I was recently messaging with a friend about the fool’s errand of saying, ‘I want to keep everyone happy’.
It has NEVER been possible in the best of times to make everyone happy. These days? Pffft. 40% of the country identifies with Nazis and White Nationalists (but I repeat myself), and another good 20% just can’t be arsed to get involved with the suffering of others. These ‘Keep Everyone Happy’ folks spend great quantities of energy NOT THINKING about kidnapped brown children in cages, or that their friend’s sexuality is being legislated out of existence, or that the Press isn’t just being threatened anymore – they’re being murdered and jailed.
The most disappointing thing about Trump is not his poor behavior, but the poor behavior of our family and friends. Their Nazism or lack of will to stand up to it has translated to ruptured relationships and hurt feelings. In the last few years I’ve parted company with a good number of people I had been very close with for a long time – some of them I’d known since childhood. But, I draw the line at Fascism and Nazis.
Not one person with a moral compass is immune from this culling.
Sometimes you cull people who have become openly, virulently White Nationalists. Take my neighbor, for instance, who believes Muslims should be registered and Syrians should be put in concentration camps. Or my husband’s college friend who believes Human Rights are no longer universal because not everyone is a human being.
Sometimes people who can’t bother giving up an inch of their White Privilege, and just want you to STOP TALKING about things that make them sad or uncomfortable cull you. They ghost you because you’re Debbie Downer with all your talk about children in cages and The Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on Genocide. Can’t you just go back to posting hilarious and disgusting vintage ads featuring Spam or mayonnaise?
No. No, I can’t pretend that Trump isn’t gaslighting us every time he opens his mouth. Nor am I going to be silent about Trump delivering on the promise of state sponsored murder and the torture of children. I refuse to ignore his abusive threats to the Press that the violence will continue until the coverage improves. I will not keep my opinions to myself about this Fascist almost-Dictator who promises to violate the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th and 14th Amendments, and to end abortion, civil rights, voting rights, marriage equality and the EPA.
“Not gonna happen,” to quote George Bush the Senior.
This culling of our friends and family list didn’t start on January 21, 2017. It began loooong before that, and congealed when Trump declared his candidacy, in June of 2015. Too many people have still not figured out that the radicalization of the American Alt-White movement began decades ago with the Southern Strategy, and solidified in earnest in 2010 when Mitch McConnell vowed to make Obama a one-term president by opposing ANYTHING he supported, and by silently allowing birth certificate rumors to flourish unchecked.
McConnell and Lift-Bro Ryan should have taken every opportunity to stamp out the pernicious racist rumor that Barack Obama was born in Kenya, his birth certificate was fake, and therefore he was an illegitimate president. But they, and every other member of the GOP leadership, hadn’t even the barest scrap of integrity to say, “So what? Even if Obama was born in Kenya he can still be POTUS because he’s AMERICAN citizen, being that his mother was born in Kansas. It’s in The Constitution.”
This well known fact went unspoken by the GOP, and the Alt-White pretended it didn’t exist by continually shrieking about the birf certificate!!
But, it was never about Kenya or Kansas for these folks. A black man was elected President and gave them health care against their will, and the Alt-White lost it’s collective fucking mind.
When a WOMAN had the temerity to try to use 45 years of advocacy for the disenfranchised and hard work within her own party to run for President, the Alt-White lost its collective fucking mind again. This time they were joined by a motley assortment of Brogressives who were simply FURIOUS they couldn’t have their pony, so Fuck It!! I’ll have viper, instead, and we might as well burn this bitch down, while we’re at it.
These things were all quite clear in the fall of 2016. Trump had been gaslighting and saying terrible things unabated for 16 months. Instead of people taking him seriously they were amused by him.
The more I raised my voice about how THIS IS NOT NORMAL!! The more I was either avoided or assured I was making a mountain out of a molehill.
“He’s NOT going to win, and even if – by some fluke – he did, he’s not going to be able to do the things he promised. There are laws.”
Unfortunately NOBODY paid attention to what I kept harping about: If Trump wins the election the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches would all be held by one party. There was a SCOTUS seat at stake, and thus the ENTIRE make-up of the court for the next 20 years was hanging in the balance. Not only that, McConnell had blocked nearly 1,000 of Obama’s rightful picks to open judgeship positions at all levels of the federal circuit and appeals courts.
Couldn’t ANYONE see the consequences of the GOP having unfettered control of EVERYTHING?!
I felt like Cassandra whose warnings went unheeded: The balance of power would shift too far if Trump was elected. Trump is an Abuser, and you believe an Abuser when they promise to hurt you.
It was at that time (September of 2016) that I finally broke up with my creepy psychiatrist, and I’ve been carrying some unresolved and seriously unnecessary baggage about it ever since.
I say ‘break up’ because you have to put an immense amount of trust in someone to be able to tell them your hopes and fears. He violated my trust, though, and it became an abusive relationship in August of 2016, when he ‘jokingly’ threatened to sell my records to the paparazzi.
Yes. My psychiatrist actually threatened to sell my records to the paparazzi to make a quick buck – and then called it a joke.
I knew what he did was wrong at the time. But I ignored the fucked up dynamic of the middle-aged white male abusing his power because he was a Doctor.
It took me writing about him and what he did to me to see that he was trying to mold me and ‘fix’ me through intimidation, not help me navigate an increasingly hostile world. He abused his power by threatening to expose my deepest fears and secrets (for profit) to strangers who would ridicule me, and have undeserved access to my inner-most thoughts – and then called it a joke.
He had an idea of what I should be, and he expected me to kowtow to his notions and respond positively to the flex of his power, and capitulate to his emotional blackmail.
While it makes me feel like I need a Silkwood Shower just to write about what Dr. Blackmail did to me, it has to be given a voice. I realize I’m lucky I didn’t have a massive backslide.
The truth is that I grew up amongst a pack of abusive, rabid wolves, and it’s hard not to subconsciously pick abusive, rabid wolves with whom to associate. Even doctors.
I initially saw Dr. Blackmail in late 2014 to have medical supervision in getting off of short-term PTSD drugs another Psychiatrist had forgotten to stop, and I’d been on 18 months longer than recommended. (Whoops! Sorry about that. We good?) He was one of the only doctors who was taking patients at the time, and I jumped at the chance of getting off of the meds. It only occurs to me as I write this that every other patient I saw in Dr. Blackmail’s office was female, or with a man – presumably doing some kind of couple’s therapy. You do the math.
I got off the unnecessary PTSD drugs in just a few months, and things were SO much better. My anxiety attacks decreased by 90%, as did the visual vertigo, and the crippling panic attacks when I wanted to leave the house. My head was clearer, and my thoughts were, too. I began writing again, and resumed work on my memoirs. I even started this blog. This will be my 84th entry, and I have 11 drafts I’m still tinkering with, and I have more than 10,000 reads.
I continued seeing Dr. Blackmail because it was increasingly difficult to deal with my Mystery Illness. I needed emotional support to navigate the crushing disappointment of seeing dozens of doctors over several years, none of whom were able to diagnose the disease nor halt it symptoms. I was also grappling with the new reality that I couldn’t work, and I felt utterly useless to the world.
Dr. Blackmail REALLY WANTED to treat my appropriate grief and sadness with anti-depressants. I mean REALLY. WANTED.
No matter how many times I explained to him that I wanted nothing further to do with psych meds at that point – and ultimately *I* was the one making decisions about my health care – he would bring it up at EVERY damned appointment.
Finally I snapped at him, “Stop it. Stop asking me to take medication to change the way I think. I *LIKE* me. What you’re asking me to do is take happy pills to conform. Do you think I’m a danger to myself or others? No? Do you think I am incapable of caring for myself? No? THEN WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO CHANGE ME?!!”
His answer was always, “‘I think you’d do better if you were on something to stabilize your mood.”
Stabilize my mood.
Stabilize. My. Mood.
Not to keep me safe. Not to keep others safe. Not because I was bi-polar, and in some kind of manic-depressive episode. Not because I was incapable of ascertaining reality, was hallucinating, or was hearing voices. But, because he thought it would be a great idea and best practices if I would kindly stop making such a fuss and please melt into society a bit more, and not be SO MUCH like me.
He claimed to be worried about my losing friends when I disconnected (willingly and unwillingly) from the users and abusers in my life, those uncomfortable with my illness, those who were revealing their dormant White Supremacy, and those unwilling to make a choice about the rising Nationalism. To Dr. Blackmail the most important thing wasn’t moral boundaries, but how many ‘friends’ I had.
Dr. Blackmail planted a bullshit seed that is at the heart of a continuing problem: I think I am a social misfit for having a highly developed sense of morality – and acting on it.
Sometimes when I block someone or (even bigger) let go of a hurtful person I’ve been close to in real life, I hear that asshole’s nagging voice about how when disappointing people leave my life it’s bad and entirely on my shoulders, and can be treated with medication.
That fucker made me question myself until today. No more. Today I let go of what I started when I walked away.
The proverbial Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back that caused me to leave his practice happened one day in September of 2016, probably a month after Dr. Blackmail threatened to sell my medical records. I was trying to explain how I felt like Cassandra, and this terrible thing was coming with Trump’s election. His response was to laugh at me good and hard and say through his gales, “Claudia, stop! Don’t be ridiculous. Trump’s NOT going to win!!”
Super professional behavior, no?
I blew my top, yelled at him for about 15 minutes and left, never to return. I’m certain my file is a shit show, and I regret not turning him into the state for his egregious behavior.
I think about Dr. Blackmail occasionally, and the thoughts that keep bubbling up are:
1) Why did you keep trying to medicate me if my only problem is ‘Doesn’t play well with others’?
2) WHY is it imperative everyone like me?
3) Who fucking threatens their patient’s privacy as a ‘joke’?
The inescapable truth was that more I pointed out the rising misogyny and institutionalized sexism that’s impossible to escape in America, the more I was told BY MY PSYCHIATRIST that I needed try to fit in harder. Complaining about online bullying and abuse by men led to being told I needed to stop arguing so much. When I became incensed about people who had been using me for years I was made to feel guilty for abandoning ‘my friends’.
The answer to my increasing distress at society treating me as inconsequential wasn’t to work on my fears through mindfulness and meditation – but, rather, to medicate me into compliance like a Stepford Wife.
We’re stuck in the 50s, and I was getting the modern-day treatment for Hysteria. This year’s pills aren’t Thorazine, but the aim is the same:
Medicate the FUCK out of the Little Lady and she won’t complain when she realizes society is stacked against her!!
“Holy shit, John. I just realized I wasted the best years of my life wiping noses and asses, and having your slippers ready when you walked in the door. Of course, I was useful during WWII when I worked in the factories and literally made and brought home the bacon. But THAT went down the memory hole, and I’m supposed to pretend self-agency wasn’t wonderful… What do I do NOW?!!”
“Open wide, Martha – you’ll never remember a thing.”
Keeping everyone happy is the least of my worries these days, because I’m really okay with the label ‘Doesn’t Play Well With Others’ when it comes to Nazis taking away my rights, and the rights of those I love.
Keeping everyone happy means you have to have the moral center of a marshmallow that gives whenever pushed. The ‘push’ right now is Fascism that’s quickly devolving into a Dictatorship. Being polite about our rapid descent into a White Nationalist totalitarian state means you agree with it, plain and simple.
There is no neutral position regarding Nazis – no one gets to play Switzerland.
I may have lost friends and loved ones to the rise of Fascism, and the lack of will to fight it. But good friends and loved ones who have stood the test of time are ever so dear to me, and make life lighter.
I’ve joined forces with some incredible new friends: Wonderful people who share the same ideals, and we value all lives – not just Blue or White. Together we all keep each other sane, and reassure each other that the gaslighting is happening, and NO, this isn’t normal.
You know what? Not a one of us Plays Well – and our voices will be heard while we have each other’s backs.