The Sandbox Challenge #43 — A Whole in One!

Another catch-up post, this time from June 14th. Raili has given us another pondersome question to write about:

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What makes you feel whole?

In all honesty, I don’t think I have ever felt whole. For my entire life, I’ve had this emptiness inside and try as I might, I haven’t been able to fill it up. I don’t even know what I am devoid of to begin to fill it. I’ve tried to fill it with love, sex, material things, education/knowledge, spiritual matters, and even through my writing and art. And yet I remain empty. Something is missing. I don’t know if it is because of my unusual circumstances (being a walk-in) or if it is my body’s genetic make-up, or even my mental illness.

Most of the time, I feel like a giant black hole that continually sucks in matter, but never gets full. This is probably why I associate so much with darkness as it is void of light, because even when I try to suck in light, only darkness remains. It is quite a conundrum for me. I’ve even thought that perhaps it is my purpose to be empty, in a Buddhist concept sense, but again, perhaps that is only me trying to be whole through a spiritual matter. I’ve even thought that maybe I just enjoy wallowing in my own misery, but being empty doesn’t really make me miserable. It doesn’t give me pleasure either. It’s more like I am neutral about the whole ordeal.

I think I’d like to be whole. It sounds quite lovely and peaceful, but altogether foreign to me. I ponder what it would be like to be filled to capacity with something other than emptiness. But then, perhaps emptiness is my wholeness and I should give up trying to fill it with anything.

 

Creative Questions 15 – Domestic Violence

CQ15 – Domestic Violence: What can I/we do about this?

Domestic violence hits very close to home for me. I’d like to begin with a little information:

First, I think everyone needs to understand that DV (domestic violence) isn’t just physical violence. PV (physical violence) is generally the endgame of DV. DV often begins with mental and emotional abuse which can and generally does escalate into PV. Many of the abused endure years and years of mental and emotional abuse. Sometimes, the abusers will use degradation, insults, and mind games long before they raise a fist. It is easy to overlook these abuses early on in relationships because the abused is still in the honeymoon phase and deeply in love with the abuser. Many shrug off these attitudes as the abuser is just having a bad day or they didn’t mean it and move on. The abusers will even use those as excuses. There may even be moments of PV involved – a slap across the face, a push or shove, or objects thrown. And then comes the apologies and the make-ups and the wash-overs. Some of these DV moments may even be rare in the beginning, but rest assured, they will escalate. This period is known as “testing the waters” of tolerance for such things. Will the abused fight back or capitulate? The more often the capitulation, the more certain the DV will progress. (Note: some may think that this is victim-blaming, but it is not. The abused may not even realize that he/she is capitulating. He/she may just be trying to keep the peace, but this IS what the abused is watching out for in these early stages. Each give-in, regardless of how small, is all a part of their game.)

Although DV can happen in any home, there is a mindset that comes along with most chronic abusers.

  1. They were most likely abused at some point in their childhood, or saw abuse to a parent as a child.
  2. They were quite likely either a bully or the bullied as children.
  3. Some have a narcissistic personality or are sociopaths

Narcissistic abusers usually prey on anyone whom they consider to have a weak personality (whether or not they do). As a general rule, they like companions who are compromisers, introverts, easily persuaded, or who have an illness of some kind that make them vulnerable. Narcissists like to control others. Sociopaths usually seek companions who are popular, extroverted and have strong wills. They consider those types of personalities a challenge and delight in tearing them down. These are not hard and fast rules, just as not all abusers are Narcissists or Sociopaths, but the majority are one or the other, or both. Keep in mind, Narcissists generally do their abusing covertly during the early stages of relationships; Sociopaths generally do their abusing out in the open and early on, especially with PV. Neither of these have the ability to show genuine remorse for their deeds or compassion toward their victims.

My own personal story begins with a 13 year marriage to a Narcissist. When we met, I was an independent woman in my mid-thirties. I’d always worked and taken care of myself. However, I’d just been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Social Anxiety Disorder. Keep that in mind. Our relationship began fairly well. He was a generous man and attentive. We had some ideological differences, but for the most part, we had a lot in common and got along fairly well. The abuse began slowly. He would occasionally criticized me about my weight, even as he would say that he preferred “plump” women (we had met in a BBW chatroom on AOL!). He would try to enact “rules” about how he wanted things done, even though he was a truck driver and only home 4 days a month. And he tried to dictate which friends I could have or family members I could associate with. All of this was subtle for the first 4 years of our marriage. Then he decided we needed to move 1000 miles away from all of my current friends and my family.

During these first four years, I was dealing with my mental illness, often having numerous medication changes which altered my own personality. His subtle mental and emotional abuses were, however, beginning to impact my life. To keep the peace and my sanity, I often capitulated – a grave mistake. Giving in to his desire to move from VA to OK was the biggest capitulation that I made. After the move, the DV only escalated more. He had me isolated, often completely alone for weeks at a time, and at his mercy. He didn’t want me to work because of his paranoia that someone would break into our home with no one there, and since I was dealing with my mental illness, I agreed not to work. I had no friends and any time I tried to make one, he found reasons not to like the person and would do everything in his power to make me or  that friend break our friendship. Even the criticisms increased. By this time, I’d lost quite a bit of weight due to depression and even that didn’t please him. In fact, it only made matters worse. My body was now completely distasteful to him and he made no qualms about telling me so (he had a large breast fetish and mine had shrunk considerably due to the weight loss). The mind games came more often too. He would deliberately hide things and then put the objects back after I’d searched for days and worked myself into a frenzy over it. He’d call me crazy and erratic for my behavior and say other humiliating things to me over the incidents. If I did anything that displeased him, he would rant and rave and throw horrible screamfest tantrums. It would be nine years before the PV began. This came with pushing and shoving and throwing things at me. Thankfully, he never struck me outright, but the shoves into objects resulted in back and shoulder injuries. Those are just small examples of the abuse I endured. I will save why I stayed and how I managed to leave for another post some day.

I know this has been a long-winded reply to the question asked and I haven’t even answered the question, but I felt that some information and my own personal story were important. So, what can I/we do about Domestic Violence?

  1. We need to teach our children that violence is not the solution. This means both female and male children because not all abusers are males.
  2. We also need to teach our children that their lives have value and meaning, to give them a sense of confidence about themselves, and to ensure them that they do not deserve to be abused.
  3. If you are a parent and you see signs of narcissism and/or sociopathy in your child, get him/her and yourself psychiatric/therapy help ASAP. Although there doesn’t appear to be permanent treatments for these two disorders, there are some indications that early therapy can help.
  4. We need to educate the public more on DV, especially the police and the judiciary. Speak up and speak out about your own personal stories or those of friends and family.
  5. If you are the victim of DV, LEAVE as soon as you are able and get into programs for DV survivors – safe houses, therapy, and support groups. This involves a plan to leave – storing money and clothing somewhere safe for you and your children, finding a safe place to go, and developing an escape plan (when to safely leave).
  6. Remember, a restraining order may or may not keep you safe. The best option is to move far away from the abuser, if you are able. And, unfortunately, that may not even keep you safe. Depending on how violent the abuser, he/she will do anything to keep you his/her victim. That is why education on DV is so important!

I am sure there are other solutions to this problem, but my mind is growing foggy, so I will leave it at this for now.

 

Circle of Friends – June Edition

Of course I am behind, lately, when aren’t I? but this project is still important to me and thus I am compelled to complete each one. For June, Raili asked us to consider The Big Picture with Friendship. She said:

This month in Circle of Friends I invite you to consider The Big Picture of friendship –  the creation of a circle of friends that spans the world and transcends human foibles and pettiness. I know, I know – that seems a big order! Especially in the current climate of prejudice and fear.  However, as the saying goes, nothing changes if you don’t change what you do. SO let’s create some change!

Draw from this exercise that which resonates with you. Carve your slice. Garnish it with your words, images, wisdom. Consider creating a friendship that truly takes into account  The Big Picture within your Little Picture.

I admit, I began thinking about this over a week ago. I wasn’t sure how to approach it or what to say. I live in a fairly microcosmic world. I have only a few close friends locally and pretty much stick to myself as a general rule. Some of it is that I am an introvert, but that isn’t all of it. My mental illness prevents me from making close friendships and at times, even interacting with my own family. I know how bad I am when I have “flair-ups” and I don’t wish to inflict myself upon friends and family. It has become a defense mechanism to keep others at bay. More for their protection against me than for my own self-preservation.

Although my personal life is microcosmic, my world view is very much macrocosmic. My beliefs and values encourage me to be an inclusive person, not an exclusive person. I make it my goal in life to embrace those who are different than I am. So long as there is no hatred, prejudice or discrimination involved, I embrace people of other races, faiths, cultures and ideologies. Unfortunately, I do have little tolerance for racism, bigotry and discrimination, which may be one of my faults. It’s difficult to say that I am an inclusive person and still have exclusions to my world view. Somehow, it makes me feel a bit of a hypocrite. The only way I can resolve this inner conflict is to study racists and bigots and try to understand them from their standpoint. I find that I can understand them, but I still have a problem embracing their attitudes.

I have found the internet especially helpful in forming a macrocosmic world for myself. Social media allows me to interact with people all across the world, to learn about them, understand them, and embrace them. WordPress has given me friendships all across the globe – multiple places in the US, Canada, the UK, India, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, and on and on. These friendships have become important to me. Even as I have been on my own journey for the last month and a half, I have missed these friendships and I am fighting to get back into the macrocosmic world that allows me to be with these wonderful people I’ve met.

I am not sure I came even close to what Raili proposed for this Bigger Picture theme, but these are the thoughts that came to me as I reflected on her proposal.