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September 17-23

“Together We Can Stop This Senseless Destruction”

I’ve decided to write to you about something that has been on my mind, about how my family has been used to scare you into cooperating with the oppressive society.

It takes a lot to terrify people into conforming to a society based on exploitation and disregard for human life. Human beings are so full of fight [so eager to fight] that you have to either do horrible things to them or make them witness horrible things in order to keep them in line [make them conform].

One thing the oppressive society does is target a small number of people in a big, visible way in order to make everyone else behave. I call the ways society does this “enforcer oppressions.” For example, we LGBTQ people are targeted for destruction because we step out of rigid gender roles. Heterosexual people see the bullying, violence, humiliation, and disrespect that is aimed at us, and they make their lives as small and conforming as necessary to avoid being targeted like that.

I grew up white and upwardly mobile in the United States. My father, who grew up in a rural area with few opportunities, managed to get away, go to college, become an engineer, get several master’s degrees, and rise through the ranks to become vice president of several multinational technology companies. In my childhood we were solidly middle class, trending toward upper middle class.

My mother, a brilliant Sicilian-heritage woman with a big heart and a need to show her feelings, had a difficult time conforming to her role as a white suburban housewife. The loneliness of raising three children by herself while my father overworked was too much for her. She had heavy early hurts that she was increasingly preoccupied with and drank alcohol to numb her feelings, which only made things worse. She and my father fought a lot, and eventually he left her and moved out of our house.

The separation was horrible for my mother. The failure of her marriage restimulated her heaviest distress (which was very heavy), she lost track of reality, and she started acting out her distresses in increasingly big and dangerous ways. She thought our father was out to [planned to] kill us, that cars were chasing us on the highway, that helicopters were watching us, and that my father had been abducted by the corporation he worked for. (Well, about that last one she was almost right.)

We were seeing a family therapist, and my mother was seeing her own therapist as well. Eventually the therapists put their heads together [consulted with each other] and realized that my mother was a danger to herself and to us. They came for her, forcibly abducted her with my brother watching, and locked her up in a “mental hospital.”

The pattern of my mother getting confused, scaring “mental health” workers, and getting locked up has continued for the past thirty-four years. She set fire to several of her houses and once was incarcerated in a psychiatric prison for months while awaiting a court hearing. She had to wear handcuffs to go into the courtyard there.

She has been poisoned with psychiatric drugs for all of this time, except when she has refused to take them. At times the state has paid to have someone hand deliver psychiatric drugs to her and watch her take them. Once, as a side effect of the drugs, the fluid in her skull increased. The swelling caused chronic vertigo, and she lost her manual dexterity; she couldn’t zip the zipper on her own jacket. They performed an operation on her and installed a shunt in her head so the fluid would drain into her stomach.

She is currently suffering from dementia, probably also caused by the psychiatric drugs, and living in a locked “nursing home” ward. (The quote marks are because there is little real nursing going on [happening] there; it is more like a prison for elders who have lost the ability to think clearly.) She will die there almost completely alone, her patterns having driven friends and family, including me, away. Only one of my brothers has figured out how to hang in there with her [stay connected to her], and he visits her rarely.

My mother and the rest of my family are the ones you don’t want to be. We are the example of what can happen if you don’t tow the line [conform to expectations]. The oppressive system uses my mother as an example to other women of what will happen if you fight for yourself in a big, messy way: your husband will leave you and go on unscathed; you will be left alone, you will be locked up, you will be poisoned, and you will be slowly destroyed.

It’s not a very subtle message.

I have had many of the same privileges as other middle-class people. There was usually enough food to eat, except for a few times when my mother couldn’t pull a meal together [successfully make a meal]. With the help of a neighbor, I was able to convince my dad to send me to boarding school, and he had the money to do it. He essentially paid others to parent me, and I got a very good education and was able to get into an elite college.

I was also exposed to real struggles in a way that other middle-class young people weren’t. It was impossible to pretend that our family “had it all together” [was functioning well]. I learned what I was capable of surviving. I came out of my childhood knowing how oppressive the society was. I was under no illusion that I’d had a happy childhood.

I also came out burdened by the experience, needing big sessions, and somewhat booby-trapped [made vulnerable] by my understandable preoccupation with the distresses from my childhood. I dropped out of the elite college I was going to, had a “nervous breakdown” [was unable to function due to my feelings], and ended up in a psychiatric ward myself.

Luckily I got out, found my way into RC, and have been able to use it well. I have a commitment to RC that comes out of seeing the alternative up close. Like my mother, I am able to feel things deeply and discharge a lot, and RC has given me full access to that. But I am also learning, with the leadership of Janet Foner (the International Liberation Reference Person for “Mental Health” Liberation), to get and keep my attention out. I am increasingly able to hold my own [do well even when it’s difficult] at my job, am less and less stopped by “mental health” oppression, and am functioning more and more elegantly.

I bring an important perspective to RC, like many of us who have been heavily targeted by “mental health” oppression. Tonight it seemed important to share that my mother, my brothers, and I are middle-class people who have been targeted for destruction. It seemed important to remind you that the oppressive society has used families like mine to broadcast a terrifying message about what will happen if you don’t behave.

I suppose after surviving all of this and discharging for twenty-three years, I am entitled to ask you for a few things:

Will you discharge about families failing to meet the expectations of “normal,” and what has happened to them? Will you notice the people around you who have been targeted for destruction and discharge about how much it scares you?

Sometimes I feel alone in fighting for my mom and for other people who are being destroyed by the oppressive society. Will you make a commitment to fight for everyone who has been targeted for destruction, including some of your middle-class brothers and sisters? If you have already made this commitment, can you be a little louder about it, do something about it, and/or remind me that you are already doing something?

I will continue to discharge so that I can notice that you are actually fighting for people like my mom as well as you can. I will also continue to reclaim my own power and connection with others so that together we can stop this senseless destruction, as well as the terror it inspires, once and for all.

As we do this work, we will all be less scared by enforcer oppressions and more able to live the lives of our dreams. How wonderful that we get to do this together.

If my mother could understand RC, she would be glad that I have this opportunity.

Thank you, my beloved Community. You mean the world to me.

“Henry Church”

(Present Time 189, October 2017)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00