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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 41,821

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I grew up in a household with an authoritarian father whose mantra was Cognitive Dissonance.

From the time I could verbalize, I was pointing out contradictions that seemed obvious to me. By the time I was an adolescent, we were having tirades, again, with me speaking reality and my father sticking to his delusions. In my thirties, when I agreed that one of his employees was not working and collecting salary, he was so incensed that he withheld the money he promised me to attend law school. Dad tried to laugh it off, saying "I may not always be right, but I'm never wrong."

Mom tried to challenge him, but she lacked the will to be successful (not that she would have succeeded where I failed). I think one of the worst things about being raised in this environment is seeing how that affected my siblings. To this day, my sister still can't think critically and believes whomever is the most persuasive, not whom is correct. She doesn't often give me credence. (It got so bad at one time in her life that she actually requested that our parents find her the right guy to marry. Fortunately, she married my BIL before that could happen.)

I get no pleasure remembering these memories. I know I suffered for challenging my father at every turn. But my sanity wasn't negotiable.

On this date, 41 years ago, I strapped on a backpack with a T and jeans and sneakers.

I went on a solo adventure for 13 weeks, walking through Scotland, England, France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, Germany, and Switzerland (nine countries). Got to know the people, the currency, the art, the music, the food, the beer. And I had no idea where I was going or where I'd be sleeping that particular night. I knew a functional amount of French, Spanish, Italian, and German -- only to have my subjects respond in better English than my attempts in their language. And not once was I dining in McDonalds. Ate the local cuisine with the regulars. One of the cool things, besides the memories, is the fact that I can remember a block of 90+ days of my life, each day.

I did everything: Tower of London, Mme Tussaud's Wax Museum, Notre Dame Cathedral, The Eiffel Tower, Mona Lisa, David in the Academia dell'Arte, The Vatican, The Forum, The Colosseum, The Tower of Pisa, Naples at Night, Oktoberfest, Tivoli Gardens, the Grand Canal of Venice, and more.

Total cost was a little more than $2,000, the bulk going to airfare, Eurrail & Britrail cards. I lived frugally, two meals a day, one of which was a loaf of bread and a jar of peanut butter. The hostels were $3 to $5 a night.

This was right after I graduated college. My father offered me a choice: a car or Europe. Never regretted my choice.

Putting aside what did Trump know and when did he know it, Trump's response shows

that he continues to be OK with Russia making a contract with the Taliban to pay a bounty on every American soldier killed in Afghanistan.

Any other president would be (at least publicly) outraged, have a press conference or a nationally televised speech, and/or go on Twitter. And announce what he knows. And announce new and severe sanctions against Russia. I mean beyond what he's imposing upon China, Iran, and Venezuela put together. Rally 'round the Flag, Boys, etc.

But he's playing golf. Focusing on stone monuments, statues, and the Stars-and-Bars. Distracted. Disinterested that the bounty is still in effect.

It's what he's doing now as well as what he could have done.

Fathers' Day

I'm not celebrating.

It's not because my father passed six years ago.

I wasn't celebrating when he was alive as well.

My father was abusive, toxic, and an authoritarian. I was defiant and stood up to him and paid the price. My sister was 180 degrees and sucked up to him, if only for fear, esp. as she saw the treatment I got. I went to therapy for 3-1/2 years and still had malingering issues concerning him.

I was the one of three children who stayed close to where he lived until the end of his life, if only for the duty to our late mother, to make sure he was okay.

He disinherited all of us at the end. He showed more affection for the neighbor across the street than he did for any of us, including our sister.

The trauma must be equally deep in our sister. In denial. She posted on FB: "Forever loved, not forgotten." I can only endorse the second part.

And they write their Wills . . . . . .

As mentioned earlier, my father disinherited me and my siblings in his final Will. And left $35,000 to the neighbor across the street.

As Dad descended into his extreme narcissism and role as a toxic parent, we found out that he made a new Will every year for a decade, disinheriting us. My sister was originally going to be his Executor, but when she expressed concern about his terrible neglect of a puppy he bought, he deleted her and replaced her with the law firm that drafted the Will.

Matter of fact, most of the $1.5 million estate went to that law firm for drafting and executing the documents, being the Executor of the estate, being the Attorney for the estate, and paying six-plus months of unpaid bills that he refused to acknowledge. (My sister and I offered several times to do it -- for free -- but he refused.

The Old Narcissist essay above fits our father to a T.

None of us cried when he died.

45 years ago, I graduated high school. And there is a story . . . . .

June 19, 1975. HS graduation. For days, our senior class was compelled to rehearse in the Auditorium where there was the worst heat and humidity (no air conditioning). Hour after hour. Practice included watching and listening for cues. First the procession. Then finding your seat. Then standing up TOGETHER IN SYNC. Then walking across the stage to get your diploma and returning to your seat. Should have been simple. Not exactly. As could be expected, we were hot and bored and not listening carefully. I remember Mr. Melville (English teacher, later Vice Principal) called our class "the worst in the school's history." OK, whatever. (Do we still hold that title?)

We were kept longer than we would have preferred because of my row. We were the front row on stage. All we had to do was stand up together when Helene Harvey's name was called. We must have done it more than 20 times and still couldn't get it. The teachers were exasperated. We weren't far behind.

Of course, these rehearsals were in case it rained. We had the bleachers all ready for the expected outside program. Why worry? The weather predicted a clear sky for later that day. Except -- maybe 30 minutes before the beginning of graduation, a sudden convergence of black clouds covered the sky. Winds of biblical proportions whipped up. Rain smashed against the windows. Uh oh . . . . . .

And because we suddenly had to resort to our contingent plan, stuff happened. For one thing, I had to lead my homeroom to the auditorium without guidance, taking us down the wrong hallway, putting us out of order. A veritable transgression with no do-over.

I could hear the strains of the tape of "Pomp and Circumstances" (Elgar) and thought how ironic that I was marching to the stage to the recording that I myself had performed three days prior with the Band. I was starting to enjoy the surreal trappings of the ritual.

The boys had royal blue caps and gowns, and the girls, chastity white.

We somehow managed to get to our designated seats and settled down for the expected speeches and waited for the diplomas to be handed out. (My mother was president of the Board of Education and gave me mine.)

So, biding our time, half-listening to the recitation of names in alphabetical order. Helene Harvey. Our row stood up -- and together for perhaps the first time. We commanded a rousing applause and loud cheers from our classmates for such a feat.

The Auditorium was hotter and more humid than even the rehearsals. The plastic cap and gowns made us feel like we were wrapped in Saran Wrap. Graduation couldn't end soon enough.

I probably still have the diploma still mounted in the case in which it was given.

But it was 45 years ago tonight that the rest of my life began. And it was the last time all of our class was together.

The Unacknowledged Religious War

It became clear to me after Trump posing with a Bible (allegedly) in front of St. John's Church on Monday and the strong pushback from non-evangelical Christian churches: There is a war for dominance (I know, I know) by the Evangelicals for political primacy over the non-evangelical Christians. The latter has enjoyed recognition and non-harassment by the U.S. government for the most part since the founding of this nation and the codification of the Constitution. Evangelicals could have enjoyed the same except it wasn't enough for them. They want to THEIR version of Christianity to become part of federal and state statutes, to become case law in federal and state courts, and of course, to receive federal and state tax dollars in addition to their parishioners' tithings. And to do that, they have to have someone like Trump recognize their views as legitimate and to disenfranchise mainline Christianity when it protests.

There are regular protests by Christian groups like Interfaith Alliance. But no calls to neutralize the raw power grab by Evangelicals. Truth told, I'm uncertain whether mainline Christianity recognizes that it's under attack. Already there is a schism in the Methodist Church, whereby it appears that it is going to split in half over the issue of allowing gay ministers to administer over their churches.

Will non-evangelical Christian churches remain neutral and/or independent if there is a second Trump term?

I am a middle-aged white woman who has worked as a substitute teacher in schools that

are comprised of African-Americans, Hispanics, and Arabs. Most of my time is dedicated to getting them to listen to instructions and directions and then following through. It actually takes more than half the class period with kids fifth grade and older. I get push-back. Sometimes it's anger. Sometimes it's passive-aggressive. Sometimes it's insulting me. Sometimes it's literally challenging me.

But I don't give up. One reason why I don't give up (and I really can't explain this to them) is because one day the authority figure near them won't be me. It will be a white policeman, telling them to halt, to stop running, to get out of their car, to put their hands on the steering wheel, etc. Because it's been my fear that unless they are used to following the directions of a (white) authority figure, they may be dead because they didn't listen -- or if not dead, then giving license for abuse by police. I can't say that in class, but I'm thinking it all the time. How do I teach them how to save their own lives, and maybe that won't even be enough to help preserve their lives.

And then I consider even if they follow the directions of the police, they can be dead anyway.

Where does it end?

I am a survivor.

A survivor of a vindictive, malignant narcissist.

Unfortunately, I'm talking about my father. My mother (degrees from Barnard and Wellesley) observed and was still cautious about running interference. My father was downright cruel to me.

I went to therapy for 3-1/2 years, mostly twice a week, commuting from NJ to NYC (90+ minutes each way), to reveal to at least one person what I was going through. My therapist didn't see me as a victim. She listened fully and with sympathy. She advised me that she couldn't tell me what to do, but offered to show me "tools" that I could learn to use and one day, those tools would help me when I had left her counsel.

Ironically, my father paid for this therapy. I often wondered why as the counseling would make me stronger, more independent, less afraid of him, more autonomous. Dad revealed himself shortly after I finished therapy. He stated that the therapy "returned (me) to how (I) used to be." In other words, under this thumb without complaint.

In a way, therapy made it harder to swim upstream metaphorically. Dad hadn't changed, but I had. But I wasn't wallowing in self-pity or self-doubt. And Dad continued his campaign to punish me, even if it meant harm to me.

Don't get me wrong. He was like this with my brother and sister. He was an authoritarian and his word was God's Law so to speak.

Today would have been his 97th birthday.

He didn't set me up to destroy myself. I'm older and wiser. I wish I didn't go through my sojourn, but I did and if I could do it, so can any of you. Choose to survive and not assume the mantle of victimhood.

I was made "Cashier of the Month" for March!

I work as a cashier at a grocery emporium in northern New Jersey. Not a grocery store. Not a supermarket.

I took the job on impulse last July when I saw an announcement online they were hiring.

I sailed through the interview and was quickly hired.

I started to work around Labor Day after weeks of training which included memorizing the four-digit codes for fruits and vegetables and packing bags.

I was given an overloaded shopping chart with items to "return" to the shelves on my first day at work and I didn't know the layout of the store but I did it and found I was good at it.

I didn't see the "COM" coming. Matter of fact, I thought I was getting seriously canned when I was called from my register and approached a committee of seriously-looking supervisors. Instead, they made a big deal of clapping, cheering. I got a $30 gift card and balloons. And my store photo with a paragraph describing why I'm special is hanging up front at Customer Service.

My coworkers have been congratulating me as well.

Jesus, I needed this . . . . . I was happy enough to be thanked for coming to work during a pandemic by both superiors and customers.
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