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Emily
Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art
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One thing that never quite jived with me about the whole child of an abusive parent thing was the "people pleasing." They say that victims of abuse start to become people-pleasers, always on eggshells, always trying to make sure the other person is happy even above their own needs. They are anxious because anyone could suddenly turn abusive at any time.

I am the farthest thing from a people-pleaser.

Okay, I am extremely conflict-averse and my hands shake if I start to talk about something that might be controversial, and I become irritable and defensive when people I don't know even look at me, and I'm pretty certain I don't matter at all to any of my "friends" and thus always feel emotionally distant. But that's sort of it... I don't try to make sure people are happy. I don't really care about other people's feelings so long as they don't affect me. I don't actively make people try to like me. I try not to put myself in a position where I'll be close enough with someone for their opinion to matter? I tend to be pretty selfish.

Even with my mother, the primary abuser, I never went out of my way to make her happy. And I know often people will say, "abusive people are just going to be that way, it's not your fault..." and that may be true to an extent. I could be yelled at for things I forgot to do, meaning I had no idea I had done something wrong until I was being screamed at. But that didn't make me more vigilant. It make me less.

I would sometimes look at the house before she got home and think, "She's going to yell at me for the place being a mess. I could clean up, and then she might praise me instead for a change." But the thought of doing something to make her happy... to win her praise was disgusting. Even now the thought of it makes me sick.

I guess two things set me apart from the "worry about other people's feelings" people.

1. I was never physically abused. My dad used to threaten me with physical abuse when I was little, but I don't remember him ever following through. But after the divorce, apart from a few "love taps" my mom never hit me (and I know these "love taps" i.e. she hit me happened rarely enough because I would never let her live them down). She was hit by her parents as a kid, and was very careful never to hit me... even though I remember often begging for her to just hit me, because I'd rather she just do that and be done with it than everything else she was doing. But that's beside the point. The point is I was never afraid of her. I was hurt, especially at first, and then when it became clear that the screaming and blaming and mocking would never stop, I just hated her. I resented her, and I knew she was full of shit, but I was never terrified. I knew she would never hurt me, or even kick me out (even though she threatened to constantly). She wasn't scary, she was just a bitch.

2. I had a stubborn sense of justice. I knew for a fact, because I had television role models of good families, that parents were supposed to love their children unconditionally. Parents weren't supposed to tell their children that they were disgusting or swear at them. Sometimes she'd tell me I ought to be grateful, because she raised me, and fed and clothed me, and didn't hit me -- and that got no sympathy out of me. Parents were supposed to do those things. I knew how families were supposed to be, and my mother was a constant disappointment. So the answer was never conceding. Why would I give in to her demands just to stop her from yelling, when she shouldn't have been yelling in the first place? I'm sure I very much made my situation worse with my own martyr complex. In fact, I've often thought, it really was my fault, wasn't it? I was such a brat, of course my mother couldn't deal with me.

As an adult, when I can look at my mother objectively, it does seem like the entire thing was doomed to happen. Her childhood was very probably more traumatic than mine, because it involved just as much divorce and stressed single-parenting, but with the added spice of physical abuse, and having three older siblings to bully her. So she had anxiety, and was insecure, and felt like she had no control, so she reacted by being cruel, and nit-picking at her daughter, and screaming until she cried. I don't know if she knew how to go to sleep if it wasn't crying. Maybe I could have been more considerate. If I helped around the house, and didn't blame her for not being a good enough parent, then I'm sure she would have resented me a lot less, too.

But then I remember, kids don't come out of the womb knowing how to help around the house, and she never once taught me. I've been back to visit, 10 years after moving out, and the apartment is just as much a disaster area without me living in it. She expected me to magically know how to keep house when she never demonstrated to me how.

Kids also don't come out of the womb resenting their parents. I always figured I was just a nasty little brat who didn't love her parents enough... Children can be insensitive and mean. But then I remember my best friend in middle school would often get into loud yelling matches with her mom, and at the end they'd both start laughing. Even if they clashed, they would forgive each other. She was a bigger brat than I was, but somehow she still loved her mother underneath the brattiness. I didn't, and our fights never ended by shaking it off and still being friends. We'd cut each other as deeply as we could and eventually she would go cry in her room, or tell me to go to my room because she was tired of looking at me. I remember picking up a parenting book and finding a piece of advice that said to "say positive things to your child for 1 minute every day, and it will improve your relationship." I thought that really might work, if my mother could do it... because she didn't. Sometimes she would say something positive, but it was far from every day.

I just have to assume, given that I was a child, that if animosity started between us, it had to have originated with her. Even as far back as elementary school I remember not liking her much, and not missing her when she wasn't around. While other little girls were crying over their moms at scout camp, I was scratching my head as to why they weren't glad they were away.

That's something my therapist made me realize the other day, because I mentioned that when my parents separated, when I was in first grade, and suddenly my mom and I left the house and went to live somewhere else, I wasn't upset about it. I just very rationally thought, "We still have a place to live? And I'll still see dad on weekends? Okay, then, no problem."

It was always a point of pride for me, in fact, that I didn't freak out. I just rolled with the punches. I've always been very accepting of new information and new realities. It's a positive trait.

And I still think it is a positive trait.

But she was very surprised, and mentioned that I probably developed emotional detachment as a defense mechanism, even at that age.

Which would explain why even today, I don't maintain friendships, I'm not always sure how things make me feel, and I sometimes start crying without knowing what about the situation is making me cry.

Anyways. I don't strive to make everyone around me happy because I'm afraid they might turn abusive if I don't. I don't give a shit. I just want to be left alone. If someone decides they resent me, which I wouldn't expect them not to, then that's fine, I don't need to talk to them anyway.
I hate punitive justice.

That type of justice that says people ought to be punished, and locks them up in jail for years where they can be emotionally and physically abused by fellow inmates, guards, and by the sheer isolation and confinement.

I know why people love punitive justice, too.

People are animals, all of us. When someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. We want revenge. Revenge makes us feel like we're in control. When someone makes us feel powerless, it feels like the only way to take our power back is by making that person pay -- making them powerless.

Even if we haven't been hurt directly, when someone enters that realm of "criminal," "bad-guy," "villain," then we all want to see them suffer. Just look at all the people, who have probably never been sexually abused, sneering and joking about how they can't wait for Jared Fogel to get raped in prison. Look at the people who weren't even alive for WWII, thrilled to see 90-year old former Nazis being found and jailed.

This response is natural, and human. We are social creatures, and we long to protect each other. When someone rapes a child, or is involved in terror and genocide, we all take it personally. We want to stop them, and protect the victims. Some would say people who have crossed that line don't deserve to live, or be part of society anymore.

That's one way to look at it -- the cold, fierce, human way.

The way we respond to violent offenders, ironically, is a reflection of that violence within ourselves. When we gain joy in the suffering of the criminal, we are reveling in the same cruelty the criminal held in his heart when he committed the crime.

Moreover, it doesn't solve anything.

We're so obsessed with who "deserves" to be punished, we don't consider the outcomes. Put a rapist in jail for ten years. Callously rejoice as he is sexually abused by his cell mate. Set him free on the world again. What do you have now, but a more violent man than you put in?

I'm not saying that we shouldn't jail rapists, of course. In fact, anybody who presents a danger to society ought to be jailed. Prison makes a lot of sense when it is used to keep criminals from hurting anybody else.

But consider the case of Cornealious Michael "Mike" Anderson III. He committed an armed robbery in 2000, and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Due to a hilariously bureaucratic clerical error, the prison wouldn't let him check in for his sentence, because the computers said he was already checked in. He waited for it to be sorted out, but nothing happened.

He went on with his life.

He met his wife, got married, and founded a company in the intervening years. The prison only noticed that he wasn't there the year he was scheduled for release.

Imagine if he'd gone to jail, instead of being allowed to "get away with his crime." Imagine he'd gotten the punishment he "deserved." Decent chance he'd be involved in a gang, have new scars, and far from owning his own company, he would find himself unemployable due to his criminal record. He might be so broke, he'd consider turning to robbery again.

Is that really better?

Nope. It's clear in this case that punitive justice would have only served to cause more harm to society.

But we want so badly to see people punished.

It's so easy to dehumanize people. Violent offenders dehumanize their victims in order to exploit them, but then in turn, we dehumanize the offenders. Yet we don't see the irony there.

We don't see that the capacity for cruelty and lust for blood is within every single one of us. We "law abiding citizens" merely get our fix of schadenfreude by watching criminals suffer.

So, what would I propose, then? How should criminal justice be dealt with?

Fuck, I don't know.

There are people out there who are dangerous, and abusive, and who can't be rehabilitated or changed. They are so fundamentally warped, there is no re-integrating them. They need to be put away where they can't hurt innocent people. Perhaps, yes, even executed.

Then there are those who made a mistake, who got swept up in something, who were indoctrinated in a toxic culture or attitude, who were desperate and saw no other choice, or who were just so hopeless and alone.

Those people deserve a chance.

The only problem is, how do you tell the difference? Can you discern between a genuinely repentant heart, and one that is lying through its teeth? Mistaking a reformed rapist who has rejected their toxic entitlement and is crushed by their own guilt with one who will do it all over again and hide the evidence is a life-destroying error for the next victim.

Hence: fuck. I don't know. But I think the first step is just to try.

Anyone who can be rehabilitated ought to be. That should be our first priority: how to get offenders to the point where they can be productive, safe members of society. That doesn't involve emotional or physical cruelty, but training, therapy, and support. If they harmed society, then the consequence should be for them to give back, and help heal the damage they caused.

That would actually lead to a positive outcome, as opposed to the old "eye for an eye" justice that leaves everyone scarred.

If someone is non-violent, if they no longer pose any threat, then what is the point of imprisoning them? I hear reasons like, "there need to be consequences," and "they can't just get away with it," or, "to make an example."

Fuck that. Why must there be consequences, if all those consequences mean is more damage?

Punishment makes us feel like we have power, or control. It makes us feel good about ourselves, but often it serves no purpose whatsoever. It's simply revenge. And I staunchly do not believe in that.

The only way to fight cruelty, violence, and dehumanization is to root it out wherever it exists -- not just in "them," but within ourselves. That includes removing punishment for punishment's sake from our notion of justice.
When you're young, you start off believe that you are you, because you are. You believe in a "soul."

In a fundamental, immutable essence of you-ness.

If someone does evil, it is because they are evil.

You are incapable of evil, because you are good.

Isn't that right?

But it's not.

Every one of us could be a serial killer, a rapist, an abuser, a thief. It's within us, as human beings. We only avoid it because we're lucky.

"You" start off with your parents. You inherit their DNA, which predisposes you toward certain personality types, intelligence level, physicality, mental illness. If you had anxious parents, you will likely be anxious. If you had ADD parents, you will likely get ADD. How much testosterone do you have? How naturally aggressive are you? How able is your mind to cope with stressors?

These are all determined before you are even born.

It could have happened to any one of us. I could have been born a pedophile, or a psychopath, or schizophrenic and it would be entirely beyond my choosing. There is no free will there.

Any human being could be born that way.

Then these people raise you-- or someone raises you. Were you loved, and taught kindness and empathy? Were you coddled too much, and given everything you ever asked for, until you expected life handed to you on a silver platter? Was softness beaten out of you, as your father told you crying was weakness, and hit you again? Did your mother tell you that you were worthless and disgusting?

Did they love you?

Did they teach you bigotry?

Did you learn bigotry, because you needed something to make your life make sense?

Did you learn empathy, because no one should suffer like you did?

Did they send you to school, make you worldly, build your confidence, and tell you that anything you dream of can be yours with hard work?

How you get raised is also not a choice, is it?

There is no free will about it.

You can choose what it shapes you into, to some extent, but it's likely your reaction are also predetermined by your genetics, and epigenetics.

Were you rich, or poor?

Were you raised in violence, or peace?

What were the cultural values you were steeped in?

These are what shape you. To hell with an immutable "soul."

And it can all be taken away or changed as quickly as reprogramming a computer. Brainwashing and Pavlovian conditioning can make major changes. Brain trauma can cause permanent changes in the fundamental nature of "you."

I suppose the point is, before you judge someone from a position of superiority-- before you dismiss someone as "evil," and so "unlike you," remember: it could have been you.

It just as easily could have been you.
you know what my problem is? I have no drive to improve myself.

A normal person, I suspect, notices they aren't doing well at a thing. They're failing expectations. So they strive to do better. They determine to improve, or to try something they're better at.

I don't ever feel determined to improve. I feel like nothing I ever do could possibly make things better. So instead of bucking up and trying harder, I just want to die.

That's the best solution I can come up with.

The best advice I have for myself is, "You're failing because you're horrible, and worthless, and any time you think you're good at something you're only going to find out everyone else thinks you suck," and the best response I have is, "I should hurt myself. I should die."

Is that normal?

It doesn't feel normal.

Went to a psychiatrist the other day, btw, about my suspected ADD that makes it impossible for me to write my own stories, do blogging for work, or even sit through movies that I like. I was terrified that they'd send me away because I don't have any "real problems." I cried alot when I made the appointment, because I was afraid they'll call me a faker.

Well, he basically did.

I talked to the psychiatrist for less than an hour, and told him how I can't focus. It always feels like I've just barely forgotten something. He also asked me about some other stuff, like if I ever think about hurting myself. I told him I did, and he didn't ask for any elaboration.

Then he said I don't have ADD because I am able to focus on some things, like things I find interesting. He thinks I have "claustrophobia" where I try to mentally escape in situations where I feel trapped, by doodling or daydreaming or checking Facebook. He said ADD gets over-diagnosed.

My boyfriend, who was diagnosed with ADD, thinks the doctor is full of shit and was being contrarian because he thinks ADD gets over-diagnosed.

I don't know. Could be either, I guess. I sure would've liked those focus-drugs, though.

Anyway, I've been extra depressed since then and my work has dropped even further.

Well... "depressed." I don't think I have depression any more than I have ADD, though I sometimes wonder if frequently wanting to kill yourself counts as "depression." I feel like there are other symptoms than that. I think I just decided my own death is a logical and acceptable solution.

After all, everyone dies. Then you go back to being part of the universe. That's nice.

So yeah, I cried alot, because apparently I don't have a neurological condition that makes me unable to focus... just a psychological one. He recommended talk therapy, which I think is bullshit. Various sources will tell you it doesn't work... though others say it does. I don't see as how talking about it is going to really help me. Feels like a scam, TBH.

Anyway, since learning I don't get to just take magical drugs to make me improve at work, I'm back to feeling like the world's biggest piece of shit. I'm just lazy, really. I'm just distractable, and forgetful, and probably just not trying hard enough.

I guess I don't really want to die, but I just don't see any hope of improving. I've never had a job I'm good at, ever. This one pays almost twice what I've ever been paid before, and I'm going to get fired from it, and I'll never have a job this good ever again.

The fuck am I gonna do?

And again, my only answer: lay in a hole and die. Just... die. Please.
One thing that never quite jived with me about the whole child of an abusive parent thing was the "people pleasing." They say that victims of abuse start to become people-pleasers, always on eggshells, always trying to make sure the other person is happy even above their own needs. They are anxious because anyone could suddenly turn abusive at any time.

I am the farthest thing from a people-pleaser.

Okay, I am extremely conflict-averse and my hands shake if I start to talk about something that might be controversial, and I become irritable and defensive when people I don't know even look at me, and I'm pretty certain I don't matter at all to any of my "friends" and thus always feel emotionally distant. But that's sort of it... I don't try to make sure people are happy. I don't really care about other people's feelings so long as they don't affect me. I don't actively make people try to like me. I try not to put myself in a position where I'll be close enough with someone for their opinion to matter? I tend to be pretty selfish.

Even with my mother, the primary abuser, I never went out of my way to make her happy. And I know often people will say, "abusive people are just going to be that way, it's not your fault..." and that may be true to an extent. I could be yelled at for things I forgot to do, meaning I had no idea I had done something wrong until I was being screamed at. But that didn't make me more vigilant. It make me less.

I would sometimes look at the house before she got home and think, "She's going to yell at me for the place being a mess. I could clean up, and then she might praise me instead for a change." But the thought of doing something to make her happy... to win her praise was disgusting. Even now the thought of it makes me sick.

I guess two things set me apart from the "worry about other people's feelings" people.

1. I was never physically abused. My dad used to threaten me with physical abuse when I was little, but I don't remember him ever following through. But after the divorce, apart from a few "love taps" my mom never hit me (and I know these "love taps" i.e. she hit me happened rarely enough because I would never let her live them down). She was hit by her parents as a kid, and was very careful never to hit me... even though I remember often begging for her to just hit me, because I'd rather she just do that and be done with it than everything else she was doing. But that's beside the point. The point is I was never afraid of her. I was hurt, especially at first, and then when it became clear that the screaming and blaming and mocking would never stop, I just hated her. I resented her, and I knew she was full of shit, but I was never terrified. I knew she would never hurt me, or even kick me out (even though she threatened to constantly). She wasn't scary, she was just a bitch.

2. I had a stubborn sense of justice. I knew for a fact, because I had television role models of good families, that parents were supposed to love their children unconditionally. Parents weren't supposed to tell their children that they were disgusting or swear at them. Sometimes she'd tell me I ought to be grateful, because she raised me, and fed and clothed me, and didn't hit me -- and that got no sympathy out of me. Parents were supposed to do those things. I knew how families were supposed to be, and my mother was a constant disappointment. So the answer was never conceding. Why would I give in to her demands just to stop her from yelling, when she shouldn't have been yelling in the first place? I'm sure I very much made my situation worse with my own martyr complex. In fact, I've often thought, it really was my fault, wasn't it? I was such a brat, of course my mother couldn't deal with me.

As an adult, when I can look at my mother objectively, it does seem like the entire thing was doomed to happen. Her childhood was very probably more traumatic than mine, because it involved just as much divorce and stressed single-parenting, but with the added spice of physical abuse, and having three older siblings to bully her. So she had anxiety, and was insecure, and felt like she had no control, so she reacted by being cruel, and nit-picking at her daughter, and screaming until she cried. I don't know if she knew how to go to sleep if it wasn't crying. Maybe I could have been more considerate. If I helped around the house, and didn't blame her for not being a good enough parent, then I'm sure she would have resented me a lot less, too.

But then I remember, kids don't come out of the womb knowing how to help around the house, and she never once taught me. I've been back to visit, 10 years after moving out, and the apartment is just as much a disaster area without me living in it. She expected me to magically know how to keep house when she never demonstrated to me how.

Kids also don't come out of the womb resenting their parents. I always figured I was just a nasty little brat who didn't love her parents enough... Children can be insensitive and mean. But then I remember my best friend in middle school would often get into loud yelling matches with her mom, and at the end they'd both start laughing. Even if they clashed, they would forgive each other. She was a bigger brat than I was, but somehow she still loved her mother underneath the brattiness. I didn't, and our fights never ended by shaking it off and still being friends. We'd cut each other as deeply as we could and eventually she would go cry in her room, or tell me to go to my room because she was tired of looking at me. I remember picking up a parenting book and finding a piece of advice that said to "say positive things to your child for 1 minute every day, and it will improve your relationship." I thought that really might work, if my mother could do it... because she didn't. Sometimes she would say something positive, but it was far from every day.

I just have to assume, given that I was a child, that if animosity started between us, it had to have originated with her. Even as far back as elementary school I remember not liking her much, and not missing her when she wasn't around. While other little girls were crying over their moms at scout camp, I was scratching my head as to why they weren't glad they were away.

That's something my therapist made me realize the other day, because I mentioned that when my parents separated, when I was in first grade, and suddenly my mom and I left the house and went to live somewhere else, I wasn't upset about it. I just very rationally thought, "We still have a place to live? And I'll still see dad on weekends? Okay, then, no problem."

It was always a point of pride for me, in fact, that I didn't freak out. I just rolled with the punches. I've always been very accepting of new information and new realities. It's a positive trait.

And I still think it is a positive trait.

But she was very surprised, and mentioned that I probably developed emotional detachment as a defense mechanism, even at that age.

Which would explain why even today, I don't maintain friendships, I'm not always sure how things make me feel, and I sometimes start crying without knowing what about the situation is making me cry.

Anyways. I don't strive to make everyone around me happy because I'm afraid they might turn abusive if I don't. I don't give a shit. I just want to be left alone. If someone decides they resent me, which I wouldn't expect them not to, then that's fine, I don't need to talk to them anyway.

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:iconchid0:
chid0 Featured By Owner 2 days ago  Hobbyist
30316 by Creature13

THIs.
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:iconbadcowboy69:
BadCowboy69 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Miss you...hope you are doing ok.
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:iconflameshadow117:
Flameshadow117 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
ahhh hi! Thank you! I am doing pretty alright! Just not been on DeviantART at all latety ^^; 
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:iconbadcowboy69:
BadCowboy69 Featured By Owner Feb 13, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, glad to hear from you :)   
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:iconchid0:
chid0 Featured By Owner Feb 4, 2016  Hobbyist
I've come across this beautiful sculpture and immediately thought you might like it too: www.blackshore.se/3d/demoreel-…
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:iconflameshadow117:
Flameshadow117 Featured By Owner Feb 12, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:drool: OH. MY. GAWD. 
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:iconyimba:
Yimba Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2016
Happy Birthday <X3 Meow :3 Hug birthday cake Birthday Sis :happy birthday: Birthday cupcake 
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:iconjamesthunder:
JamesThunder Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2016  Student Artist
Howdy, Emily! Ah' just came here to wish ya a Happy Birthday!! :D :hug: :party: :cake: :party:
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:icondestiny3000:
Destiny3000 Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Hope you have a great day!
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:icondestiny3000:
Destiny3000 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
What an incredible gallery you have!
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