Sniff September 3, 2010 4:47 AM   Subscribe

Flagging this post as 'fantastic' doesn't seem appropriate, so I just want to say that the outpouring of compassion, caring and genuine feeling makes me really happy to be part of this community.

Whatever the poster does, I hope something someone said there will help him make the right choice. Well done all of you.
posted by mippy to MetaFilter-Related at 4:47 AM (131 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

On a side point, does that thread set a site record for emphasising points in ALL CAPS, bold and BOLD ALL CAPS?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:36 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah, that thread was pretty much fantastic.

No mincing of words, or anything like that- just a solid, clear answer. I'm glad Fermt's keeping his head up and really working through this problem with his SO- he seems like an awfully strong, rational guy.
posted by Askiba at 5:58 AM on September 3, 2010


I dunno...maybe I'm too cynical, but every time I read that thread I get more and more of a sinking feeling. The fiancee's turnaround seemed a little too quick and convenient. In my experience people with issues that serious usually need a loooong break to sort things out. But they are going on a romantic weekend, which is probably the worst thing to do.
posted by cottonswab at 6:14 AM on September 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ugh, I was desperately hoping this thread would not make Metatalk. The question was a slam dunk, the answering a huge pile-on, and now we're going to parade around, patting ourselves on the back?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:22 AM on September 3, 2010 [46 favorites]


Maybe I am too cynical but there was something a little off about that thread. My spidey sense wouldn't stop tingling. *my two cents*.
posted by futz at 6:29 AM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


99.5% awesome, but was the Demon thing metaphorical? We don't really believe in demonic possession, as in the call-the-exorcist type any more, do we?

Mental illness is a bitch, but the human brain is an organ. When I had kidney stones, no one suggested there was demon in my belly.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:30 AM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Actually, her behaviour reminds me very much of an ex of mine. She went on to win a University Medal, gain a PhD, is in a stable relationship of many years running, and is the marketing manager for a prestigious institution. So, the question was not such a slam dunk to me. Some people are just kinda like that. It can sound more dramatic in print, I guess.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:34 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jessamyn would you be willing to share the kinds of things that were deleted from that thread? Or is it a sleeping dogs situation?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:38 AM on September 3, 2010


no one suggested there was demon in my belly.
posted by Devils Rancher


Of course not. They were all corralled up in the back paddock.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:38 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Mate I had a fling who could only get off by slicing me up during "it", I tolerated that for longer than I really should have until I was like "Well, hold on just a darn-tootin' second."

I think "understanding" only goes so far. This woman needs to be hospitalized and this dude needs to take a break on an island somewhere and just get smashed and look at lots of dancing ladies and not think about her ever again.

"Let love be truly love - that is, let it be peace - or let it not exist at all."
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:41 AM on September 3, 2010


Devils Rancher, magstheaxe really was speaking Evangelical Christian, and while it was a metaphor, it's a bit more nuanced than that, as what an Evangelical Christian might define as a demon is pretty broad. If you haven't grown up in that kind of environment, that will sound totally crazy. If you have, you'll understand exactly why he put it that way.
posted by ukdanae at 6:43 AM on September 3, 2010 [18 favorites]


Sorry, she put it that way.
posted by ukdanae at 6:44 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I had something deleted that was basically like:

"Please refrain from procreative sex, even if you use condoms/birth control. This is not a safe family for a child."

About a million other people where saying the same stuff so, no big thing that it got deleted.
posted by the young rope-rider at 6:47 AM on September 3, 2010


While I agree that, yes, most of the answers there were particularly eloquent and careful, I do think that this MeTa opens the conversation in an arena where comments aren't as stringently moderated, and could perhaps undo some of the good that may have been done in the AskMe thread.
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:48 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Mate I had a fling who could only get off by slicing me up during "it", I tolerated that for longer than I really should have until I was like "Well, hold on just a darn-tootin' second."

"...do we really have to listen to early Swans every time?!??"
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:49 AM on September 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


While I agree that, yes, most of the answers there were particularly eloquent and careful, I do think that this MeTa opens the conversation in an arena where comments aren't as stringently moderated, and could perhaps undo some of the good that may have been done in the AskMe thread.


Yeah, i'm coming around to that opinion. While I felt many times during that thread that i'd like to talk to other people about it, I do worry that we might mess up an ongoing situation.
posted by ukdanae at 6:50 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


My take is a bit like ThePinkSuperhero's, I'm not thrilled to see this here.

99.5% awesome, but was the Demon thing metaphorical? We don't really believe in demonic possession, as in the call-the-exorcist type any more, do we?

Define "we".

One of the useful things about MetaFilter is that it manages to be (relatively) civil and reasonable despite not being made up of people who are exactly all alike.

One of the things they're not all alike in is whether they believe in demons.

For the record: I believe in demons (and in a not at all metaphorical way), but have no inclination to think they're the primary movers here or that this is a case of possession, but I only read the thread on the first day and the comment linked to by Devils Rancher.
posted by Jahaza at 6:50 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Children can be very stressful even for a person without problems. This woman is being set off by "little things". Definitely don't have kids.

...it's a bit more nuanced than that, as what an Evangelical Christian might define as a demon is pretty broad.

Not so much broad as indefinable. The way I gathered it as a kid was that a tumor (say) caused by a demon and tumor not caused by a demon were identical except that one was caused by a demon. Basically, just attributing some bad things to some Higher (Evil) Meaning made them more epic. Which may not be a bad thing, as long as you don't think you can remove the tumor by grappling with demon. Treat the demon tumor the same way you treat a non-demon tumor and handle the demon separately.
posted by DU at 6:52 AM on September 3, 2010


ohhh, took me a bit to understand that the Anon created an account to reply.

Could a mod change the anon in their post to their new name to make it easier to follow their replies in that huge thread, as it's not like a usual anon where Jessamyn comes in with her tiny font? No biggie if you can't.
posted by NoraCharles at 6:52 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yikes. I saw this here, and assumed he made the sensible decision to break up with her. It seems he hasn't. What a terrible terrible nightmare of a situation that continues to be!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:54 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


and while it was a metaphor, it's a bit more nuanced than that, as what an Evangelical Christian might define as a demon is pretty broad.

It kinda seemed that way to me, since the advice that followed was sensible, and not "cut it out with a rusty knife," or anything. and no, I have no personal experience with evangelicals at all, so there you have it, I guess. It was just jarring at first.

I really prefer the science-based approach to mental health -- therapy when emotional healing is needed, and medicine when the organ is swollen or something. Thanks for the reply.

I really do empathize with the asker -- I had to wrestle a loaded .357 from the wildly-waving hand of an drug-addled ex one time, and boy was that initial lunge towards the gun ever a not-fun moment for me. I left pretty quickly after that, and she did seek help, and has been an entirely sober and pretty well-balanced person for a long time, now. I think it took me bailing for her to reach the conclusion that playing out the drama she'd grown up with at home (abusive, alcoholic parents) wasn't really moving things forward. I'm glad to see that the couple involved in that thread seem like they're working hard on breaking the cycle, and can hopefully do it without having to break their relationship. It's not easy.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:01 AM on September 3, 2010


I agree with The Pink Superhero somewhat, but somewhat not.

Yes, it was kinda a slam dunk, but sometimes it's not the obviousness of the answer, it's the particular way that someone says it that really gets through to the OP. In this case, there were a lot of specific cultural references that seemed to help.

I don't think we should be patting ourselves on the back, though, really, just because collective "yay metafilter look at how awesome we are" tends to backfire onto "that idiot didn't do what we said, BUT WE'RE SO BRILLIANT!"

Let's hope that if he needs help in the future it doesn't end up like chucksnpaintbrushes or that other person whose name I forget, where there was a lot of victim-blaming and "go away unless you do what we say" which I think is really gross. I was heartened to see people telling the poster to come back for help if he needed it and emphasizing that people would be there for him no matter what he decided to do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:13 AM on September 3, 2010


It was just jarring at first.

Yeah, it jarred me too, and I grew up with stuff like that. I remember when we first got a computer and internet connection and I started spending hours and hours and hours online, which caused much grar family drama in our house. In one heated argument, my mom started shouting I'VE BROUGHT A DEMON INTO OUR HOME (meaning the computer), and i made things a lot worse by laughing at the hyperbole. Good times.
posted by ukdanae at 7:19 AM on September 3, 2010


One thing I really liked about that thread was that we had christians and atheists and agnostics all on the same side, no potshots. We were all just trying to frame the situation in ways that would speak to the OP in his language of faith without anyone tangenting off about faith itself, which was pretty touching all around.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:22 AM on September 3, 2010 [41 favorites]


Yikes. I saw this here, and assumed he made the sensible decision to break up with her.

You know, I shared the story of a friend who had similar "rage issues" in the thread - in her case it was a physical, not "mental" (ie: not brain chemistry) issue, and it was a treatable medical issue. The key was for someone who loved her to help her get over her deep feelings of embarrassment about her behavior and seek help.

I understand why so many people are telling the poster to "run far, run fast" but I question whether this is really the BEST advice, without allowing him to at least make the effort to help her get treatment. I really would have liked to see more answers (especially in light of his most recent update) that will help him convince her to seek treatment vs. simply encouraging him to walk away if she declines the first time.

It bothers me that so many people who answered the question, if they had someone similar in their lives, would simply walk away from the relationship without even attempting to help their partner get help. I mean - I do get it, I do understand that in an abusive situation the abused partner can and should walk away - but I also see her as possibly someone who could - with help and encouragement - get better. Maybe its my own experience with someone who DID get better coloring my judgment. But I find it ineffably sad that so many people here would just turn around and walk away from someone who was so clearly ill without at least making the attempt to help them get treatment and get well.
posted by anastasiav at 7:23 AM on September 3, 2010


I find it ineffably sad that so many people here would just turn around and walk away from someone who was so clearly ill without at least making the attempt to help them get treatment and get well.

She pulled a knife on him. He owes her nothing.
posted by runningwithscissors at 7:27 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


anastasiav, my take on the situation was that the best help he could give her was to walk away, thus demonstrating to her the severity of her illness. In a situation like this, staying with her is going to allow her to keep pretending that her behaviour is somehow acceptable. With that said, I hope that i'm wrong and that they work through it together.
posted by ukdanae at 7:31 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


We were all just trying to frame the situation in ways that would speak to the OP in his language of faith without anyone tangenting off about faith itself, which was pretty touching all around.

I admit that this was rather nice. However, I agree with ThePinkSuperhero and Greg Nog. Fermt's "miracle" comment sounds a whole lot like he got a bouquet of baby-I'll-never-hit-you-again-I-promise flowers. But I've got way too much anecdata to contemplate this going well at all or considering this sort of turnabout to be legit. Cynical, for sure, but I hold to my opinion that nothing commendable happened in there outside of the community coming together.
posted by griphus at 7:35 AM on September 3, 2010 [13 favorites]


Could a mod change the anon in their post to their new name to make it easier to follow their replies in that huge thread, as it's not like a usual anon where Jessamyn comes in with her tiny font? No biggie if you can't.

Yeah, we don't really have a simple facility for doing that and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea even if we did. I know it makes for a bit of an odd read but it's an odd thread in more than one way.

would you be willing to share the kinds of things that were deleted from that thread? Or is it a sleeping dogs situation?

It wasn't a whole lot, mostly bits of metacommentary that shouldn't have been in the thread or comments that weren't answers so much as rhetorical flourishes or pith. This thankfully is not a thread we had to do a ton of cleanup on.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:38 AM on September 3, 2010


It bothers me that so many people who answered the question, if they had someone similar in their lives, would simply walk away from the relationship without even attempting to help their partner get help.

I was in his shoes. Lots of others were. In my case, she's gotten so bad our teenaged son won't see his mother for more than a few minutes at a time and only in public.

The odds of that turning out well in the long term are small. It's not impossible, certainly, but it's a tough row to hoe in even the best of cases. If he wants to take on that challenge, he should know full well what he is in for.

I think he should run.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:39 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


She pulled a knife on him. He owes her nothing.

While this is utterly true, you've gotta note that she went from "does not want help or therapy" to them taking an honest stab at getting her help for the sake of fixing the relationship, and breaking the cycle of her emotional trauma dating back to childhood. Had my gun-waving ex decided immediately to seek help the day after that particular incident, I might have stuck around to support her through that. I would have had to determined good faith on her part.

There is a big difference between an abuser's morning-after regrets followed by a promise to never, ever do that again, and them actually seeking therapy, and wanting to fix themselves. It's up to him to determine good faith on her part, and it sounds like perhaps it's there.

The best outcome is she heals, and their relationship survives.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:40 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I agree that, yes, most of the answers there were particularly eloquent and careful, I do think that this MeTa opens the conversation in an arena where comments aren't as stringently moderated, and could perhaps undo some of the good that may have been done in the AskMe thread.

Yes, I realise that now, so probably best this isn't linked in the open thread. I just found the thread very moving to read - it spurred me to share something I find difficult to discuss myself - and thought those who had missed it might be interested. I also appreciated the contributions from people of faith, as that isn't a side I know much about in this context - it was eye-opening.
posted by mippy at 7:40 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Incidentally, I am pretty pro-demon in ask.me answers:

Q: my cat's litterbox is six inches by six inches, which seems ike it should be plenty of space to hold cat poop. And yet, my cat still keeps pooping outside the box! What should I do?

A: OP, small litterboxes attract demons, and your cat is (understandably!) scared of those demons. Buy a much bigger litterbox, one that doesn't have demons in it.

posted by Greg Nog at 7:43 AM on September 3, 2010 [58 favorites]


It's up to him to determine good faith on her part...

I unfortunately and severely doubt his capacity to do this.
posted by griphus at 7:43 AM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


God, that was a deeply depressing thread. Good on the community for such thoughtful, honest answers, but that awful relationship is only going to continue on in much the same way.
posted by orange swan at 7:43 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


And yeah, she agreed to go talk things over with their, but typically abusers will do so only to quit going once the therapist has a handle on what the issues are and the real work of changing mentality and behaviour begins.
posted by orange swan at 7:50 AM on September 3, 2010


That is, "agreed to go talk things over with their pastor".
posted by orange swan at 7:51 AM on September 3, 2010


I flagged it as fantastic. Absolutely the best of what Metazens have to offer; good, caring, supportive, rational advice, without descending into hurtful snark. Someone may really, really benefit from what we had to say.
posted by Melismata at 7:52 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It bothers me that so many people who answered the question, if they had someone similar in their lives, would simply walk away from the relationship without even attempting to help their partner get help.

She's threatened him with a knife. It's long gone well past the point that 90% of people would have walked away from a very unhappy relationship. My biggest concern about the thread is that the OP seems to have some kind of a Christ complex which means he must save her, in addition to a classic abused mentality, going to the most incredible lengths to blame himself for the problems of the relationship. It actually sort of depresses me to read the thread - my reaction is not at all "YAY US!." And for me, having a talk with a pastor doesn't count as a commitment to therapy. I hope I'm wrong on all counts, as the OP seems like a very decent person.
posted by Dasein at 7:53 AM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


> I had something deleted that was basically like:

"Please refrain from procreative sex, even if you use condoms/birth control. This is not a safe family for a child.


There's no reason for you to answer any of those kinds of questions whatsoever. AskMe is not your shot at being Dan Savage/Dear Abby, despite the temptation.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:02 AM on September 3, 2010


It actually sort of depresses me to read the thread - my reaction is not at all "YAY US!."

I've been him. Before I met my wife, I dated several women who had similar issues. My parents had a violent, manipulative and brutally abusive relationship. The thread is depressing as hell to read.

I was going to contribute a comment, but after his subsequent comments I decided against it. There has been a lot of excellent advice given in that thread, and he isn't listening. It's heartbreaking. He doesn't understand what his future children will be subjected to. He thinks he's going to save her from herself somehow, and she's not showing any signs of *wanting* to be saved.

I am glad the community gave him such thoughtful, thorough advice. But patting ourselves on the back when it seems apparent that he's not absorbing it or taking steps to walk away seems sadly inappropriate.
posted by zarq at 8:09 AM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


I unfortunately and severely doubt his capacity to do this.

Well, there is that. For me, it was a lot easier -- drugs were the main problem, so it was pretty much:

Me: "Stop taking drugs."
Her: "No."
Me: "I'm outta here."
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:10 AM on September 3, 2010


But mippy, thank you for posting this MeTa. I would not have seen the AskMe thread otherwise.
posted by zarq at 8:10 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


I saw a lot of folks struggling to get through to this guy on some level he would really "get."

Seeds. Planted.

This thread brought up a lot of personal suffering for a lot of people on MetaFilter. I bet I'm not the only one who had unusual and unexpected dreams the past couple of nights about their sad past as the subconscious mind did its thing to process past and present.

I think its OK this is now on MetaTalk. We probably have some collective processing to do.
posted by jbenben at 8:26 AM on September 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


For me, it was a lot easier -- drugs were the main problem...

Yeah, substance abuse is different animal. Unless you're violently deluded, there's no hope that one day they'll get up and say "hmm, you know what, I'm done with crack." There's a specific, overt problem that you can point to and say "cut that shit out." Mental illness is a lot harder. You can't say "stop being crazy!" If you kick heroin, you kick heroin. If you start going to therapy and not try, you can go there for the rest of your days and never get even a little better. Even if an addict has a lucid day, they're still using the drug. The problem still exists. But every lucid day spent with a person with mental illness is a false hope that, hey, maybe tomorrow they'll be okay too. But they won't.
posted by griphus at 8:34 AM on September 3, 2010


It bothers me that so many people who answered the question, if they had someone similar in their lives, would simply walk away from the relationship without even attempting to help their partner get help.

This is the kind of thing that keeps men and women in abusive relationships well past the time to go, the whole attitude of "oh but you should go to counseling!" when you have finally gotten up the courage to know you should go. in my case i had an elderly male relative of my ex's (his parents were deceased) CALLING ME AT WORK to try to harangue me into going into counseling with the same argument.
posted by micawber at 8:36 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Helping someone who is mentally ill does NOT mean staying with them in a romantic relationship, living with them, maintaining ongoing contact with no limits, etc.

This is especially true when the mentally ill person is abusive. No one should feel required to tolerate abuse in order to "help" someone else.

There is, too, a limit to the amount of help you can give someone. You can help them make an appointment, you can give them the phone number of the best therapist in the world, but you can't make them go. If they don't want help, you can't "help them get help".

There are also situations in which staying with a romantic partner who is mentally ill makes recovery and treatment more difficult.

So yes, I think it is a great kindness to help someone get help, but that does not mean staying in a romantic relationship with an abusive person who does not want to get help.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:44 AM on September 3, 2010 [13 favorites]


Let's hope that if he needs help in the future it doesn't end up like chucksnpaintbrushes or that other person whose name I forget, where there was a lot of victim-blaming and "go away unless you do what we say" which I think is really gross.

In those cases we had a poster post what was essentially the same question several times. If this guy kept posting the same question I suspect he would meet with the same level of ire.
posted by orange swan at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2010



Yeah, it jarred me too, and I grew up with stuff like that. I remember when we first got a computer and internet connection and I started spending hours and hours and hours online, which caused much grar family drama in our house. In one heated argument, my mom started shouting I'VE BROUGHT A DEMON INTO OUR HOME (meaning the computer), and i made things a lot worse by laughing at the hyperbole. Good times.


It was jarring for me too. As someone who grew up in an Evangelical family that believed some things were caused by real actual demons, I don't take things like that lightly. The world is full of people disfigured, maimed, and cast out because of Christian belief in demons.

I think the mainstream evangelical community has luckily moved away from this, but the undercurrent is still there.
posted by melissam at 8:52 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


99.5% awesome, but was the Demon thing metaphorical? We don't really believe in demonic possession, as in the call-the-exorcist type any more, do we?

Mental illness is a bitch, but the human brain is an organ. When I had kidney stones, no one suggested there was demon in my belly.

posted by Devils Rancher at 9:30 AM on September 3



I am the person who posted that Demon analogy (and that's how I think of it), and ukdanae has the right of it.

Several years ago, my best friend at the time, D., got addicted to prescription narcotics. After putting up with much of the behavior described by fermt and others in the thread, we decided to stage an intervention.

It didn't go well, alas, and D stormed out. Afterwards, my friend B said to me that her priest (she's Catholic) had told her once that there was always a point during an exorcism where you "uncovered the demon's face"--that is, you were no longer looking at the person but at the thing controlling him. She said that during the intervention, she saw D's demon. The moment she said it, I knew exactly what she was talking about, because I'd seen it, too. There was a moment where D was screaming at us, and her face was red and so distorted with rage and fury and hatred and fear that she no longer looked like herself. She looked like someone else, someone vicious and cruel.

Now, neither B nor I believe in literal demonic possession, even after what we saw at the intervention. But from that moment onwards, I have always understood why some people talk about addiction or mental illnesses in terms of demonic possession. The dramatic personality changes, the crazy talk, the weird behaviors, the feeling that the person you know and love is disappearing before your very eyes...is it any wonder that it feels like some outside evil being has moved into the person's body? Heck, even in the thread people talked about the mental illness "protecting itself".

So...that's why I wrote what I wrote. I grew up Evangelical Christian, and while I know longer subscribe to the Evangelical part, I still speak that language.

You'll also note that I said nothing about calling an exorcist. I spoke about doctors and medications in my post, not exorcists.
posted by magstheaxe at 8:56 AM on September 3, 2010 [43 favorites]


It bothers me that so many people who answered the question, if they had someone similar in their lives, would simply walk away from the relationship without even attempting to help their partner get help.

Would you say that if it was a man threatening his girlfriend with a knife?

See? No disagreement anymore.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:56 AM on September 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


I think he should run.

My biggest concern with the current "resolution" is that I'm not at all convinced that he's capable of running, regardless of whether he should or not. He's clearly deeply entrenched in this dysfunctional relationship and it depresses me to think of the level of abuse that it would need to escalate to for him to completely cut off all ties with her. I didn't comment in that thread because I can't say it better than anyone else has already said, but if I believed in a higher power like he does I would pray for that higher power to protect him from this woman, because I don't think he's capable of protecting himself if she decides to continue to hurt him.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:02 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It bothers me that so many people who answered the question, if they had someone similar in their lives, would simply walk away from the relationship without even attempting to help their partner get help.

IMO, the person most susceptible to this particular misinterpretation of the comments was the OP.

OF COURSE you fight to get your loved one help. And when it becomes clear they are not doing the real work, and the abuse continues or worsens... you eventually make the painful decision to cut-off the relationship and work on your own healing.

Maybe I read between the lines too much, but I thought a lot of folks only alluded to those aspects in their own histories because to recount would be too long and painful.
posted by jbenben at 9:09 AM on September 3, 2010


Dredging up past horrors has definitely messed with my head some this week. I suddenly remembered why I flinch when objects drop. I realized that I say I'm sorry constantly because it was a survival mechanism.

I think I'm safe in saying that number of us were more than a little devastated by witnessing the cycle of abuse where your abuser says all the right things for just long enough to reel you back in. I also remembered that life of being on a constant rollercoaster with the drama that sucks you in.

All I can hope is that something someone said will linger in the back of his mind long enough to mean something before it's too late.

It bothers me that so many people who answered the question, if they had someone similar in their lives, would simply walk away from the relationship without even attempting to help their partner get help.

I sent the original thread to the person I knew had lived that life. I know that he tried to get his partner help, and nothing short of leaving even registered. We discussed last night how he was sure that there were rules put up around the conversation with the pastor, because he'd been there. I watched him try to think of exactly the right thing to say, and it was really painful to both watch someone important relive atrocities in the name of trying to help someone else who wouldn't/couldn't listen in the hope that something he said would get through. It's painful to watch from the outside looking in when you remember what it felt like when it was happening to you.
posted by Zophi at 9:10 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


That thread makes me so sad.
posted by zizzle at 9:10 AM on September 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Holy shit that demon answer is wacky. Do some people really think like that?
posted by sveskemus at 9:11 AM on September 3, 2010


I really prefer the science-based approach to mental health -- therapy when emotional healing is needed, and medicine when the organ is swollen or something.

posted by Devils Rancher at 10:01 AM on September 3


Here's the thing. There's a tradition among some cultural groups of defining what something is by the way it behaves, rather than what it's made of. Behavior is seen as inherent as, well, a kidney.

Best analogy I can think of on short notice: Did you ever see The Ghost and the Darkness? In that movie, the locals described the Tsavo devils as devils, because their behavior was not that of ordinary lions, or even the known behavior of man-eating lions. Therefore, they were not lions. They couldn't be, because everyone knew that lions behaved a certain way.

The same thinking underlines some of the Evagelical community (not as dramatically, but it's there). That's why ukdanae's mom started going on about her bringing a demon into the house. From here perspective, ukdanae acted one way for years, then they get a computer, and all of a sudden ukdanae's behavior changed dramatically.

I'm not defending this approach, mind you, merely explaining it.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:20 AM on September 3, 2010 [8 favorites]


I think before we doomsay etc we should remember it's only been a couple days. No matter how involved we feel, following that thread, remember he's a guy in the real world (as far as we know) who's facing some huge changes - from thinking they should go ahead with the wedding and that he can never approach an outside person for help, to thinking they should approach an outside person for help and at least talking (though only as a possibility) about breaking things off, or what he could do about the house, talking more confidently about how there's something wrong with her that they need to work on, her behavior is not okay, etc. He's heard a lot of people saying "your gut feeling that this is Not Okay is correct, this is a big deal and you need outside help". That's valuable, even if he's not saying "I'm packing a suitcase right now while I type with the other hand".

I think sometimes AskMe expects people to give novelistic resolutions to these big, emotional threads in faster than real time. That's an unrealistic expectation. It's only been a couple of days.

He is still getting his head around this. Confronting her directly is a good first step, talking with an outside person is a good second step. It's useful for him to hear "if she tries to cancel the appointment that's a red flag", I don't think it's useful for people to play Cassandra (if you stay with her now you are doomed) even if that's what people think will happen.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:24 AM on September 3, 2010 [12 favorites]


Holy shit that demon answer is wacky. Do some people really think like that?

I don't see anything particularly wacky about it, other than that it is framed in the language of faith. Considering the central advice is "call off the wedding, get into therapy and make sure she takes her medication" rather than "get an exorcism," it's just a cultural take on mental illness.
posted by griphus at 9:30 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I understand the demon thing and using religious language in order to be on the same wavelength as the poster. However, this comment is so over the line I can't believe that it wasn't deleted. In my book it is no different than telling an abused child "well it is partly your fault because you make him so angry."
posted by nestor_makhno at 9:38 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


She pulled a knife on him. He owes her nothing.
While this is utterly true, you've gotta note that she went from "does not want help or therapy" to them taking an honest stab at getting her help


ISWYDT.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:43 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


..."Holy shit that demon answer is wacky. Do some people really think like that?"

..."I understand the demon thing and using religious language in order to be on the same wavelength as the poster. However, this comment is so over the line I can't believe that it wasn't deleted. In my book it is no different than telling an abused child "well it is partly your fault because you make him so angry."


Let's please not do this.

I don't believe in Fermt's fiancee's Brand New Day, and I don't believe we all witnessed a rosy ending of a miracle. I am hoping for the best, but cynically am prepared for the worst.

But what I do believe is that MeFites of many different cultures of faith, all across the religious spectrum, came together in one united voice and used their own idiosyncratic languages to try and connect with a man in desperate need of some perspective and help.

I grew up in a conservative Southern faith, and I am familiar with the culture even though I am not a religious person now. I could tell from the original question that the poster is a very Christian man with a similarly conservative set of religious beliefs.

I am personally grateful for the Christian MeFites who spoke up and offered their truest prayers and counsel—wisdom from brothers and sisters who are on the same walk as Fermt. They were able to be useful and caring in a way that the "DTMFA" answers from the non-religious among us were not. I am proud that they are members here, and that they felt called to demonstrate true Christ-like behavior for a MeFite in need, despite the possible backlash.

Please don't mock those answers now.

There are many times in my life where a religious friend is in pain or in need, and I fervently wish that I could sincerely say to that person, "I will be praying for you". My own beliefs do not allow me to lie, but it still makes me feel like slightly less of a friend for not being able to give the comfort that my friend needs in the way that is meaningful to them in that moment.

Here, instead, I can at least at be thankful that other MeFites can give those prayers, and mean it with all their heart and faith.
posted by pineapple at 9:45 AM on September 3, 2010 [64 favorites]


By the way, psychiatrists and psychologists are trained to take the religious and cultural beliefs of a person in mind when treating that individual. What that means is that back in the day when I was being treated, they knew I was charismatic so any talk of "God told me such and such" was in context of my faith community and not automatically wacko.

I think it was entirely appropriate to address the OP in his context, whether or not any of us personally believe in the demonic. For me, I have been present at exorcisms and actually seen "the face of the demon" more than once, so in some cases I do believe in the concept as literal. That does NOT mean that in the OP's case that is what is going on, but I think that even as metaphor the concept is not inappropriate. You take what you need and can believe and leave the rest. I stated in the thread that his fiancee needed medical as well as pastoral help. You can never assume a problem is "demonic" without making incredibly sure it isn't medical, chemical, mental, or simply just bad behavior on the person's part.

I am personally grateful that the Metatalk thread was not derailed on this particular point because certainly the main point to be addressed was how the OP was choosing to deal with Behavior X, not necessarily what was causing behavior X.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:47 AM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


That thread makes me think of what my parents must have been like before they got married. They are still married, and from all outside perspectives, happily so. But the sickness is pervasive and has swallowed my dad whole.

I've watched him resign his soul, his joy, his passion and creativity and love for his family to keep the peace. He's successfully walked the ends of the earth to perfect the bubble that shields the two of them from misplaced danger. From me and my brother and from life itself.

I think what makes that thread so relatable is that it is a common one. So many of us feel it, know it, as a child, as a husband, a wife, a friend, a parent, a Christian, an athiest, a victim, a survivor, or just as a person carrying around a little flag that we made to guide us through this human experience and let us know where to turn away and head in another direction.

I read the things the OP wrote and they remind me of what my dad must have sounded like back then...hopeful, optimistic, loving and tortured. My heart breaks because I want to say something that will save him; to make him step back from the edge of a cliff, closely holding the other end of the rope that his fiancée is tied to.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:53 AM on September 3, 2010 [14 favorites]



I understand the demon thing and using religious language in order to be on the same wavelength as the poster. However, this comment is so over the line I can't believe that it wasn't deleted. In my book it is no different than telling an abused child "well it is partly your fault because you make him so angry."
posted by nestor_makhno at 9:38 AM on September 3 [+] [!
]

Since that was my comment, let me explain. I think you misunderstood it.

I was not saying that the living together was causing the abusive situation. I was simply pointing out to a fellow Christian, while I had his attention, that if he desired God's help in the matter that their action of living together was not consistent with his professed faith. I had assumed they were sleeping together which later in the thread he said was not the case. I still think as a Christian that their living together is not a great idea, but again, this was in no way connected to the main point of the thread. We Christians are allowed and expected to point these things out to each other in a kind way. I wouldn't do that in a thread where I was talking to a non Christian.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:53 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Please don't mock those answers now.

Seriously, agreed. That thread has been the focus of too much attention on my part as someone who grew up in a not-entirely-shitty-but-mostly-avoidable bad situation if only someone had decided to not stay with an abusive jerk. So, I'd like people to lay off the MetaAnalysis somewhat and possibly leave it be. I feel that bringing threads like this into MeTa is sort of a good news/bad news situation for the community really. People who saw it as it was evolving have one view and people who are free to go back and read it at their leisure compare it to an ideal thread in their mind and go critiquing.

Moderating a 300+ comment fast moving thread is no picnic and we're really not planning on going back and excising things you don't like from the thread upon further reflection. While the context the OP is coming from is totally not mine, many people seemed to be able to respond to the situation using the OPs metaphors and language and that seemed to be helpful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:53 AM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


(Besides, to get him out of that house and out of that situation, I was hoping this would give him an out-a very Biblical out.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:54 AM on September 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


IMO, the person most susceptible to this particular misinterpretation of the comments was the OP.

Its not a misinterpretation. Its there dozens of times: "Run, don't walk" "This isn't going to change. ...If you were my friend I'd tell you to break it off and get away. This is only going to get worse." "Get. Out. Now." "You need to get the hell out of this" "Get out and get away from this "relationship", it's bad for everyone involved." "You have no responsibility to help her change." "I also feel that you should get out of this relationship. For you. Don't worry about her." "Pulling a knife is a dealbreaker. Run." "Run for your life."

Comments like the ones I quote above are very different than the more prevalent "Try to get her into therapy, but if she won't go, then leave" advice that dominates the answers, and that you seem to agree is the best advice here.

Understand that my comment which you quoted was directed specifically at the comments like the ones I quoted above, especially the ones like "Run for your life" (which I have quoted in its entirety). I understand where those comments are coming from (more clearly than you can imagine) but my heart breaks a little for anyone who has - probably because of life experience - come to the conclusion that no one can be helped, so its just futile and useless to even give the choice of "therapy or I leave" - that leaving is the only choice.
posted by anastasiav at 10:00 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You'll also note that I said nothing about calling an exorcist. I spoke about doctors and medications in my post, not exorcists.

Thanks for the reply, and I appreciate what you're saying here, totally. I had figured you meant it more metaphorically, and I understand the part about being controlled by an illness/addiction thing entirely. Been there, stared that "demon" down a time or two, myself, and sought help. I don't prescribe to biblical good/evil external forces for the most part, but I agree with the substance of what you said. I think demons is a word that can be used to describe internal forces, though not external possession. I did note that you weren't calling for exorcism, and I'm glad for that. I think we're on the same page, other than me not fully understanding the language you were using to speak to the OP in that comment. I do appreciate the clarification.

I haven't read most of the comments since the one I'm quoting here, put please folks, let's not do the pile-on over the metaphorical use of a word. Sorry if I started something - I'd like to stop it here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 10:10 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I was not trying to mock any answers and again I will state that I understand the idea of approaching the person using their cultural/spiritual context. However, I don't think that using said context gives anyone the right to blame the victim. I accept your explanation that this was not your intent, but in my eyes your "stop shacking up you sinner" comment comes off as blaming the victim.
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:11 AM on September 3, 2010


my heart breaks a little for anyone who has - probably because of life experience - come to the conclusion that no one can be helped

See, no one is saying this. But some situations are not right for you to try to help the other person. When you are being abused and threatened, you're the one who needs help, not the abuser. When you can't even see that, the advice you need is not, "help her get therapy", it's "get the hell out." Comments that suggest to the OP that he needs to do something for his abusive fiancee will just play right into her manipulation of him, and his deluded sense that he is the one to blame for not doing enough in the relationship.
posted by Dasein at 10:13 AM on September 3, 2010 [12 favorites]


99.5% awesome, but was the Demon thing metaphorical? We don't really believe in demonic possession, as in the call-the-exorcist type any more, do we?

Mental illness is a bitch, but the human brain is an organ.


REGULAR GUY: You can't let crazy people make your decisions for you.
TRUE BELIEVER: You can't let demon-possessed people make your decisions for you.

But maybe the so-called "metaphor" goes deeper than that. Case in point, my own family maybe twenty years ago. A Mom and Dad who always got along (maybe two or three screaming arguments in twenty-five years). Four kids (three boys, one girl) who, at the time of this particular situation, were all young adults, all still more in touch and on good terms (everybody living within a few hours travel of mom and dad, everybody getting together for dinner or whatever at least once a month). And yeah, we were all mostly functional, mostly not failing at life (ie: no junkies, no criminals, no drop-outs, no psychopaths).

But every now and then we'd have these crazy arguments, violent in every way that does not include actual physical assault. And they would just explode out of seemingly nowhere (although one or two drinks were often involved). My mom would usually be involved in them (usually at the victim end) as would either (or both) my older and younger brother.

Finally, on a family holiday (immediate family only, no girlfriends or boyfriends etc) there was just one eruption too many. No worse than others had been, but just one too many ... for my dad that is. My dad who was a quiet, peaceful guy, survivor of World War 2 infantry combat, deeply committed to conflict avoidance whenever possible.

He waited for tempers to settle and then he said his piece. He talked about his childhood, growing up seriously Christian in a seriously conservative Christian family in a seriously conservative small town (a faith that did not survive the War, but that's another story). He talked about how his mom used to believe in what she called "evil spirits". He talked about how she deeply believed that they were aspects of Satan, resident in everybody, even the most lily-white churchgoers. And what they did was lurk, always waiting, always hungry, eager to pounce ... but patient. Because the situation had to be exactly right for them to achieve their nefarious ends. Guards had to be down, passions on the rise, certain trigger subject matter opened up.

And so on. We all knew he was talking about what kept on happening to us, that old grandma's evil spirits were getting the best of us, doing their worst to destroy the family. And the thing is, none of us at this point were even remotely Christian (or anything else for that matter -- just agnostic or atheist). But it clicked anyway, and not just as an idea. As a reality. That is, call it what you will (Satan, psychopathology, demons, bad ju ju) we all agreed, in our way, that this nasty stuff was alive in us and we ignored it at our peril.

And to make a very long story short, this collective (family wide) recognition of what amounts to a "deeper reality" was a huge step toward negating its effects on us. Sure call it all metaphorical, but man, those were tricky, effective and malevolent metaphors.
posted by philip-random at 10:23 AM on September 3, 2010 [28 favorites]


I accept your explanation that this was not your intent, but in my eyes your "stop shacking up you sinner" comment comes off as blaming the victim.

I think it would be good to just let it go. The original poster clarified the comment, it was in a certain faith based way, so yeah, probably best just to move along.
posted by nomadicink at 10:25 AM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


...so yeah, probably best just to move along.

Please.
posted by zarq at 10:29 AM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for sharing that story philip-random, I found it surprisingly touching.
posted by nomadicink at 10:32 AM on September 3, 2010


Characterizing the OP's partner's outbursts as irruptions of the demonic captures an entire range of truths about what's happening to them that's completely beyond the reach of conventional psychology or medicine, and more important, as philip-random's story so convincingly demonstrates, it places tools in their hands that are more powerful and effective for dealing with their problems than anything else they're likely to find short of major antidepressants or brain surgery.

Secularism really doesn't have a chance against religion until it can come up with a healthy way of using those enormous forces.
posted by jamjam at 12:50 PM on September 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


As an atheist, can someone clue me in on whether the "sinful" part of "cohabiting" is sexy-sex or the actual living together? Just kinda curious.

That thread is great from an advice and sharing standpoint but something about the original poster's responses is making my are-we-being-gamed sense tingle a bit.
posted by maxwelton at 3:00 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


...something about the original poster's responses is making my are-we-being-gamed sense tingle a bit.

It's possible, but I think it's been discussed a million times here (including by the mod's) that it's not really productive to speculate on whether or not the OP is pulling our collective leg or not. We just have to either answer the question in good faith, FIAMO, or ignore it. Otherwise, it just devolves into nastiness, accusations, defensiveness, etc. etc. etc.
posted by 1000monkeys at 3:31 PM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


maxwelton, I think that may be because he is trying to talk himself into accepting a situation that he knows (and is being told) is unacceptable. That's why it sounds like there's something off or not quite right about what he's saying.

Or such is my read.
posted by prefpara at 3:32 PM on September 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


maxwelton, according to Christian teaching, premarital sex is wrong. The problem with the living together part is that we are also taught to avoid the appearance of evil, and just as I did in the thread itself, the presumption is that if they are living together they also are sharing a bed and having intercourse. (Not knowing exactly their circumstances, that last bit might be filed under "not wise" instead of "blatantly sinful." )

Under normal circumstances my advice to them would have been simply "just go ahead and get hitched, you crazy kids" but with the very serious problems they are dealing with, wisdom would dictate that no matter what the circumstances, someone needs to move out and they would then need to reevaluate things and/or get the help they both so desperately need before becoming husband and wife.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:34 PM on September 3, 2010


(the 'living together" part not wise. I am not implying that premarital intercourse would be considered ok in any way shape or form according to Christian teaching.)
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 3:37 PM on September 3, 2010


"Characterizing the OP's partner's outbursts as irruptions of the demonic [...] places tools in their hands that are more powerful and effective for dealing with their problems than anything else they're likely to find short of major antidepressants or brain surgery."

What tools are those, that are more powerful and effective than ongoing therapeutic treatment and supervision? I can't think of one. Seriously. How do people treat demons? Not by going to therapists or being evaluated by psychiatrists or neurologists. I guess that's where it's more of a metaphor.

Even as a metaphor, it doesn't work for me. These "demonic" incidents occur so often, and have been occurring since before the OP even met his fiancee, so it's not like out of nowhere she started behaving completely differently (as might reasonably be the case with a typical bipolar disorder where someone has long periods of relative normalcy interspersed with behavior that is wildly out of character.) This is not something that happens out of the blue and surprises everyone.

In addition, I find it counterproductive to hand the OP and his fiancee one more reason why she's not ultimately responsible for her behavior. Of course no one chooses to be mentally ill, however, the OP's fiancee is absolutely responsible for refusing treatment and continuing to place her fiance in harm's way. This is a choice that she has made over and over again, when she is completely in control of her behavior.

I guess you could say "she chooses not to exorcise the demon" but then it's not possession, is it? It's voluntary cohabitation.

Then again, we don't know what the actual problem (or problems) are. We don't know how to classify or name the actual disorder(s) that his fiancee is suffering from (I could guess but it would be just that). We don't know if she even has anything that classifies as a disorder, according to modern psychology/psychiatry.

However, given what the OP has said about her, I think it's likely that she and the OP could benefit from ongoing therapy and medication more than they could benefit from a religiously based metaphor. That is why people turn to secularism for mental health treatment, jamjam--because religious approaches to severe mental illnesses have been largely ineffectual, at best.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:22 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


(I said "ongoing therapy and medication" but I should have said "ongoing therapy and perhaps medication"; there are definitely disorders that she might have that don't really benefit from medication).
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:24 PM on September 3, 2010


I guess you could say "she chooses not to exorcise the demon" but then it's not possession, is it? It's voluntary cohabitation.

Or perhaps... She is the demons
posted by Greg Nog at 4:29 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


because religious approaches to severe mental illnesses have been largely ineffectual, at best.

I hope you realize how wide a swath these words cut. For instance, are you confident that First Nations healing circles are largely ineffectual?
posted by philip-random at 4:30 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Even as a metaphor, it doesn't work for me.

As we said upthread it would be really great if people could maybe keep the armchair quarterbacking here to a minimum. I'd love to not start a whole "I don't believe in your religion's teachings" thing argument here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:33 PM on September 3, 2010


The young rope-rider, you'd be surprised at what nonsecular treatment options might be able to take care of.

In my case, I'd still be paying out the nose for treatment and meds if not for the nonsecular treatment options-that in conjunction WITH the medical and secular treatment, enabled me to not only lay down the pills (with the ok of a very secular psychiatrist who admitted I did not need them any more) but work a job that five years ago would have been impossible for me to do.

There is such a thing as a spiritual problem (to include but not at all limited dealing with nonmetaphorical demons) that cannot be aided by secular means. In general (and now I am commenting on a much broader basis than the askmeta that this thread is based on) many issues would benefit from a threepronged approach-the medical, the psychological AND the spiritual.

At any rate, it is a red herring to talk about demons regarding the original post. If he is able to persuade her to seek help, a competent pastor will be able to refer her to a doctor or therapist if such is called for. Churches deal with these kinds of issues quite often and generally have people in the community that can work with them to get their congregants assistance. Bottom line for me is that he maintain healthy boundaries in this relationship and get out of it if she refuses to face her problems.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:43 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sure thing, jessamyn.

I wish that people would avoid making statements about the relative value of religion vs medicine and psychology, when there is absolutely no reason to place them at odds with one another. I bought into that false dichotomy out of defensiveness, and I regret that. There's no point.

On re-reading my comment, over the course of human history there have been practically no humane or effective treatments for severe mental illness, period. It's unfair to pin that specifically on religion or religious approaches to treatment, and especially unfair when no one here is seriously suggesting that the OP go out and get an exorcism first thing tomorrow.

In any case, as I mentioned above, I appreciated the different ways that people were communicating with the OP, especially those that worked within a religious framework--the variety of the answers was very helpful to the OP, which is ultimately what this is all about. I'm glad that there are people here who speak the OP's language. My comment was not meant to disparage or criticize anyone's approach to answering the question, and I'm sorry that it did just that.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:01 PM on September 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


saotb, that's what I thought, but thanks for the clarification. And I didn't mean to demean the original thread, it's a great example of what askme does best.
posted by maxwelton at 5:01 PM on September 3, 2010


The OP of that thread is making a decision that, if he chooses to have children, will fuck those children up for their entire lives. But he thinks he is doing something Christlike and noble by not leaving her.

That thread is what I think is the worst part of relationship AskMe. Someone hellbent on doing something stupid keeps going while a chorus of sadder-but-wiser people shout NO NO! I don't envy the mods for having to police it - I stayed out of it after my one comment, but the frustration level has been steadily increasing and I can't imagine the comments we're not seeing are very pleasant.
posted by winna at 7:45 PM on September 3, 2010


winna, I personally find it more useful, in the case of a frustrating AskMe where OP seems to be disregarding the hive mind, to think of it as a case of "saving one starfish." Some other non-Mefite is very likely to find that thread via Google while searching for help on a similar situation in the future, and maybe that person's life will be aided by the advice provided.
posted by pineapple at 8:54 PM on September 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


I don't think people are taking the demon thing seriously. The things Christians have blamed on demons includes everything that they don't like and treatments for demons have led to people's deaths. Google "exorcism" and "death." That's the tip of the iceberg since those stories are in first-world countries in modern times. I've personally known an evangelical Christian with bi-polar disorder who didn't take medicine that would have helped her because her pastor told her it was caused by demons. People in my church thought I was possessed by a male demon because I was attracted to women. I can't really refute that one...once you start pulling the demon shtick there is no end to the things that can be ascribed to them.

It's nice to think that people will use demons as tools for understanding mental illness and seek normal care as well, but if you actually read the Bible, that's not how you deal with demons.
posted by melissam at 9:50 PM on September 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


That thread was great, except for one thing. It sounds quite likely that the Asker's fiancée has a medical problem. Counseling is great, but the lady needs to see a psychiatrist. A good psychiatrist will know when to bring in a neurologist or whomever else medically and will also help get the proper type of psychological care for the patient's specific issues.

Of course, none of it matters if the patient chooses to lie to their caregivers, as a former friend of mine does. It's depressingly common for people to go to a couple of counseling sessions and declare themselves "fixed" when they're actually worse off because they refuse to seek treatment in the future.
posted by wierdo at 12:41 AM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really enjoyed the beautiful Scripture in that thread. I'm astonished and gratified by Metafilter's capacity to meet them where they are, in the context of their culture.
posted by By The Grace of God at 1:13 AM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


By the way, psychiatrists and psychologists are trained to take the religious and cultural beliefs of a person in mind when treating that individual.


Not very well. I suspect they are told to take religious and cultural beliefs into account -- but they are not challenged to actually do it, or taught how to do it. Psychologists and psychiatrists are FAR more likely to follow a medical model, and the "normalized" model of the DSM-IV (normalized in one dominant culture).

Any psychiatrist or psychologist who takes religious and cultural differences into account has either 1) done a heck of a lot of personal work outside their training, hopefully with a really good mentor or 2) thinks that taking those contexts into account goes no farther than feeling pity that the client is so constrained by them and lamenting in the equivalent of the "teacher's lounge" about how "resistant" the client is.

The problem is also structural -- insurance companies (both in terms of liability insurance and in terms of who is paying for the treatment) constrain mental health professionals even farther -- making sure they do not assess and treat people with anything other than the dominant culture's standard (read "empirically-supported") therapies.

Social workers and counselors are only a little less likely to face the same structural and training issues.

There are excellent therapists in all of those realms (and in churches and in your neighborhood) who find ways of resisting the instrumentality- but those are exceptional people who've learned to work with people toward healing despite their training. (Also, there are some great counseling psychologists and psychiatric nurse practitioners who provide good therapy). These exceptional therapists often work in concert and collaboration with their clients and the medical model.
posted by vitabellosi at 4:48 AM on September 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


mippy, I notice that there is no link to this thread in the AskMe. Did you memail fermt and tell him about it? It is really beginning to make me uncomfortable how frequently we sit in Meta and discuss someone without their knowledge.
posted by amro at 6:31 AM on September 4, 2010


I've personally known an evangelical Christian with bi-polar disorder who didn't take medicine that would have helped her because her pastor told her it was caused by demons.

And that pastor was guilty of practicing medicine without a license.

As a Christian I can confidently assert that if your counselor won't consider meds when necessary -whether they subscribe to the possibility of demonic oppression or not-then you need a new counselor. There are unfortunately uninformed folks out there who refuse to understand that some illnesses are medical in nature and it is the height of foolishness NOT to at least rule this out before blaming something on the demonic.

Am I the only person on the planet that has sensible pastors? I mean, years ago I went for prayer to the elders and the first thing they asked me was -would I be alright if God's plan was for me to use medication? Sheesh.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:41 AM on September 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, again-can I reiterate that as far as the original thread is concerned, I don't think any of us is claiming this woman has a demon? I don't mind discussing the topic but it really is a bit far afield from the OP's question.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:44 AM on September 4, 2010


"Love" is such a dangerous, tyrannical meme. It's a noxious poison built on top of natural pair-bonding brain chemistry and a long-standing tradition of manipulative popular culture shlock. People don't seem to have any perspective that a sense of irrational "love" is nothing to build or maintain a partnership on.

I think that's what I wanted to say, and also express that the only way I can begin to enjoy someone else's suffering is when they stubbornly demand to maintain it. I guess I just can't understand how someone could be truly miserable but do everything in their power to stay miserable. It isn't like fermy doesn't know that there is a way out. 100% of a survey of English-speaking internet using people says "NO this isn't normal, NO this isn't healthy, you are being abused, here are steps to take to end the abuse" and fermy, who is like many people in abusive relationships is all like "OK then... So I'll just keep it up then!"

I guess at that point, it's hard for me to sympathize anymore. It's like they're sinking in quicksand and they yell "I'm going to drown in this quicksand! Help!", and a rope is thrown right to them, all they have to do is take the rope, but they say "Oh no, I don't want to leave the quicksand!" Basically, I've started to think fermt prefers being abused to not being abused, at least at this point in his life, and since he seems to want to introduce children to this dynamic, I help help but think "Fuck fermt let him get what he wants!"

But this is just because I just don't get it. If someone could point me toward some readings to increase my sympathies and help me understand that would be fine.
posted by fuq at 7:59 AM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can't help wondering who made St Alia the world authority on Christian teaching?
posted by unSane at 9:23 AM on September 4, 2010


Her opinion is one of many. She, like many other people on this site, can sometimes speak from a position of possibly-too-much-authority. You are welcome to email/MeMail her if you'd like to know more about her background.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:29 AM on September 4, 2010


I can't point you to readings but I can make a few points (without a lot of nuance but bear with me):

Pretty much no one is good at figuring out risk/reward for ANYTHING logically, for a lot of reasons. Economists study this a lot, I guess because they realized that people aren't rational actors and that affects their economic models.

Examples, off the top of my head: We value things that we have or "own" more than we value things we don't have (even if they're the same thing). Give someone a chocolate bar and tell them it's their chocolate bar. Then ask "how much would you pay for that chocolate bar" and they'll say $2. Don't give them the chocolate bar and say "how much would you pay for this chocolate bar" and they'll say $1. Same damn chocolate bar. (This is a dramatization of multiple real studies).

Another thing: we dislike the idea of losing more than we like the idea of gaining. So we'll pass up the opportunity to get something excellent because we don't like the idea of losing something that is decent. This varies but generally if you offer someone $10 now or, say, $20 in a year they'll take the $10 now.

Of course that's not true of everyone, which is where individual personality comes in. The way that personality is formed is a huge question that I can't even begin to answer, but let's assume that people, for the most part, don't really choose to have the personalities that they have. There certainly are significant genetic components to personality as well as environmental factors. One cool study I read recently was about how women and men change as a result of parental divorce. It literally tends to change their personalities, differently depending on the sex of the child.

So, specifically, some people love to take risks, change things up. Some people avoid conflict, some people love it. Some people are much more compassionate than others. None of these things is inherently bad or good but it definitely changes how they react to a situation like this.

In terms of stimulation-seeking (maybe someone who would have a high tolerance for fighting, uncertainty, intense conversations, etc.) there are actual genes that we know about and (as far as I know) we can map. Then there are the people who have a lower tolerance for risk and maybe they think the less risky thing is changing the situation (see above, people generally prefer not to change anyway) and so they avoid leaving because who knows what could happen.

This is all speculation that may or may not be completely off base. I don't know his personality. But these are all examples of traits that people don't really choose or not choose. So to boil it down to "he likes being abused" is completely disregarding the fact that a lot of his behavior comes from his personality which is not something that he created.

Of course the other factor in anyone's behavior is environment. Part of that is who he's dating and living with, but how much can you fault him for that? Obviously it's his choice, but then again, I have dated people that seemed awesome and turned out to be total trainwreck relationships. That's just bad luck. I have also dated people who were really awesome. That's just good luck.

Then there is his childhood environment. We were all raised a certain way that we didn't have much control over. Raised in certain religions, raised in certain households, raised with certain ideas about gender, educated about abuse or not, etc. That's not up to any one of us, really.

Then there is this: why do people do things for other people at great cost to themselves? Altruism is a big mystery of natural selection. How altruistic we are at any given time seems to vary based on a lot of things like our personality, how related someone is to us, whether or not we think they're altruistic, whether they're hot, whether they're babies, whether we're being watched...down to basic biological factors like whether or not we touched them, our hormonal state, stuff like that.

Then there's romantic love which means a lot of things but often comes with some crazy-ass illogical brain chemicals.

Other things that might be going on in a victim of abuse include trauma, which affects decision making ability and mood (abuse can be traumatic.) Other underlying disorders including mood disorders like depression or anxiety.

This is just stuff off of the top of my head which is why it's really illogical, based on what we know about human beings and our imperfect brains, to look at someone who you don't really know and based on a small amount of information about them, conclude that they are actively choosing to be abused simply because they like to be abused.

It's understandable to stop feeling sympathy for someone. There's only so much sympathy we can have, you know? And certainly the OP does have some measure of control over his behavior. But it's not as simple as choosing to grab a rope when the other option is simply to die. Grab a rope, or die. That's a simple question and a simple situation. This, on the other hand, is not.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:33 AM on September 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


In situations like these, my sympathies only go so far. Because, like anything, it's a CHOICE to stay in this (apparently very emotionally and physically abusive) relationship, just like it's a choice to drink or use drugs or steal or whatever (I'm not going to get into the whole "alcoholism [or X] is a disease" conversation). Anyways, the major problem with these RelationshipFilter questions is that so often, people will ask a question describing a totally shitty situation that they know is a totally shitty situation, and everybody will tell them it's a totally shitty situation, and yet they plug their ears and go "lalalaa I'm not listening" because all they really wanted was some validation in staying with the wrong person and making bad choices and perhaps a little sympathy (and in some cases, attention).

I really like pineapple's comment, however, about the "saving one starfish". Hopefully, even if we can't help the OP, we can help somebody else who comes across this post. And who knows, perhaps (probably) one day fermt will wake up and go "What was I thinking? Those MetaFilter people were so right!") and wish he had listened. Perhaps not. But the seed was planted, a LOT of good advice was given, and some wonderful people of different backgrounds, religions, etc. shared some amazing and intimate parts of their life, and contributed to building this wonderful community. So, regardless of whatever choices the OP makes (and he has many choices, and he'll have to take responsibility for whichever choices he makes), I think we as a community and individuals are better off for participating in the discussion honestly and openly. Did we solve the OP's problem and can we "fix him"? No, of course not--just like he can't fix his fiancée. Should we pat ourselves on the back for answering the OP's question honestly and passionately and respectfully, while attempting as best we can to be patient and sensitive? Sure. I think that post shows some of the best of what this community can do, especially when compared to other online communities, I think this one is pretty special.
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:33 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


1000monkeys, to the extent that you're talking about this question specifically and not generally about relationship filter, you're wrong.

The OP expressed surprise multiple times at exactly how shitty we thought his situation was. I could go find the quotes but from memory, he said multiple times that he thought he would get dissenting opinions, be told that it wasn't that bad, etc. It's not accurate to characterize him as someone who knew what we would say beforehand, unless he's actively deceiving us.

It's also inaccurate to imply that he plugged his ears and stopped listening. He obviously did not.

All the back-patting is fine, whatever, but let's not set this up as Metafilter being so awesome that we devalue anyone who doesn't do exactly what "we" tell them to do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:42 AM on September 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


In situations like these, my sympathies only go so far.

Dude, it's been four days. Anyone who expects people to totally change their entire point of view and way of life four days after asking a question on the internet is not being realistic about the issues the OP is dealing with. You don't find yourself in an abusive situation overnight, and you don't come to terms with it any faster.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:50 AM on September 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


... and yeah, it's frustrating to see fermt cling to this relationship after all the work people put into that thread, but this is why it is so necessary for him to start dealing with professionals.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:52 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, sorry I wasn't meaning that the OP on this one was plugging his ears, I was more talking about RelationshipFilter questions in general. I just sort of lumped it all together into one comment. At least he had some conversations with his fiancée, although I sadly think he is still being manipulated by her--only time will tell, I guess.

I do agree with you that we (again, the collective we) shouldn't expect people to follow our (collective) advice. I'm not so much saying the back-patting is because of "all the great advice" we gave, more that we should as a community pat our collective back for intelligently and reasonably (more or less) responding to the post, sharing personal anecdotes (that were probably hard to share for some people), being culturally and emotionally sensitive (yet firm where it was appropriate IMO) with the OP. THAT's what we should be "proud" of, for lack of a better term, because in other little pockets of the web, that whole conversation would have quickly devolved into name-calling, insults, religious debates, etc.
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:55 AM on September 4, 2010


Dude, it's been four days. Anyone who expects people to totally change their entire point of view and way of life four days after asking a question on the internet is not being realistic about the issues the OP is dealing with. You don't find yourself in an abusive situation overnight, and you don't come to terms with it any faster.

I wasn't referring to following our advice, it was more the fact that the OP had choices/red flags/whatever looooong before posting his question on AskMe. Obviously, being in an abusive relationship can cloud one's judgements, etc., but what I'm saying is that there is a reason why people allow themselves to be in (or stay in) an abusive relationship in the first place, when for most people, common sense would tell them to get the heck out of there. For that, I think the OP, and anybody in a similar situation, could use a lot of therapy--not only because of what they went/are going through in the relationship, but because they chose to put themselves in that situation in the first place (and I'm not talking about "blaming the victim", I just mean that for most people, their WTF detector would have gone off long ago and they would have walked, so why didn't he? Those are probably some issues he (and anybody else in his situation) need to work out).
posted by 1000monkeys at 9:59 AM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I removed this AskMe from my activity after a while because I felt like I was rubbernecking a train wreck (the OP's, I mean, rather than the thread). I also felt that there was a fair amount of judgement going on, and I was a bit disturbed by the alacrity with which some posters appointed themselves curators of Fermt's spiritual welfare without knowing anything about the particular kind of spiritual gas he put in his tank (he never said anywhere that he was an evangelical Christian, for example).

On the other hand I thought there were a lot of things that were good about the thread and worth noting, not as a pat on the back, but for reference when other threads go off the rails.

1. Christians and non-Christians managed to discuss the same situation using very different language without coming to blows or making religion the center of the discussion.

2. There was, on the whole, a lot of support and generosity shown and I imagine rather more via m/email.

3. There was near-unanimity on an extremely hot-button issue.

4. Whatever you may think of the steps he described taking, Fermt handled the thread extremely well. He was responsive and kept checking back in and he was clearly reading everything and thinking about it all. What steps he takes are ultimately up to him and AskMe can no more fix his life than he can fix his fiancées.
posted by unSane at 10:12 AM on September 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here's how I wanted that thread to end...

"Thanks to all your insights, I finally followed my gut called up a friend of mine from school who is now a Doctor (or psychiatrist.) He agreed the behavior my fiancee engages in is abnormal and possibly dangerous. He suggested the cause for her violent outbursts could be anything from a severe thyroid or other hormonal condition, to a neurological issue, to mental illness.

He's suggested a few medical professionals in my area for me to talk to. I plan to speak with them before approaching my fiancee about seeking a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment.

She's been resistant, and they will know better than me how to get her into a doctor's office asap for tests and evaluation. It will be a process. I know now with the right professional advice, I can help her get the care she needs."



Amen!
posted by jbenben at 4:10 PM on September 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


1. Christians and non-Christians managed to discuss the same situation using very different language without coming to blows or making religion the center of the discussion.


Because that's what MetaTalk is for, I guess! Seriously guys, the dumping that's going on here to St. Alia about her take on cohabitation is tiresome. It was refreshing that the original thread, while dealing with questions of evangelical Christianity, did not become tiresome in the way all these threads usually do.

It is patently obvious to me that

a) St. Alia has only good intentions--that she is a good person

b) She's not going to change her worldview


This seems so obvious to me that I'm kind of flabbergasted that other people don't get it. In fact, I can only assume that they do, and any time anyone contests Alia's beliefs, it's not to actually try to change her mind, or make sure that her comment doesn't become accepted as Metafilter's official position (because on most of these type of points, she's basically always a minority of one around here), but rather, to point out to everyone that THEY are not like her. Which, if you stop and think about it, has no tangible benefits to the community. At best, your comment is ignored, since it adds nothing to the thread, and at worst, it derails everything and we get another one of these MetaTalks. Maybe you think it benefits you--since you get to point out how enlightened and liberal you are, or whatever. But consider this, next time you have the impulse to tell Alia that she's a misinformed piece of crap, or worse (I've seen some really terrible stuff said about her, and only her, and I can only imagine what must be deleted)--

a) At this point, she's a well-known entity around these parts. Most users will understand the background she's coming from, and take that into account when evaluating her advice.

b) You're not going to change her mind.

c) You're not going to change her mind.

d) It's not actually that important for Metafilter to know you disagree with Alia about most cultural issues--in fact, simply by being on Metafilter, it is safe to assume that is your position.

e) You're going to derail the discussion, and a silent majority will moan and feel sad, and be angry at you.

f) You're not going to change her mind.

g) Sometimes it's a good idea to keep your opinions to yourself, even if you're sure you're right.

I know it's the internet, and I know standards of social interaction are more forward/blunt/honest etc. than interactions in real life. Still, things always work best with a modicum of civility, and I find it hard to believe that any of you, if you met a kindly Bible-believing Republican Christian grandmother like Alia in real life, would treat her the way you treat her on this site, even if she made her beliefs crystal clear.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: every time we have an Alia vs. the world thread, I end up feeling cynical about this community and full of sympathy for Alia. It's just stupid, and embarrassing, and it seems like whenever there is any opportunity to have an Alia vs. the world thread, someone goes ahead and does it. And then I read that incredibly wrenching AskMe, and Alia said some things that I figured would surely lead the thread to be derailed, but... they didn't. And then I find this MetaTalk, which is about the thread in question but not directly about Alia at all... and 20 comments in, and it's another Alia vs. the world flamescape. And it just sucks. Seriously everyone, grow up--handling people with different views than you with grace, hell, handling people who are 100% wrong with grace--is something that adults should be able to do.
posted by notswedish at 7:42 PM on September 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


The first mention of St A is halfway down this thread and it's a post by St A herself. This thread is not about her. Or it wasn't until now, anyway.
posted by unSane at 8:07 PM on September 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


You're going to derail the discussion, and a silent majority will moan and feel sad, and be angry at you

The irony, it burns.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:57 PM on September 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is really irresponsible:

"I think this woman has bipolar disease. Everyone suggesting therapy, etc. means well but honestly, I am very doubtful that this relationship will resemble anything normal or healthy without heavy duty psychoactive medication."

Bipolar is not necessarily easy to diagnose, even for a clinically trained mental health professional who can speak to the person directly and in real life: From Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorders: Diagnostic Issues:
Another prominent concern -- one receiving a substantial cautionary note in the DSM-IV -- is distinguishing a bipolar condition from other conditions. These include those that may exist as separate disease entities concurrent with a bipolar disorder (comorbidities), and reactions to medications, including those prescribed for mood disorders. These potentially confounding causes of symptoms are not trivial. There may be substantial overlap in the manifestations of conditions such as schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, ADHD, delusional disorder, and borderline personality disorder, and these may be particularly difficult to differentiate in adolescents and children.
If you didn't know this you're especially unqualified to diagnose it on the internet based on second-hand information. DON'T DO IT.
posted by the young rope-rider at 8:27 AM on September 5, 2010


I think this woman has bipolar disease, and/or other conditions such as schizoaffective disorder or schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, ADHD, delusional disorder, borderline personality disorder and/or reactions to medications, including those prescribed for mood disorders. Everyone suggesting therapy, etc. means well but honestly, I am very doubtful that this relationship will resemble anything normal or healthy without heavy duty psychoactive medication.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:56 AM on September 5, 2010


Just curious....why does a comment like this ("I give up. Enjoy Hell.") not get deleted? I won't even guess why it has 22 favorites.
posted by deern the headlice at 10:27 AM on September 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


I keep seeing the title of this post ('Sniff") in my Recent Activity and thinking "Oh Boy a thread about recipes!"
posted by nomadicink at 11:26 AM on September 5, 2010


deern, did you read the whole thread? There was more context for that comment that way.

I agree that it was sort of jarring if you look at it on its own, but my read on the situation was: fermt had laid out his story, and many people had responded. Enter ThomasBrobber, who had given many heartfelt replies from a position that was eerily similar to fermt's unique circumstances.

From what I saw, ThomasBrobber along with many people had invested a lot of emotional energy in the thread as it unfolded over three days. And those who had personal experiences that mapped to fermt's were clearly even more invested... only to then have the OP return and share an update that seemed to many as though he had completely disregarded the thoughtful counsel.

I know the "see you in hell" remark seems dismissive and unhelpful, on its own. But in context, it was fairly representative of a sentiment of helpless resignation that many were feeling at that moment—and it was delivered by the poster who seemed to have shared the most of his deeply personal life experience in an effort to be helpful and supportive.

I don't speak for everyone on the board, of course. That is just how I read the comment in that moment. I usually have very little use for the one-off callous remark in AskMe but in the specific circumstances, it seemed very different from that.
posted by pineapple at 3:50 PM on September 5, 2010 [6 favorites]


My understanding was that ThomasBrobber had been in contact privately with fermt via MeMail.

The context for that comment was from an earlier comment in the thread from ThomasBrobber. He was quoting himself, in a sense. Specifically, he described his experiences living w/ his ex (possessing similar behaviors as fermt's fiancee) akin to living in hell.

Growing up at the mercy of my mom, also similar to fermt's fiancee, I read that comment and thought, "Exactly."

I'm not sure I favorited it, but I understood the sentiment, even if fermt (and others) missed it. The point was easy to miss!
posted by jbenben at 4:51 PM on September 5, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry guys, I might very well have understood that comment out of context. When I read it, it seemed insensitive or glib or something, esp given the precariousness of the situation. Mea culpa.
posted by deern the headlice at 9:46 PM on September 5, 2010


Bipolar is not necessarily easy to diagnose, even for a clinically trained mental health professional who can speak to the person directly and in real life

I first saw a doctor about mental health problems when I was seventeen (I was given a prescription which I was too scared to take). I wasn't diagnosed with bipolar disorder until I was 25 - and that was after two nervous breakdowns. Remember too that we are unreliable witnesses to ourselves - the fiancee will not find it easy to recognise what is going on with her, and she will need someone to tell the doctor as much as they know.
posted by mippy at 3:21 AM on September 6, 2010


Also, what is 'bipolar disease'? Is it what penguins get when they fuck polar bears?
posted by mippy at 4:03 AM on September 6, 2010


UbuRoivas, not sure how serious you are.

Let me preface this with I AM NOT SAYING SHE HAS BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER.

I am saying that if you think it's easy to differentiate between, say, bipolar and borderline based on what little information we have, then you don't know what you're talking about. If you think that it doesn't really matter because either way she's going to need meds, you don't know what you're talking about.

Borderline personality disorder is primarily treated with therapy. Medication can make symptoms more bearable/less dangerous but they can also be dangerous. Someone with borderline personality disorder Needs. Therapy. That's what lessens the symptoms, allows people to have functional intimate relationships, keeps them from self-harming, etc. Therapy. Not "heavy duty" medication.

There's also the fact that the people suggesting therapy aren't wrong even if it is bipolar. A therapist when presented with bipolar (if that's what the problem is) isn't going to try to treat it with CBT or crystals or homeopathy. They'll refer the patient to a psychiatrist.

So no, it's not as simple as "she has something serious so therapy is misguided, if she doesn't have meds she won't be helped."
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:45 AM on September 6, 2010


Here we go again, with the armchair diagnoses...
posted by 1000monkeys at 10:17 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree with 1000 monkeys. This is not helpful to the OP.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 10:31 AM on September 6, 2010


UbuRoivas, not sure how serious you are.

Sorry, was just jokily rearranging the blurb from Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorders: Diagnostic Issues, pasted above. As another person gifted with bipolar awesomeness* I shouldn't be so flippant about such matters.

* now happily med-free for five continuous years, which I attribute to a metric fuckton of exercise & a good nutritious diet. YMMV, IANAP, IANYP, etc. Gotta run, though. Need to put in an hour at the gym before work.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:42 PM on September 6, 2010


Dude, it's been four days. Anyone who expects people to totally change their entire point of view and way of life four days after asking a question on the internet is not being realistic about the issues the OP is dealing with. You don't find yourself in an abusive situation overnight, and you don't come to terms with it any faster.

... and yeah, it's frustrating to see fermt cling to this relationship after all the work people put into that thread, but this is why it is so necessary for him to start dealing with professionals.


Exactly, thank you. I mentioned this in the thread, but it took me four years to leave a bad relationship. After about six months, I knew I was being treated unfairly. Over and over, I asked to be treated better. Things stayed the same or got slightly worse. After about three years, I knew it was a horrible situation for me but couldn't leave, and I was furious at myself for not leaving. It was the agony of that internal conflict that finally got me to go to therapy. From there, it took another year of weekly therapy. The truths I had to see were so teensy tiny: (1) even if I do something "wrong," there was always a split-second moment where he was choosing between saying "hey that kinda bugged me" or deciding to give me the silent treatment or call me names, and (2) an easier way to protect myself from pain was not to teach him how not to hurt me but to walk away when his anger made me uncomfortable. Stunningly obvious, no? But it took a year for those two small facts to click for me.

I hope that Fermt has whatever small revelations he has to have much more quickly than I did, and I imagine that this thread might accelerate that a bit. But we have to accept the role we play here. Thinking that our heartfelt comments will immediately save him is, ironically, as hubristic as him thinking that his love will save her. Ultimately, it will take some combination of his work and external grace ("kindness," "help," or "luck" for those here who don't speak Christian). I hope he turns his devotion and love to healing himself and making himself a more effective servant of the larger world. I really wish him the best and am among those who would be willing to monitor that thread making periodic responses over a longer period of time (or answer MeMails) if he chooses to keep posting updates. I hope he postpones the marriage while he gets this figured out.
posted by salvia at 2:10 PM on September 6, 2010 [8 favorites]


When I posted that "I give up. Enjoy hell." it wasn't to be a dick. Fermt and I had been in contact outside of that thread and I could almost match him step for step, situation for situation in what he was going through. For me it was REALLY cathartic because it gave me a chance to try and save "myself" before it was too late. I've only told my story to a few personal friends and even what I shared was only the half of it. I had never sought therapy for myself but that thread did more for me to let got of the pain in frustration of my bad decisions more than any shrink could have.

The reason I did not and will not apologize for that statement is because he knows the situation isn't right and he asked about other people's experiences with similar situations. I told him that it will only get worse because I've lived it. He, for whatever reason, continues to make excuse after excuse without any logic or even biblical backing to his decisions. I didn't know before I married my ex-wife. And only when I became a true student of the bible did I realize that what was happening wasn't right and even though divorce isn't ideal the bible speaks of a higher moral value in the "sins" that are broken.

In the end each person has to make their own decision. And while I can't agree with you salvia on thinking that our comments wouldn't save him I hoped at least it would make him think. In the end I felt like he was just trolling for drama on the internet and I wasted my time, energy and emotion on him. Hopefully my feelings toward the end of the thread are not reality and that something that I or any of the people who opened up their hearts to him said will be remembered in his true time of need.
posted by ThomasBrobber at 8:49 AM on September 7, 2010 [7 favorites]


As a person who was brainwashed in an abusive church to believe demons were awaiting me around every corner (they literally told me I had demons under my bed), I really wish the thread hadn't gone that way. You have no idea what that can do to a person, how much fear I lived in, waking up with panic attacks every night. For me, demons was basically telling me that all those childood monsters from scary movies were real, and that I was being attacked constantly and had to depend on the whim of a deity to protect me from said demons. But wait, if said deity loves me unconditionally, why are demons allowed to attack me? Yeah... it wasn't pretty. Is it any wonder I was never suicidal nor diagnosed with a personality disorder until I joined that church?
posted by IndigoRain at 10:49 PM on September 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


@IndigoRain: I am sorry that you suffered such abuse. Nonetheless, I do not apologize for the demon analogy.


That thread had a lot of statements by people who were coming at things from a science/medical perspective, and a lot from a Christian perspective, but none from a fundamentalist/Evangelical Christian perspective. I took a chance that maybe I could reach him by framing her illness in a language he might understand.


(And as someone who's known very fundamentalist people, yes, as a matter of fact I can understand what that approach to demons does to a person.)
posted by magstheaxe at 2:48 PM on September 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Late coming back, but I think I'm not the only person whose internal voice screamed "OH NO!" several times going over that thread.

Damn. I hope he's going to be OK.
posted by Citrus at 9:15 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


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