Sunday, September 28, 2014

Speak The Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes

The thing that still angers me the most, that still hurts the most, is how he took my anxieties, my fears and my trust especially, and he turned them into weapons. "You are too dependent." He said it so many times and with so much confidence, it had to be true. Didn't it?

He said he cared. He showed he cared, until that moment he realised he didn't have to anymore. I trusted him. I gave him one of the most precious things I have to give. Trust that my well-being meant as much to him as it did me. Trust there was no venom behind his words and actions. Trust at all, because I can count the people who have truly earned it, unquestioning, on one hand; and only one even lives in the same city as me. And I don't mean "Here's $50 pay me back when you can" trust. Or "Please take care of my cat for a week" trust. Or even "I'm drunk, please ensure I get home unharmed and unscathed" trust. This is "My life is literally in your hands" trust. Because it was. To allow someone to support you fully in your mental illness is to hand them your ability to survive.

And he turned it into something vile, a poison to eat away at me from the inside out. A dagger sunk deep into my heart and twisted with a grin. I handed him the keys to my own destruction, and the change was instantaneous, like a venus fly trap snapped shut to capture its prey. Had he literally stabbed me in the back, it would have hurt far less.

The thing is, I never asked anything of him. At least, nothing he hadn't already proved over and over he was willing to give. But it was too late. Once the cage slammed down, there was no acceptable level of expectation. It was a trick, and it always was intended to be. Asking for anything, even the tiniest level of consideration, was always going to be too much. What I wanted, what I needed; it all ceased to exist.

He rode in, your stereotypical knight in shining armour, and gave me far more than I would dare to ask of anyone. But also not too much. If you're too willing, too helpful, the scales tip the other way and motivations come into question. No, he knew the perfect balance. Always more than I expected but never so much I grew suspicious, either. He tested my boundaries, subtle little aggressions which were easily brushed aside by an anxious mind trained to stop believing the worst about everyone and everything. Eating all but one of a snack I shared with him, just to see if I would complain. "Forgetting" to mention to me that the thing we planned together with friends was actually happening, to see if I'd protest at being left out of my own social gathering. So many little pushes here and there, trying to find out when he'd finally go too far. Swallowing down his good intentions, the boundary lines kept contracting further, inward and inward again, until there was nowhere left to go.

And so, I was caught in his web of honeyed lies. And once caught, that I gave him the thing he worked so hard to earn, my trust, became the basis of everything I was doing wrong. I relied on him, and suddenly attempts at contact would go unanswered. Suddenly, the white knight was overwhelmed and nowhere to be found. I pointed out he was hurting me, and I was expecting too much, I was dependant, and too broken for anyone to cope with. I gave him solid boundaries and guidelines to avoid triggering my anxiety, and these were promptly ignored. He wanted me anxious. Anxiety breeds fear, which in turn breeds compliance. Fear of scaring away my one source of support (after he had pushed me away from all others), and the fear that he was right, that I was too broken. The push was an easy one once he had my trust, because they are the constant plague of the mentally ill, that we would lose everyone and everything from something beyond our control.

I handed him the very thing that would be my undoing. Well, nearly. It took him messing with the already-delicate inner workings of my mind, pushing me to the brink of giving it all up, for me to say enough was enough. Finally, the one boundary I was unwilling to give up. That one little voice in my mind that keeps me going when every fibre of my being tells me not to, that thread of strength I rarely realise I have inside that forces me to survive. He was destroying me from the inside out, and I knew it had to stop.

And I was angry. It was a pure rage. To let him get so far, to give up so much to cling to something so deadly, to lose all sense of my worth as a person deserving of the most basic respect. I was so very angry, and I still am. Even that rage has been turned against me, proof that I am the one wrong, the one causing harm. To feel so deeply lessens your worth, and in a world run by power-hungry abusive controllers, we see this to be true. To not feel is a privilege, the domain of those with the ability to crush others under their heel without consequence. Anger is where the rest of us live, and it gives us strength and clarity to finally resist. That's why anger is wrong. That's why its condemned. Anger is power. Anger is revolution.

I am hurting. And I am angry. I am a threat, and as long as I continue to speak truth without fear, I always will be. That my focus has a specific He and Me is irrelevant. There are 'He's and 'Me's all over. Mine is a story told over and over, in so many places, in so many ways. We are angry and unafraid to speak. Tear us down. Call us crazy. Try to destroy us, if you can.

We know you are watching. We know you are afraid. We have the weapons, the truth, the daggers, the power, now, and we will never stop.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

More Context and Talking About Difficult Things

This is a thing I've been meaning to post about for a while now, but it's difficult to discuss. Yes, I know I'm super TMI a lot on my internet public spaces but even I have things I don't like to talk about sometimes. :P But I think this will help provide even more context to some of what's happened in my life over the past year.

I've mentioned how a) intentions don't matter and that actions can be classified as abuse regardless and b) I feel that some of the ways my husband treated me were abusive. It might seem weird that what happened with... ok, I really hate continuing to refer to him as a 'friend' so we're going to go with Jerkface... So yes, it might seem weird that what happened with Jerkface blew up in ridiculous and public ways and I pretty much would prefer he would stop existing (*bink* just gone.. nothing violent, I just wish one of those sci-fi time travelling things where you could erase someone would happen), and that I'm still good friends with the Husband and I still love him. How can I call both men guilty of abuse and condemn one and not the other? From the outside, it does seem hypocritical, but it's not like issues of abuse are EVER black and white. On the other hand, I find it hypocritical that I've mentioned that I feel that Husband abused me and people nodded in solemn and sympathetic agreement, but many of these same people went out of their way to justify Jerkface's behaviour and argue against my anger at him for mistreating me in blatant and damaging ways. So, y'know, whatever.

Intentions don't matter when categorising behaviour as abuse, but the attitude of the abuser towards the abused DOES matter. A lot. I haven't discussed the specifics of Husband's behaviour, because it's difficult and also it's not that important. I believe that he truly loves me and cares about how he affects me and, most importantly, is truly regretful of the ways he's hurt me. In essence, I believe the abuse was, for all intents and purposes, accidental. That doesn't make it less harmful, and my decision to separate and give myself space from the Husband was absolutely the correct one. Where things will go from here, I don't really know yet, but I won't condemn him as a bad person because I know deep down that he isn't. He can be careless and thoughtless. He can think he's doing the correct thing in a situation when he isn't. And he can find it difficult to admit he's wrong. But I've known him for nearly a decade and a half, and for much of that we've been in a relationship together. I probably know him better than anyone else. That he truly loves me and cares about my wellbeing has never been in doubt.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think I am. The difference between how Jerkface and the Husband made me feel overall is massive. Jerkface spouted a lot of things to placate me, said all the right words and then did things to hurt or provoke me anyway. He didn't care how he affected me at all, only that I was complacent under his control. When I wasn't complacent, I was punished. There was no regret, no real care about my wellbeing, only blame, manipulation and control. If there WAS regret at his actions and how they affected me, it was never expressed TO me. And that's why others have a hard time believing his intentions were anything but good. Because he said all the right things to them so they would accept he was just trying to do right by me, that he was trying to be a "good friend" but just didn't know how (bull fucking shit). But the fact that he never, ever would say sorry or take responsibility for how he made me feel to my face is damning in and of itself. I had to pull teeth to even get him to admit he "felt bad" that he hurt me in between all the guilt, blame shifting, and everything else. I was never a person to him. I was a thing, a toy that he could mindfuck to make him feel better about himself. I know this to be true. I will never accept his actions as accidental. I will never be okay that anyone else does. And I definitely will never stop being angry at anyone who believes he's a worthwhile person to have in their life. I don't have to be, cause I don't have to forgive anyone who would treat me that way and anyone else who enabled his behaviour in any way at all.

But I'm getting ranty and off point. So, why do I feel the Husband behaved abusively towards me?

Because his anger and frustration were often directed at me in ways that were unjustified, so that I have felt the need to just appease him so he calms or shut up and apologise so he'd stop. This was never physical, just verbal, but it was at its worst just before and just after the separation. It's one of the main reasons I had to leave.

Because he often phrases things in passive aggressive ways designed to make me feel bad. "YOU left ME so yadda yadda guilt guilt guilt." I think we all are guilty of this behaviour in some ways sometimes. I know I am. I'm not saying this in and of itself is damning. It's childish mostly, but also it's a strongly repeated behaviour on the Husband's part and still can be. I tolerate it less than I used to, and call it out if I can.

Because it felt like his behaviour and mood always worsened the more I became functional and independent, as if his role as my support was being threatened and I had to stay sick so he could continue to take care of me. I was always being dragged back down into my mental illness. I think this is something I've discussed here before, but my psychologist had to make me see why this was problematic and why she describes our relationship as codependent.

And because I feel that some of the ways he treated me "for my own good" helped me stay feeling "crazy and out of control". Such as physically restraining me so I wouldn't self-harm. It took hanging out in spaces on the internet for those of us who are neuroatypical and have experienced abuse to realise that this really isn't okay. And it's still the most difficult thing for me to discuss.

My real point with all this is simply that I've experienced a lot of abuse between the Husband and Jerkface, and that allows me to compare and contrast intention, attitude, and amount of harm caused in a lot of ways that no one else but me really can. I don't hate the husband and I'm not angry at him. Treating someone badly sometimes doesn't make you an irredeemable piece of shit automatically, and that I still want the Husband in my life makes sense to me, even if for now we also need a lot of space and time from one another.

When you've seen the intensity of my anger towards Jerkface and anyone who's defended him and see that I am STILL extremely angry and STILL hurting all the time, understand there's a lot of rational context surrounding it. I'm an emotional person. I'm often giving in to my emotional whims. But that doesn't make me wrong to be angry nor irrational in my hatred of someone who deserves it. I'm not "hanging on" to my emotions, nor am I refusing to move forward. If anything, I've done nothing BUT move forward from the utterly disgusting shit I had to deal with earlier this year. I am healing, though it will continue to take time. But I refuse to let go of anger that I feel is wholly justified.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Emotions have no moral value, and to judge others for their emotions is a privilege. If my anger makes you uncomfortable in any way, you are the one who needs to figure out why and rethink things.

Monday, September 8, 2014

A Request

I am done. DONE. That the same people who see through the disgusting BS of the #GamerGate men could accept and defend the person who abused me is just too much. Hypocrisy at its best. It can't be wrong if it's MY friend.

I am so angry. I am angry all the time still, though usually I ignore it and y'know.. get the fuck on with my life.

Right now I am just angry angry angry.

So, do me a favour:

Read my Storify here where I pick apart some of the manipulative discussion techniques of the #GamerGate assholes.

Read my post here on why #GamerGate is abuse.

Read here where I give some of the emails from my abuser similar treatment.

And here which really sums up the only thing that matters whether I can "prove" its abuse or not.

And everything else on this blog to do with the asshole who treated me badly.

Take all that and shove it in the face of everyone still friends with my abuser and if they STILL insist he did nothing wrong, tell them to SAY IT TO MY FACE.

And I will happily explain to them all why they are hypocritical enablers. I yell less offline, so I might even do it nicely, too. But I make no guarantees. Niceness is reserved for those who deserve it.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Anxiety: A Story

Today, I needed to go to the shops and purchase a bus ticket, because my current one was going to run out. I was 98.7% sure that the shop I was heading to sold bus tickets. In fact, the idea that they wouldn’t sell bus tickets is almost absurd, especially as I’d looked up on the transport website at some point and seen that they are listed as a ticket retailer.

Walking into the shop, I looked around for a sign to reassure me that they did, indeed, sell tickets, but there wasn’t one anywhere I could see. Panic began to set in. I went to grab a water bottle first, as that was my other goal of this shop visit, and tried to decide what I would do about the situation. Here is where most people would ask the probably very nice woman behind the counter if the shop sold tickets or not, and of course I thought of that. It’s not that I didn’t realise that not only was that the fastest and most direct solution to my problem, but also that it would likely result in me purchasing the ticket I needed, because the chance they sold them was extremely high. We are talking 1.3% here.

But to someone with anxiety, it doesn’t matter how large or small that gap is between not being sure and being 100% absolutely certain you know what is going on, because 1.3% or 64% chance you are wrong is still a chance. Any chance something will not go exactly as you planned or predicted is enough of a crack for your anxiety to get in there and begin the rapid descent into dizzying panic. You go from walking into a shop fairly confidently to "Quick, run through all possible scenarios as to how this shop visit will now turn out" in the matter of mere seconds.

I decided to wander the aisles towards the back of the small store while my brain began its routine calculation of outcomes.

Some days, I am able to push the ridiculous amount of panic out of my mind long enough to force myself to do the easiest and most obvious solution, despite the fact that it's also the one that involves the most amount of variables and therefore causes me the most amount of stress. On those days, I have enough sense to realise that this is the most likely way to reach my goal and the chance of something going wrong that I haven't accounted for is so small that it is nigh on impossible. On those days, I leave shops happy and proud of myself for doing a thing my brain was screaming at me not to do.

Other days, the panic is just more than I'm able to handle and the thought of making myself do something with even the tiniest chance of an unpredictable result makes my brain freeze up and my heart pound and I go into "deer in headlights" mode. (Recently, I've learned that my "deer in headlights" mode is a form of disassociation, where I detach myself from my sense of reality because I'm finding it too overwhelming. Well. No wonder accomplishing things sometimes is just plain difficult!) On these days, I will wander aimlessly, pretending to intently study the products on the shelves, while in fact I am using all of my brain power to problem solve for a resolution to my situation that I'm able to handle at that given moment. Those days are the ones I generally leave shops angry and disappointed at myself, sometimes with and sometimes without the thing I intended to get.

Well, today was a spectacular failure in terms of coping with my anxiety. After a small amount of wandering, I decided that I didn't want to put back the water bottle and leave the shop to regroup and possibly purchase the ticket elsewhere (also scary for embarrassment reasons). I also didn't have cash, so I couldn't simply purchase the water bottle on its own with EFTPOS (that's a debit/credit card machine to you non-Australians), as there was a $10 minimum. So, the only solution I could stand the thought of was to find more things to buy and hope I worked up the nerve to ask the shop assistant about tickets when I went up to the counter.

No, I didn't work up the nerve as I'd hoped. I did, however, leave the shop after purchasing the water bottle and two large blocks of chocolate to ensure I was safely getting over $10 worth of items.

And I hated myself immediately upon stepping outside. But I did learn that crippling anxiety can sometimes have the positive side effect of leaving a shop with a LOT of chocolate.

(I did manage to get a bus ticket much later in the day after taking care of other things I needed to do, and getting cash out of an ATM and then braving a newsagent ALSO without signs. But newsagents not selling bus tickets would be even more absurd than my local shop not selling them. An awkward but painless interaction with a lady who was very trusting of my concession status ensued, and I felt dumb afterwards, BUT I had a bus ticket. Success at last.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

So, Here Is A Thing...: Abuse and the Men of #GamerGate

You may or may not know about the huge divide and other things going on in the gaming world at the moment. I do, because I like that sort of thing, but all you really need to know is that women are being attacked for talking about things as women, and men are trying to make it all about themselves.

Basic sexist bullshit.

Anyway, so there are the really disgusting harassers who are sending rape threats and doxxing women and scaring them out of their homes, right? Everyone agrees these are really terrible people, just like everyone agrees physical abuse and rape are bad. We don't know who these terrible people are, and they're certainly not US, but we all agree it is a Bad Thing. (Or we accuse the women of making up the harassment to play the victim, which is probably a good sign you or someone you know is doing the harassing. Just saying.)

On the other hand, there are a bunch of #GamerGate dudes who are distancing themselves from the /really/ awful people and are not misogynists, not even one little bit. They are the "cool-headed, rational" men who are fighting the good fight against "corruption" in the games journalism world. They want inclusion, really, but all the fun-hating Social Justice Warriors are trying to take away everything that is Good and Fun in games and ruin it for everyone. Or something. I don't really care enough to entirely understand what they are arguing, because it is a whole lot of justification and distraction from the real issue of sexism and misogyny because their privilege is being threatened. But they are clearly the ones being attacked, because people are all angry at them for some reason they can't understand and they are just trying to have an emotionless, rational discussion about what big babies they are that video games aren't a men's hobby anymore. You know the drill. "I'm trying to have a constructive argument here but you keep yelling at me because I'm saying really disgusting, hurtful things. Wah me."

My point is that they may not be the really, really awful ones actually making threats against women (though, I'm going to guess many of them are if they think they can get away with it), but it still reeks of abuser dynamics and so much bullshit.

Every time I see any conversation with one of the #GamerGate men, all I can think about is the friend who abused me telling me how "dependent" I was on him and how "problematic" it was for both of us. How I was in denial, and "violently so", when I disagreed with him (gee, maybe I was angry he was attacking me, no matter how subtle?). This idea that cool, distant rationality trumps all in any argument IS abuser dynamics 101. It is always used by people in positions of privilege and power to shut down any argument they don't like and direct attention to what they feel is the "real problem" we should be addressing.

Gamers are turning the spotlight away from the violent harassment of women and onto "journalistic corruption", because it serves their purposes to do so, their purpose being to protect their privilege and justify treating women as less than human. It puts people on the defensive, having to expend effort explaining why corruption ISN'T an issue, instead of continuing to put the responsibility of the disgusting behaviour where it belongs: on men in the gaming scene.

In my case, I was the "real problem", and putting me on the defensive meant I couldn't continue to try and hold him responsible for treating me like shit. I've stated it all before on this blog, so I won't hash it all out again. But it doesn't matter if he "truly" believed he was right or not. It doesn't matter at all if Gamers think they are honestly fighting against some sort of imagined corruption in games journalism. 

What DOES matter is that my friend's actions were abusive and harmful towards me. What DOES matter is that women are being abused and harmed by a section of the gaming community, no matter how large or small.

If anyone at all tries to distract from harm in any way, that is WRONG. And distracting from harm only ever benefits those perpetuating it.

The idea that emotional reactions to things makes you a bad person in some way is societal abuse culture, and it especially helps those who have the power and privilege to be able to react in an emotionless way. It is used to silence and oppress. It never, ever makes an argument more correct than anyone else's.

Most everyone I know agrees that the #GamerGate men are terrible people trying to frame a terrible argument in a way that others will swallow. They agree they are wrong.

So, why is it so hard to convince many of these same people that what I actually experienced was abuse? (Abuse that you will be hard pressed to make my abusive friend ever be sorry about, at that.)