Depression Meals and Food Recovery

Content warning: eating disorders, food trauma, depression

The subject of nutritional abuse is one that I’ve found difficult to talk about for a long time. I keep thinking that it’s because I’m no nutritionist, and I’m not really qualified, but this fear masks avoidance. The thing is, I don’t always know when I’m hungry, because my body doesn’t tell me. I need use marijuana and several prescription medications to help have an appetite, and having a stable routine helps a lot.

Food is scary. It’s necessary for survival, but subtle abuse at the hands of many makes access complicated. Even truly gentle and autonomy-affirming parents don’t always have access to adequate food for their children. Hunger has a long history of being used to control populations, and to systematically destroy people. Since the advent of processed and mass-produced food, a new type of food abuse has emerged as well: obesity caused by malnutrition, which is often compounded with the emotional trauma of being labeled a failure at feeding yourself properly.

In the modern world, anybody can publish a diet book, even my mom. Even when she was the one who’d say to me, “just eat a few walnuts and keep working, they make you feel full,” and “your fidgeting is good, it means you’re burning calories while you eat,” and “sometimes I forget to eat, don’t you?”

As a parentified child to my needy mother, I was more sister-servant to her than daughter. Her coffee must have just the right amount of cream and sugar, and if it wasn’t strong enough, I was to dump the pot and start over. Depending on the stage of pregnancy she was perpetually in, I needed to give her back rubs and foot rubs, make sure she had a quiet nap in the afternoon – anyone disturbing her was sure to be my fault, and with the consequence of her irritable nap-interrupted lectures.

Without being prompted, I had a relationship with food that centered on my smallness: ashamed of how thin, small, weak, and unhappy I was. I couldn’t force myself to eat. Nobody watched my portions to say, “do you feel full? How is that food sitting in your stomach?” And it is difficult to make anyone unfamiliar with the psychological levels of food shame understand that it is abusive whatsoever. Trying to eat plenty, and eat well, never occurred to me. I was too obsessed with the needs of others. I also loved baking, so I had an excuse to make all kinds of pastries without eating too many of them – if I ever wanted there to be leftover cookies, I would estimate 7 cups of flour as my reference for multiplying the recipe. Only several dozen would withstand my siblings’ assault on my hoard, sneaking behind cupboards or crawling behind the kitchen island to sneak a warm cookie.

I had the odd ability, growing up, to tell my family members exactly what they were craving at any given time. This was quickly explained the day someone explained to me that I was an empath. Empaths very often can intuit the physical and emotional feelings of others before their own, especially when having been trained to do so, and to be responsible for the satisfaction of those around them. Our cupboards were never bare, as my dad made a decent single income that would be squarely middle class if his offspring count wasn’t off the charts for calculating income to household members. But it is difficult to prepare enough food to feed sixteen people regularly.

Unprompted except by a secret gnawing sense that something was deeply wrong with me, I tied my aprons tights and layered them over my homemade prairie dresses. This made it hard to breathe, but it silenced my stomach, which I desperately wanted to forget about. After all, eating hindered my productivity. Ask any Jeub kid why productivity is important, and you’ll get some version of a spiel adapted from my parents, clearly wrapped up in the futile attempt to beat the game of capitalism by working hard enough. That is simply because it was what kept us going day in and day out – productive, productive, productive – why are you sitting down? Do you have chores to do? Go make sure you know where all the kids are. Make sure the laundry appliances are running at all times. Who said you could have a snack?

When I was homeless and living in a car, I vomited a lot because I couldn’t access much healthy food. A car doesn’t have a way to keep fresh produce cool, nor does it come with a stove and cooking items. So you’re lucky if you can find a microwave in a grocery store where you can heat something up, otherwise all your food will be lukewarm. I once made some ramen with a hot water dispenser at a gas station, and threw up on the side of the road, then cleaned myself up and went to work, where I served slices of deli items worth more per pound than I was per hour, while according to the state I made too much to qualify for food stamps.

These voices play in the back of my head, but I am recovering.

Finally. Slowly. Every day is not perfect. But I have reached and stabilized a healthy weight, even though I’m far from finding diagnoses and solutions for my various physical symptoms and mental illnesses. And I’d like to share what’s worked, what hasn’t, and how I’m stretching my food stamps and food bank foods to create a restorative routine despite what I’m up against.

Thanks to the kindness of people, I have stayed alive. My partner and I are now in an apartment, and since we’ve moved in, we’ve taken advantage of luxuries we cannot take for granted ever again – a blender for smoothies, our one appliance, and the roommate’s dishes to make salads, healthy cuisine from around the world, with lots of chicken and very little grease or sugar.

I’ve been lurking in Facebook tag groups, and one of them is called “Is this a depression meal?” It is a safe place for people with eating disorders and general depression to post the sad meals they’re having. Before joining this group, I didn’t know it was perfectly okay to say “hey guys, I’m eating the stale chips out of the bottom of this bag for dinner.” By okay here I mean it is a normal human thing to be too depressed to eat much, and getting communal support in those times is great, not that a few stale chips are adequate nutritionally.

I also learned the phrase “recovery food.” These are foods that help. I spoke with a nutritionist who told me that if I can’t eat much, try to make it count: protein drinks and protein bars could help if I could only manage to take a few bites. So I started buying protein drinks. That has now evolved into a shake I make myself every morning with yogurt, fruit, milk, and protein powder. I mix the flavors up a bit, and recently my dear cousin-in-law sent me fresh peaches, so I’ve been having a lot of vanilla-peach flavor.

My dietary needs are different from those of my partner. His food trauma is very different from mine, but that is his own story to tell. It is enough to say that I am filling my days with high-fat proteins that help me stay at a healthy weight, like the shake I start each day with. He is avoiding sweets and carbs, and emphasizing chicken as the best possible meat source, eating a lot of chicken salads. Me, I like red meat and need my carbs, so I’ll often eat potatoes or pasta with my meat while he eats lettuce with his.

Here are a few of those meals. You may have noticed that I haven’t put any new photos on my blog, and that is because so many were lost with the old site, and also because I want my blog to be accessible – no ads, no paywalls, no affiliate links, no images without image descriptions. I hope you see that these are not just pictures of what I’m eating. Every image is a triumph, and I’ve organized them from most recent to back when I started posting selfies of my mood to show the progress:

8/24/18

The image below is of a recent lunch which looks extravagant but is mostly food bank food, I just beat the shit out of an old steak and broiled it like lamb chops (haven’t had lamb in years), steamed some green beans, tore off the slightly moldy end of hard bread, and helped myself to some blueberries my roommate picked to share.

8/19/18

I listened to the audio book “Letter to my Daughter” by Maya Angelou over the past few days. She said red rice was her favorite food, and the description of it made me want to try. I used chicken instead of bacon and used a wild-rice lentil mix as the base, which took forever to cook well enough, but four hours later it tastes fucking amazing. But I 100% know it’s nothing compared to how it would be made by someone who grew up with a family recipe for it.

7/8/18

I struggle to finish my food and I ate a whole solid breakfast. Pic is of an empty glass that had a chocolate protein shake in it, a bowl with an apple core and cherry pits and stems, and an empty yogurt cup. Nothing is left of the blueberries.

I’m so grateful that I can afford to eat like this. Food stamps don’t usually stretch this far, but last month we moved close to a discount grocery store that actually has quality produce. It’s taken years to get to this point.

6/30/18

I have a weird relationship with eggs. They’re fine in things, but I have to really be in the right mood to eat fried eggs. They’re an easy way to get a ton of nutrients so at various points of my eating disorder, I’ve become so picky from getting great fresh eggs that for a while I was drinking raw eggs every morning. Apparently I can stand them boiled, and I’ve been working on my timed eggs and cool water shock. A few months ago I made some absolutely terrible stuffed eggs that had lots of eggshells, so I’ve been doing my homework. I present, perfectly soft 8-minute eggs.

5/31/18
This is all I can stomach of what would be enough to get me through a looong morning. Image is of a protein drink, English muffin, and sliced kiwis. But no, my new med insists I’m too sick despite also taking Zofran and smoking a bowl. Fml

5/14/18

Stoked that I finally got to go to the local farmer’s market where they take food stamps, featuring garlic chive cheddar cheese curds. The chicken is some extra I made last night for a Caesar salad. It’s super tender because I used a rolling pin to flatten it.

Still homeless. Kitchen is of the good Samaritans who are letting us sleep in their garage and save for a place. Doctors appointment today, then showing up to ask some people to hire me. Wish me luck or whatever.

1/23/18

:deep breath:

Things are kinda shitty. We’re stuck in a town with no job market whatsoever and neither of us are from here so we don’t know anyone local. Literally the cash we’re feeding ourselves with day to day is from odd internet jobs. Upwork, Craigslist. Pawning our least necessary electronics to have food for the day.

On top of all that, I’ve been switching meds and working with a therapist who would finally be willing to see me on a “pay what you can” basis, and my period is 62 days late (not too worried, had a pregnancy test two weeks ago and have another scheduled on Wednesday and I’ve been spotting). My body and brain are in a continuous fog, my mania is showing its true colors, and my paranoia and panic has been debilitating. And I have to work. Piecing together freelance writing that very much impresses my small clientele, but who won’t offer a job with benefits because I didn’t graduate college.

Anyway, I have a theory about my eating disorder. I think I was trained to starve myself. Though she would never be caught dead getting a psych eval, my mother almost certainly has Munchausen by Proxy. So I can never tell when I’m hungry or what would be nutritional, because this is how I eat.

Manic days: fresh homemade bread, pancakes for breakfast, curry and rice with flatbread and hummus

Depression day, aka what’s pictured: dollar store candy, a leftover sweet roll I made a couple of days ago, a bowl of spinach havarti dip (all I had was havarti don’t judge) from last night, and a cup of raspberry tea. Yes, that is Snorlax on the mug.

11/23/17
I got stoned and had McDonald’s and got to spend a day with my man. Perfect Thanksgiving for an introvert. I much prefer this to Holiday drama.

11/2/17
Hey, you. The one scrolling through depression memes, thinking maybe something will tempt your appetite. Can we just, for a moment, look at the fourth wall through the internet at each other? We know this whole system is bullshit and we’re fucked. I currently have my own apartment with a stable partner and we both have jobs. It has taken me five years of adulthood to be in such a stable position. If you’re fighting homelessness, barely eating enough to make it to work, you are not alone. And we can work together to survive as a generation that is primarily parentless for many reasons, leaving us alone in the world.

My depression hit hard today. We both get paid on the same day and I left before he woke up because it’s my day off and we work opposite shifts and weekends (no we never see each other, and it makes us miss each other terribly) to go take out a loan. I’ve done that before, but the godforsaken town we had to move to in order to stay off the streets apparently has no loan places. Like, they just don’t exist. I looked up MoneyTree and my maps circles an area of car dealerships. Debt is someone bribing us to give them their money, and I just need to have enough for our next paycheck. And people wonder why I’m so depressed.

Anyway. We’re in this together. And I say that in the most rueful tone possible, because having isolated depression in an economy like this isn’t something I’d wish on anyone.

So. I know a lot of us can’t afford therapy and can hardly be stable adults. Want to just share tip amongst us? I’ll start:

Image description is of a plate of vegetables and fruit, a water bottle, and a protein drink. This depression meal is lying on carpet because it is next to the couch where I am munching and writing. I confess, it’s not my proudest work. I basically just grabbed all this from the fridge after having a cigarette. The veggies were chopped a few days ago, when I had some extra energy.

Today, I haven’t eaten much. I feel like depression is that state of imbalance between frustration and not giving a fuck. I was pissed because after driving around for hours, I had nothing to show for exhausting myself on my day off. When I got home, I laid on the couch, unable to move, for nearly an hour before I finally got up to feed myself. We’ve all been there.

Folx, I want to break down the tips I have to start spinning our secret web:
1. Water bottles are worth buying at $4 a case if your tap tastes terrible and you struggle with drinking enough water to begin with.
2. One of my doctors recently recommended that I talk to a nutritionist about my depression eating. If you can’t get to a doctor, I’m there right now. My job and my state are beaurocratically delaying my medical care. But the one time I saw her, she said, “If you can only eat a few bites, make them count.” Which nobody ever told me, because I never was asked about eating. That’s the protein shake. If I can only manage to drink a little, or I run out of energy, having these around is well worth the five bucks.
3. Leave leftovers and chop extra things that will last, it helps when you can’t function enough to make anything.
4. All of the above can be purchased with food stamps, and are within budget for most people.

 

Podcast Transcript: The Deleted Confession

Updated 5/6/2019: Below is a commentary I wrote in August 2018 about the events leading up to my family’s first response to my blog posts in 2014, a podcast. My parents claim that they never gave any kind of response until March of 2019. The podcast was re-uploaded to YouTube, which my dad had taken down on a copyright claim, which can be seen here.

COMMENTARY

The day I chose to reveal that my parents weren’t as magnificent as they wanted the world to think they were was October third, 2014. It was exactly a year after I’d been kicked out while being denied my independence – my phone, bank account, and the children I’d raised were still being controlled, and I was expected to continue keeping up with housework even after I’d moved out. While in college full time and working two jobs.

There is a rumor that I “wanted to live at home longer,” but they had undermined my entire ability to survive as an adult in the real world. I had no K-12 education, except that I’d memorized a lot of the Bible and School House Rock songs, and I was given textbooks I was supposed to find time to study on my own, around my busy schedule. Once I started taking classes at a local university, I struggled and ultimately failed to keep a passing GPA. I simply had no idea what I was doing, and I couldn’t seem to find time to study enough, which I blamed myself for – though my friends could easily observe that the reason I couldn’t learn was that I was still running my family’s household whenever I was home from class. I was in the habit of bouncing a baby on my lap while trying to just read my assignment, much less comprehend it enough to test.

In an effort to avoid being shamed by my family, I gave up talking about my poor grades. I had no idea how to ask for help, and didn’t know that when I struggled to approach an instructor for signing permission papers, I was having severe anxiety. My voice and body would freeze before dealing with conflict, asking for help, or even speaking up to get a passing person’s attention in the hallway. In the end, though I very much wanted to learn, I dropped out because losing my parents meant losing my grant applications, and I could barely afford food and shelter, much less the time and expense of being in school. My part-time job became a full-time job, and I tried earnestly to recover. My parents were concerned about my signs of mental illness, and agreed to let me see a therapist, even offering rides when needed. I was 21 and no longer living with them, but somehow I always found myself back in my dad’s luxurious office, the most well-made room in the whole house, crying my heart out to my parents about how I was trying to be a good Christian still, and which boys I was interested in marrying someday, and I was a good virgin – I hadn’t so much as googled “masturbation.”

My first therapist in early 2014 was patient, and over several weeks in which I felt numb and often watched the art on the wall from the top of the room, totally dissociated. I finally started crying sometimes. A friend who worried about me in my depressive spiral dragged me to his astronomy class. Even though I was no longer an enrolled student, the professor was so passionate during his lectures, he didn’t mind who joined in the audience. For the first time in my life, at the age of 21, somebody told me that the stuff my body and the air I breathe and the planet I call home is made of what’s in space. It had never clicked for me before that our table of elements is consistent across the universe. I was questioning what Christianity really had to say about loving people even if they’re gay.

Questions are rebellion to fundamentalists. Their egos are incredibly fragile. It is not enough for white, conservative, cishet gen-X people like my parents to live an unremarkable life. And if all you can do to gain your fifteen minutes of fame is to have sixteen mini-me’s, that’s what you do, if you’re that desperate. Besides, you get Jesus’ justification for your lifestyle and reproductive decisions. When a child in this kind of family asks questions, the parents feel incredibly threatened, and hastily protest any perceived flaw in themselves. They will turn to attacking the child, or victimizing themselves and threatening to commit suicide, or flying into a rage at the child.

At the time that I published my first post, I was wracked with emotional pain. It was my response to my dad telling me that I was no longer welcome in their home. It was apparent to them that I was seeing through the cracks, and in a too-little-too-late effort at the end, I was trying to help my siblings see what I could see, so they could be better prepared to survive. This was of course interpreted as manipulation on my part. Lydia saw it too, but to be ostracized was far worse for her than it was for me. My short five semesters of local university had taught me quite a lot that she didn’t know – foregoing college and remaining a completely dedicated stay-at-home daughter until the day we were kicked out.

I was at work when I posted the blog post. My boss, who knew my parents, called me to say that my workplace would be a safe place for me. Within hours, my dad had prepared his response to my post, “Melting Memory Masks.” Because my dad believes he is innocent, he thought there would be nothing to fear from proving it by leaving the room while my younger siblings recorded a podcast responding to me.

His sites are in complete denial that the podcast ever existed. The podcast was originally on YouTube as episode 7 of his ministry’s new podcast. Apparently he had not even heard the podcast before uploading it. But to his surprise, people who heard the podcast were somehow convinced by it of his and my mother’s guilt. As Susan Gabriella said over on her site, The Little Fighter that Could:

“The reason the podcast was hastily removed was because it comprised of too much evidence in Cynthia’s favor… In fact, if you read her blogpost and then listen to the additional information explained in the podcast, the abuse becomes even more evident. Cynthia’s first post claimed three main things. Physical abuse—abuse her siblings did not deny happened, and instead trivialized by normalizing it or saying it was forgiven; psychological abuse—which her siblings responded to by doubting; and emotional abuse—which her siblings made fun of.”

The video was deleted from YouTube in a matter of hours after it was posted. Then my dad filed copyright claims against anyone else who tried to re-upload it. All that remains is the transcript, which Susan was also kind enough to transcribe. I now present the full transcript in full, as transcribed there: Transcript of Chris Jeub’s Podcast

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

Chris: Welcome to the Training Minds podcast, training minds for action in speech and debate, Episode 7.

[music]

Chris: Welcome, my friends, to the Training Minds podcast. I’m Chris Jeub, president of Training Minds Ministry and author of a, bunch of speech and debate publications, all meant to train the mind for action for academic speech and debate. Uh, this is a break from our planned schedule, uh, we, uh, just last week, uh, ran Luis Garcia’s first part of his presentation on apologetics. Um, you heard him explain the ten commandments of apologetics, and you’ll hear the second part next week when we return to the regular programming.

Instead I’ve decided to use the Training Minds podcast to put out an audio—an audio record of defense concerning an online attack that has penetrated and greatly wounded our family—the Jeub family. Um, it has to do with my daughter, Cynthia, who came out last week with a blog post that was extremely indicting on us, and probably, uh, couldn’t have been more damaging. And—and—and many, many people are believing it. I think everybody’s shocked, and we are shocked, too. Uh—but the—because the blog post has some imagery in it that’s just horrific, uh, it couldn’t be worse. Probably the most horrific of them all, in my opinion, is the vision of my wife, Wendy, and I shutting the curtains and—and—and—beating our children with a belt. Every night, she actually claims this is every night. And later she explains that there’s actually cuts and blood in these events, and that we have never stopped.

My goodness, these—uh—three things here. First, if it’s true, what—what she explained is illegal behavior, and our twelve children should be taken away from us immediately. There’s no excuse for what she is explaining on her blog. But secondly, you’re—you’re about to hear from my children. Uh, this is not true. Belts are not used in our family. Beatings do not take place in our home. And you’re about to hear from the older Jeub children about how out and far out and—and extreme out of reality this really is.

Uh, thirdly, and this is—this is very—this is a very odd story in many ways. Uh, a lot of people are going to be listening to this, you don’t really care about speech and debate, but this is our way of putting together, um, a response because this is—this is extremely harmful to us. Uh, I, Chris Jeub, author, debate coach, I’ve supported questionable websites and other bloggers, who, though they differ from me, and my personal faith or politics, I—I still supported them because they welcomed the discussion and action about abuse victims. Uh, oh, uh, one more thing, and I guess, uh, I didn’t have this in my notes but I’m going to say it anyway. Uh, we, the Jeub family, love Cynthia. We want so desperately for resolution in this problem. We do not—uh, we don’t appreciate—um, actually, we hate these accusations. And we have to come out and say, “These are not true”—we have no choice because they aren’t the truth.

But I don’t want to discredit Cynthia. This is, uh, such a tough position to be in, because we love Cynthia, and—and there is pain in her accusations. I don’t know what that—the pain is. We—before her blog post, we had been really wrestling with her for several months, and one of the, the—really—one of the pleas with her we had was, “Please, come with us to counseling.” You know, not a—not a fluffed-up fake counselor or relative or something—I mean, our relatives have been great, they’ve been very supportive of us. But—but it’s been, uh, an appeal to her to come to counseling and get help for what—I—I believe is—is mental illness. Now that—that’s for a professional to diagnose, but, uh, but I can’t think of anything—any other reason why these accusations would come out, that are so far from reality that, uh, that it’s really, really, really hurting us.

So I hope you can help us, the Jeub family, to pray for Cynthia, to pray for our family, the Jeub family. We’ve been on—I don’t know if you know us very well, but we’ve been on TV, we’ve been very transparent about—about, uh, uh, family issues that we’ve had in the past, estranged children, even. Our oldest daughter has been estranged for years, and there was a short time of reconciliation and love that we articulated in our book, Love in the House, and—and it was, uh, but, but, but—to tell you the truth, uh, we still, uh, we still struggle with our problems. But we are in the camera eye and we are transparent and we are honest and we do not beat our children. That’s [unintelligible], that is—this is bizarre, and, uh, and uh, and—so this is what we’re going to do today.

In the podcast today, uh, what—what I had my kids do—in fact, they volunteered with this way of handling it, because they’re very disturbed by this. So I’ve got, I’ve got older kids in my family, one adult, uh, Isaiah is 18, Micah is 17, Noah is 16, and Tabitha is 14, and we’ve kept everyone else below that out of it, because they really—they really are—a couple of other ones could have been involved in this, but you know, they’re young, they’re young, their heads are spinning, and they love their sister, uh and they—they—this is busting them up big time. But the older ones are more mature, and they’re handling it well. They wanted to get together and walk through Cynthia’s article, piece by piece, there’s—there’s about five or six images that she puts out there, and events that they actually remember, and, uh, and they can—they want to, uh, kinda form a defense, and say, “You know what, we have, we have, um, uh, an answer that’s different than Cynthia’s. And actually much different than Cynthia’s.”

And then that’s what’s going to be the podcast today. That—that’s what it is. And I, and I’d like to just double up, we love Cynthia, we want this to be handled as fast as possible. This is so painful to us, and uh, and, and we really need you—if you—you know what, and before I press play, you probably want me to already shut up and listen to the kids, but hey, I gotta say this. Uh, if you—if you do desire the truth to set us free and the—the—the truth to surface and for good things to come of this, please encourage Cynthia to get the help that she’s denied from us. She has refused to go to counseling with us. I mean that’s, that’s, uh, that’s the only solution I see here. Uh, I believe she believes what she believes, but, uh, she—she needs to sit down on the comfortable couch and explain her pain. And going public with a damaging story that’s not true will only—will only hurt her more. So, uh, please help me encourage her, um, uh, her blog is cynthiajeub.com. Um, as I’m recording this right now, it’s still the first article, or, uh, top article, um, but uh, I’ll have a leak in the show notes.

So, uh, so with that, this is my Jeub family, or, uh, a chunk of ‘em, four of my kids, uh, the oldest ones that are living at home, Isaiah, Micah, Noah, and Tabitha. And, uh, and at the end of the podcast I have, uh, information on how to get Love in the House for free—I’m actually giving it away for free this week, because, uh, because we’re, we want you to see who we are, and be totally open and honest about this situation that we’re in. Uh, more about that at the end here. Uh, but, with that, enjoy my kids.

[8:28]

Male voice 1: OK, careful.

[creaking noise, like a door closing]

Male voice 1: Why did I say careful? Hello! We are the four Jeub older kids that are still living at home, so, uh, yeah, we’re just gonna go oldest to youngest and introduce ourselves.

Male voice 2 (Isaiah): Uh, I’m Isaiah, hi. I’m eighteen, um, do you want me to—

Male voice 1 (Micah): That’s good, um, I’m Micah—

[girl laughs]

Micah: —and I’m seventeen.

Male voice 3 (Noah): I’m Noah, and I’m sixteen.

Female voice (Tabitha): And I’m Tabitha, and I’m fourteen.

Micah: And our sister wrote a blog post about our family, it’s, uh, telling, uh, the world how abusive our parents are to us, and we would like to go through and read the blog post and give the world our take on Cynthia’s blog post. So we’re gonna go through her blog post right now and give you our take.

Male voice: OK. So the first little section basically said—uh, I’ll just read it. “Eight years ago, Mom, Dad, I’ve been hurting myself since I was four, I’ve kept it a secret for ten years, and I don’t think anybody else in the world does it. I want to tell you because we’re going to film on TV and I might lose control in front of the cameras. I don’t want to make our family look bad. Are you still doing it? No, I quit a few years ago. Then your sin is forgiven, we’ll go ahead with the filming, just don’t tell anyone.”

Tabitha: So, our older sister Cynthia was hurting herself, and she’s acting as if we were trying to cover it up, as if we have some deep, dark secret. What’s actually happening here is just a normal conversation. She said, “Hey, Mom, Dad, I’ve kept this a secret, um, I’m hurting myself.” And they’re just like, “Are you still doing it? I don’t think you need to tell the cameras.” It—it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. We’re not hiding anything. If you get to know us, we’re a pretty transparent family, we’re the same at parties that we are at home.

Micah: Yeah it’s true, I mean, you guys know us, or if you don’t know us, we’re very, like, we just are the same at home as we are at parties. Like Isaiah’s shy at home and he’s shy at parties.

[Tabitha laughs]

Micah: I’m outgoing at home, and I’m outgoing at parties.

[Tabitha laughs]

Micah: Noah’s a dork at home, and he’s a dork at parties.

[Tabitha laughs, Noah makes sound of weak protest]

Micah: OK, so we are the same throughout. And this conversation that Cynthia was having with Dad is just a normal conversation, it’s not like, “Oh we have something to hide, you can’t tell the cameras anything.” Cynthia spoke her mind on TV, it was no big deal. So, yeah. Next, uh, section.

Male voice: Second section! “Seven years ago, Mommy, stop hitting him, he’s only eleven. Do something, Cynthia, I’m scared she’s not stopping. A few days later. What happened to him? Did he get in a fight with his brother? No, Mom got made and slapped him, she wouldn’t stop so I pulled her off of him. He’s wearing makeup so you can’t see the whole bruise and where he was bleeding. Everybody thinks that we’re perfect, please don’t let them look through the curtains.”

Micah: This story was, um, about Isaiah, and Cynthia paints this ugly picture of our mother like she beat Isaiah till Isaiah was black and blue, which is not exactly what happened. Um—yes, actually, me—um—him and his brother did get in a fight, I got in a fight with Isaiah, and I hit him in the face, and then Mom was on my side, so Mom hit him in the face. And this happened eight years ago, and it was not—Mom was not beating him.

Male voice: Yeah, that was—

Micah: That was a very ugly night in our house, and it’s super painful that Cynthia had to post—post this on the public for the world to see. So yes, this did happen, yeah, it was about eight years ago, and, uh, yes, this did happen, I hit him in the face, then Mom hit him in the face, and he did have a bruise.

Male voice: And that was the end of the fight.

Micah: And that was the end of the fight, and Mom has apologized for it several times, and we have forgiven her. So, I don’t see why it needs to be brought up, but that was our take on the matter. So, our mom does not do that—she’s never done it again, so it, uh, is kind of irrelevant at this point. We don’t get slapped in the face.

Isaiah: Yeah, and the reason Micah responded to that and I didn’t was because I don’t remember this happening, specifically. Um, from what I hear, it sounds a lot like—it sounds a lot like abuse when I hear about it, and—and I think—this, this isn’t the first time I’ve heard about this. I mean, I remember me sitting around and all the kids were like, “Oh, you remember that one time?” And I’m like, “No, I don’t remember that one time.” But—but when I hear this, it sounds a lot like abuse, but I’ve never seen my mom actually do something like this to any of the other—any of my siblings. So—so to believe this—

Micah?: Or to do it again or anything. She says later on that it did happen again, but it didn’t happen again, it was something else that Mom was doing.

Isaiah: Well yeah, it wasn’t—she wasn’t slapping me over and over again, and we’ll cover it later. And we’ll get to that, but I’ve never seen it happen again in this household. Or beforehand. So.

Micah?: And—have you forgiven Mom for what she did?

Isaiah: I—uh—maybe, I don’t remember forgiving Mom.

Micah: So you don’t remember the conversation that night when she came to apologize like a hundred times.

Isaiah: No.

Micah: OK. Well, I remember the conversation pretty well, and she was very, very upset at herself.

Noah: And—at the end of this section, she says, “You can’t see the whole place where he was bleeding.” That’s so exaggerated, there was a small bruise where—

Micah: It was right under his eye.

Tabitha: I thought it was right under his eye.

Micah: Right under his eye, and he was not bleeding.

Noah: He wasn’t bleeding at all.

Tabitha: No. It’s exaggerated.

Micah: I punch pretty hard. Just kidding. OK, moving on to the third thing.

Tabitha: Third section.

Not Micah: “Six years ago. I’m gonna sit here while the producer interviews you. I’m here to help you remember to say what’s true. OK daddy, I trust you. Don’t let them see what goes down in the kitchen.”

Micah: What in the heck goes down in the kitchen, like, we cook in the kitchen, if you guys wanted to know that—

Tabitha: We dance in the kitchen.

Micah: We dance in the kitchen.

Noah: We wrote cookbooks on that, too. [laughter]

Isaiah: We do [unintelligible] in the kitchen, and do flips off the counters in the kitchen.

Micah: It’s pretty funny. Um, yeah, so this sounds like a manipulating father talking to a daughter, but really, this kind of conversation is like, what’s wrong with this conversation. Cynthia, you could’ve said whatever you wanted on camera, and Dad wasn’t forcing you to say anything on camera. He never forced me to say anything on camera, he never—

Male: Yeah.

Micah: He just said hi, I’m here to be with you, I thought you were nervous in talking to ten million people.

Male: Yeah.

Micah: So he wasn’t forcing you to say anything, so the fact that you think he, uh, was like oh, I’m gonna make sure you say all the right things, you know, I’m gonna let you make your own decisions but I’m gonna make ‘em for you so they’re right—he wasn’t saying anything like that.

Noah: Yeah. And he was just out there helping with the light fixture.

Isaiah: Yeah, he was out there helping with the lights.

Noah: He was helping when I was interviewed, I remember that.

Isaiah: He was helping hold up that light.

Tabitha: Yeah, he wasn’t like he was sitting there, holding her hand, being like, don’t say that, don’t say that, here, let me just answer for you.

Noah or Isaiah: Because, like, it wasn’t like an episode where he was making the puppets say what he wanted them to say—yeah, it’s not like that at all.

[noises of agreement from others in the background]

Micah: Alright, next question, or next, uh, statement.

Tabitha: Here, I’ll read it. Five years ago. Mom, look, I watched the kids—ten kids, and cooked the food and cleaned the house while you were gone. You didn’t do the dishes? You don’t appreciate what I—that I was gone all day shopping. I do so much work around here, I can’t be gone for a few hours without coming home to a mess. I need to work in a clean kitchen and it’s your fault I can’t. I don’t ask for much. Places, places, get in your places.

Micah and Tabitha, in a sing-song tone: Places, places, get in your places.

Micah, in a falsetto: Places, places, get in your places. [laughter]

Noah or Isaiah: That was better.

Micah: Thanks, man.

Tabitha: Uh—

Micah: OK! Go ahead, Tabitha.

Tabitha: I was just going to say that this is a normal conversation, it’s not yelling at you, being like omigosh, you’re a horrible child. It’s just saying, thank you for watching the kids, but look, you didn’t do the dishes, like—

Micah: Like, uh—

Micah and Tabitha: —why didn’t you do the dishes? [laughter]

Tabitha: Well, I need to make supper, I’ve been shopping all day—have you ever been shopping? It’s not that fun.

Noah: Well, some girls think so. They’re weird.

Tabitha: Threatening to call the authorities on this is just kinda funny.

Micah: It’s just like, Mom didn’t thank me for doing the rest of the house when I was supposed to do the dishes. Abuse, it’s abuse. We’re being abused, omigosh. Anyway, uh, just do the dishes next time, Cynthia, you’re an adult. [Tabitha laughs] Alright, next question.

Tabitha: “Three years ago. Is it that cutting thing again? I thought you were over that. I’m scared because I wanna kill myself, Daddy. Are you sure it’s not just trying to fit in with your college friends, pretending you have problems like theirs? No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens.”

Micah (in a sing-song tone): No one ever listens, this wallpaper glistens. [spontaneous vocalizing] Alright, go ahead, people.

Tabitha: I would just say that this is a huge conversation—I remember you and Dad talking for hours at a time, you guys talked through this, um, and you’re forging the conversation to make it sound—he probably did ask this, um, is it your college friends. Someone comes to you and says I wanna kill myself, you’re probably gonna ask every possible question, well, where is this even coming from. He probably asked this, but it’s not totally disregarding you.

Noah: Yeah, it was a totally honest question.

Tabitha: It was a totally honest question.

Noah: It was probably one of many, many questions he had, so, you know, what’s driving you to think this—

Micah: Yeah, totally.

Noah: —what’s driving you to—

Micah: I’m here with Noah, he’s just asking a question, one of several questions that he asked, and to turn around and say that Dad’s abusive because he asked you a question like, uh, is this what’s the reason, is this what’s the reason, and then he asks one question—you just told him you wanted to kill yourself, ok? Right then at that moment, they did everything they possibly could, they put you into—they put you into counseling, they were talking to you, they tried to get closer to you, like, everything, like, they did not turn around and be like oh, it’s ok. They did everything, they paid for your counseling, like, they did all these things. For you to disregard them is a) just super mean and they were being super supportive and he was just asking you a, a question, like—are you just trying to blend in with your friends? Like, you know what I mean? So, um, that’s not abuse. How dare him say something like that—he’s not abusing you because he asked you a question. He was pretty shocked that you wanted to kill yourself. Alright, next one.

Tabitha: Two years ago. You’re not telling your therapist you’re having problems with self-harm and depression, are you? No, Mom, I’m there because I’m angry with my two older sisters for turning their backs on God and being rebellious and hurting my parents. Good, I don’t think that’s really something you need to tell your counselor about. [unintelligible] dresses on, doll faces. [sigh] Again, this is a huge conversation that you and Mom had, and you just cut it down to one thing that bothered you.

Noah: I doubt whether this even happened, honestly.

Micah: Yeah, so Cynthia’s cutting it down to one thing that we doubt even happened, but since she said it did, we’re gonna respond to it as [if] it did happen, which we’re not even that sure of. So one thing I noticed about this that is, like, uh, Mom is not using orders, she’s using suggestions. So she’s not saying, you cannot tell your therapist about this, she’s just suggesting, no. Which is like, completely not abusive, she’s just giving her advice. Mom gives me advice all the time. Don’t do a backflip off that car. I do a backflip off that car. I mean, it’s advice, it’s not abusive when you’re giving advice.

Tabitha: Yeah.

Micah: If it’s a direct order, and she’s, like, forcing you to not say it, that’s sort of, I mean, you know what I mean? But I mean—she never did that, she’s just giving you her piece of—opinion.

Tabitha: Mhm. And you’re in counseling because of this. Like, why would she tell you not to say—

Noah: Yeah, yeah.

Tabitha: —don’t, don’t do that. I mean, that’s the whole reason you’re in counseling.

Micah: Yeah, she put you in counseling because you wanted to kill yourself, because you were cutting, so, why would she say that? So basically your blog post—er, Cynthia’s blog post—just kinda, like, contradicted itself. So anyway. Was that number six? Let’s go to number seven statement.

Tabitha: One year ago. I remember when you were spanked with a belt every day even though you didn’t do anything wrong most days. So you remember that too? Weird. I asked Mom why they did that, and she said it never happened. I thought there must be something wrong with me. D-O-L-L-H-O-U-S-E.

[spontaneous singing]

Noah: No, you skipped on to the next section.

Tabitha: It’s so exaggerated. It’s not even true!

Micah: You can talk to my parents, they’re pretty open about the fact that they thought discipline—er, spanking—was a good thing back—what was it, that would’ve been like ten years ago? About ten years ago, they thought it was ok, and that’s just a fabricated—

Tabitha: Yeah, saying that we shut the curtains at night and our parents beat us is so—

Micah: —stupid, I mean we shut the curtains at night and we goof off—

Tabitha —and we party—

Micah: —and we play music.

Noah: Yeah, we were playing horse in the house last night.

Micah: Yeah, we were playing horse, because we set up this box as a basketball hoop, we were shooting a football.

Tabitha: Is that what you guys were doing?

Micah: Yeah, [unintelligible]

Tabitha: I thought you guys were trying to run—

Micah: You’re like, what is that noise upstairs.

Noah: That’s what happens when you shut the curtains.

Tabitha: We don’t even have curtains.

Micah: Yeah, we have a huge window in the front of our house with no curtains on it. Anyway, um, so this conversation, uh—

Tabitha: —is trying to create the image, uh, that every night, we beat—well, er, not us—but our parents beat us. And I would just like to say, I have never been spanked.

Micah: Yeah!

Tabitha: Guys, this is just not what happens.

Micah: This is not what happens.

Tabitha: That is so far from the truth.

Micah: It’s actually kinda funny.

Tabitha: We’re laughing. It’s just stupid.

Micah: We’re laughing right now. And the little kids—oh my gosh, I just kicked the desk, that’s going to come up bad on the audio. Anyway, uh, so that’s not what happened. We’re going to go on to number eight, which is probably going to be the longest one and the most confusing one, but here we go.

Tabitha: This year. Do you remember that one time when Mom slapped you until you had cuts and bruises and I had to pull her off you? I know it happened because you and our other siblings were there, but I don’t remember it. You blocked it out? I guess so. Anyways, she said sorry, and it would never happen again. Did it happen again? Yeah, but I was asking for it then. I was a disagreeable boy when I was going through puberty. Don’t you think maybe moms shouldn’t hit their kids over and over until they bruise? Our parents aren’t that bad, Cynthia, you need to stop saying they’re abusive. I see things that nobody else sees.

Micah: This conversation was going on between Cynthia and Isaiah, it was a private conversation and Isaiah’s gonna cover the story.

Isaiah: OK well basically, this was a private conversation that me and Cynthia had, um, and, and I really would’ve liked it to stay a private conversation, but since she put it out in the open—I don’t like how she put it out in the open. But since she did put it out in the open, um, the first time it happened, I don’t remember. The second time it happened, it really, um—

Tabitha: It didn’t happen the same way.

Isaiah: It didn’t happen the same way. I mean, Mom—Mom got pretty ticked because Noah didn’t do the dishes—

Noah: You didn’t do the dishes.

Isaiah: No, you didn’t do the dishes. You didn’t do the dishes.

Noah: They were your dishes to do.

Isaiah: No they weren’t.

Tabitha: Oh my gosh, you guys.

Isaiah: They were your dishes.

Noah: Oh my gosh, this happened like ten years ago! Go, just, keep talking.

Isaiah: Anyway, so, what happened was, Noah didn’t do the dishes, and I—I don’t know, I, I was doing something with another sibling and somehow I made him cry. It wasn’t that big of a deal in my mind, but when he started crying, I don’t know, I felt really sorry as soon as it happened. And then Mom came in, and was like, “OK, Isaiah, you’re going to do all the dishes.” So I was really mad that I had to do all of Noah’s dishes. And—after—and then—so I dragged out the dishes the whole day. And when I dragged them out the entire day, in the late afternoon, Mom got—Mom finally blew it and she—she threw silverware at me and—and then—

Micah: Have a fork! Have a spoon! [laughter] Take this butter knife!

Noah: And then she climbed on top of you and started beating you with her hand and slapping you and kicking you, right?

Micah: No.

Noah: And she started punching you in the face.

Isaiah: No, stop, stop. No, what happened was, after that, um, well, after that, I kinda just, we kinda sat in our room, and Mom talked to me, and we just kinda talked through it, and—it wasn’t like immediately after, but it was a little bit after, like I was sitting in my bed and was just there, and I cooled down after a little while, and then Mom came in, she apologized. And so basically—basically, that’s not abuse, that’s just—

Tabitha: What every Mom does, when their kids don’t do the dishes.

Isaiah: Losing her temper.

Micah: She—our Mom, came back—and it’s so funny, that something, like, this small, was like the biggest thing, like she’ll come back, and like, apologize for it.

Tabitha: Mhm.

Noah: Yeah.

Micah: Like, I snapped. She even said—do you guys remember this?—pray for me, because I snapped.

Tabitha: Yeah, she’s like, pray for me.

Micah: Pray for me. And at night we were praying, and Dad was like, why are you talking about Mom getting—and we’re like, oh, Mom told us to pray for her!

Noah: What’s funny here is that a lot of moms would probably have popped way before Mom did. A lot of what’s happening right here was, I dragged out the dishes for—

Isaiah: Two days?

Noah: A day, ok?

Micah: It was probably more like a week.

Noah: Ok, shut up, I was dragging out the dishes for, let’s say, two days, ok? So there were dishes from two full days all over the counters, right? And then Isaiah gets really mad, and you know, Mom’s probably fed up with me at this point, and then, she’s so fed up with me that I’m not doing it that at Isaiah’s one little thing, she’s like, ok, here’s my chance to make it actually get done, because Noah’s not getting done, so Isaiah, you do it. And then Isaiah got really mad and dragged it out for a whole ‘nother day. Now one thing that was going down in the background of all this that I’m telling you so far, is that Mom was actually having a miscarriage at the time.

Tabitha, Micah, and Isaiah: That’s right.

Noah: So, she was really under a lot of stress, and she went for three and a half days of pure, like, having to wash every single dish she was using before she used it. And then she finally got actually upset and actually showed that she was mad.

Micah: Right. And you can imagine how many dishes stack up after three days in our house, because, I mean—

Tabitha: There was fourteen kids at the time.

Micah: Yeah, fourteen kids at home, and two parents, um, the dishes really stack up quick. You leave it for three days—

Tabitha: And when your mom can, like, barely do anything because she’s miscarrying.

Micah: Right, when she was miscarrying.

Noah: It’s incredible that she blew then.

Tabitha: I know.

Noah: I would have—anyone else would have blown halfway through the first day.

Micah: But you know, the important thing that you have to understand about our mother is that she would never let something go like that. So even something like that, she took Isaiah aside and apologized to him, and apologized to me, and I wasn’t, like, even, and apologized to Noah and apologized to our whole family. She was so sorry, because I mean, like, she threw silverware. She was so sorry about that. So to wrap this up, to respond to Cynthia’s blog post, that’s what the kids who still live at home and aren’t super mad at our parents think.

Tabitha: We are not being abused in any way.

Micah: We are not being abused, we have an amazing life, we are, like, super [unintelligible], if I do say so myself. I mean, look at my hair, I got a haircut. Um, so anyway, we’re really cool, and we’re at home, and we aren’t letting Dad listen to this before we post it, so, like, there you go.

Tabitha: Yeah, we’re not being made to say this.

Micah: Yeah, we’re not being made to say any of this. So yeah, this is kind of—we’re doing this for our parents—well, not for our parents—we’re doing this because the world should know.

Tabitha: We want you guys to know the truth. This is so wrong. It’s so exaggerated and so forged.

Micah: So anyway, any parents that are out there, and are now, like, super scared to have kids, or are like, well, I’m never going to have kids, because look at this blog post, it always turns out bad—just remember that, as long as you keep love in the house, and as long as you keep all these things, you know, and just put God first before your family, but your family should definitely come up, you should love them as much. Just remember there’s no way to be a perfect parent, but there are a million ways to be a good one.

[clapping]

[27:43]

Chris: Alright, guys, that’s where we’re at. Uh, I remind you, this was my kids’ idea, actually, they wanted to do a Youtube thingy, and it just took too long, and we felt the need to really get this up online as soon as possible. But I’d like to say, I’d like to say this: I am truly sorry for all this. I mean, I hope that, in your minds, that we are exonerated for what we’ve been accused of. But I’m going to go into information about how you can get our book, but, but let me first make it crystal clear why my kids wanted to do this…or maybe why they didn’t wanna do this. They, they don’t want to say, neither do I, want to say, that Cynthia is fabricating. OK, we’re into speech and debate, so we get into uh, debate, uh, debate—debate’s a big deal, especially team policy, in fact, maybe I’ll do an episode soon about evidence integrity and stuff. We don’t fabricate evidence, we don’t make the evidence say something that it’s not, and, and you get in big trouble, you get kicked out of tournaments for things like that, and your reputations on the line when you, when you say things that aren’t true to the evidence, so, and it…what we’re trying to say is that our impression of our family is much, much different from what she posted on her blog, and if she has those, and obviously she does have those impression of our family, we need to pull that into the family, we are not unreasonable people, we, we love her, we will pay for the counseling.

And this is a very important understanding of counseling in family dynamics. Uh, if you’re estranged from a loved one, a sibling, a child, uh, maybe, maybe your parents or a best friend; whatever it is, there’s—there’s separation all around us, none of us are exempt of this. Please attempt to hear what they are saying without strong accusation or hatred. Keep love in the middle of all you do, in handling unloving situations; that is how we ought to respond. And I was gonna say as Christians, but you know what, as human beings, we need to respond this way to one-another. And that’s what we’re trying to do here. We, we love Cynthia, and we wanna connect with her, in counseling…she needs professional help and we, we do, actually; we need professional help. To work through the struggles that were aired on her blog and obviously you can hear from the kids uh, that, that, that you just heard. Uh, airing her frustrations online…is not helping her at all, and my kids would never have done this, unless she posted the blog post that offended them so much. It’s, everybody’s hurting here, and, and, and really, uh, how counseling works, really, you have a professional, in the room, who’s a mediator, really, to hear everybody’s frustrations and hurts, and that’s how it goes. No one’s really wrong in a counseling session—everyone’s in pain, though.

So, um, with that, you know okay, we’re gonna wrap up this blog post, but you know, I mentioned when I started this, um, I hadn’t heard the kids’ episode yet, and uh I, so what I was doing was figuring out, uh, Amazon Kindle Direct and all that…I don’t really know as much about it as you might think I would. Um, unfortunately I can’t give the book for free (laughing), I did that a whole long time ago when I started the program, and um, I can’t do that. Uh, I did though…the book, the book, our book Love in the House, it was written in response to our television show, uh, you can see the television show from 2007, uh, I, I’ll have a leak in the show notes for you, uh, but the book is really very good. And, and it talks about our big family, and how we fold laundry and how we travel, and stuff like that; kind of the fun stuff of a big, uh, of a big family. But uh, but towards the end of the book, we talk specifically about our oldest child, who, who was estranged with the family, during the episode on TV. And uh, and, and how we worked a, a reconciliation that lasted for a few years, and it was really, it was really beautiful. And there, it’s a good book, and I hope you, and I hope it touches on who we are. That is an accurate representation of who we are. My wife and I wrote it, uh, I, I’ve read it aloud to some of my kids; I should probably read it again. Uh, but it’s uh, it’s a good book, and it’s touched a lot of people’s lives about how to put love into their home. Uh, but, it’s $9.95 online, but for five days I have knocked the price down to the bare minimum that I can, that is two dollars and ninty-nine cents. I uh, like I said, I apologize that I, I said zero at the intro, and I was going to get, I wanted to, but, but I’m just gonna have to do $2.99 because I’m not allowed to. Uh, Amazon doesn’t let me. So um, so anyway, $2.99 is a slam-dunk deal; read it on your Kindle or your iPhone or, or whatever you, uh, use the Kindle App, and you can um, you can read our book.

Well, with that, that is the end of this daunting and exhausting, uhhh, uh, web-extra, or something, whatever, of the Training Minds Podcast, Uh, I’m Chris Jeub, and uh, and you know what—train you mind for action, but much, much more importantly, put love in the center of your home.

[Music]

Corporate Profit

This is part 5 of a series on economic injustice. Click here to read from the beginning.

I’m not convinced that raising the federal minimum wage is going to fix anything. This is not only because the aforementioned Self-Sufficiency Standard puts $15/hour as too low. It is also because corporations are digging in their heels against the American people.

I worked at The Garage Billiards in Seattle in 2015. I was excited to finally be in Seattle with its rising minimum wage, and I had hoped to make enough to finally save up to leave the country. My job was hard on my body – I carried heavy totes full of dishes, washed them in an industrial sink that I rinsed as many rat droppings out of as possible, stood in a walk-in refrigerator while wearing a heavy coat and portioning out meat until my hands were stiff from cold, and regularly fought for better equipment than our rusty and cheap French-fry cutter before being shrugged off by my boss who didn’t have to deal with my task of individually connecting the bent blades before cutting at least 6 5-gallon buckets of potatoes for frying each day.

I mention The Garage by name because they happened to be an example in the news recently for adding an “admin charge” to their menu items after the minimum wage in Seattle went up to $15. Though their original sign said their charge was “a direct result of the minimum wage and tip pooling regulations,”[1] they later claimed on Facebook that the surcharge “is not a response to minimum-wage increases. We have gladly raised wages in accordance with our city’s ordinance the last few years and will continue to do so.”[2]

This kind of dishonesty is rampant among businesses who want to avoid paying their employees enough.

As long as there is profit – that is, more money being made than what the cost of production is – workers are producing more money than they are being paid. This is a simple observation, yet it drives capitalists up a wall. They have a right to their profits! They are the ones who came up with the idea and marketed it!

Profit is after everything – after everyone’s paycheck has been signed, after every customer has paid for their goods or services, after assets have been invested in, liabilities accounted for, and expenses covered. If there’s still more left over, it can be re-invested in the company. When looking at CEO salaries[3] and comparing them to the incomes of most workers at those companies, however, the disparity is obvious.

Because every hire has a price tag in the eye of the employer, people are seen as liabilities instead of assets.

As I explained previously, nobody in this country is independent, and no CEO can possibly work hard enough to singlehandedly create the funds they take home. They are dependent upon the labor of their workers, along with all other production investments and assets, to gather those funds.

Just because your name is on your paycheck doesn’t mean you made that much money. Chances are, you’re either making far more or far less than what your labor actually produces.

Studies do not exist on what labor is actually worth – it is simply assumed in the States that the free market solves, and therefore people make what they are worth to the company paying them. Perhaps an entry-level worker doesn’t have the company clout and experience to make as much as their manager does, there are obvious variables. But if you’re making $37 million per day[4] and your lowest-level employees can’t afford to not be homeless, you are a problem.

It never occurred to me while I was growing up in a capitalistic household that such inequality could exist. I simply assumed that the poor were poor by choice, and so were the rich, and those who were the wealthiest had worked the hardest.

It is simply implausible that such profits can be singlehandedly earned. Our worship of individualism blinds us to this fact, because Americans love to hold up the rich as an example of success. But it is not the success of hard work. It is the result of exploitation, which I’m going to have to define for those of you who are getting real worked up: “The action or fact of treating someone unfairly in order to benefit from their work.”[5]

When you call customer service – whether it’s to make a car payment, ask about your phone bill, talk to your health insurance company – you’re most likely not talking to the company you’re paying for the service. You are probably talking to someone at a call center. The company with the brand name pays a call center to represent them, so agents can answer the phone saying, “Thank you for choosing ____, how can I help you?”

This outsourcing is specifically designed to make sure that the major corporation never takes a hit for bad customer service. If someone misquotes to a customer, the call center pays for it, because it’s technically their fault for failing to train their employee. This frustrates customers because they can’t ever get on the phone with someone who has any real power, because they don’t even work for the company. The entire service of customer care is paid for as one expense by the main company, and call centers are hell as a result.

When working in such an environment, there is no way to properly answer a customer’s question. Rather than having a direct manager on hand to transfer a frustrated customer to, these agents are now using outdated interactive artificial intelligence to find information.[6] You literally get headaches from the echoing you hear between humans trying to help each other in a literal junk pile of bureaucratic IVR systems.

While this may alleviate some confusion about company workings, it makes other experiences in the entry-level workforce all the more confusing. If it’s so expensive to hire new people, why don’t companies try harder to avoid high turnover rates? If it’s so hard to keep people, why are companies so ridiculously strict as to penalize new hires for showing up only a minute late? If one of the keys to profits is good customer service, why pay someone else to handle it and do a worse job than your company could?

I ask these questions, but apparently the people who read blogs about this stuff are scratching their heads about why people would quit their jobs.[7] They’re hiring all these people, and they’re paying them as little as possible to make budget, and everyone above them is breathing down their necks over squeezing the means of production from those underneath them.

[1] https://civicskunk.works/what-to-do-when-a-restaurant-puts-a-minimum-wage-service-charge-on-your-bill-2183699e4186

[2] https://www.thestranger.com/news/2017/03/01/24898046/the-new-living-wage-fee-politically-motivated-or-just-another-expense

[3] http://graphics.wsj.com/ceo-salary-vs-company-performance/

[4] https://www.stride.ws/blog/warren-buffett-income-comparison

[5] https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/exploitation

[6] https://www.ibm.com/watson/

[7] https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/why-do-people-really-quit-their-jobs-heres-the-entire-reason-summed-up-in-1-sent.html

When Religion Equals Privilege

CW: If you love Jesus, you may need to make sure you’ve got spoons to hear some serious stuff I’ve been trying, and failing, to communicate to several people I love dearly. If you’re struggling with how religion works and what it means for you, please read this. If you’ve left religion behind, don’t read unless you’d like another reminder of why Christianity is fucked up.
 
Many of you may have noticed that I’ve grown more nihilistic, honest, and generally bitter toward life since I stopped believing in God. I get that you think you’ve got the answer, that someday I’ll be back in some weird emotional spiral where I dissociate from my own brain and project it on a being in the sky who was weirdly into a really horrible way to kill people a couple thousand years ago. Once you realize that that’s all it is, you can’t go back. Not unless you’ve got strings attached – as so many people do, being forced to profess love for Jesus in order to maintain wealth, status, health, community, and good graces.
 
But as I’ve learned about what it means that I grew up white – a privilege in itself, though my childhood was anything but normal. The world was just a more happy-go-lucky place when I could afford to not be homeless, to not be separated from the good will of my friends and family, to know I was in the good graces of the God up above who loved me unconditionally, though I sure did worry a whole lot about all the billions of people God didn’t seem to be helping very fast. In fact, I felt incredible guilt that led to complex trauma and depression because I felt if only I could take on the suffering of others, as Jesus did – dying for him as a martyr would be the only way to accomplish this, I learned as a toddler. I started hurting myself to prove to God that I was ready to die for him. Heaven didn’t matter to me – it was the salvation of all those hurting people across the world that I wanted, and if I could die a martyr and convert many to Christ, my life would be worth something.
 
And then I found out none of that was true. I read a lot, and asked a lot of questions, and all of my questions had answers that got me into trouble with Christians. A lot. Answers like, does Paul’s use of the word “scripture” when he says “all scripture is God-breathed” refer to the 66-book Protestant canon, or the Catholic version, which includes the Apocrypha? The answer is neither! And there are hundreds of options for that multiple-choice question! The truth is we have no fucking clue because they were letters from an underground movement that treasured the voices of its political martyrs under the tyranny of some sick bastards who liked conquering and torturing people. Kinda like our leadership of the world today. But I digress.
 
Anyway, it got worse: not only was I disenfranchised with Christianity, I fell in love with a man who’d never known the country I grew up in – white, privileged, conservative sister-mom that I was for the first 23 years of my life. The emotional abuse and physical exhaustion of being a caretaker for all that time has taken its toll, but I learned that while I was spanked and I feared corporal punishment, I was not a homeless child, like 2.5 million children today. I was not stripped and beaten mercilessly by my caretakers, or kept in chains. I was the golden child to narcissist parents, not a scapegoat, until I rebelled. I had seen America through the lens of white supremacy – an embellished history was taught by my only two teachers I ever had, mom and dad. We came here, there were a few indigenous people around, we politely asked them to move, slavery was like a thing that happened forever ago and what wow look over here no questions about how they got here in the first place, industry! Schools! Labor! Work yourself to death and don’t ask why!
 
Also I was taught absolutely nothing K-12 about world history except if it was about convincing an already politically conservative parent in my sheltered little world that Israel was cool and Russia was like a thing to present policies about. But the truth is, debate was the perfect place to hide for HUNDREDS of parents who wanted to get away with “encouraging critical thinking” among their Christian children. And it fucking worked. To this day, for every one person I know who has risked everything they had – their status, their community, their access, their very survival – to come out as LGBTAIQ+ or to come out as non-religious. And yes, I include that, because I’m looking at you, too, white privileged moderate liberal able-bodied (and even Christian/religious) gays and lesbians and bi/pan people who want to wave from floats at Pride but won’t think to ask if your privilege is still built on a system of genocide against people who don’t look like you.
 
I am not always going to be perfect at judging situations, communicating what I really want to say, and being inclusive. I know for a fact that I’m so damn naive from all the being-sheltered that I am racist. It’s okay to admit that, because I sometimes repeat things that I didn’t know was inappropriate, and am called out by a person of color to check myself.
 
I can be self-confident and grow amazingly and exponentially! If only you knew! I want to tell you all about the wonder of the universe, how I have learned that I am made from the dust of stars, not placed on this spot of land by an equally sadistic and apparently benevolent creator. I can actually recognize and accept WHY life is meaningless, and that’s amazing! How lucky we are to live in such a time as this, with such access to knowledge!
 
But I cannot tell you, because you’ve said, “I’m praying for you,” “I want reconciliation between you and your parents,” “I don’t trust you not to spend money on something I don’t approve of,” or simply left me on read for years in messenger because you cannot bear to unfriend me. I cannot share the wonders of the whole universe, literally, with you, because the wall between us is that you insist that your white privilege is something you deserve, not something you inherited from violent ancestors who TO THIS DAY still own all of the shit they stole and destroyed. The slaves and poor of those days are now in prisons and dependent on wages to survive, and you have the audacity to believe that your job or your access or your family’s wealth fell into your lap, because you’re afraid to grapple with the fact that the little voice in your head that you think is God is just random neurons firing off in a brain that evolved in an animal.
 
That fear is your betrayal. You would rather live well and give to charity than demand justice for the poor and destitute in Flint, across the world where we are depleting resources and bombing innocents, much less admit that MAYBE GOD IS NOT PUNISHING ME, MAYBE THIS COULD HAPPEN TO ANYONE, AND YOU DIRECTLY BENEFIT FROM HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS.
 
The utter irony is that your faith literally demands that you be willing to sacrifice all this for the sake of Christ. If you love your family more than me – welp, good thing your family’s all Christian! Whoo! Wouldn’t want to think about going down that road.
 
I long for there to be union between us, as humans. But you are not willing to admit the full reality of what the United States of America is – a short-lived experiment in which white people kill everybody, feast atop their corpses, and then wonder why they’ll still die once they’ve destroyed everything.
 
If you are selling your soul to a corporate enterprise because you have access to opportunities that many other people don’t, think very seriously about what it means to be a white Christian in this country. You may be simply clinging to God because Yahweh spells White Privilege to you. And if you are marginalized and you believe in God, I will ask: can you honestly say that this religion, if true, isn’t highly convenient for reinforcing this colonial madness that has wreaked havoc on this once-flourishing land?
 
Final note: there are exceptions, as always. If you are an exception, you know it already. But I implore you to think about what your faith does for you, and continue the good work you’re doing in distributing resources. I don’t have the energy to go into the whole question of how this applies to all religions, but right now Christians are the ones killing Muslims, and Israel is not synonymous with Judaism but that country is also killing Muslims. Therefore my biggest gripe is with Christianity because that was my experience, and it’s the bully in the world right now.

The Cost of Living

This is part 4 of a series on economic injustice. Click here to read from the beginning.

We used to play pretend, give each other different names, We would build a rocket ship and then we’d fly it far away, Used to dream of outer space but now they’re laughing at our face, Saying, “wake up, you need to make money.” –Twenty-One Pilots, Stressed Out

I am at the doctor’s office. The small building provides mental health care and basic physical exams. Every meeting with my therapist was in a different room, they never know which ones will be available. The doctor’s office is the size of a closet, which she kindly leaves open so my partner can sit outside the door and listen, because it’s too small for three people to sit in. When I get to the counter, they say that’ll be $10. Because I have no reportable income, it’s the lowest price they can offer, but I cannot pay for my blood tests and therapy sessions. For the umpteenth time, I explain that I’ve filled out all the forms indicating that I can’t spare even ten dollars. The woman behind the desk says not to worry – she’ll add it to my eventual bill. An intern in scrubs looks up and asks me, “But how do you survive?”

I gave him a frustrated look, and held up the grocery bags I’d just been handed, featuring some nonperishables. “Well, I’m eating food pantry food, for starters.” I said. My energy reserves were too low to let out a biting remark about how need doesn’t make money magically appear, and staying alive literally just means not dying.

Each bill must be paid as soon as enough money comes in for it, and I have many various sources – generous gifts from friends and supportive strangers, whatever freelance jobs I can scrounge together online, and pawning our old beat-up Xbox 360 and thrift store TV. Last month’s rent and late fees, plus the bills we were behind on, were paid with every last penny of my tax return. When I work “real jobs,” I burn out so quickly from chronic pain and cognitive dissonance that it has never been steady income for my entire adult life.

To truly examine how failure to be independent is inevitable in this system, it will be necessary to discuss the cost of living, what it takes to afford being alive, and how profit is exacted from the poor.

The federal government relies on poverty thresholds and guidelines developed by the Census Bureau and Department of Health and Human Services to determine financial eligibility for benefits. [1] One of the most staggering findings of my research for this article is that HHS has used the same calculations for the cost of living since 1963, only adjusted for price changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).[2] The Bureau of Labor Statistics is fairly transparent about its methods for calculating the CPI, but any average consumer would be shocked to know how outdated – and, frankly, lazy – the process is. According to their own FAQ page, each year the CPI is based on figures already a few years old (emphasis mine):

“The CPI market basket is developed from detailed expenditure information provided by families and individuals on what they actually bought. There is a time lag between the expenditure survey and its use in the CPI. For example, CPI data in 2016 and 2017 was based on data collected from the Consumer Expenditure Surveys for 2013 and 2014. In each of those years, about 24,000 consumers from around the country provided information each quarter on their spending habits in the interview survey. To collect information on frequently purchased items, such as food and personal care products, another 12,000 consumers in each of these years kept diaries listing everything they bought during a 2-week period.”[3]

So it’s based on surveys, only of urban populations, and an average is calculated based on that. This causes so much confusion in those who bother to check the methodology behind the CPI that the Bureau has a fact sheet titled “Why the Published Averages Don’t Always Match An Individual’s Inflation Experience.”[4]

The calculation for the cost of living was established with imprecise figures due to limited statistical research. Notably, it was based on pre-tax income for after-tax expenses.[5] At the time that it was developed in 1963, the poverty threshold for one person’s annual income was $1,539. The US Federal poverty guidelines in 2018 put the new poverty line (for one person in a year) at $12,140[6]. That’s just an inflation number – just short of the Inflation Calculator’s estimate that $1,539 in the year 1963 is equivalent in purchasing power to $12,311.30.[7] It fails to account for the changes in markets and necessities, based on a time before Internet and the necessity to have cell phone service in order to secure a job. It also doesn’t vary geographically.[8]

In 1996, Dr. Diana Pearce developed what she called “The Self-Sufficiency Standard,” an estimate adjusted by location to determine how much people need to make to survive. This is updated regularly and regionally, and accounts for an actual cost of living budget. Pearce describes it this way (see the previous footnote for full article):

The Self-Sufficiency Standard specifies for job trainers and other policymakers working at the local level what the minimum you need is for food, housing, child care, transportation, health care and miscellaneous expenses. It also takes into account taxes, net of tax credits.

The costs of those expenses vary by where you live and your family composition — how many adults, plus the number and age of children. But it does not include any public or private assistance; it does not take into account help from food stamps or food banks. Instead, the Standard tells you how much it will cost you to buy your own groceries and pay your own rent or leave your children in the care of a licensed child care provider.

At the same time, the Standard represents the lowest amount still adequate: rent and utilities are set at the level families with housing assistance receive, as is the level for child care. The food budget includes no takeout or restaurant food, not even a pizza or a cup of coffee. There is no allowance for savings, recreation, entertainment or education.

As of 2018, the United States government recognizes a family of four as being in poverty if they make $25,100 or less.[9] The average actual living wage, calculated with Pearce’s method for the same family size, is $66,842.[10]

Guess how many Americans are making a living wage according to the self-sufficiency standard.

17 percent.[11] The rest of us are living a no-frills lifestyle.

For me to make more than $66,842 per year, I’d have to be in the top 2% of white millennial women with some college education. $50k would completely eliminate my debt, bring my credit score up, give me the stability to cover living costs for at least several months, and I could get a car that is capable of making lengthy trips. And still have enough left over to save and invest in my creative endeavors.

This massive difference between what the US federal government recognizes as poverty raises questions about why the calculation methods haven’t been updated. Only minor revisions have taken place, the last one having happened in 1981. Why?

I’m going to take an educated guess based on my experience with filling out more forms than I can count, talking to more callous government workers than I can remember, to prove that I am poor, to prove that I cannot work, to prove that I am a human being with a right to eat and sleep with a roof over my head: they don’t care.

The numbers are skewed and outdated, and they know it. To admit that human beings simply cannot provide for themselves with what it is possible for most Americans to earn would require some honesty. These are just a few of the skewed statistics – another is the one that overlooks the fact that minimum-wage earners are often also part-time workers, making their overall income even less than the assumption of full-time hours. [12]  It still makes the bottom line of low unemployment rates look far, far better than they actually are.[13]

Anyone in the United States who is failing to meet the standards of self-sufficiency is a problem for the monetary republic. Profit is king, and anyone who isn’t working enough to make enough for whatever reason is a rusty cog in the machine.

The in-depth research in this article was made possible by my Patreon supporters.


Sources Cited:

[1] https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

[2] https://aspe.hhs.gov/frequently-asked-questions-related-poverty-guidelines-and-poverty#developed

[3] https://www.bls.gov/cpi/questions-and-answers.htm#Question_2

[4] https://www.bls.gov/cpi/factsheets/averages-and-individual-experiences-differ.htm

[5] https://www.ssa.gov/history/fisheronpoverty.html#33

[6] https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

[7] http://www.in2013dollars.com/1963-dollars-in-2017?amount=1539

[8] https://www.pbs.org/newshour/economy/how-much-is-enough

[9] https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

[10] http://livingwage.mit.edu/articles/27-new-data-up-calculation-of-the-living-wage

[11] http://graphics.wsj.com/what-percent/

[12] https://www.advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/2017/02/06/the-ratio-of-part-time-employed-remains-high-but-improving

[13] https://tradingeconomics.com/united-states/employed-persons

Cheaper by the Proxy: Why the Majority of Abuse Victims Don’t Escape

“A dancing puppet doll made of wood
I bet he’d run away one day if he could choose to leave or stay
He’s got a string attached to every bone
She’s got him round her little finger so she’ll never feel alone…” –Aurora, Puppet

I was originally going to write today about nutritional abuse and the development of my eating disorder, and the recovery foods and diet that have helped me. But for the past hour, I’ve been glued to a story with even more complexities than my own, but seems familiar in so many ways. And this is going to be very difficult to talk about, because food, sustenance, survival, health, medical care, and bodily autonomy are so universally interconnected to our identities and to politics that it’s an emotional maze to get an essay outline to lay flat.

The story I’ve been reading isn’t particularly new, and there was a documentary about it released last summer called “Mommy Dead and Dearest.” In 2015, DeeDee Blanchard was murdered because her daughter had asked someone to kill her. Gypsy Rose had been forced to feign multiple illnesses, under threat of a violently abusive and controlling mother. Experts differ on whether Munchausen by Proxy is a real mental illness, and many victims have little to prove their claims. But this case is so extreme that there is little room for doubt: DeeDee had been lying to everyone, using her daughter’s “illness” to get attention and praise for her seemingly loving self-sacrificing duties as a mother of a disabled child.

The abuse is shocking. Gypsy was confined to a wheelchair shortly after her parents split. She was removed from school, “homeschooled to take care of her.” Her birth certificate was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, so her mother had the opportunity to lie about her age, making people think she was younger than she really was. Her mother shaved her head to convince people she had cancer. Her teeth rotted out, and it’s unclear how exactly that happened, but it was an excuse to give her an unnecessary feeding tube. She then used this tube to torture her daughter, depriving her of normal food, and refusing to feed her for days at a time when she was angry. She was beaten and threatened, and when she had tried to escape, her mother smashed all her electronics with a hammer and threatened to the same to her fingers if she tried to leave again. Their house was constantly a hoarder-level mess, except for her carefully labeled walk-in pantry of medicines. Today, Gypsy is serving a ten-year sentence for the second-degree murder of her mother, but she is thriving and healthy, there is color in her face, and her once-bald head has grown long dark locks. Prison has been better for her than her own mother ever was.

This story is shocking because it has so many different types of abuse involved. But it does not surprise me. This mother was able to torture her child for more than twenty years because our society overlooks every red flag. These cases are not unheard of. This January, the Turpin family was discovered hiding 13 children, ages 2 to 29, in their home, also using violence, starvation, torture, and chains as means of control. In May, the Allen-Rogers family was discovered torturing their ten children. And in a heartbreaking case that reveals LGBTAIQ+ people are not immune, a homeschool mother drove her wife and their adopted children off of a cliff, killing them all, in March.

Abuse comes in as many different types as there are people who are hurting and are looking for a proxy to take it out on, instead of dealing with their own pain. It happens in many kinds of relationships, not just parents and children. Munchausen by Proxy is hard to identify, because the caregiver (parent or guardian, in most cases it is the mother), comes across as doting, loving, charming, tender, and likable. They make people believe in what a wonderful person they are, for taking care of their sick child, or making unnecessary sacrifices for them, like quitting their jobs to spend more time with them.

Illness and disability is easy to exploit because medical professionals genuinely care, and will listen to the mother, especially if the mother lies and says her child can’t talk, like DeeDee did. It is also easy to hide abuse in plain sight – taking both support and sympathy for something others cannot question without looking like a heartless person who can’t see clearly how very very sick their poor child is.

Children will look right into a camera and smile brightly when they are in a terrifyingly violent or controlling situation. Gypsy is 26 years old – my age. She asked someone to murder her mother in 2015, just a little after I was ostracized from my own family. I never considered murdering my parents, but I definitely felt the need to escape. Lurking beneath these similarities, there is more: my mother has many cupboards filled with meticulously organized medicines. The one in the kitchen is overflowing with countless vitamins, prescriptions, drugs, alcohol, ointments, band-aids, and many bottles of liquid homeopathic remedies, essential oils, and sugar pills.

In the case of my parents, my father is the narcissist, but my mother uses illness to keep control. I’ve been informed that they are still acting as if I am nothing more than a wayward child who wanted to live at home longer, even though they generously provided me with a place to live until the age of 21. Nobody needs the small details that they drained our bank accounts and refused to sign paperwork to help us get an apartment, then started yelling at us about not moving out already. We had to seek shelter from friends at a moment’s notice, with no way to pay them, nor did we have rides to our part-time jobs and my college classes. It had never occurred to me to leave, I was too busy trying to work four jobs including childcare and keeping laundry and dishes done and somehow have time for my homework that nobody had ever taught me how to do. Besides, I had never had sex, and was still waiting for my prince charming to come along, who would want to marry me. 

My parents have always wanted to be in front of the camera, so they’ve made their own little brand around it. Their shared need for attention is what keeps my dad blogging, my mom mothering, and both of them united on breeding by the dozen. My siblings are not vaccinated, we’ve been prayed over to heal injuries and illnesses, and homeopathic remedies are praised right next to teachings about being a submissive wife. Have as many babies as possible, make them sick, and keep them dependent. That was how my parents thought the concept of love should be expressed, and it’s why so many of my adult siblings still haven’t left. It hasn’t occurred to them to leave.

Demonizing me, and seeing how much my life sucks without the family, makes the threat of losing their family enough to keep control. That’s just how scapegoating works, it’s nothing new. But for people who have not known what it means to be trapped well into adulthood, being worn down and unable to say, “Can we stop with the having so many babies thing?” 

As if I would say it. Ha! The thought would never even form itself in my mind – I firmly believed that having as many children as possible, because I didn’t know how birth control worked, was God’s way, and I would have to endure the pain of childbirth over a dozen times, as my mother had. I would smile, chuckle, and say to my friends, “I’m not afraid of childbirth!” But the truth was that I was well acquainted with enduring pain quietly, so a life of raising a brood of my own was something I tried not to think about. Besides, I had never met my future husband, and it was sinful to think about sex or reproduction, so I did my best to distract myself from sinful thoughts by keeping myself busy. The devil makes work for idle hands, and I had practically memorized the rulebook for womanhood, Proverbs 31. Many of the people I know actually got married with these expectations. I am so very lucky that I escaped before I could follow through with trusting my parents to choose a spouse for me, and pressure me into having children, on my own to figure out how to communicate sexually with a new person.

This is the norm! We have also come a long way since just a century or two ago, arranged marriages were quite common. But we know about consent now. It should come as no surprise that it’s an all-or-nothing thing in the public eye: most victims don’t escape. We’ll never hear about the ones who didn’t make it, or know how many of the people close to us are keeping their child sick at home, or controlling those bright smiles with some horrible form of control behind the scenes. In the Christian world, the Duggars are highly respected because they have never had a child rebel. To lose a child to the ways of the world is an incredible shame for parents, and my own parents have often described it to me as the worst pain ever, when it was my sisters in the cold seat instead of me. But the fact that the Duggars have not lost any children – Josh is still considered a Christian, so he’s forgiven for whatever happened between their kids when they were younger.

But not a single Duggar has decried Christianity, ATI, or even bothered to cut their hair. They are trapped in front of cameras, still being milked for entertainment. To my parents, that’s a point for them. To me, it’s a point against – those parental puppet-strings must be lodged pretty deep into those kids to ensure that not a single one questions the faith.

That is why victims don’t escape – adults and children alike can be victimized, you would never know who is being threatened, beaten, screamed at, sickened, or raped in their own homes. It’s nearly impossible to think your own thoughts when you are constantly on edge, constantly being questioned, constantly being watched. The exhaustion of constantly being worn down with physical abuse, combined often with a distribution of power that resembles master and servant. The victim serves the abuser, does a majority of the work, and has no right to complain about it, or they’ll suffer dire consequences. The parent-child relationship is just one of perhaps billions of types of relationships.

I refuse to have a proxy for processing the trauma of my own childhood. That is why I am childless right now. I am choosing not to have children because I know I am not mentally stable enough to model emotionally intelligent behavior. I want to learn how to relate to my own childhood, seeking professional help as I go, so I know I will not lash out at my children, letting them endure the brunt of my unprocessed anger, grief, and need to inflict pain on the nearest person in my vicinity. I don’t want to have to apologize to my child for not being able to control myself, though I know it would be ridiculous to expect perfection from myself. And when I am ready to have a little human, maybe I’ll adopt. I don’t know. But I’m not trying to outpopulate any demographic, like conservatives do.

I don’t really know how to end this post, except to maybe link to my favorite TED talk about it.

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