In Defense of Dr. Phil…….When “Outrage Culture”Shifts Focus from the Real Issue……

Yep. I’m going there today.

And yes, I’m just as surprised as you. But here we go.

Two weeks ago Tuesday, Dr. Phil’s daily TV program was titled, “I Swiped Right On My Quadriplegic Boyfriend.” The basic premise of the show was that the girlfriend had become her boyfriend’s full-time care giver because they couldn’t find proper caregivers for him.

And ever since the episode ended, the internet has lost their collective minds over some of the contents of the show.  Specifically over two things that Dr. Phil said:

“You have a choice to make you’ll have to make it today. You can be his caregiver, or you can be his lover, you can’t be both.”
and,
“100 out of 100 times, this won’t work”

Now, knowing what the episode was titled mixed with these statements, one could draw the conclusion that Dr. Phil was pissing on interabled relationships (where one partner is able-bodied while the other is disabled) and declaring that you can’t be a spouse/partner and a full-time caregiver simultaneously. Because “100 out of 100 times, this won’t work.”

Infuriating, right? Makes you want to take your wheelchair down to the TV lot where the show is filmed and “accidentally” run him down.

Except that both of these statements that I’ve seen posted on disability blogs (the first of which appeared on a prominent internet space where disabled writers have a voice but curiously are not paid, all while the site grows in popularity-and where I used to regularly contribute), are taken WILDLY out of context.

And I get it. As a person with a disability, I first saw those clips of the show and those words come out of his mouth and I lost my mind. How dare he say that! I decried him on Facebook, shared the article in several places and almost bought (in bulk) a tee-shirt that said, #100outof100.

Then I took a breath. And decided I needed to watch the episode in its entirety before making a take down response. Because, I reasoned, I like to be fully informed before I take someone down on the internet. 😛

So I decided to seek out and watch the entire episode.

And then I realized, after watching the episode, that instead of writing a take down piece, I would have to write this.

I understand difference of opinion but when the conversation in the disability community shifts away from the truth that those who abuse can be disabled, it takes away from the serious nature of the actual problem and therefore those who are in interabled abusive relationships can’t get the help they need.

Yep.

Turns out the couple featured on the show were in the midst of a toxic relationship. The boyfriend had become a quadriplegic after a racing accident (he was a motorcycle racer) and was still so bitter that he refused to allow anyone in to take care of him full-time besides his girlfriend and would call her names and berate her when he was angry. At one point they mentioned he spit on her in anger.

Meanwhile, the girlfriend was so burnt out from taking care of him full-time on top of the verbal abuse he lobbed at her (she was also losing weight from stress) and THAT is why they were on the show. She would also lash out at him in response to his abuse.

Now back to those inflammatory comments:

After hearing both sides of the issue, Dr. Phil declared to the girlfriend that, “You can be his caregiver or you can be his girlfriend, but you can’t be both.” This only pertained to her situation. She was mentally drowning and needed to make that choice. Dr. Phil in no way implied that everyone in an interabled relationship as a full-time caregiver couldn’t also be a good lover. This advise was for her and her alone.

For the boyfriend, Dr. Phil brought on another interabled couple to help him understand that he can overcome his anger over the accident that landed him in a chair.

Now let’s talk about outrage culture. In this instance, the calls for Dr. Phil to be cancelled and the outrage that he disrespected the entire disability community takes away from the real issue of this couples pain and shedding light on interabled domestic abuse. Which for some reason not a lot of people want to talk about and statistics on abusers who are disabled seemingly don’t even exist. 

However, stats on disabled domestic abuse DOES exist and according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “police are less likely to respond to reported violence against people with disabilities” (At 70% as opposed to responding to non disabled reporting at 90%)

Based on the above statistic (and the fact that March is domestic violence awareness month), articles and commentaries really missed the mark by not shedding more light on this topic after the Dr. Phil episode aired. 

**If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship you can anonymously call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at: 1-800-799-7233 or go to https://www.thehotline.org/ 

Blogger Reboot…..Please Hold **Cue elevator muzak **

It happened yesterday. I was writing a post for my blog and it just wasn’t coming. I also had an overwhelming feeling of being overwhelmed. Like I was standing in the middle of a giant bowl of uncooked bread dough. And I was slowly sinking into the gooeyness (Anyone else feel the need for a cinnamon roll right about now? 😛 ). After a chat with a good friend of mine who has several books under her belt, I realized what I needed to do.

I need to take a blogging/writing break. Just for a few days to reboot my system.

In the meantime, here are a few blogging friends of mine that would love your visit:

1. https://hashtagsareforfootballfields.wordpress.com  (my cousin Emily is as hilarious as she is wise)

2. https://bhharned.wordpress.com/

3. https://bensbitterblog.com/

4. https://walkerkaty0.wordpress.com/

Ok kids, I guess that’s all for today. I’ll see you back here in a few days. While you are here visiting, if you could please clean up any mess that you make I’d really appreciate it.

Oh and if you don’t mind, can you make sure one of you waters my piranha plant at least once per day? His name is George and despite his outward appearance, he just wants to be your friend. I promise. 😉

this-weird-piranha-plant-sculpture-looks-horr-L-_Hk2_E

Cheers!

Blogging Milestone: On Handling Your First Troll…

There comes a time in every writer’s life when you stumble upon your first troll. How you react can set the tone for the rest of your career.

Unlike the trolls of our childhood that hid under bridges and harassed unsuspecting billy goats, these types of trolls you are unable to see. They hide behind their computers and can spout nasty verbiage that lands on the comment section of your blog. Trolls just don’t disagree with your written opinion, but often express themselves using name-calling and bitterness. Today I share some tips on how to deal with your first one.

1. Celebrate!: Ok, this seems a tad wrong to celebrate someone who has said not so kind things to you, but I’ll let you in on a little secret: trolls usually strike when they see elements of the truth in your writing or the words you speak (Now, in an effort to cover my bum, I just want to point out that sometimes trolls come out in defense OF the truth. I call them benevolent trolls. These days you can find them hard at work in the comment section of any article or video from Donald Trump 😉 ). If you never had a troll, that actually means that your writing hasn’t had much of an impact. Celebrate when you find one in the comment section of your blog and make the comment visible (as long as it’s not using bad language or threatening anyone. Moderation tools were created for a reason. Use them).

Honestly, I’ve been doing this blogging thing for not quite a year (my 1-year blogaversary is coming up next month), and I didn’t think I’d get my first troll so soon. I don’t even have that many subscribers (but I appreciate you all! Please share links to my blog with your friends, family, pastor, dog, and that random guy who stands on the corner and shouts incoherent babble. My current goal is to get into triple digits by February. 😉 )

2. Add them to your prayer list: At this point you might think I’m totally bonkers, but hear me out. These types of negative trolls are negative because their lives are not very rich or full of joy. Pray for them that they will find joy in building people up instead of tearing them down. Pray that they somehow are able to get out of their pit of darkness.

3. Ignore them: There is a quote in the new book by Jen Hatmaker (she’s basically like the MotherShip for the Christian blogging/author community 😉 ) that states:

“Don’t try to win over the haters (trolls), you aren’t the jackass whisperer!”

Ignoring/blocking a nasty comment from a troll gives you back control of your blog that the troll attempted to usurp.

Getting your first troll is in some ways a rite of passage for your blog. I hope you find these tips useful. But if they all have failed, try to dance along to the video below. I promise if it doesn’t help you feel better, at least it helped you burn off some calories! 😉

Remember, you are not alone!

Cheers!

 

A Month of Blogs: Lessons Learned

I’ve been blogging now 5 days a week for one month, and as of this post, two days. While saving this document I realize this is lucky #20. If you think the number 20 is lucky, anyway. In that time I’ve pored over the contents of my writing, making sure it’d reach as many as possible. By this point I feel like I could teach a seminar on the art of tagging. It’d be short, but you’d learn a few things. I also spend time every day refreshing my stats page to see the number of views/likes/comments very slowly climb. Very slowly. To the point of having to reload the entire page because it’ll inevitably crash. 

As a person whose primary Love Language is words of affirmation, it can be a bummer to log into my WordPress account and not see the stats bar move very far. If at all. I also worry that by saying this you’ll get the impression that I’m shilling for more views. I’m not.

One month ago, I felt the Lord leading me to blog on my experiences with anxiety in an effort to help others. And that’s the key; others. It’s never been about me, even though I’m writing about things that happened to me. Whoa, that’s a pretty deep epiphany for 1:15am.

Last night my husband and I watched– or attempted to watch– the movie, “Heaven Is For Real”. I say attempted because it was a free rental, and neither of us remembered that sometimes rentals can be damaged and skip key parts of the film. Several times. While frustrating, we stuck it out. Especially since I have read the book several times, and narrated what was skipped to the delight of my husband. The book and the movie are quite different, and if I were to make a recommendation, I’d say read the book.  For those of you unfamiliar, here’s a brief synopsis: HIFR is based on a true story about an American child, Colton Burpo, who visits heaven while having surgery for a ruptured appendix. At the time of his visit he is 4 yrs old. His parents, a pastor and his wife, are left to slowly figure out the truth by talking to their son, and gently encouraging him to tell what happened in his own words. In the book, the church and small town are inspired by Colton’s story and embrace the family. On the other hand, the movie paints the town and some in the church as doubters, and a few even make fun of the situation.

Seeing this section in the movie made me realize something. You know the old saying, “What is popular is not always right and what is right is not always popular?” This is definitely true as a follower of Jesus. When the Lord speaks to you and tells you to do something, you do it. Despite what others might say. When Colton told his family he had visited heaven, they believed him, despite what others said. The family felt led by God to share Colton’s story, despite the negative attention some gave them. It was never about giving themselves glory, but focusing that glory on God.

I think this is the biggest lesson I’ve learned in this month-long blogging journey. I was led by Jesus to begin my blog, not knowing how long it’d last or how many I’d write. Not even knowing how many people would read it, if any. But the intended focus has always been to use my experience to help others. And if I only ever had one follower, they would be my mission field and focus. I was asked to follow a certain path, and let God handle the rest. Even to the point of trusting Him when I was hesitant to reveal my beliefs, for fear of alienating my audience–I understand that religion can be a source of anxiety for folks. And so I march on. 

One month in, I hope you’ve found encouragement and hope in my little space on the internet. I don’t know how long we’ll be together, but I know I’ve enjoyed the ride so far. So buckle up. I’ll see you tomorrow!

Remember you are not alone (Jesus loves you SO much!)  🙂 

Cheers!