kdke's Recovery Journal

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sanmagic7

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #60 on: August 10, 2018, 02:01:12 PM »
kudos to you for putting your boundaries out with grace.  i'm very glad for you that you did.  it sounds like it was getting pretty toxic, and then it also led to the incident with monica.

is it possible monica might take grace aside on her own to speak to her about what she heard?  or that maybe she didn't want to talk about another student with you, respecting grace's privacy?  that's just off the top of my head, another perspective of the whole thing. 

i'm not trying to minimize your feelings at all.  i just wonder if there's another side to what monica said and why.  i wasn't there, so i can't see the picture of all of it for myself.  it sounds pretty messy, the whole thing.  trying to deal with all that negativity can't be good for you. 

keep taking care of yourself, kdke.  love and hugs to you.

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kdke

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #61 on: August 10, 2018, 04:13:31 PM »
That's a good point, San. It's definitely something I've thought about and am still considering. I think in that moment, I was so upset and annoyed by everything that was going on that I took Monica's statement as an indirect attack against Grace's feelings. It would make sense that she was more focused on just not wanting me to be a part of it, which is her prerogative to request.

Grace tried to have me tell her what exactly Monica said but I refused. I didn't want to give her any ammo after having a good understanding of what kind of mindset she was in. Monica was already this antagonistic caricature in her head and even if I had explained what I thought it meant, it would've added fuel to the fire. That and she's so frightened of Monica that when I asked to speak to Grace, all she could do was anticipate the worst and literally braced herself in her chair. She looked like she was on a rollercoaster she didn't want to be on.

I became very frustrated when she reacted this way because I just wanted to say, "You and she created this! Every single day, you come to me and wail about how the devil is after you, everyone is against you, Monica lied on you, you're innocent, you did nothing wrong. You always never do anything wrong. But then when you feel disrespected, you actively disrespect the person back and tell me that it was justified because they did it first. You hurt people, you're vengeful. You put people down, you turn their back on them, you wave your hand when they say something you don't like. You ignore them, you scowl, you sigh excessively during every lecture when you hear something you don't like. You can't be asked to reciprocate what you demand other people do for you. But you never do anything wrong. Right."

I did call her out once and she became very defensive. I don't really hold that against her; I get defensive when someone calls me out on my nonsense, but then I always try super hard to accept the truth. I've convinced myself I have to in order to progress positively. At the same time, Grace always rationalized her poor behavior by saying, "They did it first! They started it! I'm going to disrespect them if they disrespect me." And I'm just not for it lol. I let her know my opinion of it and she let me know hers. I said, "You can continue to expect disrespect from others if you're just going to hand it back." She said she didn't care, but considering how victimized she's felt by our classmates--some of whom have actually disrespected her--I doubt that's the truth.

As far as my thoughts on wondering if Monica meant something negative with her comment, I think I also thought of it that way because I realized that she and I have different ideas about what is respectful or disrespectful behavior. I'm very tolerant and for the most part and I let a lot kind of roll off my shoulders; I learned to be more that way after working in a nursing home with geriatric patients who for the most part had no filter for anything they said. I would be called names by a resident who would see me ten minutes later and act like my presence made his day. I'd be like, "Yeah yeah, you're being a grump," and then those ten minutes would pass and I'd say, "It's so good to see you, too!" lol I couldn't afford to take it seriously--I just rolled with it.

Now, if someone says something to me that could be taken wrong, it won't even register with me. (Unless I was already on the defensive, as I have been lately.) This was a conversation Monica and I had about what kind of person she thought I was. She said, "You're so patient and compassionate, but sometimes I'll hear what another student says to you and I think, 'I would never allow that!'" I was so confused when she said that since for the most part, anything most of my classmates had ever said to me never registered as offensive to me. There were a couple of times where I felt patronized by someone, or someone was atypical and seemed controlling (we have a couple of high-strung personalities in my class, but that's no real surprise)--but literally, just a couple of times did that happen lol. So it makes me wonder if Monica just has a shorter level of tolerance than I do. I tend to speak up these days when I feel disrespected. Might take me a while, but I'll always end up saying something. I feel like it's within Monica's nature to become defensive more easily, which makes me wonder if she takes things too personally to begin with. So when she made the "student drama" comment, I kind of went to that reasoning and figured she was coming from a personal place. However, I realize now that I can't really know. I only know what she has told me, after all.

Of course, there are times when I do take things very personally, like this whole situation with Grace. It hit some cords because I can relate to that experience of feeling isolated and bullied. It makes perfect sense that she would be resentful and want justice for herself. I guess I look at it from an angle where I would rather just move on with my life and try to be the version of me that I want to be. I would've moved on, even though I'd be hurting and feel uncomfortable. This isn't forever and all I can do is be true to myself and make sure I'll be in a good place once all of this is over. I see it from an angle of knowing that if I want to survive, I have to be willing to compromise and keep the peace. Any injury I have can be taken care of through positive support and my own effort. I feel like one of those maids in some baroque court where I have to consider my place among others and just go with the flow lol. The path of least resistance is the path I have to take right now.

Grace has been in fight mode for weeks and is only getting more aggressive. There is a toxic narrative that keeps morphing even though she and Monica don't talk to each other anymore. She wants the path of most resistance. It's like a door she's trying to push open that wants to stay closed, but she's so angry that she can't stop pushing. She tells me that she wants to be done with this place and never have to deal with Monica again, and yet she continues to complain and bring other authority figures into the issue, making official complaints, dragging the battle on for longer.

In other ways, I've been trying to focus in on why I allowed myself to get involved, even indirectly. There is a part of me that considers the possibility that I wanted to be a part of the drama, to have some kind of authoritative hand in it. After all, I tried really hard to help change Grace's mind about things so she would go in a direction I thought she needed to go. And even though I was only trying to be a friend in that way, I crossed a line and couldn't walk away. It's always very hard for me to walk away from a situation that is bothering me, that I feel like I could help. And it bothers me to see someone that I care about being so angry and wanting to drag others down into the pit they feel they're falling into. I try to stop it, I want to save them for themselves. And by realizing that, I know it means I have to save myself first before I get dragged down, too. Grace was ready to drag me all the way down with her. Luckily I said something and she was willing to see that it wasn't what she truly wanted, which makes me think she isn't fully aware of what she's actually doing.

And well... besides all of those things I've been thinking on, I'm resolved in thinking on them from a distance. I've also decided that if I'm approached about the issue again, I will let whoever know that I'm not interested in talking about it ever again. I was trying to be a good friend, a good student, but I got sucked in further than I had intended, and that's all there is to it. I don't see Grace or Monida as bad people; in fact, I think they're great individuals with strong personalities--they just have flaws like the rest of us. I don't have a desire to say anything more if someone asks me. And for me, this is kind of a good practice of holding onto my boundaries and not letting others pressure or bully me into saying something I don't want to share.
« Last Edit: August 10, 2018, 04:16:29 PM by kdke »

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sanmagic7

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #62 on: August 10, 2018, 10:36:54 PM »
i think you're being very wise, kdke, in getting out of it now and staying out.  you did what you could, tried to be a friend to grace, but it seems like she really wants to stay stuck in the drama and wants you to continue to be her sounding board.  i've heard that if someone complains about the same thing more than 3 times, they really don't want to do anything but stay in a victim mode.  sounds like the case with grace.

i don't think either of them are bad people, either.  some people have a difficult time extracting themselves from being a victim (i've known quite a few), and that's up to them.  we don't have to be part of it, tho.  that is self-care to my mind.

sounds like progress to me.  every step counts.  love and hugs, sweetie.

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kdke

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #63 on: August 14, 2018, 06:14:53 AM »
That's definitely something I really want to be more aware of within myself, San: if I'm complaining more than 3 times, then I might be using it as a way to justify my victim mindset. This is good wisdom, at least a good guideline to follow for better mindfulness. Thank you so much!

I've absolutely fallen into a cycle of complaining about the same things over and over again. I do this a lot in regards to my past and how helpless I feel against it, the hand I was dealt (being a child to the parents I didn't choose), and even trying to reconcile the reality that I truly was a victim in all the traumas I've endured. It's rough, but these are things, whether I've been a victim of them or not, that I no longer want to hold me in a victim mindset now. That's part of my recovery and I'm learning what that means.

*****

I wanted to talk about a strange dream I had last night. It was particularly uncomfortable but I've been to place some of the themes with what I had experienced the day before I slept. In my dream, I was just a child; maybe 7 or so. I was in this old school building that reminded me of the aesthetics in a story like The Little Princess or Jane Eyre. Everything was spacious, wooden, and old. It felt very old.

I was with a group of children and I believe we were in some kind of class together. We were all led into an amphitheater that was built into the side of the building; we were going to watch a children's play that was usually shown to people of my age (in the dream). Apparently, though, I had already seen the play once before, which wouldn't have made sense being as I was already young but it made sense at the moment. I saw an older girl and recognized her as an actor in the play I had seen my first time around.

As we were walking into the amphitheater, I realized that this play was going to be distressing. I'm not sure why it was catered to children, but my subconscious thought it made perfect sense. The play was about a very disturbing story involving the abuse of children by the hands of nuns and priests; there was also a young boy who was mute and had pretty red hair. He was abused the most, kind of used as a doll by the adults around him. A whipping boy in some ways. He never complained, he never ran, he never cried. He would just stand there and stare. It was awful.

The play was also interactive, so the actors would interact with the audience. This might've seemed exciting but considering the themes of the play, it turned out to be very frightening for most of us. One actor, in particular, started to break glass very close to a young girl's face for every word she guessed wrong (I can't remember exactly what she was supposed to guess). I remember she almost got glass in her eye. No one fought for her, and the actor only taunted her for crying.

I remember right before the play started, we all stood and celebrated. The ceiling was covered in this strange, plastic material that crunched like rice cereal, and there were stray red pieces scattered across the ceiling amongst clear pieces. Then, this horrible buzzing drowned us out and we all sat down. It was like the sound of a million flies over rotting meat. We knew that things were about to get worse.

There was a girl, too, that was sitting next to me and who began to taunt me terribly for no reason. She just didn't like me, I guess. There was an empty space between her and me. Two knives laid there and she decided that she was going to try to take one to hurt me. I placed my hand on them and for some reason, this was enough to stall her. I eventually ran down to the main floor and she followed me with a knife in her hands. (Aggressive characters ALWAYS have knives in my dreams idk.) I couldn't tell if the audience thought this was real or part of the play; they didn't stop us and neither did the actors. This girl wanted to kill me. Eventually, someone in the audience started to make fun of her, and she became very conscious of what she was doing and how she looked. That was the end of the dream.

I hate it when my dreams do this lol. There are so many different things that are going on and there are some things that I know exactly where they came from. The whole nuns and priests in a school came from a story I heard on a video about a lady being in Catholic school. And the boy with red hair? The lady who told the story: Kathy Griffith lol!

Everything else, though... I have no idea. I've been thinking on all of it and I haven't really been able to piece much of it together. Lots of imagery that doesn't make sense--maybe it was just a junk dream. Those happen.

*****

Another thing I wanted to talk about today is something I haven't yet shared about in my journal. It's been on my mind today because I was watching this gentleman on Youtube browse through strange sites. He ran across this one site about a cult that exists to this day and is growing.

I was in that cult at different periods of my life for almost 4 years. I learned a lot about it as I was guided by a very important woman in the group I was in (they have multiple locations in the states) and she trusted me with understanding some of the darker teachings of the cult very short after my "initiation" into it. I didn't stay in the cult for long, and at one point they even excommunicated me.

It was a very... weird point in my life, not just because I was wanting to be in the cult and had directly experienced it. I had extremely poor coping skills for my emotional ups and downs during this time and so I was vulnerable and somewhat volatile. I look back and feel like I was kind of going crazy lol. I just had no limitations, no boundaries for how my emotions came out and how I dealt with reality. I was so lost, scared, melodramatic, and felt like an utter mess of a human. It's what made me a prime candidate for being a cult member, honestly.

I was groomable as I was very anxious to be a part of something bigger than myself. I wanted to contribute to life and others in the most positive way I could. I was very religious during this time, so the cult was especially appealing. I also just... wanted to find happiness. I hoped that it would be a place where I could be accepted for who I was, and even be loved romantically for the same reason. Have a husband, a child, and just be fulfilled. I was so naive and gullible, and I don't mean that in a bad way. I just was.

In a way, what ultimately saved me from being sucked into the cult was my enmeshment trauma with my mother. I just couldn't be away from her for too long before I started to feel like I was going to lose it. This was seen as cowardice by my leaders and weakness. I was too "ruled by the flesh," as they would say. And yes, I was very scared; I guess beyond my extreme dependency on my mother, I also had a gut feeling of being in a place where I knew I wasn't truly safe. I might've always been "taken care of," but I felt like I was slowly being absorbed into a collective that wouldn't allow me to be me. The woman that was like my mother in the cult said to me before I left, "You have to destroy your thoughts. Your thoughts are evil." It terrified me; I could see the sadness in her face when she said it. I couldn't allow that.

I think what also saved me was my naturally investigative nature. I paid attention to everything; the way someone looked when they said something, the way they looked at me when I said something. Where I was sent, whom I worked with, and how everyone interacted with everyone else. My brain is a sponge in that it's curious about every piece of information, and then once it's soaked it all up, it figures out what it all means.

From what I understand now of the sense of self and cult methods, I knew one of the #1 ways the cult I was in kept its members compliant was by keeping them exhausted. 14-16-hour work days was normal life. You had to adapt or else you'd be considered idle. Work too much and you were a busybody. I wonder if chronic exhaustion chips away at the sense of self as much as complex trauma does. It would make sense, and I imagine being consistently overworked would be its own prolonged trauma. I think one of the best examples of this chronic exhaustion that was disgustingly common in the cult was when I asked one of the women how she felt about being a member. She sighed and looked off in the distance; then, in a very monotonous voice, she said, "Yeah... I'm very thankful for this life." She look dead when she said it. I think back now and wonder if she was like... mildly dissociating.

I wonder if that's what happens to many cult members when they get that glazed over look in their eyes. Their brain is just dissociating a little as they talk about their lives, trying to push awya the reality of how they actually feel. Imagine the feelings they're repressing. I've seen it myself many times in cult gatherings. People tearing themselves down for things that are harmless or don't even deserve the level of punishment they're told it does. Children being broken down at young ages--before they can even really talk--and then built back up as another faithful cult member. I was even sensitive to the dialect of the younger members who were born and raised in the cult, or at least were young enough and didn't remember any life but the one they were in. Yeah--they literally had their own dialect! It was especially strong in the women, but some of the men spoke in the same way. It was a strange softness in their voice--anything they said would sound sweet and eloquent. But of course, it never really was.

This way of speaking stuck with me when I even listened to an interview of a young man who had left the cult after almost a decade. He still spoke like them. It made me feel uncomfortable. And I knew I had been made privvy to certain information about the cult very early as he spoke about things that he said weren't easily available. I had always been annoyingly inquisitive and investigative. It drove one leader in the cult kind of nutty. I would ask him about something and he would deny it--lie to my face about something I knew existed. It wasn't until after I left that I discovered he was lying, of course.

My experience with this cult is hard for me to talk about because for one, I wasn't in it for very long; it makes people think that I don't know much about any of it and my experience wasn't that bad. Second, while it was a short experience, it was very traumatic in that it tested an enmeshment trauma that had never been threatened before, and going from that into culture shock with a CULT was like being traumatized all over again. It was horrible. I was in a state of constant fear, of anxiety, of knowing I needed to leave and having conflicting feelings about my place in the world and yet I was so scared. I even developed a tic when I was in that group, I was so terribly stressed.

Anyway, I eventually got out and never went back. I've tried to kind of expose myself to bits and pieces of it for the sake of desensitizing; looking at articles, listening to podcasts and such. I can be avoidant about the experience, and I've noticed that it gets harder and harder for me to talk about. It's like I sometimes doubt that it's even a big deal, even though it was. I haven't spoken to Mark about it and don't know if I ever will. I just... have a bad feeling that he wouldn't be ok with knowing that part of my past. I'm not sure if he even needs to know at all.

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kdke

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #64 on: October 04, 2018, 05:29:03 PM »
It's been over a month since I've written in this journal. A lot of things were happening that were taking up most of my energy. In a way, I guess... I could've been writing but I just didn't want to, as well. I felt strange about it; ashamed, scared. I felt very embarrassed about who I was and wondered what was the point.

That's been a big issue for me lately: just wondering if I'm a joke of a human being. I try to be serious about things and be authentic, but then I wonder if others think I'm just ridiculous. In reality, I know it's just a projection of how I feel about myself, whether others feel the same way or not. I do think I'm ridiculous, laughable, embarrassing, uncomfortable to witness. I don't know how to fix this or if it's all lies. I've always felt off in some way, ever since I was a kid. I knew that other kids could tell something wasn't right with me. A lot of that had to do with me not knowing how to communicate my abuse, but still.

I was terrifyingly broke all of September, hanging on to money I didn't actually have to get through. On the basis of credit, I'm not in the best place ever but it honestly could be way worse. I'm grateful it isn't worse, but now it's going to be a struggle to move on from that. Fortunately, I'm back in school for fall quarter and working more hours as a tutor on campus. It's enough to pay my rent every month, which is more than I can ask right now. It's something. I'm also going to be doing work-based learning in the campus's dental office starting in November. It's not paid work, but it'll help me get my foot in the door.

I'm hoping that by doing my very best in the dental office, that'll be good evidence of me being a financially responsible employee. My personal credit doesn't reflect who I am as a worker. I'm not a thief; I actually have every intention to pay back my debts. It's one the biggest goals I have towards getting paid more. I refuse to go through life carrying debt forever. I've honestly never wanted to be in this position ever in my life. Before June, my credit score was 732 and I was friggin' proud of that. I worked hard for it and I know I'm capable of getting it even higher once I straighten things out. If someone will give me a chance to.

In other news, I was talking to one of my ex-roommates, Hannah, the other day to see how she was doing. The suffering she's been going through is really nightmarish: went to the ER for ketoacidosis (third time since I've known her; she doesn't watch her blood sugar levels), but her heart had stopped twice while she was there. Then, one of her partners broke up with her. THEN... her mother died of lymphoma. Like... I don't even have words. I only told her how devastated I felt and wished her all the rest she needed to get through all this heartache. Hannah also told me that her therapist dropped her and her wife. I guess the therapist said there was nothing else she could do to help them, and their issues were now out of her scope. I know they had been going to therapy a couple of years before they'd met me, but all three of us retraumatizing each other when we lived together became a huge topic in our own therapy sessions. I felt badly in that way, knowing I contributed to some of their problems. I think I'll always feel terribly about it.

I know none of us intended to hurt each other, but we did anyway. Hurt people hurt people--it's a very true statement, one that I've lived many times over.

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sanmagic7

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #65 on: October 04, 2018, 09:00:16 PM »
sweetie, just want to let you know i've never thought you a joke or ridiculous.  we are all wounded, have been victimized, but you continue to push forward, and that says a lot about your character as a person.  sure, sometimes it's smaller steps than at other times, sometimes we take breaks in order to tend to something in our immediate presence (such as financial worries), but you came back.  that's what it means not to remain in victim mode.

yes, it's true that we can hurt others unintentionally, and the pain is real, but i hope you don't beat yourself up about it.  we act from our own perspective and perceptions at the time, and those have been created by the situations and experiences of our past.  it's when we are able to make adjustments and changes that our responses toward others will also change.  until then, however, we do the best we can with what we know.

i understand that can sound like a cliche, but it's really true.  you are making changes, you are questioning, you are working to be able to see things differently in your life.  that takes a lot of courage, determination, and persistence.  those qualities are showing up right here and now.  please, don't sell yourself short.

so glad you're back, even in the midst of confusion.  that's a sign of growth.  keep taking care of you.  love and hugs, kdke.

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kdke

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #66 on: October 06, 2018, 11:41:21 PM »
San, thanks for always checking in on me. I know you're right, it's only hard for the rest of me to acknowledge that truth, as well. So thank you for helping me keep better perspective.

I was watching a video earlier today of a youtuber that I don't necessarily watch all the time but I will watch her videos in regards to mental health. In the video, she talked about her thoughts in regards to others not liking the fact that she bluntly states that she is better than others. Not everyone, but others that don't make the same positive choices she's worked hard to make in order to be a better person. It all made sense, in a way; I know I look at others who make very toxic choices and encourage myself to strive to be better than that. I know I am better than I was before I really started to help myself. Objectively speaking, she was also talking about being better in certain fields of interest than others, which is also a good point. How is it that we can acknowledge that someone is an expert but when they start stating that truth themselves, we bristle?

I kept thinking about these things and realized it had a lot to do with projection. We can admit someone might be better than us in different ways, but to be reminded of that almost forces us to consider what we perceive to be inadequacies within ourselves. I do believe that humans can't help but compare themselves to others. We create reflections of who we are, unknowingly or not, in everything around us. That's why myths exists, any stories exist at all. Anthropomorphism is the result of inserting our humanity into nature, both fauna and flora. It's how we work out our problems, teach lessons, and find comfort in this harsh world. It's how we can relate.

The only problem is that this behavior can turn toxic super easily. It's what causes prejudices, assumptions, and hatred among different groups of people. It's one of the deepest roots of conflict. It's when one person yells and tries to overpower the other that disagrees with them. It's the parent that chips away at their child's sense of self to build them back up into an image that strokes the parent's fragile ego. So on and so forth.

Our insecurities can be very dangerous if we don't resolve them. If we let them gain control, they work like a virus trying to spread and overwhelm the masses, and we might never realize that's what's happening. Some people go their whole lives not knowing they are trying to make everyone placate to their perceived failures, self doubts, hatred, and phobias.

All of these things, combined together, really helped me to understand how important it was, then, to work even harder on my own sense of self. It's very difficult for me to make "I am" statements with any level of confidence. Who I truly am has always felt very fluid and reliant on the personalities around me. This was a mode of survival for me for decades. Being a reflection of what I believe people wanted to see when they looked at me helped me a lot growing up, so I never really got to just... be myself. I'm still figuring out exactly what that means, but I'm getting better grips on it as time goes on.

I allow others to absorb my sense of self whether that is their intent or not. I do it out of fear for lots of things. I care a lot about people, so it's never my desire to upset anyone. This fact feeds what is now essentially a toxic behavior, one that hurts me more than anyone else. Though it can hurt others to know that perhaps I just behaved in a way I thought they wanted me to, but I digress on that. Are they sure that's not what they wanted, or is it another case of just not being able to face the truth of what they truly desire? We ask for honesty, but I've noticed that honesty is relative to many who claim that's all they want lol.

None of that is me trying to justify this old survival mode of mine, though. I want a sense of self. A strong one that will never give to anyone or anything. A part of that, I know, is learning to make more "I am" statements and also acknowledging that yes... I AM better than whom I used to be. I really do make better choices for myself than lots of people do. I respond better to others and situations and conflict way better than others do. Not all the time, but it is a fact that I still do better either way. I've worked hard to be able to say those things knowing they're absolutely true.

I was talking to Grace yesterday, as well, about how I'm learning how to embrace a lot of the passions I have without shame. This became a bigger issue for me, I told her, after my boyfriend finally visited my new apartment and I showed him some of my personal belongings. Just to give him a more intimate look at who I am. I showed him a journal I had that was written entirely in a form of shorthand, and I started gushing about other forms and how it's one of those weird hobbies I'm secretly obsessed with. I also showed him a book I had on Victorian floriography, another secret hobby. Why are they secrets? I had to ask myself that and I told Grace that I believe it has to do with my lack of sense of self: one, I think they're weird hobbies that others wouldn't be able to relate to; and two, because I grew up having my passions kind of stepped on over and over by others, I just go to a place where I consider my genuine passions to be worthless and wastes of time.

I literally have adverse effects to doing anything I truly love on my own time. If I try to sketch, I start to feel uncomfortable and sad. When I start to do shorthand, I just beat myself and feel like it's hopeless. When I try to create bouquets according to the language of flowers, I think, "What's the point, no one really cares." I base it all on the world around me and never on myself. So what if others don't get it? I get it. It's my passion, I see beauty in it, and it makes me happy. It makes me proud of who I am. I have to keep remembering that.

As well, if I ever did decide to share my hobbies with others, I need to remember that any attempt on their part to put me down is only their projections of their own perceived shortcomings. It doesn't truly decide the value of the things I love. I decide that value. And really... what makes me happy should be priceless in nature.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2018, 11:46:27 PM by kdke »

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kdke

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #67 on: October 09, 2018, 06:19:00 AM »
Something I've been processing ever since Sunday night is a fight my boyfriend and his ex had. Without going into too much context (I'm honestly kind of tired of reliving that part lol. No offense to my own journal or anyone else reading this, of course), they had a conflict that led to an... aggressive misunderstanding on her part. There were some abusive messages sent Mark's way, things that really upset him and myself, but ones that he's used to. I found it completely unacceptable.

I spoke to him about it and let him in on my POV as his girlfriend. I don't think his ex realizes that even though she doesn't have much of a relationship with me, how she interacts with my boyfriend indirectly affects me. I'm not OK with watching my loved ones getting stomped on and threatened, treated like human punching bags and even being used for entertainment at their expense. It's vile behavior, and it's also conflicting since Mark's ex isn't really a vile person. She just makes some messed up choices in dealing with her anger.

I was angry for Mark but I also wasn't looking for a fight like she was. I don't feel like it's my prerogative to directly approach her about the situation and also, I don't think she's in a place in life where she could be receptive to that conversation. She's very defensive, very quick to attack. I'm not interested in that.

So instead, I decided to really challenge myself to understand her POV, since I was just really worked up and needed a way to express my emotions more creatively (and civilly). I pulled out my tarot cards--something I haven't done in a long time, shame on me--and did a reading. I asked myself, "How should I actively respond to their conflict?"

The answer I interpreted was really all-encompassing but helped me to further empathize with Mark's ex (I'll name her Molly).

7 of Swords: sometimes we feel like we get put in a place within the world that makes us feel misused. This can lead us into being resentful and stuck in a self-pitying mindset. It's even more unfortunate because we have all the tools we need to succeed, but we end up using them in negative ways to confirm our biases about our self-made situations. We keep turning our backs on possibilities, almost spitefully, but more often because we just don't know any other way.

9 of Cups: when we finally do start putting our full effort into the right choices, the results can lead to great fulfillment and happiness. As the cups represent psychic energy (meaning emotions and intuition, at least for me), this card is a good reminder that we have the potential to live with peace and emotional prosperity when we do our best.

King of Wands: I kind of take this as the driving force; the energy that jolts the 7 of Swords out of its pity party so it can see its future in the 9 of Cups. Wands are a forceful suit, so it's good to have the imagery of the King put things in perspective. We can't hope to make any lasting and genuine progress if we go in with too much intensity. We have to be wise, but this kind of journey requires passion and creativity.

Considering everyone involved in what happened Sunday night, it was a reading that I really think anyone could benefit from. We all get stuck in negative mindsets and set ourselves up for feeling like everything is against us. When this happens, it really is our own responsibility to acknowledge that's what's happening instead of blaming everyone else. I think the King of Rods signifies that refreshing and hot energy we can sometimes get when we feel motivated to truly change our perspectives about ourselves, but we have to be wise not to put too much on our plates at once. There needs to be a steady burn lest we get singed and feel like it's no use. But really, there is use in trying; in time and progress, we can reap amazing benefits and also know how to continue to recycle them.

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sanmagic7

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Re: kdke's Recovery Journal
« Reply #68 on: October 09, 2018, 01:44:28 PM »
hey, sweetie,

interesting to me was your observation about 'bristling' when we hear something like 'i am better than others'.  when i read what that you-tuber said, i also bristled.  i think it's because it felt like a judgment, that she's determining what's right/good and wrong/bad, and holding the rest of us up to her own specific standards.

for some reason that doesn't sit well with me.  i guess i feel more comfortable with words like 'healthier' rather than 'better'.  'i make healthier choices than others' sounds less judgmental to my ears.  plus, since we don't know the mindset of anyone else, how can we determine what's right or wrong, better or worse for them?  we don't know their situation nor their experience. 

i don't know, maybe i'm nitpicking where it doesn't need to happen.  however, i did 'bristle' when i read that, so your mentioning of bristling rang a bell with me.

i agree with you about staying out of that argument with your bf and his ex.  they have a history that we don't know everything about.  i'm like you, tho - i get kind of up in arms myself when i see someone i care about in a neg. situation, and want to 'fix' it.  i've found time and again, i'm better off out of it.

floriography - isn't that what princess grace of monaco did?  press and dry flowers to make beautiful pictures or messages using the language of flowers?  i think it's an absolutely lovely hobby, not something to be embarrassed about at all.   your passions and interests deserve a place in your life without the fear of what someone might say or think.  you're absolutely right when you said that if it makes you happy, that's what counts.

keep following your passions, i say.  they're true and honest to you and your 'self', and i believe that's always beautiful.   love and hugs, sweetie.

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kdke

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« Reply #69 on: October 09, 2018, 05:53:40 PM »
San, you make a very good point about the connotation of "I am better than them." Honestly, I can sometimes be a very literal person when listening to others and miss connotation so I didn't even notice that! But that is very sobering. I'm glad you pointed it out. It is a reality that this youtuber can sometimes be a bit forceful in spite of her explanations regarding why she makes a statement. It's understandably hard for most to swallow and I wouldn't blame anyone for feeling that way. It can make the person making that statement sound like a jerk lol.

I still do wonder, though, if many people still have a hard time accepting the accomplishments of others in general. When I was younger, that was a challenge for me. I was an extremely jealous child that would passive-aggressively protest against others who were succeeding. I know now that it was because I was insecure and felt like I failure. I couldn't handle seeing others do well when I felt completely worthless. As I've gotten older, the opposite has happened where others have tried to take me down for doing well! After some time I started to realize that my reaction wasn't unique to me.

And yeah, I told Mark that I've no desire to really be a mediator to them, even though I wanted to express to him alone how I felt about it. I felt conflicted because I didn't want my voice to be taken away from me. I know Mark wouldn't do that, but Molly seems to be already capable of that. I want so much to defend Mark but it isn't really my fight, and I'm also frustrated at Mark because I'm starting to see that he can sometimes be excessively passive to the point of avoidant. He's a fixer, too, in that he just immediately tries to pacify any conflict, which drives me nutty lol. I always think, "Don't let her talk to you that way! What she's doing is vile and abusive! FIGHT!" But as I said, I just think it. Nowadays, I've been getting stronger about setting my boundaries with others when they disrespect me.

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kdke

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« Reply #70 on: October 09, 2018, 10:12:52 PM »
I was reading another person's journal earlier today and it really made me think about how I deal with inner conflicts.

I've been told by others that the way I deal with processing things is excessive; I have this need to mull problems around until I can understand every single part of them. This is important for me because sometimes in the moment of the event, I don't always know how to feel about what's happened. And if I do, I will just sense anxiety, fear, confusion, or feeling upset. But as far as knowing what exactly is getting at me, that can take DAYS later for me to put into words.

And I have this horrible habit of just excusing these types situations as just "going over my head." "I just roll it off my shoulders," when in reality, I just couldn't think of what was actually happening to me in the moment. An example of this is if someone decides they don't like me and makes a passive aggressive comment towards my character. Part of me might realize that what they said wasn't right and I might feel anxiety, but it won't truly process until later. Or, if I'm having an argument with someone, I feel very limited because I get so disoriented about what it is I'm trying to express. Sometimes that's taken advantage of or misunderstood by the other party and seen as a weakness or lack of knowledge on my part. It feels incredibly unfair because it gives me no real time to actually process things according to the time period my brain requires.

It's frustrating and sometimes it can make me feel furious at others for not understanding, for presuming to know what's going on when they don't. What they perceive as me not letting go is me only trying to find total comprehension and clarity. I want to know every intricacy and be able to resolve a situation the best way I can. I want to consider all the possibilities from every angle.

I kind of see a conflict as a story: the rough draft is it playing out real-time. Then, I look over the rough draft and start refining everything: fixing inconsistencies, plot holes, and making sure every person in the story is being heard. Now I have my final draft. However, this process is something that most people don't want to play out with me. It's like the rough draft is enough and they don't want to fix anything that might need more work. And if they do want to, it's me who ends up being too slow in that process or going over things that the other person might not want to revisit.

It's created a lot of chaos, anger, anxiety, and loneliness in my life. Being misunderstood can be so isolating and sometimes it's very tempting to believe that I'm the one that needs fixing. Everyone else is normal, and how I think is abnormal. I mean, obviously it isn't because I see many people in this forum that process life the same exact way I do. Whether it's unique to complex trauma or not, I have no idea. I only know that every time it's played out in my life, most people can't tolerate it and then I start to question my sanity.

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kdke

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« Reply #71 on: October 11, 2018, 07:04:15 PM »
Yesterday was a very busy day for me, but it wasn't bad at all. I had to wake up at 5:30AM (which I'm not used to since I'm a fifth quarter student and work part-time; I have the privilege to not have to come into the classroom and my job doesn't start until noon, so I sleep in lol) and then immediately get ready for a trip to my therapy appointment. It's in another city and while the bus ride is over an hour, it's very relaxing. The bus takes us through back roads and we see all the valley, farms, flowers, and animals here and there. I love it. Lots of forests, too.

Well, I took a long shower, longer than I normally would, and realized that I would be late for the bus even if I hurried. I was so bummed but not angry. Just like, "Dangit uuugh. WELP... Uber, I guess." I really didn't want to put out $30 but I had no choice if I didn't want to miss my session. Because I had extra time in spite of being late for my bus, I went to the store and got myself a light breakfast: some tea and two hard-boiled eggs. It was pretty good, and then headed out of town.

My session was a lot about how I've been handling my own anxiety after the long break between summer and fall quarter, and then my feelings and thoughts regarding my relationship with Mark. My therapist brought up how I'm already practicing mental noting in a way but she elaborated for me how to do it more often. We do DBT and it's been very helpful for me. I like it a lot more than CBT.

I told her about how I handle the conflict between Mark and Molly; something I didn't share in my journal yesterday is how I made a post on my Facebook about anger. I explained to my therapist that I hated the fact that I felt like I didn't have a voice in this situation, but I knew I could have one on my own page. I took advantage of that and wrote a very general and positive post about how I've learned to deal with more intense emotions (like anger) with my diagnosis. I went into detail with that post about how if people learn to ask themselves the right questions about their anger, they open doors to actual, REAL conflict resolution within themselves and their interpersonal relationships. But when we don't take that step and try to force others to take ownership of our misplaced feelings, we create a cycle of violent communication and more suffering.

At the end of that post, I asked people to try to take a breath and really take care of themselves; practice active listening with themselves and they'll find a lot of healing with time and practice. For me, making that post was very healing because it showed me how much I've been learning and understanding about my emotions, how I know how to handle things more effectively, and it all allowed me to have my voice and not feel like I have to remain completely silent. My therapist was really happy and thought I handled it well without creating a situation where I might've made Molly feel directly confronted. It was just a general message and something I thought was very important to share within my own space.

We talked about it some more in detail and then also about the reality that I have a lot to think about with my and Mark's relationship. At the beginning of it, I thought I was going into a relationship that seemed to be more than I could handle; as in, I didn't feel healthy enough to fit into something that I perceived to be more together than I was used to. Of course, with time I realized that I was really idealizing things and now I can see that Mark's relationships with his exes are shaky and borderline toxic. He allows so much abuse to come his way and I've seen how his ex-wife and fiance talk to him. He just takes it. It's really distressing, and he feels so helpless.

The situation is more than that, of course. There are money and children involved, things like child support and co-parenting. Mark also has his own issues to work on as he is very passive, defensive, and even passive aggressive at times. He will even lie in order to not offend others over things that don't really matter at all. I've caught him doing this with me. He has a lot of fear.

I've been doing my best to let him know that he is allowed to express how he really feels with me, no matter how I might feel about it. That is his prerogative as a person. As long as he isn't being abusive about it, it's my issue if I get defensive. That's something I need to resolve within myself! My therapist noted how by me having that kind of conversation with him, I'm kind of teaching him to resolve things he struggles with. I didn't really think of it that way but I suppose it's true.

My therapist and I also talked about the fact that I don't exactly feel the same way about Mark as he does with me. As far as Mark's concerned, he wants to be with me forever. I love Mark a lot and I'm happy to be with him; there are also things that I'm having to consider before I feel comfortable settling down with him.

1. I really want to live out my independence. I've lived my whole life thus far allowing others to decide how I should live it. I'm building up my sense of self and now I want to really assert it. I want to be happy just being me without any attachments. JUST ME.

2. I don't want to settle down in the ways Mark does. Because of his children and his own personal goals, he wants to own a house. I don't want a house. I like being mobile, I like apartment living. I like having my own space and not having to share it.

3. I'm not sure if I want to share the burden of Mark's interactions with his exes. They don't treat him well and if I become even more enmeshed with him, that is something I will have to more directly approach.

4. I honestly don't know if I want to be a step-parent to four kids. I'm realizing that while I absolutely adore his children and love having them in my life, their progression through childhood and me helping to guide them is bringing up a lot of old triggers from my own childhood.

My therapist said, "One thing I'm hearing from you is that you really value honesty. I want to ask you: have you been honest with Mark about how you actually feel about him?" I confessed that I hadn't been and knew it was stupid lol. It was one of those situations where he was expressing how he wanted to be with me for the rest of his life and asked if I felt the same way; I gave  half answer, but there was definitely a yes in it. It was a very terrifying moment for me because I didn't want to hurt him. I told my therapist that I don't want Mark to feel like my feelings are not genuine or that I'm lying by being his girlfriend. I truly love being with him. I said to my therapist, "This is the first relationship I've been in where I've been with someone for more than half a year and we still TOLERATE each other. We still get along, we're happy. But it's all still new and strange for me."

I said that I feel like from the get-go, there's been a sense of obligation placed on me if I wanted to be with him. One of his exes told me that she wanted whoever was with Mark to be a mother to her children as she was for them. While I can appreciate and respect that desire, I felt like I was being pressured to take on a responsibility that I'm still not sure I want. It feels like Molly was trying to insert her own expectations of me into my and Mark's relationship and I don't know how to process that. It's like... I get that she is concerned what kind of person I am because I am interacting with her children. Makes perfect sense in that aspect. However, who is she to dictate who Mark is with? In my opinion, that is not her right. She can voice her concerns about it, but it's not her place to tell Mark whom he should be with or not.

It must be a precarious balance, then. I can only imagine how stressful that must be as a mother who is co-parenting with an ex, and vice versa. They want to respect each other but they also have to think of the children. I get it, and yet... it is not her relationship.

My therapist helped me to process these things and I came to my own conclusion: I understand now that I am not one to keep silent if I feel like someone is abusing me or someone I care about. I said to my therapist, "While I have no desire to be a mediator two Mark's and Molly's conflicts, there will be a day where I will say something if I see her continue this abuse on my boyfriend. It's not OK and I will say so."

Because I see the situation as two different interactions: I want to be a supportive partner to Mark and encourage him to stand up for himself. And then there's me as a person watching someone else getting abused. No way am I going to remain silent!
« Last Edit: October 11, 2018, 10:05:44 PM by kdke »

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sanmagic7

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« Reply #72 on: October 12, 2018, 01:11:38 PM »
wow - your inner conversations are fascinating and so very down to earth.  i think that bringing them to consciousness like this is a big first step to taking the actions you want and need.  like, the whole idea of being truly honest with mark.  that's a biggie, isn't it.

i think that might also include not being silent if you see him being abused.  or anyone, for that matter.  we've had to stay silent for so long (i came from the school of thought that children should be seen and not heard.   very stifling), and it's both a relief and a freedom to finally find our voices and make them heard.

well done, sweetie, on so many levels.  love and hugs to you.

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kdke

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« Reply #73 on: October 19, 2018, 04:36:06 PM »
Thank you, San. I try very hard to be more practical and yet sensitive with my long-term goals. There are certain areas where I'm willing to compromise--but if it means compromising my happiness for the misplaced expectations of others, I realize that I have to say no.

*****

I finally talked to my boyfriend about the thoughts I had regarding Molly. Mark was very understanding (sometimes I wonder if he's a bit too passive, though; I fear that he might put aside his personal opinions at times as to not upset my own) of where I was coming from. He did have a reaction to my opinion about not staying silent if Molly were to continue her abuses; he seemed to interpret it as though I was suggesting I'd be fighting with her--Jerry Springer style  :doh: lol

Like, "My woman is going to stick up for me." I squashed that quickly. I told him that I will stand against something I don't believe is right, but he has to be willing to fight his own battles. I'm not doing it for him, and I'm certainly not interested in actually starting a fight with Molly. Will I call her out? Yes. Will I get into a squabble with her, especially if she wants to? I will walk away from it. I'm set in removing as many toxic interactions and relationships from my life as possible. I think that helped to sober Mark up a bit about it.

I'm sure it's something he and I will have to revisit considering the fact that he deals with conflict very differently than I do. Like this weekend, I learned that he either is very passive towards someone when they bully him, or he will respond violently (at least verbally from what I've seen). He's got a bark to him that I hadn't seen before and it really puts me on edge. I don't respond well to aggression in any sense. It's my opinion that there are few exceptions to violence:

1. To disable someone that is acting violently towards you in order to save yourself (throwing an attacker to the ground, kicking them in the groin, or punching the throat, and so on--only to disable and distract so you can escape)
2. Killing an attacker is sometimes very necessary if they are looking to kill you first, but this has to be decided with immense consideration. Disabling should always be the first option.

During the weekend a story came up about a child at a school who brought home what they thought were teeth, but the parent discovered they were actually crack crystals. Mark started making comments about taking a baseball bat to that school if that ever happened to his children, and wanting to kill the offender. He kept talking about how he was willing to kill others and bash their skulls in--right in front of his kids.

Even his brother participated and said, "I'd be happy to go to prison for those kids. I'm not kidding. I'd kill someone if they hurt them."

Now... I don't judge the passion and obvious love they have for their children and I really appreciate it. I don't think it has to be expressed through murder and brutality. In fact, it put me off so much and upset me so deeply that part of me wondered if I should even stay with Mark anymore. I just don't have any tolerance for unnecessary violence, period. I think it's vile and unjustified.

I kind of gave Mark a look when he started speaking in that way (it was a subtle little smile like, "Really, dude?" lol) and he started going off about how he had been bullied and how he doesn't stand for it.

Thing is--neither do I! Bullying is terrible! I don't think being against bullying justifies violence as a response to bullying AT ALL, though. In fact, it is part of the problem, in my opinion. It requires attention and correction. We cannot hope to have a more peaceful world if we just look to fight violence with violence, especially when the violence in response is more heinous in nature. It's hypocritical and I refuse it.

Mark's defensive reaction also upset me because it really erased my own experiences with bullying. My father and stepfather are bullies in their own right, but I have no desire to torture or have them killed in horrible ways. Do I think they need help? BIG time. Do I think some of their actions deserve jail time? Some of them, yes. There are consequences for abuse and I stand by that belief.

If Mark decided he wanted to murder my dad for what he did to me... Mark would be standing alone. Period. I don't support that. Same for his children. I just can't.

I know this averse reaction has a lot to do with removing the experiences I had from my past in regards to violence, and also the reality that my repressed anger has manifested and both intrusive/violent thoughts and dreams. I don't like it, and that is never how I want to treat others. It is something that I work very hard on and refuse to let manifest in my everyday interactions. I've gotten to a point where I'm better able to process my anger and understand that intrusive thoughts don't necessarily reflect who I am. More importantly, they also represent hurt and fear within me, and those feelings need attending, too.

I've been surrounded by anger and violent responses to it in all forms for too long and I reject any attempt to insert those things back into my life. I want a life of peace, joy, compassion, and patience. Of course, I accept the reality the world may always manifest violence and I can't completely outrun it--but I don't believe my goals are unrealistic enough that I can't work my hardest to achieve them every day.

That was stuff I didn't talk about in therapy only because I had forgotten to mention it. I mostly talked about my classmate, Grace, who is still riding the stressful rollercoaster that she's been on since last quarter. I feel for her; it's also become one of those situations where while she was truly victimized in the beginning, it's fed into what looks like an actual victim mentality. Nothing pleases her, our instructor's every choice is meant to sabotage her, and anyone who disagrees is rejected by her. Even me. I'm over it.

My therapist and I discussed my acknowledgment that I had allowed not just her but also myself to cross my boundaries over and over again. Because of my past, I try to be a savior to people. I want to fix them and help them find happiness. I take on their anguish as though it is my burden to alleviate. It hurts me and it can ultimately hurt them in different ways. I talked about how my stress has been going up with every interaction I have with grace and how it's been bringing me down just how toxic her resentment and narrative has become. And it made me realize something: Grace doesn't want her narrative to be fixed. She wants revenge. She wants to be the victim. It's been giving her purpose. By me trying to help her overcome that, I am taking away all of that from Grace, and she doesn't truly want that.

I also realize that by being a healthy friend to her, I cannot continue discussing that particular topic with her in any way. It hurts me and anything I say is also subject to be twisted by her--as my words already have been several times now. I'm tired of it, and it kind of makes me angry. I feel like I'm not just talking to a brick wall, but I'm also being greatly misunderstood and taken advantage of for toxic motives by Grace.

My therapist helped to guide me in how I can set a stronger boundary with Grace. I have to be willing to also face the reality that Grace might not respond well to it. As long as I approach her with respect and also asserting my limits, the rest has to be up to Grace to figure out. It is not my responsibility.

I'm still processing all of this within my therapy, though. My emotions are strong and I need to work on the judgments and labels I put on these different situations. My therapist and I use DBT for my cPTSD and I really love it so far. Right now, a lot of the tasks are about being mindful of what kind of thoughts and feelings I have, which categories they fall into (emotion, rational, or wise), and the judgments and labels attached to them. I'm building awareness more and more. I'm happy for that, but I never like feeling uncomfortable emotions like the ones I've been feeling off and on since this weekend. But like is written in my DBT assignments--feelings like anger and discomfort are just as important as the good feelings. They mean something and have a purpose. It's just a matter of knowing where they're coming from and how to handle them in the healthiest way possible.

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kdke

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« Reply #74 on: October 19, 2018, 04:57:47 PM »
Something I just thought about in regards to intentional violence, too, is that it's almost a projection of emotions--more often than not, hurt and pain. It is an attempt to make someone else suffer (or die) for feelings that the offender hasn't truly resolved in themselves. I realize that in many instances, when I think about killers that we've all learned about in the news and in documentaries, that this is pretty spot on.

So I suppose when it comes to Mark and his thoughts and words, they definitely are a reflection of his own unresolved fear and pain in regards to bullying and other toxic behaviors--especially when children are involved. Rather than processing why he would respond in that way (he fears that his children will be exposed to certain dangers, and he was extremely hurt by those same dangers in his own past), he forces someone else to suffer for his feelings that he doesn't work out for the well being of himself and his family. It's really the same problem that I see between Mark and Molly, just manifested as another form of abuse.

I also believe that verbalizing violent motives and thoughts in front of children is its own form of abuse. It's indirect and not at all directed to them, but it enforces violence and encourages it as an acceptable and justified response. Sometimes it is a snowball effect, sometimes it isn't. Either way, I don't believe Mark understands the lesson he is potentially teaching his children by speaking that way. It is especially worrying for me because one of his children (his eldest daughter) has been expressing her anger by hitting and pushing her brother. I imagine if Dad is ok with hurting someone when they anger him, she might feel like it's ok for her to do the same thing. She's very smart and I don't doubt the possibility that she could make this connection if she hasn't already. Mark has to be willing to be consistent about whether violence is ok or not, and by him expressing himself the way he has this past weekend, he is being very inconsistent and promoting toxic behaviors.