Posts Tagged ‘12-step’

‘Daddy Is an Idiot, but We Love Him’

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

By Bob Gaydos

Donald Trump and his happy family.

Donald Trump and his happy family.

“Daddy, to be honest, is an idiot. A lying SOB, too. A nasty drunk. As long as you praise him, he’s all smiles and charm. Disagree with him and he’s a bully, or worse. He likes to act like a big shot — ‘I’m the smartest guy at the office …,’ ‘the fastest runner …,’ ‘no one knows as much as me …’ ‘I really showed them …’ Yes, he’s somehow always late paying the bills, if he pays them at all, and he seems to owe a lot of people money. He’s not around much lately — busy I guess — but when he is he’s always telling us about how great it’s gonna be when we: a) get a bigger house; b) buy a new car; c) go on vacation; d) move away from this lousy neighborhood.

“We’re still waiting, but we know he’ll figure it out eventually because he’s Daddy and he said so. We love him.”

Welcome to another day in the life of a typical American family locked in the grip of massive dysfunction bordering on delusion. Actually, maybe they’ve already gone across the border.

Of course I’m talking about Trump. You know I’m talking about Trump. The only ones who don’t know I’m talking about Trump are members of the aforementioned family. The delusionals. They stuck with him before and they’re sticking with him now. He’s family. They’re stuck with each other. Hey, nobody’s perfect. “We gotta stick together or they’re gonna take away our jobs. Then our schools. Then our church. Then our kids. Then our guns. Then what’ll we do?”

“Don’t worry. Daddy will know.”

(But remember? Daddy’s an idiot.)

How do you survive in life when all your tools — morals, knowledge, social skills, sense of self, pride, compassion, ethics, economics, tolerance, honor, curiosity, courage, ambition, faith — have been conceived, nurtured and twisted in such a fashion that, although you know instinctively that up is not down, you agree with the head of the family anyway when he says otherwise and you defend him vigorously when others says he’s an idiot? To do otherwise, after all, is to admit your significant shortcomings in those areas and to invite the shame and ridicule you imagine you’ll receive for not recognizing reality. For not kicking Daddy out or leaving yourself.

That’s life with an abusive (often alcoholic) parent. Donald Trump’s America. The drug of choice in this case is applause, not alcohol, but the behavior is the same. Me, me, me. Predictably unpredictable. Trump’s diehard supporters are stuck with each other and with him — one, big, dysfunctional family, lies and betrayals notwithstanding. Indeed, to question Daddy is disloyal, to leave, a betrayal. And where would you go anyway? It is, after all, a scary world out there. Daddy said so. Many times.

Breaking away from any such family is no easy task. It’s who you are, after all, isn’t it? You and your brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and uncles and … Heck, it’s like daddy told you — it’s your brand. “Us against the world.”

Breaking away from the family of Trump — acknowledging that he is a fraud, rejecting the brand — would take enormous courage. First of all, it would mean admitting you have been wrong all this time to have placed your trust in a man with no moral compass, no sense of duty, no trace of compassion for the less fortunate, no regard for the truth and a total lack of interest in anything that does not feed his ego. (Get him a beer!) To admit that, one would have to be a fool, right?

Secondly, it would mean learning an entirely new set of life skills and placing your trust in people who believe pretty much the opposite of everything Daddy has told you. Talk about scary. Besides, how can you be sure those people aren’t lying, too.

“Everybody lies. Don’t believe what the media say. They all lie to make money. Daddy knows. He used to be on TV. He was great. At least Daddy has the guts to stand up to the liars and fight to get what we deserve. Maybe he hasn’t gotten it yet, but at least he’s trying. He’ll come through for us eventually. He has to, doesn’t he?”

Of course, there are 12-Step programs for people who grow up in this kind of ill-functioning, mis-functioning, dysfunctioning household with an unpredictable, abusive, addictive parent at the head. But one has to first admit there’s a problem before those programs can help. Then, one has to be willing to change — to break the chains of denial and dependence on the parent and learn to live one’s own life. To be honest with oneself.

Rather than being the act of a fool, it takes a lot of courage to say, “Daddy’s an idiot and if I keep depending on him, excusing his behavior, I’m going to wind up an idiot, too. I have to face reality.” Sometimes, it take an intervention or a profound spiritual experience, a moment of clarity, for this to happen. Both have been known to work miracles and either one would be acceptable right now.

In the meantime, the key for the rest of the more-functional families in the neighborhood is to continue to recognize that the family down the block has an addictive idiot for a Daddy and that to try to tell them so is to invite insanity into your home.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

And So it Went: Two dysfunctional political families trying to survive

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

 

Hillary and Donald ... heads of the families

    Hillary and Donald
  … heads of the families

By Bob Gaydos

The week began with Donald Trump making inane remarks about always wanting a Purple Heart and arguing with a crying baby. It ended with the Olympics opening to a samba beat in corruption-plagued Brazil. But something else has been rattling around in my brain and I finally figured it out.

For the past decade, the two subjects I have written about more than any others are politics and addiction. While each has its own niche and relevance in the world, I always knew there would come a time when the two merged seamlessly into one. I just didn’t think it would take the most tawdry, depressing, insulting, downright embarrassing presidential campaign in my lifetime for it to happen.

But here we are, my fellow Americans, three months away from having to choose between two of the most disliked candidates in our nation’s history to be the most powerful person on the planet. In 12-step program language: We have become powerless over our political process and our lives are becoming increasingly unmanageable.

At first, I thought this was just a problem for Republicans, many of whom are faced with trying to figure out how to detach from their utterly unmanageable presidential candidate, Donald Trump. Al-Anon, a 12-step program for families and friends of alcoholics, talks of trying to detach from the alcoholic or addict with love. Love the addict, hate the disease, is the rationale.

However, the group’s members also acknowledge that sometimes it is necessary — for self-preservation — to “detach with an ax.” A few members of the Republican family have done so with Trump and more are in the process of getting up the courage to do so.

More on this in a bit.

What finally alerted me to the dual dysfunction of our presidential campaign — my moment of political clarity, if you will — was the FBI deciding not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential candidate, for her use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

But they cleared her, you say.  Yes, they did. No crime was committed, they say. But they also said she and her staff were incredibly careless and she showed poor judgment in creating this system, which could have compromised classified information. The FBI and State Department both said it did not, but what struck me was Clinton’s need to ignore established — secure — protocol and install a system over which she, at least theoretically, had total control.

This, I recalled, was not new behavior for Clinton. Her political campaigns — for the U.S. Senate in New York and for president — are famous for her efforts to strictly control and limit all interactions with the news media as well as to carefully manage her public appearances. Not too much mingling.

It’s almost as if, when she feels she is in total control of the situation, she feels comfortable, but if she is not, well, who knows what might happen? There is no trust

Why would any intelligent, capable, successful woman have trust issues?

How about a husband who was a serial philanderer? A successful, charming husband who cheated and lied and paid no serious consequences for his actions, no less. This could prompt some controlling, seemingly arrogant, behavior in anyone who opted not to detach, with love or an ax.

Hillary stayed with Bill and today she is the center of attention. He remains visible and is still respected by many, but obviously is no longer a threat to her peace of mind. He may simply have aged out of the erratic behavior. That happens a lot in dysfunctional families. The “non-problem” spouse no longer has to devote all her energies to making things appear to be normal at home; she really is running things.

So when the “kids” in the Democratic family – the Bernie Sanders progressives — started demanding that things have to change at home, she was able to at least listen. Whether she is able, or willing, to make those changes, however, remains to be seen.

It also remains to be seen if she can let down those protective walls and show voters a more human side. To continue the arms-length behavior only breeds distrust among people she’s also asking to like her well enough to give her their vote. It’s foolishly self-defeating behavior for a politician.

If Hillary can recognize that shortcoming and if she can grasp that, as head of the family now, she can let up on some of those reins of control and trust others to help her make decisions, and if she can learn to trust herself in non-choreographed situations, life in the Democratic household will be much more serene. Her life will be more serene.

If she cannot, Bill will still be around, but those Sanders kids are likely to leave home, even if it’s a beautiful, white mansion in Washington, D.C.

For Republicans, the situation is starkly different. Daddy Donald has gone off the rails. He listens to no one, says whatever comes into his mind, insults his allies and attacks anyone who isn’t nice (deferential?) to him. His addiction is the constant need for praise. Where is the next applause line coming from? His erratic behavior is not confined to the home either, but rather is out there for the whole world to see. His buddies in the bar love his one-liners. They think he’s a genius. “Hey, Donnie, you oughta go into politics.”

For the family back at home, it is beyond embarrassing.

As  Al-Anon teaches, those who stay with the addicted individual too long can wind up even sicker than the addict. Today’s Republican Party offers ample evidence of that as party leaders on the one hand condemn whatever bigoted, misogynistic, hateful, utterly stupid thing Trump has said that day and on the other hand continue to support him as head of the family. Shhh, don’t make daddy mad.

Rehab is out of the question. Trump listens to no one. The only healthy way out is to remove the addict from the house, or, as appears to be the situation here, to leave him and set up a new house.

That takes courage and, so far, few Republican leaders — indeed few of the rank-and-file — have shown any willingness to do this. Denial is a killer. Inevitably, the detachment must happen if the family is to survive. How much more suffering the Republican family must endure is up to them.

… And so it went.

rjgaydos@gmail.com

There’s No Quick Fix, Mr. Weiner

Thursday, July 25th, 2013
Anthony Weiner ... still sexting

Anthony Weiner … still sexting

By Bob Gaydos

Anthony Weiner, please go away.

Take your smart phone or your laptop and sex text to your heart’s desire, if that’s what you want. We don’t need to hear or see any more of you than we have already experienced and New York City definitely does not need you as its next mayor. While you’re at it, maybe get a little help for that sexting thing.

On the off chance, dear reader, that you haven’t heard about Weiner’s latest escapade — maybe you don’t live in the New York City area or watch late night TV talk shows that thrive on ridiculing the ridiculous — the guy who quit Congress because he was caught sending pictures of his penis to a woman who was not his wife has done it again. This, after saying he was sorry. Wouldn’t do it again. Would not put his family through the humiliation and embarrassment again. Would get it under control.

That “control” thing doesn’t seem to be working. In fact, the whole sexual texting with other women went on right after he resigned from Congress and said he was going to “take care of it.” He was lying through his apology.

There is so much wrong with this scenario, it’s hard to know where start, but saying he should drop out of the race for mayor of New York is a good one. That he entered the Democratic primary for mayor just two years after quitting Congress (he said he had dealt with the problem) suggests an arrogance and denial, which is reinforced by the fact that he kept up the behavior even as he was “apologizing” for it. And that behavior bespeaks a kind of recklessness that most people would not find appealing in a mayor.

As long as I’m attaching adjectives to Weiner’s behavior, let me add more: juvenile, irresponsible, untrustworthy, deceptive, self-indulgent, uncaring, exhibitionist, delusional, selfish, egotistical, evasive, compulsive and misogynistic.

And yet, even as he was saying I’m really, really sorry this time, honest, believe me, there were some supposedly enlightened, “progressive,” liberal-leaning web sites (Salon, AlterNet, The Progress Party) who were defending Weiner, saying it was “just sex,” a private matter between the serial sexter and his wife, no reason he shouldn’t stay in the mayoral race. Besides, he supports gay marriage, one site pointed out.

Nonsense. First of all, any Democrat in New York City who runs for office supports gay marriage. It’s irrelevant in this case. Secondly, when sexual infidelity is involved, it’s never “just sex.” It’s also lying and cheating and sneaking and a profound breach of a fundamental trust between two people. Personally, I don’t like those character traits in people in public office.

Weiner’s defenders would have you believe he was just a “bad husband,” but not necessarily a bad candidate. Really? In a year in which progressive web sites are trumpeting women’s issues and the need for women to claim sovereignty over their bodies and their lives, they are also being told that all the things that would make them reject a man as a potential life partner shouldn’t matter if he is running for public office?

Weiner’s callous, prideful, even boasting approach to women who are not his wife should not count against him, it is suggested, because he is, after all, a smart, liberal Democrat. His utter disregard for women as anything but sex objects and his continued betrayal of his wife should not matter, one assumes, because we agree with him on some political issues. As if his attitudes — and the lying, don’t forget the lying — would not carry over to his conduct in office. And as if these same defenders wouldn’t be setting his hair on fire if he were a conservative Republican.

A schmuck is a schmuck, people. The fact that Weiner continued the behavior even as he was apologizing for it bespeaks either a total disregard for the rules of decent behavior, a lack of awareness of them or a feeling that they don’t apply to him. None inspires confidence.

Weiner’s wife came forward to defend him and say they are working things out (again). Whatever reasons she has for this (and I‘m hard-pressed to find a good one) does not change the equation.

As for Weiner, some might wonder, if he’s so smart, why does he keep doing dumb things? Others might say that intelligence has nothing to do with Weiner’s behavior, just as it has nothing to do with compulsive, repetitive, self-destructive behavior exhibited by many other people. Let’s review the adjectives I used to describe Weiner: juvenile, arrogant, reckless, irresponsible, untrustworthy, deceptive, self-indulgent, uncaring, exhibitionist, delusional, selfish, egotistical, evasive, compulsive and misogynistic.

There are rooms full of people around the country attending 12-step programs to help them deal with one type of harmful behavior or another which they cannot control. Maybe Weiner should take a break from the Internet, forget about running for mayor and take a step in another direction. Work things out in private with his wife and himself. And don’t bother saying “I’m sorry,” until he can prove it by his actions.

And for those web site managers who think Weiner’s serial sexting is none of our business, when he keeps his privates private, he can think about running for public office.

bob@@zestoforange.com