9.19.2014

#WhyIStayed #WhyILeft #WhatToSay

I have been seeing lately, pretty much all over the place, various calls to action, personal accounts, cries of outrage in response to the latest ridiculous public event revolving around domestic abuse and a public figure. I had posted something from Upworthy, trying to make a point about what a lot of people don't realize about trying to leave abusive relationships: when people try to leave them, it can be extremely dangerous, and that's when the majority of domestic violence related murders occur.

After continuing to see much ignorance regarding domestic violence and harmful relationships, I posted something regarding my personal experience being in an abusive relationship- detailing as I understood it how it happened, how my reality became skewed, why I stayed in it so long, how I became alienated, how it became worse toward the end and even after we broke up.


A friend then asked:

What do you suggest for someone who believes their friend is in an abusive relationship?

I wanted to take my time thinking about this. There are so many things that we want to say should be done. In an ideal situation- as someone who loves the person who is being harmed, we might want to run in, white-knight fashion, tear them from the situation, even possibly kicking and screaming.

As someone who has been on both sides of the door, I can't say this is always going to be the best strategy.

I also want to say that I'm not any kind of authority and I would encourage anyone who is reading this here to please add to these ideas as they feel they can contribute in the comments.

1. Ask questions.
Ask how your friend/sibling/relative is feeling in general. Ask how work or school is. Ask how their partner's work or school is. Leave room for the idea that we DON'T always know what is going on in a relationship, but ask questions if you are concerned. Do so in a non-judgmental way.

2. Express concern for your loved one, not judgement of the partner.
If you are concerned about your friend or loved ones safety, welfare, health, happiness- focus on that. Try to steer away from focusing on criticism of the partner specifically. This sounds really difficult and it may sound like an odd thing to do.  The reasoning, in my mind, would be because at one point- and likely STILL- your loved one still cares for and loves the person who is being abusive. We can't explain why we love people. And we can feel ashamed and be very hard on ourselves for having feelings that we can't control and can't explain. It can be confusing to love people who hurt us- and we can even feel like we deserve to be hurt if we still have confusing feelings of attachment for someone like that [or even think we have those feelings].
Keeping the focus on concern for your friend can help to keep those feelings of shame and embarrassment and that they may deserve this treatment away from the conversation to some degree.

Possibly not as effective: "[He] hurts you." "[He] treats you badly." "[He] is keeping you from family and friends." "[He] is making you feel things that are untrue about yourself."

Maybe more effective: "You are being hurt." "You are being treated badly." "You are being kept from family and friends" "You are being made to feel things that are untrue about yourself."

3.Follow up with examples of what would be a positive relationship
It can be difficult to understand at a certain point what is actually a good and healthy relationship. For me, eventually I had to go through a logical process over and over and over about what is a healthy relationship- what is going on in my relationship, comparing the two, coming to the realization that no, people don't get slapped in healthy relationships. THIS SHOULD BE OBVIOUS... at some point it ceases to be obvious, because reality becomes that warped.  

[At some point in these conversations it may become very frustrating. Resist the urge to express frustration with yelling, short expressions of frustration or sarcasm, snide remarks. hug your loved one instead at these moments.]

Examples might be:
"You are being hurt. I saw you the other day and you said you fell down the stairs. Before this relationship you did not fall down the stairs so much. In healthy relationships, people do not fall down the stairs every couple of weeks. In healthy relationships, people love each other and hug each other. They don't physically hurt each other."

It can really depend on what your loved one tells you and endorses as to what is going on in their relationship- if they will only admit to falling down the stairs, I would say you can't push much further than that because they may feel betrayed, 

These are difficult conversations to have. They may become pissed off at first.
There may come a point where you DO feel you should tear them out of the situation.
I want to share the following first:

After I actually, officially, finally cut off my relationship, I went to a friends lakehouse for a few days. This was not any kind of strategy because I thought he would actually come after me- even after eveything had escalated toward the end of the relationship, even after trying to break up and doing this "kind of broken up thing" and things had gotten worse, it hadn't occurred to me that things might just continue to escalate.

But I happened to be out of town. And then the calls started. I was a few hours away, and very relieved and basically in another world, with my friends whom I hadn't seen in a long time. So I sort of laughed it off for some reason. They had started sort of benign. By the end of the weekend they were weird and desperate. I was still kind of laughing... kind of. But mostly because I didn't want to make a big deal about it, and no one knew what the relationship had been like.

By the time I got home they had escalated to threatening. That evening they were sexually, violently threatening and I was by myself in my apartment- and he knew where that was. So I called the police. They came over, and took a report. They suggested I get a restraining order. They also went to his house. Once they left my apartment I took off for the night and left town for a couple days. I moved out shortly after, but the timeline is a bit of a blur after that.

I really think that spending the time with my friends that weekend was a great contrast to the total absurdity of his threatening and harmful behavior. I did get a restraining order successfully and was occasionally worried about it. At this point I feel safe.

I shared that because it is very important that people leaving abusive relationships have a safe exit plan.

I want to share some recommendations for people who are thinking of leaving abusive and violent relationships:

Establishing preset signals with neighbors, friends, or family is an important feature of a safety plan. Signals might include an understanding with a neighbor that if they see flashing porch lights, hear loud noises, or a certain code word or phrase, they will know to contact the police for you. It may seem impossible to set up a support system that will respond to your appeal for help. You may be embarrassed to admit to the abuse and to ask for help. But we encourage you to explore your options.
Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence

-Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
-Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
-Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline

---

Some final notes:

...many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.
-The National Domestic Violence Hotline

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender.
-The National Domestic Violence Hotline
1 in 4 women experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
1 in 4 gay men experience domestic violence.
17-45% of lesbian women report having been the victim of a least one act of physical violence perpetrated by a lesbian partner.
-Everyday Feminism
If the victim does leave the abusive relationship, never pass on information about his or her whereabouts to anyone.
US Department of Health and Human Services

[and what I have been trying to express...]
telling them what they’re experiencing and what they should do about it can further isolate the victim who may or may not be ready to confront their abuse. It is so important to let the victim determine the next steps, to make their own decisions and take back the power and control over their own lives. When we make decisions for others, when we try to help them do what they are not ready to do for themselves, we are taking their power and control away from them.

RESOURCES:



ASIAN TASK FORCE Against Domestic Violence [Massachusetts and New England]

VAWnet, The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women [United States]

Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center [Americans overseas]

WOMEN'S AID [United Kingdom]



Please note: Comments may be left anonymously on this posting.

9.12.2014

I kind of started crying in CVS

I say kind of because it's hard to like, have a good sob unless you are just full on hysterical.

It's like, you turn away from the magazines with Robin Williams on them and then you are looking at plastic grinning pumpkins, right across the aisle from the last remnants of insulated drink cups, cheap beach chairs, 5$ sun dresses. When I realized I should stop looking back and forth from the grinning pumpkins to Robin Williams, I happened upon the sparkling water display which was relatively low-key and managed to kind of gain my composure.

But what had set me off was Robin Williams. Only... not Robin Williams. What set me off, and I'm going to try to explain here, was so many of these things that hang out behind everything else in my head all the time.

I saw a picture of "older" Robin Williams next to his "younger" self. And he has really blue eyes... My best friend had a baby almost three months ago and I love him a lot. He has really blue eyes and I do too. That's probably never going to be me, with a baby. I've known this for a while- and it's not one thing. It's not any of the neuropsych stuff. There are a lot of physical health issues involved.

But there's that. There's that he was a "funny guy" and while I am no Robin Williams, I just have to use humour to deal with everything. With pain, heartache, sorrow, anger, angst, misery. Depression so deep and vast that I can't breathe- but I can make some sort of half-funny comment. Apparently.

There have been so many times that I talk to my best friend for over an hour and we talk about mundane stuff: "I need to get my hair cut" "I didn't sleep well last night"...but the reality might be that I had been struggling that whole week, but that day in particular with a whole lot of "life sucks" and needing to tell myself and really try to convince myself that even if only logically, killing myself probably isn't the way to go.

I'm typing this now and stuff really really hurts- my hands are hurting, but if I don't try to get it out... like I've been trying to for days and days, I don't know maybe I'll implode.

Robin Williams took his life on my birthday, and while I don't think that is any special sign or anything like that, it had an impact.

I am not sure I can even verbalize the impact it had.

I am generally a positive person. This is actually severely rejected in our society. So much so that I generally actually get less bullcrap thrown at me when I am depressed or pissy, then when I am productively positive. Considering I can't actually be on any antidepressants that are effective for my depression, and I'm bipolar, and winter is coming [again]? this is going to be fun.

I also have pretty bad OCD. I am on basically the minimum amount of medication I can be on for the OCD an be functional, because the meds tend to lower my seizure threshold.

I'm scared about winter coming, because I am scared of being cold all the time. My joints and most of my body is in pain to some degree and I am managing, somehow, to kind of maintain some sort of positive outlook [which is my predisposition, but still]. But that is sans anti-depressants, also sans blistering cold weather.

Lab test indicate that I am looking at RA and lupus right now, pretty likely. Also seizures which may or may not be controlled, and migraines which are unpredictable. The ~RA and ~lupus combine for a lot of fun stuff, and meds thus far are not effective.

Stuff really really really sucks.

I actually feel really alienated most of the time in most situations and just fake the hell out of it. It is exhausting when you can't understand what people are saying, you have to smile and nod and people EXPECT you to do this every time and if you have a problem it's you being a jerk.

I actually get perceived as a jerk a lot.
When you have like, no energy and personal resources though... you kind of can't mess around with giving what little you have to everyone else.

Which I've learned... but I've also learned that like, if you don't act a certain way, you are perceived as an A Hole. You can be kissing someones toes but if it is not while commenting on their toenail polish, you are rude.

I could go on and on. But I won't.

Ironically, this entire rant was prompted by the recurring feeling that I'm not actually supposed to say anything ever. Which is difficult when [like a lot of people on the autism spectrum, I think?] you have a really strong sense of "right/wrong; fair/unfair; kind/unkind, etc".

So then I get stuck in this thing where I don't think I'm supposed to say anything because it will upset people but then if i don't say anything it's not fair to OTHER people.

Then, no matter what, I'm an ass.

6.17.2013

Why should I be sorry?

This deviates enough from the typical crazy discussion that it may just serve to keep you on your toes.

I want to reveal something to everyone.
Something that no one ever acknowledges- my family, my best friends, people I date, those I talk to on a regular basis [who may or may not fall into any one of those categories].

Are you sitting down?

I AM FAT.

I'll wait as everyone expresses that just the opposite is true; that I am "big boned"; that I am my "own type of beauty" [really? is there any better way to acknowledge what I'm saying and simultaneously deny it?]; or, my favorite, simply: You are not fat.

I find all the variations amusing but the simple, outright denial of the situation seems to be the most hilarious.

You know what these things do [for me, anyway]... they perpetuate that being "fat" is a terrible thing. That there are all kinds of reasons a person would never want to be "fat".

Fat is not immoral.
Fat is not lazy.
Fat is not ugly.

There are, admittedly, people who can be either immoral, lazy, ugly [a whole other discussion] as well as "fat". But there is often an assumption that these things are intrinsically linked.

It's just not so.

I'm fat right now for many reasons.
One of the reasons is, in fact, that I do not go tothe gym as often as I "should".

Before you jump all over that, please ponder the following:
There are plenty of people who do not go to a gym regularly, even ever.
My BMI is 39.6. I routinely walk 10-15 miles each week, run up the stairs, and when I do go to the gym I often do about an hour of cardio in a target HR [~140-~165] without overexerting myself. I feel good after, not like I need to go to the hospital because I'm so grossly out of shape I might collapse.

This argument that I see often on dating sites [OKC I'm looking at you] that men like thin girls "because you need to be healthy" is completely unseated in any part of reality.

My general labs are always good, my BP is actually on the lower end of healthy- it tops out at 110/70.

As far as I can tell there is really one possible health issue here: I may be beaten to death on the street because my ass does a little wiggle when I walk, and apparently fat is like the greatest offense one can commit.

Fat even at times seems to outrank genuinely homicidal in the most offending characteristic an individual can possess.
This is simply fascinating to me.

I was involved with a guy once [yes, physically- and that is actually important to my point]. He professed to only be interested in "petite" girls, and by no stretch of the imagination have I ever EVER met that description. Not even when my BMI was about 23 and people were starting to comment I was "a bit too thin".

I am simply a big person.

But even so, this guy [who is actually pretty intelligent and reasonable on most subjects], was interested and actually *gasp* attracted to me.

At one point he said, for serious:
"Your weight doesn't bother me. It's like... you don't let it hold you back"

I laughed, because as well as the words being kind of amusing, he also seemed to be experiencing right then and there this epiphany regarding his personal comfort zone, and his perspective on what he deems attractive.

But I mean, what I didn't say to him was this:
Really there are all kinds of reasons life can intimidate me [and has].  Having little to no talent for emulating a pixie would generally fall far down to the bottom of that list, if it makes it at all.

And despite this, I feel the need to "warn" men on OKC [again with the OKC, right? we'll get there], that I'm not this teeny little dainty flower... as if I should apologize because the common expectation seems to be that you can hold a woman in your pocket.

I don't know why I've done this.
I'm not going to anymore.

I fit in my clothing, I'm healthy, generally happy.
I don't fill my body with crap.
It would be nice to lose some weight and actually I am slowly doing that.

That seems to be more of an issue of wearing clothing I want, than anything else.
Other people telling me that I am "fat" or that I am unhealthy have little to no effect on how I actually treat my body, how I regard it, how much I like myself as a person and the body that accompanies that person.

It's annoying and stupid. You are like a fruit fly with that shit. Really.

"Fat" is not a fucking badge of dishonor.
Let us all move away from that concept now.


Also:
Things no one will tell fat girls.
Fat sex- What everyone wants to know but is afraid to ask.

And one last minute, completely apropos addition:
Thomas Burdett [sings Queen cover.]



5.24.2007

The new boogeyman.

It's really hard being bipolar. Well, duh.
But, really. It just plain sucks. I can't control my moods even when I think they are in my fist. Always,  something else is coming around the corner. Some new undiscovered territory that hasn't yet screwed with me.

I'm so sick of this. I'm feeling so extraordinarily pessimistic. I'm not a pessimistic person. It feels as though nothing is working. I'm not working. I realize that I am taking a nose dive. For the moment. Maybe I'll be ok in an hour. Or maybe I'll be irritable like whoa... Maybe I'll just be sleeping. Who knows? Not me.

The experience of having this little deviation and having difficulty treating the symptoms effectively seems, in a way, as thouyh one is having ones brain slowly digested. I can feel mine rotting away. That whole kindling theory? Not a theory. It happens. Oh hell yes. And all the meds just can't keep up. So meds or no, my brain is being eaten by this tag along monster.

I have such a hard time explaining bipolar to people. I mean really explaining it. Beyond the mania vs depression text book stuff.

It's just... crap. It's all crap.
Obnoxious.
If I don't keep trying to write about it, I think I'm going to either explode or shrivel up.
That's pretty typical.