Friday, March 6, 2009

Toxic Trauma Drama at the WLS Ranch

RESPECT...a very important word in life. And here's a couple more...

Compassion, Empathy

Don't we know what these words mean anymore? The fact that so many people simply forego any hint of the golden rule just blows me away. So many dish it out but certainly don't want the same in return. Forums, boards, and blogs are sometimes a vast wasteland of disrespect and anonymous bullying.

The squeaky wheel so often gets the grease because so many boards don't have a lot of structure. It sort of reminds me of the old West...Cowboys and Indians...before Marshall Dillon rode into town...... pretty much whatever you can get away with at the expense of other's feelings just so long as you bulldoze your point through because you have to prove how right you are and how wrong someone else is. It is not a place for the weak at me.

Yup, go ahead and call me a Pollyanna. I'm just plain worn out from toxic trauma drama on forums, boards, and blogs....well wherever it is.

I'd love for the moderators to put a little icon before each of the applicable threads that says TTD.

As weight loss surgery people we are already very vulnerable and after a lifetime of negativity due to obesity, I don't understand why we must continue to pile more anxiety upon our already stressful lives. The other problem is that it starts (usually) with a post that isn't so bad but it's where it goes that gets dangerous. (sorry Dad for the language but this is a bland representation of reality)

Alice: I like orange and I can't see why anyone would like red...I mean what are you thinking?

Betty: Well I like orange too but if you like red, you're nuts.

Cheryl: I like red, orange sucks and you can go to hell

Betty: Cheryl, you're a freakin' bitch!

Dawn: Betty you're freakin' bitch because I've liked red longer than anyone so you don't know crap!

Alice: Don't call my friend Betty a bitch and your surgery type sucks too.

Cheryl: You're fat and I'm at goal

Betty: I can lose weight but you can't fix ugly

Truth be told we all have a right to like orange or red. We can agree to disagree. In the meantime a newbie comes to the board looking for some real support, something that might save their life. So....newbie goes away, newbie loses out on good info OR newbie joins in the fun and never figures out how to fight the demons that are the reason for their obesity because they are too busy picking the "right" side. If you HAVE to be right, you HAVE to make someone else wrong.

The other mega fall out is just as potentially harmful. The veterans give up. Why would they want to stay? Their exit is a two fold tragedy. You lose some valuable experience and maybe I'm wrong but I'm thinking you might want someone to hang around that knows something. The other unfortunate part is the fact that veterans lose out on continued education and the all important accountability factor.

Stress causes us to trigger our food addiction (or other addictions) so what do we do?.....we jump right into ramping up the demons. Some people are perfectly unaffected and can play this game but so many are not. I have watched this first hand and I've seen several women sit and eat all day when the toxic trauma drama starts.

Are we our brother's keeper? Maybe...I mean...

I know I can't save the world but I can lead by example and do the best I can to keep my eye on the prize. Each time I take my eye off the prize, I am veering off course...and not walking toward the goal I want more than anything else....and when I participate I also help others veer off course too.

For me...the veterans are the parents in this community and when we fight it is just like the parents arguing in front of the kids. They are already coming in new and vulnerable and when we fight, we just screw them up a little more and feed the monster disease of obesity and addiction.

I'm saying the serenity prayer a little more every day.

If we really understood it, we'd get out of the business of stressing out and getting all pissed off over totally insignificant things that we cannot change. Life isn't fair but there's no use in wasting energy on things we can't change when we still have so much to do to work on ourselves. Since I am no where close to doing it all just right and until I figure out a way to do that, I don't see how I can spend time trying to tell others how to act. I certainly don't appreciate someone telling me how to act so I'm pretty sure no one else likes me to tell them they're doing it all wrong.

And then we have trolls....the ones that do it just to start a fight. We have aggressive trolls, passive/aggressive trolls, famous trolls and anonymous trolls. They start a fight for the fun of it and then everyone gets involved over an issue that was fake in the first place!!

I've been really active on the boards for almost 8 years. I have learned so much in those 8 years and the online support forums have figured out things that some of the bariatric programs haven't even begun to cover.... but for the life of me it is almost more than I can take sometimes when my WLS brothers and sisters start butting heads over things that don't matter.

Call me a dreamer...but I still hold out some hope that it can happen one day...

but until then I'll continue to do my best to offer support and help to those that want it and try my best to avoid the toxic trauma drama.

So fight if you want...but for now I'll just continue to answer to Pollyanna, Goodie Two Shoes, Naive Girl, whatever....

I'll be the one sitting in the corner singing Kum ba yah.

p.s. Here's the great recipe for life that I posted before.


1.Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.
2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Talk to the God of your understanding about what is going on in your life.
3. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today. I am thankful for______________'
4. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
5. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.
6. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
7. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
8. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
9. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
10. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
11. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
12. You are not so important that you have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
13. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
14. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
15. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
16. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'
17. Forgive everyone for everything.
18. What other people think of you is none of your business.
19. GOD heals everything - but you have to ask Him.
20. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
21. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch!!!
22. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
23. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________.
Today I accomplished _________.
24. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.
25. When you are feeling down, start listing your many blessings. You'll be smiling before you know it.

26. READ 7 AND 14 AGAIN!


Anonymous said...

Very well said.

Anonymous said...

Yvonne, I'll join you in the corner. I love "Kum ba Yah".

Anonymous said...

Awesome! Could not have said it better myself. Thank you for leading by your shining example! Terry T [Galveston]

Alirat said...

Amen Sister! I totally agree with you. You have summed up a very sad fact of life on the WLS forums. We all need support and love and it is heartbreaking to see some of the destructive comments that can erupt. Long Live Love.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE YOU!!!! Your are so right. That is exactly why I am doing what I am doing. The judgments need to stop and we need to build a community. A non toxic community. I am on your side of the fence girlfriend! Thank you for this amazing post. It so needed to be said. We do this for the core reason..long term success. A new lease on life. Not fame or fortune. For me it is my accountability and giving back and sharing with the community the gift I was given....

A standing ovation for you!!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely Yvonne.. It's interesting that after we posted our "My surgery is better than your surgery" episode we got our first troll at BTV. It's like a moth to a bright light.. I just don't understand why folks have to be so mean. I am with you on being a pollyanna. I get told to 'toughen up' or some such nonesense.. but I don't want to toughen up.. they need to 'nicen up' - IMHO.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself! I'll be the one standing next to Laura for the standing O.

Keep up the good work Suzy Cream Cheese :-)


Unknown said...

Hey Lynnda, wanna borrow some of my troll spray???

Donna said...

Precisely why I don't participate in the blogs. Unfortunately there are times when there is more drama than support and frankly, if you're not with the "in" crowd or are kin to the ensuing drama, it seems little support is extended. That said, there are always those who go above and beyond to reach out to others, but in general, any support boards I have been a part of never "feel" right. :( Good for you... hope your thoughts turn into an endeavor.

Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister! It happens to all forums, I've seen it among photographers, divers and seamstresses. Seems in every genre there are some who needs some sort of drama or they aren't happy. Or should that be unhappy? Just one reason I don't post to any type of message boards very often.

Thanks for stepping out on the proverbial limb for us all and for all you do for the WLS community. You're Awsome!


Anonymous said...

RED? ORANGE? No way!!! GREEN RULES!!! Ok...rant over...I totally agree with your blog, but we all know there will probably always be nay-sayers, trolls and the negative folks (unfortunately). The GOOD thing is, there will also be peeps like YOU--our smiling Yvonne, "Diva of All things Positive". PLEASE keep up your untiring work, my friend-I, for one, NEED your positive energy!!

Anonymous said...

So true , Just found your blog and loved the recipe list ;)it hit the nail on the head of all the back room politics off why can`t we just help each other out.

Anonymous said...


I love you honey and I'm very proud of you!

Anonymous said...

Your blog ensprired me. What is the song on your page?

Unknown said...

Thanks so very much to everyone! The song is "Ache" by James Carrington. It's funny,there were few choices for music but I loved this song. Thanks so much for the kind words...

Kittie said...

I think you have been reading my mind. I found a couple threads over the last week on a board I belong to that really gave me that pit in my stomach .. I don't like confrontation. I avoid it like the plague. I guess that makes me a Pollyanna as well. So be it. I refuse to act like a jackass and treat people badly. I've had it done to me enough through my life I know how it feels.

I really stepped out of my comfort zone joining a couple Bariatric forums and blogging my history. I know that opens me up for all sorts of things. But if what I have to say can help or encourage anyone then it's all worth it.

The other forums I belong to I Admin or Moderate and we don't tolerate trolling or flaming or any rude behavior.

So for me to join forums where I am the newbie .. whew that really was a big step for me.

When I see those sorts of threads come up I just run in the other direction I don't even like reading them.

Toxic Trauma Drama is a very appropriate term ... They are so toxic just reading them makes me feel sick. I can't imagine what goes on for the people fighting back and forth. I just don't have the strength to deal with that sort of stuff.

Maybe I am a weak person ... maybe I am naive as well. But I like being the person I am and being able to lay my head on the pillow at night knowing I didn't trash anyone and make them feel like nothing.

A great post! Thank you xx

Anonymous said...

As a newbie on a weight loss board, I posted an innocent comment - and ended up getting my head ripped off via a personal email from one of the members I had added to my friends list who took it personally. I haven't had my surgery yet, and I can tell you it actually made me cry! (what can I say, I'm sensitive! lol). This was NOT what I needed just before surgery. I really appreciate your post - a little compassion and empathy go a really long way!

Unknown said...

Dear Anon Newbie,
I am so sorry for your experience on the board. Unfortunately people don't even realize how they sound sometimes because so much is lost in the written word...and then sometimes it's not. It particularly bothers me when a newbie is involved because I don't want them to go away from a place that could possibly save their life. Know that is wasn't about you. People want you to join them in their miserable place and that's the easiest way for them to do it. I hope you are doing OK and I'm here if you need to talk.
Many blessings, Yvonne

Gastric Bypass Barbie said...

In my experience, toxic trauma drama (TTD) happens when there is a perfect storm of: INNOCENCE, DEFENSIVENESS and IGNORANCE, with a little SARCASM, SELF-DESTRUCTIVENESS and the NEED TO PLEASE thrown in for good measure.

In many cases, you'll witness something I call a "fire bombing" -- This happens when a person (the fire bomber) opens a door (comments on a thread), tosses a fire bomb into the room (says something that is intended to be inflammatory, but is vague enough to be easily "misinterpreted), then closes the door and waits for someone to "stumble" upon the resultant carnage.

Of course, the person in the room has no idea HOW the attack happened, and isn't even sure it really DID happen. (Are they imagining things? Did that person really MEAN what it sounds like they SAID? Did I deserve this attack? Why are they doing this to me?)

Ambiguity and confusion are hallmarks of a good fire bomber. Before the person in the room can begin to unravel the rapidly unfolding disaster, someone "helpfully" comes along, sees the mess, and blames the person IN THE ROOM.

Eventually, the scene will draw a crowd of people who, in the interest of BEING ACCEPTED, will inaccurately discern the "facts" of the story -- BUT, not from the victim in the room, nor from the person who actually did the damage -- They will glean the "facts" from the passersby who are inaccurately "reporting" the sordid details, in an effort to gain authority and stature within the group.

Occasionally, the fire bomber will check in and feign sympathy for the victim, or render fake help. This ensures that there is no connection to them as the perpetrator. After all, if they had thrown the bomb, why would they be on scene rendering aid?

Meanwhile, people who know nothing of what happened flock to the new "savior" (aka fire bomber) like sheep to the slaughter, all in a desperate need to BELONG to the RIGHT GROUP.

Anyone who attempts to put out the flames will be villainized, held up as a traitor, then ridiculed and scorned as the topic of other, equally destructive forum threads.

Unfortunately, human nature dictates that many believe the worst first, rather than asking questions for clarification. Throw the online component into the mix, and you end up with falsely emboldened people who would never dream of saying in person things they effortlessly say online.

In my experience, people are messy, but formerly obese people are even MESSIER. Why? Because they can't tame their nastiness with their previous drug of choice, so they take their pain out on whichever unfortunate soul happens to cross their path at the wrong moment.

I know it sounds fatalistic, but I just call it realistic and work hard to steer clear of it. Sadly, I still sometimes get sucked into the fan blades, but at least I don't take it personally (too personally, anyway). I usually work to see the humanity in the offending person and recognize that they might truly believe they are doing a good thing.

Sometimes, it doesn't work, but I keep trying! LOL.

Anonymous said...

Yvonne, that was well said. When I was a newbie 8 years ago, the message boards I was on were so different. Now, I don't even go there any more because there is so much negativity and fighting that it was bringing me down. I want to look at the world in a brighter way and I like to look for the good in people. kindness and mutual respect and a sense of humor go a long way.