Response-Able

But no one knows me, no one ever will
if I don’t say something, if I just lie still
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let them hear what I have to say…

MILCK

It has been almost two months since this ended. Don’t worry, I have not gone back on my promise, just here to say that I may create a new one… RESPONSE-ABLE.

I can give of hope of a different ending to a story that’s already behind me without trying to force myself into a state of believing that all growth is over–all speaking out is over. Getting a voice is addictive, I just couldn’t stick with picking at this one scab… Waiting for acknowledgment that would never come, waiting for it to be a joke, just waiting…

If you are new here–the beginning posts are very organized but I was still in a lot of denial so don’t trust that it is anywhere near the full picture, or that I have not opened myself up to other (more damaging) interpretations… The end posts are less organized but more honest. I still am promising to go back and sort it all out, it will just take time…

I realize that I would’ve perhaps been more successful had I started off with the worst of the worst, framing the mysoginy, racism, abuse and lack of training (amongst things). Successful perhaps in attention but social justice issues often become trends only to be forgotten the next month, without ever having a clear analysis of how ideology is created and the dangers of “followership.” 

This was my goal. But my real goal was healing. To some I should’ve come to an understanding before writing, but writing was how I understood. I imagine it’ll be years before I can get to the darkest places. But I will get there.

In the meantime I was inspired by the recent Women’s March and have decided to reclaim response-able. WE are response-able.

Just a reminder, response-able was what Ben and Jock used in reference to girls being raped. Girls was their word.

response-able

The End at The End at The End

There is no past or future. Using tenses to divide time is like making chalk marks on water.Janet Frame

I know I have promised an end before but perhaps now is the right time. After all I have now covered all ideas. All apprehensions of being critical–of using my brain–are gone. All need for acceptance from Haven has left me (though I will continue to fight for accountability for the sake of future participants.)

I have certainly struggled. I have now covered: ethics, the communication model, the empathy model, catharsis, breathing, boundaries, sexuality… I believe there is now nothing left to look at. It took me time to really look. I was surrounded by water for a long time. So many times I felt guilty for being critical and then lashed out. Many people are not happy with me. But this is a cultish reaction.

I still loathe the notion of followership and the apparent desire to convert young people to become good followers, choose their next favourite to put on a pedestal, and repeat the same pattern of the past. The notion that I was ever considered to be one of those people is hilarious in hindsight. There were people I believed saw it for what it was–my presence as not being quite right–but the reaction of those was generally to treat me as a pest.

When I was homeless and taken on as a project, I believe things would have been so different had even one person asked me what I wanted without telling me what to want, what to do, how to be. I really believe that it would have just taken one person to tell me that I could leave, that I was able, that I had a whole life ahead of me… I left out the part about how a Haven leader even offered to take one of my university courses for me. She mentioned it several times.

Perhaps I wouldn’t have the same success without having to fight back against my entire life up until this point.

So thank you Haven, you taught me that I have something to fight for.

Some changes have been made–though not enough. They changed their policies but refused to acknowledge why they did so. They put a new complaint procedure in place but it is not yet finished. They say they are having conversations. These conversations do not include me so naturally fall short but for a system that has been devoid of accountability/ethics from its start–it will take time.

So I leave you with Janet Frame. Because I am no follower. Haven was my entire world. Now I feel as if I am looking back into a fishbowl.

Now I want to rip my hair out at anything that even resembles navel-gazing. There is a whole world out there! Furthermore, if you believe that to be honest you have to voice every negative fleeting though the, by voicing them you give them a certain validation. The more you navel-gaze, the less you will be able to see all of the wonders outside of yourself. This is true responsibility–what you choose to pay attention to. Voicing diatribes is a form of attention. Responsibility is in the ability to think critically for yourself. And if voicing every fleeting thought is a virtue in Haven thinking, perhaps I wasn’t an inadequate follower but one who could point out the flaws by honestly living this philosophy. There was nothing I wouldn’t do to follow others. That was my problem.

I still cry, but whether or not the owls are happy or not occurs to me less and less. I mainly cry for the fact that it took me so damn long. Being institutionalized or living in institutional environments is like living in a dream. It gave me an edge I wouldn’t otherwise have–one that terrifies me mostly. But it is mine. And I survived.

No model can explain that. And nobody can teach you how to live without also teaching you that you don’t already know how to live. You know how to live, you were born to live. That’s existentialism. There’s nothing more to it.

And for any good or inadequate followers who may stumble upon this–I give you permission to use your brain, use your own resources, and to leave. Leave in any direction, just make sure it is yours. Falling flat on your face on your own terms is always infinitely better than being infantilized.

The wizard is just a man behind a curtain. You have the world at your fingertips. Abstractions are for fish, you are a warrior.

Most importantly–eventually you will realize that the wizard needs you more than you need him.

Boundaries 911

I’ve been relatively quiet–for me. But alas, there’s always more… The more time passes, the clearer I become. Though I have been generally moving on with life.

I am thinking today of boundaries. At Haven living without boundaries is considered virtuous. Reveal all. Never question. Leaders/counsellors have no physical, sexual, or emotional boundaries. They may hold you one moment, flirt another, then insult. This is actually considered counselling. I remember being held and rocked when I was 15–adults I barely knew touching every part of my body–I wanted to scream. I was a kid and they were authority figures–no didn’t exist in my vocabulary. We had to say who we were most sexually attracted to, who we didn’t trust… “Nothing left unsaid” was a common theme. You can say no but then you merely aren’t “willing” or “evolved.” Call me old-fashioned but I believe in boundaries. ESPECIALLY in the role of counsellor. I actually stopped knowing the difference between “counselling” and general socializing-they were treated exactly the same. And thus, the client naturally becomes a sort of puppet. They handed out meds to me, even rashioned out vodka… Reported abuse to the abuser. Yes, you read that correctly. Confidentiality, or lack thereof, is another minefield. “Because we care and you aren’t being responsible” is their go-to answer if you dare question.

It operates like traditional grooming in that I was told things like “we wouldn’t do this for anyone else” or “I only see clients that I like.” There’s nothing that a leader wouldn’t do for me–if I were being young, cute, unable and kept “no” out of my vocabulary. Being agreeable was more important than being able.

Whether or not I was attractive often came up-more so than it has anywhere (almost anywhere) else. It is not only superficial but sexist. I’m so pleased that today I can talk about literature and art and philosophy rather than my weight, whether or not someone feels “close or distant” because my socks don’t match, etc. That feeling I had when I was 15 never left–I just got so used to it over a lifetime that it never occurred to me to seek out something else. Seek out boundaries. 

Frankly, not everything needs to be said. They view it as their job to live out their personal projections as psychodramas with clients. As if we don’t have enough of our own baggage! I really stopped knowing what counselling was. I’m still not sure for I don’t dare re-enter that world.

People who’ve experienced trauma have over-reactive amygdalas. The point is to re-train the brain using meditation and ownership of one’s own life–not to train it to stay in overdrive and be saved by the leader. Indeed by even watching porn in a group. I got addicted to trauma.

I’m disclosing things that they say should not be disclosed. Participants aren’t supposed to know what they’re getting into–it’s supposed to be a “surprise.” This is also unethical. There can be no informed consent and no one can effectively evaluate what occurs. It’s taken me over a year to understand and I haven’t reached the end of my understanding. Without a counter-will or effective boundaries and ethics–groupthink blinds even the most critical of us. I basically sold myself for a place to belong. That was what I had always done.

So no, I did not want to be held, flirted with, insulted, wear a leash… I just wanted to be. I didn’t know I could. I tried and every time I tried, was beat down further.

In the beginning I tried so hard to give Haven the benefit. Partly I knew no one would listen otherwise. Partly I didn’t want to access the full truth–access the feeling of being grabbed by a group. 

Nothing left unsaid is also huge hypocrisy when they don’t want me to say–no! I am a human not a prop! Not want me to say basically anything I have said… I lived in your psychodramas (often overly sexualized and secret) for long enough.

They actually consider people being driven to a psychotic break as something expectable and a sign of success. Because everything is a “choice” the system itself cannot be criticized. It should therefore follow that the system cannot get credit…

Now sometimes I think I must be on drugs only to realize, no, this is what it feels like to not be in fight/flight/freeze. Normal people don’t need drugs to feel this way.

This is healing.

SJW: Respect v Compassion

The Latin root of condescension
Means we all sink.

Seamus Heaney

University campuses have some interesting debates on free speech currently. Jordan B Peterson has some very interesting comments on the mother figure and how it has corrupted intellectual freedom, resiliency and free speech. He mentions the over-valuing of compassion. I was reminded of this based on a recent email. I asked for respect and accountability, not compassion. I was offered the opposite. Compassion and paternalism without respect is the surest way to guarantee that a person will not become resilient. So compassion offered up from those who continue to ban me from the leadership/diversity forum is not requested–it is condescension. Indeed, from those who specifically stated that I have nothing to offer.

I will come back to this notion of the mother figure, the over-valueing of compassion and de-valueing of respect, with reference to Jordan B Peterson at a later date. And yes, I am aware that I will lose respect from SJWs by respecting Jordan B Peterson and what he has to offer in terms of the psychological literature. On the surface it may appear that my complaints most align with SJWs. However, they are much more the opposite. The mother-victim dynamic is held as virtue in the SJW world. Those advocating for free speech are concerned with respect and accountability. And there are people who have much to gain from me being in the role of the child to be emotionally supported, and not that my intellectual and ethical comments have any value in themselves. It terrifies me greatly that there is talk of a new work/study to train more young people to become good followers.

But in case it hasn’t been clear thus far: I have requested respect, accountability, and a public forum. Not your emotional support. I am sorry if that hasn’t been clear yet. This also relates to previous research on emotional over-involvement. See post and/or podcast on The Problem With The Solution. It also relates to the Axis of Likability–a similar red herring. Okay, it relates to everything. Jordan B Peterson probably wouldn’t like the way I have altered the hero archetype but both hero and mother can be equally corrupt–often in an identical format. Always offering up followership–never personal worth and intellectual freedom. I risk a lot by not aligning myself with SJWs. I am aware of this. However, I am not about to give up my integrity now–I have lost too much already for it.

-inadequate follower

PS I was originally going to post more of the Seamus Heaney quote,

On your way up, show consideration
To the ones you meet on their way down.
The Latin root of condescension
Means we all sink.

but then I realized that I had the equation backwards in regards to who is on their way up and who is on their way down. I don’t necessarily want it to be that way. Criticism can be a life jacket. Criticism can be water. Criticism can be anything you are willing to take from it.

How to (not) rebel/ This is (not) water

If it were true that superior people refuse to be treated as inferiors, it would follow that those low in the social order are truly inferior, since, if they were superior, they’d protest; since they accept an inferior position, they are inferior. This is the comfortably tautological argument of the slave owner, the social reactionary, the racist, and the misogynist.

The shift from denial of injustice to recognition of injustice can’t be unmade. What your eyes have seen they have seen. Once you see the injustice, you can never again in good faith deny the oppression and defend the oppressor. What was loyalty is now betrayal. From now on, if you don’t resist, you collude. But there is a middle ground between defense and attack, a ground of flexible resistance, a space opened for change. It is not an easy place to find or live in.

The exercise of imagination is dangerous to those who profit from the way things are because it has the power to show that the way things are is not permanent, not universal, not necessary. Having that real though limited power to put established institutions into question, imaginative literature has also the responsibility of power. The storyteller is the truthteller.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Full article found here https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/05/06/ursula-k-le-guin-freedom-oppression-storytelling/?mc_cid=24aa1ea22b&mc_eid=cc78da4a74

I am again looking up some of my favourite thinkers as I come to terms with the irony that the only way for me to have voice is by giving up voice. I have agreed to not write about a meeting with Haven. Not exactly what truth to power originally seemed to me. Originally, of course, I had no idea what I was doing. I was so in desperate need of truth that I grabbed it by the horns. Not agreeing to conditions would be nothing but youthful idealism–something I have only ever been good at in its most perverted form.

As usual, my favourite thinkers don’t tell me what to do. If anything they tell me, you can be one of us. Join us. You have the ruby slippers.

And I want to say, can I get a raincheck?

Haven always told me what to do.

I am coming to peace with it. I will have this meeting. Perhaps being pragmatic is not the same as selling out. The message you can only exist under our conditions is not a new one or a surprising one. People have always placed limits on my existence. Finding a peaceful rebellion is an oxymoron because it really is that hard, but peace could’ve never existed without rebellion.

I didn’t need Ursula K Le Guin to tell me that, but it helps to know that someone else thought it too. Someone else was once in this position, and will be in the future. And maybe they will read me and think the same.

Perhaps we are not rebellious or pragmatic or what have you but simply more human than we originally signed up for. That is how this often feels.

There is a saying about a wise old fish swimming past two little fish, asking them how the water is. The little fish asks the other little fish, what’s water?

How do you explain water?

And to the person who said I have nothing of value…

Water.

This is water.

The three people with the most power have called me: dangerous, uncaring and offering nothing of benefit. It reminds me of the lion, tinman and scarecrow; looking for courage, a heart and a brain and instead putting it on me.

I think that makes me incredibly valuable, for all the wrong reasons.

-inadequate follower

Changing minds: Catharsis revisited

Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.

Maria Popova

For the record, I have changed my mind on catharsis. I think that I had criticized so much that I wanted to hold onto something. I got caught in the dichotomy between the 12-step version of anger as a character defect, and The Haven version of living out trauma and pulling extremes of emotions to the surface. Research shows that this view of emotional expression is actually harmful.

I recall once someone bringing up this criticism. I made some trite comment about how research isn’t relevant, and those around me patted me on the back for my wisdom. I feel a bit nauseous remembering this interaction. I desperately wanted to be in the inner circle, and part of how I gained acceptance was to use my intelligence to make comments like that that appeared wise… As I originally said, wisdom is disgusting! Even when it comes from me!

We should be paying attention to the research that is out there. I was in an awkward position on this since I was unable to face my anger before I left Haven, and there were so many other things I needed to address first… And since I never properly engaged in catharsis, I am not sure I can comment from personal experience. I do remember the pressure to have an emotional outburst–to be accepted.

There is a high that comes from this, from connections to groups with their own specific culture and beliefs, and to emotional outbursts met with a song and dance and hug. But what happens after? Do people have to keep going back?

In sum, I don’t have to believe my anger is morally bad to not put it on a pedestal. After all, have I not been criticized endlessly by Haven for being angry? I am angry. I am less angry than I was. How am I less angry? I spoke truth, I didn’t bow down, and instead of throwing a fit, I take a deep breath and think of something else.

I stopped trying to be wise, stopped caring about acceptance, and faced my breath. These calm moments actually take much more courage in my books than outbursts. The courage to not be wise. The courage to change one’s mind–to have a mind. To be in the silence.

I probably should also take back some comments on sexual trauma. I am fairly certain that is one place left where I have denial. But at least my beliefs are congruent, if not always accurate. At least I have brought the Haven view of sexuality into the light. You decide.

I was 15. That is what I have. I was 15.

Epilogue

We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.

Ellie Wiesel

It’s too soon for a proper epilogue but perhaps my attempt to force an ending was always going to fall short. I realize that this blog has also kept me sane through quite a bit…
I want to write a bit on shame. The above quote further aids some points I made on how relativism is used as a defense for those with power–being too morally evolved for morality never helps those without power. Being able to act as a moral authority is itself a power. And Nietzsche would agree, one of the most dangerous…

But on to shame. In rehab we learned that guilt is a healthy response to wishing one had acted better. Toxic shame is an unhealthy response to trauma where negative beliefs about the self are internalized.

The Haven believes that toxic shame is healthy. You feel like a monster because you are one so just own it… You didn’t just do something bad, you are a person who does bad things. You are bad…

I tried hard to accept the Haven version of shame. Why? Acceptance at rehab wasn’t conditional, acceptance at Haven was.

But this shame I feel for things that have happened to me IS toxic. It’s a cycle. We do bad things when we believe we are bad. It doesn’t take Freud to figure that out… I dissociated my way through most of the Haven insults. It was like a rat maze. I never got the cheese…

A lot of what I originally said has been proven by recent behaviour:

Those who wish not to conform are given no place to speak.

Those with power can do whatever they want.

In the role I was given, people only would love me if I was young, cute and broken.

To play a paternal role and then abandon is screwed up. To play a paternal role and then abandon because I found a voice… Words don’t exist for what that is.

Proving another point. I didn’t get to choose the play or the roles and the hero needs a victim or bad guy (I can remain the bad guy from a distance. Anyone who comes too close may risk finding out otherwise…)