Friday, March 11, 2016

Wrapping my head around how physical and mental domestic violence wrecks your brain

You may have seen a public message I posted to a young woman whom I’ve known since she was about 4 or 5 years old. She was a blonde blue eyed little cherub, full of joy and totally adorable. I especially liked her missing baby teeth stage.  She was delightful and I’ve always enjoyed watching her grow into a beautiful young lady.
A couple days ago, she happened to sit next to me at the nail salon I’ve patronized for 18 years. I said hello, asked how she was doing, asked about college; polite small talk. No big deal and no dramas. As she left, she approached me and said, “Mrs. McMahan, can I ask you a favor?” I didn’t hear her as I was talking to my daughter at the moment. She repeated herself and I replied, “Sure, if I can.” Out of her once sweet little cherub pie hole came, “Please keep my name and my family’s name out of your mouth.” In a bit of shock, it took me a second to comprehend and translate the ghetto speak. Of course, she didn’t want to stick around and explain to what in the hell she referred. I tried to stop her, but Freudian slipped and called her by her older sister’s name. She corrected me as the door hit her in the ass and she hustled to her car.
Aside from her gall to speak to me that way, I was left wondering what, who, where, when I have ever had her name or her family’s name “in my mouth”?  I have never once ever uttered a single derogatory word about her or her family to anyone. So I’m flabbergasted as to where she came up with this fairy tale.
So now that the prompt for this story is set up, I’ll fill you in on the background. The background of what I assume she assumed was “in my mouth” aka gutter speak for gossip. Yep, she put a challenge in front of me and now will reveal what she feared I was sharing with the world.
Domestic violence, familial alienation, physical abuse and mental abuse.
The patriarch of her family is a stereotypical Russian “man’s man”.  When this young woman was about 12 years old, her father beat and I mean black and blue bruise beat her older sister. For what, I need not discuss because it is nobody’s business and it is irrelevant. A father should never beat his child like that. He shouldn’t beat his wife either and, I know his “reason” another thing to not share, yet he did. She was about 6 years old and probably not aware this occured. Both of these wonderful young women grew up in a family with a domineering rather misogynistic father with the old country values and a mother who let him beat and disown her child.
The oldest sister in the only avenue available to her, fled to get away from the abuse and control with a few garbage bags of her clothing to live with her boyfriend’s family. At this point, the father and the abused mother essentially struck the oldest daughter from the family. She was, and I’m extrapolating this thought, made to be the most horrible, person on the planet not worthy of being part of the family. The younger sister, who once again was only about 12, grew up being fed this line of thinking. Did she have a choice? I assume not, as she has seen firsthand what happens to someone who goes against daddy dearest’s dictatorship and would not want to experience the same fate as her sister.
Fast forward a few years. The oldest daughter made mistakes due the abuse and lack of choices, but has earned a college degree, is away from the childhood boyfriend’s (ex-husband) family which is a whole other saga of control.  She is in an apparently balanced caring relationship with the father of her one year old daughter. She is doing very well. Still her parents refuse to forgive, forget or apologize for their atrocious behavior. The younger sister has been immersed in this ridiculous dynamic and has not had the maturity or strength to think for herself and reject the parent’s dialogue. She has a totally adorable and cherubic niece who she has not met and an older sister who loves her dearly, but because of her fear or lack of maturity or indoctrination with the kool-aide she is missing out on these relationships.
 Now I’m rather peeved at the silly remark and her smug satisfaction that she somehow put me in my place. What she doesn’t understand is that I have never revealed any of this saga to anyone. Until now. What she also does not know is I can empathize with her because of similar control and abuse experiences during my teen years. I don’t think about it. I don’t dwell on it. Yes, it shaped who I am, but does not control me going forward.
I grew up in a developing hoard with a mom who had trouble coping and an aloof father who was rather too strict. My siblings and I were beaten. Not spanked, beaten. When I was a senior in high school my dad beat me with a belt so badly that the back of my thighs were black and blue. I swam back stroke, so during a meet, taking off the blocks, those bruises were apparent to everyone. My father accused my mom of having an affair so in an irrational response she actually did have an affair. This put my dad over the edge and he began to be very verbally and physically abusive to my mother as well. Just after graduation my dad was in one of those moods and started after my mother. I was now 18 and no longer afraid of him. I took him down. I was sitting on my father with my fist pulled back toward his face. He was shocked. He never touched me again.  My father was also married once before so I have 3 half siblings.  I do not have relationships with them because of the parental and sibling alienation in which they were immersed. They somehow think I’m Satan with two tails. Their loss.  My mother, in her own ingenious way and mimicking the sibling interaction in which she grew up, has managed over the years to pit me and my two full siblings against each other. It works. There are times when we three do not interact because no matter how much we understand intellectually what she is doing; when that crap comes from your mom you still kind of believe it.
So the more I ponder on the weirdness of Wednesday, I forgive her for whatever it was she was trying to do. I understand more than she knows what her childhood has been like. I understand not wanting the rest of the world to know of the abuse and control she has endured under her father’s fist and her mother’s weakness. I will tell you this little one; grow up, break out of that box your parents have you trapped in, become your own thinking questioning adult, embrace your sister and niece. You have only 3 more years of college, then you will not depend on them anymore, become your own person. Open the closet and free the skeletons. Bones are not scary and you will be surprised how many people have the same set of bones. Oh and be careful to not accuse people who care about you of doing things they have not done. It just may end up in a blog.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Glittersnipe: GOP Jumped the Shark
Sharing the link and the cut and paste: this is so exactly brilliant and well spoken. I like to steal other's writings that reflect my own thoughts. Thank you glittersnipe. WBM

The theme song from Happy Days has been playing inside my head a lot recently. For anyone born after 1980, Happy Days was a hit sitcom in the 1970s that offered a nostalgic interpretation of 1950s America. It took place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and centered around clean-cut teenager, Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), and his family. Richie’s good friend was Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) who was curiously tough for his small size, and drew women to him, literally, with a snap.
No doubt, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney would give their eye teeth to have Fonzie’s effect on female voters this November. Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin boy himself, certainly sent some women swooning in the first days following his addition to the ticket. The piercing blue eyes, the serious hair, the P90x physique, and the devoted family man image are hard to ignore, to be sure. Little more than a week after the announcement, however, Ryan was on the receiving end of a female firestorm the likes of which hasn’t been seen since thrice-divorced family values expert and Bovine-American Rush Limbaugh called law student, Sandra Fluke a slut for speaking in favor of insurance coverage for birth control pills.
So what exactly caused the sudden disenchantment with Ryan? The hubbub was over Ryan’s connection and shared views with Missouri Representative Todd Akin — you know, Mr. “Legitimate” Rape? Akin and Ryan have cosponsored eight anti-choice bills in Congress; one of them (HR 212) gives fertilized eggs the same constitutional rights as people. This “Sanctity of Life Bill” would thereby render many birth control methods illegal, as well as criminalize in vitro fertilization since embryos are sometimes compromised in the process. Lest you think that Akin and Ryan acted alone, you should know that there are sixty-four cosponsors of this bill. All of them are Republican. And fifty-eight of them are men. Say what?
Goodbye grey sky, hello blue / There’s nothing can hold me when I hold you / Feels so right, it can’t be wrong / Rockin’ and rollin’ all week long.
In 1957, the average woman gave birth to 3.8 children. She was also a homemaker, or what we would today call a stay-at-home mom. After 1960, when the birth control pill was approved by the FDA for contraception, the average number of children per household began to fall. By 2011, that number dropped to two children born per average woman. Many mothers today work outside the home, sometimes by choice, but often by necessity, as the middle class cost of living has increased dramatically more than their salaries have over the past few decades. So what would happen if suddenly many forms of birth control were to become illegal? Hand over those IUDs and pills, ladies. It’s condoms, diaphragms or the rhythm method for you. Good luck! I hope your daycare offers a discount for siblings!
Mitt Romney has said that he is in support of overturning Roe v. Wade and letting states call the shots on abortion laws. If he is elected president and gets to appoint conservative Supreme Court justices, that is a very real possibility. The problem is that outlawing abortion won’t keep it from happening. It will only make it riskier.
In 1965, The National Center for Health Statistics cited 235 deaths reported from abortions that year. Of course the unreported number is likely much higher as abortion was not made legal until 1973.
Or just ask Romania. When the dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescsu came to power in 1965, his government outlawed abortion. The death rate for Romanian women having abortions rose 600 percent by 1982. In 1990, abortion was made legal again in Romania, and by 1996 the death rate had returned to pre-1965 levels.
Mitt Romney As The Fonze
Click to Share the Graphic
Legal abortion does not mean more abortions. In 2006,  Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, and Switzerland, where abortion is legal, had an average rate among them of 6 abortions per 1,000 reproductive-aged women. In the United States that rate was 21 abortions per 1,000 reproductive-aged women. Meanwhile in places like the Dominican Republic, Peru, the Philippines and Uganda where abortion is illegal, abortion rates averaged 46 per 1,000 reproductive-aged women. The difference is education, and the availability of contraception. Outlawing abortion and limiting access to birth control will only serve to increase the number of abortions, as well as the number of women who will die from them.
One would think that alleged budget hawks like Romney and Ryan, who want to severely restrict entitlement programs, would see the pragmatism in granting more access to contraception — not less.
In 2000, 57 percent of abortions were for poor and low-income women. A total of 857,475 abortions were reported to the CDC in 2000, so that’s 488,761 additional children that would have required public assistance that year. Paul Ryan’s budget calls for a $46 billion cut in Medicaid, $36 million cut from food stamps, and drops 300,000 kids from the school lunch program. You do the math on how to support a growing number of children living in or near poverty with those numbers, because Ryan can’t, or won’t.
Paul Ryan’s disconnect from logic on this point is directly related to the two primary influences on his world view: The Catholic Church, and the author and self-styled philosopher, Ayn Rand. These two major influences could not be more antithetical. The Catholic Church is staunchly pro-life; against both abortion and contraception. However, the Catholic Church is also the largest charitable organization on the planet. Caring for the sick and the poor is paramount in the Church’s teachings. Meanwhile, Ayn Rand, whose Atlas Shrugged is required reading for Ryan’s staff members, was rabidly pro-choice and believed that there was no moral duty to help others; furthermore according to Objectivism (the Randian philosophy to which Ryan subscribes), altruism is actually a sign of weakness.
Unfortunately, and most confounding to many of us, is the result of the marriage of these conflicting viewpoints. All human life (no matter how few cells) is precious and must be saved without exception; until, of course, you are born and then you are on your own, kid. Get a job, little baby! Sadly, while Ryan is the poster boy, he certainly isn’t alone in this thinking. It pervades today’s Republican Party: forget the infant who requires Medicaid for basic medical care. All hail the zygote!
Make no mistake: No one is “pro-abortion.” We would all like to see the number of abortions drastically reduced, but we disagree on how to achieve that goal. Statistics have shown that outlawing abortion won’t make it go away, and it won’t even reduce it significantly. Education and readily available contraception will. And yet, Republicans are seeing to it that low income and uninsured women — those very women for whom an unplanned pregnancy could spell economic disaster — will not have contraception readily available to them.
Mitt Romney says that he will “get rid of” Planned Parenthood. Republican Congressmen have already attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, with H.R. 614. “Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act” which would prohibit any federal grants to be allocated to any entity that provides abortions. Never mind that in 2010, abortion services only comprised three percent of all that Planned Parenthood did. Defunding Planned Parenthood would deny millions of uninsured and under-insured women cancer screenings and preventative care, STD testing, contraception, and prenatal services. So between Romney’s promises to “get rid of” both Planned Parenthood and Obamacare, poor and lower income women and their children can look forward to a level of neglect unconscionable for an industrialized nation — let alone one that prides itself on being exceptional.
The clock is being turned back on women, and it is happening quickly. Women gained freedom in the 1960s with the advent of the birth control pill: they can delay having children until they are ready. With that reproductive freedom, women can have their own careers and thereby be financially independent. Planned Parenthood allows college women and women just starting off in their careers, the necessary health screenings and contraception they cannot yet afford on their own. It sets up young women to be able to compete in a man’s world.
In this recent power play by the right, women are being told that they won’t be making their own reproductive choices any more. Their options will be limited to what Big Daddy thinks is best. It’s a return to the fifties without the benefit of Eisenhower’s moderation or progressive vision.
Sunday, Monday, happy days / Tuesday, Wednesday, happy days / Thursday, Friday, happy days / Saturday, what a day / Groovin’ all week with you.
In the fifth season premiere episode of Happy Days, which aired in September 1977, the central characters visit Los Angeles. While at the beach, the Fonz decides to face his fear of sharks by jumping over one on water skis. He does this in his trademark black leather jacket and a pair of swim trunks. This absurd departure from previous seasons, which had featured more typically adolescent conundrums, signaled the beginning of the end for the show. As a result, the idiom “jumped the shark” was coined to indicate the point at which something has crossed the line into absurdity and is unable to fully recover.
At this close range, it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when the Republican Party jumped the shark. For me personally, it was the nomination of George W. Bush in 2000. I had always halfheartedly voted Republican before, but his nomination over John McCain was an immediate deal breaker. After that, the Republicans seemed to lose their way as they veered and careened further right throughout the Bush presidency. Moderates got pushed out of the Party or forced to be silent while Evangelical Christians and later, the Tea Party, began to wrangle control.
However, nothing compares to the recent folly of trying to snatch back fifty years of female progress. Women will not tolerate old men, ignorant of simple biological facts, lecturing us about what we can and cannot do with our bodies. We will not cede legal control of our own reproductive health, because doing so makes us second class citizens. In a time when women are still only making 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, we cannot afford to go backwards. And we won’t.
This election is a desperate attempt by Republicans to regain control. The Party of Lincoln used to be a Big Tent party with enough room for people of many different backgrounds. But their recent exclusionary tactics of strict immigration reform and anti-gay legislation have positioned them as the Angry White People Party. They know that their majority is waning and that each election will be harder for them to win.
And now they want to mess with women? Come November, they will learn that was their biggest mistake yet.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Religion Sucks

Just putting this out there; probably shouldn't but y'all know me...

It has been a long time coming, but I have concluded that I despise religion. Despise It.

Now let me explain, if you are able to see straight after the last sentence.  I have no problem with faith. I have no problem with belief. I have no problem with any individual's higher being; no matter the rendition. I have no problem with an individual's right to express their personal belief and practice their specific religion. If what you believe makes you a better person, helps you make good decisions, makes you a compassionate contributing member of this planet... then I'm perfectly fine with your beliefs.

I do however have a huge issue with people who claim to be part of a specific religion (and the name or deity does not matter to me) who get their panties all in a bundle because my definitions and beliefs do not exactly to the letter coincide with theirs and then they have the audacity to tell me I am not "christian" or I'm hateful  or think that gives them the right to govern my life based upon their so called belief principles. I loathe the continued atrocities committed in the name of religion; the discrimination, hatred, bigotry and exclusion-ism.

I'm not fond of extremists and they do exist in every religion; so back off the Muslim faith because there are plenty of extremists of all faiths to go around. Some "christains", I'm sure would still prefer to force others into their religion even if it decimates a gentle culture and brings disease and death to the so called "heathens".

I've had enough with people who believe in the Bible; every literal word. I don't argue that it was written by God's prophets and that it is his "word" and it should be studied and respected. However, to really understand every word of that book you would need to be a scholar with fluent abilities in every language that each part was written. Then you would have to be an expert of every culture and every social nuance prevalent at the time it was written and then you would have to be a mind reader; God's mind. Scholars disagree on the minutiae of the good book. How would anyone expect to fully know this writing? Most people take bits and phrases of it out of context to fit their ideals.

This ultra extreme conservative energy that is running through our wonderful Nation is making me ill. There is good reason to separate church and state. How many oppressed religious sects got the hell out of Europe, selling themselves as indentured servants for the passage across the Atlantic in a crappy boat, just so they could get away from some king who killed them for their beliefs?  The same damn king who bought favors with the clergy to change the rules so he could kill his wife and have another.

A motivator in finally starting my blog several months ago was a wonderful friend from high school, who I love to his core.  He become so pissed at my postings regarding the discrimination of LGBT people, of the GOP wanting in women's uterus and wanting to send women in the country back 40 years due to their "religious faith" that he disowned me. He said I was not a christian and that I was the most hateful person he had ever known and a barrage of other heated comments. Poof, over thirty years of friendship gone.  Now I felt pretty sheepish when this happened. Yep, I felt like shit, like he might have a point. I figured that a cooling off period would allow us to talk about it eventually.

But really, he couldn't see that I was anti-people-who-hate-and-use-religion-as-their-justification? He took what I was trying to convey out of context and assumed I was talking about him and all "christians" in general. Horse shit. This is an excellent man, who is raising 4 strong boys in a god loving manner. He has gone on many mission trips to build schools etc in very poor Central American communities.  His family has taken in a psychologically troubled teen and are struggling to find the best way to reach her and make her feel safe and loved.  He struggles with his faith, trying to be a better person in God's eye. How on earth, with me knowing him so well, could he accuse me of hating him because he is "christian".  A man like him is part of the 99% or 47% or what ever the magic number is this week, that proves their goodness and faith on a daily basis through their actions; not blah blahing bits of out of context, bible nonesense.

Also had quite a conversation several years ago with a young woman regarding Iran and the root of the troubles America has with that country. I had the wonderful opportunity to hear 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Shirin Ebadi speak at Meredith College and also read her book, Iran Awakening. After spending an evening discussing facts, this young girl piped up and said, "They are all wrong" in reference that if they are not christian then they are wrong. Fully dismissed facts because it didn't fit in her stupid little religious definition. Wow. Don't fit the definition and you are on the street. I no longer have any respect for this girl. 

I blame religion. I blame the expectation of pure and exact conformity demanded by whoever the whack job at the front of the pulpit happens to be. Every building has a slightly different definition, every person inside that building has a slightly different definition. How can anyone anywhere expect total and complete and exact adherence to some arbitrary set of rules? How? 

This issue screams of hypocrisy. All the lip service to emulating Jay-zus and loving your neighbor while simultaneously dismissing those who aren't your robotic religious equal as not worthy of compassion, understanding, equal rights, autonomous thought... well the list goes on.

So getting back to the trigger for writing this today, all these months after my friend disowned me.  I am putting together my 30 year high school reunion. Have not heard from this friend regarding his attendance, so I noticed his wife (who is quite lovely) online and IMd her. Very short and terse, "He doesn't want to go". My immediate self-deprecating thought, "Yeah, because I, the christian hater, will be there." I am making the reason up and am hoping I am wrong.

Friday, August 3, 2012

COH; sharing an article with you