Rachel, Trump is Not Your Garden-Variety Narcissist.

I’m talking about narcissists in general, and one in particular. I understand I am a nobody here, but this nobody is responding to statements that Trump is a narcissist. While I find this correct, I think it falls somewhat short.

Mr. Trump is appealing to a very different type of base than Mrs. Clinton (as we know), so what is “rational” for winning a GOP nomination is going to look different.  We may be seeing just HOW different, though, and we’re also seeing how sweeping these previously suppressed sentiments are among the GOP voters. I am one average person who thinks that what he is doing is rational for his campaign. If I’m right, that says some terrifying things about a terrifyingly large swath of the right.

What I wanted to say, though, was about narcissists. You recently had a guest on your show who said that, like most narcissists, Mr. Trump is about the flattery, the admiration, etc.  Some narcissists, however, see the dismay of their opponent as one of the best types of flattery. If Mr. Trump is the “malignant” narcissist that his colleagues have described him as, this might be what type he is, especially given how litigious we all know him to be.

Part of the praise he heaps on himself seems to be the distress of those he gains a victory over, cuts a “deal” with or otherwise forces/coerces to his will (“I’ll have to see how I’m being treated by the Republicans. If they’re not fair, that would be a factor.” In statement regarding third-party run).

You won’t find Trump at a pool looking at his reflection or basking in the glory of just his cheering voters. He doesn’t seem like this relatively happy type of narcissist (I use “happy” loosely here). I’ve seen his type of narcissist, and I’ve been happy that these individuals had neither the ambition nor the resources that Trump has or else we’d be in a world of trouble.

If he can win even a GOP nomination amidst such cries of alarm and consternation as we have seen these past weeks, if he can win with accusations of fascism and comparisons to Hitler flying around him… well… what level of  dismay would that strike in the minds of those who have been against his campaign? He wouldn’t even need to win the presidency to get this, the fear from those who oppose him. He would just need to either win the nomination or tear apart the GOP by going third party, proving just how powerful and influential he is. Humbling his rivals by his own power and ensuring that they know it was him who did it.  The greatest flattery.

Then he can stare into his pool.

 

By the way, my actual expertise is nil. All I have is personal experience, which I know is merely anecdotal.

 

Depends on What You Mean By “Traditional” Marriage

There are many who are of the opinion that “traditional marriage” is under attack in America. They cite quite a few reasons, the most prominent among them probably being LGBT marriage, especially after its recent national legalization.  I guess I would partially agree with their complaint, though not in a way they would like.

First, I’d argue that the decision for a couple to marry now means more than it ever has, where love is concerned.  Marriages of economic necessity are becoming fewer and fewer. As a result, the decision to marry can now be made from the heart more than ever.

So in what way would I agree with those who say “traditional marriage” is under attack? Well I’d have to ask, “What traditions within marriage in the past are you referring to?”

I guess I’ll start with “because feminism” and some of those things that come with it, particularly those things which enable a woman to live in social and economic comfort with relative ease without the need to rely on a husband to provide for her. In many “traditional marriages” the wife would depend largely on her husband to provide for her. Sure, she might be popular socially in her church or whatever, but her husband ultimately held the purse strings… mostly because anything in her purse came because he allowed it.  Without a husband, a woman would have an incredibly difficult social and economic future.  These days, women can work and play alongside men. We vote, we drive, we own our own vehicles. We make our own decisions, including who we allow to put a ring on our finger and how soon we allow them to do it.  Furthermore, we absolutely will shout down any attempt to take these freedoms away from us and put us back 60 years. We would attack such an effort.

Next, I’ll point to increasing awareness of psychological, sexual and economic abuse within marriage, and laws that have been passed regarding such. In the past few decades, it has come to the attention of the public that women are individuals whose rights should not be suspended when the marriage certificate is signed.  Now, most people would agree that it’s wrong for a man to abuse his wife (or vice versa).  But whyyyy has this trend of passing laws reflecting this only come so recently? Why was it traditionally so ignored from a legal standpoint? Even now, there are those who would say that marital rape is an impossibility due to the Biblical position that a person’s body does not belong to herself after marriage. I’m so glad that it’s becoming more recognized. Any attempt to turn back the clock on the progress we’ve made so far on this issue will be loudly attacked.

I’d say more about LGBT marriages, but since it’s such a popular subject right now, there’s really nothing I could say that hasn’t been said already. Good thing we eventually allowed interracial marriage too.

Okay, the “sexual revolution.” So many people are having sex outside of marriage. They were before, but it was a lot more hush-hush. Now there’s a push against what is known as “purity culture” which tends to have the effect of tying a girl’s worth to whether or not she’s had sex. Supposedly, prior sexual encounters have a tremendously negative impact on one’s marriage. Well, if that’s the attitude of the partners in the marriage, then yes. Attitudes are changing though. Prior sexual encounters are more of a given. In general, we don’t freaking care if you’ve had sex before (plus, you’re amazing, so I totally understand someone else wanting to sleep with you)… now, what else do we need to pick up at the store? milk, eggs, cereal, ice cream, condoms….

I was married to a guy who thought that making it easy for women to get a divorce was a bad thing.  He thought marriage should be permanent except in the most extreme cases, and she would need to jump through hoops to get it.  Of course he would say that in the midst of him abusing me….  This goes along with the modern awareness of abuse. When there’s a victim, get them OUT. Period. Now.  Also, people grow apart. When they start not getting along all the time, resentment builds up, etc. Let them out before they explode. Things are much more peaceful this way.  Traditional marriages that remained “intact”  because they had to are not a credit to “traditional marriage.”

Making marriage optional makes marriage that much more indicative of how you feel about the person you’re marrying.  Broadening the scope of marriage (to LGBT and interracial couples) lets others demonstrate their wish to come together in this way. Enabling easier divorce means that a couple staying together are more likely doing so because they love each other rather than because they have no choice.

Modern marriage has so much more going for it, where love is concerned.  We have a ways to go, but I’d definitely go on the non-violent offensive if we started going back to “traditional” marriage…. depending on the “traditions” in question, I suppose.  After all…. I do like diamond rings.

Do I Tell Her?

The man who abused me now has a girlfriend. She has expressed concern and curiosity about the factors that led to our divorce, but I don’t know that she would believe me.

He’s “not the type” to seem like he’d do what it is he did. He appears very quiet and shy. He’s tall, awkward and has a bit of a baby-face. He is obsessed with his God/church.

But so is she.

I have known this woman for a number of years. She is so sweet, so gentle, so quiet and weak. I know her ex. He was an asshole. He’s someone who really does “look the part” of an abuser. His manner was loud and abrasive. His street-evangelism seemed styled after a person swinging a two-by-four at his listeners. My ex would *seem* to be the polar opposite of this guy. His approach certainly is.

Both he and his girlfriend are fundamentalists. They believe more in courtship than in dating, in submission and obedience of the wife to the husband, etc. I’m an atheist.  In fundyland, I’m all but a demon in human form to some. Especially in his church which condemned me for the atrocious act of leaving him (not for his act of taking me sexually against my will among other things).

I’m the evil ex. I’ve been with other men since him. In their world, I wear the scarlet letter. How do I tell her the things he did and expect to be believed? Some of these things are entirely okay in their theology, depending on how they spin it.

She had an accident not too long ago, and had reconstructive surgery on a large portion of her face. The scars are readily visible. She seems understandably self-conscious about it, and most people would be. How do I tell her she is still as beautiful as she ever was, independent of whether she is pleasing to her god and significant other? How do I tell her that she has the authority as a woman to say “no” no matter what the Bible says about it (or what her beliefs say about it)? How do I tell her that her weakness, softness, trust and innocence are making her a “perfect target” for the manipulations of a person who is very very adept at such things? How do I tell her that nobody has the right to withhold money from her for the purpose of “discipline” or “chastening?”

His intelligence is part of his appeal. It’s also part of what makes him so good at what he can do to someone.

All that money he makes? How do I point out to her that I didn’t leave him willy-nilly? How do I tell her to not accept his BS about the condoms “accidentally” falling off all the time and expect to be believed? Oopsies! Naw…. he’s not the type who would ever do that! Right? You’re just a bitter ex. You’re an atheist. You’ve turned your back on God.

How do I tell her? She looks at him in adoration, like I used to. She’d defend him tooth and nail, like I used to (hellooooo Stockholm Syndrome). As weak as I am/was, I was a stronger person going into that relationship than she seems to be now. And he is now more seasoned and experienced in the subtleties of spiritual/psychological abuse and the conditioning that precedes it. He knows how to pick ’em, if you know what I mean.  She’s more of the obedient type than I was.

And she’s so sweet. I’ve always loved her. I don’t think telling her all this would go over well. All I can think of is to be here in case she one day needs an escape. She may very well end up as the step-mother of my daughters. I’m actually glad it’s her and not someone else, but she’s so sweet.

Maybe he’s changed? Maybe he won’t do all that stuff to her?

Peace in Unforgiveness and Working With My Ex-Abuser Regarding Kids

This is not something I would recommend, actually, but necessity demands it in my situation. I won’t go into certain details at this time, because my head is a little fuzzy right now. Those details will probably be in another post.

One thing I have always been taught in the church was that I would only be hurting myself if I didn’t forgive someone. Forgiveness was such a coerced thing that a person could not even take Communion unless they had forgiven the offender who mouthed an apology for their actions, even if that apology was said moments before taking Communion himself (or herself) so that he/she could participate.

I was taught that the Father (God) would not forgive you if you do not forgive others.  Those who “harbor a seed of bitterness in their hearts” were considered a bit of a cancer and to be “marked and avoided” in the church. Of course, if you’re not forgiven by God for your sins, you can’t go to Heaven. So if you don’t forgive, the logical conclusion is that you go to Hell. How nice.

Besides all the theological implications of unforgiveness, I was taught that unforgiveness would have profoundly negative emotional, psychological and, by extension, physiological effects on my health and well-being. Well, the abuse and resulting PTSD (yes, it was diagnosed and there wasn’t enough evidence to convict by that time unfortunately) certainly did have these effects.  But the unforgiveness itself? I disagree.

I’m learning that I can “harbor” unforgiveness and feel at peace while doing so. I’m not being mentally forced or coerced into forgiveness that I’m not yet ready to give. I have gone through probably most of the stages of grief in the past couple of years. I don’t know if I’ll ever forgive him…. I can forgive him, but that will largely depend on him and his actions in the future. In the meantime, I am learning to work with him in certain areas while being at peace with the fact that I still blame him for the set of actions that he took. Perhaps I am detaching and compartmentalizing for my own mental protection while I can’t be rid of him. I still don’t have to forgive him. Not unless and until I am ready.

I don’t have to practice my best glowing filled-with-the-Spirit smile and act as if it never happened. I don’t have to feel guilty about failure to forgive and forget. I don’t have to “bring my thoughts into captivity.” I can think whatever I like and say,”Yep, that’s what I think of him unless he genuinely changes. Now let’s schedule this xyz with the kids.”

Normally, I recommend no-contact with an abuser. In my case, that isn’t possible (it would be a lot healthier, but I’m not getting into that right now). If contact is necessary, I’m not holding myself to blame for my feelings about him.

As long as he’s behaving himself in the present, I’ll just deal with him. Maybe he’s learned his lesson.

I don’t forgive him. Not at this point anyway.

And I’m pretty okay with that.  🙂

Religious Trauma Syndrome: How Some Organized Religion Leads to Mental Health Problems

Oh, how I wish I had a counselor for myself for this specific thing:

ValerieTarico.com

Religious Trauma Syndrome- AnguishAt age sixteen I began what would be a four year struggle with bulimia.  When the symptoms started, I turned in desperation to adults who knew more than I did about how to stop shameful behavior—my Bible study leader and a visiting youth minister.  “If you ask anything in faith, believing,” they said.  “It will be done.” I knew they were quoting the Word of God. We prayed together, and I went home confident that God had heard my prayers.

But my horrible compulsions didn’t go away. By the fall of my sophomore year in college, I was desperate and depressed enough that I made a suicide attempt. The problem wasn’t just the bulimia.  I was convinced by then that I was a complete spiritual failure. My college counseling department had offered to get me real help (which they later did). But to my mind, at that point, such help…

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Anti-Vaxxers’ Argument Regarding Measles-Carrying Immigrants Makes a Great Case…. For Vaccinations.

I’ve heard it a lot lately: Someone who is against vaccines will so often blame immigration for the recent resurgence of Measles. These anti-vaxxers rail about other people bringing diseases into the country from abroad, and how we wouldn’t be having this problem if we’d control immigration a little better. This argument only bolsters the case for getting vaccinated.

Our country was virtually measles-free for a number of years due to the herd immunity we had achieved with vaccinations. Now measles has been reintroduced, and fingers are being pointed at immigrants– who never would have gotten the disease if they had been properly immunized where they lived.

Un-vaccinated people are bringing a disease back to a previously measles-free country so that it can spread among the un-vaccinated here. Without vaccines, such highly-contagious air-borne diseases can spread internationally. Anti-vaxxers argue beautifully for vaccines when they make the immigration argument.

And they don’t seem to see the irony.

“Why Do Christians Think Questioning Their Beliefs is Attacking Them?” Pt. 3

In Part 1 of this series, I cite a question posed to Richard Dawkins last year on his Twitter page by one @seonf who asked,”Why do Christians think questioning their beliefs is attacking them?” I then listed a number of the respondents’ answers and am attempting to explain from the perspective of someone who was in that mindset for so long.

Continuing on….

“It’s easier to not have to think about it, so most just push it away.”

Sometimes, there’s a lot more involved in answering an objection or question than simply “answering an objection or question.” Some of the questions that unbelievers have are difficult, and the answer requires careful thinking, phrasing and/or stretching in order to remain within the bounds of what the believer thinks is acceptable theology. For a fundamentalist, making a theological mis-step can potentially land one in dangerous water where eternity is concerned. (Have a wrong belief about the Trinity? You might be worshiping the wrong god!)

If the unbeliever’s questions lie in one of these “danger-zones,” the unbeliever may sometimes unwittingly find themselves being accused of asking “trick questions” that are designed as “deceptions” and “stumbling blocks” and may find himself being compared to the Pharisees who were trying to trick Jesus with questions designed to get him into trouble. (Often, these accusations go unspoken during the conversation, but may be discussed with other Christians later)

One popular line taught in probably the majority of churches is a portion of James 4:7 which reads,”….resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” If the believer happens to think that you are operating under evil influence (and you don’t even know it!) then that person might take the approach of simply pushing your questions away as if those questions were the “fiery darts of the wicked” rather than honest-to-goodness questions/objections that you have.

Remember that some/many believers often think of things happening in a supernatural realm, where good is fighting with evil and where the prize is our souls. Many of them don’t believe in much being said or done that has no spiritual cause, purpose, significance or consequence. If a question or objection is too complex, touchy or doubt-inducing, sometimes it’s just easier (and safer) to push it away and chalk it up to an attack on their faith by “the enemy.”

Previously:

Part 1

Part 2