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Saaaaaaaaave meeeeee! No, Hero, RUN.


The only context in which this is awesome is Jennifer Saunders is just the shiiiit.

Two similar concepts, vastly different implications.

The other day as I was scrolling through an emotional abuse survivor’s subreddit, there seems to be a lot of confusion around two things: learned helplessness and acting helpless.

Let me clarify this, in case you’re confused: learned helplessness tends to be in response to trauma and abuse. While it can be used as a manipulation, in the context of abuse it tends to be more in line with a maladaptive method for coping. Granted, when you’re dealing with generational emotional abuse- learned helplessness can be a way that one parent who has endured emotional or physical abuse manipulates a child into an unhealthy codependent dynamic.

That said, if someone’s feigning helplessness in order to manipulate- it probably isn’t learned helplessness and it is a fairly common one. Unfortunately, it’s also one of those weird socially accepted emotional abuse tactics people often write off. Cherilynn Veland has, I think, one of the best takes on this- and why it’s so easy for what she calls the Detrimental Caregiver to fall for this.

I can’t be your therapist, I can’t be anybody’s therapist…yet!

This is a massive issue I have been dealing with lately. Of course, I’ve pretty much always been The One To Talk To. The One To Help. Part of why I was so conflicted about the whole Screw Age vs Actual Counseling was- I kept noticing a trend towards nearly fostering codependence when I always felt like the goal ought to be, you know, people not needing my help anymore. I thought I had a much better handle on this than most I saw around me- because I was not a Guru. (Well, also the glibness about very real issues, the cult of positive thinking utterly shitting on mental illness, and a whooole list. We don’t need to be here all day.)

Except: checking myself before I was wrecking myself, to a certain extent, I was falling into that Detrimental Caregiver role more often than I would like to admit. The thing is, when you start to make the shit about you, it’s…time to look at why it is about you.


Yeah…but…oh honey…how many emotional burning buildings do you run into every damn day?

And how often are you ignoring the fact that you’re rescuing the fuckin’ arsonist?

Recently, I had someone come unglued and my compassion bat signal starts WHANG WHANG WHANG- but, I stopped. My partner was completely scared and he wasn’t the one doing it- but, he was falling for it, too.

I kind of thought, Wait, wait, the educational material on this one. That’s…normal. It sucks but it’s normal. 

It wasn’t the fear but the language being deployed- which had been escalating the past few weeks. I pointed it out on occasion, then kicked the crap out of myself for having done it. Ever throw somebody a rope and they tie that into a noose? Yeah.

Get this person into counseling and support groups, stop enabling this, you know it’s not right, you KNOW IT IS NOT RIGHT is something I perhaps could have recorded to just hit play on more than once but the fact is:

In this, I am DOING IT AGAIN.

Babe’s a bit Hercules himself and like the story of Hercules- this shit does not end well for me, the partner in that. (Rimshot? I feel like maybe a rimshot is needed here. Oh come on, that was a GOOD myth joke.)

The thing is, the fact that the above recording becomes a desperate whine as weeks go by is a pretty good reason why it isn’t my place. I caught myself at one point wailing, No no no no no, I can’t do that, I’m undergrad and anyway even if I wasn’t, that’s not, you don’t, I can’t do that! You shouldn’t be doing that! I shouldn’t even be the one you talk to about this like this, counseling…and…support….I’m…


Balancing the issues we are, with the other issues we were already dealing with- ah, you ever engage with someone who, erm, had some unhealthy control mechanisms in play and then- hit the ultimate in loss of control?

There’s no tactful way to talk about that, so I am not. I am just going to rock fetal in a corner, muttering about …counseling…group…support…


…I gotta go clean something, now.



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