chriek: (やらないか)
bri ([personal profile] chriek) wrote2017-06-13 07:43 pm
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I've let so many people mess with my head that it's a wonder I haven't forgotten my own name. Even the therapist I went to manipulated me into believing I had misidentified my own trauma and that after leaving Landmark I didn't need to talk about it anymore. But lately I've been remembering that I was a different person before Landmark. No, "remembering" isn't really the word. It's more like I've noticed that I keep repeating that thought that in my head. "I wasn't like this before." And reading the section titled "Hang on to your hats folks, this is a long, sad story from an insider" from here further clinched it for me.

I used to be angry at my father. There was guilt but there was also bitter dislike that I blew up and showed when he provoked me. If you'd told me then that he was a sociopath I probably wouldn't be that surprised - pissed, but not so torn up over it. Because I never doubted myself then. I felt guilty for hating him but angry enough to assert myself against his bullshit. (It's probably why he got on me to do the Forum.)

This has stopped being about him.

Trying to recover from Landmark is in some ways a lot harder than the whole sociopathy thing. At least with sociopathy, other survivors are on your side. When I've gone looking for information on Landmark's techniques I've inevitably come across things which have casually dismissed Landmark's tactics in favor of what they want to believe Landmark is about. If I've learned anything through studying sociopathy it's that you look at behavior, not words. Landmark is always about the people you "invite." Every 10-session seminar has at least 20 - 30 minutes devoted to the upcoming "special evening" that you're supposed to invite people to (or at least come yourself, even though you've heard all this shit before). You're "invited" to "listen newly" so having gone 15 times already is no excuse not to go again. There is a huge push in the leadership programs of having to get a certain percentage of attendees. This is proof (i.e. a "measure") of your "transformation."

Thing is I never gave a damn about that "transformation" crap. I was hurting over what had happened in my life and Landmark's response was I had "made it up" and could therefore "create a new possibility" and wasn't it HILARIOUS that we attach so much "significance" to these events in the first place? And if I was having trouble "creating a clearing for possibility" well that was just because I was getting something out of holding on to my "story" about it all. After all, that was just my "interpretation" of events. Well, great - because that meant any real emotion I had was being deliberately held onto and that I was self-victimizing (i.e. "on it") and blah, blah...

In short, it was always my fault. That's how Landmark works. If something works, it's because of Landmark. If something doesn't go to plan, it's the fault of the participant. It's very Animal Farm.

I felt punched in the face by them telling me others had acted fine and I was the jerk for still feeling pain. I tried to talk to them about it and was told, "this is why nobody likes you! You need to get that you're an asshole!" I knew back then that it wasn't true. I told her so. She said, "you just like to be right!" I mean, what the hell kind of conversation can you have with someone like that? She was old enough to be my grandmother. I really didn't know what to do with the situation.

God forgive you if you're late to any Landmark seminar or event. The lay heavy on humiliation as a tactic. "Don't you get the 'impact' it has on the group when you don't 'honor' your 'word' by being here on time?" The irony in that of course is nobody would have even noticed if the seminar leader didn't throw a self-righteous shitfit of condescension. Oh, but that's the leader "standing for possibility!" There's always some excuse like that. "We're here for an extraordinary life!"

Ah, but tactics - right. The point is they hound you to bring people. They tell you to get on calls with your group, they want you to volunteer to cold call people, the seventh session is always a guest session... Whether Landmark is about money or control or something else matters very little to me. But their behavior, their push ("don't you want people in your life to have 'gotten' what you've 'gotten'?")... it's all focused on bringing guests. They refer to it as "your transformation living in the world"... but it's all about guests. All about guests. Not just guests, but specifically ones who sign up to do Landmark.

Sign-ups ("registrations") are the endgame. Period.

Some people online seem to want to delude themselves that Landmark is really about helping people. They want to focus on the positives and conclude that Landmark just isn't utilizing the opportunity they have in the best way. They are utilizing the opportunity exactly as they mean to be utilizing it. This is what drives me crazy. The absolute naiveté framed as deeper understanding. Giving the benefit of the doubt to an organization whose actions are even admitted by these people to be a "very high-pressure sales technique."

Do you really not understand that the high-pressure sales technique is the ACTUAL point of Landmark? Landmark doesn't give a damn about you! If you got something out of their programs, their interest is to attempt to exploit that into you bringing more people to Landmark. IT'S NOT ABOUT YOUR INSIGHT, IT'S NOT ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIPS. It's about that sweet, sweet money registration.

Ugh, it drives me crazy.

I even skimmed an article today by a woman who thinks she wasn't brainwashed.
Eventually, I realise I'm breaking the promise I made to be coachable. I decide to stop analysing, and simply give Jerry my trust.


Promises are a thing in Landmark. They have you stand up when you make certain promises, or raise your hands. They give ultimatums like, "if you aren't going to do the course as it's designed, leave now!" Shit like that. Words in your mouth, and any decent person hesitates to break a promise (even a forced one).

But yeah, the "transformation" shit never did it for me. Didn't give a fuck about their precious "possibility" either. It was just... shock. I was in shock from how people were talking to each other. I was shocked at the minimization. I had no way, no idea of how to handle it. This was a totally different tactic to the ones I was used to. It was calling me out for not "taking responsibility." When someone makes a complaint, I consider it seriously. Maybe I shouldn't as much of the time now but I didn't know then...

Their arguments were hard to understand. I've since learned about strawman arguments and character attacks, and man did both wear me down. Every problem I had was me "resisting." One of their tenets (kind of weird now that I look back on it) was about Domination/Avoiding Being Dominated. Like it was somehow a bad thing either way? "You're not letting yourself be dominated by life!" This was supposed to inspire shame? I don't even know.

Also, can we talk about what the woman in the article said? About being "coachable?" So what this meant was you had to do WHATEVER the leader suggested to you. You were supposed to "try it on" before saying no to it.


First of all, I don't owe you SHIT for your suggestion. Secondly, PLEASE SEE MY MIDDLE FINGER. Lastly, GO FUCK YOURSELF.

If you tried to reason with them (as I did) you were done for. I wanted to be fair, I wanted to be decent. But their demands and expectations were so fucking unreasonable. (Something they seemed proud of?) It might sound like a stupid complaint but I put up with so many people I DIDN'T EVEN LIKE because of their shit about me being unfair to them in some way. Like I owed people for existing and had to be a "powerful listening" even when I detested the person. Because, they merrily liked to chirp, "feelings lie! :D" So even my feelings about someone were supposed to be malleable.

Let's get this straight: feelings don't lie. Sometimes the thoughts we have that bring up the feelings turn out to be wrong in some way or in full. Like one of my coworkers has a brash personality and at first I took it personally but then I realized that's how he is with everyone. I stopped thinking "he's judging the shit out of me!" and realized "he has a poor brain-to-mouth filter." I went from feeling angry and sad to feeling semi-amused and pretty much okay. My feelings didn't lie, I just didn't have enough information.

I understand that sometimes our feelings can be fleeting about less important things but I think it's a GIANT MISTAKE to apply that thinking to times of actual trauma. Minor irritations are not the same as someone calling you an asshole and telling you the painful times in your life can all be let go of in one weekend - and that if you don't it's because you enjoy your pain and want people to feel sorry for you.

Man, did that upset me. All or nothing, black or white! Either you get over years of trauma in three days or you're throwing yourself a pity party and are shamefully exploiting people! It never dawned on me that actually, Landmark doesn't determine reality like that. They're so confrontational about it, though. So unrelenting beyond any normal responses I've gotten. Again, it's a point of pride for them - being "unstoppable" and "unreasonable" in order to "live an extraordinary life!"

Honestly, maybe I don't even know what I was doing there. I think I wanted help. I remember I was drinking to the point of blacking out because of how miserable I felt after giving in to my parents' career plans for me. My father had been such a shit when I'd tried to go to therapy that I didn't even try anymore at that point. I felt so scared during that first exposure to Landmark (in the Forum) that I couldn't even think of leaving. It really has been the worst experience of my life.

It's hard to talk about clearly and steadily, though. And it gets frustrating because even 3.5 years after leaving I still hate the life that Landmark built for me through their "training."

I sincerely hate my life right now.

And in a way that's progress because what I used to hate was myself. I don't hate myself now but I do get seriously angry and annoyed when I still act on their brainwashing. I know a lot's changed but I still can't really stand up to them in my mind. I know how to tell other people "no" but saying "no" inside my head is way harder for me. Except living like this is basically like telling myself, "I'm worthless." Because if I had worth I would never go along with shit like working a job I know is absolutely boring and pointless and not at all the best use of my abilities. I wouldn't diss myself like that.

The last thing I can probably touch on for now (and probably not even fully since I need to head to bed soon) is that one of the things I feel most upset and bitter about is my writing. All of their shit got in my head and I haven't been able to enjoy writing since. When you're too busy proving yourself or worrying about shit (something I did NOT used to do pre-Landmark) or rigidly holding yourself to impossible standards... you can't think in that free, open way anymore.

I've desperately wanted to undo this. Writing made life worthwhile. I've tried all kinds of shit to try and bring it back (including The Artist's Way which is so... "Write morning pages three times a day! Go on an artist date with yourself!" Some of the lamest things I've ever tried. I ended up giving my book away, I didn't want that shit anymore). Even writing classes... it's just stupid. I know it's not a matter of exposure or creative spaces (or whatever); it's a matter of the bullshit thinking stuck in my head. What made it worse was that when I started not being able to write of course people in Landmark told me I was doing it on purpose because I was "getting something out of it!" Please, shut up. That doesn't even make sense. I'd never do something that dumb to myself. Not consciously. This was all because I didn't walk away. Staying in Landmark was like giving myself the finger. That shit does damage. And I'm trying like hell to repair it but it's... I don't even know what to say to myself anymore. Landmark had this thing about control (they called it "integrity" which is so blatantly ironic that I can't even... ugh). Like if you didn't control something you did it willfully. Even things not in control you were supposed to "take responsibility" for. MAKES NO SENSE, YOU CAN ONLY REALLY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOURSELF AND NOT OTHER PEOPLE BUT ALL RIGHTY

The reason I mention it is because it's still stuck in my head that it's on me to control everything. I'm going to re-emphasize that I did not used to be like this before Landmark. What they said was that we each individually control other people's emotions and how they see us (i.e. we "impact" them); and that if they don't like us or react favorably (aren't "enrolled") we were being "inauthentic" or any other number of nonsense words.

This has really stuck with me. Not the terms themselves but this idea that I somehow control others. My crappy cunt of a therapist asked me why I thought "I was that important that I could control others." BITCH I DID NOT COME UP WITH THAT THOUGHT. She was so condescending when she said it, too.

The idea that others' feelings rely on me or that if they think something then it's my fault... I mean. What the hell are you supposed to do? It's like people are suffering if I don't help them or... I don't know. I over-empathized and forgot about myself. Landmark accomplished what my father had never managed to do in that regard.

I don't want to control how anyone sees me. I don't want to be responsible for their expectations, either - especially if I haven't specifically said I was going to do something. I don't want to apologize for myself or think of others first to the point that I don't even realize how I'm doing. I feel so bitter about people's needs because I've been convinced by Landmark that it's somehow my doing and it'll only get better if I make it better. They really give people ZERO credit and act like all adults are wayward children who need a firm hand and insults to guide them through their stupidity into "transformation". It's insulting as hell and they always smile as they do it.

I want to know it's not my fault. I want to know I have no obligation to others to take care of their problems for them. I hate having that burden, it makes me hate talking to people. In Landmark they even made you be more facially expressive when you were listening so that someone would feel really listened to. I felt like I was doing emotional acrobatics and I hated it. I'm an expressive person when I hold actual interest in something; how is it my fault if I have different interests than the person? It's not like I'm rude about it but to try to force a reaction out of myself so that the other person doesn't feel bad... I really hate it! I hate feeling put upon to react!

It's like some part of me wants to tell people I CARE ABOUT YOU BUT I ALSO WANT TO LIVE MY OWN LIFE AND NOT HAVE EVERY ACTION OF MINE TAKEN PERSONALLY. It's frustrating to care and be told WELL YOU DON'T REALLY BECAUSE YOU HAVEN'T INVITED PEOPLE! OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE JUST EMPTY WORDS. It hasn't felt like enough to know my own feelings about people, especially since I hate care-taking. I guess it's because SO MANY THINGS were taken personally and I got so mad... For instance, me not wanting to volunteer my time to Landmark was taken as a reflection of my lack of commitment. My lack of enthusiasm was called willful refusal to enjoy the moment (one particular group of fucks called me "Daria" - I mean, GET OUT OF HERE). I was supposed to give all my time away or else I wasn't really serious. Okay, maybe it's not having things taken personally so much as having shitty things accused when I didn't cooperate. Landmark pretended to be okay with "no" but if you actually said "no" they did all they could to try to get you to reverse it to a "yes." I mostly experienced it as accusations of my motives and/or seriousness. I should have said, "I don't need to prove myself to you" but instead I said, "OH I'LL SHOW YOU HOW DAMN WRONG YOU ARE." Which is the stupid way to handle it because my compliance was exactly what they were aiming for. I was never okay with the shit they were saying to me about myself. I was tired of being ganged up on, humiliated, condescended to. WHAT THE HELL WAS I SUPPOSED TO DO? I wanted a way to lash out, strike back, tell them to fuck off. Somehow that meant angrily complying. Ugh... I need to work on it.

Lastly: I also need to get in the habit of realizing that it's okay if some things don't get done right away. Landmark was too big on EVERYTHING AT ONCE ALL THE TIME ALL THE THINGS but that's super exhausting and unnecessary on a daily basis. So I'd like to somehow dismantle that thought process.

Well, I wrote far later than I meant to and I sorely need sleep and this isn't done in a well-flowing format because I can't do that as well with trauma but hey, whatever, I got some things out so that's good. Might make for boring reading but helpful to me so not a full loss. /excessive positivity here take notes