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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 41,828

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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.
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