Happy easter.

 

Stockholm Syndrome: “A term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors” –Wikipedia

This syndrome develops when the following four conditions are present.  It can develop in any relationship where these factors are present between an abuser and a victim:  terrorist/hostage; parent/child; lovers; teacher/student; government/subjects; religion/ followers.

  1. The victim believes he’s in danger.  Weather from an implied or stated threat by the abuser.  The victim also believes that the abuser will carry it out.  This threat is usually accompanied by a prescribed code of behavior that the victim must abide by that determines the level of punishment at the hands of his abuser.  Examples: if you do not prescribe to our group’s code of morality we will humiliate and ostracize you.  Or, if my dinner is not hot, to my liking and on the table when I get home, I will throw it against the wall and make you clean it up right in front of the children.  
  2.  Small kindnesses from the abuser that make the victim believe the abuser’s really not all that bad and  that there is a possibility the situation will get better.  These momentary kindnesses also act as a carrot on a stick that make the victim believe there’s a way to finally win the approval of the abuser.  Examples: the sacrament of penance in which the priest forgives the sinner.  Or, the alcoholic/abusive father who pays for his sons college.  Or, the jealous boyfriend who buys his lover jewelry after hitting her.
  3. Isolation from all outside influence other than that of the abuser.  Example: Everyone outside your religion is out to get you and lead you into shame and eternal suffering.  We are the only chosen people.  Or: if you go out with your friends I will harm them.
  4. The victim really believes there’s nowhere else for him to go. Example: if I leave my religion I will have bad luck for the rest of my life and then go to hell. 

 

We were told we were sinners and that we should be punished.  No amount of “God’s love” or forgiveness nor promise of happiness in the hereafter could ever change that fact.  We were inherently evil we were told.  And we deserved to be punished.  The “One Catholic God” was our father, they said.  And they were his representatives.  To question them meant suffering greater than we could possibly fathom with our tiny minds.  We were in essence, taught, to shut up and take it.  Or else.  We were told this from the time we were infants and dunked into water to wash all the evil away.  Evidently it didn’t take.  Because we were still to be punished daily in school and when we went home to our parents.  The threat was clear to me when I  was seven and ran away from school and they dragged me back and beat me for it.  The brilliance of that one act was lost on them.  The effects of the deed were too precise for words: an arabesque of abuse expertly executed.  In that one act they’d achieved all four steps of the Stockholm Syndrome.  The threat, the isolation, the belief there was nowhere for me to go where they wouldn’t find me and bring me back was sealed: all by age seven.  The kindness came when they stopped beating me and allowed me to live.  Swell bunch of fuckers they were.

Broken by seven I had nine more years within their organization, each one punctuated by their yearly tribute to punishment: easter.  Every ‘good” Friday they would drag us kids into the church and show us something called stations of the cross.  If anyone else carried out such a public performance they’d be arrested for pornography.  Subjecting children to a snuff play.

There they forced us to watch over and over again the abuse, torture and murder of a man.  They called it beautiful. They called it glorious.  They told us it would be our greatest honor to follow in his footsteps.  All of their saints had been murdered brutally too.  Didn’t we want to be saints?  Meanwhile the pastor who was rubbing our faces in this threat was fucking my classmates behind the altar.  No one found out about it until we were all adults. 

Didn’t I want to be an altar boy my parents asked me.  “No.  Never.”

Meanwhile their Pope—unbeknownst to us followers–was beating himself daily with a belt and  covering up little boy rape.

By the time I was in my teens I got my courage back and  tried to run away again.  My father physically stopped me and threatened to have my friends arrested, further reinforcing the isolation while adding a threat to the safety of my loved ones.

He’d also done a good job raising me to believe I needed him to survive.  “You?  Make a living?  No way.” He told me repeatedly from the time I was in junior high.  “You don’t know how to do anything.  You’ll starve. And then you’ll come crawling back to me begging and grateful for what I’ve given you.”

Within the next few months I was broken again, and I settled into my life, numb.  I began defending my family and its religion.  I didn’t know why.  They treated me like shit but I didn’t know there was anywhere else to go. The fear of bad luck and poverty and suffering if I left was consuming.  Until the day I realized my life had been nothing but suffering and bad luck and what did I really have to lose.  By 29 I got far enough away from them to get some perspective on it all.

At 33 I left them and I never looked back.  It took a few years to begin to get myself on track, but by then my luck started to improve, tremendously.  I began to find successes I never could have had in that environment.

I know there are others out there who’ve been through this.  Maybe this won’t hit you now but someday you’ll get a little bit of distance and then, in that quiet moment, I want you to ask yourself: What do you really have to lose?  Your suffering? Your identity as the victim?  There is more.  So much more.

Happy easter is the most absurd phrase I’ve ever heard.  It’s a secret message those with Stockholm Syndrome give each other.  “Yes—life sucks.  Yes, I’ve been fucked and abused and beaten and broken.  And for some strange reason, I’m happy about it.”

Happy images from a recent gravestomp thru a Catholic cemetery

People who are grieving the death of loved ones come upon this painting and believe its beautiful art.

The caption on the window stated that she chose this fate to having sex and she was blessed for it.

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