Saturday, May 16, 2015

Why I Hate Mother's Day and Father's Day

On these days when I see most people praising their parents and reliving wonderful, loving memories, I spend the day with unhappy thoughts and feelings.  I grieve for the relationships that could have been - the relationships I craved and never had.

My parents were very emotionally abusive.  My memories are of being told I'd never amount to anything, being told I couldn't do anything right, being shamed and humiliated in public.  My mother told me she wished she'd never had me, that I was a disappointment.  When I was six years old, she told me she would leave me because I was so bad.  I spent the rest of my childhood terrified that she'd leave.  I still try to think of what I did that was so bad that my own parents couldn't love me.

I grew up believing that I was just born unworthy.  I was born bad.  I couldn't figure out how I was worse than the other kids so I believed that it was just something inside of me.  Nothing I ever did was good enough.  I was always compared to other kids and they were always so much better.  My mother even told me she wished she had had them instead of me.  She told me she wished she had had another daughter because I was such a big disappointment.  She told me she had had such high hopes for me, but I turned out to be such a disappointment.  She would go out of her way to hurt me.  She would and does say spiteful, mean-hearted things just to make me feel bad about myself.

My father was just a raging drunk.  Nothing was ever good enough for him either.  He screamed and yelled and threw things.

I walked on eggshells because I never knew from one moment to the next what would set them off.  I suffer from major anxiety and depression today because if it.  I still don't believe I'm good enough for anything.

There are no good times in my memory.  Everything is overshadowed by the complaints and bitching - the screaming and yelling.  Nothing was ever good enough.  There was no joy, no laughter, no warm moments.

My father's been dead for many years.  I don't miss him.  I grieve for the things that could have been, but I do not miss what was.

My mother is still here and the thing about her is, she's a master at hiding who she really is.  Her friends and other family members think she's such a wonderful and beautiful human being.  They never saw what went on behind closed doors and would probably have a hard time believing it if I told them.

Mother's Day and Father's Day come with the assumption that if you've had a child, somehow that makes you a great parent.  The fact is, there are some really rotten parents out there.  Just because one can reproduce, it does not mean that one is exceptional.

I get the obligatory Mother's Day gift for my mother every year because I would be guilted and shamed if I didn't.  I resent having to do that.  I just want to hand it to her and say "Here. You're a mother."  That's about it.  I went through the same thing when my father was alive.

So as I see my friends posting pictures of their mothers and fathers on social media and remembering warm and loving family moments, I sit with tears in my eyes still craving something that I'll never have.

Forgiveness?  No, I'm not there yet.  I will never believe that they did the best they could.  I will never believe they put any effort into being good parents.  The only times they "tried" were when other people were watching.  We always had to be conscious of what others saw and thought.

So, for those of you that have less than stellar Mother's Days and Father's Days, you are not alone.  I have no answers, no comfort.  I only have empathy and solidarity.

I read another article on emotionally abusive mothers that really hit home with me after I wrote this one.  You can find it here.

An article on narcissistic parenting can be found here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Response to Dr. Gaspar

Doing Something
 In Order That Evil Does Not Prevail
My Answer to the Question: Should We Forgive Kristen Lindsey?

By Lori Kory

"All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing" Edmund Burke.

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who do evil, but because of the people who do nothing about it." Albert Einstein.

I died while I was playing. The day was April 17, of 2015. My name is Tiger. I was an orange kitty cat and I liked to ride on tractors and play in the bushes.   I didn’t know it was going to happen.  I didn’t know it could happen really.  I just went for a walk.  I saw some butterflies in a big pretty bush and ran in to chase them.  I know I wasn’t supposed to leave my yard, but hey, I’m a cat.  I am mischievous and sometimes I just want to explore.  I was in the flower bushes and I saw a happy lady.  I was excited because my buddy had said a vet lived in the yard with the pretty flowers.  She was smiling and walking toward me.  I just knew she had a treat for me and I ran up to her.  I was looking forward to some pats.  She was smiling when she shot me.  All I could feel was blinding pain.  I hurt so badly I peed all over myself.  Through my pain ridden haze I felt her pick me up.  She was going to help me.  She was a vet.  But she was laughing and held me by my neck.  I could see her out of the corner of my eyes.  My breathing was getting hard and I could hear a rattle in my chest.  Another laughing lady was taking pictures.  It was too late when I realized that I was what they were laughing at.  They thought my pain was funny.  They thought my death rattle was music. I was so scared and I just wanted my human mommy and daddy.  Can anybody tell me what I did wrong?  Why did the laughing lady hurt me?  Why did she kill me? Does anybody know?

Tiger the cat died a horrible and unnecessary death at the hands of a human he was supposed to be able to trust.  He did nothing wrong.  Except perhaps trust the wrong person.   As far back as our history goes atrocities have been committed at the hands of the most capable animal on our planet.  We, as human beings, should be the protectors of our world.  We are blessed with intelligence, capability and opposable thumbs!  Why then can we find so many cases of cruelty, atrocities, and inhumane actions, ranging from worldwide events like the Holocaust that shake the world to its core to the more common serial killers that we propel to fame to the everyday sociopath that shoots a cat through the head for no reason other than entertainment?  Whatever the reason, it is clear that evil walks among us.  Evil that returns time after time always in a new disguise. Big or small, we have never been able to cure the human race of its dark presence. Author Stephen King said it best when he said “Monsters are real.  Ghosts are real too.  They live inside of us.  And sometimes they win.”  

Luckily, we have the power to combat those very monsters.  We, as the human race, are also blessed with a thing called conscience. Our conscience drives our ability to distinguish right from wrong, to make good choices, it gives us the power to do good, and make the world a better place.  We also have the ability to take a stand and call for action.  The quotes above from both Burke and Einstein are two of my favorite because they call for us to empower ourselves and stand up for what is right.  They call for us not to tolerate the monsters and the evil.  They are really telling us to grow some cojones and do something to prevent the growth and spread of evil!  I take the position that those of us horrified at the senseless death of Tiger the cat and pushing for consequences to be levied at Ms. Lindsey are taking a stand for the greater good.  That our outrage is not about a mistake.  Ms. Lindsey’s actions were not about an “oopsie I goofed” situation.  Not even about a horrific decision that was not meant to cause harm but did. This outcry in support of a little orange cat named Tiger is about people doing something.  It is about people that do not want to live in a dangerous world and have decided that the good, instead of evil, should prevail.  

In an article titled “Can we forgive Kristen Lindsey” by Dr. Gaspar the author asks us to contemplate the real meaning of compassion. She asks some thought provoking questions about our own compassion and humanity. I am writing this in order to answer those questions from my point of view.

Dr. Gaspar, you ask if we should forgive Kristen Lindsey.  You imply that our compassion is conditional.  You state that all people have biases (agreed) and ask that we consider the fact that, in spite of not liking cats, could Ms. Lindsey have not been a caring vet.  You ask that if by revoking her license to practice, being condemned by her Alma matter, and facing possible criminal charges we are demanding too much and going too far.  You question our reaction and horror to the situation and you question our compassion and ethics. I have pondered those points and I am going to give you the answers, as I see them, to those questions. 

While I do agree with the premise of your article, I do not agree that the points pertain to the Kristen Lindsey situation.  While I do believe that forgiveness, redemption and rehabilitation are ideologies that can make us and our world a better place, are in fact the very things that our humanity is built on, I also believe they have to be tempered by logic and reasoning and accountability. 

I contend that Tiger’s advocates are shining examples of people that have decided killing, torturing and playing with your prey is not to be tolerated in our society.  It is not just animal advocates that are horrified.  People that do not even like cats are horrified.  Hunters are horrified.  Society is horrified.  This is not just about the killing of an animal.  It is about standing up for basic humanity.  This is about stopping an evil before it grows any bigger.  While one little cat seems irrelevant and excusable to some people it is with great joy that I see so many people finding their voices.  Because I know these same people will also have voices in other situations.  That future evil will have a harder time existing in our world.

The basis of my message is this - If we tolerate bad behavior in children they get worse.  (I know I have three.)  This is true of adults too.  If we turn the other cheek people that do bad, horrible, evil things then know they can get away with their behaviors.  It gets easier for them. It seems not so bad.  They escalate. This happens because they interpret our silence for approval, or at the very least validation that their behaviors are normal and acceptable.  They get confident in their actions.  They practice. 
No, our compassion is not conditional.  People like us – people that you are implying only have compassion intermittently, people you imply do not really exhibit true compassion, ethics, and morals because our sympathies are directed at an abused cat instead of an abusive human, well we take the position that our compassion and sympathies are directed exactly where they should be.  I find it curious that you view people like me, those of us standing against a horrible action, with a certain amount of cynicism and have not so subtly questioned our ethics.

Let me put it in black and white here.  It was heartbreaking and frightening to see an animal suffer and a human ADULT finding it entertainment. To have this intolerable behavior posted in celebration for all of us and our children to see was shocking.  It is heartbreaking to see, read about, and just to know about hurt, homeless and lost humans…or dogs…or cats.  It turns my stomach to see a fur coat.  It breaks my heart to look into the eyes of a homeless man or woman. It makes me sad when any living being is in pain. And pain that does not have to happen is intolerable to people like us.  People like me, and the thousands that you are questioning, try to do our best. Is our best enough?  Not usually, but we try.   We give money to the homeless man on the corner.  We teach our children to do the same.  When people question our logic we tell them - maybe he will spend the money on liquor but hey, if I had to sleep in the woods in the rain I might too. We are proud when our kids ask if they can invite the homeless man into Subway and sit at a table and eat with us. We are proud when he tells us that it was so nice someone talked to him.  That most people will not look at him and he gets lonely. We want our children to keep doing that.  It is not arbitrary.  It is the way we try in our small little ways to make the world a better place.  We rescue hurt animals, we volunteer in shelters, churches, and with rescue organizations.  We teach our children to do the same. 

Apparently it works because I myself have a 13 year old that not only helped a college student and myself lift a hurt baby deer out of the road but sat with it while we drove to a rehabilitation facility and cried when he died on the way. In the past year she has:
 1.  Adopted a dog from the shelter using her own babysitting money on the day she went down to donate 100 dollars to that same shelter that she had made organizing and running a cupcake stand in front of our vets one Saturday.
 2.  Used more of her babysitting money to adopt an abused breeder dog from a rescue.
 3.  Paid for their vet bills.
 4.  Got done babysitting one day and on the drive home gave her entire 50 dollars to the homeless veteran on the side of the road. (And no we are by no means even close to being wealthy).

I have an 11 year old son who rescued two kittens that had been dumped.  They now sleep in his top bunk.  He and his 11 year old friend rescued an old stray cat and went to say goodbye and comfort her at our vets because she was so full of disease that our vet ,who does love all animals, (Yes, I know him and his wife personally)  could not help her.  But that eleven year old boy walked in and patted her and told her everything would be ok before she had to go. 

My 16 year old rescued a lost lab running the neighborhood.  (Yep, my house is full of furry strays.). Please notice the ages of these rescuers, the oldest being a college student.  These children, who have more empathy (not to mention sense) in their dirty little toenails then Kristen Lindsey will ever be able to have.  You see, soulless cannot be fixed, it has to be dealt with.  This brings me to my next point.   
People like us are upset about what Kristen Lindsey CHOSE AS AN ADULT to do.  She CHOSE to commit and celebrate this heinous act.  Kristen Lindsey could have CHOSEN to be like my 11 year old son and his friend when they picked up that hurt old cat and did the best that their 11 year old selves could to be kind and helpful.  Instead she saw a lost cat and used it as a chance to play monster.    

Our compassion is not conditional, however it flows in the direction that it is needed.  You state that there are some cases of behavior that are so heinous they cannot be forgiven.  You mention child abuse.  I completely agree.  However, I am curious that as a vet yourself, do you not find the intentional and malicious killing of anything or anyone in that category?  I would guess by reading your article that you are a moral and ethical person yourself.  That you are caring and asking thought provoking questions for the greater good.  That you are not condoning Ms. Lindsey’s actions. That you want all of us to do better.  But here’s the thing – causing and reveling in the pain and suffering of any animal, whether it is one you like or do not like is reprehensible.  To use your own words how can you define such “callous disregard for life” as basically “boo boo” or “oopsie”?  You ask if we do not think that Ms. Lindsey feels bad about her actions and wishes she had made a different choice.  You admonish us for not giving her a chance to apologize and state you believe she wishes she could go back in time. Hellooooooo (channeling my inner teenager here) DID YOU NOT LOOK AT HER FACE?  Not only was she not sorry as she listened to the death rattle that was most certainly happening as she held up a dying animal she was excited and happy and celebrating.  I ask you what part of that picture makes you think she wants to apologize or change or be redeemed?  I am quite sure she would like to go back in time but I doubt that if she did Tiger’s story would end up any happier.  She would simply shoot the cat, show it only to her friends, and not post the picture.  Therein lies the real issue.  It is not the picture that is the main problem.  It is the actions and her complete happiness at said actions.  It is the look of pride on her face as she holds up that animal with complete disregard for its suffering and it is the mind blowing fact that she thought that the rest of the world would applaud her. This behavior smacks on a sociopathic and narcissistic personality.  Personality traits that do not lend themselves to being either redeemed or rehabilitated. You mention that we have not heard her side of the story or given her a chance to apologize.  I am curious what could possibly be said?  Could she say she thought it was a feral cat?  So was the cat my son saved.  As were the kittens that now sleep in his top bunk.  What would she apologize for?  The posting?  As I mentioned before that posting is not the problem.  It is indicative of the problem.  The problem is that she enjoys watching things die, she celebrates a living beings pain.  She cannot apologize away that look of joy and excitement. She cannot explain away her exhilaration the cat's suffering gave her.  They are what they are.  And they are frightening.

Kristen Lindsey does need help, of that I am certain.  She very likely needs professional help but in the meantime she has exhibited a love and aptitude for killing.  She enjoyed watching that cat die.  That is scary. You see, as loathsome as killing an unsuspecting, nonthreatening being is, that was not the worst and most concerning issue.  It was that she enjoyed the dying process.  That she felt nothing but joy while holding up a suffering animal.  You feel that we should we feel sympathy for her in that she might lose her license, was fired, and might face criminal charges.  You imply that we should feel guilty and do some soul searching.  You question if we are truly compassionate. You imply that we are complacent in ruining her life.

 Let me be very clear.  We did not ruin her life, if indeed it is ruined.  We did not put that arrow in her bow.  We did not pull that string back slowly.  We did not carefully take aim.  We did not shoot Tiger.  We did not do a happy dance with a dying animal in our hands.  Ms. Lindsey did.  We did not ruin her life.  She did that all by her grown up, well-educated adult self.  She has absolutely no one to blame for her current situation but herself.  She is reaping the consequences of her actions.  I cannot speak for the masses, but yes, I absolutely believe she has earned these consequences for her behavior.  Yes, I believe I am completely logical and have directed my compassion in the direction that is in need of it. No, I absolutely do not think that makes me biased or unfair or misguided.   Should I feel sorry for my children when they misbehave and earn their consequences?  No.They are learning. They chose to misbehave and they earned their consequence.  Should I feel sympathy for a criminal who raped a sixteen year old?  No. I’ll save that for his victim.  You see, some actions require sympathy and compassion.  Some actions require consequences.  Tiger that cat requires sympathy.  Kristen Lindsey requires consequences.  Tiger was innocent and unsuspecting.  Kristen was intent, purposeful and malicious.  This is where the difference comes in.  Do we all feel sympathy at times for someone that makes a bad choice?  Yes, of course.  And, we all make bad choices.  But it is the caliber and specific action and reaction of the individual after the choice is made that dictates where sympathy and compassion are directed.  Ms. Lindsey did not take the cat to the vet and have its pain go away as my eleven year old did.  She posted her celebration of his slow and agonizing death on Facebook like my 13 year old would post her birthday party.  Getting the difference yet?  With any luck her consequence, like we hope the consequences we give our children, will teach her a lesson.  I do not think she will suddenly develop a conscience or get over her self-professed love of killing things. That is, most likely, a genetic flaw. We can, however, hope that she will reign in her violent behaviors. Hopefully she will not take aim with a bow and arrow in her back yard again. That would be my hope anyway. Do you think you might feel differently if Tiger had been in those bushes with a child?  If that arrow had missed its intended target and found a different one?  You see, when our cat escapes my son runs right behind him to bring him back.  He crawls into our neighbors bushes to pull him out. As luck would have it, my neighbors are animal lovers themselves and refrain from shooting deadly weapons in their back yard.  We cannot know but there is every possibility that because of our reaction and her consequences a different life, or lives, have been saved. 
Forgiveness, rehabilitation, compassion?  She is, as you stated a 31 year old, well educated, clinically mature adult.  She made a choice to cause pain.  She had fun causing pain.  She was proud she caused pain.  She celebrated causing pain.  The public uproar, the loss of her job and the revocation of her medical license are simply natural consequences for her heinous behavior.  It is not lack of sympathy or empathy or personal bias or misdirected compassion that has people like me calling for action.  It is the opposite.   You ask us if the compassion we “purport to have” extends to Kristen Lindsey.  I ask you why it should. Empathy requires me to understand and feel what she felt.  I am happy to say that is an impossibility.  What has she done that evokes sympathy or compassion?  She willingly and knowingly laughed as an animal slowly died. She did not make a mistake.  She did not slip and accidentally stick her arrow through that cats head. You imply that we are less than authentic for not feeling compassion for a 30 something woman that made a conscious and intentional decision and was proud of it. Wait for it…this is the catch – rehabilitation and redemption require regret of your actions.  Not only was there no regret there was celebration. She was so proud that she bragged about it. Do I feel compassion for her receiving the consequences to her intolerable behaviors?  Not at all. My compassion and will be directed to the victims of our society, my forgiveness to people that really did make a mistake and regretted it the instant it was done.  My blessings for redemption and rehabilitation will be directed to people who want to change because they regret their behavior and they themselves feel empathy toward whoever or whatever they hurt.  I will not apologize for, or feel that I have been less than honest, for having the opinion that Ms. Lindsey deserves these consequences for her actions. Here is what I tell my children – If you make a bad choice you will get a bad consequence.  If you make a good choice you will get a good consequence.   She made a bad choice.  She is getting her consequence and yes she deserves them. There is no “purporting” going on. No need for the sarcastic quotations.  I stand strongly and proudly that I make compassionate, intelligent, fair, and sympathetic decisions.

I (and people like me) will not apologize for taking a stand against the evil in our midst.  I will not be made to feel that I am somehow in the wrong.  Quite frankly, I do not want to be the good person that does nothing.  

Even more surprising, is the thought process that you have when you ask if a vet is less a vet if they do not like some animals.  Here is my answer– YES, IT MAKES THEM LESS A VET IF THEY DO NOT LIKE SOME ANIMALS.  If a teacher didn’t like boy children would it make them less a teacher?  Yep.  If a pediatrician did not like girl children would it make them less of a pediatrician?  Yep.  Because you see, when you enter the veterinarian profession you realize you will be dealing with all kinds of animals. You realize you are in the business of helping animals.  So, no, I do not want a vet that kills cats.  I do not want a pediatrician that abuses children, I do not want a fireman that is a pyromaniac and I do not want a policeman that is a control freak.   Lori 101 – if you don’t like some animals do not become a vet, if you don’t like some children do not become a teacher or pediatrician. If you do not like cake do not open a bakery.  Pretty simple really.   Here is my question for you:  No matter how much you may not like an animal (or person for that matter) where in the name of humanity does it give you the right to kill it and celebrate its pain?  Again her actions were not unintentional.  That is the basis of our outrage. 

I would further like to give an example of what a good vet exhibits behaviorally and what character traits that lend itself to that profession.  Let me use my vet clinic as an example: My vet routinely rescues squirrels, he left his family Fourth of July celebration the day my dog had an emergency and had to be put down, he keeps a supply of the book Ten Good Things about Barney for kids when their animals die.  He has donated his time and services to stray animals. He is always discussing someone’s pet, even at his kid’s birthday parties.  He obviously has a passion to help all animals.  His clinicians are the same.  They held that old cat my son found and gave it toys and were sad they could not help her. They made my son and his friend little paw prints and sent them sympathy cards telling them how proud they were of how he helped that cat.  These were the hourly paid clinicians and they did it on their own time.  So yes, I expect the doctors, clinicians and anyone who works at my vets to like animals.  All animals.  Anything less is unacceptable.  If you have empathy for your patients you will be better at your job whether you are a doctor of humans or animals.  Understanding a patients fear, questions and concerns creates an environment much more conducive to healing.  Dog or child, our job as parents, teachers, doctors, vets, firemen, and policemen is to make the world a safe place for our charges.  If we do not like them they feel it.  They do not feel safe.  Conversely, they feel lost and lonely.  That is the last feeling you want a patient, student or child to feel.

In the meantime, the up rise against Ms. Lindsey’s behavior is encouraging.   People are not sitting back and letting evil prevail.  They are doing something.  Yeah US!!!!  So do not imply that we should somehow be ashamed because we demand that this woman be held accountable for her actions.  Do not question our compassion or sympathy. We are not standing by and letting evil prevail.  We are teaching our children to have sympathy and empathy.  We are teaching them that behavior such as Ms. Lindsey’s is unacceptable and comes with consequences. 

An old Cherokee saying goes “My son, there is a battle of two wolves inside us all.  One is evil.  One is good.  Which one wins?  The one you feed.”   Kristen Lindsey has chosen, as an adult, to feed the evil.  We are feeding the good.  My 11 year old son knew that when he saw that old stray cat and his basic humanity dictated that he was supposed to help it, not leave it alone and certainly not to torture it.  He picked her up, he fed her, he made her a bed, he and his friend named her.  He went to the vet with me.  He cried when he found out she could not be saved.  He then walked into the room and played with her and talked to her and made her feel safe and loved.  Compassion, sympathy, empathy?  People like my son deserve our energies directed their way. Because he will grow up and make the world a better place.  He already has.  

You have provided us with some though provoking questions and certainly it bears thinking about forgiveness and redemption and the points you make.  In this case, however, the consequences that have or might be incurred by Ms. Lindsey seem perfectly in proportion to her actions. She should have been fired.  Her school should be horrified.  Her license should be revoked. I believe she should be mandatorily placed in a psychiatric facility but that’s just my opinion. Forgive her? Well, I guess that is not my place to answer.  Forgiveness would have to come from her victim. The problem with that is - well she put an arrow through his brain and watched him bleed to death. I can state emphatically that I will certainly not waste any sleep worrying about the fact that she may now have to scrub floors for a living with a paper bag over her head.   However, to try to answer the question you pose.  No, we should not let her get away with a slap on the wrist.  We should not revoke any consequences she has or may get. We should hold her accountable for her actions. We should make it clear that she may not hurt, kill or maim.  If the woman has to clean toilets for the rest of her life then so be it.  Much better people then she do it every day.  If we – you, me, anyone – wants to worry about someone’s job security perhaps it should be the homeless man that stands with a sign wanting any job.  Or our veterans coming back from active duty who have lost their jobs. How about the wounded warriors?  As far as compassion - Head off to the local senior center, hospice, cancer center, animal rescue or abused woman’s shelter. Volunteer to teach homeless children how to read. I stand firm that I, and people like me, are not “purporting” but rather we are strong in our convictions and we are tired of letting evil prevail. If Ms. Lindsey is not held accountable then we are not showing compassion or practicing redemption.  We are giving her permission to repeat her offenses.  Monsters have been roaming this earth since the beginning of time. It is time to make it clear that we will not stand idly by and watch them play anymore.
No, we are not Purporting.  We are Protecting.

The article Ms. Kory is responding to can be found here.

Tiger's story can be found here