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.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 7 -Abolishing Worry
A Practical Method

This post continues with Abolishing Worry - A Practical Method from Chapter Seven.

This series looks at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If   you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

Abolishing Worry - A Practical Method
If you rationalize your worrying and ruminating by blaming them on external events - this or that professional problem, financial crisis, or potential social mishap - realize that you're deluding yourself. As soon as one problem is resolved or hurdle passed, you will find something new to worry or ruminate about. No matter how much money you earn, how good your health is, how satisfying your marriage is, or what other good fortune you enjoy, you'll always be unhappy. It is not external events that are causing your chronic unhappiness, the problem is internal and self-created. And this will never change unless you take active steps to change it.
<snip> But this is one area in which I can offer direct, clear-cut advice that - followed conscientiously - is very likely to help.

It is a behavior therapy technique called thought-stopping. Before trying it, you must first be able to acknowledge that your worrying and ruminating are voluntary actions. External events don't "make" you worry; you've shaped yourself into a chronic worrier. Fortunately, with concerted attention and effort, you can moderate this destructive thought pattern.

The first step is to become more aware of your tendency to worry or ruminate each time it occurs. Negative thoughts at first may come so automatically that it will take you several minute even to notice them. But with time you'll "catch" such thoughts closer and closer to their onset. The moment you do notice, say to yourself, "I'm doing it now. I'm worrying [or ruminating]." At the same time, try to examine how these thoughts make you feel - note yours stomach tightening or your jaw beginning to tense up. Recognize that your emotional state is one of pain and discomfort, not relief or satisfaction. And notice how the worry or rumination is distracting your from more pleasant thoughts or something enjoyable in your immediate environment, or how it's sapping your attention and energy.

Once you can catch yourself worrying or ruminating, you're ready for the next step. Find a rubber band that fits comfortably around your wrist, and put it on. (For most people, newspaper rubber bands are ideal.) Wear it all day, every day.

Each time you find yourself worrying or ruminating, instead of paying attention to how painful it feels or what it's costing you, quickly pull the rubber band out an inch or two, let it snap back, and simultaneously say "Stop!" aloud. If you're afraid of being overheard, just say it to yourself, but give yourself a stern command. Inhale deeply, then relax, and let the breath out slowly, telling yourself, "Worrying [or ruminating] won't help." Then refocus all your attention and energy onto whatever is at hand. Some people do their best worrying in the middle of the night, when there is no more pleasant or useful activity at hand. If this is the case, after you say, "Worrying won't help," focus all your attention on relaxing every muscle in your body, while imagining yourself in some peaceful, idyllic setting.

The entire thought-stopping process should take only about fifteen seconds. You may think it's too simple, too pat, or too superficial to have any effect on such a deeply ingrained behavior. It isn't. It has helped many people make significant changes.

Perhaps you are afraid that the rubber band will look silly or draw attention. Remember that the whole purpose of this exercise is to help you put things in perspective so that you can enjoy life more.  Try to approach your self-consciousness, another self-defeating trait, in the same spirit.

Test the exercise for a month. You'll find that it won't jeopardize your job or ruin your relationships; it will improve them. Do the exercise as long as necessary for new habits to form. This usually takes months. However, several patients have told me that after the first month they rarely snap the rubber band anymore because just looking at it stops the worrying immediately.

Whether it takes several months or just one, you'll find the rewards well worth the effort. You'll be happier, more relaxed, and more able to enjoy the moment. You'll also find yourself relating better to others. If you're not mired in negative thoughts, you'll have more unfettered mental energy and attention available for family and friends, and they will notice and respond. They'll experience you as being more present and more connected with them. They will enjoy your company more, feel closer to you, and treat your accordingly.
As soon as one problem is resolved or hurdle passed, you will find something new to worry or ruminate about.  Yep.  My ex did that - and I do that, sometimes.

I normally wear a scrunchie around my wrist, too, but don't snap it as often as I probably should.

Most of this is about being mindful - recognizing when we're drifting into needless worry/ruminating territory, so we can literally snap ourselves out of it.  Recognizing how crappy it makes us feel.

I wanted to write a big long post and expand on this at length, but recently, life has been busy, so I got nothin' else, right now.  And this, too, is okay.  Letting myself have what I need - in this case, some extra rest and down time, is good, too.

Have you tried thought-stopping?
Your thoughts?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman & Mental Illness

Kel-tec PF9 9mm via Wikimedia Commons
Is there anybody who has read in any depth about the stalking and killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who didn't start thinking, "That guy is crazy"?  Not simply racist (and I'm not trying to minimize the racial targeting aspect), but clearly, the guy was not in his right mind.

It goes beyond that for me.  I recognize some telltales that send chills down my spine.

If you're new to this blog, the Cliffnotes version is that I strongly believe my ex, although undiagnosed,  to have a mental  illness called OCPD.  It's a disorder that, despite being relatively common, many people have never even heard of.  It's often confused with OCD, even by mental health professionals.

And although most people with OCPD, just like those with every other mental illness, are more likely to be victims of a crime than perpetrators, I believe that some individuals with undiagnosed, untreated OCPD are currently a danger to themselves, their families, and the community at large.

Since I'm not a mental health professional, they won't take away my license if I speculate. So let me make my case for why I think this guy might have OCPD.

One person diagnosed with OCPD, related online how before his condition was better controlled, he walked around his neighborhood for hours every night, looking in parked car windows with a flashlight, to find and stop people "doing something wrong."  He was obsessed with protecting his family by catching...?  Car thieves? Teenagers and adulterers making out? Kids smoking a joint?   (This man was in the Midwest, not Florida, so it's not the same person.)

One of the markers of OCPD is:
  •  Is overconscientious, scrupulous, and inflexible about matters of morality, ethics, or values (not accounted for by cultural or religious identification)
Another (official) marker is this:
  • Adopts a miserly spending style toward both self and others; money is viewed as something to be hoarded for future catastrophes
The key phrase there is: future catastrophes, which is only lightly touched on in current versions of the DSM.  Those with OCPD almost always have catastrophic thinking.

If the forks are turned the wrong way in the dish drainer, you could prick your finger, develop blood poisoning, and die.  (Yes, more than one person with OCPD has explained this to me.)  An unlocked and open window at night on the second floor could invite a burglary.

If I was five or ten minutes late coming home from work, my ex never assumed, "Gee, she's working late," or "Maybe there was traffic."  He was sure I was in a car accident, or sleeping with my boss, or had been kidnapped and raped.  I would face furious tirades when I got home from work five-ten minutes late, and hadn't called (because I was rushing home) to let him know that everything was okay.  His mind always went to the dark place first.

And yes, my ex had weapons, ammo, and contingency plans for barricading the house and fending off intruders if there were earthquakes, riots, or other "civil unrest."

from one man with OCPD:
A couple of times a day the anxiety or gloom goes completely gaga and turns into catastrophe thoughts. That’s when the world really turns dark and sinister. That’s when I’m sure my wife and kids are being raped, murdered, kidnapped. They have been in car crashes and my wife must be seeing another guy. I get scared to the point of vomiting. These catastrophe thoughts will probably never leave me, but I am learning to control them.

A funny thing is that the catastrophe thoughts are always directed outwards. I’m never scared for my own safety. I’ve been a security guard for more than ten years, and I have never been worried in the line of duty. But if my wife’s ten minutes late, I’m a wreck. Again, it is “loss-of-control” issues. If my wife’s late I can’t do anything. If I run into a burglar I can do something about it myself.
One woman I know, recently divorced from her husband, talked about an incident when her husband was walking their small dog.  A car was passing by, full of teenagers, and one of them leaned out and yelled, "Nice dog, a--hole!"  The man was so infuriated he ran up to the car (it had stopped at a stopsign), yanked the 16 year-old out of the car, and punched him in the face.

He was arrested for assault, put on probation, but did not regret his actions, only the "unfair" restrictions his conviction put on him.  According to my friend, he felt fully justified in "punishing" the teenager and frequently said, if the circumstances were to repeat, he'd do it again.  Because "they can't be allowed to get away with stuff like that."

Here's another story from a wife with a suspected OCPD husband:
He has trouble with people: hates people who double park in front of the grocery store, hates people who throw their cigs out the window of a car, hates people who have big trucks, hates baby boomer generation, hates teenagers because they're stupid, blah, blah, blah...I could go on, but I'm sure you all get the picture.
He has had altercations with landscapers at our country club because he thinks they don't respect members. He's real big on respect: respect his space, his right to peace and quiet, etc and he gets enraged and has panic attacks to some degree if people don't act accordingly within his parameters of what is right. He hates liberals, gays, blacks, etc. He blathers on about how women have stripped men in America of their manhood and how he's the poor white man in America who gets no respect. He says he's tired of working hard for immigrants and those on welfare to benefit from his contribution to their system, etc. 
So, here's what MotherJones reporter Adam Weinstein gleaned from the 47 page police report logs of incoming calls by Zimmerman:
Most of the calls seem to cover mundanities: Zimmerman reported a male driving with no headlights; a yellow speedbike popping wheelies on I-4; an aggressive white-and-brown pitbull; an Orange County municipal pickup cutting people off on the road; loud parties; open garage doors; and the antics of an ex-roommate, Josh, that he'd thrown out of their apartment. On September 9, 2009, he called to report another pothole, this one on Greenwood road, advising the dispatcher that "it is deep and can cause damage to vehicles."
He especially had concerns about kids in the neighborhood. On June 16, 2009, shortly after school had let out for the summer, he called to complain about six to eight youths playing basketball near his development's clubhouse, "jumping over the fence going into pool area and trashing the bathroom," according to the dispatcher's notes. This past January, he called to report five or six children, ages 4 to 11, playing in the neighborhood. The kids, he told a dispatcher, "play in the street and like to run out [in front of] cars."
But when there weren't kids or garbage to report, he'd spend his evenings looking for would-be burglars. At 2:38 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2006, he called about a late-model Red Toyota pickup "driving real slow looking at all the [vehicles] in the complex and blasting music from his [vehicle]." It's not clear if Zimmerman feared the driver was a car thief, though car thieves tend not to blast music through the neighborhood while practicing their craft.
But even more than cars, he was concerned about black men on foot in the neighborhood. In August 2011, he called to report a black male in a tank top and shorts acting suspicious near the development's back entrance. "[Complainant] believes [subject] is involved in recent S-21s"—break-ins—"in the neighborhood," the call log states. The suspect, Zimmerman told the dispatcher, fit a recent description given out by law enforcement officers.
Three days later, he called to report two black teens in the same area, for the same reason. "[Juveniles] are the subjs who have been [burglarizing] in this area," he told the dispatcher.
And last month, on Feb. 2, Zimmerman called to report a suspicious black man in a leather jacket near one of the development's units. The resident of that townhouse, Zimmerman told dispatch, was a white male. Police stopped by to investigate, but no one was there, and the residence was secure.
How many calls to the police have you made in your life?  I'm betting if you're under 30 years old it's not even 4-6 times, let alone 46.  Yes, I too have called police to report domestic disturbances, dead animals in the road, and a few annoyingly loud parties.  And we should call and report these things to the appropriate agencies.

Zimmerman, however, seems to have been obsessed with reporting anything out of place.  People with OCPD tend to get very upset when they perceive things as out of place. This can be cans in the cupboard, a drop of water on the counter, or, perhaps, a young black kid in a hoodie.

Why does it matter?  Whether Trayvon was killed because of mental illness, or racism, or some combination of the two, he's still gone. I keep wanting to call him JAYvon, because that sweet face reminds me so much of my own son at his age, nicknamed Jay. When I touch the edges of this whole mess in my mind, I'm overwhelmed with grief and anger. How his parents manage to suck air in and out right now, I can't imagine.

It matters if Zimmerman is mentally ill, if Jared Loughner is mentally ill, if Andrea Yates and others who commit violent crimes are mentally ill because laws and social disapproval can't stop them. Laws and civil suits can punish the behavior after it's occurred, but they can't prevent similar murders from happening, time and again.

Obsession and fear is a deadly combination.  Add easily obtainable lethal weapons to the mix and the potential for tragedy increases even more.

We need to pay attention to mental illness, instead of cutting budgets for sufferers and their families.  We need to stop stigmatizing those brave enough to step forward and ask for help for everything from depression to OCPD to bi-polar disorder.  We need to spread the word about how much untreated mental illness hurts us all, from decreased productivity at work (for sufferers and families alike), to its impact on sexual assault and domestic violence.

Mental illness is the modern elephant in the living room, like alcoholism used to be.  Today, many people openly talk about being recovered alcoholics, or drug addicts, or gamblers.  Yet almost no one talks openly about having a mental illness, or having a loved one with a mental illness.  We tiptoe around it and pretend it's not there.

We need to study disorders like OCPD, to support those willing to battle the condition, and the families who live with a spouse, parent, child, or sibling with this condition. While the vast majority of those with OCPD will never physically hurt anyone, there are others out there, untreated, daily growing more paranoid and obsessed, who could very well "lose it" at any moment and hurt any number of innocent victims.

I know we can't prevent every tragedy from occurring, but we could prevent a lot more, if we so choose.

May the parents and family of Trayvon Martin find peace,
and justice in the end.
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chapt 7 - The Costs of Worry and Rumination

This post continues with The Costs of Worry and Rumination from Chapter Seven.

This series looks at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If   you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

The Costs of Worry and Rumination
<snip>failure to forgive and forget is much more apt to provoke resentment than it is to elicit a loving or nurturing response.  And that's only one of the costs exacted by these destructive thought patterns.
Since both worry and rumination are unproductive by definition, they waste time and energy.  All the time spent on either could be better used - either in some other activity or by concentrating more fully on the task at hand.

Worry and rumination also exert physical costs.  They may deprive one of sleep, and some physicians believe that the feelings of tension and anxiety accompanying them can trigger (or worsen) other medical problems ranging from heart trouble to ulcers. They also tend to be mentally exhausting, not only draining one of intellectual energy but also robbing one of time that's much needed for creative rejuvenation.  Although they're not physical acts, worry and rumination can be very strenuous.

Similarly, most rumination carries with it a sense of retroactive control.  By chastising themselves for some pitfall they should have foreseen (even if there's no way they really could have), they are denying the frightening reality that mistakes are inevitable.

Worst of all is the senseless emotional pain obsessives inflict on themselves with these thoughts. Chronic worriers or ruminators fail to enjoy most aspects of daily life because of this habit. They don't fully experience even pleasurable moments - time filled with family and friends, music, laughter - under the weight of their oppressive thoughts.
Again, it all comes down to perspective. Obsessive people have lost (or perhaps, never had) perspective. Like a two or three year old who throws a tantrum because some small thing didn't go his way, my ex would be crushed if something didn't work out according to plan.  Unlike a two or three year old, however, he couldn't be distracted with something shiny.

Each disappointment, each betrayal (as he saw it) by me built up and built up in his mind. There was no forgiving and forgetting the minor things; there were no minor things. He was frequently exhausted, he complained of chest pain (heart? anxiety attacks?  who knows?), but in the end, he couldn't even enjoying making music with his best friend.

Has worry and rumination cost you pleasure in the moment?
Do you chew the past to bits?
Your thoughts?
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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 7 - The Lure of Worry and Rumination

This post continues with The Lure of Worry and Rumination from Chapter Seven.

This series looks at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If   you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

The Lure of Worry and Rumination
<snip>For one thing, the tendency to worry is likely to be a central component of his self-image, and closely linked to other "good" qualities.  Many obsessives associate worrying with being a serious, conscientious person, and on some level they view happy-go-lucky non-worriers as irresponsible.
Second, they probably feel that worry gives them some control over the object of their concern, somehow preparing them better for an upcoming event, for example.  Maybe it will help them discover some protective action they can take (to prevent a party from being a failure, say, or to safeguard their family from violent crime).  Worrying may be a form of "bracing oneself" to better withstand anything from romantic rejection to the Greenhouse Effect.

As well-educated and intelligent as they often are, many obsessives also are superstitious about worry.  If they worry about their spouse's plane crashing (so this twisted "reasoning" goes), maybe that will somehow keep it from happening.  Worrying actively demonstrates their lack of presumptuousness, because they're not arrogantly assuming everything will go their way, the Cosmic Scorekeeper doesn't need to "teach them a lesson." Like all superstitions, this is an attempt to feel a sense of control over people and events that are essentially uncontrollable.

Similarly, most rumination carries with it a sense of retroactive control.  By chastising themselves for some pitfall they should have foreseen (even if there's no way they really could have), they are denying the frightening reality that mistakes are inevitable.

Often, people who ruminate feel that if they dwell enough on their errors, or on bad things (done by them or to them) - if they can somehow sear these things into memory - then they can be sure not to let them happen again.  A patient comes to mind who couldn't stop dwelling on his wife's infidelity, even years afterward.  He tortured himself with painful fantasies of her sexual relationship with the other man, insisting that she tell him all the details, though this knowledge was almost unbearable to him.  He remained in the marriage, but held fiercely to his anger for several essentially self-protective reasons.  First, the angry feelings helped thwart any temptation to be close to his wife - and therefore vulnerable - again.  Second, his clinging to the graphic mental pictures ensured that he wouldn't be as unprepared (and as devastated) if his wife ever betrayed him again.  Finally, by refusing to put the past to rest, he kept his wife's infidelity fresh in her mind.  He believed that her guilt feelings both punished her betrayal and made it more unlikely she would do it again.
My ex would get very upset because I did not live up to his standard of worrying.  I'm more one of those happy-go-lucky irresponsible types.  I guess he was hooked on the quantity vs. quality argument - 10 hours spent unproductively churning over something obviously means you care more than 1 hour spent productively problem-solving, right?  Except I didn't think this was so obvious, or even true.

Obviously, obviously.  If I had a dollar for every time my ex said, "Obviously," to me in a sarcastic way to point out that I was Not Thinking The Right Way, I'd be... well, I'd have some credit cards paid off, anyway.

And as I've blogged before, yes, he would rerun someone''s "greatest faults" over and over again, like playing a favorite CD, until every grievance was red hot and causing him to heat up all over again.  It was like having a filling fall out, the tongue keeps going back to it and going back to it.

I wonder if the tendency to get stuck in worry/rumination loops is a combination of brain wiring plus formed habit, or if it's more one or the other.  Or avoidance, even.  Sometimes I think that my ex chose to futz over the tomato plants, for example, because that way he didn't have to address the issue I wanted him to address, getting rid of his hoard.  Because if you're busy thinking about/working on something else, how can you possibly be expected to take on X?

What's your experience with worry and rumination?
Do you believe that if you worry about something "enough," 
then it can't happen?
Your thoughts?
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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Faux-pology, Anyone?
More Like A Three-Pronged Attack

photo from Tactical Awareness & Combat Techniques
Ranted at, screamed at, even; called names and ridiculed in every way possible, and then, later, getting a feeble apology laced with excuses, and then, the day after that, a long list of justifications as to why it really wasn't the abuser's fault in the first place.  We made them do it; in fact, they're the real victim here.

This dynamic has been all over the news lately, because of the egregious and very public bad behavior of radio commentator Rush Limbaugh.  But it's something those of us who've lived with or loved somebody with a personality disorder have experienced, over and over again.  And sometimes, when we've been in the fog long enough, we actually blamed ourselves, because we couldn't forgive and forget.

Didn't they say they were sorry?  Isn't an apology good enough for us?

Let's use this whole incident to examine the cycle, from offense to faux-pology to backpedaling.

Part 1 - The Attack

Sandra Fluke, a 30-year old law student from Georgetown, appeared at a Congressional hearing to testify about how the lack of insurance coverage for birth control harms fellow students, including those who desperately need hormonal contraceptives for medical conditions.

Via Wikimedia
Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with Ms. Fluke (pronounced fluk), according to Georgetown University President, John J. DeGioia, someone who does not agree with her opinion:
“She was respectful, sincere, and spoke with conviction. She provided a model of civil discourse.”
Fluke did not verbally attack anyone.  She did not name any names, except in reference to those sponsoring a particular bill. She did not ask "the government" to give her anything for free, and she did not mention her own or anyone else's sex life, except obliquely. (That one friend was married, that another was gay.)

Wealthy radio commentator and drug abuser Rush Limbaugh went on a three day tirade against this young woman.  As shown in the linked video, his tone of voice, his body language, and the lewd suggestions he made (you owe us a sex tape) are particularly vile and disgusting.  He attacked her for things she never said.  For her (alleged) need for condoms in elementary school.   He accused her of "having so much sex it's a wonder she can walk." (Sick imagination? Deliberate slander?)   There's transcripts of her testimony available, so if he had watched or even listened to it, and forgotten the specifics, he could have referred to it, if he wished to respectfully voice his opinion on anything she actually said. But spewing slander and spittle, judging by the video clips, is more his style.

Part 2- The Consequences and Faux-Apology

Many Americans, be they supporters of Ms. Fluke's position, or simply women who don't appreciate being called sluts because they use birth control - and the men who love them - took offense to this extreme bullying of a private citizen via public airwaves.  They began contacting sponsors of Mr. Limbaugh's radio program.  Said sponsors begin jumping ship, one after another after another.

After many (at least nine, possibly twelve) advertisers had ended or suspended their advertising with the program, Limbaugh releases the following written press release as an "apology."

Yep, it was not really a personal attack.  The problem was with the "word choices," not with the deliberate distortion of Ms. Fluke's testimony.  Coming, as it did, only after the program began hemorrhaging sponsors, the timing is entirely suspect.

Part 3 - The Backpedaling; The Aggressor as "Victim"

Additional verbal "apologies" begin on Limbaugh's radio program the following Monday that basically retract what little apology was given.  “I acted too much like the leftists who despise me.” Limbaugh claimed, “In fighting them on this issue last week, I became like them....I descended to their level....I became like the people we oppose.”

He whines about the sponsors (the meanies!) abandoning not him, but his listeners.  You see, he's really the victim here. Betrayed. He's not responsible for the vitriol that pours from his mouth; it's those other people, they made him do it.  They set him up.  Everyone should be sorry for him.  Then he continues attacking Fluke - albeit without the "two words" that he apologized for.


I don't know if Rush Limbaugh is actually, diagnosably mentally ill with a Personality Disorder (though I suspect he is).  But I do know that, as far as it comes to dealing with someone with untreated OCPD or another Personality Disorder - this whole scenario is waaaaay too familiar.

First prong of the attack: The fight. It's not a fair fight, where you and your partner are trying to understand one another's point of view, come to a compromise you can both live with. Where perhaps you passionately disagree, but still are using respectful words and language and giving one another plenty of opportunity to be heard. On the other side, your partner is hurling everything but the kitchen sink at you.  Regardless of whether you're left emotionally crushed, in a virtual puddle on the floor, they're going to win the fight.

Next, while you are emotionally bruised and bleeding and hurt, comes either no apology at all, or a faux-pology.  The lips might say, "I'm sorry," but the body language, tone, vocal inflection, and word choices indicate, "I'm still furious."

There's a cliche in movies, "You're not sorry, you're sorry you got caught."  If your partner had not felt compelled by circumstances to issue an apology, they wouldn't be doing it. And they resent you for it.

So now, you have the bitter choice to accept an apology that does not feel genuine in any sense whatsoever, or refuse to accept it, and "become the bad guy."  This is the second prong of the attack. No matter what, it's a lose-lose scenario for you.

Third prong of the attack: Even if you do accept the apology, the spin begins.  Within a week your partner is making you pay with the Stomping but Silent Treatment, snide remarks, and other insinuations because you made him/her feel bad.  You provoked a fight.  If you didn't accept the apology right away, you were holding a grudge.  If you did accept it verbally, but your tone and body language betrayed that you still felt hurt, well, you were just trying to make your partner feel bad.  You were being manipulative.

If you have been in a verbally or emotionally abusive relationship for long enough, you might even believe it.  Feel guilty because you can't simply forgive and forget, and move on. If you are a [Christian, Buddhist, Pagan, fill  in the blank] you might have it thrown in your face that you're certainly not being a very good one.

No. We are not obligated to face personal attack after personal attack with a gracious smile.  Not when it comes from a partner - who we should be able to trust - nor when it comes from somebody bigger and more powerful than us.  That is bullying, plain and simple.

When and if we accept an apology, it is totally up to us.  We are not bad people if we refuse to accept some mumbled words, or even a press release, that screams out "I'm saying sorry because I feel I have to, but it's not like I'm really sorry."  We are not obligated to accept an apology that drips with sincerity, until we are emotionally ready to do so.

We get it. The offender wants to be let off the hook, as quickly as possible.  Not. Our. Problem.  We get to set the timeline on this, not the offender.

And whether an apology is accepted or not, it is not ever, ever acceptable for the attacker to come around with another salvo, when we haven't yet healed from the first attack.  That simply demonstrates how phony the supposed apology was in the first place.

As a P.S. on this - it is not up to Ralph Reed, Mitt Romney, Bill Maher, or any other man (or woman), to accept RL's apology.  It is up to not only Sandra Fluke, but every woman offended by slut-shaming and personal attacks, to accept or reject it, in such time as we choose, if we choose. To discuss it until we are ready to let it go, and not before.  Shame on the Good Ol' Boys' Club for trying to play the game of "Okay, we don't want to discuss this any more, so the conversation is over."

The conversation's just getting started.

Have you ever been through a three-stage fight cycle like this?
Been put in the position of being pressed to accept a faux-pology?

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Too Perfect Tuesdays - Chap 7 - Preoccupation and Doubt 
This post continues with Preoccupation and Doubt from Chapter Seven.

This series looks at a small snippet of The book on the Perfectionist Personality, aka The Obsessive Compulsive disordered Personality, aka OCPD, each week. Please follow along, leave your comments, engage more on the FaceBook website... whatever your heart calls you to do.

Too Perfect, When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Allan E. Mallinger, M.D. and Jeanette DeWyze was published by Random House in 1992.  If   you believe you are dealing with OCPD or someone who is "Too Perfect," whether that's you or a loved one, please buy a copy of the book and read it for additional insights that will not all be covered in these excerpts.

Preoccupation and Doubt
<snip>Preoccupation simply means the inability to give one's full attention to the matter at hand, due to another matter being foremost in one's mind.  Worry and rumination are forms of preoccupation, but they are not the only forms; the intruding thoughts need not be about a "problem," past of present.  Consider, for example, the woman whose thoughts keep straying to her next day's schedule while she and her husband are making love.  She may not be worrying about the upcoming events - merely thinking about them at an inappropriate time.  But when those thoughts distract her, she obviously can't give her best to what she's doing, be that lovemaking, interacting with her professional colleagues, or reading to her child.
Doubting - not allowing yourself to feel certain about something - can darken your view of life.  Many obsessives doubt their own judgment of performance, as well as the honesty, ability, or conscientiousness of others.  Some are chronically pessimistic about nearly everything - they try to beware constantly of the possibility of failure or disappointment.  As I've explained, this may also give them an illusion of control, since forecasting a negative outcome makes them feel they assessed the situation accurately. <snip>


I have a sneaking sympathy for the woman planning out her day while her husband is making love to her; maybe his skillz were lacking, know what I'm saying?  Not that that ever happened to me. *rolling my eyes*

I admit, the preoccupation thing is one of my personal weak spots.  I tend to let my mind wander to my schedule when I'm doing yoga; to creative projects when I'm at work; to work when I'm drifting off to sleep or in the shower.  Whereas if I were more centered and present, I would be more involved in the activities I'm doing.

On the doubt issue though, not me.  Seems a bittersweet victory, really, to be "right."  To doubt something is going to work out well, and then, guess what, it doesn't.  You get to experience that pain twice, first by living the doubt instead of focusing on something more pleasant, and then getting to experience the actual disappointment.

I believe, too, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy; if you're headed to a family party, say, and you doubt that you're going to enjoy yourself, it's more than likely you won't.  Or, even if you do enjoy yourself, you can afterwards tear the experience to shreds as some have described.

Is doubt and preoccupation part of your daily burden?
Your thoughts?