Thursday, April 18, 2019

Beaten Down by Therapy

As is normal, the best part, in fact, the only valuable part of an Ask Polly column is the testimony offered by the letter writer. This one calls herself: Addicted to Villainy. To my eyes, anyone who uses the word “villainy” is, ipso facto, a fine human being.

I am going to continue by sometime habit of sparing you Polly’s stupidity, which amounts to telling this ATV that she can be whatever she wants to be. It doesn’t get any dumber.

For our purposes, we note that ATV is in therapy. She has been in a lot of therapy. She comes from a privileged background, a wealthy family, with all the advantages life can offer. And yet, somehow or other she has drunk the cultural Kool-Aid has become burdened with guilt… over her white privilege. She has not only received the standard-issue brainwashing that most therapists are offering these days, but she has apparently spent some time in one of America’s more august educational establishments, where she learned that she is, because of her white privilege, worthless and abusive. And deserving of severe punishment.

Sad to say, she is a product of our “woke” culture. She is a product of America’s educational indoctrination mill. She is a product of the therapy culture. It is very sad, indeed.

Nevertheless, she writes well. She has some talent in that endeavor, and perhaps she ought to do something to develop it.

ATV opens by beating up on herself. If therapy did not teach her how to chastise and excoriate herself for her guilt, what purpose did it serve? She reminds us of medieval monks who used to flagellate themselves... in order to do penance for their sins.

I am an emotionally and financially abusive person. Or at the very least, I think I am. And those thoughts are getting worse.

I am 26 years old and living with my parents, near broke (according to my bank statement), and a lazy sack of shit. Or again, so I feel. Most of what I have in my life is provided for and paid for by my parents. I work for my father. I can’t help but feel I have been deeply enabled, but that is because I am deeply incapable. Of everything and anything, really.

One would be hard put to say that she has any confidence. She has mastered the art of self-criticism and is suffering for as much:

If you met me, you might feel a different way. You’d probably hate me, or you’d really like me at first … and then you’d figure me out. You’d find out I was toxic and broken. A liar. (Which, yes, I am, admittedly, and I hate this.) An addict. (Probably? I’m not sure.) A general loser, codependent.

I have been given everything in life, every advantage on earth, and I still cannot make it work. I chronically attract negative people, even at my best and brightest. I am catnip for predators. Even at my least vulnerable, my most assertive. Or my most vulnerable and least assertive. Doesn’t matter.

She does not say very much about relationships, or, at least, she does not designate them as such. As of now you might be wondering why I am saying that she is a woman, but you will see in the following. No man would designate himself as "extremely beautiful":

I attract a type, and I can always feel myself being manipulated. I am hypervisible at all the wrong moments. I am told, more often than not, that this is because I am extremely beautiful, that I come across as extremely intelligent, witty, and charismatic. (I mean, I occasionally like myself after a couple of drinks but then hate myself in the morning.) And that those qualities, paired with my deep privilege to boot, ensure that people are always going to be noticing, watching, and expecting something from me. Essentially, I am always going to be treated as less-than, or given less-than, under the notion that I already have enough.

Note that it’s all covered in a haze of generalizations…. She has, up to now, precious little sense of the specificities of her life, the everyday realities. We do not know what she does and we do not even know anything about the family business. She has nothing to say about romantic relationships… perhaps because she feels she does not deserve one. Or because she has been told that she must have a career.

She has learned these bad mental habits from her multiple therapists. Not just one or two, but multiple. Thus, she is giving us a sense of what most of the therapy profession is offering. And since she comes from some wealth we may assume that she has been seeing the best and the brightest therapists in her precinct. Most of them seem more like cheerleaders than anything else.

I should be famous. I should be stellar. I should be successful. Just being me isn’t enough. I am not fucking with you. I have been told this shit in multiple therapists’ offices and dorm rooms alike. I’m too unique, and my appearance doesn’t match my personality or style. So I have to be understanding because people react or project. Women in particular, I am told, are always going to be one way to my face and another way behind my back. They will both pity me and envy me because of my nature. (Seriously. This is all actual shit a therapist told me in her office. What the wild hell?)

One is slightly encouraged by her disrespect for therapists, but still… she is seriously into self-punishment and this normally leads to depression:

I believed all of this for a long time, and it willed me to self-destructive behavior. I was an awful person, and I hung out with awful people. I felt like I had to, because that’s all I deserved. I just felt like, if I am going to be chronically undermined, and considered the worst no matter what, I might as well live up to my own reputation. I let the beliefs lead me into a self-taught narcissism that railroaded my life and my relationship with my family.

All of that therapy eventually produced a nervous breakdown. And new medication. This suggests that she had been taking medication all along. How was that working out? Then she found a cognitive-behavioral therapist. It seemed to be working… up to a point:

Then I had a mental breakdown, and everything changed. I got on new medication. I got a new therapist, who taught me genuinely constructive behavioral techniques, and I slowly waded my way out of narcissism and into humanity. Or so I thought. Right now, I am back to where I was years ago. Just as narcissistic. Just as self-destructive. Just as batshit crazy.

It all started with my former best friend stealing my medication. I have a highly prized substance at my disposal, and she took the entire thing. Then she pretended like nothing happened and it was my fault for leaving it in the car. Addiction destroys your character, yes, but I’m not even sure she took it as an addict. She just took it because she could. And she wanted me to know that she took it.

Evidently, a friend to be discarded. As for which medication she was taking that is addictive… I do not know.

She was angry that I confronted her about it. I know I’m not entitled to a perfect life or a perfect best friend. But this triggered the past: I couldn’t be angry at her. She should be allowed to take what she wanted from me. Anyone should. I had more, so I had to give it all away.

As noted, guilt leading to allowing herself to be punished.

I was in therapy so I was able to work through the insanity of my thought process. But the experience set off an onslaught of memories, revaluations, and realizations that made my heart twist and my body sink back into old behavior: It made me realize that my roommate had indeed assaulted me, brutally, in college, and I had not just “fallen off my bed” when I was blackout drunk. Which caused a million bruises on my face and body. It made me realize that my nickname in college was cruel, and no one told me. I found out about “Crazy (Insert My Name Here)” via an accidental text my junior year.

So, therapy helped her work through her thought processes. It did not apparently help her to deal with the situation at hand. And, sadly, she came to realize that she had been assaulted in college when blackout drunk. Probably it’s not a good idea to get blackout drunk. As for her being assaulted by her roommate, was the roommate male or female. She does not say. Her language is so completely neutered that we do not know exactly what happened. Do colleges these days assign students to dorm rooms regardless of gender?

Now, she has also discovered that she was abused in childhood…

This idea that I’m incapable and I deserve nothing has been imposed upon me as a means of validating other people’s behavior. As means to cover up abuses deep in my childhood that my family didn’t want to deal with and that I’m still not ready to talk about. Facing these truths became too much to bear. I am weak, fragile, and incapable of the greatness required to overcome them. I know my family loves me, and that they do want what is best for me, regardless of their dim view of my abilities and their inability to recognize what happened to me when I was little.

I have suggested that she does have a talent for writing. She does not believe that she has any talent at all. The evidence of her letter says otherwise. She has managed to alienate large numbers of people, but fortunately her parents are still caring for her.

Because I do not have some wildly great talent lurking underneath (that I know of), though I am constantly told that I do. And I am never invited out, but told how much I am liked. And I am never wanted, but told how much I am loved. Once I go back to stability, I will have to see what all of that means. And not validate it anymore.

I should mention that I’m not suicidal. I’m just looking for a reason to do the work. A reason to believe I’m not that important, that I have no effect on the world, and more importantly, that I can just be okay. As is.

Addicted to Villainy

We will not take her remark about not being suicidal too seriously. She writes as something who is seriously depressed and who sees no way out. She is fortunate to have her family’s support… so naturally, Polly, more tone deaf than usual, tells her to move out of the security and comfort of the family home.

1 comment:

Sam L. said...

I have nothing today, just so you'll know. No need to use it.