Monday, May 22, 2017

Enemies Becoming Friends

On the episodes of Packed to the Rafters I've been watching, there has been two instances where there was bad blood between people; then they became friends...or friendly towards each other.

Julie (Rebecca Gibney) meets Donna, her son's new boss, (Merridy Eastman), and the two do NOT hit it off. They bitch at each other. There's an attempt at an apology. That makes things worse. But then....

They end up being friends.

Grandpa Ted (Michael Caton) is not happy with Grandpa Tom (John Howard) moving into the Rafter home.  The two of them don't get along.  Then in the last episode I watched, the ice between them begins to melt.  

I really love storylines like this. I have a soft spot for things like reconciliation, redemption, enemy-ship turning into friendship, etc. 

But yesterday I started asking myself...has this EVER happened to me in my life.

Have I ever had bad blood with someone that eventually turned into good blood?  

The closest thing I could come up with is that I had met someone through blogging, and we commented on each other's blog on a fairly regular basis. There wasn't really bad blood or good blood initially.  It was neutral blood. Then after commenting for a bit of time, she left a comment that really offended me. I went as far as deleting it...which I rarely do do comments that are not spam.  

We eventually got through that drama and ended up becoming friends/email pals.  

I think that's the best I have.

Usually, sadly, it's the opposite. I have more cases of good blood turning into bad blood. It has happened to me at least five times with this blog. FIVE TIMES! That can't be normal.

Am I attracting the wrong people?

Is there something inherently wrong in my personality? 

It could be a combination of both things.

Honestly, I feel the problem was much more them than me.  But that might be arrogance on my part and MAYBE part of the reason that I seem to have the magical power of turning "friends" into "enemies".

Anyway...I've pretty much given up on the whole friendship thing.  I have my family. I have some lovely acquaintances. I have some long-term distant-type-friendships with people I rarely talk to but still keep close to my heart. At this point, I feel that's all I need.  

Less close relationships equal less drama and more time for me to watch my favorite TV shows. I LIKE this life.  

When I first started this blog, I was so excited and eager to meet new friends. Now my feelings about that have very much changed.  This is one of the reasons I no longer provide my email address on my blog.  I'm trying to protect myself from people. AND...I guess I might also be protecting people from myself.  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Controlling Behavior Vs. Reasonable Behavior

I finished watching the episode of Packed to the Rafters that I talked about in my previous post.

Gaslighting isn't Tom's (John Howard) only emotional-crime.

He also does something else. Despite all the pop psychology I've read, I'm not sure what the name would be.

I think it would count as some kind of controlling behavior. It's about demanding loyalty.

What Tom does is put pressure on his grandson Coby (Ryan Corr) to love him more than the other family members.

When Cody was a youngster, Tom rescued him from an abusive stepfather. Since then, I think he's demanded gratitude from Cody. And sometimes he demands even more.

I forget what exactly happened in season three, but there was a problem with Tom pushing Cody into doing illegal things to the Rafter family. I think he ended up stealing from them. Whatever it was, it led to a lot of problems.

In the episode I just watched, Tom warns Cody about getting too close to the Rafter family. They haven't been around long enough, he tells him.  Because of this, he says Cody needs to put more of his trust in Tom.

In one scene, he purposely gets Cody in trouble with his uncle and cousins by telling them that Cody was in a pub during working hours. Now Cody was there to check on his uncle, but Tom leads them to believe that Cody was there drinking. It's like he's purposely trying to drive a wedge in the relationship.

Cody feels torn between being loyal to his conman grandfather and wanting to be an upstanding citizen of the Rafter family. He's so torn that, in one of the last scenes of the episode, he confesses to his cousin Nathan (Angus McLaren) that he wishes Grandpa Tom would just go away.

I think Cody loves Tom, but I think it's a love that hurts.

Well...all love hurts.  But some love hurts much more than others.

When there is tactics of control, I think it's more likely that the love is going to be a painful one.

When we think of controlling relationships, I think we often have a classic picture in mind.  There's the father who doesn't let his teenage daughter out of the house. She's not allowed friends. She's not allowed to date. Her parents pick out all her clothes for her. She's locked in the closet for having impure thoughts.

There's the husband who has his wife on an allowance. He keeps track of when she leaves the house. He forces her to give up her friends and job.  He hits her if she disobeys.

But there are controlling relationships where the control is much more covert. The husband allows his wife to have friends and go out, but he sulks for the hours before she leaves. Or he conveniently plans a surprise dinner the night she was supposed to go out with her friends. What? I didn't know you had plans with friends! Why are you so mad at me? I was just trying to do something nice for you. It's only because I love you so much. Is it wrong for me to love you? If it is, lock me up now!

The father allows the teenage daughter to go out, but she's reminded every so often that no friend is as important as family. Or he might use guilt tactics. I'm totally fine with you going out. I think it's good that you have friends! Friendships are very important.'s your mother. I think she's getting depressed because you're not around enough. She really misses you. This is hard on her.  I hate seeing her so sad. 

Control is complicated, though, because relationships are in the eye of the beholder. Different families and different cultures have different ideas about what is expected.

What if the teenage daughter was truly rarely around? What if she was never there for breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. What if they never even saw her on the weekends?  Would it be wrong for the dad to inform her that mom was getting a bit depressed about it all?

What if the wife was almost always with her friend and rarely had time for the husband?  Would it be unreasonable for him to sulk or to try to use a surprise party to get some time with her?

If Coby was completely pulling away from Tom, and choosing the Rafters over him, would it be wrong for Tom to use a little bit of manipulation to try to pull him back?

Now I'm trying to figure out what the hell I'm trying to say here.

I don't know, really.

I guess it's that relationships aren't always black and white.

I think with downright abusive ones, there's a definite answer.

And with toxic ones like Tom and Cody, there's probably not a lot of grey.

But with other relationships, there might be some understandable neediness/pushiness. (Though it would be much better if manipulation didn't play a part).

Again, though, what is understandable to me might not be understandable to you.

I have been needy with Tim in ways that I don't think he found tolerable. I don't feel guilty or wrong for my feelings or behavior.  I think I was being reasonable, but that's up to interpretation.

My parents have been needy with me and the rest of our local family, in ways that I don't find tolerable. But in their eyes, they probably see their expectations as being very reasonable.

I feel I have given Jack a lot of freedom and space, but I know there are times where I've said no...or probably, no, and he was not happy about it.  Am I a controlling parent, or am I a reasonable parent?

In some cases, there are obvious answers. In other cases, the opinion is going to widely vary.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Tom Gaslights his grandson Nathan

I've been watching the fourth season of Packed to the Rafters.

In the episode, I'm currently, watching, there's a good example of gaslighting.

Nathan (Angus McLaren) sees Tom (John Howard) near a pub. He calls out to Tom, and Tom doesn't respond. Later, at home, Nathan tells Tom that he saw him. Tom insists it wasn't him. He says he was working and not near a pub.

Gaslighting is a type of lie, but I think it's much worse than other types of lies.

Tom has been lying to Nathan and the rest of the family all along. He says he's looking for a job when in reality he's been having special fun with his lady friend.  He's using the Rafter family for food and housing while pretending to be hard at work. This dishonesty is rude—definitely asshole behavior.  But gaslighting takes it a step further into shittiness.

With gaslighting, there's an attempt to make the victim question their own senses, their own memory, and maybe even their sanity.

Now, my guess is that MOST gaslighters do not gaslight with the main goal of having their victim suffer great self-doubt.

I don't think Tom would be thinking, You know what would be fun. Let's have Nathan think that he's having hallucinations of me. Wouldn't that be a laugh!  

No. I think the main goal for gaslighters is to avoid getting in trouble, being blamed, having their secrets revealed, etc.  But I think they're failing to realize that their behavior causes emotional harm.

Gaslighting is big in the news lately, because of Donald Trump. He does gaslighting a lot. He says he didn't do something. Then his past Tweets say otherwise. This is really annoying, but I don't think it causes much emotional harm, BECAUSE we have these Tweets to prove we're not crazy.  And we have each other for support.We're not alone.

When we see something we dislike or are treated in a way that hurts us; then are told it never happened, how do we know we're right?

Sometimes it can be a matter of interpretation. She says he said it in a harsh voice. He repeats what he said earlier and this time his words are said in a calm, gentle, reasonable manner.  Is that how he said it the first time, and her imagination went nuts? Or did he change his tone of voice to avoid responsibility for his earlier behavior?  And IF he changed his tone of voice, is he outright lying about what happened earlier, or is he in some kind of subconscious denial?  

If he's not purposely being misleading about his behavior in the past, I'd probably NOT call it gaslighting.  I'd probably just call it denial.  But if he's purposely trying to reinvent the past; then I'd label it gaslighting.

Other gaslighting is more obvious. Like what happened with Tom and Nathan. Being somewhere or not being somewhere is not open to interpretation.

UNLESS you are crazy.

He sees her hugging her friend, and the hug is a bit too sensual.  He tries to keep his cool but a few days later, they get in a fight, and he brings up the inappropriate hug.

She says, I have no idea what you're talking about. I never hugged him.

He knows what he saw. He's sure of it. He's angry at her for lying.

But then sometime later, he begins to worry that he's the one that's wrong. Did he really see her hug her friend? Did he imagine it?  He wishes he had taken a photo, so he'd know for sure. Or at least he should have written it down in a journal right after it happened. Then he could know for sure that it was something that happened in real life and not something that happened in one of his dreams.

Unless you have a lot of self-confidence, I think gaslighting is going to lead to self-doubt, especially if it happens repeatedly.

I've had experiences with gaslighting only a few times, but I'm full of self-doubt. There are times I feel like an innocent victim of dishonesty.  But there are other times where I feel the problem is ME—  I'm remembering things wrong; I'm confusing reality with fantasy; I'm paranoid; I'm misinterpreting people's behavior; I wrongly accuse the good and innocent.

There's this feeling that, to prevent this self-doubt, I need to write everything down—every conversation and every moment that hurts me. On rare occasions, I do this. Usually, I fail, though; then feel vulnerable.

When it comes to the Donald Trump experience, I feel very much part of a team. We are all in this together.

With my personal gaslighting experiences, I feel incredibly alone. I feel there's no way I can convince people that my truth is the real truth, because sometimes I'm not even sure myself.

I wonder what will happen with Nathan. Will he trust his own experience, or will Tom convince him to believe otherwise?  If he tries to talk to other people about it, will they believe him or will they question him and give him further self-doubts?

You know what would be nice? If my life was actually a TV show. Then when I die, all these questionable scenes of my life could be replayed for me. Then I could know whether or not I was gaslighted or if I had been the one who was wrong.

Edited to add: I was just thinking that if victims of gaslighting read this post, they will probably understand at least some of what I'm feeling.

If the people who have gaslighted me in the past (father and husband) read this post, I can imagine them using it as future ammunition against me...if we ever argue about an incident. Well, you said so yourself in your blog that you might have problems distinguishing fact from fiction....

Oh well.  I'm used to other people's denial and dishonesty, and the self-doubt that results from that.  What doesn't kill me...well, it doesn't make me stronger.  I think it makes me weaker, actually. But I think it's part of my path, and I'm willing to endure it.   Shit. Now I sound like a martyr.

I'm going to shut up now, and go back to watching my show.

Friday, May 5, 2017


Why did Trump say that Australia's healthcare was better than US healthcare while supporting a bill that is so horribly different from Australia's healthcare?

Really. What's up with that?

Did he say it because he's ignorant about Australia's healthcare?

Did he say it because he has no idea what the new healthcare bill entails? it both of the above?

Obamacare is far from perfect.  I'm not a big fan.  But Obamacare is closer to Australia's healthcare than Trump-care.  Why would Trump praise a system of universal healthcare while bringing us even farther from it?

I'm tired of living in an illogical world.

I don't need or expect the world to be perfect. I just want it to make a little more sense.  

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Needing to Know if Our Tour Guide is Australian or Not

Last week we went to NYC.

Our family doesn't usually do educational tours when we travel. We usually just walk, eat, and chill. But this time, we needed to catch up on homeschooling hours, so I insisted we go on a Tenement Museum tour in the Lower East Side.

We opted for the Sweatshop tour, because it's about Jewish history. I thought it would nice to learn more about our heritage. Well it's not exactly our heritage. My grandparents were all Chicago Jews, not NYC ones. But the tour was about Russian immigrants, and my ancestors were from that area of the world.  So it kind of fits.


Our tour guide was Raj, an Indian guy who had an accent that sounded Australian to me. I was extremely curious about this but too shy to ask. Well, really.... it wasn't just shyness. It was probably also shame. How could I have this blog for nine years, know all this stuff about Australia, and still not be a brilliant expert on Australian accents? Why after all this time and studying, do I still get confused?

To make matters worse, I was wearing my I Love Melbourne shirt. So if I asked Raj if he was Australian, he might actually conclude I'm this fan of Australia who is dumb when it comes to accents. If I didn't have the shirt, maybe I would have asked, because then he might have seem me as a normal person with an average interest in Australia rather than a sort-of-weird-crazy person.

Also, Raj was quite busy talking about Jewish history and responding to related questions from the other tour participants. There really didn't seem to be an appropriate time for me to blurt out, By the way. Where are YOU from originally? And if I did that, what if everyone there thought I was referring to him being Indian. Because then that would be one of those racist things—the idea that nonwhite people have to be from somewhere else. Although maybe it wouldn't be seen as racist since he does have a non-American accent. I think if you have an American accent and people demand to know where you're from, it's racist. If you have a non-American accent, maybe it's a more valid question.

So...I never asked Raj. I did ask Tim and Jack after the tour. Did they think Raj was Australian. Jack said maybe he was or maybe he was South African. South African didn't seem right to me. I decided Raj was probably Australian.

And I thought about it every so often on the trip. Okay, I was actually mildly obsessed. I dreamed about Raj twice. And I think I was also kind of having this fantasy that we'd randomly run into Raj somewhere in NYC, and I could ask him. Hi! You probably don't remember us. We were on your tour, and I was just wondering. It's not super important or anything. But...are you Australian?

Sadly, we never had a serendipitous encounter with Raj.

Jack and I talked about him at the airport. I think I brought up the Australian stuff again.  I also said something about Raj being a good actor.  He didn't just fill our vessels with interesting facts. He seemed to really get into the stories he was telling us and the emotions/opinions of the various real-life characters.  He was so good at it, that when he portrayed the thought processes of anti-immigration people, it was actually a bit scary. It almost seemed like he agreed with the anti-immigration ideas, even though since he is an immigrant himself and he works at a pro-immigrant museum, this would make little sense. And mostly he did seem pro-immigrant.

I guess what I'm trying to say, in my clumsy way, is he did a great job of becoming different characters.

It wasn't in a typical historical-museum reenactment know where they put on a costume, change their accent, and show you how to churn butter. It was more subtle—maybe more along the lines of dissociative identity disorder.

When we got home to Texas, Jack did some Googling about Raj. I'm not sure if I asked him to do this, or he did it on his own.

But...he found out some fascinating things.

First of all, Raj is NOT Australian. He comes from New Zealand. Why did I not think of that possibility earlier? If my brain had been properly working, I probably would have.

Hey! You know what. There HAS been something glitchy in my brain lately.  I've been having various muscle jerking for the past few months. If the part of my brain that deals with muscles is glitching, isn't it also possible that the part of my brain that deals with New Zealand is also not working 100% properly. So yeah...MAYBE it's not my fault.  I'm going to blame my neurons.  Do neurons deal with New Zealand? I'm not sure. But let's just pretend they do.

So, Raj is from New Zealand.  His real/full name is Rajeev Varma. Although now I'm wondering if he told us his name was Rajeev, and I just heard Raj. Did he have a name tag that said Raj? I can't remember.

The most exciting thing, though, is Rajeev Varma really IS an actor. When I mentioned the actor thing to Jack, I didn't mean it literally, like as a career kind of thing.  I was picturing something more along the lines of someone who doesn't act professionally or as a serious hobby but who has a secret talent that he sometimes uses in his career/daily life. Maybe at most, I would have guessed that he occasionally does community theater.

But no. Rajeev is a professional actor. He has a show on Netflix—Brown Nation.  He plays the main character! And according to IMDb, he's been doing screen work since 1996.

It was very exciting for us to learn that our tour guide was a successful actor who might end up being famous one day.

If he becomes famous, will he continue to work as a tour guide?  That would be nice if he did—as long as he still enjoyed the work. I think it's possible. I know there are actors who teach at universities and stuff like that.

I did start to wonder if maybe the other people on the tour already knew that Rajeev Varma was an actor. I started to imagine that they were all Brown Nation fans who signed up for the sweatshop tour with hopes that a Netflix star would be their tour guide.  Maybe we were the only ignorant ones—ignorant about the difference between Australian and Kiwi accents and ignorant about Netflix programming.

I don't blame myself for the latter. There are so many shows made by Netflix I can't keep up.
If it weren't for Jack googling to find out where our tour guide's accent was from, I'd probably never learn that Brown Nation existed. And this is coming from someone who studies IMDb on a daily basis. Australia-thing, and my curiosity over our tour guide's accent, might have led me to yet another show to add to my huge list of shows and movies I want to watch.