

Why did I do that?  (Still shaking my head and wondering, but so, so glad I am done with that!)

I can buy my own damn box of Valentine chocolates - if I even want one.
How 'bout you? Comments?  Reactions?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Call Me A Pervert, But...

...I've always had an "oral fixation."

As a child, I found great comfort in sucking the second and third fingers of my left hand.  Plus biting my fingernails.  Something I finally gave up, mostly, in my late twenties. Though sometimes I still have dreams where I'm getting one juicy corner of one of my nails bent back and going and that sweet pain-pleasure sensation is so intense... and then I wake up, and have to check to make sure I haven't gnawed my nails to the quick in my sleep.  So far, I never have.  Phew!

As an adult, I found much (temporary) comfort in placing large quantities of food into my mouth.  Later I always felt guilty, ashamed, fat, horrible.

And of course, most ( if not all) my boyfriends over the last umpteen years have been delighted to provide their own food/finger substitutes.

I realized, some years back, that I was not the only person on the planet who felt these things.  Somewhere along the way in my research as a writer, I came across a description of a character who, at the moment of truth, has her lover pop into her mouth one of a string of pacifiers she had collected, attached on a string to the headboard of her bed, which intensifies her experience.

So my first thought was, wow, what a unique and vivid character description!

My second was, where can I get some of those pacifiers?  (Because regular baby pacifiers don't have the same soothing effect in an adult-sized mouth, they're not long enough to hit the right nerve endings on the tongue.)

This is a Fossa, a critter from Madagascar.
Kind of like a cougar, kind of like a lemur,
they're tree-climbing predators.
Photo via Wikipedia Commons.
I'd read before about many fetishes, and mostly, I felt the same detached-observer feeling as if looking at a bizarre creature in the zoo, like a Fossa. Extremely interesting, perhaps, but not really something I can relate to.

This one intrigued me. And I thought, perhaps if I could find an oral substitute, I could spend less time filling my mouth with things that weren't healthy for me, in more ways than one, and instead concentrate on filling my life with things that make me happy.

So I went online and searched, and found... tons of scary freaky stuff. I found an online store that sells pacifiers sized for an adult mouth (don't ask what else they sell, I didn't save the link,) and somewhere along the line I found these plastic spoons. Designed for peops like me, and those quitting smoking, whatever, who want to stick something in their mouths that isn't food, gum, or tobacco. 

They're a soft plastic, very flexible, and they are designed to go into one's mouth, upside down, and mold to that hollow in the roof of your mouth. You can suck on them, chew on them, bite them, whatever. They don't make you fat, because obviously they don't have any calories, but they do satisfy - at least, for me - the oral need to shove something, anything, in that piehole.

I bought two of them, and used them whenever I felt the need - usually at home, occasionally at work. Then, after I was with OCPD ex b-f, I sometimes used them at home when writing, or stressed.  He thought they were stupid. He wanted to offer me something else, anytime I felt the need to fill my mouth with not-food.  So I packed 'em away as yet another thing I couldn't do/enjoy while I was with him.

But I rediscovered my spoon, last night, and have been enjoying it. You see, I've been working on the concept of "Intuitive Eating." Not dieting, not depriving myself of any foods I enjoy, but learning to recognize and eat when I'm truly hungry, and not just mindlessly stuff food in my mouth the minute that thought enters my brain.

Not that I'm very far along on the path.

But I felt, last night, after dinner, the compulsion to eat some kind of dessert. What? Why?

Trying to be mindful and examine what my body actually felt, I realized, I wasn't hungry. I wasn't thirsty (I drink gallons of water throughout the day, and had plenty with dinner, so that wasn't the issue.) I simply wanted the mouth-feel of having something in my mouth.  The old, less aware me would have just... eaten more food. Though I was already physically full. Borderline uncomfortably so.

I haven't figured out, yet, why I wanted/needed the comfort of my soft plastic spoon. But I was glad I hadn't thrown it away, after all, and am utilizing it this very moment. And very happy I hadn't just stuffed my face with whatever comfort foods I could find, simply for that oral sensation of rolling something around in my mouth, over my tongue.

You might be reading this and think, yuck!  You might think of me as a Fossa type of creature - interesting to observe, perhaps, but not something you can relate to, any more than I can relate to women who choose three inch stilettos to walk around the zoo.  That's okay.  What makes sense to My True Self doesn't have to make sense to Your True Self.  And vice versa.

But for those dying to get a spoon thingie like mine...  I did search online, so I could give a link where you could buy your own plastic spoon-thingie, but couldn't find 'em.  So, if you want your own, you'll have to do your own search.  (I suggest that you do not search on your work computer; these sites may give your boss a very twisted idea of who you are, maybe even violate company porn policies.)

Despite Blogger not wanting to post this last night,
I don't think this post is porn, or overly salacious. Do you?
Comments welcomed, below.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Tiger Momster - OCPD? Narcissist? Or Just Plain Garbage?

I adore tigers, and some of my favorite people in the world are Asian.

So I would have liked to like Amy Chua, author of a much ballyhooed book about being a Tiger Mother.  But I'm not even going to put the full title in this post.

You see, I don't want you to buy her book, as I find her an abusive momster hiding behind "traditional Chinese culture," in order to further exploit her children, (Born in the US, with wealthy parents of Chinese descent who were themselves raised in the Philippines, she's had about as much "traditional Chinese experience" as a Pekingese lap dog.)  From what I've been reading, quite a few Chinese mothers and fathers are blasting her for misrepresenting their heritage and for claiming that verbal and emotional abuse of children is either traditional, or desirable. 

According to this woman, either children are raised in an "Eastern manner" with strict, strict standards, not allowed to make their own choices about anything, not permitted to bring home less than A's, or, in fact, be less than the #1 student in any subject.  And being called "garbage" isn't an assault on their self-esteem.  Or, the children are raised in a "Western manner" where they are basically given free rein to do as they choose and become fat little couch potatoes with parents treating them as godlings.  This black and white splitting is typical of a Personality Disorder.

No comprehension that raising kids isn't a black-and-white issue.  That every child is different.  That one's children are not an extension of oneself.

My only dilemma is whether she's a Narcissist, or OCPD.  She certainly thinks an awful lot of herself, and isn't afraid to promote herself, expecting applause and praise (and scarily, she's actually getting some.)  She seems to be taken aback that many other people are not throwing roses in her path.  I've read several articles quoting her now, and she appears extremely self-centered, which is typical of Narcissism.  Though she has, apparently, begun backtracking, now claiming her book is a memoir, not an advice book for parenting, and that her way isn't for everybody.

However, like many OCPD parents, she doesn't seem to "get" that perfection and excellence are two different things.  (Did Mozart's parents have to make him practice three to six hours a day?)  Demanding that one's children be "perfect" or meet unrealistically high standards, is typical of OCPD.

from an article written by this momster in the Wall Street Journal   - in her own words:
Here's a story in favor of coercion, Chinese-style.
Lulu was about 7, still playing two instruments, and working on a piano piece called "The Little White Donkey" by the French composer Jacques Ibert. The piece is really cute—you can just imagine a little donkey ambling along a country road with its master—but it's also incredibly difficult for young players because the two hands have to keep schizophrenically different rhythms.

Lulu couldn't do it. We worked on it nonstop for a week, drilling each of her hands separately, over and over. But whenever we tried putting the hands together, one always morphed into the other, and everything fell apart. Finally, the day before her lesson, Lulu announced in exasperation that she was giving up and stomped off.

"Get back to the piano now," I ordered.

"You can't make me."

"Oh yes, I can."

Back at the piano, Lulu made me pay. She punched, thrashed and kicked. She grabbed the music score and tore it to shreds. I taped the score back together and encased it in a plastic shield so that it could never be destroyed again. Then I hauled Lulu's dollhouse to the car and told her I'd donate it to the Salvation Army piece by piece if she didn't have "The Little White Donkey" perfect by the next day.

When Lulu said, "I thought you were going to the Salvation Army, why are you still here?" I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn't do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

Jed took me aside. He told me to stop insulting Lulu—which I wasn't even doing, I was just motivating her—and that he didn't think threatening Lulu was helpful. Also, he said, maybe Lulu really just couldn't do the technique—perhaps she didn't have the coordination yet—had I considered that possibility?

"You just don't believe in her," I accused.

"That's ridiculous," Jed said scornfully. "Of course I do."

"Sophia could play the piece when she was this age."

"But Lulu and Sophia are different people," Jed pointed out.

"Oh no, not this," I said, rolling my eyes. "Everyone is special in their special own way," I mimicked sarcastically. "Even losers are special in their own special way. Well don't worry, you don't have to lift a finger. I'm willing to put in as long as it takes, and I'm happy to be the one hated. And you can be the one they adore because you make them pancakes and take them to Yankees games."

I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn't let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.

Then, out of the blue, Lulu did it. Her hands suddenly came together—her right and left hands each doing their own imperturbable thing—just like that.

Lulu realized it the same time I did. I held my breath. She tried it tentatively again. Then she played it more confidently and faster, and still the rhythm held. A moment later, she was beaming.

"Mommy, look—it's easy!" After that, she wanted to play the piece over and over and wouldn't leave the piano. That night, she came to sleep in my bed, and we snuggled and hugged, cracking each other up. When she performed "The Little White Donkey" at a recital a few weeks later, parents came up to me and said, "What a perfect piece for Lulu—it's so spunky and so her."
Yep, makes me want to run right out and coerce some poor young child, because they will be so happy and grateful and snuggly when the abuse stops.  This how pedophile kidnappers brainwash their victims, hello?!

Lulu apparently does have great spunk and resilience despite years of emotional abuse, despite being shut out of the house in the cold when she was three years old to coerce her to play, and at thirteen quit playing an instrument.  The momster, on the other hand... Well, if anyone wants deeper insights on "cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic," I know who to call.

Since Ms. Chua suggests "the solution to substandard performance is always to excoriate, punish and shame the child," I suggest we take every opportunity to excoriate the substandard "memoir" she has produced, and hold her to shame for even thinking such an inferior work is worthy of publication.  (Not insulting, just motivating her, right?)

Either that, or perhaps a New Haven plainclothes officer will obtain a copy of a book signed by her and arrest her on the basis of her signed confession of child abuse.

Quite often, emotional and verbal abuse crosses over into physical violence (not that verbal abuse isn't bad enough.)  Here's just a few examples of children being "motivated" by their parents to get better grades.

In California, a father beats his daughter with a wooden dowel because of a drop in grades.
In Florida, a father beats a seven-year old with a belt for bad grades.
In West Virginia, a mother beats her daughter with a belt for getting a B.
How about a parent who makes their child kill their pet hamster with a hammer for bad grades?

(One of the parents above appears to be Asian, the others, not.  So a control-freak parent having a meltdown over children achieving less than perfect grades would not appear to be a purely "Eastern" child-rearing ideology, after all.)

Abuse is Abuse.  Doesn't matter whether you claim "that's our Chinese culture" (what a load of BS!) or "But in Africa, we always mutilate our girl children with a broken beer bottle" or other excuses.  Decent human beings treat one another - even our children, even the mentally ill, even the disabled - with dignity, kindness and respect.  We don't abuse others over whom we have power, just because we can get away with it.

Unless we have a Personality Disorder.  Or are, truly, garbage. 

Your thoughts?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Come on Dreamer, Dream Along!

I've always believed that one of the ways we can get our heads together is by paying attention to our dreams. Dreams have meaning - not in the "oooh, I should buy a lottery ticket!" or "Am I going to get eaten by a zombie?" sense, but they are often the subconscious working out "stuff" we may not be paying attention to when we're awake.

Fr'instance, a few nights ago I dreamt of this cute little guy.  (The dark-haired one, not the blond, though he's pretty cute too.)

Backstory:  I used to care for Baby R, back in the day when my day job was family day care. Sweet spirit, happy and easygoing, I had him from the time he was about four months old till about 13-14 months old.

So, last night I came home from my current day job, and actually finished the chapter of my novel I'd been stuck on.  The novel I hadn't done much more than think about since last May.  Went to bed patting my own back for finally getting it done.  Even thinking about the next chapter.

Then in my dreams, it was a day care morning, and the parents were carrying Baby R to me to care for him, after however many days/weeks off.  At first they were even bringing him to the wrong house - I had to go outside and wave, "I'm in here!"  As I held him, he was very angry with me, tried to hit me, and then subsided, said, "I still love you," and snuggled up to me.  When I went to change his diapers, I found he'd been all padded up with a bunch of diapers for much too long, and it took tender time and attention and care to make him fresh and clean again.

We don't need a Joseph and his Technicolor Bathrobe to figure that one out, do we?

In fact, I dream about babies - "historical" babies from earlier in my life, to mystery babies I've never met - quite a lot.  Babies, according to most dream interpretation books, have to do with new beginnings, projects, hopes, dreams.  They all have wonderful potential - and all need plenty of nurturing.

I think I dream about my babies when I need to give them more attention.  When the creative side of me is feeling, "Hey, enough with the chores and 'To-Do'  lists already, come play with me!"

Sometimes the symbology of dreams isn't so obvious.  I have a friend who confessed her erotic dream of wanting to make love with a complete stranger.

I think she was disappointed, when we looked it up, to find out the male stranger is her own "male energies" - drive, power, energy.  That the dream was about her needing to become more connected with her own masculine side, to be more assertive.

Yes, while sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, sex generally isn't sex when you dream about it, but the feeling or need for a more intimate emotional or spiritual connection with the passionate object of your dream.  (Which may mean you're not a closeted lesbian after all, lol!)

The dream interpretation book I like best is Kelly Sullivan Walden's I Had The Strangest Dream... The Dreamer's Guide for the 21st Century.  Every major and modern symbol is in it from roller coasters (also a frequent feature in my dreams) to Botox, whereas some of the older books will interpret for you what it means if you dream of a whaling ship or breaking your butter churn.

From Dimensions Guide
I used to dream of sinking shops a lot, though more Titanic-style (not a surprise as my relationship with OCPD ex-bf slowly headed to the bottom of the ocean.)  Sinking ship dreams have to do with feeling overwhelmed, unable to cope.

Sometimes I would dream of a big, beautiful house, full of large, spacious rooms, then I would go upstairs in it and the attic would have huge, Edward Scissorhands-style gaping holes, broken lathes, etc.  And of course, the roof symbolizes our protection against the stormy forces of the outside world, our boundaries.  And during those years, I definitely felt vulnerable and poorly defended.

With dreams, as with anything else, part of what we take from them is what we bring to them.  If we dream of being chased by a Purple People Eater, and then stopped to play music with him, for example, we are the ones who have to decide whether the most significant thing in the dream was the color purple - or being chased - or the music he played through the hole in his head.

Sometimes I've used dreams to work out problems in relationships.  Once I had friends who I promised to do something for them, and though I tried my best, simply couldn't deliver.  Later, I had a dream where I was able to follow through exactly as planned, and woke up, feeling very complete about it, as if on a karmic level it was now all good.

I've also had the horrible experience of arguing in a dream with someone I love, and woke feeling terrible about what they said and what I said.  It took some time to climb off that emotional ledge, in the morning, and realize it didn't happen.  When I have a nightmare, I wake with all the breathless terror, or heartache and tears, that I felt in the dream.

(This was yet another cause of frustration with ex-bf - he never wanted to allow me the relief of talking out a powerful dream.  He would just cut me off and tell me he wasn't interested.  Once in a while, he would hold me after a bad dream, but sometimes even if I begged, he would tell me just to get over it.  Yep, I realize now, yet another way to be emotionally abusive.)

I've always wanted to be visited by dead loved ones, or guardian angel types, but that's only happened once.  I know there are supposedly things you can do to bring them into your dreams, but I'd rather, if I'm going to have visitors, have them to come on their own.

But, mostly, I simply have some colorful dreams involving babies or houses or roller coasters.  (No roller coaster dreams since I moved out!)

And the musical piece that goes with this is... a happy singing/dancing song, from one of the Best Albums of All Time, IMO.  Enjoy!

What do you dream about?  Do you look up your dreams to find out if your subconscious is trying to tell you something?  What's the scariest dream you've ever had - and why do you think you had it?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Guest Post: How Much of a Blame Absorber Are You? from Baggage Reclaim

Absorbency in toilet paper, diapers, and feminine sanitary products...  a very good thing.

Absorbency of blame in relationships... not so good.

In fact, it means you're stocking your mind with too many products from Codependency 'R Us.  Take the quiz, and see how YOU rate.  (I could wish I rated lower, but... I'm getting better!)

from Natalie Lue's Baggage Reclaim:

Inbox (291 messages, 13 unread)-1.jpg

Following on from last weeks quiz about what makes you interested or disinterested, this weeks quiz is all about whether you center yourself too much in other people’s actions and thoughts causing you to be a ‘Blame Absorber’, someone who finds a way to soak up any negative thing that happens around them and make it their fault, which plays into their self-fulfilling prophecy and the negative things they believe about themselves, and distorts their perspective while removing the responsibility from others.
Which of the following statements do you agree with:

1. When someone annoys or upsets me, I often think that it must be because of something I’ve done or a ‘flaw’ that’s triggering it.

2. People who are lovable and worthy don’t have others treating them badly and taking advantage of their boundaries.

3. If they don’t reciprocate my interest, I wonder what is wrong with me or what I could potentially do to ‘win’ them over.

4. In a current or past relationship, even though the other person was doing and being things that were counterproductive to the success of the relationship, I’ve believed the responsibility of the problems in the relationship were mine to bear.

5. If a partner cheats on me, I believe it’s because I have failed to meet their needs.

6. I’ve been involved with someone who didn’t treat me very well and but I have often wondered what it is that I did wrong.

7. I’ve been involved with someone who didn’t treat me very well and who I know had not treated others well either but I still wonder what I did wrong and why they can’t be different with me.

8. I believe that when you love someone, if that person has ‘problems’ and basically things that need to change for the relationship to work/me to be happy, that they should want to change.

9. I believe that if I love enough that the problems will no longer exist.

10. I am involved with someone or have been involved with others, where I have wanted them to make me the exception to their rule of behavior.

If you’ve agreed with any of the statements, it’s time to readdress your tendency to absorb blame and remove responsibility from others. Read on for the ‘answers’….

1. When someone does something to annoy or upset me, I often think that it must be because of something I’ve done or a flaw that’s triggering it.
There’s such a thing as placing yourself far too much in the center of other people’s actions and thought processes. Some people behave like jackasses because that is their way. Others lack empathy and don’t consider the impact of their actions. Others act as they do through a lack of boundaries on your side, which they take as a green light to take the piss – that means you’re enabling what someone is inclined to do anyway, not causing. And sometimes people unintentionally eff up but don’t mean you ill harm and regret and apologize. To believe you’re responsible for all that others do to you, is giving yourself too much credit and removing their accountability.

Click here to read the Bagagge Reclaim article in full.

Btw, thanks, Natalie, for posting an explanation for "take the piss" which means something very different in America than it does in the UK!

So, what do you think?  Have you been acting more like Charmin than Charlene?  Is this one of your weaknesses: a willingness, even eagerness, to absorb the blame for all that goes in in your relationships?  (It has been in mine - I winced at #7 - well, at more than #7, but I'm learning to get over this.) 

Post a comment and let me know how your blame absorbency issues are coming along.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Worse than a Slap in the Face

We're starting to pay more attention to bullying in school, which is important, but many young bullies learn their behavior from somebody in their family.  That's the way their father treats their mother, after all, or their mother treats the elderly grandparent in the home...

Everyone would agree that physical abuse is terrible, and never to be tolerated.  Yet words, tones, body language... the harm inflicted by long-term emotional and verbal abuse can be just as painful, so much so that many victims express a wish for visible bruises, so that at least then people could understand how very much it hurts.
Sometimes, because it's too hard to face the reality that somebody who's supposed to love us is treating us so terribly, we discount our own pain, "Oh, it's not that bad.  If it was really bad, if he hit me or the children, of course I'd leave."  Or we excuse it, "Well, after all, I know he's mentally ill," or, "It's just because she's going through a really rough time."  We blame ourselves, hoping that if we just learn to express ourselves better, that if we model a good example of kindness and patience with our own behavior, if we just keep working to communicate better, we'll break through.  We'll get to a point where s/he finally understands.

Here's why that doesn't work: the problem isn't poor communication in the first place.  There's a saying that you can't get a man to understand something, if his job depends on him not understanding it.

We think there's a mutual goal; to reach an understanding, to find common ground, to agree on something, or to share thoughts or emotions.  The abuser is looking for Power Over, for control of every situation.  True compromise (where both parties feel satisfied) is impossible when each party has a different goal.  What happens is one party (usually the abusee) will eventually give up in exhaustion.

Or the abuse goes on so long, in so many different forms, we may not even notice it anymore.  We're picking our battles, and the latest snipe is just another pinprick in a life full of being stabbed with pins and needles and the occasional icepick or switchblade.  A friend recently pointed out to me that a few years ago, my ex b-f called me fat and stupid in front of her and another guest, which she found appalling (and I do, too, in retrospect), and I didn't even notice at the time.  I was so used to him calling me fat and stupid several times a day it didn't register anymore.

Being OCPD or NPD or BPD or a member of the LAPD is no justification for using your fists or your words to attack and degrade another human being.   Having a mental disorder, or being drunk, or having any other addiction or illness, does not excuse anyone from the responsibility to treat others with kindness, dignity and respect.

What is verbal abuse, and what ways can someone be abusive?  They include:
  • Withholding - not sharing one's thoughts and emotions, not listening, the silent treatment...
  • Countering - whatever one says, or begins to say, the abuser jumps in to say it isn't so.  Being told that your reality is wrong.
  • Discounting - one may be told one is too sensitive, overreacting, taking things too seriously...
  • Verbal abuse disguised as jokes - one can be the butt of a really nasty attack, and when one objects, then be accused of not having a sense of humor.
  • Blocking and diverting - you may ask for information, and the abuser withholds it and changes the subject.  "Do you have any plans for Friday night?"  you ask cheerfully.  The response: "Why are you asking?  You've got plans, haven't you?  You're always making plans without consulting me..."  (see the video clip, below, for a great illustration of this in action.)
  • Accusing and blaming - one is blamed for the abuser's bad mood, for 'trying to pick a fight'
  • Judging and criticizing - "Do you have any idea how fat/old/slutty you look in that dress?" "You're so stupid, you can't keep anything straight..."
  • Trivializing - conveying that whatever you have done or said is insignificant.  Turning up the TV or walking out of the room when you're mid-sentence.
  • Undermining - squelching any enthusiasm or opinion one might dare to voice, sabotaging exercise or outside interests, friendships.
  • Threatening - "Do what I want or I'll..."
  • Name calling - my b-f decided to dub me "Lumpy" as a pet name.  Nice, huh?
  • Forgetting - either immediately forgetting something abusive that has just occurred, or forgetting a promise made to attend an event - "You never told me we had Back-to-School Night tonight."
  • Ordering - as if the partner or child is a slave.  "Get in here and ..."
  • Denial - "I never said that, You're making it up, You must be crazy..."
  • Abusive anger - there is no right way to be/speak to avert anger, when a partner wants to be angry.  When an abuser who uses anger as his "go-to" emotion is feeling powerless and anxious, he WILL vent by blasting his partner (and then usually blame him/her.) As I've blogged before, anger can become addictive and it has a double pay-off. There's a release of tension, a flow of mood-boosting body chemicals after a blow-up, and the abuser usually cows the victim into doing his/her will.
I could have written this script. Awfulness knows I rehearsed it enough, in endless variations!

This experience - of being disregarded as a valued, thinking, separate human being happened to me all the time with OCPD ex-b-f.  He couldn't understand the concept that I did not think exactly the way he did about everything, that I did not know what he was thinking.  That he did not have outposts in my head.  Wasn't I merely an extension of himself?

And after a few years, he did have outposts in my head.  I helped build them, trying soooo hard to conform to what he expected of me.  Trying not to piss him off by asking the wrong question - or perhaps, the right question in the wrong way.  Ending up jumpy and nervous all the time, walking on eggshells, because I foolishly asked at the wrong time about going for a weekend hike, or brought home the wrong cut of meat, or came home ten minutes late from work and I knew he wouldn't believe it was traffic.  Waiting for the explosion, or perhaps, just the Silent-But-Stomping routine, or the sulks, the disgusted looks...

While some abusers never strike, push, or physically batter their victims, all physical abuse is preceded by verbal abuse in some form.  And many displays of temper, while they technically don't harm us physically, are clearly meant to scare and intimidate us.  They do affect us, not only emotionally, but physically.  We cannot (and do not) feel truly safe if she "only" throws knickknacks at the wall near us, if he "only" hurls his plate on the ground and stomps out of the house right past us.  If s/he makes threatening remarks about guns, or about throwing us out on the street.  Verbal abuse throws us off balance, raises our adrenalin and cortisol levels, causes us to wonder if we are, in fact, going a little bit crazy.  (Actually, we may well be suffering Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.)  We may become physically ill, because repeated abuse impacts our immune systems.

Even if your abuser never raises his/her voice, even if s/he never throws so much as a hanky or stomps even once, don't kid yourself that you're not being abused, if you are being belittled, put down, or depersonalized in any way.  If s/he always insists on "helping" you, (whether you've asked for help or not,) because you're so helpless/incompetent.  If s/he insists on making all the financial decisions because you're "not even capable of balancing a checkbook!"  If s/he acts like s/he knows what's going on in your head better than you do.  That sounds ridiculous, in black and white like that, but that is how some abusers act.  It's all the more insidious, when emotional abuse is covert.

Financial Abuse - Another Form of Emotional Abuse

Financial abuse is not a couple deciding together, "Okay, Partner A is better at handling the bills, so if she'll take over that job most of the time, Partner B will do the heavy yard work."  It's about one person using money as an emotional club over a partner's head, not sharing information, not disclosing assets, not allowing for mutual decision making.  It can be a husband who buys tailored suits and makes his wife shop for her clothing at Goodwill, or a wife who gets weekly pedicures and massages while her husband is told they can't afford for him to see a dentist.  It's about a spouse who refuses outright to look for a job, or who will pay lip service to a job-search, but wants to wait for the perfect job to come along, even though the family is in financial crisis.
from Wisegeek:  Financial abuse is a form of mistreatment in which an abuser forcibly controls a victim’s economic means. It can involve stealing money, not allowing a victim to take part in any financial decisions, or preventing a victim from having a job. This form of abuse tends to occur most often in domestic relationships, such as between a husband and wife or an elderly parent and adult child. It can be difficult to recognize because an abuser may purposely select a victim who is vulnerable and unlikely to realize the abuse is taking place or who simply will be too ashamed to report it.
 Signs of Financial Abuse (from Suite 101)
  • Controlling the finances.
  • Withholding money or credit cards.
  • Receiving an allowance.
  • Being held accountable for every penny spent.
  • Money being taken against the will.
  • Using the spouse's assets for personal benefit.
  • Withholding basic necessities.
  • Preventing a partner from working or choosing a career.
  • Sabotaging place of employment. (Forcing the partner to miss work or repeated calling to the place of employment, etc.)

Many who financially abuse their partners or elderly parents never raise their voices.  Others engage in rages, blocking and diverting, or other verbal abuse techniques to maintain control.  Receiving an allowance, as above - is not abuse if both partners agree, "Okay, we should each have XX amount for pocket money each week, and not go over that, because we're saving to put a down payment on a house."  It's abuse when a (non-working) wife says to her husband (who earns a healthy salary), "You can have $10 per week for pocket money, and you'd better be able to produce receipts and show me exactly how you've spent it."  As noted, the elderly are also frequent victims of financial abuse by their children.

More sites on Financial Abuse:

So how do we get into this situation, anyway?

For one thing, we all have these silly preconceptions of what "crazy" or "abusive" looks like.  It couldn't be that grandmotherly-looking woman with the sweet smile.  Or the clean-cut business exec with warm brown eyes who coaches his son's Little League team.  Abusers and rapists and "crazy people" are supposed to be seven feet tall, covered with rank, unwashed hair, pushing a shopping cart down the street and talking to themselves.  (True, a large percentage of homeless people probably are mentally ill.  But we're on guard near them, expecting them to be unpredictable.) 

We're probably not wary of the trim soccer mom who lives two doors down with the incredibly neat front yard, the one who runs the PTA and twelve other volunteer organizations.  Yet every night behind closed doors she may scream at her husband and children that they are useless, worthless slobs, making her life miserable...  Abusers come from both genders, from every social and economic level, every religion, every profession: pillars of the church, lawyers, doctors, mechanics, hairdressers, busboys... we can't tell abusers by what they look like out in public, on their best behavior.

Unfortunately, some of us are born into being abused.  Those who abuse us may be our parents, and we can't get away, for many years.  Then later, we feel obligated to go back, because they are elderly and need a caregiver, and the verbal abuse keeps raining down on us.  We may have an abusive sibling, who we care for, or who may care for us, because one of us is physically or mentally ill.

In other cases we end up with an abusive boss or co-worker, and if it's a down economy or we don't have in-demand skills, we may feel trapped, and unable to tell him/her to "Take this Job and Shove It!"

For others, we date, marry, or move-in with our abusers.  We choose them.  We might blame ourselves now, wondering how we could have been so blind, but abusers can be good at camouflage.  If they'd come out swinging on the first date, called us a fat stupid bitch, then, we probably would have run in the other direction. 

Usually they were sweet and loving, and may have seemed almost Too Perfect (in the case of OCPD,) so organized, so protective, so disciplined, that we felt lucky to win their love.  If we sensed something a little... off, we told ourselves it was us overreacting.  Or perhaps, having ourselves grown up in a home where there was verbal abuse, physical abuse, alcoholism, or other dysfunctions, we didn't recognize that something was wrong.  We might have even been more comfortable on a subconscious level, because something about our partner's behavior felt...  familiar. 

Or possibly, we grew up in such a normal home that we didn't see it coming because we didn't know people could be like that. 

Used by permission of
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We were the legendary frog in the pot of gradually heating water, starting out very happy, and totally clueless as to how much worse the abuse was heating up, until we suddenly realized we were being boiled to death.  Those of us chronically abused may become dispirited, depressed, unable to stand up for ourselves, confused, unable to concentrate... but we didn't start out that way.  Often we were bright, vibrant smart people, who had the life sucked out of us by these Emotional Vampires.

The good news is, if you are reading this, you are aware that you don't have to be a victim.  You can take back your life, you can reclaim your power, your happiness, your right to be in charge of your own head.  Yep, talk about crazy thoughts!

You are aware, now, that what is happening to you is abuse.  This is not something you signed up for, and no, you do not deserve it.  Second step - keep educating yourself - the links in this post, especially to, as well as the permanent links on the right hand side of this page are to invaluable resources.  If you yourself aren't abused, but know someone who is, read the link about Stockholm Syndrome to find tips for how you can best help an abused person.  Hint: it isn't pressuring him/her to leave.

Finally, devise a plan of action, which might not include leaving, yet.  Only you know if/when that decision is right for you.  Your plan might be to stay, and try XYZ technique first, and that's okay, unless you sense you are in imminent physical danger.  If you do decide to leave the situation, plan it out if you can, so you have important papers, prescription medicines, etc.  If you leave before you are emotionally (not just logically) ready, before you feel you have tried everything, you may well end going back, and it may be harder to leave then next time.  If you can't leave, because you are in a caregiver situation, get professional help to deal with the stress.

Carry out your plan, whatever it is.  You can do it.  You're not dumb, you're not powerless.  You might feel ashamed, like you're the only one who's ever gotten into such a mess.  You're not.  You might feel angry at yourself, because you're too smart to fall into this, because you've warned other people about similar situations, and so how could you have let this happen to you?! 

It's okay.  You're part of a great big sister-and-brotherhood who all wonder how the heck this happened to us.

And the good news: I got myself out, and so can you.


I always ask for (and welcome) comments.  This time, I'd like to ask, if you agree this is an important subject, to help spread awareness.  Chances are that even if you are not in an emotionally abusive situation yourself, that people you know and love are secretly enduring the pain of emotional abuse, blaming themselves for feeling hurt, because "words will never hurt you."  Because they have been told so many times they are only abused when they "deserve it," they have begun to believe the lie.  Because they "should be strong enough to take it."

Put a link to this post on your FaceBook page; on your blog; e-mail a link to your friends.  You don't have to say it's about you (it's not, after all, it's about me.)  You could say: "I'm doing this for a friend, to help spread awareness about emotional and verbal abuse.  Pass it on." 

As always, thanks for your love, support and encouragement.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Are You a Good Flea, or a Bad Flea?

Remember when Glinda asked Dorothy a question along theses lines?

Well, fleas can be good fleas... and they can be bad fleas.

Fleas are personality traits that we pick up from someone we live with or work closely with.  Fleas can be neutral - an acquired taste for Armenian food, the color puce, or Metallica.  They can be helpful - ex b-f was fanatical about not leaving dirty dishes in the sink overnight - not so much as a single coffee spoon.  Or, or, or, the sink would be crawling with ants (sometimes it would be anyway, dirty coffee spoon or no dirty coffee spoon) and much trauma was experienced by all.

Now that I have my own place, I - usually - follow suit on leaving an empty sink at night, and I think that's a good "flea."  Although, I have left dirty dishes in the sink overnight in my new place.  And the world has apparently, not come to an end after all, lol!

Here's how one person described the feeling:
So here I am, trying to rediscover myself. And I cannot quite shake his being from me. It is as though we melted together and I have to pick at the pieces one by one and decide, "Is this me or him? If it is him, do I want to make a conscious decision to keep this piece, or will I reject it?" Brainwashing, is how this has been described on another forum. Did I turn a little OCPD by living 22 years without resisting his efforts to define me?

I realized I was experiencing a "flea-bitten" moment last Friday night, as I was heading to meet a g-f for dinner at her place.  Now, we had set the time I expected to arrive as "6-ish."  And I truly thought I would be there on time, although I was coming after work, and LA traffic is always a variable.  But, a couple of things got in the way, and I realized I was looking at the car clock display and stressing out, "OMG, it's 6:08.  And I'm still several minutes away."  Because there was always a time-math pressure with ex b-f - you were supposed to be on time, always, but up to five minutes late, you usually didn't have to call, unless he was in one of those moods, but if it will be more than five minutes late, you had better, so then, I should call, but I'm reasoning, it's my g-f and she knows how traffic and work are, and I don't want to put the pressure on her if she's coming to me, and we'd left it a little loosey-goosey anyway..."

I didn't call.  She wasn't upset about me being late  (I think I got there at 6:13, but who's counting?!)  And we had a good talk and laugh together about my fleas.

Now, about me and my other girlfriend - last week, we:

Slept in on Saturday a.m., and didn't it feel good?!
Socialized with several fabulous friends. Good times!

Painted our toenails bright pink.

Drank some wine and burned some candles.

Did some household chores.  Feel so much more enlightened after replacing burned out bulb in office ceiling fixture!

Had fun with lingerie.
Thought, briefly, about calling ex b-f.  Took apart that feeling.  Missing him?  A little bit.  The good parts, of course, like his smile when he was in a good mood.  Worried about him - the RescueWoman side of me?  A lot.  Decided it's not time to check in on him yet, according to what's good for me.

Took a long, glorious walk on the beach (which combined exercise, spending social time with somebody I adore, AND research for latest novel, talking about multi-tasking!) 

Although now I have an almost-blister on my big toe.
Yes, it *was* warm enough to lay out and swim last weekend.
In mid-January.  BUT, you guys get to have colorful autumn leaves.
And snow.  Really, you're BOGARDING our snow.  Selfish of you.
Rehung the moon in the sky - distressing when it falls out.
Happy this time I did *not* get Gorilla Glue all over fingers.

Did some writing.  Some reading.  Some listening to music.

And all in all, felt pretty good about life.  I feel truly blessed to have a wide, incredibly beautiful circle of supportive friends and family as I pick off my fleas and work through all my Hard Emotional Issues.  And realizing, I simply couldn't address anything scary in a real or deep way, until I felt safe.

I do feel safe now.  Especially with the moon, stars and sun all in the sky, where they belong.

How 'bout you?  Got fleas?
Tell me about them,
in the Comments, below.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Can't Touch This

So, despite bleats of abandonment and fits of b-f’s jealousy and work and family and so forth, I managed to chisel out time to work on my latest novel in recent years. Till May.

Then I hit a roadblock. True, a lot of changes occurred in my life then. B-f had another major meltdown and I hit my "I. Have. Had. It." point, which culminated in me getting my own place.

So, I did have a lot on my plate. Work, finding a new place to live, moving into said place to live, furnishing said place. Unpacking almost 30 double-sized plastic crates of books. Nursing horrible backache from carrying said tremendously heavy crates of books up stairs into new apartment. Figuring out how to use new Kindle.

Then I had an Open House and took a family trip to the MidWest and started a website about OCPD and a FaceBook page for the website and this blog, and now a second blog.

So I’ve had to stop and think about it - why am I not working on my book? Why, why? Despite all the reasons excuses above, the fact remains, if I wanted to, I couldda.

Why didn’t I?

Fear, of course.  Fear stops us from doing most of the things we think we want to do. But fear of what?

And I realized I’d stopped writing at the exact spot where I'd planned to use (modified, of course) an anecdote from my personal life. That something in me was screaming, wait, no no, can’t go there!

I miss in Living Color (if not harem pants.)

Maybe it’s acquired Demand Resistance, maybe it’s Teutonic stubbornness from my Kraut ancestors, but whatever it is, when there’s a locked door in my head, nobody is going to tell me I can’t go in there. Like Bluebeard’s wife, I’m going to get in there even if it freakin’ kills me.

In my case, it wasn't even a locked door, but a small blue box with a white ribbon.

What’s so terrible? What’s so awful about this pretty little box?

Power Lunch at Tiffany's!
Photo from The Observer
Okay..... there was this guy (isn’t there always?!) and I was head-over-snatch in love with him. Early on, in the hot-and-passionate thing I thought of as a love affair, he shared with me his obsession with Tiffany’s, how he’d adored the movie, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, how he always wanted to have one of their chic keyrings that said "Return to Tiffany’s," and how he had this other friend who really, really wanted a pen from Tiffany’s. So one year for birthdays or something, he went into Tiffany’s and to buy his friend the pen - and they were on sale, three for the price of one, so he picked up a couple more, as future gifts for... whoever.  And some extra bags, too.

Fast forward a few months - and I can’t remember if it was our first Valentine’s Day, Christmas, but, you guessed it, I gave him the Tiffany’s keyring.  And he gave me one of the leftover pens.  He was so tickled about us both pulling out matching blue Tiffany’s bags for each other that I swallowed my disappointment and pretended to be very happy about the pen, and tried to forget he'd told me the story about it.  As he clearly had forgotten he'd told me.  He thought I'd appreciate the pen, since, after all, I was an aspiring writer then, too, and wasn't it appropriate?

But it burned like fire at the time, and even now, it still really stings. This may be a male/female thing - guys, if you’re reading this, do you "get" why I felt so humiliated? Or are you totally befuddled?

I felt crushed and demeaned and so very, very hurt.

Despite how terrible I felt, I swallowed gallons more tears and disappointment (among other things) in that relationship. He was married - living separately, and had been for over six years, when we began seeing each other, but still. To give him some credit, he rarely spoke, either positively or negatively about the wife, but from what little he did say, he seemed... hurt. Trapped. Beaten down, emotionally - and I was going to Rescue him.

You see, with one whiff of that Wounded Soul perfume, I don't even need an unflattering spandex bodysuit with a big red R across the chest, I'm ready to spring into action.  I can see now, in my life, a whole string of damaged men that I tried to Rescue. Whether they cooperated in their rescue or not, RescueWoman was there for them.   Underappreciated, of course, but surely, someday, if I licked their boots enough (figuratively speaking) and made myself indispensable to them, surely they would come to See My True Worth.

Not that I ever saw signs that was going to happen, but I lived in hope.  Usually I just got the Wounded Souls healthy enough and feeling positive enough about themselves... to move on to another woman.

In fact, I was still seeing (and eating my heart out over) this guy, whom many would dub an Assclown, who had reconciled (somewhat) with his Nasty Wife, when I reconnected to OCPD b-f, whom I'd once had a mad teenage crush on.  He was damaged, too, but at least he wasn’t married. And he fussed over me and appeared to put me and my feelings and needs first, and that felt very, very soothing. No last minute cancellations, no hurried sexual encounters in... well, you don't need to know that part.

I broke it off with Mr. Tiffany, and invested all my energy and time into Rescuing OCPDman.

Yeah. That didn’t work out so well either, did it? 

I realize now, that a teensy little part of me has been fantasizing that Mr. Tiffany would find out through the grapevine I was single again and he would have finally divorced Nasty Wife and he would seek me out and we could be Happy Together again.  (cue Disney birds chirping and fluttering about.)

And if I truly pondered and wrote about the many ways in which he wasn’t always kind or thoughtful to me (not to mention the sleaziness of cheating on his wife, even if she was the total bitch I imagined,) I might begin thinking differently about our relationship.  And that would ruin everything.  Therefore, this was a subject I Could Not Touch.

In reality, there’s nothing to ruin but my fantasies. It’s over. Last month, I did take a peek (only one!) at his website, and he’s still married. Ouch!

I know I need to not go there. I know I need to start taking care of me, to focus on meeting my own needs, and stop picking up wounded souls to Rescue. To hang up my superheroine tights (which were chafing my thighs, anyway) and simply work on my own emotional health.

But it's so easy to know something in your head.  So hard, sometimes, to get that knowledge into your heart and bones, to feel it as well as know it.

Eventually, whenever I get my head screwed on right and my heart much less dysfunctional, then I can think about a relationship. Possibly then I will be ready to be with a man who is not an Assclown, and doesn't have a Personality Disorder.  A healthy relationship, like the one I'm trying to have with my girlfriend.

Wow, what a concept.  A healthy relationship.

This one was really hard for me to write, so, if you read this post -
please use a "Reaction" button, below, and let me know. 
Or leave a comment, anonymous or not.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Love You Forever?

One of the chat boards I've been following has recently had some discussions going about unconditional love.  What is it, is it even possible - and who's entitled to it?

For instance, it seems those with OCPD demand unconditional love, but their love for their partners or children is very conditional.  We're expected to follow the Crazy Rules, to speak softly and gently and kindly to them at all times - even if they're screaming at us, doing the Silent-But-Stomping bit, etc.  They don't understand why we might not want to make love with them after all they've put us through.  Uh, not turned on by abuse, hello?!

Of course, they usually don't think they've been abusive.

Thanks to LizaJane for tipping me off to this video last year.

Sometimes we think of the relationship between mothers and children as one that generates unconditional love, and sometimes it is.

I remember a beautiful book called "Love You Forever" about a mother who has a baby boy, and sings him a little song about loving him forever, even as he grows to be a messy pre-adolescent and rebellious teen.  And how later, as his mother ages, that boy grown to be a man rocks her in the rocking chair and sings her the song about love, and after she dies, sings it to his own newborn daughter.

Truly a beautiful book, but the reality is, sometimes mothers are mentally ill, either with OCPD or some other condition.  So we didn't get that unconditional love from them.  (And usually, blamed ourselves, thought it was due to something lacking or bad in us.  It wasn't.)

And sometimes, parents are wonderful, but the children have OCPD or some other illness.  They don't perceive or can't process and accept their parents' love, so, they feel unloved.

I wonder how Ellie Gertz and her family are doing, if she is doing any better in the special needs home in Washington state where her parents sent her.  In her case, she was adopted, but parents can have significant problems with children genetically related to them, as well.  What do you do, emotionally, when the person you love is, at best, horribly damaged, and at worst, a pyschotic monster?

As I write this, the unfolding story of the troubled (okay, crazy) young man who just shot Congresswoman Giffords, a beautiful little girl, and so many others is unfolding.  I have no idea whether the shooter is diagnosably mentally ill (he clearly ain't right, we all know that), and whether his parents ignored his condition, or they turned their world upside down to try to get help for him.  Probably somewhere in between.  I wonder for his parents, if at some point their love for him ended, or it continues despite the horrible things he has done?

What do we do, when we love a terribly damaged person?  When no matter what we do, no matter how much we try to demonstrate our love, no matter how patient we are, no matter how well we work on our own issues and boundaries and educate ourselves as to the condition, it all gets thrown back in our faces?  When do we decide to give up hope?  Or do we?

Can we continue to love someone unconditionally, even while cutting off or minimizing our contact with him or her, in order to protect ourselves and our other loved ones?

Sunset over Morro Bay, California.

For ourselves, is the idea of receiving unconditional love a fantasy?  Do we need to accept that as long as we are giving love to the universe, sometimes it will be returned, and sometimes not?  (And sometimes we might be loved or desired by others for whom we just can't return the kind of love that they want from us.)

(Some would say that God gives unconditional love, but I'm talking about somebody who you'd sit down and eat a meal with, okay?)

I'm not suggesting I have the answers, just working my way through the questions.  Leave your comments, below, and let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Let Creativity Bubble through Your Life!

So I've decided to participate in this cool series, where a group of different bloggers all investigate the meaning of a particular word.

This month, it's creativity - which everybody has.  Creativity is a wonderful, self-renewing spring that bubbles up inside of each and every one of us

But not everyone feels like a creative person.  Why?  I came up with two main reasons.

#1 - We put ourselves in boxes - and not in a fun, playful, Maru-like way.
Don't you just love Maru and her (his) scrunched up face?) 

People (falsely) assume that to be creative, one must be: 
  • A writer
  • An artist
  • A musician
  • A photographer
  • A chef
  • A dancer
If you're not one of the above, how can you be creative?  Possibly our idea of "creative people" might stretch to include the performing arts: actors, directors, choreographers, the lighting and sound effects techs, the make-up people and costumers.  The CGI labs.  We rarely consider the editors, producers, and certainly not the production accountants as "creative people."

But truly, any job, task, or project can be addressed creatively, and often must be.  Have you ever stretched a tight budget to feed your family?  Mixed and matched your wardrobe for work this week?  Made friends with your shy new neighbor?

Hate to break it to you, but you've been creative.  Even if you'll never hang a painting in the Metropolitan.

While many of us express our creativity in ways that make people laugh, cry, or ponder the imponderables, others may express it more subtly.  Or perhaps, we need to take baby steps in figuring out how to express it in a way that brings joy to us. 

There is no One Right Way to be creative.  Maybe you haven't found your
path(s) yet.  Maybe you've tried stand-up comedy, or flower arranging, or decorating a cake, and the results were...    Unfortunate.  So what?

Photo via CakeWrecks

This is where the second roadblock to creativity comes in.... "I like to do XYZ, but I'm not any good at it."

This is where I feel truly sorry for those with OCPD.  Too often they are so mentally handcuffed by the need to be perfect, to have whatever they do match some impossible standard, and they won't "put it out there" because they are afraid they will fail. 

They regard that bubbling spring inside them (or others) as something scary, something that needs to be blotted up with paper towels or capped off with cement.  One of my more stinging memories of ex b-f was one year I was happily decorating some blank cards with holiday stickers, glitter, and such, and he looked at me with such disdain.  "What are you, six years old?  I hope you know those look ridiculous and don't plan on sending those to any of my friends or family."

I understand, now, this was about him and not me.  But isn't it sad, for anyone to let their creativity get shut into a deep dungeon, not allowed to come out and play, because it might be messy?  It might be laughable, and not deliberately so.  It might be - horrors!  imperfect

The reality is, if you don't keep singing, or writing poetry, or decorating cakes, you won't ever get any better at it.  If you love it, if something about smearing frosting on a cake makes you feel joyful, just do it, even if you'll never give Martha Stewart panic attacks about the competition.

Mistakes are good for the soul, and they're how new discoveries and inventions are made.  99%+ of the time, a mistake is just a mistake, but sometimes a mistake leads to a fabulous new recipe, a cool skateboard trick, a brilliant photograph, an interesting idea.  Don't be afraid of mistakes.  Don't put yourself in a box - or allow others to put you there.

We are all creative people.  We just have to let that spring bubble up inside us and see where it wants to flow.

Have you ever suppressed a creative urge
because you were afraid of being laughed at?
Tell me about it in the Comments!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Crazy on You

No, not a theme of my life (anymore!), just calling attention to the new PAGE I've added to this blog, containing The Crazy Rules - Greatest Hits.  Just click on the link above this post that says "Crazy Rules" and you, too, can be enlightened as to How The World Should Be Run.

Being a Hero works great in fiction... not so well in real life.
Even when you have the superpowers granted by OCPD.

As to those who wonder how I'm getting along with my new girlfriend...  so far, so good.  My New Year's weekend wasn't particularly exciting or dramatic, and I was perfectly happy with that.  Did some eating, sleeping, champagne drinking, reading and writing... not necessarily in that order.  Went with a friend to a service at her Buddhist ashram... interesting.  I enjoyed it and will probably go again, but I know already it's not going to be my new "thing."

Watched an excellent if creepy movie with my friend (Winter's Bone,) and yes, speaking of creepy, thought about ex-bf a bit.  Sometimes I missed him.  I would see a vision of his face looking happy, or tender, and feel a bit gushy inside.  Sometimes I felt bad/guilty, certain he's terribly hurt and missing me - and then reminded myself, boundaries, girlfriend, boundaries.  Maybe he is feeling hurt.  Maybe he's angry (that was certainly a go-to emotion for him when we were together.)  Maybe he's totally indifferent.  I don't know what's going on inside his head and in any case, it's really none of my business.

When I thought about ex-b-f in terms of how I felt/feel - I was relieved, not just to have last weekend, but all my weekends, stretching in front of me to do with as I please.  Without the pressure/dread of having to prepare emotionally to Spend Time Together.  To steel myself against the looks of disgust as I did yet another thing that broke his Rules.  All in all though, as far as everything I thought over the course of the weekend... ex-bf did not occupy the largest part of my thoughts. 

Mostly, I was working on and taking care of me.  And though I plan to (and my tarot reading suggests I should ) continue sharing my accumulated "wisdom," (such as it is) and experiences that I learned from living with and studying OCPD, it's more from a viewpoint of understanding how living with it affected me, how it changed my thinking.  As opposed to where I was a year ago, thinking if I could only really, really understand the Perfectionist brain, I could help b-f get better.

I'm not suggesting, if you live with or love somebody with OCPD, that you should leave.  Only you know if/when that is a right decision for you.  It might be the absolute worst thing in the world you could do.

For me, it was the right decision.  I left when it felt right, and I ended the relationship when it felt right to me.  Some of my friends might think my decision was long overdue, but I had to do it on my own time schedule, when I was ready.

Photo via US National Archives

I know I need to keep picking apart this whole situation for a while, until I truly understand how I got into a relationship with somebody with a PD, what in myself made me vulnerable to it and why I missed (or sped right past) the warning signs.

Because I don't want to do this again.  I plan to stick to my girlfriend, and be very, very careful when I think about dating again - not until 2012, at the earliest - so that I don't end up leaving someone with OCPD and hooking up with a Borderline Personality, or a Narcissist.

I think it'll take not just knowing the hows and whys in my head, but healthy practice.  Like driving a car - at first you are conscious of every little action, and then it becomes habit; you get in, buckle your seatbelt, adjust the mirrors, start the car, begin texting (jk!)  I want taking care of me in healthy ways to become automatic, something I do out of habit (instead of my old pattern, charging in as RescueWoman to save and fix the totally f%#ked-up.) 

Capes don't really suit my body type anyway.

If you have comments about the Crazy Rules page,
you'll have to post 'em HERE as you can't there
Or, if you haven't already, go to Free Forums and post your own.