If you’re like me, you’re really tired of hearing about Trump. Every day he’s done something more horrific than the last, and it just makes you want to program your TV to only play Schitt’s Creek on repeat, doesn’t it? Even watching Hannibal is better than watching Rachel Maddow, and you all know how much I love my Rachel Maddow Show. That being said, observing and learning from him is necessary to keep ourselves informed and ready to vote into office the “most progressive president since FDR,” for all of my Bernie Bros out there.
My therapist loves to use Trump for analogies. The queen of analogies (and of everything, bless her) finds the ripest of fruit in the Oval Office. Or golfing in Virginia. Or in West Palm Beach, Florida. Or in f***ing Tulsa, Oklahoma on Juneteenth. Beyond horrible. Don’t let me get sidetracked.
It’s sort of like that Tik Tok (can you tell I’m in a dark, deep Tik Tok hole?) wherein two folks meet and each whisper to each other cautiously “are you liberal?” until relief washes over them in realizing that they are both liberal. Once my therapist and I aligned on our maligning of Trump, there was no better an analogy for many things I face than him!
Ugh, I hate being overly vulnerable, but getting over abusive relationships is hard. I wasn’t hoping to talk about them specifically anymore, but they’re always dredged back up somehow. Besides, as I peruse Tik Tok I realize that so many people have been through my situation and it’s not so much dredging as it is relating. If anyone can read what my head’s going through and relate, then it’s all worth it.
My worst fear, besides alligators and growing old alone and a high powered, amoral, Manhattan lawyers, is that my ex will end up in a healthy relationship. This is a hard admission to make, for it’s counter-intuitive. Should I be as altruistic as I’m branded, I’d be happy for him to become a different person and change and end up happy. It’s more complicated than that, though.
My night terror is that the abuse I incurred was actually my fault. My therapists, parents, other doctors, friends, and other family, most of whom witnessed it firsthand, all tell me otherwise, but as has been pointed out to me by the devil’s advocate members on my brain’s city council, so to speak, his family probably live in the same self righteousness; I’m making it up, I’m crazy… to avoid dealing with their son’s pathological lying, among other things. So who’s right?
There’s something innate that I’m starting to rely on more and more. It’s put simply as an inner truth, or “wise mind” in DBT terms, and as someone with Aperger’s, it can be hard to tap into. I feed off of the signals of other people to know what’s right and wrong and struggle to form a cohesive identity that isn’t tied into “consensus.” Well, if more people thing x, shouldn’t x be true? The utilitarian trash in me says yes.
But I don’t really think like that when it’s not about me! I’m nuanced in my thinking of other people, I try to see the best in everyone, even if it means crying when Osama bin Laden was killed, deeply upset by the “consensus” that a human being should die, even the worst of them. My ex’s sister, for all of her faults, was like this too, and I think it’s an admirable and important quality, to an extent. That’s another conversation, though.
I reserve the adherence to the negative consensus for myself. It’s mostly due to early childhood reinforcement but I guess there’s something genetic in it too, if we’re trying to make my broken home look a bit less cracked than it was with bright blue duct tape, or something. Sorry.
Hurry up, get to the Trump analogy! I’m coming!
I know, deep down in my wise mind, that the abuse I received was just that, a reception, a delivery to me of things that I did not deserve, never have deserved and never will, because I would never allow a friend of mine to go through what I did and let them blame themselves for it. Additionally, I deeply trust my friends and doctors and my dad, too. How can I justify usually thinking they’re brilliant but on the specific occasions that my mean brain council members find it convenient, they’re incompetent and don’t know what they’re talking about? That’s completely illogical. But it’s how I’m programmed.
“Look at Melania and Trump, Olivia,” I’m told. They’re a “successful couple” by all of the metrics. But what’s festering inside? You know that Trump’s not capable of love, and Melania is either tricking herself or doing it for financial or social gain. Trump has a base that will adore him even if he shot someone on Fifth Avenue on camera.
My ex will always have his little friends, his family, people he’s tricked into thinking he isn’t a liar, that everyone else is. That I’m the bad guy. That E**n is the bad guy. That K*****r is the bad guy. That his parents are the bad guys. That anyone who challenges him substantially is the bad guy. Is that not the most Trumpian thing ever? And it’s abusive men, copy and pasted all over the world, who behave like this.
They can convince some people, manipulate some people, but they can’t get me anymore. I’m sick and tired of nightmares in which I confess myself to my abusive ex boyfriend, in which I scream at his parents what really happened but no words come out, in which I fly above them, invisible, but they’re swatting and pulling at me, trying to drag me down. I’m tired of my brain tricking me into thinking I deserved abuse.
I can and will check into my wise mind and give trusting it a try. First I’ll attempt baby steps wherein I just listen to my psychologist. She’s world class, was there when it happened, and knows my brain and the situation inside and out. I’ll listen to my boyfriend, who knows everything. But all the while I’m attempting to build up my confidence in my own knowledge.
When I was diagnosed with Asperger’s, I fell into a hole of not trusting my senses and core knowledge, again. If it’s true that I have trouble reading people, then how can I have a core sense that’s in any way reliable? I’m working through that dialectic right now in therapy. It’s for another day.
But lots of folks struggle to form a coherent narrative of themselves that’s healthy. Hell, my ex’s narrative is overly positive, mine is overly negative, and so many people who struggle with mental health and illness oscillate between the two extremes or stick to an extreme, rather than find a balance. DBT would have you believe that balance is everything, as would Socrates, so Marsha Linehan isn’t all that. They’re probably right.
Listen to your wise mind. It’s probably calling to you about almost every decision you make, especially if you’ve been trained in a therapeutic setting to think critically about your life. I’m working on it, and I’m learning to see myself as someone who did the best they could in an abusive environment in which I knew pitiably little and could do even less about it.
I mean, abuse is never the victim’s fault, but say that to my mean brain council members.