05/11/2016 § 5 Comments
2 years ago I faced an enormous challenge, and now I’m facing one like it, but on a bigger scale. I’m going to write a series of short journal entries, that hopefully will lay out the situation. This first entry is about the bigger picture; the societal bind at the heart of the abuse survivor’s experience.
I heard the following in a podcast about the HBO TV series, The Game of Thrones: panel members talking about one of the show’s main characters who they all disliked. It was like listening in on the private conversations of an elite class of people who grew up emotionally scarred but manage to disguise it by ridiculing people with deeper problems. I’ve always wanted to write commentary like this but never before have.
“She [the character on the show]’s so annoying to me because she’s learned nothing! It’s like she’s learned nothing except to go ‘Oh, my gosh, the world is so mean to us!’ ” one member said.
Another panelist jumped in passionately: “[There are] people in this world who go through life going, ‘the world is so mean to me!’ and never actually see that they have a big blinder in front of their face, that they are the source of their own problems. You know these people in real life! I know these people in real life! Y’know, I’m not… I still have love for [this character] I want to see her grow, I want to see… I believe in her. I want to see her be queen. I want to see her be strong. I want to see her live up to [her family] name. But you know what? There are some people who never do, and maybe she’s gonna be one of them and we just have to face that. It will suck, but maybe, maybe, that’s what her role in life is.”
Harsh words. She could be talking about me. I’m “one of these people who never” grew up. Only I have; just a few short years ago, at the tender age of 56 (I’m now 60.) Yeah, I did have a big blinder in front of my face, but I knew it. I dedicated my life to getting rid of it. I didn’t know how. I figured it out, but it took too damned long.
So here’s the main point; every fucking time I reached out beyond myself for help and guidance, starting with my family, I got taken advantage of. Because this predatory society that we live in condones taking advantage of those of us who have been sacrificed by abuse, as long as they can get away with it. And by “they” I mean every one. Because in a meritocracy where everyone is ranked and rated for what they contribute to society– and how do we decide what society needs?– we are all dismissing someone with “less value” than us and sucking up to someone with “more value” than us. It’s a wretched system.
And the people who have been eaten by the system are on their own.
That’s what I’m dealing with in my current existential challenge. I’ve finally got my blinders off. Now what do I do?
See you for “Breakthrough Journal #2: A Cult Of Responsibility”
12/07/2015 § Leave a comment
Pt. 1 A Brief Reo
I first recognize was something seriously wrong inside my cognitive circuitry- my mind- when I was 12 years old. I set out then to find out what it was, but got quickly stymied. There’s a story there. 1
In high school, I came in contact with the mental health system. There’s a story there, too. 2 But still, my life didn’t get better.
At the end of high school, I made a “sacred vow” to unearth the nature and to heal this “cognitive mis-wiring” and overcome it no matter what it took. And here’s the story. 3 But still, my life didn’t get better.
The next year, I reconciled with my father, something I had always thought would be impossible. TAST 4
Graduating from university, I wandered from failure to failure, disaster to disaster, all caused by this internal cognitive mis-wiring problem that I alone detected. In 1987, I reached a turning point and med my “2nd Sacred Vow” to heal myself more proactively. 5 But still, my life didn’t get better.
I wandered through failures and yes, even some success. I got married, moved to Japan, and then got divorced four years ago. It was precisely at that point that I finally discovered the nature of the cognitive mis-wiring
It was my cognitive mis-wiring at all. It was my mother’s wiring. It turns out that she’s a Narcissist. It was the only solution I ever cam across that explained all the anomalies, all the mysteries. About her, laws of physics bend to conform to a story inside her mind of her own infallibility. One way to ensure her infallibility was by making me, in the eyes of the family — and myself== unchangeably fallible. My mental process didn’t dysfunction, they simply didn’t conform to mother’s jacked up picture of reality. Where there was dissonance, I thought it was my dysfunction. It wasnt. It was hers.
Then, last year, I had a completely unexpected experience. The necessity to extend my visa in Japan, and to get a new job under harrowing circumstances, led me to push myself as I never had before.
Pushing myself further led ultimately to exposing some cognitive mis-wiring inside me after I concluded there wasn’t any. It was real after all,; it became exposed, and it finally expired: I myself was a Narcissist. It was this that I perceived when I was 12.
I am a Narcissist.
Or was. Narcissism is a condition stemming from 3 preconditions: innate inempathy– the inability to experience the feelings of others; the development of Oral Character Armor as described by Alexander Lowen and others 7; and an inner promise to protect oneself — secretly — from the outside world that causes the construction of an elaborate psychological fortress.
Now, both my mother, brother and myself have constructed such fortresses, I am not inempathic or Oral even as they are. By Mr. Lowen’s scale of Character Armor, I am Masochistic (8), which is appropriate for one who secretly decided to accept his mother’s abuse, as did my first sister.
Am I really a Narcissist? I don’t know, but I do know that, 1 year ago, a deep delusional structure in my mind collapsed. For the past year, I have been reexamining my entire life from the lens of once being under a deep spell of delusion, and no longer being so. (9)
It turns out, there are reasons I’ve made so many enemies in my life; and reasons I’ve made a few devoted friends, too– I can be a charming mofo when I want to be; and there are reasons I believe deeply and to this day that I could never attract another woman to me as a mate — because Mother convinced me of that when she denied that she loved me. There are reasons upon reasons I have been a chronic failure at the workplace and in the handling of money. Above all, there were reasons I had a vicious and terrible temper — she broke me down every day to prop herself up.
Pt. II The Argument
But there is something else involved, something that I have been unable to express in words until now.
My extended family– my clan, my tribe– has failed to protect me from my abusive mother and father. But my school and community also have failed me by not responding to my calls for help; the county mental health institution failed me by collaborating with my Narcissistic mother. But deeper down, America has failed me. The doctors and psychologists I’ve reached out to have failed me, and the New Age communities and religions I’ve joined; even the institution of marriage had failed me. And it’s not just me.
As I write this, December of 2015, it feels like the news has been exploding all year. How do I even start? There’s veen domestic violence, mass shootings, domestic terrorism, Islamic terrorism, Christian terrorism, and a great great miasma of anger everywhere. seems everywhere, and there’s a sickening refusal for those responsible to do anything about it. (Oh, how this reminds me of my own family!).
There’s domestic violence, mass shootings, domestic terrorism, religious terrorism, and a great great miasma of anger everywhere. There’s a movie out about a newspaper investigation of how church priests have been raping devoted boys and girls for decades, or continuously, in Boston but all over America and the world, and nobody did anything about it. There’s another movie about Wall Street traders who saw the coming disaster pf derivative trading, and no one did everything about it.
. Consistently, all of these groups, instead of helping me go where I wanted to go, instead of finding out about my abuse and assuring me that it was not okay, instead of confronting the delusions that had taken control of me despite my persistent efforts to overcome it, had uniformly concluded that I suffered from having a weak and wretched character who was never willing to go far enough to overcome my own supposed limitations. Many times, I have been driven out of groups, households, workplaces and schools, because my compatriots had given up on believing in me.
This wasn’t supposed to happen!
If in reading this, you doubt me too, and you don’t feel like I’ve proven to you that things are as bad as I say they are, then ask me questions! Must the burden of proof always fall on me? I would have to walk back into an abyss of terror to feed you enough facts and stories to find the one or two cogent details that might open your mind. For my wife it was learning how mom treated me when I was given a (false) diagnosis in high school — she treated me like I was possessed by a dybbuk (a Yiddish ghost) who had no capacity to be responsible for myself. But that detail that convinced her might not convince you.
And why didnt she just believe me on the face of it? Because I am a Narcissist. Because people see in me the very disconnect between my inner reality and the outside world that I’ve been craning to see for 48 years.
Or is there something in my experience that is too dark and frightening for you to face directly? So it is with survivors of abuse, with former alter boys who were defiled by the village priest, girls who were raped by their fathers, young woman raped in their dormitories the first time they lived away from home by the star quarterback whose conviction would cost the university thousands of dollars. Show me a “pervert” who is harmful around children, and I’ll show you a person who was molested when he was a child. We weren’t there for him then, and now we prosecute him for acting out his fury the only way he knows how. We failed him.
I’m not blaming anyone. And I don’t blame my mother. No doubt my mother made the very best decision she could, to refuse to forgive her father for I know not what, with no one around who would stand up for her in the very conservative world of Jewish-Russian immigrants that met at the synagogue across the street from her. Her religion failed her, and it failed me, and the U.S. community failed them, even as it gave us refuge, but wouldn’t protect our families who were turned down by the boatloads fleeing Europe at the outset of World War II.
I have no need or intention of gaining vengeance or vindication on my family or home, well, maybe a little vindication. My point is that our nation weren’t strong enough, our psychological sciences weren’t smart enough, our communities weren’t brave enough to rescue me. I had to rescue myself, and it took to damned long! Even with the help of spiritual agents.
To me, as it exists now, my extended family, my ethnic people, my American society, have colluded with my mother’s oppression of me. You have been deceived by her charms, have turned a blind eye to her rage and her misandrony, and you have been stupid about my suffering and needs. Again and again and again, because I am a white (Jewish) male, people have perpetually and constantly been blind to my suffering and my needs.
And why is that? Because all of us are more vulnerable, more wounded, more broken than we have the capacity to deal with, so we keep it light. The prevalence of alcoholism all over the world, in so many eras of history — and the prevalence of meth addiction and heroin and crack addiction– all point to a society that has more darkness in it than we know what to do with. We appoint each other to medicate ourselves responsibly so that we can hold it together to function in a world that is much to complicated for us. Yet the degree of psychological pain that must be present for total drunken intoxication Friday night after Friday night year after year, generation after generation, is sheer madness. We are not a happy society. But like my own family of origin, we do not dare to present ourselves as unhappy. We just hold it in and hope that someone melts down before we do.
It’s right that it was necessary for me to rescue myself. In a sense we all have to rescue ourselves. All structures that define us also limit us and there will be people among us who will fall through the cracks of our social structures, as I almost did and still might. In the end, none of our structures will save us from the long night, the harbinger of another
For me, most of the business that drives our economy colluded with my oppression. It is hard for me to conceive of a means of livelihood which isn’t exploitative. I focus on education and art, but there are so many ways that these careers collaborate with income inequality, the perpetuation of class struggle, wildlife habitat destruction, global warming, the entire interconnected web of post-colonial evil.
1 footnotes to be added later.