Why I Support Universal Healthcare

I feel like there’s two types of Americans when it comes to current system of healthcare: Those who believe in it and those who have actually had to use it. I believe its failings stem from an inherent problem in its design. When most people think healthcare, they think doctors and healing. After all, isn’t that what healthcare is designed to do – to keep the population healthy.

Not in America. In the U.S.A., this is a secondary goal. The main objective of the current U.S. healthcare system is to make money. If you cannot pay, you cannot have service. It’s that simple.

And on the surface that sounds fair. After all, those working in healthcare must earn a living. They have bills to pay too. Yet healthcare cannot be treated like an average commodity because it is essential. When Wonder Woman came out on blu ray, nobody had to own it. They could buy it if they wished. Most people don’t want to have surgery. They have it only because they need it.

This makes healthcare an essential service, much like the police and fire department. These are not people you call upon on a whim. They are called to provide a crucial service that preserves your quality of life. Supply & demand breaks down and always skews in favor of the seller when everyone has to demand the product or put themselves at serious risk.

Let me put it another way: imagine we’re standing together on a hot summer day and I offer you a bottle of water for a dollar. You turn me down because – hey it’s not that hot and you’re not really thirsty. I nod and proceed to set you on fire. That bottle of water now costs $1,000 and you’re going to need more than one. Pay or die. It’s no longer capitalism, it’s cruelty.

And to give full perspective on the current American system – yes, there are other people offering to sell you water, but $1,000 is now the lowest available price being offered to you – since you have a job. If you were/are unemployed, that water bottle now costs at least $2,000. No one is offering the water bottle at a reasonable price because we know that you need to pay us in order to live.

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Greed has taken “making a living” and turned it into “the search for higher profits.” We should not have to pay more for the exact same medicinal care.

To return to the comparison of fire departments for one second. Fun fact: they were not always a public service.

The point being is that we have a broken system that only really works for the people who manage to stay healthy (who are not unexpectedly set on fire). Once anything serious happens to you, you’re at the mercy of a system that will gladly help, but only so long as you keep handing over your hard earned money.

“Ah,” you say, “But I have insurance!”

“Cool,” I respond, “so you’ll only have to pay hundreds instead of thousands when you need an ambulance ride. That is – so long as everything is covered in your plan.”

So I believe there is a better way. More than believe it – I’ve seen it. In my lifetime, I have been fortunate to live abroad. My host country was Canada – Quebec to be more specific. In Canada, healthcare is a government service. Every citizen pays taxes so every citizen is covered.

Simple.

Having had lived in both systems, I can honestly say which one I believe works better. I say this as someone who is a citizen of the United States but not of Canada. This means that, while I “enjoy” the best of American healthcare, I “suffered” the worst of the Canadian system.

Addressing Healthcare Fears
Yes, Canadian emergency rooms still have long lines but – just like America – this is based on need. If you’re dying or need immediate care, you’ll be seen quickly. I say this as someone who has spent time in both. The biggest difference is the bill (or lack thereof) at the end.

And Canada still has a better approach to the problem. Not a perfect approach but a better one. One that, should we as Americans devote ourselves to it, we can improve upon.

In my opinion this is our greatest strength as Americans: our ability to examine ideas, in our states and abroad, and select the best ones to incorporate for ourselves. We did not invent democracy but we adapted it and used its principles to write arguably the greatest doctrine on protected rights that the world has ever seen.

We can do something similar regarding healthcare. Canada’s system was better but far from perfect. For one thing, many of its treatments and services seemed more reactive than preventative – which is always ultimately more costly. I also personally think we should endeavor to include dental and mental healthcare as well.

Yes, it will be harder and yes, it will be more expensive, but these are costs we already pay. Americans have a broken conversation on taxes, one that is dictated by the question “Aren’t you paying too much!?!” rather than “What would you like your government to do for you?” One of these questions provokes much more thoughtful conversation than the other.

Truthfully, I would rather pay an additional % in taxes and be done with it than have hundreds out of my paycheck every week to cover healthcare – healthcare that I can lose with the loss of a job. By tying healthcare to employment, we cripple our fellow Americans who wish to take risks. I can only wonder how many people have been trapped into employment they hate by the fear of losing their ability to pay medical bills.

I also believe that this will help small businesses grow as employers will no longer have to pay thousands just to cover the few employees they have. This is not an employer responsibility – this is a citizen’s responsibility.

We are caring people as Americans but strangely heartless. We are far too inclined to view our fellow citizens as leeches. However, most of us do not view ourselves this way, even when we need help. Regarding healthcare, we all will need help at some point.

Other countries – similar countries – are doing this and I believe we can improve upon it. We can create a system that does not destroy the privatized healthcare industry (keep your private insurance only if you want to) but removes its fangs. A comprehensive coverage system that renders dramas like Breaking Bad pure fantasy. A system that empowers the American spirit to better pursue dreams and happiness.

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I support a system like the one proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders and I encourage you to do so as well. Yes, this challenge is hard – but that is why we must do it. We’re Americans, we’re not known for backing down from fights. We must win the war for healthcare so that we may devote more time to tackling the zounds of other important issues on this planet.

At least, this is what I believe. Healthcare should be about healing, not about profits. Period. We can make this work guys – if we all put in together.

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Why Election Day needs to be a Federal Holiday

Earlier this month, I started a petition to the Obama Administration through its “We the People” website, a service that allows ordinary citizens to petition the Obama Administration for action on various issues. My petition (found here) asks President Obama and his administration to pass an executive action, declaring Election Day a federal holiday. Since then, I’ve gotten a good response – but there is still work to do. Yet I am aware of what I am asking, and that some people do not believe it necessary. Why does Election Day need to become a holiday? Why is this so important. Here is my response:

To Establish Importance/Fight Voter Apathy

Everyone has their favorite holiday – whether it is shooting off fireworks on the 4th or enjoying a turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. There are some days that just seem to matter more than others. Currently, there are ten such days that have been distinguished as “federal holidays.” These include Christmas, Veterans Day, and Columbus Day. As Americans, we understand these days to be special. Would there be nearly as much dialogue on the controversial nature of Columbus Day if it were not a federal holiday?

Then there are the other holidays, the ones we must find time for – Arbor Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, and Election Day. Many of these days feel more fringe, or for children. They do not seem really that essential. But I ask: what, in a democracy, could be a more essential day than Election Day? It is nothing less than the day when America renews itself. In many ways, it is more of a birthday for our country than the 4th of July, a date that (while still important) only signified the beginning of our rebellion against England. By not including Election Day on the same level as these other crucial days, it sends a subconscious day that Election Day – and by extension elections in general – is not a big deal. Boy, is this reflected in our voter turnout.

The lack of excitement in how our country works is really staggering.
The lack of excitement/interest in how our country works is really staggering.

In 2o12, the voting age population (VAP) was roughly 235,248,000. Of that, only 129,085,403 actually voted, or nearly 55%.  A staggering 45% of Americans, nearly half the voting population, did not cast a vote in our nation’s future. Compare this with the nearly 69% of Canadians who voted in their last election and the 66% voting attendance in the United Kingdom. America has not had a voter turnout greater than 60% since 1968, nearly 50 years ago.

I know friends and family who say “I don’t bother to vote, what’s the point?” I think we all do. It is sadly not uncommon in America to find many citizens who, while loving their rights, cannot be moved to defend them.

635805743351495674522250072_and110414web “An educated (and active) citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” I am paraphrasing the thoughts of founding father Thomas Jefferson. I am always hesitant to quote the founding fathers (our apply anyone’s view from hundreds of years ago to today) but I feel like this sentiment has aged very well. Democracy fails when too many of its people our silent.

Those dreading government corruption have more reason to vote than most. After all, if you don't vote - there becomes very few ways to get the corrupt out of office (many of them not pretty).
Those dreading government corruption have more reason to vote than most. After all, if you don’t vote – there becomes very few ways to get the corrupt out of office (many of them not pretty).

By making Election Day into a federal holiday, the federal government will in fact be saying: “Vote! It’s important! We’re giving you time off to do it!” Rather than their current “meh” response. Will this make everyone rush to the polls? No – I am not naive. I know very well that a few will stay at home or do whatever on voting day. That said, it would be as equally naive as to say that this will no positive effect on voter turnout. America is full of all different types of citizens, and the ones that wish to vote should be given a chance to do so.

States Issue

One of the first negative responses to this proposition that I heard was “most of the states already give time off. A federal response is not needed.”

The first part is true. Most states do have a system in place. Most but not all. The state of Wyoming has a population of 544,270 people. At this number, it is currently the state with the smallest population. That means, that even if the coverage was 49 out of 50, with Wyoming being the only state without a policy, nearly half a million people would not be given time off to vote. In the freedom-loving democracy that is ‘Murrica, this is completely unacceptable. Everyone should have a right to time off to vote, regardless of what state they live in.

While I applaud the states that have taken initiative, this is also not just a states issue. Elections also include federal employees (President, Senators, Congressmen). There needs to be a response at the federal level to account for this. We’re not just taking time off to elect mayors and the city council – we’re electing the leader of our federal government.

People don’t need another day off

Yep, you caught me people who responded with this – I’m just another lazy American who wants a paid day off. Curses, thought I had you fooled with this whole “democracy matters” ruse. You caught me, I’m just as self-serving as your negative-as-possible dismissal of this suggests.

Except not at all.

But let’s tear this to pieces fully. Even if this was purely the push for more time off, and not reflective of contributing to a solution to one of America’s larger problems – we don’t need more time off – really?

Study after study has suggested that Americans are indeed overworked and that more vacation time would in fact boost productivity rather than hamper it. The fact is that America appears to be operating on an old – and frankly dour – business model. When Japan (one of the hardest working nations on the planet) says it’s time for new thinking and more time off, we should probably be listening. Heck, Germany has one of the best economies on the planet – and they are loving their months of down time.

So, while this is not really relevant to my greater point of Election Day being a vital day off to help stimulate democracy, I wanted to address it too. It is not “laziness” to ask for a day off to vote. Have some faith in the majority of your fellow Americans.

Those who don't use the day to vote however, should be encouraged to.
Those who don’t use the day to vote however, should be encouraged to.

Fighting Voter Suppression

This is one of the greatest crimes in our nation that has gone largely unaddressed. The fact remains that certain individuals in our government, largely on the Republican side of the aisle (not trying to be partisan – it’s true) have put blockades in place to stop many people from voting. Most of this is done against minorities. This is cowardly, and those establishment individuals on the GOP side are nothing short of criminals. By the way, before democrats cheer too loudly – most (not all) is on the GOP. Some democrats do this too.

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It is a cowardly act to attempt to limit democracy for political ends, I don’t care which side does it.

Making Election Day a federal holiday will give people more time to vote, and more time to overcome any obstacles set up to slow/stop their voice from being heard. Many voter suppression tactics revolve around creating hoop after hoop to jump through before your vote can be cast. Say you’re a poor woman whose been working from 8 to 6 and the polls close at 7 – you arrive at 6:30 to vote but whoops, you don’t have your driver’s license, passport, and birth certificate. Guess you’ll have to go home – oh, and what a shame – the polls will close before you can get back.

Better luck next election.

Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
This type of action has no place in America. It is largely the result of fear tactics

I understand the need to be on alert for voter fraud, I do. Yet there is no massive case of voter fraud on record, but there are many cases of voter suppression. Will turning Election Day into a federal holiday stop all these completely? No – but it will help.

At the end of the day, this is just a step. Obama declaring Election Day a federal holiday will not give everyone a day off automatically. The states can still decide whether to give that day – or another day in its place – to people to have time off. Yet this would be a significant move towards letting Americans know that their country expects them to vote.

Please sign my petition and force the Obama Administration to act. This is democracy, your voice matters.

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One last thing, to give credit where credit is due: This was inspired by the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders and his desire to create a Political Revolution where ordinary citizens get more involved in their government to fight against corruption. Let’s take our country back. I’m encouraging everyone to vote, whether you agree with me or not.

You're Not Alone Part Four: Reflections and the Path to Healing

Part One here. Part Two here. Part Three here.

Okay, so much for leaving this a trilogy, but this part will be a little different. I will not be diving anymore into what happened to me specifically. That tale is told and there isn’t much more to say besides abusive relationship was abusive. I have already done a reflection of what happened several months later, as well as writing two just weeks after the occurrence. It is my hope that reading about an emotionally abusive relationship at different stages will help others spot similarities or differences in their own lives, and that my example will be of some benefit. Enough talk has been said about what it feels like to be in an emotionally abusive relationship, however, now let me devote at least one article entirely to talk about the path of healing.

To give some reference: it has only been three months since my last real contact with my abuser. To many, this may not sound like a lot of time – and it’s not. Yet I write this now (as opposed to waiting years) to show what can happen in just three months. To show how quickly healing can take hold of the mind and the body, and to elaborate on what issues continue to be struggles, so that those with frustrations and continued hardship can know: you’re not alone.

Words to Forget

The sad fact is that many of us grew up with phrases (taught by our parents or whomever) that simply were not true. First and foremost is this: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.

Man oh man, this saying, while a fun little nursery rhyme, is completely wrong. It would be if your parents closed with “Never pancakes and seldom a tart but greasy transfat is good for the heart.” No matter how well it rhymes, it isn’t true. This out of date ditty has caused horrors for those who have suffered from emotional abuse. The idea that, if someone does not physically strike you – they don’t hurt you, has made many victims feel ashamed of their pain. Well never do. Emotional abuse can be just as bad, if not worse, than physical (including horrors like sexual) abuse. Forget the notion that you’re weak if you’re harmed by words. It is just foolish.

“Forgive and forget.”

This one is personal for me. I grew up hearing this saying and, as a result, I always associated forgiving with the act of giving a clean slate. Everything was equal again after forgiving, after all – I had forgiven, and by nature that meant that I was okay with what happened, right? Wrong. Forgiveness is not about being all right with what happened and agreeing to forget the incident entirely. If it was, forgiveness would be nowhere near as powerful as it is. I will get more into this later but for now let me say that – whether you forgive or not is entirely up to you. No one can force you to ever forgive someone for something you don’t want (or are not ready) to forgive.

Adopting a Healing Attitude

How we perceive the world affects our world. I believe I have already spoken about the importance of taking both the negative and the positive in life and how it can influence who you are/your behavior – but let’s take a different approach. Imagine your went through life focusing on the pain, on how much the abuse really hurt you. You would likely define yourself as injured, broken, wrong ,whatever way you choose to express it. A healing attitude does the opposite. Yes, the hurt is real and I am not asking you to invalidate it by pretending it doesn’t exist.

Rather take strength in how much it does exist, and how it has not stopped you from being you. By putting emphasis on how injured you are, you give power to your abuser. Given how most abuse occurs from an abuser taking too much power already, this is something no victim likely ever wants again. In my research and reading, I have found that the best way to obtain this attitude is to perform the “best friend exercise.” Here is how it works:

Write down everything bad that happened to you as a result of the abusive relationship. How your abuser treated you, how it made you feel, everything. Next, write down a list of your best positive qualities. Everything you’ve always liked about yourself. Okay, now pretend that you aren’t the one who wrote down part one (the list of negative things that happened) and instead, your best friend just told you all of that. How would you respond? What would you say to them? With luck, the positives listed in step two will come in real handy in writing your response to your “best friend.” I have found this exercise to be extremely helpful when I am feeling down on myself.

By seeing yourself in a positive and progressive light, you will be that much closer to putting the pain behind you. Remember, while we have been injured, we are not broken. We are healing.

While sayings like this may seem cheesy and unrealistic, it doesn't mean they don't have power to heal. How we think determines so much of the path we take. Say things like this, write them down. Such exercises will enforce them into your mind and slowly help them to sound like normal thought and less like a cat poster.
While sayings like this may seem cheesy and unrealistic, it doesn’t mean they don’t have power to heal. How we think determines so much of the path we take. Say things like this, write them down. Such exercises will enforce them into your mind and slowly help them to sound like normal thought and less like a cat poster.

Understand How All Relationships are Connected

Have you ever known someone who just goes from relationship to relationship without ever seeming to be in a healthy one? Have you been that person? Have you ever heard someone say “well last time it wasn’t, but this time it’s real!” only to be subsequently let down and heart-broken again. The sad reality is that many people underestimate exactly how much all of our relationships are intertwined. I’m not just talking about the obvious ones like all the romantic relationships – obviously those all fall in the same group. Yet I know I personally underestimated the role of relationships encountered much earlier on, namely family structure, and how they can dramatically influence all relationship expectations.

The family is the blueprint for emotional reaction. When thought about, it seems obvious. Who do we encounter first in life? Who is literally our whole world for at least the first ten years of our lives? Families, and in particular the relationships within their structure, are everything. A child raised in a family where parents were unfaithful and treated one another with lies and manipulation will think that normal, how could they not? There is no other family blueprint to compare it to. By nature, we all believe we are born into a normal-ish family (unless the behavior is so abusive or jarring as to create the immediate knowledge of bizarreness). To better understand oneself in relationships, I suggest starting with taking an objective and honest look at the family. This can be difficult as it is a challenge to alienate what is so familiar. Yet it is crucial to help stop and prevent abuse. That cycle is brutal. Those who have been abused are far more likely to abuse someone else. Those who grew up with parents who were abusive may well believe (even if only subconsciously) that this is the normal way of life and anything else is foreign or a lie.

If there is a pattern of emotional abuse in romantic relationships, odds are it began in the family. The good news is that it is a pattern that is easily broken. One cannot change their family, but it is possible change your personal level of family interaction. If you have a family that is always sarcastic and very critical, be genuine and positive with them (for as much as you are able). It will lead to interesting results. View your family as people, flawed people (aren’t we all). By fixing the personal relationship with the family, by learning and admitting that their abuse was wrong – one takes a vital step towards leaving the cycle behind forever. Sample questions to ask:

  • Do you feel like you were important to your parents? Was there anything more important to them? How did that make you feel?
  • Would you be comfortable going up to your mother/father and hugging them, telling them that you love them and that it’s okay. Why or why not?
  • Think of your sibling (if you have one). What memories come to mind first? If they were negative, how do you think that made you feel?

Be Thorough in Your Approach to Healing

The brain is like the body in a lot of ways. Think of emotional abuse as having the same effect as eating nothing but junk food and not moving from your couch/bed ever. It’s not the healthiest way to live. To change it, would you simply stop eating a certain type of candy? No, of course not. Especially if you were serious about getting into shape. Getting the mind/soul into shape after abuse requires this same level of commitment.

For starters, while search engines like Google are a helpful tool, do not simply google “how to heal from emotional abuse,” read the first article and feel like you’ve cracked it. This knowledge I’m writing now did not come solely from online articles. Read books (preferably by those with degrees). Read more than one. To date, I have read two entirely and bits of many others and they have helped so much more than any five-minute article from Buzzfeed. Get informed, get as informed as possible on what has happened to you and how best to heal.

The second book I read, full of helpful exercises and really simple yet powerful language. Highly recommended.
The second book I read, full of helpful exercises and really simple yet powerful language. Highly recommended.

And remember (title time), you’re not alone – and you should not do this alone. While a sad taboo is still associated with therapists, they are a wonderful idea. Think about it, someone whose job it is to help you. Someone who has spent years learning how best to help you deal with problems such as the ones you’re experiencing. That sounds pretty awesome. Seeing a therapist is no admission of weakness. It is a sign of maturity. You are admitting you are not perfect and signaling to all that your happiness is important. Everyone could use someone to listen during their lives. Friends are nice, but friends didn’t go to school and study exactly what to say in that kind of situation. These people did.

And it should not end with a therapist. The sad truth is that emotional abuse can have severe physical repercussions. Emotional abuse can cause physical symptoms like muscle pain, panic attacks, fatigue, and many other wonderfully not fun things. No one is weak for feeling any of these. They are the body’s natural response to a horrific incident. The good news is that professionals exist to help with all of them. Nutritionists, physical therapists, massage therapists, and even regular doctors can help if they are informed. While your abuser may have wanted to see you in pain: not many other people do. Be thorough and take a balanced approach – it will pay off quickly.

Consistency is Key

Imagine someone walked into a room and declared “I am all about peace and being passive” and then punched you in the face. “Diplomacy is awesome” followed by another blow. “I never want to hurt another living thing as long as I live.” Kick to the gut. Odds are you would be confused to say the least.

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Actions matter and words matter. One might matter more than the other… but I feel like that is arguing particulars. Point being, many abusers sadly fit this model. They will often declare one thing and do another. Well this can also work the other way too. If you’re someone who enjoys helping others, yet you call yourself worthless: that is the same disconnect. If you say “I have to heal and I’m willing to do whatever it takes” and proceed to go out, get drunk, hook up with someone and start a relationship – that is the disconnect too. It can mean slowing your actions and thoughts down, but you want to be consistent. It may be hard but it is so important. No one likes a hypocrite and this goes into being a person you can like/love.

Respond, Don’t React

This can be one of the most important pieces of advice to remember. Odds are, even if you were the victim in an abusive relationship – you behaved in ways you did not like. You may have snapped, given into an argument, or just not spoken up for yourself when you would have liked to. No one is perfect and it is impossible to be fully healthy in an abusive relationship. Even after the relationship is over, you may find yourself getting angry at anything that reminds you of that dark time – and taking it out on someone in the present. Odds are this makes you feel less than great, and hinders a healthy self-image.

Most problems can be solved if heard.
Most problems can be solved if heard.

We are creatures of emotion, this is true – but we are also creatures of reason. Take a moment (whenever possible) and simply think. “This is making me sad/happy right now, but is it really this or something else? What is that something else? What can I do about it? How do I ideally want to respond to this situation?” How would the ideal you respond? Think that and try to make it happen. Perfection won’t be achieved, but you’ll likely spend a lot less time committing to actions you will later regret.

The Power of “I love you,” “I forgive you,” and “I’m sorry”

As we have recently discussed: words have power. Some words have more power than others. I personally believe that the three sayings highlighted above may be among the most powerful words out there. The emotional weight attached to each of them is staggering. “I love you” is self-explanatory. When spoken with genuine emotion, there is little these words can’t do. Yet that is the catch with all three – it has to be genuine. This also goes back to consistency. If an abuser says “I love you” followed by a slap, a lie, or a cheat – then the words become a lie. This is horrible, and one of the greatest things to watch out for. Never say “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” or “I forgive you” without meaning it. Such an act will undo all the power of the word and turn it into one of the most damaging forms of emotional abuse there is.

What Does it Mean to Forgive

Really, you should decide this for yourself. I mentioned above that I don’t believe forgiveness should be associated with forgetfulness and I stand by that. When you forgive someone (or when someone forgives you) that is not an admission that what happened in the past was okay. While I have been recovering, this was something I struggled with. A part of me did not want to forgive my abuser because I was scared that doing so negated the abuse. In the past, I had been abused whenever I tried to bring up past abuse after forgiveness (usually to compare it to current abuse) because I had forgiven her. I forgive – so it doesn’t exist anymore, right? Wrong.

It has been said that anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I find this true. There is a freedom in forgiveness that makes it worth the everyday struggle to obtain.
It has been said that anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. I find this true. There is freedom in forgiveness that makes it worth the everyday struggle to obtain.

Forgiveness is not wiping the slate clean, it is not an admission that, whatever happened, you have decided to be okay with it. Abuse is never okay and no act of forgiveness and erase wrongs. What I feel forgiveness is, is the ability to look past what happened, acknowledge the pain, but find it within yourself to still say “there is something more to you, something worth my continued investment, openness, and caring.” That is powerful and takes a lot of personal strength. Again: no one can ever force you to forgive.

I will say that forgiving an abuser is not dangerous, but forgiving and letting them back into your life can be. It is important to never forget who that person is. Forgiveness is not a clean slate in that regard either – it doesn’t change who they are.

When Compassion Becomes Enabling

One thing I realized very quickly after my last run in with emotional abuse was that it wasn’t going to affect just that relationship. I shared several friends with this person. When you’re a friend, it can be very hard to know how to react. I learned this because, a short time before my abuse happened, I watched similar events transpire between two friends: one whom I was very close to, the other whom I was only fairly close with. In this case, the one I was closer to was the abuser.

I wanted to confide in my friend, wanted to talk and understand, but I realized I wasn’t helping them. Frequently, emotional abusers are high-level narcissists and giving them attention does nothing except fuel their need for validation. My old friend talked about change, talked about improving their life and becoming someone who they could love. This friend had been as quick to condemn Sinda as they were to follow in her actions. I don’t hate my friend for this, but I knew that I (wanting to change my life and heal) could no longer be part of their inner circle.

There are times when open kindness is the wrong response.
There are times when open kindness is the wrong response.

I caution against judging from a perch, as I have written before – the line between abuser and victim is slim, but escaping the cycle means escaping it entirely. I could not champion this cause against my own emotional abuse without condemning every act of it. Were I to say “that’s horrible” to what happened to me but only “I understand” elsewhere, not only would I be a hypocrite but much worse – I would be validating a wrong act. Emotional abuse is incredibly harmful, being friends with an emotional abuser (without confronting them about their problem) is very similar to being friends with a rapist or a molester. Compassion can be a wonderful emotion or a crippling enabler – try to know when is when. It was horrible to confront my friend and tell them I could no longer be there, but it has helped in my healing.

Maintain Balance Between the Emotional and the Logical

As has been strongly hinted at by now, pretty much all of these improvements require the ability to detach and view your personal life through an objective lens, as devoid of emotion as possible. Without the ability to objectively look back at past actions, it is very difficult to make any sort of change. That said, do not abandon emotion. Our emotions are a powerful and natural part of who we are. They define us as surely as our ability to reason and reflect. Abandoning emotion can lead to severe problems with intimacy and will ultimately hurt any attempt at a future relationship (of any kind). Human beings are social creatures, we evolved that way. It wasn’t solitary skill that propelled us to the dominant race on the planet. I’m not saying go be the life of the party every night, but try to keep at least a couple of souls you can be truly honest with. On the same token – do not let your emotions run free… that way is no good either.

Being Drunk and Being Angry

Have you ever had someone say “well I was drunk” as an excuse? Have you ever had someone say “you were angry, you meant that”? Were they the same person? There is a lot of debate as to whether we are more truthful when we are angry. Personally I have always said no (well, more no than yes). Anger lowers inhibition, this is true. You are more likely to just say what you’re thinking when angry… but you’re also angry when you’re angry. Anger is a passionate emotion that has to burn and looks for fuel constantly to stay alive (that is why thinking about something in the past can make you angry in the present). It is also an emotional response to sorrow, as human beings prefer to be angry than sad or emotionally hurt. It is a defense mechanism, meaning your guard is up. How honest are we at that point – I don’t think very, but we will say what is on our mind.

thought-reality-guilt-truth-anger-regret-amyjalapeno

Same with being drunk. Being drunk lowers the inhibitions and allows us to say whatever we’re thinking, but there is no correlation between inebriation and honesty. It is the same distorted state, simply distorted in a different way. Before of any decisions or actions in these states, as most people are not fully themselves. Our inhibitions exist for a reason – we need that logical part of the brain.

See the Good and the Bad in Life – but Focus on the Good

Over the years many people have tried to simplify life. Life is like a box of chocolates, life sucks, life rules – there’s a million “life is…” statements out there. I have found that life is life. An entity completely independent from us in a way. It has existed before we were born and will very likely continue long after we’re gone. Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.

Anyway, there is good and bad in life, but the importance is to focus on the good. This harkens back to the healing attitude. This absolutely does not mean downplay the bad – noooooo. Pretending the negative does not exist can be a very dangerous idea. Imagine breaking your arm and just going about your day. You never get treatment, you never even get any over the counter pills. It’s not a big deal, right? You have two arms.

People behave that way a lot when it comes to emotional damage. Yes they cheated but it’s fine – it happens. No. That is a completely wrong way to look at it. Like an unchecked broken bone, the pain will go away, but the healing will be nowhere near as complete. Allow the pain in, but look for the silver lining. I believe that there is a positive in every situation, even when I look back on what happened with Sinda. This does not validate her hurting me, it just means that I choose to take what strength I can from the pain, rather than simply surrender to it.

It Will Never Be Simple

(Update 9/4/15) In my first write-through of this, I missed an important lesson. It will never be simple, your feelings toward your abuser. Some people will tell you “it’s okay to hate” or “you should forgive” but really, odds are you will be doing both for a long time. This can lead to problems when you tell yourself “how can I miss him/her after all they did?” or “am I stupid for still caring?” The answer to this lies in a wonderful part in our being: the proof that we are governed by both logic and emotion. It is natural to miss someone you love, but it is logical and rational to understand what they did and resent/feel negativity towards it. Too much emotion and everything is forgiven: who cares? Too much logic without compassion is they are horrible – a horrible, inhuman monster: f*ck them! Neither one of these is a truly healthy view, regardless of how good or right they might feel in the moment.

While it's from a show, I think this sums up the point I'm trying to make. Don't ever let them change you. That is the only time an abuser can truly win. Obviously respect yourself and your limits (all my points above are still relevant) but just because someone damaged you with an act of hatred is no reason to hate back.
While it’s from a show, I think this sums up the point I’m trying to make. Don’t ever let them change you. That is the only time an abuser can truly win. Obviously respect yourself and your limits (all my points above are still relevant) but just because someone damaged you with an act of hatred is no reason to hate back.

I am a firm believer in that there is no such thing as simple as a “bad person.” The abuser wasn’t all bad, or else you never would have fallen for him/her… but they clearly were far from all good or else the abuse would not have happened. It is okay to remember the different layers and shades of the relationship. Your feelings never have to fit into one clean definition. Just don’t let it consume you, don’t think about it too much.

On Future Relationships

A question has been asked since I left my abusive relationship: when will I start my next one? There is no time table, nor should there be. I will use an analogy to make my point. Going for a relationship can be like going food shopping: never do it when you’re hungry. You inevitably come home with at least one thing you don’t want. Loneliness is like sadness: we hate it. We hate feeling it. Sometimes, we can hate it so much that we will do anything to change it. Yet loneliness should never be the primary reason (or really a reason at all) to start a relationship. Most healthy relationships are born out of a desire to share, and a trust that you can be fully open with another person. The problem with loneliness, in addition to being an emotion we try naturally to get rid of, is that it is selfish. You’re beginning a relationship, involving another human being, just to make yourself feel better.

You are always in a relationship with yourself. Make sure it is healthy before you involve another person.
You are always in a relationship with yourself. Make sure it is healthy before you involve another person.

In my time healing, I have had many nights where the desire is strong to go out and find someone, anyone, just to distract me from what I’m feeling – but feeling is part of healing. It really is. Time, and attention devoted to equalizing the parts of life (job, hobby, passion) will help far more in the long run than hopping from relationship to relationship. That is akin to opening a wound every day. Sometimes things need to heal. There are other ways to relieve the primal needs to loneliness, ones that don’t involve other lives.

The day you should enter the next relationship is the day you have found someone you feel truly open with, and want to share something.

This is actually one of my favorite quotes, I didn't just choose it because it made sense. I find these to be words to live by.
This is actually one of my favorite quotes, I didn’t just choose it because it made sense. I find these to be words to live by.

 

Well, that will do it for sagely advice for now. Again, most of this came from much wiser people than I – and I advise you to seek those people out, whether it be through written word, counseling, support group, or whatever method you take. Perhaps I shall write an update in a year and report on how healing has changed. I hope that this series has been helpful to you so far. My goal was to give writings at every stage, from the immediacy of the next day to the reflection of months down the road. Who only knows what new lessons will turn up in the next year.

I hope you continue to heal. It is a hard journey, and sadly not one everyone makes. There are those who never recover from abuse and their lives appear controlled by solely the negative of what life has to offer. You’re worth more than that. Every soul on this planet is. I will leave you with one last exercise idea. Write down what matters to you and who you want to be. Look at what you have written. Say it out loud, say it as confidently as possible. Were there parts where your voice faltered? Right down what can be done to fix those weak spots.

Move forward. Move slowly. The road is long and full, but so is life. Take your time, you are worth it. You’re not alone.