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Nameless

Believe it or not, I have a life outside this blog (No! Really???LOL!).

This life includes my wife, our cats, my work, our home, family, friends, chores, and errands ~ and, for the last several years, it also included something else that I once truly loved: a specific creative practice in connection to an organization in which I’d felt that I was a part of a larger community…but that part of my life ended abruptly earlier today.

Early this morning, I received an email from the official representative of this organization, which I will call “Nameless” (Note: The email has been edited for clarity/brevity; but also to remove any identifying information, of course):

Hi Anna,

I read your blog and support you speaking out and telling your truth, but…my concern is having your “Nameless” credentials listed on the account where a lot of angry postings are might make people feel unsafe to do “Nameless”…I know you said on your blog that “I will continue to speak up, to speak out, and to stand in solidarity with other Lesbians & with gay men, but I plan to try to do so in a way that doesn’t tear others down and create unnecessary angst/division.” and that is great, we support that mission, but the conversations don’t seem to concern “Nameless” per se and it might be better for “Nameless” work…if we could prevent people connecting “Nameless” inadvertently with any of those pretty ugly postings from others. Can you let me know if this makes sense to you?

Warm regards,

(“Nameless” Representative)

So:

Based upon this email, I truly feel it is best for myself, as well as for “Nameless”, to sever my connection with this organization.

Although I seriously doubt that my arguing with lesbophobes (who attacked us first, by the way) on social media would, or even could, make anyone “feel unsafe” to do a nonthreatening creative activity (why would it???), I nevertheless felt it best to remove myself immediately from an organization which clearly feels that being associated with me is undesirable.

I think I have now removed all traces of my former connection to “Nameless” from this blog and from my other online accounts, including removing old tweets that even tangentially referenced any connection whatsoever to “Nameless”. If I come across any other references in the future that I somehow missed, I will promptly remove those too.

Contrary to my typical first emotional response (anger masking hurt), I am not even angry about it right now; instead, this time, I somehow completely bypassed anger and went straight to hurt.

Although I was confused by the first email, because she mentions my blog, even quotes from my blog, and Twitter, it later seems that she was referring primarily to my Twitter account, and seemingly especially so in regard to the recent lesbophobic brouhahas, which I fought against and documented, in part, here at this blog.

What I do find rather odd and quite ironic, however, is that the very quote she used from my blog was taken from the post where I was specifically denouncing all of the hostility on Twitter and vowing to do my part in ending it ~ despite the entirely justified hurt and anger I felt (and still feel!!) toward those who were/are shockingly lesbophobic (and just plain mean) to me, Dirt, and other Lesbians.

I also find it quite intriguing that somehow suddenly this is an issue, when my connection to “Nameless” had been going on for several years (and I haven’t suddenly changed my topics/style here or elsewhere).

I will likely never know the answer to the question of “why now?”, but my best guess is that someone complained to “Nameless” about me. (If so, I have one word for that person: Karma).

The other major puzzlement I have is: Why am I being called out because of (and I quote) “pretty ugly postings from others“?

As I have always known, but have cruelly been reminded of in recent weeks, lesbophobia is alive and well, and it rears its ugly head on Twitter on a regular basis.

I cannot help that sad fact; nor can I control the postings of others; and my anger and defensiveness at the recent situation were my attempts at fighting the overt and covert lesbophobia that is constantly hurting me and my fellow Lesbians.

It also hurts that this representative showed absolutely ZERO concern/empathy for the horrible lesbophobic treatment I have been subjected to on Twitter…she doesn’t even attempt to pretend that she cares! There was not even a general “I’m sorry that happened”. Instead, she clearly blames & penalizes me for other people’s cruelty.

I can’t help but wonder whether some of this organization’s members’ seeming “acceptance” of me as a Lesbian was conditional/superficial, and I also can’t help but wonder whether there may even be some subconscious, covert lesbophobia lurking behind this person’s emails.

It feels as if I am being told: “It’s ‘fine’ to be a Lesbian, well, as long as you are always super-duper nice at all times, so as not to provoke the hatred/homophobia of others; and then you need to remain super-duper nice, even when under direct attack.”

Plus, what do you think an appropriate response to overt lesbophobic bullying would be?:

A). Come to the defense of a loyal long-term member of your “community” who is being attacked?

(OR)

B). Blame the loyal long-term community member for being bullied, and demand that she distance herself from your organization on the bizarre and nonsensical premise that some unknown person who may (or may not) want to try your technique in the future might be inexplicably afraid to do so, based on a stranger defending herself in her own Twitter account?

Hmmm. Think about it. Is it lesbophobia or just a supremely insensitive response to a terrible situation?

Who knows?

Regardless, it is all a moot point now.

Life will go on. I will do what I always do when dealing with any sort of hurt/loss: I will think, journal, and do artwork about it, until it feels like I am ready to truly move on.

Until then, I will allow myself to feel sad about the loss of something that has been important to me and that I truly believed in…even though I belatedly realize now that my feeling of community with “Nameless” was always just an illusion.

***(Please also scroll down to see the 8/25 Update, below the picture)***

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Image: maxpixel.freegreatpicture.com/CC0 Public Domain

August 25, 2017: 9:30 a.m.: Edited to Add:

Subsequent emails have sadly clarified my suspicions about covert lesbophobia lurking beneath the civil surface.

Specifically, later emails from the “Nameless” representative included the following direct quotes (again, note that I am redacting the name of this organization and any other personal information):

“…where you are doing some good activism re helping people understand sexual preference issues, but yet are unfortunately attracting some comments that make the site feel unsafe for prospective _______________(customers of ‘Nameless’)

AND

“I did get an email from (someone) who was worried whether followers to your Twitter account would feel safe re: ‘Nameless’.”

AND

“I am truly sorry you want to sever your connection with “Nameless”. To be clear again, we just wanted to….separate that part of your work from the page where people are responding to your lifestyle with lots of judgments and homophobia.”

So: Let’s sum it up:

The “Nameless” representative is apparently worried about being associated with me because my Twitter account allegedly “attracts” lesbophobic and judgmental comments from others because of my so-called “sexual preference” and “lifestyle”, which then might inexplicably cause my own Twitter followers to be afraid to do “Nameless”. (Um…Huh????)

Ugh!  I think/hope my readers will immediately see the underlying lesbophobia in these quotes, and I trust that you will also see the glaring problems with her  “logic”.

And: to the sniveling, sneaky, lowlife, despicable, immature coward who emailed the “Nameless” representative: I fervently hope that Karma has something very special in mind for you, something you truly deserve.

Also:  Please see Dirt’s post, here, on this situation.

Reading List For Anyone Dealing With “Toxic” People

A few readers have emailed me asking for my personal recommendations for a reading list for dealing with the narcissists & other people who have toxic effects on those around them, so I thought I would do a post.

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Image: Pixabay: congerdesign: Creative Commons CC0

Please note that ALL of these disclaimers still apply.

1). Will I Ever Be Good Enough? by Karyl McBride (for daughters of narcissistic mothers)

2).  Will I Ever Be Free of You? by Karyl McBride (for those going through a break-up with a narcissist, particularly a high-conflict divorce)

3). If You Had Controlling Parents by Dan Neuharth (for those whose parents were controlling)

4). The Gaslight Effect: How to Spot and Survive the Hidden Manipulation Others Use to Control Your Life by Robin Stern (for anyone being gaslighted or interested in knowing more about gaslighting)

5). Positive Energy by Judith Orloff (for those who want to protect themselves from negative energy)

6). Emotional Freedom by Judith Orloff (for those who want to protect themselves from negative energy)

7). How To Stubbornly Refuse To Make Yourself Miserable About Anything by Albert Ellis (the title says it all)

8). How To Keep People From Pushing Your Buttons by Albert Ellis (the title says it all)

9). In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People by George K. Simon (the title says it all)

10). Psychopath Free: Expanded Edition by Jackson MacKenzie (the title is somewhat of a misnomer due to the word “psychopath”, but still a good book for dealing with narcissists, sociopaths, and other toxic people)

This list is not intended to be comprehensive by any means, but rather just an overview of a few of my favorites that I would personally recommend.

Please let me know if you have any other recommendations, either by commenting below or emailing me at sayebennett@gmail.com.

08/02/2017: Edited to Add: 

11). Children of the Self-Absorbed by Nina W. Brown

12). Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward and Craig Buck

13). The Dance of Anger by Harriet Lerner

14). Why Is It Always About You?: The Seven Deadly Sins of Narcissism by Sandy Hotchkiss

15). Stop Walking on Eggshells: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger

A Battle With A Narcissist Is A Losing Battle Indeed

As I have mentioned previously, 99.99 percent of what I write is from my own personal perspective as a Lesbian — NOT as a psychologist.

On the very rare occasion that I am writing from a professional perspective, I am careful to note that in the post.

Similarly, today’s post is also written from a personal — NOT a professional — perspective.

Narcissism is a topic that I know a lot about, both as a person and as a psychologist; however, again, my focus today is solely on the personal, rather than the professional.

Much has been written about narcissism: the symptoms, definition, treatment, and so forth. For those curious about the basics, a simple Google search will garner oodles of results; to get the most reliable information, start with information from a known reputable organization such as the American Psychological Association, the Mayo Clinic, etc.

This post isn’t intended to be a lesson on narcissism nor a description of narcissism, but rather a discussion of my own personal observations/reactions.

I do want to clarify that some people may display narcissistic-type features/traits/behaviors but may or may not meet the clinical criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

Bottom line: We cannot, and should not, diagnose others on the internet anyway, so I will focus on features/traits/behaviors rather than actual or intended diagnoses.

***Therefore, for the purposes of this post, the word “narcissism” will be used as a descriptor rather than a diagnosis. Also, I am using “she” in this post because my own personal experiences are with females who have narcissistic traits, but, of course, please note that these traits can be exhibited by either males or females.***

I won’t go into my personal experiences in this post…I am not ready for that and I may never be.

But I am sharing that I have personal experience to illustrate why I not only recognize narcissistic features/traits/behaviors in others, but, more importantly, to explain why I also still occasionally fall into the traps set by female covert narcissists…even now. Yes, even now. Even after getting a Ph.D. in psychology. Even though I am certainly old enough, and have enough experience, to know better. Even after years and years and years of working to understand the dynamics between narcissists and their targets. Even though I know all about narcissism…well, at least intellectually, that is. Even though I do (or should…?) actually know better than to engage.

As I said, old habits die hard, especially when you are conditioned to respond in a certain way. Sometimes, without realizing it until it is too late, I still unconsciously respond like Pavlov’s dog to the siren call of a female covert narcissist (which only happens online at this point, because I have gotten MUCH better at recognizing and avoiding them in person).

When I do respond, I unwittingly become an active participant in a toxic dance that I recognize all too well. It is a dance that will never end well for me, because there is no winning with a narcissist

But: A narcissist cannot perform her twisted dance without a partner — someone who is primed to dance the specified steps. It takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and I now find myself finally ready to hang up my dancing shoes permanently.

For me, the warning signs that I am engaged in this kind of toxic battle are as follows:

  • an uneasy, distinct feeling of familiarity, even when I am dealing with a complete stranger on the internet;
  • a distinct difference in my responses to that specific person which is very far from my normally calm self;
  • queasiness, shakiness, fatigue, headache, malaise;
  • a very strong feeling of needing to defend myself and/or my point of view;
  • knowing I should pull away from the situation/argument, but feeling strangely unable to do so;
  • anger and defensiveness, usually way out of proportion to the situation;
  • a seeming inability to disengage in the interaction without a LOT of conscious effort;
  • losing sleep and a general feeling of unease and restlessness;
  • unable to truly focus on anything else for the duration of the battle;
  • an obsessive, oppressive feeling that I need to fight as if my life is at stake;
  • fight or flight response (rapid heartbeat; tense muscles; etc.);
  • repeated, intense fantasies that everyone else will somehow magically see the narcissist for who she really is;
  • feeling unreasonably threatened (while knowing that the person poses no literal physical threat);
  • strong emotions trumping my knowledge/logic…I can even consciously be aware that the individual is likely a narcissist (or that she at least exhibits some narcissistic features/traits/behaviors), but yet still feel compelled to engage anyway, despite knowing it is a fool’s game to do so.

Of course, everybody will have different ways of recognizing that they are dealing with a narcissist or other toxic individual; the above is my own personal list only, based on my own experience.

So, you may be wondering: How can anyone win a battle with a narcissist?

Sadly, you can’t. I can’t. Nobody can.

Let me say that again, because it bears repeating:

NOBODY CAN WIN A BATTLE WITH A NARCISSIST. 

So: If I ever find myself locking horns with a covert female narcissist (my personal Achilles’ Heel) again, I vow to remember the following:

  • Recognize the above signs, preferably sooner rather than later;
  • Remember that any response whatsoever gives the narcissist fuel which she will use to burn me at the stake;
  • Walk away. No matter how hard it is, walk the hell away and keep walking (or, even better, RUN LIKE THE WIND);
  • If the situation occurs on social media, block the narcissist immediately, and block everyone who attacks on her behalf (because she will enlist others to do so);
  • Remember that narcissists are usually incredibly cunning/manipulative and extremely good at fooling people, so most others are not going to be able to see the truth about her (so I need to give up the hope that they will);
  • Refuse to engage with the narcissist, her minions, or even random strangers offering “help”;
  • As much as I may want to defend myself, I need to remember that I don’t need to do so (and, in fact, it will even be counterproductive if I try);
  • Listen to my wife Dirt and to friends I trust ~ they will always be much more objective about the situation/person than I can possibly be at the height of the drama;
  • Remember that I could fight all the female covert narcissists in the whole world, but not only would I not win my battles with them, but, more importantly, fighting with them would certainly never heal any wounds from being the daughter of a narcissist.

Finally, for those of you who are likely wondering which Twitter battle I am referring to, LOL, I need to clarify that this is a general post which is not referring to any particular individual or situation. Sadly, there is no shortage of toxic people on social media, so consider this a general cautionary post.

Lesbians Are On Our Own

I have written before about homophobia and false allies.  I have been out for a very long time and have had many disappointing experiences and have answered many offensive questions about being a Lesbian.

So: I know how people are.

Or, more accurately, I should have known.

But: every day, I find myself more disappointed and more disillusioned with my fellow humans than ever before.

The election and its aftermath have stripped off the remnants of faux acceptance from our so-called “friends” and “family“, revealing a massive gangrenous sore which had been festering,  unnoticed, underneath the surface all along:

Lesbians have no true allies. We are on our own.

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#PicsArt #FreeToEdit

My spouse, partner, and all-around sweetiepie, Dirt, recently changed her Twitter bio to say: “If you’re not us, you’re against us.”

Meaning: Unless you are actually one of us ~ a LESBIAN ~ you are against us.  I misread it the first time, thinking it said: “If you’re not WITH us, you’re against us”. But she clarified that she meant that unless you ARE one of us, you are AGAINST us.

At first, I thought, “Wow, that is really cynical, because surely we do have some allies…well…somewheretheoretically“.

You see, I wanted to believe that we have allies. And, pitifully, I still want to believe that we have allies: perhaps because I am still a four-leaf-clover-picking, peace-loving optimist underneath my current defiant exterior; perhaps because it would be easier and more pleasant to stay in denial about those who we mistakenly thought were our loved ones; perhaps simply because the truth hurts.

Sadly, however, I am now convinced that Lesbians are, in fact, on our own. More importantly, I am now convinced we always were on our own…because the appearance of support and acceptance from our alleged “allies“, “friends“, and “family” was, in reality, only a BandAid which was unceremoniously ripped off with the election of a bigoted dictator, revealing the repugnant stench of straight privilege and lesbophobia beneath.

Repeated Twitter attacks, hetsplaining, unfollowing/blocking and subtweeting by so-called straight feminist “allies“; unfriending and blocking by Facebook “friends“; and being admonished by various alleged former “friends” and “family members” to “calm down”, “be nice”, “don’t take it personally”, “get along” (etc.) have all coalesced in the last few days to irrevocably prove to me that most straight people, even seemingly well-intentioned ones, remain clueless, insensitive, unaware, and arrogant in their ignorance.

Plus: (unrelated to the election, but pertinent to this topic): Some (alleged) “lesbians” on Twitter have continued minimizing, denying, arguing, and/or even outright mocking our series about the existence of Straightbians and how Straightbians are detrimental to Lesbians.

The reasons why the truth matters to Lesbians should be stunningly obvious to anyone with an IQ higher than a Chia Pet, so the attitudes of these individuals indicates that not only are they Straightbians themselves, but furthermore, they are NOT even allies to Lesbians…and they never will be.

They don’t want to listen to Lesbians. They want to believe the false notion that any woman can magically become a lesbian, because their own pathologies are tightly tied to that illusion, and they have gained lovers, friends, attention, followers, fame, speaking engagements, and/or money from perpetuating the lie that they are Lesbians themselves, at the expense of actual Lesbians.

These individuals want to preach feminist theory about “political Lesbianism“, but they don’t want to actually deal with hearing the pesky truth from REAL Lesbians. They appear to be “inclusive” and “accepting” by promoting the untruth that a woman can “magically become a Lesbian”, and therefore, they are popular amongst the “feminist” crowd, because straight women want to keep “Lesbian” open as their backup Uber ride in case the dickmobile runs out of gas.

Furthermore, in addition to all the many traitors listed above, even our supposed “allies” who are purportedly fighting for Lesbian self-acceptance in order to to avert transitioning often show shocking covert lesbophobia. How? First, true Lesbian allies would care what happens to ALL lesbians, not just up until our 18th birthday. Second, the terms “gender non-conforming” and “gender defiant” are offensive terms to Lesbians (**See Note, below**), but despite being told this repeatedly, these purported “allies” continue to use these (and similar) inappropriate terms. Third, some  of these alleged “allies” will respond favorably to straight people’s input, while completely ignoring, or even rudely arguing with, polite Lesbian comments/questions.

Bottom line: True Lesbian allies would listen to Lesbians. They would believe Lesbians. They would fight for Lesbian issues/rights, even when it is inconvenient to do so. They would include Lesbians. They would remain in conversation with Lesbians, even when it becomes heated or uncomfortable.  They would support Lesbians. They would recognize Lesbian is a real thing….not just some choice to be made or discarded at will or whimsy. And: they would stand with Lesbians in our pain and fear about this election, without attempting to tell us how to feel or to “be nice”.

None of these things are happening.

The time for nice is over. The time for hoping that people will do the right thing is over.

It is time for Lesbians to wake up, stand up, and realize that with “friends” like these, who needs enemies? It is apparent that not only was Sappho ahead of her time poetically, it seems that she too realized that Lesbian needs to be its own island.

**Note**:  Edited to add:  After a comment, I realized that I should have clarified further why the terms gender non-conforming (GNC), gender-defiant, and similar terms (hereafter shortened to GNC for brevity) are offensive to Lesbians:

The way these terms are being presented is that the so-called “GNC” people (including the Lesbians who would fall under this description) are intentionally defying gender norms.

In other words, the idea is that GNC is some sort of conscious performance, rather than just being who people are naturally.

For the lesbians who would fall under the GNC category, this is an insult, as well as a dangerous assumption, because it implies a willful disobedience of “norms”, which, in turn, implies that it can be changed with a simple conscious decision to conform.

So the use of these terms is both dangerous and insulting to the Lesbians who are being referred to as falling under those categories.

Hope this clarifies better, and as always, if you have questions, please feel free to ask!

Pervert(s) of the Day

Perverts of the day

Credit: Made with PicsArt #FreeToEdit

Yesterday, my spouse, partner, and all-around sweetiepie, Dirt, and I went to a Subway located inside the local Walmart where we do our grocery shopping.

I noticed a man looking at me when we walked in, but he quickly averted his gaze when I looked directly at him, so I decided to ignore him.  I didn’t say anything to Dirt about it, and we went to stand in line.

A couple of minutes later, the same guy appeared behind me in line, and asked the server if she had any soup.  It was only 9:00 a.m., so she said she did not have any soup, and he went back to sit down in his booth.  I thought the soup question was a bit odd, but not overly bizarre, so again, I decided to ignore him, even though he gave me the creeps; because, after all, we were in a public place in broad daylight.

Shortly after we sat down to eat, the female Walmart manager walked over, squatted down beside us, and whispered, “My cashier just told me that the man sitting over there has been watching you, and he took numerous pictures of your butt when he was standing behind you in line”.

The manager motioned to the cashier to come over, and the cashier confirmed it.  She said that she knows a pervert when she sees one, and said that she couldn’t stand by and watch silently.

Both women were visibly angry, and I felt immensely touched that these women, who I had never met before, were sticking up for me, and, by proxy, for women everywhere.

The Walmart manager explained that the Subway was independently leased so she was not allowed to handle the situation herself, but suggested we inform the Subway worker.

I glanced over at the guy while we were talking, and he was watching us while intently scrolling on his phone (my guess is that he was probably hastily deleting the pictures).

I could tell that Dirt really just wanted to beat the snot out of the guy, but since that is not legal (darn it!), we decided to inform the Subway worker as suggested.  I was also concerned about leaving the young female worker there alone with a pervert after we left anyway, so telling her seemed imperative, for her sake as well as ours.

The Subway worker went over to talk to the guy, with us still there too, and to my huge surprise, the guy actually admitted to doing it immediately.  He said he “loves beautiful women” and “takes LOTS of pictures every day” so he can “remember all the beautiful ladies” (or…their butts?).  (Ewww!).

So, bottom line, to make a long story a tad shorter: the Subway worker handled the situation, the pictures were deleted, we thanked all three women, and Dirt said a few things to the guy.

And we went on with our day.

Or, rather, I tried to…but I felt vaguely off, weird, yucky. I tried to shake it off.  The situation was over, and I didn’t want to give that guy the power to upset me. Perverts are a dime a dozen, after all.

Just this morning, I logged onto Twitter to see that a middle-aged man was following me. His bio says he has a “bi-curious wife” and “the best of both worlds threesomes cumming up” (yuck!).  BLOCKED!

Here’s the thing I want to say to every single pervert out there:  I am a lesbian, and a happily married lesbian at that.  I am NOT sexually/romantically interested in any man (which, yes, includes you), and I never will be.  I am not interested in your “bi-curious” wife either. Other lesbians do not want you either. If you are confused about the term lesbian, please read this post, which explains that lesbians are not pornified fodder for perverted males. You are barking up the wrong tree, so put your sad little tail between your legs and go home. You don’t turn me on…you gross me out.

And: straight women don’t fancy creeps either, so leave them alone too.

How about this?: Just say no to being a creep.

Femme Over Troubled Waters

My recent post about Resilience must have inadvertently hit a nerve, because I have received much feedback about it, some publicly, but mostly privately.  The great majority of the feedback I received was in agreement, with people having witnessed similar situations on social media getting blown out of all proportion. Many said they felt more comfortable having a private discussion because of this very phenomenon, rather than posting publicly, which is fine with me. In fact, I found myself replying with similar responses so often that I finally decided to go ahead and do a separate post.

(I always appreciate all thoughts on anything I write; if you want to contact me privately, you can always send me a Twitter direct message ~ @SayeBennett ~ or by email at sayebennett@gmail.com).

First, I would like to clarify that my Resilience post was not intended to be a comprehensive dissertation on the topic; like most topics, resilience cannot possibly be adequately covered in several books, and therefore it certainly cannot be comprehensively covered in single blog post.  Resilience, like almost everything in life, is not a cut-and-dried or one-size-fits-all topic.

My main point with the Resilience post was to put forth the concept that we don’t have to respond with feelings of self-doubt/insecurity/hopelessness/depression/anger/etc. to someone else’s opinions ~ or to their tone.

The choice of how to respond to any situation is always within our power.

Humans are not vending machines where if you put in some change and push a button, you’ll automatically get a bag of chips. Even when our buttons get pushed, we can learn to pause between the stimulus and the response long enough to choose how we want to respond.

As just a few examples, depending on the situation, we can choose to walk away and ignore what’s happening; or to stand our ground and argue our point; or to take a break and return to the situation later when we are feeling calmer; or to write our very own blog post about the topic to make sure our side is heard; or to do a collage or art project to deal with the feelings; or to journal about it; or to do some sort of self-care to calm ourselves (such as taking a walk, taking a bath, calling a friend, etc.).

Of course, I don’t mean to imply that it is ever simple to stop automatic reactions, or that it is easy to refrain from jumping into the fray in the heat of the moment.  I also don’t mean to imply that the reasons behind our initial responses are always simple or clear-cut.

But I have noticed that there are often some variations of Ellis’s irrational beliefs behind most knee-jerk overreactions. Finding out whether any of these beliefs are behind our feelings is a good first step to starting to find our own power.

Again, my main point is that ultimately, all of our responses are within our own control, which leads me to the second part of the feedback that I wanted to respond to:

An interesting, repetitive refrain of the feedback I received is the thought that my spouse, partner and all-around sweetiepie, Dirt, does indeed upset people with both the content and the tone of her writing…and therefore, some said they feel that it is inevitable to be upset by both her content and her tone.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Dirt is a lightning-rod of intense controversy. Dirt has a no-holds-barred style that leads to both copious cursing and death threats on a regular basis. She is direct and unapologetic in her communication, and she doesn’t back down, no matter what.  To say she is passionate about her cause would be a huge understatement; it would be like saying the entire vast universe is “kind of large“.

So, yes, I admit that Dirt does have a tendency to leave a plethora of pissed-off people in her wake. 

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Dirt & Me ~ True Love!

Reading between the lines, I also think the implication of some feedback was that I, as her wife, should perhaps influence her to “tone it down“, both in the content of her work and in the tone of her communication…to be a sort of “Femme-over-troubled-waters” between Dirt and the rest of the world.

The idea seemed to be that I could, and should,  mediate her opinions and communication in order to water her message down to make it more palatable for polite consumption.

Well, that will never happen and I will tell you why: I fell in love with her for exactly the way she is.  I believe in her and in her cause. I am not some starry-eyed schoolgirl (although she does make me feel that way!); I am a middle-aged professional woman with a Ph.D. and lots of opinions of my own, and who shares a remarkably compatible degree of passion and stubbornness with Dirt.

I support (and agree with) Dirt and her cause completely, and she supports me and my passions completely.  I would never want her to change, much less ask her to.

Love, to me, is not falling for someone…and then hoping that she will change; it is loving her, completely and realistically, for exactly who she is.  In my opinion, the greatest gift we can give our partner is whole-hearted, complete acceptance and support.

To ask Dirt to change her writing or her tone would be asking her to weaken her message. What prompted the original altercation that I described in my original post on Resilience was the necessity of the accuracy of language.  Like a vampire, political correctness drains language of all meaning to the point of lifelessness.

Dirt and I communicate very differently, but if you pay attention, you will see that our message is the same.

Plus, I truly feel the same principles of self-responsibility for our reactions that I wrote about above and in my original Resilience post still apply, no matter how much Dirt’s writing pushes people’s buttons.

Finally, I learned that there are still apparently many misconceptions about Butch/Femme relationships ~ so very, very many that it will have to be a completely separate post ~ but I want to end this post with just a brief summary:

Butch/Femme relationships are not a mimicry of heterosexual dynamics.  Dirt and I are both females who love and respect each other as equals; and therefore, we don’t have a hierarchy of power, nor the need to communicate via manipulation like Lucy and Ricky Ricardo.

So if you have something to say to Dirt, please say it to Dirt.  She’s an adult and I promise she can handle it.

And if you have something to say to me, by all means, please reach out.

Resilience

resiliencePhoto ©RalfSkjerning (Used under license from Shutterstock.com)

I have been thinking a lot lately about resilience ~ the ability to withstand and recover from adversity, misfortune, and/or change.  It often seems that resilience is in very short supply lately; sometimes it even seems that it is on the path to extinction.

Psychology often focuses on what is wrong with people and often fails to study what is right.  Why do some people keep on trucking, no matter what obstacles appear in their path?  Many people survive and even thrive despite unimaginably dire circumstances, and the factors that lead to such resilience should be studied, learned, and cultivated.

Perhaps this topic has been on my mind lately because I spend a good bit of my free time on Twitter.  I have written about some of the pitfalls of Twitter before, but I did not address the resilience (or, rather, lack thereof) aspect.

Twitter seems to be a fertile breeding ground for discontent and strife.  The smallest disagreement, even a simple difference of opinion, can escalate more quickly than wildfire, leaving all it touches singed.

As an example: Recently, my spouse, partner, and all-around sweetiepie responded to a Twitter conversation, commenting about the need for semantics and the importance of keeping language intact, rather than letting words run amok like drunken frat boys on spring break.

She was very direct in her wording (as she always is), but she was not cruel, nor was she personally insulting to the other woman involved in the conversation.  Nonetheless, my spouse’s refusal to back down on her opinions in that particular disagreement led to the other woman actually threatening suicide because she said that she felt she was “being bullied” ~ after which she promptly disappeared for several days, creating much angst, worry, and upset among many people on Twitter.  Fortunately, the woman reappeared several days later, unharmed.

(Important Note: Suicide is a terrible thing and every threat should be taken seriously, and if you, or anyone you know, are even thinking about suicide, please get help. Do NOT take such threats lightly…ever).

Anyway, back to the topic at hand: I am purposefully not naming the individual involved in this example, nor did I screencap the conversation (although doing so would have been quite helpful in demonstrating how quickly and seemingly out-of-the-blue that the situation escalated). The reason I am not doing that is because I truly don’t want to hurt/embarrass anyone, and I don’t want to cause any more turmoil for her or for anyone else.

But I purposefully used this (admittedly very extreme) example because it begs the following question: Is a stranger’s opinion on social media worth threatening to kill yourself over, and/or is it worth creating days of angst for yourself and for the people who genuinely care about you?

Answer: Of course not.

Here’s the thing: If you ever find yourself threatening suicide, or even becoming extremely upset, over anyone simply disagreeing with you about a hypothetical concept, it is time to question why.

The current cultural zeitgeist is one of political correctness and trigger warnings and anti-bullying campaigns galore.  The message sent by this walking-on-eggshells climate is that people are too weak, too namby-pamby,  too feeble, and too helpless to withstand the slightest hint of criticism, conflict, rejection, or disagreement.

And that message, sadly, is becoming so pervasive in society that people have incorrectly started believing it themselves.

The First Amendment  guarantees that all Americans have the right to engage in Free Speech, but the current trend toward shaming/silencing anyone who dares to disagree with (or even question) the politically-correct-trend-du-jour is in itself (ironically!) a form of bullying.

People who subscribe to this unfortunate train of thought are saying, in effect: You must agree with me, validate me, praise me, accept and love me (and all my opinions)…or else you are a terrible bully who needs to be punished and silenced.

Disagreement (even vehement argument) isn’t bullying. If your opinions are viable and valid, they should be able to withstand scrutiny. If you are so locked-in to your opinion that you cannot tolerate questions or dissent, then perhaps you should question how well-founded your arguments really are.

Nobody ~ and I do actually mean nobody: not me, not my spouse, not your spouse, not your mother or your father or your siblings, not your teacher or preacher, not the President or the Pope  ~ should ever be able to make you feel so vulnerable, powerless, angry, or upset that you disintegrate.

Life is hard, life is unfair.  Bad things will happen to good people, and good things will happen to bad people. People won’t always approve of you, and people certainly won’t always agree with you. People often won’t say/do what you think they should. You will be severely and sadly disappointed if you believe otherwise.

Albert Ellis  listed  3 major “musts” which are irrational beliefs that underlie the majority of our emotional turmoil.  In brief, these 3 irrational “musts” that we tell ourselves are:

1).  Demands about self: “I must be perfect and be approved of and loved by others, or else I am worthless.”

2).  Demands about others: “Other people must act the way I want them to act, or else, they are no good and therefore deserve to be punished.”

3). Demands about life: “The universe must give me what I want, and life must be easy, or else everything is terrible.

Whenever we have a knee-jerk overreaction to a situation, it is likely that one (or more) of these irrational beliefs are lurking in the shadows behind the turmoil we are feeling.

Then is the time to bring these incorrect beliefs out into the spotlight, where they can be examined carefully, revealed to be the frauds that they are, and eventually discarded.  This process will need to be repeated every time it happens, which will be an ongoing process.

Ideally, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all get to the point that we realize that we are enough just the way we are, and that we have the power within ourselves to choose how we feel and how we react in any situation?

So, next time someone is dissing us on Twitter or snarking at us on Facebook, let’s please try to remember this Victor Frankl quote: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”