Insights On Inauguration Day

There’s plenty of things circulating at this point about Donald Trump’s Inauguration.  The man is downright infamous and he hasn’t even had his first day in office yet…and I’m not under any delusions that what I have to contribute is any more unique or important than what anyone else has already said.  But even so, given this important moment in our history I feel compelled to contribute my thoughts as part of the eventual historical record.

No, I didn’t vote for him.  Might as well get that out of the way right now.  Most of my friends and family didn’t vote for him either; but that having been said I still know plenty of people in my life who did vote for him, including one of my dearest and closest friends, so I’m well aware of the reasons most people voted for him.  I’ve been doing my damnedest to try and understand, in the hope that I can once again find common ground with my fellow man in a world that currently feels so sharply divided.

I won’t lie…it’s not easy.  Then again, it never is when you come up against someone whose views and beliefs are the exact opposite of yours.  Supposedly the hallmark of our society is that we’re able to coexist with others by remaining tolerant and accepting of all beliefs and viewpoints…but as the saying goes, if it was easy then everyone would do it.

My brother made an interesting observation, that for the first time our generation (his and mine) have experienced an election season where in essence things didn’t go our way; and in the fallout it almost feels like a national shedding of innocence for the millennial generation as a result.  (Disclaimer: I know not all millennials were against Trump, this is more general statements based on national polling and research.) For the first time we’ve had to recognize that there are a lot of people who don’t think and operate the same way we do, who don’t prioritize things in the same way we do…and in so doing, we are then confronted with the question of whether or not these differences are a good or a bad thing.  Wrong or right.  Correct or……

Oh it’s quite tempting to label those who I disagree with as “bad”; but that’s also a bit of a cop out…because it’s simply not true.  Most of the people I know who voted for Trump aren’t bad people; they just view the world through a different lens.  And just like when we ask our clients at Lasting Connections to name their deal breakers before we start looking for their next life partner, people in politics have their deal breakers too.  And those deal breakers aren’t the same for everyone; something that seems extremely important to you isn’t even on the radar for someone else.

It’s all about the lens through which you view life.

Looking through my lens, I could not ever support a man who is such a blatantly abusive narcissist; and that’s due to my history of abuse and what I’ve experienced and understand now to be true about people.  I imagined Randall being appointed to the presidency, and it struck terror in my heart; because that is not a man who ultimately gives one crap about anyone or anything but himself, and even in moments when he attempts to do things for the good of all it usually ends up twisted and ugly by the end because that’s just his nature.  And it didn’t matter how many people tried to console me or reassure me that Trump wasn’t like Randall…to me, through my lens, he was and is a twisted, abusive, cruel, evil person.  Many of the things he’s said over the years…many of his mannerisms and his track record with those around him…are identical to how Randall was.  And as a result I cannot feel comfortable as he takes that oath of office today.  I just can’t.


Now…does that mean I want the country I love to fail?  Does that mean I’d rather be correct and have things go down in flames than ultimately have him prove me wrong and do wonderful things for the country and its’ citizens?  Of course not. I’ll be the first person to admit I was wrong if he ultimately shows himself to be different than he so far has demonstrated himself to be.

Trouble is right now I don’t feel like I’m wrong, and haven’t yet seen evidence to tell me otherwise.

I’m not a “bleeding heart liberal”…I’m a straight down the middle moderate when it comes to politics.  I’ve voted for and supported just as many Republican-backed programs and candidates as I have Democrat.  So this isn’t a partisan issue for me; it really isn’t.  I have my causes and issues that are dear to my heart, and I have others that aren’t as important, and they don’t all fall to one side or the other.

I always, always try to find a middle ground with those around me.  Family members have teased that I’m a born diplomat, always stepping in the middle to help mediate disagreements and disputes (often successfully).  And I say that now to give a little perspective, and emphasize that I don’t take lightly the struggle I’m currently having to accept this new president as he takes the oath.  It’s a feeling unlike anything I’ve experienced before.

And when I explain my reasoning to others who voted for Trump, the funny thing is they all nod their heads sympathetically and insist they completely understand my perspective.  One relative who voted for him even said “If I had been through what you have, I would probably feel the exact same way”…which I found a bit puzzling, seeing as how in a sense my family did go through a lot of the abuse with me.  They witnessed what Randall did; they witnessed the changes in me, and then saw the incredibly long, traumatic healing process I’ve had to embark on in the aftermath.

“So you’re okay with a man that I see as the same as Randall being elected president?  You’re comfortable with that?”  I always ask this with sincerity and without hostility or accusation in my voice, and generally in response I get an uncomfortable squirm and a shifting of the eyes away from my own as they struggle to come up with a response.  Ultimately I usually get some variation on the theme of telling me they just don’t see him as being bad for the country, and anyway, he will still be better for America than that lying crook Hillary Clinton.

I won’t pretend I totally agree with or understand that particular sentiment; I am no big fan of Hillary Clinton, but I have failed to understand how she is worse than a man I perceive to be an abusive, lying, cruel, narcissistic SOB.  I clearly see it through a different lens; but again this post isn’t about pontificating my political beliefs or getting into a debate.  It’s just some random musings on this, Trump’s Inauguration Day.  So I’ll let that one go for now.

I’ve been debating with myself whether or not I even wanted to watch the Inauguration ‘festivities’ on television; a part of me feeling like I don’t want to be seen as supporting him at this point, but at the same time another part of me not wanting to do precisely what I criticize others for doing, which is stick my head in the sand and refuse to see what’s happening around me.  I have no desire to be an ostrich.  And the Inauguration of a president is always a historical event, no matter who it is putting their hand on the Bible.

Ultimately I’m to a point where I’m not consciously avoiding the ceremony on television, but I’m not going out of my way to watch it either; it’s on in the background even as I’m writing this, so I’m vaguely aware of his procession toward the White House, and the protests throughout the city that are growing increasingly violent.  But I’m not glued to the television; but I’m not concerned.  The other reality is I’m sure our obsessive 24/7 news media channels will ensure I see the whole thing over and over again for months to come in clips and highlights, so it’s not like I’m missing much.

Frankly, that’s pretty much how I feel at this point about his presidency overall; I’m not out there calling for someone to find an assassin and knock the man off, and I’m not secretly hoping he screws up so badly that the entire country goes down in flames with him because dammit I don’t feel like catching on fire……but that having been said, at the same time I am not comfortable right now.  In fact I’m quite nervous, and even a tad anxious as I look toward the next four years of my life.  So where does that leave me?

meghann andreassen, girl with roseAnything good that he may end up doing for the country, I’ll applaud him for.  All successes and failures I’ll give him credit for.  I won’t hate him just for breathing at this point; if he starts to treat others with respect and act in the best interests of the country then I’ll bite my tongue about the rest.

But I’m resolved to stand up for anything I believe in.  So those deal breakers I was talking about earlier…I’ll advocate for those if he ever starts to encroach on them.  If anything he or his administration brings up smacks of racism or other forms of prejudice, I’ll speak out.  If he does things that restrict women’s rights, I’ll speak out.  If he leaves a majority of the country unable to get health insurance and turns the healthcare industry into an even more rapidly floundering system than it already is, I’ll speak out.  If he makes getting a decent education less accessible for all Americans, not just those born in the wealthier communities, I’ll speak out.  If he takes drastic steps to do harm to the environment through policy decisions, since I’m young enough that I’d experience the consequences of climate change (as would my children and grandchildren), I’ll speak out.

(And as of this moment, I have to admit he’s not off to a great start: barely sworn in an hour ago and his staff have already removed the pages on the Official White House Website dedicated to talking about issues related to Climate Change, Civil Rights, and LGBTQ Problems.  A little disconcerting…so I’m speaking out.)

But all that having been said, if he proves me wrong and ultimately doesn’t go after any of those issues…if in fact he passes legislation and policies that wind up doing good things for all…I promise here and now that I will be one of the first people to stand up and say I was wrong.  That I misjudged him.  I will happily dig into my piece of humble pie.  And I sincerely hope ultimately that’s precisely what I’ll have to do.

For now……I just have to wait, along with all the other Americans holding their collective breaths at the moment.  Today he is sworn in.  Tomorrow?  I’m watching to see what he’ll do……

 

 



meghann andreassen
Meghann Andreassen is a businesswoman, author, and personal success coach who contributes to this and other blogs on a regular basis. For singles, visit Lasting Connections.  To work with Meghann personally, contact her through her website for a free consultation.

**Names and other personal identifying information of some individuals referenced throughout this blog have been changed to protect their identities

 

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The Audacity Of Age

“Please stop debating about whether or not I aged well. Youth and beauty are not accomplishments, they’re the temporary happy by-products of time and/or DNA. Don’t hold your breath for either.” — Carrie Fisher

the-naked-hour-young-and-old-women

It’s a touchy subject for women when you start talking about “aging well”. Even as I’m writing this I’m holding my breath while mentally predicting the reactions of friends and colleagues. They usually fall into one of two camps:

Camp One is comprised of the women who insist there’s nothing wrong with preserving youth and beauty as much as possible for as long as possible. This is the camp that embraces plastic surgery, lipo procedures, Botox, weekly facials, clean eating, cleanses, meditation, and anything else that might prove to fight back the ravages of time.

Camp Two is where the women gather who instead let the gray hairs and the wrinkles loose, proudly displaying their age and daring others to find them unattractive or unworthy. Regaling me with stories of long-ago cultures where the old were revered and wrinkles were a sign of godliness.

And then there’s me…rapidly approaching thirty, and for the first time starting to realize I’m no longer in the “young” category, but I’m not considered “old” either. I’m just solidly an adult, noting a few silver hairs and a few extra marks on my skin from many years of suntans, and trying to figure out which camp I want to live in.  I can feel that pressure these days…and how ridiculous is that? How silly is it that I almost preen any time a waiter asks me for my ID, as though validating I’m not “old” yet? Why does it even matter?

There’s no question women feel pressured to fight for preservation of youth and beauty for as long as possible. And I applaud Carrie Fisher (may she rest in peace) for getting out in front of the issue as best she could with her reprisal of Princess Leia in the new Star Wars. Hell, I’d say just reprisingthe-naked-hour-carrie-fisher the iconic role took a lot of guts, since comparisons to her twenty-one year old self were going to be inevitable.

She said something else I loved during Wishful Drinking, her HBO special based on her one-woman Broadway play. And while I don’t recall it verbatim, it was comedically poking fun at the very real (and unfair) reality that she’d not known when she first donned the now-infamous metal bikini from Return of the Jedi that she’d signed an invisible contract with the public to continue looking like that for the rest of her life.  Obviously an impossible task for anyone to pull off…and in Carrie’s case, even more challenging given the legitimate battles she’s fought in her personal life over the years. Everything from Bi-Polar disorder to smoking to weight fluctuations and addiction to prescription medications have left battle scars on her body.

But really…why is that a bad thing? Why is a woman judged when she has the audacity to look her age?

It all boils down to the reality that no matter how far women have come, there’s still an intrinsic pressure from a male-dominated society to look ‘sexy’ and ‘desirable’ at all times…and according to the media, young women with tight bodies are what men find most desirable.  We’re basically objectified from the day the X Chromosome is discovered on the ultrasound.

I was lucky enough to not experience it too much growing up; the men in my life treated me as an equal, and as a competitive swimmer I found validation for my accomplishments rather than what my body looked like.  But what I didn’t experience growing up, I unfortunately made up for in spades while caught up in the negativity of my abusive relationship. Randall surrounded himself with other women constantly, and never forgot to talk about how attractive he found them. Young women who were barely legal, prancing around in tight little shorts and even tighter crop tops, fully aware of all the salivating males as they shimmied and sashayed their way around the living room.img_3047

It was a sobering experience for me…because for the brief period of time where that became my reality, I felt utterly invisible.

Randall talked about other women constantly; this girl’s fat ass that he wanted to squeeze, or the fantasy of how it would feel to enjoy that girl’s tight…ahem. It never ended. And when I’d try and address the issue of how uncomfortable or undesirable it made me feel to have him do that so blatantly in front of me, instead of reassuring me or stopping the behavior, his response would simply be: “Well what do you want me to say? I’m not going to lie…I want to f*ck them. You’ll never be that young again, Meghann…you’ll only get older. You just have to get over it.”

Well, he was an asshole. We’ve established that. And I’m not saying all men are like this, because they’re not. But society as a whole seems to present variations on that message to women of all ages nonetheless. It might be presented differently; a beautifully designed magazine perhaps, or a glamorous actress on the red carpet having her body analyzed by commentators rather than analyzing the roles she’s played. But make no mistake, the message is still the same; and it’s enough to leave scars and insecurities as deep and wide as the Grand Canyon over a woman’s self-esteem.

I know my experience with it was dehumanizing; reducing everything I was down to my age, height, weight, and measurements. It also instilled in me a powerful resentment toward those younger women, even if they hadn’t done anything overtly disrespectful towards me. Instead of feeling a commonality with my fellow females, I felt nothing but mistrust and anger.

In short, it was a highly toxic, unhealthy frame of mind, and I’m grateful to be out of it. But I’ve thought about it a lot since, as I’ve recovered and picked up the pieces of my heart and soul and put it all back together. And the conclusion I’ve come to is simple.  Youth and Beauty are both just part of the genetic lottery; you are either born with the “beauty” genes, or you aren’t. Either programmed to lose your hair starting at twenty, or you’re not. Programmed to be short, or programmed to be tall. You are either predisposed to wrinkles and gray hair, or the-naked-hour-womenyou’re not. (I myself have several strands of brilliantly silver hair starting to appear on my scalp, courtesy of dad’s genes.)

And while I’ll never shame a woman for trying to ‘age gracefully’…I still wish society as a whole allowed women to feel comfortable with the aging process. Because guess what? We all do it eventually.

I wish we as women will finally rise up and take control of how we are portrayed and valued and perceived by our male counterparts. Demand better of them, instead of just giving them a “boys will be boys” pass when there are episodes of chauvinistic asshattery on full display.

Unfortunately we’re not there yet. So until we are, all I can say is try really, really hard not to judge yourself based on your looks or how much attention you get. Instead try to value yourself based on your accomplishments in life. Your education. Your career. The quality of your friends. How you treat others. Surround yourself with people who also appreciate those things in you, and find you beautiful and sexy whether you’re twenty five or fifty five, because of who you are as a person

Accept the following as reality, and get on with your life:

  1. You’re going to get older. So are we all.
  2. There will always be women who are perceived as “prettier”; I don’t care what age you are. Don’t begrudge them their genetic winning lottery ticket; they couldn’t help how they were born any more than you could. Don’t covet or resent. Just love yourself, and remember…they may be sick of being seen for only one thing too.
  3. meghann andreassenThere will always be ‘younger’ women coming up behind you with ‘fresher’ faces and ‘tighter’ bodies. This has been happening since you turned 19 and had the ‘barely legal’ crowd to compete with. So……let it go. There is nothing for you to keep up with; just appreciate yourself as you are right now, and don’t resent the younger generation for being young.  We were all young once.
  4. The majority of men will probably lust after the aforementioned women from time to time, much to your annoyance. But again…let it go. It is what it is. (And let’s not pretend you didn’t notice that cute lifeguard at the pool either…)
  5. Ultimately, a good man will lust for five seconds…and then come back to you. He will appreciate all of the qualities that make you YOU…and usually those qualities have nothing to do with your age or your measurements, and everything to do with your mind, your heart, and your personality. Find that man, and love him with all your heart.

Love yourself. That’s ultimately all you can do. And live a life that you’re proud of. If someone makes you feel less than amazing, eject them from your life. They have no place there. And then carry yourself with pride, because you are perfect exactly the way you are.

It’s as simple…and as hard…as that.

 

 



meghann andreassen
Meghann Andreassen is a businesswoman, author, and personal success coach who contributes to this and other blogs on a regular basis.  To learn more or to work with her personally, contact her through her website for a free consultation.

**Names and other personal identifying information of some individuals referenced throughout this blog have been changed to protect their identities

meghann andreassen

The Other Side Of Addiction

A few days ago the Surgeon General made what many are calling a landmark statement in regards to addiction and the so-called War On Drugs.  He has said it is a disease, and should be treated as such, as opposed to treating it as a moral or character failing, throwing out statistics including the reality that the numbers of people struggling with addiction rival the numbers of those struggling with Diabetes in this country.  (You can read for yourself what was said by clicking here.)

And I have to be honest: as a recovering addict myself (my drug of choice is prescription opiates), I was unbelievably gratified to see this.

“For far too long, too many in our country have viewed addiction as a moral failing,” the surgeon general said. “This unfortunate stigma has created an added burden of shame that has made people with substance use disorders less likely to come forward and seek help.”

meghann andreassenIt’s true.

I know this is a touchy subject for many; sometimes as polarizing as discussions about abortion or gay marriage.  But as a recovering addict with a voice, I feel it’s my duty to speak out about my experiences and help give society a sense of the different faces of addiction; hopefully changing the view of addicts as nothing more than criminals who live in the cracks of society and can’t hold down a job or contribute anything of value.

When I finally got help for my addiction many years ago (September 29, 2008, to be exact), I went to a wonderful treatment center called Hazelden-Springbrook in Newberg, Oregon.  And would it surprise you to know that nearly every single woman I lived with for my thirty days there had Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees?  That they were overall what society would consider “white collar” and “respectable”?

Addiction is, as they teach in recovery, an equal opportunity disease.  It doesn’t care what race you are, what religion, or what socioeconomic class you belong to.  Anyone can fall prey to addiction…and it can begin innocently before spiraling out of control.  Like with me; I had a shoulder injury that caused me a lot of pain and ultimately stalled and then prematurely ended a competitive swimming career.  I had rotator cuff surgery, and then required daily opiate painkillers for six months afterward just to function (I’m not a baby, I have a high tolerance for pain…but those were the most painful months of my life).

I developed a tolerance, and had to be weaned off when it was finally time to go back to living a “normal” life.  I remember it vividly; how it took a while to relearn how to sleep without the added sedative effects of Percocet.  But ultimately I got there, and went about my life.  (Did you know that everyone will develop a physical tolerance/dependence on opiates if they take them daily for a long enough period of time?)

Fast forward a few years, and I found myself in college at the University of Oregon; somewhat depressed and feeling a little lost as I was changing degrees and not sure what I wanted out of life.  (Not an uncommon problem for college students.)  About that time, I’d taken up playing tennis with a friend for exercise, and it ultimately led to a moment when I partially dislocated that same right shoulder.

I called my orthopedist, and because I was the daughter of a physician (one of his colleagues), and because I’d been a patient for a long time, he didn’t make me come in immediately for an appointment; instead he called in a prescription for some Vicodin, and said I could come in the next time I was home from school.  That’s the moment when I started down what became a rapid descent.

That was March, and by September I was taking upwards of 35 pills a day to maintain and not go through withdrawals; doctor shopping and doing whatever necessary to get enough pills to sustain me through the day.  (I wasn’t street smart or savvy enough to know how to buy pills on the street, so instead of finding stronger medications I had to stick with what I knew and just try and get more and more of it.)

It wasn’t sustainable.  And as often happens, the law finally caught on and got involved.  I found myself literally racing home to my parents to avoid arrest when police visited the house I shared with roommates.meghann andreassen

I went cold turkey off the pills, and endured several days of horrendous physical withdrawals (that part of my experience detailed in this post).  I met with a defense attorney (never thought in a million years I’d need one of those), and then checked myself into rehab at Hazelden-Springbrook for a minimum of thirty days.

And so began my journey into sobriety.  But it really was just that: the beginning.

When I came out of rehab, I attempted to go back to living life.  Working.  Taking care of my grandfather, who was by then sick from rapidly progressing prostate cancer.  Overall putting one foot in front of the other.

The legal system is a slow moving machine, so I didn’t hear again from police until March, when the Eugene police department informed my attorney I was being offered what Lane County called their Drug Court program.  They offered this to many drug offenders, the idea being if a person successfully completed the program, they waived any misdemeanors or felonies from ever going on their record.

In this program I would meet a surprising mix of people; college students who’d gotten carried away with weed, women who’d had the unfortunate luck of stumbling across meth and getting addicted, alcoholics who’d had one DUI too many but otherwise had white collar jobs and educations, young people, old people, middle aged people…it really ran the gamut.

Because again: equal opportunity disease.

I willingly complied when offered this option, and started a nine month minimum outpatient treatment program.  I’d make the drive to Eugene three to four times a week from  Hillsboro for three hour meetings as well as random drug screens and court appointments with a judge.  The program had three phases; the first phase not surprisingly was the most intense.  But it was also the easiest to get out of; the only requirement was having a minimum of thirty days of clean drug tests and perfect attendance of all groups.  So I went to group meetings three times a week, went before the judge with a progress report once a week, and went in for my random UAs whenever my  number was called on the UA hotline…and sure enough, within about five weeks I was moved up to Phase Two, where I only had to meet in group twice a week, I was assigned a new UA number that wasn’t called as often for UAs, and I only had to go before the judge every two or three weeks.

Phase Two required people to work through a book very similar to the 12-Step program in AA and NA; taking accountability for your addiction and understanding the impact it’s had on your life.  Once completed, you were graduated to Phase Three, where you only had to attend group once a week and only saw the judge once every five weeks, and yes, got a new UA number again that was called even less often for random UAs.

But even as I was going through this program successfully, I learned that police in Hillsboro had decided they too wanted to pursue criminal charges against me, as I’d abused my medications while living in Washington County as well.  The difference was this county didn’t have nearly as tolerant or progressive a view of addiction as Lane County; and so instead of completing a rehab program, and in spite of the fact that by then I was already over a year clean and sober and was successfully completing a program in another county, I was ultimately forced to sign a plea agreement where I was saddled with two felonies; one count of identity theft (it’s considered “defrauding the pharmacy” when you abuse prescription medications), and one count of what they call tampering with drug records (which is because I was abusing prescriptions in a way that wasn’t prescribed by a physician).

I’ve had to overcomemeghann andreassen the stigma of those charges ever since.  People see Identity Theft and assume I must have done something truly awful, like swipe credit cards that didn’t belong to me or steal bank account numbers……but I wouldn’t know how to do that if my life depended on it.  All I did was “defraud” my health insurance by billing them for pain medications that I wasn’t taking “as prescribed”; and you know what?  I would have just paid full freight if I’d known it was a crime to do otherwise.  I wasn’t breaking that law on purpose.

Do you think potential employers or landlords give me a chance to explain?

Nope.

So there you have it: one county with a more tolerant view of addiction, and one county with a no-holds-barred, black and white view of addiction.  And I experienced them both, and had both impact my life, one for the better, one for the worse.

No surprise then that in my opinion what I experienced in Lane County was far, far superior in my opinion.  Not just for me, but for everyone; and not just because I’m some whiny bear who doesn’t want to be held accountable for my actions.  That program held people accountable, believe me (you ever stood before a judge when you’ve done wrong?).  But the difference is what I saw in Lane County was a system that really seemed to understand what addiction actually is; a judge who was tough when she had to be, but didn’t just throw people away if they relapsed.

I literally watched a woman go before the judge having tested positive for Meth for about the fifth time, and attempt to tell the judge that someone must have just slipped some Meth into her coffee without her knowing and that’s how it got into her UA……and instead of locking her up and throwing away the key, the judge ordered her put on the short list for a bed at the state-funded in-patient treatment facility.  Why?  Because the judge understands that lying is part of the disease; the judge understands that the person who lies to get their drugs isn’t the same as the person who lies simply for the sake of lying.  Same way the person who steals a tv to sell for money for their drugs isn’t the same as the person who steals the tv simply because they like how it looks in their own bedroom.

It’s NOT the same.

And yet in counties like Washington County, they treat them the same; slapping both scenarios with the same crimes and forever changing the course of their future lives.

When you’re addicted to a substance, something really does hijack your brain.  Whether you want it to or not.  I can’t tell you how many times I’d vow to myself I was done with pills, that that was the last time…only to do it all over again the next day.  It’s impossible to explain unless you’ve lived through it, but trust me: it is NOT a moral failing.  It’s a disease.  One that requires treatment and care and follow up in order to get better.  Jails and prisons and felonies don’t fix the problem in the slightest; and in fact it just attaches another layer of stigma and burden and shame to the addict trying to get better.  (Imagine if you were told tomorrow to quit smoking or else you’d be labeled a felon…I guarantee it would be harder to do than you realize.  Or how many people are morbidly obese and struggle to lose the weight even though they resolve to eat healthier every day, over and over and over again?  And how about the anorectic and bulimic women and men of the world, and how they insist every day that they look fat and unhealmeghann andreassenthy when in fact the rest of the world only sees skin and bones?  It’s all the same kind of thinking.)

Would it surprise you to also know that program in Lane County cost less than what they did to me in Washington County?  Because I was able to still work, and attended group therapy sessions with others, instead of being supervised individually on a weekly basis by probation officers.  I also didn’t go through several court appearances with DAs and judges and legal aids, which again costs money.  Plus I was still able to go out and get any job I wanted, because I didn’t have a criminal record; meaning I could work, earn money, and also pay my taxes back to society.  Whereas once you have a criminal record that becomes harder to do, and of course if you’re in PRISON then working and taking care of yourself is impossible.  (Not to mention the cost of incarcerating just one individual for a few months or a year…)

And think of all the jobs created for the drug and alcohol counselors needed for the Lane County program; now imagine every county in the nation having that program, and how many jobs THAT would create.

I’m not stupid; not every addict graduated that program successfully.  And I do believe you have to eventually draw a line; so of course I understood why ultimately some people failed and were thrown back onto the mercy of the general system where they ended up with felonies or prison time.  But there were a lot of people who DID graduate; people who could then move on with their lives with more knowledge and therefore be better equipped to handle what came next.

So I commend what the Surgeon General has said.  And I hope perhaps it can be the start of a change of perspective where addiction is concerned; to where society can shift into a view of compassion and tolerance for the addicts and alcoholics who still suffer out there.  Compassion for those who cannot, as Nancy Reagan once demanded, “Just say no”.

 

 


meghann andreassenMeghann Andreassen is a businesswoman, author, and personal success coach who contributes to this and other blogs on a regular basis.  To learn more about her, or to work with her personally, contact her through her website for a free consultation.

**Names and other personal identifying information of some individuals referenced throughout this blog have been changed to protect their identities.

meghann andreassen, election 2016

When Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Well…it’s election day.  I wrote this a little while ago, but it seems fitting to post this today; and then maybe tomorrow (if I’m in the mood and not completely burnt out on election “stuff”) I’ll write something about actual election results.  Maybe.  Ha!

Anyway…

By now I’m assuming everyone has seen one of Trump’s many falls-from-grace that occurred this endless campaign season, courtesy of a leaked video tape that set a snowball rolling down the universal mountain of scandal and ruin. And if by some miracle you haven’t heard about it yet at this late date, then that means you must live in a magical place where negativity cannot reach you…and I want to move there with you. So can you send me your address please?

Anyway…

I’ve not said much publicly about Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton; mostly because while at work I need to remain solidly neutral out of respect for our clients. But when asked I’ll admit I’m no supporter of his, and when pushed further, I’ll also acknowledge my plans are to vote for Hillary Clinton come election time (though even that I’m doing a bit grudgingly).

He’s said plenty of things that offended me throughout this campaign. Done things that made my skin crawl, not just as a woman, but as a thinking, breathing human being who has a regard for my felelection 2016, donald trump, meghann andreassenlow human beings. But it was that leaked video that finally tipped me over the edge. Probably because it reminded me so viscerally of my ex, like sandpaper getting scraped over a raw wound. And trust me, you do not want to remind me of Randall.

I sat in silence for almost two years while Randall would refer to women as “b*tches” and “ho*s” and “thots” and pretty much every other derogatory name you can think of. Speaking about women in exactly the same way as Mr. Trump…and doing so in front of me, which always left me feeling downright nauseous. I at first rebelled, telling him I didn’t like him referring to women that way and certainly he was to never refer to me that way. But over time he’d slip those derogatory terms into more and more conversations, wearing me down, and before I knew it I was hearing him refer to me as “this b*tch here” on an almost daily basis.

(No, it never stopped bothering me. Every time he used those words, something in me died a little. And it was abundantly clear he didn’t care, because he kept doing it.)

Juxtaposed against that were the other words he spoke regularly; Randall talked a good game about having a high regard/respect for women. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard another man in my entire life talk so loudly and proudly about how much he respects women…until Trump.  He would spout off about how he could never hurt a woman, how seeing a young woman in tears always moved him to want to help her, and how he just couldn’t understand why anyone would ever resort to treating women so badly.

Well…here’s a little spoiler for you: in reality, Randall’s actions did not back up his words.  Not even close.  And I’m fairly certain you’d discover the same result with Trump.

The minute Randall had a drink or two, or got a little bit ruffled or upset, women were “b*tches” and “h*es” and “dumb thots” and plenty of other derogatory terms (including the always horrific, disgusting ‘c’ word that I will not dignify in this post). And don’t even get me started on how many times he’d brazenly talk about how badly he wanted to “f*ck” all the various young women who he had parading through our home on a daily basis. How according to him they were dumb and useless for much, but it didn’t matter so long as their a*ses were fat and their p*ssies were tight.  (I apologize for the crude language; these were his words, not mine, and at this point I’m just painting a picture.)

My stomach would turn over listening to the depraved way he and his young friends were speaking about these women. Even more so when I’d catch fragments of degrading statements he’d make about me as well.  It was incredibly dehumanizing, and chilled me to the marrow of my bones.

And worst of all…I eventually learned about all the horrifically depraved things he was actually doing behind my back.

So it wasn’t just words. There were plenty of actions, and to this day it turns my stomach thinking about what I’ve learned:donald trump, meghann andreassen, election 2016

Coerced threesomes with vulnerable young women. Sex with one woman in a park, because I was at home and he was trying to keep it a secret (she was drunk and I’ve since been told by a witness she was not fully on board with what was happening but he was quite persistent). Bringing young women home and (from what I’ve been told) having sex with them in my bed while I wasn’t home. There was even an orgy of sorts, where he and two or three other men had sex with a young woman all at once.  Yes, again in my home (I was working on my business ventures a lot, if people are wondering where I was during all of this). He and his friends took advantage of her need for a place to stay (and I know that same young woman now has negative feelings about the whole experience, because she’s said so).

Then of course there was all the shameless flirting he did with women, both in front of me and when I wasn’t around. With women in person, and also to endless women online via Facebook, Snapchat, and elsewhere. And then of course there’s the fact that he also was apparently running around bragging to several people that he was just waiting for me to strike it rich with my business, and then his plan was to take half of everything, leave me, and return to his ex (multiple sources confirmed that depressing fact after I finally broke up with him).

Does this sound to you like a man who has nothing but the highest respect for women?

Oh, and those comments he’d make about how he wouldn’t dream of ever hitting or harming a woman? That was false too. I witnessed him hit a young woman upside the head – twice – with an open palm…and to this day I still can’t figure out why he was prompted to do such a thing.

I say all that simply because I vowed I would never again stay silent if I witnessed depraved behavior on the part of anyone, man or woman. And at this point, that includes the actions of a potential POTUS.

Donald Trump can say all he wants that he has the highest regard for women…but I assure you, he does not. I guarantee you the way he was talking in that recording is how he talks 99% of the time, and he only cleans it up a little when he knows cameras are rolling.

meghann andreassenI know who and what he is, because I lived with someone just like him for well over 18 months.  A narcissist.  A psychopath.

No doubt his supporters probably won’t care what I have to say. And that’s okay; it took me a long time to finally come to grips with the true nature of the relationship I found myself in too. No one wants to believe such depraved people can truly exist in this world; most of us are always looking for the good in those around us.  And that’s a good thing.  Nothing to be ashamed of, and so there’s no judgment from me on that front. I’m not trying to change minds. But months of working through all the trauma with a therapist, and teasing apart the last few years of my life, has left me unable to sit silently by at this point either.

Maybe all I can do is post this in my tiny little speck of the internet, where most people won’t even see it…but that’s okay. I’ll do it anyway, with all my heart.

Your behavior is deplorable, Mr. Trump. And I won’t accept any of your excuses any longer. It’s all the same kind of rationale Randall would use when I’d confront him; and you know what? It’s complete and utter nonsense. I know plenty of men in my life who don’t speak about women in such a degrading, dehumanizing way.  You could do better…you just choose not to.

So I call bullshit on that. And I always will.

 

 

**Disclaimer: Names and other identifying information about certain individuals have been changed to protect the identities of individuals whose permission I have not gained to write publicly about their lives; but aside from those names and specific personal identifiers, all the events described herein are factually correct and occurred as I’ve described.