The Trumpening, Part 1

This is a strange and new moment for the U.S.: a moment less political, more psychological. Our country has allowed –  not for the first time, but for the first time in my life –  a blatantly mentally ill person to step into its leadership position, and thus into the most powerful position planetwide.  DJT … Trumpy … the Tangerine Man ( I still struggle to say or write the name)  has become our symbolic head of household, our symbolic Daddy: our newest, sickest, most Freudian, most dangerous Father, ever. We’ve become nation as dysfunctional family, a family headed by a narcissist whose rages and passing fancies will terrorize, imprison, and brutalize us all.

The mind-boggling part? We have entered this family, we have become this abused child, voluntarily, and with full knowledge beforehand.

And this travesty, this slow motion implosion, has happened at a time when more people than ever before have the tools to recognize his specific mental illness.

(I do want of course to acknowledge that the “voluntarily” part was voluntary only for the minority, and that the vast majority of this country knowingly rejected the role of hostage we now find ourselves in.)

Of course, I feel some fascination with our abuser, even as I’m filled with revulsion. I’m also fascinated by the fact that most of the media and the existing government seems to have made an unspoken agreement that, since it would be rude, they’re simply going to ignore the fact that the emperor has no clothes. They’re going to pretend that somehow, this situation is tenable, that somehow, this is fine, and we can just keep up appearances.

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           Thank you, thank you, thank you KC Green 

Buying into the madness, rationalizing it, suspecting that hey, maybe I’m the problem in this scenarioI can cope … Let’s not overreact .. . this is fine

Again, we all have the tools to recognize that triggering those coping mechanisms is a precise hallmark of the disorder itself.

Once more, with feeling:

making you feel like you’re the crazy one is itself a symptom of the Cluster B personality disorders.

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You’re not the crazy one.

And this is not fine.

https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/personality-disorders/what-are-personality-disorders

I have long lived experience with the Cluster B group of personality disorders. I  spent childhood in the orbit of a Cluster B who destroyed her own life, her husband’s life, and significantly disfigured the lives of her seven children. I married a person whose ex is a Cluster B, a person who, because of custody laws, will remain in my life for perhaps the next decade. I have a once-beloved brother who has sunk into the Cluster B morass and who seems, from the safe distance I keep myself, to be a direct physical danger to anyone in contact with him. I’ve learned, in other words, a thing or two about the situation we’re now facing with The Trump.

In my nightmares about this personality disorder –  and I’ve had many – tropes from horror movies recur. Like a zombie virus, the disorder takes over a unique soul and converts it to a shuffling husk. It inflicts a double death, as you first watch the person disappear, replaced by the tics and mannerisms of the illness, and again as you excise the zombie from your life – which you must, if you want to remain sane.  Other times, I dream of this disorder as the vampire, the deathless, life-draining vampire who patiently waits, charmingly smiling, for the OK to pass through your door – and who, once allowed in, will fall on your throat with an open, clotted, charnel-house mouth. These people, disordered people, are like golems, like flawed and endlessly recursive machinery, like scraps of miscoded and destructive programs looping, looping, like malware infecting node after node and shutting down every functional core. In all my dreams, the recurring thread:  this disorder is infectious, and this disorder has no cure.

People with these disorders have no deep or lasting friendships;  they have no passions other than themselves, no interests other than themselves, no drive to create anything other than conflict. Their world is narrow and shallow and  consists of only themselves and their reflections. Those around them, people, animals, the entire natural world – it all exists only to either prop up or attack their sense of self. In the hall of mirrors where these people exist, only themselves and surrogates for themselves are real.  Their only fuel, their only sustenance, is conflict, and like malware they toggle between a very few sets of behaviors: creating alliances, creating enemies, and setting up conflagrations. There is no autonomy in their world; there is only what feels good (to them), and what feels bad (to them). Others, since they do not truly exist, are not ceded the right to have feelings or experiences separately from the disordered person. You can imagine the particular hell that children of these people must endure. And as for the person with the disorder — I can think of no life more barren.

 

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From a set of very disturbing .gifs by Zolloc

 

But even I, the ultimate empath — I just can’t care all that much about their pain.

Personally, when I think about our political moment, I am still flailing, stuck in shifting levels of confusion, fear, anger and grief. I’m still trying to fathom what it means to stand here on this particular brink of this particular national disaster and still trying to feel my way forward. But I am absolutely clear on one thing: We need to look at the disaster and understand it. This is so very, very not fine. Stay out of the fog and keep your focus on that fact.

 

Demonology

The big themes of the past few years:

  • Accepting the unforseen, unforseeable consequences of my actions. Specifically, falling in love and accepting all the joys, but also all the baggage, that entails. My specific version of this universal situation involves accepting a chronic disease, an impaired child, and a sociopath.
  • Taking stock and counting out the balance: what have I done, so far, weighed against what I have wanted to do, and against what I aim to do yet. Saturn return shit, midlife crisis shit, you know, the regular.
  • Assessing the psychic weights I carry and trying to let go what shreds and scraps I can.

And the big theme 2017: accepting the unforseeable consequences of a political situation that’s veered through slapstick into the realm of the criminal and kept right on into the stratosphere of extinction-level event. I’ll level with you – I am still stuck, tarpit-level stuck, in denial, having barely pulled myself out of grief. And grief, you know, is a debilitating thing. My sweet spot has always been anger – to rage, rage against … the machine, the dying of the light, the Man.  To put up a fucking FIGHT.

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The fight hasn’t gone out of me, but it’s certainly died down for now.

I’m sometimes just so damn tired. I feel the unclean residue of being in the orbit of some things I despise – life is like this, right? If we work, associate with others, are part of a family, then we’re stuck being in contact with some things, some people we simply find personally revolting. This brings me down, sometimes. I’m still a laboring prole, still living close to the bone, still putting in 16-hour days, week in and week out. This definitely brings me down, sometimes. And I have to be emotionally attuned, emotionally awake and connected to my family and my students and never cut corners, never dial it in. That will bring you down, even while it lifts you up.

But. But. I am regrouping, rebuilding, revisioning. I’m in a reflective place and feeling capable of sharing thoughts once again. It’s still all messy, a pastiche, a thing in the process of becoming, horrifyingly imperfect, but still – I remain alive, remain myself, still scratching out a little sign in the universe to prove it.

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