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Recovery Forums – A Tool Against The Family

For those of us of the opinion that the family as a concept is being pounded on with a battering ram, it’s easy to see how the ever-expanding identification of abuse (especially emotional) is aiding this ”progressive” quest. After years of observing this phenomenon, its role in isolating individuals within society is becoming clear.

Besides the fact that their gains are sometimes financial – for example, forums which charge for membership or sell a lot of improvised material – they are, even if not admittedly, part of the crusade to  elevate one’s transitory feelings to the rank of absolute truths, which is a typical SJW attitude.

Eager to capitalise on grief and confusion, these groups resemble ambulance chasers, mastering the art of convincing people to see victimhood in murky situations, in order to cash in on the profits. 

Akin to talented divorce lawyers, they strongly encourage exaggerating the harm one has experienced through rejection, emotional unavailability, instability, lack of support, criticism etc – thus making it easy for those who are momentarily displeased with a significant other to think they  should consider cutting contact altogether.

A few examples of the fallout of wrongfully identifying a significant other as a sociopath, psychopath or narcissist:

  • People going through a difficult time in a viable relationship or marriage can freak out and give up, to later regret it.
  • Break-ups and divorces can escalate into a huge mess, with children being particularly affected by a parent’s suspicion that their ex  is disordered, which can escalate into hysteria.
  • Parents can end up alienating children from their former spouses, to later realise the mistake, as well as extended family.
  • Adults can disassociate from their parents or siblings due to grievances they’ve kept hidden for years, suddenly convinced they are dealing with something more serious.
  • Teenagers can be – very easily – persuaded that the difficult relationships they have with family members (who often fail to provide emotional support at an optimal level) are in fact abusive.
  • Impressionable young people in general can start seeing disordered types everywhere and have an even more difficult time integrating into society.

To complete the process of isolation, another list of attitudes pushed by these groups as healthy, conducive towards healing.

  • Spending one’s precious energy overanalysing every word, gaze or gesture they receive on a daily basis, in order to identify hidden intentions (and finding oneself accurately described in the DSM as a result).
  • Blaming one’s upbringing almost exclusively for the decisions taken in real time.
  • Demonising any friends who show difficult behaviour and eliminating them from one’s life straight away.
  • Once out of  a romantic relationship, ossifying  selection criteria which make sure one will run scared of most potential partners.
  • Living with a pervasive sense of danger in relation to the outside world.
  • Unearthing mistakes made years ago by others, which are no longer relevant (excluding serious maltreatment which affects a person for life).
  • Identifying as a victimised empath to the point of muddying one’s sense of responsibility in everyday life and absolving oneself of all blame for one’s troubles, regardless of their nature or importance.

This is not only prevalent in romantic relationships, which are the prime target nowadays, our culture inviting people to wallow in dissatisfaction and constantly scrutinise their partners for the smallest clue of wrongdoing. It is reaching far beyond, as many start to analyse their past, sticking labels on those who raised them, in a bid to rid themselves of negative influences. As someone who has partaken in this hysteria, seeing it as a personal quest at the time, I can safely argue it has become a fad, and a dangerous one at that.

There is a positive way of going about changing toxic attitudes one has inherited from previous generations; that is part of self-improvement and a noble goal. The catch is trying, to one’s best ability, to understand those attitudes in their original context, instead of judging previous generations by today’s standards, in  Maoist fashion, eager to write off any wisdom passed on by them. As usual, balance is the key to everything.

People have grievances, from the mundane to long term issues which need addressed. Leaving them to fester in the basement of unacknowledged needs or frustrations can make them seem insurmountable; at times they rise to the surface like an overflowing septic tank, bringing a person into a state of crisis. This is not necessarily, in real time, the fault of those who share their life, though it might feel or appear that way – hence separation is not necessarily a solution to anything.

For abuse recovery communities, knowing just what buttons to push at just the right time is guaranteed to reel in some potential believers.

In this bid, they discourage forgiveness, open-mindedness and empathy, feeding one’s need for validation right away, before even having enough data regarding each case. Evidently, this does a major disfavour to those who are simply mistaking and would benefit from objective advice (though it is difficult to be objective with so little insight, which is why I’m against seeking advice on the internet on such complex, delicate matters). Rage and bitterness are parasites of the mind; they end up consuming their hosts.

No one on the internet is able to understand your exact situation. It’s impossible. Even if you wrote a novel for them to read, you still wouldn’t be able to paint the entire picture – let alone in a few paragraphs posted anonymously.

What they do is look for buzzwords which trigger them and identify with your feelings, without accurately understanding the cause (which might be unknown to you as well). It’s not you inviting them into your reality; it’s them dragging you into theirs.

They start by encouraging you to refer to yourself as a survivor of abuse. This label becomes part of your identity and, depending on how consumed you are by it, it can take over. For those who still post daily about ”their P’s”, some of whom exited the stage years ago, the label ”survivor” has doubtlessly become their identity. How toxic is that? If you were a woman who divorced Bob  five years ago, when asked to introduce yourself, you would not say, ad infinitum,  I’m Bob’s ex-wife or I’m the one Bob stood up at the altar or I’m the one Bob’s mother always hated. It’s the same thing; defining yourself by what you meant to someone else or what that person did to you.

That takes away from your  real identity, from your energy and vitality, not to mention optimism and confidence.

Last but not least, one has to consider that calling a loved one a psychopath or narcissist, especially publicly or over a prolonged period of time, can end up in a permanent rupture, which wouldn’t necessarily happen with other insults or grievances. It’s a very strong statement to make and should not be made lightly, especially at the nudge of an internet community.

The internet might seem like an immediate source of relief and comfort when we are dissatisfied with those closest to us; at times we end up using it in this sense for trivial reasons. It’s far too easy nowadays to air one’s underpants for all to see, only to regret it later. But at the end of the day, it’s those same people we collaborate with day in and day out; when it comes right down to it, we have them and they have us, through thick and thin (genuine cases excluded, of course).

The thought that we can get a balanced perspective on our intimate problems from complete strangers is a mirage, an illusion, as the only ones able to solve them are those who are directly involved.

 

On-line Community Snobbery -WTF …?

The bigger they are, in terms of reputation and membership, the quicker they are to  chew you and spit you out again as not worthy.

More recently than I care to admit, I tried joining a community which makes a living out of humour, politely and apologetically asking for directions on a certain subject. By the time someone was kind enough to offer them, I’d already been voted down for existing and for not being familiar with the full structure of their website, which was pretty intricate by the way. Then they quietly voted me down again for asking for an explanation regarding what I’d actually done.

By the way, this was meant to be a group of intellectuals; the cream of the crop; so at first I posted naturally, figuring a bunch of funny, very smart people would not slight someone for landing there unfamiliar with their establishment and trying to communicate.

It seems, somehow, that many such communities, American in particular, have got a stick up their rear ends thicker than the mast on the HMS Discovery.

It seems regardless of the niche, on-line groups are often led by arrogant types who jump on you just for being in their line of sight.

Never again. Ditto.

 

My diary was once private. So was yours.

Disclaimer: This post does not refer to people who are distraught after suffering abuse and use the internet as a last source of comfort. It refers to the far more numerous who have incrementally been trained by our culture to bring every detail of their lives into the public arena, exposing small grievances as important and almost annihilating the notion of privacy, to their own detriment. It is, first of all, self-criticism, for having repeatedly fallen into that pattern, although the details themselves are fictitious.

Sometimes  I wrote in codes. Other times in foreign languages, unhindered by poor grammar or spelling. Most days my diary traveled with me, away from the prying eyes of parents or siblings; I was secretly proud of developing my individuality in ways no one could scrutinise,  judge or mock. The thought of a stranger entering that sacred space was unconscionable.

Most days I would write at my school desk, in the grass, against walls and on benches, with my diary on my knees. I would breath in the seasonal breeze, watch the world go by with the corner of my eye and ask myself: what should I do about this? What do I think today? How do I feel today? What are my values? Have I changed since this summer? Have I changed since last year? Think before you speak and think before you act  were ingrained, which made my world safer and my behaviour more dignified.

Today, I am Nickname Avatar.

I no longer know what I think and how I feel. I no longer know how to handle the smallest conflicts or decisions and how to relate to those in my immediate environment.

I let others vote on that.

So please, vote. Did my husband wrong me by making that unflattering comment? Should I forgive him? Should I tell him what I told all of you last night, while he was sleeping? Hurry up now; he’s taking me out to lunch; we’re having a very important conversation, the result of which I will of course make public while he’s in the restroom.

Sometimes I think they should legalise polygamy. We’ve lived in a polygamous arrangement for years. There are three pillows on the marital bed: one for him, one for me and another for Public Consensus, which goes to bed with us every night, and as you might imagine, it sleeps in the middle. It keeps asking for official recognition; and why wouldn’t it? It’s been part of my life all this time; I invited it.

My parents and grandparents, my aunts and uncles didn’t have perfect marriages. Perhaps because the mere concept is unrealistic, given that it’s human nature to clash in terms of opinions, plans and desires; no two human beings are ever the same. It’s human nature to argue, just as it’s human nature to get over it and move on. If this paragraph sounds naive, how is it that people today demand perfection, by making a mountain out of every cold look, every day of silence, every argument and every other slip-up past generations wouldn’t have bothered their minds with?

No, they didn’t have perfect lives, but at least they had dignity. Even while morose after prolonged arguments, if someone outside the family engaged in criticism or rumours, they would be firm. How dare you say that about my wife! I don’t believe a word of it! Who do you think you are…? What I witnessed would go both ways, as opposed to an abused person not speaking out for fear of repercussions. Personally, I think it’s a beautiful thing. They were aware life wouldn’t be a rose garden and that they’d have numerous clashes in the years to come, but when it came right down to it, they stood up for each other.

Dignity does not reside in proclaiming one’s emotional independence on the internet, shaming others by exposing shared intimacy and proclaiming one’s position of virtuous victim-hood. Not every mistake others make warrants such a response. If you’re active on a forum where people also discuss private matters, you often see members regretting having gone public with a transitory conflict. But it doesn’t keep them from doing it again, or anyone else for that matter.

We are so used to living life in the limelight, albeit an illusory one, down to exposing what we cook for supper on Facebook (though Facebook itself may cause supper to burn to a crisp in the oven, all forgotten). And every aspect of our lives, even said supper if not burnt to a crisp, is subjected to validation, criticism and advice.

Think about it: do we really need all the feedback? Why on God’s green Earth do people expose themselves down to the bone marrow and then complain about social anxiety and the constant fear of others judging them? It’s a paradox. 

The more you expose, the more reasons they have to pass judgement. Why think that on-line communities are somehow different from society in general? Because they proclaim to be so? You wouldn’t undress on a busy street corner, would you? Then why talk to a bunch of anonymous people about your favourite sexual positions? You wouldn’t bring a bottle of wine to work and expand on your worst childhood memories. Why do it on-line then?

A moment’s catharsis really isn’t worth the prospective gossip, mockery, unwanted feedback and criticism. People see the world through their own eyes; they are very likely to confuse your situation with theirs and push you towards a wrong decision.

Reserving a place for Public Consensus at the dinner table or in one’s bed will only cause distance between a person and those who supposedly trust them. Trust involves intimacy, discretion (or used to, to be more precise, as now these concepts are less real to people by the day).

Growing and learning together, supporting and defending each other against the adversities of the world leads to strong characters, to enduring relationships, as previous generations have proved. One has a different take on life when knowing at the end of the day there are people to always rely on, no matter what.

And what do we see today?

We see very lonely people, trying to figure out who they can trust, analysing others’ past transgressions down to small details. We see those who spend holidays with their cats, looking up disorders they can label their family members with for having ignored them or hurt them fifteen years before. And yes, in some situations that is logical, yet we can no longer deny this has become a trend, engulfing some who would otherwise live normal lives.

Paradoxically, in this age of befriending others so fast you can tell them anything about yourself within minutes, so many are utterly alone and aware of it.

Deep down, they know the on-line networks they have joined are volatile and that they won’t grow old still talking to their friends of conjuncture. On occasion, one finds a genuine friend, but that is a rare gem. It’s basically like going to a pub every night to meet strangers and share your stories with them, as all the lights at home are out.

In isolation, we fill our time with so-called entertainment, flicking through crime stories, detective series on gruesome murders, documentaries on how to spot liars, cheaters & Co, shocking psychopaths, depressing news or dramas full of pain and dysfunctional families. The end result of this flood, I suspect, is a raised level of paranoia.

How will western societies hold together if people become evermore isolated in real life? Our elders keep saying that if the family is dismembered, society as a whole will follow. I believe we are living through those times now – within the family unit, people have become intolerant and intolerable at the same time.

Cooperation is a strange notion nowadays; meeting people halfway; assuming our biological gender roles and taking on adult responsibilities in adulthood – all these common sense aspects have been overrun by the sense of entitlement our culture feeds day in and day out. You deserve more! You’re worth more! You’re a winner; don’t let losers drag you down! You’re the best; don’t settle for less!  Again, I’m not talking about people in abusive situations here; they obviously deserve better. One can climb onto the rooftop and shout they are empowered by cutting ties left and right, for the whole world to hear; deep down there will still be a stifled cry of emptiness or regret.

The fact remains that every time we metaphorically undress for all to see, the world chews us into small bits and spits us out again; our image of ourselves is altered. Many times the responses we get induce more anxiety than we already had.

We cringe when watching film depictions of ancient trials for private ”crimes” (such as adultery ), where people’s intimacy is humiliatingly discussed before a gawking, finger-pointing crowd – and yet subject ourselves and our loved ones to the modern equivalent on the internet, under the false blanket of anonymity. And very often, it turns into another hindrance in the way of reconciliation; a guilt-inducing, needless one.