ljlee: (muzi_um)
My husband's family feels so weird to me sometimes. Yesterday we had dinner with Mark's parents and then his dad suggested we drive to Ganghwa Island, about an hour away (it's also where one of my ancestors is buried), to see the sunset. He drove us, we chatted about stuff, we saw the sunset and Mark and I took pictures. We drove back in the dark, talking or just keeping companiable silence, came home, ate mangoes and bananas Mark's dad had bought for us, and Mark's parents watched television before they turned in while us kids did our own stuff.

Did you see that? The total lack of blowups, old grievances, strained silences, drama, or games? Just four people enjoying each others' company? Did I mention that Mark's parents are divorced and were perfectly comfortable having dinner and spending two hours in a car together just being good friends and their son's parents?

It still blows my mind sometimes that a family can just... enjoy each others' company without underlying unease or some hidden agenda, without navigating the minefield of old resentments and perceived slights, without inevitable fights and long Why You Suck speeches spoken into seething, miserable silence. It's even more foreign to my experience that Mark's divorced parents have a better relationship with each other than many married couples, including my own parents when Mom was alive.

I know intellectually that this is how emotionally mature and stable people behave, and that you get these lovely and peaceful times with family when the family members have no psychological trapdoors ready to be tripped by anything and everything, when they genuinely love and care for each other and can control themselves. I know all this, but experiencing it for real is still so weird sometimes. I also suspect Mark's parents are more stable and adjusted than most people, given how rare amicable divorces can be.

And the fact that I fit so neatly into these dynamics, that I'm not causing any cracks in these family times or dragging anyone down, helps me see that, hey, I'm actually pretty normal, too. That helps me get away, little by little, from the sense of wrongness and brokenness that was instilled in me from childhood on. My dad always said I, or my brother, or our mom, was the problem and he was fine. Well Dad, guess who fits right into a perfectly normal family evening? This bitch!

My father, of course, in his self-serving gaslit reality thinks Mark's family is somehow dysfunctional and oppressive. Yeah, if being at peace, surrounded by caring and stable people, constitutes oppression, then I'll take it. Maybe my senses are all out of whack or I'm lying as my dad constantly accuses me of doing, but I like this a whole lot better than what I had with my birth family.

Being part of a stable, caring family is actually a thing. I'm not messing up anything by being here, I get along with everyone and I'm a good, stable person myself. I'm really okay, despite a lifetime of being told I am a fundamentally flawed person who makes others unhappy. I'm going to bring my own child up in a happy and functional family, and my kid will have a super-loving and gentle dad who will model the supportive, secure family life that still seems so strange to me.

All this is overwhelming at times, even after three and a half years of a blissfully happy marriage. I could get used to this. Just give me time.
ljlee: why not? (conch)
Discussions of abuse, trauma, and mental illness follow.

I read an article about human trafficking in Texas a couple days back when a section on the mental health issues of trafficked sex workers caught my eye. The first condition mentioned was dissociative identity disorder (DID), which makes sense because prostitutes as a group suffer high rates of child sexual abuse and incest (85% and 70% respectively in the study cited). This kind of severe and repeated abuse in childhood is a leading cause of DID, so it makes sense that prostitutes would have high instances of DID. I'm not only talking about pre-prostitution trauma, either. As stated in the linked rapeis.org page the average age of entry into prostitution is 13, meaning many sex workers are still children.

Child abuse, rape and more below the fold )
ljlee: cover to Apocalypse World (apocalypseworld)
I read a Guernica article called La Milonguera which was about the author's experience living in Buenos Aires and rooming with a milonguera, female tango dancer whom the author gave the pseudonym Romina.

I found the piece itself sort of boring and pointless, to be honest. At places it captured the atmosphere of the city's tango scene in interesting ways, and the way Romina lost her tango career to an accident was genuinely sad. From there, though, it was just one thing after another without any clear point or context and lost steam toward the end.

DO NOT WANT )

So try as I might to view Christopher's comment in the best light, I still find his white-knight complex about Romina disturbing. This probably has roots in my own background: My father's sincere and overwhelming desire to protect me from all harm, well into adolescence and now adulthood, all too often led to verbal and emotional abuse when I wouldn't comply with his demands and, in his eyes, endangered myself. The need to protect someone who isn't in need of it, the urge to see someone who is fully capable as being helpless--those are all too often code for a need to control the person, and I know not to trust the offer of such "protection."
ljlee: (candle)
Today on the train I came across a scene that flooded my body with remembered grief. A mother was in the car with her young daughter of five or six, and the mom seemed very upset about something the daughter had done. She spoke roughly to the little girl to go stand next to a door holding a vertical bar, then proceeded to wipe down one skinny shin where there were some dark smudges on the skin, probably something the girl had gotten on her bare leg. The mother, voice raised and hands ungentle, said the girl was really going to get it from her father and told her how bad she was.

Okay, so the daughter had done something wrong, maybe she'd been careless. I thought the mother seemed disproportionately upset from what I could see, but I didn't know the whole story and being a parent is hard work. I turned my attention to my phone like a good little commuter, but a tendril of my awareness hovered around the two.

And then it got worse. )

Looking back I'm surprised by the force of my own memories. Here I thought I'd gotten over everything, just about--and then BOOM it all comes back and I'm a puddle of emotion on the train floor. It demonstrates the power of these experiences. What I really wanted to say to the mother was not some stilted line about appropriate behavior in public places, but a plea not to do this to her daughter because she's never really going to forget this, not in thirty years. I know I didn't.

Argh.

Apr. 9th, 2014 10:06 pm
ljlee: (sisko facepalm)
I'm planning a short story for On the Premise's current contest, whose prompt is difficult decisions. I vacillated between several different subjects before settling on a story inspired by this recent story (warning: article deals with severe child abuse and carries pictures of a starved and mistreated child) where the teenaged stepbrother of an abused Texas boy evidently called the authorities and got into a fistfight with his stepfather--the child's biological father--over the kid's treatment. I can't think of many decisions that are harder than the one the teen made, though obviously I won't attempt a direct transplant of the RL events. I'm sure the actual in-depth story of the case when it comes out will be more riveting than anything I could come up with.

(This case reminded me of the abuse case of Lauren Kavanaugh, another Texas child who was imprisoned and severely abused by a bio parent-stepparent combo from hell. Obviously two cases more than a decade apart do not a trend make, but the brain will make patterns even where none might exist. And right now my brain is saying, WTH Texas?)

Of course, writing about child abuse means having to read a hell lot about child abuse (and then writing about child abuse), and several blog posts in I'm just about ready to ragequit. ARRRGH WHY DOES THE WORLD SUCK SO HARD GRBLTHTTT

If anyone's interested in the On the Premise contest, we should totally partner up to bully each other into getting something done. You're welcome to take this subject off my hands if you like, but something tells me that material unrelated to child abuse would be better for your well-being.

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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