Category Archives: Abuse

The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists

bookcoversmLast year, a good friend of mine talked me into buying a copy of The Wizard of Oz and Other Narcissists.  Oz isn’t a hard sell, but the idea of Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is. The question I asked myself was, is being a jerk really a disorder? The answer, apparently, is yes.

From Wikipedia:

Symptoms of this disorder, as defined by the DSM-IV-TR include:[1]

  • Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments
  • Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others
  • Envies others and believes others envy him/her
  • Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence
  • Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others
  • Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior
  • Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic

As it turns out, I know a couple of people that fit this description and then some, so the book’s many suggestions for relating to, being in a relationship with, or remaining family with someone with NPD were helpful to me.

From the book:
“Your unfounded guilt can be your worst enemy, causing you to try one more time to make him happy.” “On the codependent side of the coin, many individuals in England and America were similarly blinded by their righteous attachment to their “pacifist” ideologies- to such a point that they could not recognize the inevitable danger to their own free society. Like the entrenched codependent with the NPD individual, these groups regularly called for soul searching and an ever-increasing intention to reason with Hitler, to prevent conflict.” Get your copy here.   Get your copy here.

oz

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Deliriously Delicious Life

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You probably haven’t missed me, but if you have, you probably already know where I’ve been. If you don’t, here goes: I just got through a disgustingly expensive and time-consuming court ‘battle’ (that word came up repeatedly) over my son. This isn’t a blog where I talk about him, usually, but I figure I have to make some sort of excuse for disappearing. So that’s it. That’s my reason. I’ve had full custody since 2009, when I divorced his father; last year, I started homeschooling because my child was doing abysmally in school, and I rented a second home in his father’s neighborhood so he and the family could help me with the kiddo’s needs. That not only didn’t pan out, they ended up suing for full custody – and they lost, even though I ultimately went to court Pro se (meaning I represented myself).  He still has no custody, and he’s got a visitation arrangement that is actually less visitation than he had last year, but it cost both of us scads of money and it gave me several new gray hairs, and at one point the ex actually intended to use my blog about Loose Girl against me somehow (how?!). His family spammed my fundraising page and my friend’s blogs. His attorney made a huge issue in court about my anti-abuse pages I ‘liked’ on Facebook. And so on and so forth. There are lessons to be learned from this if you have the time or inclination (Marriage is generally a high-risk, low-reward thing, distance from exes is ALWAYS good, and if you have full custody, you have it for a reason so for Pete’s sake steer clear of asking the other parent to ‘help’ if you aren’t sure that their help will actually be helpful, etc.)  – but the biggest lesson is that if you have something to say, someone or several someones out there in the world will try to stop you from saying it. And when that happens, you have to make a choice. Your expression is your light; it is yourself. And you have to choose whether or not to let yourself be silenced, or whether to keep speaking out.

I choose to keep writing. I’m not ashamed of speaking out against abuse, writing about sexuality, or loving literature. The only thing in this  entire blog I’m ashamed of is that I have to confess to having married the sort of person I married in the first place – but life is a process, and I’ve moved on. Now that the mess is over for now, there’s a bit of PTSD, but everything is sweeter, everything is more open, and resuming real life is pretty awesome. So I can get back to the business of blogging, because I’m not ashamed of anything I have to say.

To quote Brian in Vanilla Sky, “It’s the sour and the sweet. And I know sour, which allows me to appreciate the sweet.”

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The thing that buoyed me up during court is my personal philosophy: Pronoia. What is Pronoia, you ask? John Perry Barlow (yes, the guy that wrote for the Grateful Dead) defined it as “the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf.” Ages ago, I ran across a Rob Brezsny book in a Barnes & Noble while looking for a new Wayne Dyer tome. The unique cover attracted me ,and when I turned the book over, I noticed an endorsement by Tom Robbins (the best writer under the moon). The book was:

Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, Revised and Expanded: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings

And it completely changed my life.

How? That’s the stuff of my next blog. Instead of delving into details, I’ll leave you with a remarkable quote from the book:

“Fairy tales tell of a magic cauldron that cracks apart when a lie is told by the people standing near it. There is one way to restore the pot to wholeness: Speak three great truths in its vicinity.” In my next entries, I will speak my truths.


He Hit Me Last Night

This is something I never talk about. I gloss over it and pretend that my boyfriend isn’t really violent, because it happens so rarely. He’s shoved me topless and shoeless down flights of stairs, left bruises from grabbing my arm when he’s been angry, but those things— I can write those off. I am shaking as I write this. Last night we were at a wedding reception in Charlottesville (his family) and the slit in my dress ripped up my bum. A girl gave me a shawl to cover it, and I entertained myself while he wandered around. I started dancing with one of his female cousins, and he became irate that the shawl (apparently) didn’t cover everything. We left. As we drove down the road, he started telling me that he didn’t want to take me home, that I deserved to walk the streets of this strange town at night. He asked me to get out of the car. I didn’t want to. He threw my cell phone out the window, and then physically tried to throw me out. The next thing I know, the police are here, he’s run off down some alley or side road, and then I was at the police office having photos taken of my bruises, bitemarks and scabs…

It’s really over, I’ve got to find a new place to live, I’ve get to get my stuff out of the home we made together and all of his buildings downtown, I’ve got to decide whether or not to drop the charges that the officers decided to file for me because I was so inebriated. My life is over.

I always promised myself that this would never happen to me; I was too smart for it, because I’d seen it happening to my mother. The really sick thing is how much I love him and how badly I want it all just to be over. I wish I could be with him again. It will never happen, and we’d both be stupid if it did. 

It did. I wrote that in 2005, while we had a temporary restraining order in place, between packing and moving my things into storage so that I could drive the 14 hours “home” to my family. The very hour the restraining order was up, we met. We talked about how much we loved each other and how tragic it was that our love was so cursed.

That night, he sent me a series of depressed and drugged suicidal texts, and I called his father to ask him to please, please check on his son.

He came by the hotel I was staying in as I rested to drive into the hazy homeward sunrise the next morning- to tell me one last time how much he loved me- while his dad waited to drive him to an inpatient rehab facility (which he never completed the program in).

I’d told a friend that was helping me move, “What do you bet I get home and find out I’m pregnant?” That is exactly what happened. “That idiot doesn’t even have to know about the baby,” my grandmother said.

I turned around, drove back, moved back in with him, and married the guy.

That is the definition of codependency.

And this is the definition of oversharing on the internet. Or is it? I broke up with and took him back more times than I can count. We divorced, he signed over full custody- and now we’re embroiled in a costly legal battle in which he’s accusing me of being a terrible mother, and asking for full custody.

There are so many women out there going through this exact same thing, and there are ways out. There are so many things I wish I could tell my 22 year old self. And my 25 year old self. And my 30 year old self.  Breaking the cycle is hard. Unhealthy love is as intense as Twilight, and we’re all more interesting than Bella. But choosing to stay in the cycle is choosing something worse than dying: it’s choosing a life without living.

It’s your choice.

The blog that doesn’t exist anymore


Hiding From Reality

An ironic title for a Reality television star, Hiding From Reality details the physically and verbally abusive marriage of Taylor Armstrong, one of the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills“. There’s a lot of scandal surrounding Taylor Armstrong (Scandal around a “Real” Housewife? No!) and her book – many people feel that although Real Housewives was strongly hinting – and some cast members were outright saying that – Taylor was being physically abused by her husband Russell, when he committed suicide she shouldn’t have published such a public memoir about her story. Publish it she did, and according to the show and to the book, her deceased husband Russell was far from the ideal husband that was portrayed initially.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that abuse is a very personal issue for me.

No one in my circle is personally acquainted with any of the Real Housewives or their husbands. I bet you don’t know them, either. You probably have an opinion about them, though.

Since I don’t know these people, what I’m about to say is pure speculation:’ I think this man’s suicide was a move of cowardice to preserve his reputation, which was already tarnishing rapidly, under the assumption that no one would speak out once he had gone. He realized that the damage done to his public image wasn’t something he could repair.

For a victim, though, it’s important to speak out about your time being abused as part of your own healing process. and for a mother, it’s incredibly important to make sure that your child receives the right message about what is and is not acceptable in a relationship. So, so many women never leave an abusive situation and never speak out about it at all; this particular woman was left by her abuser before she had a chance to go through all of the processes of healing, which added grief to the litany of other wounds this man apparently caused.

When I read the book, I wasn’t expecting much. Reality television show stars aren’t typically known for their writing abilities or their mental health expertise. Anyway, I overlooked the caustic reviews and read the thing, and it actually wasn’t bad. It reads like a tell-all version of every self-help cycle of abuse book published.

  • Even though he had just been physically violent with me for the first time in our relationship, I wanted nothing more than to be close to him.”
  • “All he needs is unconditional love, and eventually he will soften. Eventually he will change.”
  • “I was living under the myth that if I controlled Russell’s surroundings, I could keep him under control.”
  • “I had always been able to partly justify my inability to leave our abusive marriage with the fact that Russell had never exhibited the worst of his anger in front of Kennedy. I still thought it was better for her to live with any imperfect father than no father at all. I know that some people might have difficulty believing that I truly did not think Kennedy was in danger…”
  • “Russell was not happy, overall, with the medication’s effect on him. He told me that it made him feel numb, and he worried that it took off his edge.”

To me, the story all sounds completely believable, because I lived something similar. Again, I don’t know this woman, but I don’t think the book deserves all of the negative publicity it’s gotten. Look how many other reality television stars have leveraged their fifteen minutes of fame to start clothing lines or launch other careers; this woman is using her fame (or notoriety) as a platform to speak out against abuse. I refuse to find fault with that.

If you’re interested in reading, you can get your copy of Hiding From Reality here. 

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NOTE: I purchased this book for my own personal gratification, and I didn’t receive any compensation from writing my review. However, if you choose to purchase the book through my link, I’ll make a few cents on the sale (and thank you for that, really – every little bit helps.)


Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief

Hobbes linked me an article about this book the week it was released, and I immediately downloaded it to my Kindle. It holds the same sort of morbid fascination for me that documentaries about Charles Manson or the Branch Davidians in Waco had; recovering from fundamentalism is a funny thing, and it makes you feel – or realize – that you’ve survived a cult. This book takes things to a whole new level. Scientology is a sales religion at its finest: find/create a need, sell a solution, and keep the solution price climbing. There’s an elaborate system of payment and punishment involved. Check out this segment of an interview with Anderson Cooper and author Lawrence Wright:

We all know about Tom Cruise’s love affair with Scientology, don’t we? He makes eloquent points in its favor before his career tanks and he seems to be completely mental. This clip discusses his personal diagnosis with dyslexia… and how false learning disability diagnoses are. He explains how Scientology enabled him to become a successful pilot, film producer, and – obviously – reader. “Education is the key,” he says.

The book touches on Tom Cruise’s involvement with the church, as well as the involvement of several other celebrities, the history of L. Ron Hubbard, and what his own family has to say about the church. Full of anecdotal accounts as well as solid research and clear, concise language, this book is amazing.

In a court case, the evidence shows a tape encouraging kids to drop out of schools. “This tape basically explains to my parents that you can’t blame me for wanting to drop out of school. It paints a picture of public education as being a harmful thing…” PLEASE LISTEN. “The psychologists spawned the technology of degrading all men to animals. HE IS IN CHARGE OF YOUR SCHOOLS TODAY!

A clear-sighted revelation, a deep penetration into the world of Scientology by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower, the now-classic study of al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack. Based on more than two hundred personal interviews with current and former Scientologists—both famous and less well known—and years of archival research, Lawrence Wright uses his extraordinary investigative ability to uncover for us the inner workings of the Church of Scientology.At the book’s center, two men whom Wright brings vividly to life, showing how they have made Scientology what it is today: The darkly brilliant science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, whose restless, expansive mind invented a new religion. And his successor, David Miscavige—tough and driven, with the unenviable task of preserving the church after the death of Hubbard.We learn about Scientology’s complicated cosmology and special language. We see the ways in which the church pursues celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta, and how such stars are used to advance the church’s goals. And we meet the young idealists who have joined the Sea Org, the church’s clergy, signing up with a billion-year contract.In Going Clear, Wright examines what fundamentally makes a religion a religion, and whether Scientology is, in fact, deserving of this constitutional protection. Employing all his exceptional journalistic skills of observation, understanding, and shaping a story into a compelling narrative, Lawrence Wright has given us an evenhanded yet keenly incisive book that reveals the very essence of what makes Scientology the institution it is.
You can read the first chapter here, but it doesn’t even scratch the surface; this book is tabloid meets legitimate news reporting, and it’s absolutely riveting.

Or, you can buy your copy here.


Happy Birthday, Anais Nin!

aSpy

No matter how much distance grows between our paths, I’ll always truly love your writing.


Loose Girl

When my boyfriend gave me a copy of Loose Girl a couple of years ago, I was mortified and delighted. My initial reaction was something like, “Um?”

“I just thought you  might like it,” he said. “You seem to be interested in that sort of thing.

He was right.  I was interested.

This book isn’t my story, but it was profoundly interesting subject matter: a young girl that gives of her body rather promiscuously (almost indiscriminately).

From the site:

A Memoir of Promiscuity loosegirl

For everyone who was that girl. For everyone who knew that girl. For everyone who wondered who that girl was. Kerry Cohen is eleven years old when she recognizes the power of her body in the leer of a grown man. Her parents are recently divorced and it doesn’t take long before their lassitude and Kerry’s desire to stand out—to be memorable in some way—combine to lead her down a path she knows she shouldn’t take. Kerry wanted attention. She wanted love. But not really understanding what love was, not really knowing how to get it, she reached for sex instead.

Loose Girl is Kerry Cohen’s captivating memoir about her descent into promiscuity and how she gradually found her way toward real intimacy. The story of addiction—not just to sex, but to male attention—Loose Girl is also the story of a young girl who came to believe that boys and men could give her life meaning. It didn’t matter who he was. It was their movement that mattered, their being together. And for a while, that was enough.

From the early rush of exploration to the day she learned to quiet the desperation and allow herself to love and be loved, Kerry’s story is never less than riveting. In rich and immediate detail, Loose Girl re-creates what it feels like to be in that desperate moment, when a girl tries to control a boy by handing over her body, when the touch of that boy seems to offer proof of something, but ultimately delivers little more than emptiness.

Kerry Cohen’s journey from that hopeless place to her current confident and fulfilled existence is a cautionary tale and a revelation for girls young and old. The unforgettable memoir of one young woman who desperately wanted to matter, Loose Girl will speak to countless others with its compassion, understanding, and love.

Kerry Cohen tells her own story in a slightly disapproving tone. It has a Happily Ever After, with a grateful ‘I don’t deserve it’ twist; I believe she is trying to save others from following her path. I gave it to another friend (Rhiannon) to read after me. “What did you think of it?” I asked her.

“I mean, it was interesting, but I didn’t really get anything out of it.”

We both agree that the book had a moralizing tone that is a bit off-putting. I suppose looking back on one’s own life has a tendency to lead to “should-haves” and “if-onlys”. If I wrote my autobiography, I’m sure it would have something of a cautionary tone to it as well. Contrasted with The Sexual Life of Catherine M., I  much prefer the redemptive story. Not everyone does, I suppose.

I published this blog, and within a couple of hours, a friend texted me to say, “sorry you relate to that.” I guess I don’t, entirely: but it sure is interesting.

You can get your copy of  Loose Girl here.

NOTE: I purchased all of these books for my own personal gratification, and am not being paid to endorse any of them. However, if you’d like to earn me some money, feel free to shop in my Amazon store.