mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)
[personal profile] mdlbear

It's kind of ironic -- two days ago I wrote a post asking my friends to call me on my mistakes. Then followed it up with another post that several people called me on. Quite rightly, because I got carried away by my own rhetoric, and lost track of the points I was really trying to make. Being angry, upset, and short on sleep can lead to stupid mistakes, as I damned well ought to know from occasionally trying to drive in that condition.

It's doubly ironic, because I was trying to call some friends on their mistakes. Let's try again, shall we?

Sometimes you have to tell a friend something they really don't want to hear. It's hard. Sometimes it involves a mistake they don't realize they're making, which is bad enough. Sometimes it involves something they're afraid to admit to themselves. That's worse; because it can be perceived as a threat to who they think they are. You can lose a friend, messing with that kind of dynamite. Been there, done that.

Usually they don't listen, but if you're really their friend, you have to try. Sometimes, as in the case I'm thinking of at the moment (I'll get to some specifics further down), you make stupid mistakes that dilute your message. It's really easy for them to focus on a fact you got wrong, or the hurtful way you said it, and to ignore the message.

It's all to easy to give up at that point, or to not even get to that point. To pat them on the head and say "I hope everything gets resolved" or some such, and go on your way hoping that you were right. It's guaranteed to make your friend feel better, which is a good thing, right?

Maybe not.

(Aside: I now understand a little better where religious evangelists are coming from. But I'm not going there tonight.)

So let's get to the specific case in point. If you're tired of seeing posts about what's going on with my friends in Seattle, you might want to stop here. Or, better, you might want to read on and comment if you see me getting it wrong again. Because I think it's important to keep trying.


Here's the main point: my friend (not "former" friend -- if I didn't still care a lot about her, I'd just give up on her) has said repeatedly that she's not a danger now. That "I do not wish her harm". That she's on her guard now, and has her temper under control.

That. Is. Her. Mistake. How can she possibly know?

It's been less than two months since the assault. The court has ordered a psychiatric evaluation, but that hasn't happened yet. Let alone any therapy that might be recommended (or required -- I don't know how these things work) as a result. She hasn't yet finished -- may not even have started -- the anger management program that would teach her how to keep her temper in check.

I don't think she ever wished to harm her partner. But she did. She says that her temper is under control. But she said that before the attack, too. She was wrong then, what makes anyone think she isn't wrong now?

She said "But that isn't me" -- but if that's true, then there's somebody else in her head, who comes out when she's angry and takes over her body. Maybe I'm wrong about that bit -- I'm neither a psychiatrist nor an exorcist. It sure sounded like that, the times I heard her voice when she got angry.

That kind of thing can take years to get a handle on -- I've spoken to some of my friends who've struggled with various forms of dissociation. It's not something that she can fix in a couple of months before even knowing in detail what she's up against. There's a reason why she's going to be under the court's supervision for the next two years, and why an order of protection runs for a year and can be renewed for a second.

It's going to be a long, hard road. And it's going to require deep, lasting change, which I know from talking with her former partner is what she's really terrified of. No wonder she's looking for shortcuts!


But this isn't just about my friend, it's also about her friends. Yeah, some of you, too.

Do you really you're doing her a favor when you let her lie to herself? When you let her shift as much of the blame as possible to her victim? When you tell her you hope this all gets resolved soon? Cat makes a good point - "resolved" doesn't mean "blows over and everything goes back to normal", but more like "good progress getting her life back together". She's doing that, and I applaud her for it.

How about telling her the truth -- that she's looking at a couple of years of court-ordered inconvenience and hard psych work? And, if you're really her friend, that you're going to give her all the help and encouragement you can, but she has to start walking down that road herself before she can get to the end of it.

... it's getting late, and I'm liable to say something stupid if I keep going in this direction. Must. Keep. Walking... G'night, friends.

ETA: I know all of her friends wish her well, and that some of you may be giving her good advice and help behind the scenes. Keep it up! I've been trying that route, too; there's a lot of email you haven't seen. She's going to need a lot of support from all of us over the next couple of years.

ETA(2): Barring something very unusual happening, I expect this to be my last post on this subject. Flame wars are unproductive and exhausting, and I may not be getting any wiser, but I'm certainly getting older. I hope to provide more light and less heat in the future.

Date: 2012-01-16 08:02 am (UTC)
ravan: (At Well Weaving Wyrd - lwood)
From: [personal profile] ravan
There's the thing: How do you tell people you care for the stuff they don't want to hear, or aren't ready to hear but need to hear?

Sometimes, all you can do is try, say it clearly and plainly, without rancor or malice, realizing that they'll probably get butt hurt, but hopefully sometime in the future it will filter down into their subconcious mind and start them on the right road. No guarantees of success, but sometimes it has to be said, for the sake of who they are to you.

It's better than the alternative, where the person you once knew has changed so far that they are no longer your friend, and all you can do is wash your hands and turn away.

Date: 2012-01-16 07:07 pm (UTC)
solarbird: (molly-feeling-alone-andor-pouting)
From: [personal profile] solarbird
My experiences with talking about true things that people don't want to hear is that they retrench, doubling-down their positions. So good luck; I think you'll need it.

Date: 2012-01-17 01:49 am (UTC)
firecat: cartoon bear lying on back looking at sky (reflective pompoko)
From: [personal profile] firecat
{hugs} I'm sorry you're hurting so much.

I guess I think that reasonable actions exist other than "telling someone something it's hard for them to take in right now." For example, one can listen and reflect the person's feelings, leaving one's personal agreement or disagreement out of it. When a person is in extreme emotional distress, that is sometimes a good course of action. Both because that state isn't compatible with hearing the truth, and because people sometimes say things in that state that they don't even believe when they're feeling less upset.

This isn't to say that telling the hard truth is wrong, just that if others choose differently, it might not be because they're bad friends.

(I don't know any more about the people in question than what I've seen on your journal and theirs, so take this comment with that in mind.)

Date: 2012-01-17 11:14 pm (UTC)
chaoswolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chaoswolf
Well, realistically speaking: You're speaking your mind; and it is your truth. It may not apply to their situation, but it is the truth as seen by you.

+1 to
[Error: Irreparable invalid markup ('<user="firecat">') in entry. Owner must fix manually. Raw contents below.]

Well, realistically speaking: You're speaking your mind; and it is <i>your</i> truth. It may not apply to their situation, but it is the truth as seen by <i>you.</i>

+1 to <user="firecat">'s response, as it ties in with this. You tell them what you <i>think</i> they need to hear, and hope it gets through their head. Perhaps it's not enough, but then again; how would you know it's enough? On the other paw, don't push it. You've said all you can say on the subject, now put a sock in it and let your words sink in. It may be enough. It may not. Cest la vie.

Then again, I'm not getting wiser either. These are just things as I see them.

Date: 2012-01-16 08:48 am (UTC)
ext_58174: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
I *REALLYREALLY* think that you guys should take this off LJ. It's starting to get to me. Anything involving court cases should be private.
I agree with you insofar as that C needs to undergo therapy, anger management and/or evaluation. But - if the court has ordered it, it *is* going to happen. Has she truly disregarded the court orders so far? Are you sure? Or are you just going with assuming that everything N says is absolutely correct without taking into consideration that maybe N's phobia blows things out of proportion a tiny bit? (And yes, it is C's fault that this phobia is in full swing now, but afaik noone denies that!)
Do you know how these things work? Maybe C has to wait for some paperwork from court side, even? Why do you automatically assume that none of Cs friends would tell her that yes, she has to have therapy etc.? Why do you automatically assume that all her friends *let her lie to herself*? Maybe they just have a different approach and not slap it into Cs face publicly?
In any case, THIS SHOULD NOT BE PUBLIC! Anything any of you continues to say publicly about this can only harm all parties involved, imo. N should know this, she's been through court things with her previous partner and she was much more aware and careful then.

Date: 2012-01-16 06:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
[ profile] mdlbear has said he's planning to make this the last he says about it in public. I've already said I'm not planning to say anything more about it, and apologized for having said as much as I did. You're correct that it should stop, and we're doing so.

Date: 2012-01-16 08:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Okay, I see. I saw it all at once, so Ithought it was posted all at once.

Date: 2012-01-16 03:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I have not been privy to every communication here, obviously. FWIW, in what I have seen on LJ (and for good or ill I have been kind of obsessive about following it), and a couple of private exchanges with C, I have not seen C (or anyone else) attempt to shift the blame for the attack to anyone other than C.

I cannot speak for others, but for myself I have been trying to provide support for a friend who has done something completely unacceptable that isn't the whole of who she is, and who seems to need encouragement to keep trying.

And in the comments I have been reading, I haven't seen anyone say "what you did was no big deal" or "no, you don't have a problem" or anything along those lines.

And I will point out that at least one post was filled with comments encouraging her to get help working through her emotional issues.

"I hope this all gets resolved soon" I read as "I hope you find a place to live; I hope the uncertain consequences become certain ones you can start dealing with; I hope you find out how the Order of Protection and Non Contact orders can be adjusted by mutual consent so you can visit the kids as long as it's okay with N."

Obviously I can't guarantee how others are reading those remarks; this is one of the shortcomings of text-based communication.

But I get the impression you are reacting to things I haven't seen, and I have no idea what useful comments I can make, except that, not having seen them myself, I can't edify you, or C., or anyone else by commenting on them.

I understand why you are worried and upset. I am worried too, and thinking about this more than is good for me or helps anyone else.

The other thing that might help is to point out that it is (sadly) normal for two people who have ended a relationship to speak ill of each other. There are a few who don't (and I respect them very much, not least because they are so unusual), but it's *really* common. I have been bearing that in mind as I read.

Date: 2012-01-16 03:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I kind of agree with Katy that this is not a forum to discuss these kind of things.

Date: 2012-01-16 04:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
This is your lj and you can post any content you want. If C reads this and takes any advice you give more power to both of you. People might feel uncomfortable but this is an uncomfortable situation and hope she reads this to get the professional help she needs.

Date: 2012-01-16 08:28 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
...unless it's at the Betty Ford Clinic. */snark* ;)

Date: 2012-01-16 08:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

THIS one succeeds. For my personal tastes, your middle section is still triggery; but I think this time you managed to communicate what you really wanted to say effectively.

I have always had a lot of respect for you, and your role in the community. Your willingness to challenge yourself is an example I try to live up to.

Also, if I gave you the impression that you do not have the right to say what you want to say in your own journal, my sincere apologies. I also apologize if I made you feel attacked- such was not my intention.

Be well, and at peace.

Date: 2012-01-17 02:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You don't even know me--I'm on your friends list because we have a mutual friend who recommended your LJ for its wonderful content. I look forward to every new entry on my friends page with your name on it.

I met you once briefly at the 2006 Worldcon in Anaheim--you wouldn't remember me.

You keep right on speaking your mind on issues like this. If it makes people uncomfortable who know you both--they can choose not to read. But you are NOT flaming anyone, nor disrespecting or willfully dragging intimate details out in view of the world---a great deal of discretion has been shown here.

And the web of silence about domestic abuse just promulgates it being swept under the rug and excused. You've never asked anyone to take sides you've tried damned hard to be a friend to all the concerned parties. That takes a special gift. Don't sell yourself short.

Keep on holding people accountable and speaking your mind. It doesn't happen enough in our society. If people can't tolerate it--they aren't being forced to read. But what you are saying has resonance far beyond this situation and the people involved.

This doesn't belong on an LJ? In a public post? Bullshit. I can't think of a more appropriate place for these truths to be spoken.

Date: 2012-01-17 07:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're very welcome. I feel very strongly about this and just wanted you to know that your posts help folks you don't even realize--and you should not be forced to censor yourself. Especially NOT on your River Posts which are all about hard truths and less than happy emotions.

Go you! Keep up the good work.

Date: 2012-01-17 03:48 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Speaking as the victim in this specific case: I think you're right, but the responses both here and in my own journal when I try to talk about it has made it clear that I must acquiesce in sweeping it under the rug or I will lose even more friends than I've lost already. And it's all fine and well to think 'if they'll walk away from you for refusing to pretend nobody wronged you, they're not worth it', and frankly it might even be true, but I need them. When I have enough support, I'll be able to abandon fair-weather friends. For now, I need to keep pretending there is fair weather. That much has been made very, very clear to me over the last several days.

Date: 2012-01-17 05:39 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I understand. But its a form of bullying that people shouldn't be allowed to get away with, let alone inflict on friends.

But I understand and you both need to do what is right for you.

I've been where you are, a victim of domestic abuse and i do understand.

Date: 2012-01-17 06:18 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you tons for the support. Few other people have said what you did, and none so emphatically. It means a lot to both [ profile] mdlbear and me to hear it.

Date: 2012-01-17 07:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You are so very welcome. Just know you aren't alone and sharing these awful things serves a greater good, no matter what friends might think.

Bless you both.

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