Our Dogs Were Shot Yesterday, But You Want Us to SHUT UP About It Today

In the aftermath of the election and for those of us who are in genuine fear of a Trump presidency, the people who are pissing me off the worst in Facebookland are the ones who just want those of us who are grieving—and daring to express it on Facebook—to STFU about it already.

So I’m going to put this in a way that maybe my dog-loving friends can actually understand, since some of them seem to be lacking the gene that allows us to grieve for anything but animals.

hillary-trump-1

Yesterday our dogs were shot, and now they are all dead. By a neighbor who we always knew hated us, and we had already feared, but officials would do nothing to stop him from stalking our dogs. So he took out his power, and he shot them, dead. They are gone. Never to be there for us again.

There’s nothing we can do about it.

We’re deeply, deeply saddened by the loss of our dogs. Our dogs meant many things to us, but mainly our dogs symbolized equality. The ability to love who you want without fear of retribution, at least not in our neighborhood. The ability to live in a community where skin color didn’t matter. Where you wouldn’t be thrown out simply for being born who you were.

Because our dogs loved everyone equally. After all, that’s one of the best things about dogs, isn’t it? They love everyone.

We’re hurt, we’re angry, and we feel betrayed. But above it all, we are afraid. Afraid of a world where it’s ok to shoot our dogs at any time, and have no consequences for it. Hell, it’s even celebrated.

That’s a world we don’t want to live in, but we are trapped here too. A world where fear rules, where power and might take over, and the little guys—and their dogs—are shot.

If we were truly grieving the loss of our dogs by a violent and angry man, would you give us more than a day to grieve? To express our fears, our anger, our betrayal, and our pain?

Our suffering?

Or would you tell us to STFU if our grief were about dogs too?

No, you wouldn’t. Telling us to sit down and shut up as we make sometimes pitiful attempts to express our true pain and fear is just expanding the abuse. You are taking away our right to feel, our right to express our feelings, and our rights to have our friends support us in those very real feelings.

If you want to remain our friends, but don’t like to see our pain, then unfollow us.

But telling us to sweep our pain under the rug instead of allowing us to grieve? That is not something any genuine friend would do.

Advertisements

The End of Magical Thinking: America, Welcome to Your Four-Year Abusive Relationship with a Narcissist

donald-trump

I am still as much in shock about last night’s election as anyone else who believed in the power of love to conquer hate, the power of a pantsuit nation of beautiful women (and men) to stand tall and together and to put a dent in the wall of misogyny this country has built around us.

I have yet to wrap my head around what it means for me as a white woman and an activist, for the future of my daughter, the animals, the gay and transgender community, and our nation’s minorities and refugees. My emotions have swung wildly from “we’re all gonna die” to “maybe it won’t be that bad.”

I’ve read so many amazing blogs and articles already today on what this means for us, and found that these also fluctuate from “now they’ll see what they’ve done” to “maybe it REALLY won’t be that bad.”

I had to cut myself off right quick from the magical thinking of hoping that somehow Donald Trump will change for the better, though, and I hope you do too, so you can emotionally survive the next four years. Sometimes the bitter pill needs to be swallowed so you can man or woman up and deal with the reality in front of you.

Here’s why: if you know ANYTHING about narcissists and narcissistic personality disorder, you too will acknowledge that they don’t change; they don’t do better; and it WILL be that bad. That I can promise you.

I don’t claim to be a psychiatrist, nor do I play one on TV. Sometimes, yes, over a few glasses of wine I can all too eagerly get into amateur hour, but my services don’t generally seem to be appreciated by the masses. As with any of the information or misinformation you find floating about the web, you can take my words with a grain of salt and go back to your unicorns in the sky if that will make you feel better.

I just don’t recommend it.

I’ve co-habitated with three narcissists in my 52 years of life—yet never, before ten years ago, did I understand what the term ‘narcissist’ actually meant and why I needed to steer clear of these folks for the rest of whatever remains of my days on this cheery planet.

That lack of knowledge would prove repeatedly to be to my detriment, and—understanding that now—I feel compelled to warn the half of the country who DIDN’T sign up willingly for four years of Trumpdom to buckle up: it’s gonna be an ugly ride, and I don’t know who all will make it off at the end. Forewarned is forearmed and all that happy horseshit.

The first narcissist I was blessed to share a household with was my father (more about him in this blog), and I spent almost 45 years trying to be the daughter he could be proud of and maybe even love. It took many, many long years to finally get it through my thick skull there would NEVER be a time that came true. I finally learned to love myself enough to release him from my life.

I lived with the second narcissist just briefly before coming to my senses, but the biggest thing I learned about narcissists from him is that they can charm every stranger they meet, yet what happens behind closed doors is rarely so nice.

The third narcissist I married, because I still didn’t really understand narcissism and why I continued to gravitate toward this kind of man. I lived through years of misery trying to ‘make it work’, and when I finally asked for a divorce, he immediately tried to ‘steal’ our child by picking her up and literally walking out the door with her. Through my struggle to keep him from taking my baby away, I ended up getting a protection from abuse order against him; this order gave me custody of my daughter and, coincidentally, ALL the power.

That’s when things changed. He realized he had lost that round, but the war was still up for grabs. So he did what narcissists do when the stakes in the game have changed but they aren’t done yet; he turned nice. He cried and begged and pleaded with me that he only wanted his half of our daughter’s time.

Of course I gave it to him, against the advice of my lawyer. Because to my mind, that was only fair. He then plotted and schemed for 8 years until she was old enough for him to try it again, at which point he won the war.

Why? Because I was naive. Because I didn’t know what was happening to me. Because I didn’t know what a narcissist was. And because I didn’t know that there IS NO WINNING with a narcissist.

There is only getting out alive.

Once I understood what had happened to me, once I read enough about parental alienation and narcissistic personality disorder to learn what I never knew, I was horrified. I was horrified that there are people who are so damaged or evil or devoid of the ability to love and to be honest with those who try to love them that they will deliberately destroy them.

For revenge. Or for fun. Or just because. But mostly to WIN.

I made a promise and a vow to myself that I would NEVER EVER be caught in an abusive relationship with a narcissist again.

And I’ve kept that promise.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, against my will, I entered into a fourth abusive relationship with a narcissist.

That man is Donald Trump. And, with the exception of death or fleeing the country, I will not be able to escape this relationship; neither will you.

If you magically think “It will be ok. He’s not really as bad as he seems. He won’t really treat our people that way, right?” I ask you to spend some time googling narcissism until you too understand what we’re up against. It’s not pretty.

When you don’t understand what’s happening, you become a very real target for the abuse. Half of the country signed us up for this, and the other half of us are stuck in an abusive relationship with Trump and those who follow in his footsteps for the foreseeable future.

I’m done crying (for today), I’m done gnashing my teeth (for today), but I’m not done mourning my fate and the fate of all those who didn’t sign up for this hell. That will take me awhile.

My eyes are open. And I can only hope and pray yours are too.

I’m sorry. For all of us who cared enough to hope. It was indeed audacious of us.

Here are a few of my favorite reads so far. Enjoy, and treat yourself with kindness. It’s all we can do today.

“Hillary supporters believe in a diverse America; one where religion or skin color or sexual orientation or place of birth aren’t liabilities or deficiencies or moral defects. Her campaign was one of inclusion and connection and interdependency. It was about building bridges and breaking ceilings. It was about going high.” Read more at: http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/11/09/heres-why-we-grieve-today/

“I don’t know if Hillary is going to win on Tuesday or even if she does, what kind of continuing nonsense she’ll have to overcome from Trump and his followers.

“I just know that when I marked that circle and put my ballot in the machine, there was a sense that there was and is no going back. Hillary may not win, but we as women will win. Maybe not this election, but because of this election, there’s no going back — no putting this genie back in the bottle.” Read more at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/columnists/schmich/ct-hillary-clinton-schmich-met-1110-20161109-column.html

“The Trumpers never expected their guy to actually win the thing, and that’s their problem now. They wanted only to whoop and yell, boo at the H-word, wear profane T-shirts, maybe grab a crotch or two, jump in the RV with a couple six-packs and go out and shoot some spotted owls. It was pleasure enough for them just to know that they were driving us wild with dismay — by “us,” I mean librarians, children’s authors, yoga practitioners, Unitarians, bird-watchers, people who make their own pasta, opera goers, the grammar police, people who keep books on their shelves, that bunch. The Trumpers exulted in knowing we were tearing our hair out. They had our number, like a bratty kid who knows exactly how to make you grit your teeth and froth at the mouth.” Read more at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-voters-will-not-like-what-happens-next/2016/11/09/e346ffc2-a67f-11e6-8fc0-7be8f848c492_story.html

I Don’t Feel Safe: The Answer to Why I Post so Much Anti-Trump Stuff.

catyouth

Animals were always my safe place.

A Facebook friend recently posted a tirade against all those non-stop political posting-types.

That would be me.

I get where she’s coming from; I even envy her because she doesn’t share in the same Trump-riddled anxiety that I do.

But what she—and many others—don’t understand is that for those of us who’ve survived physical, emotional, and/or sexual abuse, our wounds are re-opened with each insult, each putdown of women, each targeting of social groups to which we may or may not belong.

We fear for ourselves and all those who wear today’s targets.

I can’t go there again.

As an abuse-survivor, a hyper-awareness takes root when I perceive that I am being threatened with the same situation I’ve survived in the past. According to Mary Beth Williams, co-author of The PTSD Workbook, Those with PTSD or other trauma “experience intense psychological distress or bodily reactions when exposed to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event or events; these are called triggers.”

I don’t feel safe.

My childhood was spent in an emotionally and physically unsafe environment. My father was a very angry man, and I ran from the dinner table in tears most nights.

There was no safe zone, no “How was your day, let’s discuss our highlights over dinner” talk in my family.

There was only “Who will be today’s target for Dad’s wrath.”

I often drew the lucky straw.

I would huddle in the hay mow with my cat Streaker after school, hyper-alert and peering through the holes in the barn so I could see him coming up our 1/2 mile long lane. I needed some warning as to when my tiny bubble of safety would be destroyed.

My stomach hurt when I saw that red truck.

Then he killed Streaker, and all our other cats but one.

She was all I had.

catsdog

Two cats and our dog Gally huddled for warmth by the house chimney.

Our animals were not allowed inside the house. We had a chained beagle, Maggie, who lived a sad and pitiful life, and never went or trained for hunting—although that was her purported mission in life.

Our other dog, a black lab named Gally, was free to roam the farm (and often the neighbors), but was not allowed inside.

I pitied our animals even then.

I often brought the cats and Gally inside the home when my parents were away from the house. The animals, understandably, liked it and wanted more.

Little did I know that my love and caring for them would lead to their deaths.

They all (with the exception of poor chained Maggie) began sitting at the front door, waiting and hoping for their chance to get back in. They snuck inside at every opportunity.

This annoyed my mother, who was prone to griping about them being in her way.

My father solved the problem.

He killed them all, with the exception of one cat and Gally.

I never saw Streaker again.

Did I mention that I loved her?

I mourned the cats intensely, felt I was to blame because I’d made them want to come inside, and hated my father for what he did to them, to us. I didn’t speak to him for two months.

This was just a stepping stone to what we would end up going through at the hands of my father.

The abuse in our family escalated from verbal to physical until when I was 16 my father overpowered my mother and was strangling her on the kitchen floor in front of the refrigerator.

My brother, then 14, ran upstairs, got a shotgun, and held it on my father, screaming at him to stop.

My father seized the gun from my brother and checked to see if it was loaded, popping the shell out in the process. I grabbed the shell off the floor and clutched it for dear life, so afraid he would get it from me and shoot one of us with it.

My mother took that chance to run out into the snow to escape my father, but he chased her down and dragged her back inside by the hair.

We then sat in the living room, the four of us, while my father calmly discussed whether he should just kill us all now, because his life was over.

My mother talked him down, and that night I slept in a sleeping bag in the hallway, hoping if he tried to kill her again I could help her before it was too late.

My father never went to jail, because we never reported him to the police.

It took me four months to persuade my mother to leave, during which time the abuse continued unabated. He smashed a ketchup bottle against the edge of the kitchen table, and when it shattered a piece of glass flew into my mother’s eye. When I tried to drive her to the hospital, he wouldn’t allow it, telling me I’d better have the mess cleaned up when they returned home.

He then swerved off the road with her in the car, saying he should just kill them both.

He threatened to kill me because I was laying out for the prom instead of cooking him dinner, telling my mother “I got a new gun, and she’s the first one I’m going to use it on.”

My mother and I fled to Canada one morning after he left for work, calling his parents after we were safely away and asking them to go to the home to take all the guns out and get my brother from school. My brother had refused to leave with us, wanting the family to stay intact.

I have ZERO DOUBT in my mind that if we hadn’t left the ever-worsening situation when we did, we would all be dead now.

My father went into a mental hospital for two weeks, but none of the rest of us received counseling for the multiple traumas we suffered at his hands. The words PTSD meant nothing then, and we bravely soldiered on like we were just a normal late-70’s family. I thought we were.

But we humans don’t get off that easy.

I dated abusive men and married a narcissist before I finally got a handle on what had happened to me in my life.

It took me until my late 30’s to really understand that I grew up in an abusive home, and that I was continuing to allow the same harmful personality types into my life in an attempt to somehow force a better outcome. That wasn’t happening.

I went public with my father’s abuse once before, in 2007, and he got even with me by testifying against me at a child custody hearing for my daughter, telling the judge I was a bad mother. Yet he saw my daughter so rarely that she didn’t even recognize him when I showed her a picture…how could he possibly know what kind of mother I was?

That’s what happens when you tell the truth about abusers. They get even with you by telling lies to destroy you.

Sound like Trump?

Today my daughter lives with me. I put my father out of my life once and for all when I finally realized (after almost 30 years of hoping and trying for more) there would be no “I’m truly sorry for all the hurt I caused you.”

There would be no “I was a bad father, how can I make it up to you?”

There would never be a “I really screwed up. Let me fix it, please.”

None of that would ever happen. I faced my reality.

My father is a preacher to this day in the Altoona, PA area. He once wanted to write a book called “Just Close the Door,” about shutting out all that happened in your life before and starting over.

That would be mighty convenient, wouldn’t it? For him, at least.

But for the abused, it’s never that easy. Many of us have spent years in therapy, thousands for self-help books, pulled ourselves up by the bootstraps time and time again, and finally learned to love and accept ourselves. We’ve worked so hard to get past our childhood traumas, only to be faced with a new and yet all-too-familiar threat that we can’t just walk away from.

Donald Trump.

I wonder how my father will get even with me for telling the truth this time?

If you think for one minute the women who have come forward against Trump have done so to get ‘fame’ you would be insane. They came forward because they finally realized they weren’t alone in their sexual abuse. It felt just safe enough and they felt just brave enough to finally publicly admit “He abused me too.”

I never went public with my family’s abuse for 27 years because I was afraid and ashamed. My father sought revenge against me for doing so at his earliest opportunity…what do you think will happen to these women?

They will continue to be traumatized by Trump and his supporters for having the courage to talk about what this man did to them—what he himself brags about doing yet now unbelievably denies!

I see so many similarities between Trump and my father. They share a narcissistic and  incessant need to talk only about themselves, a complete lack of remorse for wrongs done to others, and a treatment of those they see as beneath them that is simply egregious…all while playing the victim and lying through their teeth to get even with anyone who tells the truth about them.

And THAT’s why I can’t stop sharing Anti-Trump posts. Because now that I can finally spot an abuser from a mile away, I don’t want them—him—TRUMP in my life in any way, shape, or form.

I know how narcissistic abusers destroy families.

And now we’re seeing firsthand how they destroy countries.

I can’t allow that kind of person in my life again, to destroy my family again.

Trump—and his supporters—make me feel unsafe.

I finally have a measure of safety in my life. I love my husband, and even if we didn’t make it one more day as a married couple, I couldn’t regret marrying him.

He made me feel like I wasn’t a complete piece of garbage after all.

Joe’s given me more love in seven years than I received in the 45 years before he came into my life.

I can come home and know that I will not be called names, not be screamed at, not be physically or emotionally abused.

I can provide a safe environment for my daughter, who has her own trauma to deal with. She, too, feels incredibly anxious about a Trump presidency.

I don’t want a man like him to have power over my family again. The thought of Trump coming into my home daily through my television or computer screen, through discriminatory policies he makes up as he seizes power, or through hearing him belittle and demean women or other members of our society, causes me intense anxiety.

I feel like I’m back at my father’s dinner table.

I’m afraid if I stop watching to be SURE he won’t become president, something bad will happen, and my worst nightmare will come true.

My subconscious tells me I must be on high alert.

I had a dream that Trump was beating on a young man of darker skin. I tried so hard to protect the young man, but realized that I couldn’t fight and passed out.

I awoke feeling helpless and hopeless.

A few nights later I dreamed that I was leading a social movement and I was walking around organizing an event. There was a male photographer there. Someone asked me how I knew him and I said I didn’t. They said “He was talking about you. He said you’re cute but you’re kinda overweight.”

Then he looked at me and told me to come get my picture taken. I was in sweat pants and everyone was looking at me. He said “It’s ok, you’re a little overweight and you’re dressed badly, but let’s take a picture anyway.”

I walked away in shame.

Then I came back and I said “Let me tell you this. Don’t EVER shame me again or tell me I’m overweight. It’s unacceptable—you wouldn’t do it to a man, and I won’t allow you to do it to me.”

I said it loudly and proudly and in front of everyone.

As I turned to walk away, Hillary Clinton was standing there smiling and giving me a hands-up wave as if to say “You go, girl.”

That, for me, is the power of a woman who stands up to the abuse that would have knocked most of us down years ago.

I can admit that it would have destroyed me.

Hillary Clinton gives me hope.

Thank you, Hillary, for standing up to so much abuse on behalf of all women in America. I, for one, am grateful.