Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Negative feedback...

If you follow this blog regularly, you may have noticed that a couple of recent posts have disappeared.  I want to explain why.

Last week, I happened to watch an old episode of Intervention that really upset me.  It was the second time I had seen that particular episode.  The first time I saw it was in 2010.  It's now 2015 and I found that I was just as outraged after watching it the second time.  So I decided to blog about it, even though I had already blogged about it (in a less intensive way) several years ago.  The episode was about a woman who was severely alcoholic due to some tragedies she'd been through when she was younger.  Because of her alcoholism, she ended up losing just about everything important to her.  She lost her job, her marriage, and even her beloved teenaged daughter, who had decided to move in with an aunt.

I thought the woman's situation was extremely sad and was very angry about the way her family appeared to be treating her, based on what I saw on the television program.  Yes, as an adult alcoholic, it was her responsibility to get treatment.  She had a responsibility to herself and her daughter, who was still a minor at the time.  At the same time, it was obvious to me that the woman was very sick and despondent and, based only on what I saw on an hour of Intervention, her family appeared to be deeply ashamed of her.  That pissed me off, even though I have myself lived with an alcoholic parent and understand how difficult that is.  Or, at least I know what it was like for me.

I will admit that my post was angry, but I don't think it was all that unfair.  I did let my anger get the better of me toward the end of the post when I pointed out that a few years after that particular episode of Intervention aired, the woman featured in this story had died.  I wondered if her beautiful teenaged daughter, who is now a young woman, even cared that her mother had died.  On the show, she seemed completely detached from her and embarrassed by her.  She had told her mother that raising her was a "privilege", which is another entitled attitude shared by too many young people today.  Because her mother was an alcoholic, she didn't deserve the "privilege" of raising a teenager, who based on that hour of TV, appeared to me to be a spoiled brat.  I remarked that I thought it would serve her right if she had kids who treated her the same cold, calloused, and cruel way she appeared to be treating her very sick mother.

I got a comment from the young woman's boyfriend's mother, who must have been actively looking for posts about this family given how long ago that episode was on TV.  She dressed me down for being so "mean" to her son's girlfriend.  She said I should edit the post and redact names and/or "lock down" my blog so the public can't read it.  She referred to the now former teenager as a "little girl", making her sound completely innocent.  At first, I wasn't at all inclined to edit or remove my post.  What I posted on my blog was simply my admittedly very strong opinion of what I saw on a reality show.  The people involved in the show were not anonymous and it was well established who the family was and where they lived.  I wasn't revealing anything that couldn't be easily found and verified by watching A&E and doing a little minor Internet research.  If you're on a reality show, you have to expect that people are going to express opinions.

But then after thinking about it, I realized she had a point.  I decided to remove the post, mainly because I didn't want trouble, but also because I realized that as infuriating as I found that family, they had gone through a terrible tragedy.  The young woman whose actions had so upset me was a teenager at the time the show was recorded.  While I don't buy that the teen was a "little girl" when she was on Intervention, I do realize that fifteen year olds are usually fairly immature.  She probably wasn't involved in the decision to be on Intervention.  I also don't think her aunt was helping her to see the situation from a less self-centered position.  To me, it looked like the aunt was enjoying the positive regard she got from the teenager and actually promoted the divisiveness between mother and daughter.  I heard the girl saying things that were calculated to be hurtful toward her mother, but I also saw another adult encouraging it...  at least on that hour of Intervention.

I remember being a teenager and, like the teen on Intervention, I also had an alcoholic parent.  He was never as obviously sick from drinking as the woman on Intervention was, probably because my mother did a great job of hiding his problems from me and everyone else around him.  My father's drinking coupled with PTSD led him to be abusive at times.  He would get overwhelmed with rage and become extremely angry about seemingly insignificant things.  He could be very controlling and sometimes was very immature.  I lived with him during this time, though it wasn't until I was seventeen that I actually found out that he was an alcoholic.  It was hidden from me and I often felt like I caused his problems.  My father died in July of last year and, as much as I didn't like him at times, I did love him.  I came to realize that he was out of control, and that he truly was sick rather than suffering from a character flaw.  When I finally came to that conclusion, it was much easier for me to separate him as the whole man from some of his actions.

The teen who was on this episode of Intervention is still young and, according to her boyfriend's mother and another anonymous comment I saw on a message board where this episode was discussed, she's supposedly "sweet".  I realized that in a different environment, she probably is a sweet person who deserves to move on without having to run across an angry rant that specifically singles her out.  At the same time, I feel very strongly compelled to write about this, so this post is an attempt to make the family less obvious while still satisfying my need to get this out of my system.  

The boyfriend's mother's comment did not change my mind about how I feel about that episode or, really, how I feel about the way the family was behaving.  I'm not ashamed of what I wrote, either.  To me, they all appeared in need of some intensive counseling.  But I also understand that addictions, especially alcoholism, tend to be family diseases.  The person who is self-medicating with substances is usually one glaring symptom of a sick family system.  It was pretty obvious to me that the woman featured in that episode of Intervention was not the only one who had serious problems; yet they all seemed to want to blame her for all of the family's problems.  I'm sure that was one of many reasons she self-medicated so much with alcohol, which ultimately did nothing but make her very ill.  Her daughter, who was supposedly the center of her universe and whom she had supposedly taken great care of until she got sick, was now calling her aunt "mom" right in front of her, not wanting to talk to her or visit her, and basically treating her mother like a loser.  I think the young woman was fortunate that she had someone who was willing to take her in while her mother was so sick.  At the same time, I think it was wrong that the aunt apparently encouraged this new "mother/daughter" relationship between herself and her niece.  It was like kicking her sister while she was down and using the most powerful "boot" to do the kicking-- her sister's beloved daughter.  

Yesterday, I started to write a post explaining why I reacted so strongly to that episode of Intervention.  I think the main reason is that story, no doubt well-edited for maximum dramatic effect, hit me on several levels.  I am the adult child of an alcoholic and I am the wife of a man whose ex kids have treated him with utter disdain and hatred.  My husband's kids, once his pride and joy, now call another man "daddy".  But it's not because he's an alcoholic, a deadbeat, abusive, perverted, or unavailable to them.  It's because they are members of a toxic religion that encourages shaming, judging, and shunning behaviors and they are severely parentally alienated and manipulated by their mother.  They also can't seem to pull their heads out of their asses.  This situation used to make me sad; now it makes me angry and ill inclined to be forgiving toward them.  I saw much of the same horrible, self-centered behavior in the people on this episode of Intervention and reacted in the way I now react when it comes to my husband's former daughters.  At least the teen on Intervention didn't completely cut her mother out of her life as my husband's kids did.  On the other hand, maybe that would have been kinder.  My husband hasn't seen his daughters since 2004, but at least he hasn't had to endure any verbal abuse or blatant disrespect from them.   

Another reason I decided not to share that post is because I realized it was too personal and probably wouldn't be understood by many.  But as I was writing, I also realized that, like the family on Intervention, I don't like it when people unfairly judge me and Bill for our situation.  I realized that problems as serious as alcoholism and other addictions can cause people who normally wouldn't be toxic to behave in toxic ways.  I remembered that what I was seeing was basically one person's misery and suffering presented as a well edited hour of entertainment for the masses-- there was certainly more to the story that caused them to react that way to one another.  I don't have their whole story, just like people who make angry comments to me on this blog don't have my whole story.  I'm not a terrible person and, I'm sure, the people on that episode of Intervention are basically decent people.

It also dawned on me that when strangers leave me shitty comments about my situation that they know very little about, they are usually reacting to triggers...  triggers that they have in their own lives that have absolutely nothing to do with me personally.  In making that realization, I also realized that I was being triggered by Intervention and reacting personally to a situation that has nothing to do with me.  Likewise, my angry comments aren't personal toward the family on Intervention, because the reason I was reacting was due to things in my own life that had nothing to do with them.

So anyway, while I didn't appreciate that pissy comment that was left for me, it did cause me to do some thinking.  That's a good thing.  Perhaps the family on Intervention would still be upset with me for posting this on my blog, but at least this time, names have been omitted to protect the guilty.

2 comments:

  1. If they were on a reality show, then they should expect critical comments. If the girl is too young for your views, then she's too young for TV. I love it when you're snarky so keep it up and don't be afraid to piss people off!

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    Replies
    1. :D

      Well, I enjoy being snarky too... But I do have a heart. This post may not be nice enough to appease the future mother in law, but I think it's nicer than the other one was.

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