Tuff Love is Bullshit

I hear a lot about “tuff love” and I see it surfacing on some of the forums.  I don’t believe in tuff love.  It is something that came out of the “Rooms” and like all trends became a buzzword and a disguise for many a jaded screwed up individual to justify abuse.  This ‘jargon’ has also made it’s way into teen programs for children who were labeled ‘defiant’ ‘out of control’ or suffering from substance abuse.  The problem is oftentimes the acting up has to do with PAIN, and the last thing pain needs is another kick in the gut.


The Trouble With Tuff Love

Tuff Love is an Excuse for Abuse

AND…what about adults implementing  ‘Tuff Love’ on other adults?

Let’s take a walk to the ‘Rooms’

“People who dare to criticize any of this sacred Group-Think dogma can be subjected to any of the punishing tactics mentioned in item 10, Personal attacks on critics.

When it comes to “Group-Feel”, A.A. has a bad case of that, too. Good members are supposed to just “stuff their feelings”, and maintain a flat emotional state that features endless “Serenity and Gratitude.” Other emotions are considered bad, and a sign that someone is failing to “work a strong program”:

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 90.

And the injunction against “resentments” is extremely strong:

‘Resentment is the “number one” offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease…’
The Big Book, 3rd & 4th Editions, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 64.

The only exception to this rule is anger: the old-timers are permitted to snap and snarl at newcomers who don’t conform to the program, and put them down with caustic remarks that drip with sarcasm and condescension. And they pass that behavior off as “tough love.”  A. Orange (AA as a Cult)

If you hear someone use the term “Tuff Love” RUN! What you’re dealing with is a pathological on an ego trip that gets off on abuse…there is nothing “TUFF” about love…the term “TUFF LOVE” is pathological word salad…it’s NLP…it’s BRAINWASHING…

I don’t believe in TUFF LOVE nor do I practice it…

I believe in re-direction, support, understanding and compassion…you don’t kick a dog when they’re down, nor do you feed your ego off of someone else’s pain.  Tuff Love is the abuser’s tool to come off looking like the all knowing hero, the “savior” at the expense of perpetuating the damage.  It’s bullshit.


9 thoughts on “Tuff Love is Bullshit

    • Hahahaha! You brought up the Love Addiction…I forgot about that one! Excellent call! Thank you…yes…LOVE ADDICTION IS BULLSHIT! Its right up there with calling diabetics suffering from passive aggressive disorder towards sugar!!!

  1. Interesting perspective, Betty. I happen to agree with you about AA and their approach. Some of the ‘steps’ are easily applicable to the trauma bond and addiction that these relationships ultimately are, however, going to a meeting is 1. An exercise in futility and encourages emotional dependence and 2. is a breeding ground for predators and there isn’t prey alive more vulnerable when admitting to an addiction and the many elements that are involved in having built the foundation for the addiction in the first place.

    Tough love? I’ve used the word in my work. Your perspective about the intentions for its use, are something I don’t personally agree with. What I do agree with, is that when really carefully considered the word conjures up images that are, in reality, contradictory. Love is not about being ‘tough’ in the sense to which it is used.

    Then we have the opposite of tough love, which is enabling. This is referenced as ‘door mat’. Somehow, I find that word a fixture for powerlessness. Both are extremes and neither is ‘right’.

    Great post! I’d love to reblog it.I figured out how. God, I’m just so fucking smar.t (NOT! Peace, chica!

    • Valid points Kelli, my perspective is – and I did try to look up the history of the word itself because I just have a lil mental chigger convinced that ‘enabling’ stemmed from the rooms also…haha…here’s the thing…we’re both on the same side when it comes to the codependency theory if I recall correctly. I call bullshit to that too when we’re dealing with DV. Now, I cannot lay claim to mastery of the ins and outs of the rooms. Maybe some addicts spouses are codependent, I don’t know…I’m strictly dealing with DV right now and explaining why it’s BULLSHIT when we’re talking DV.

      I’ve read the statistics, a ton of people are not happy with the 12 Step Programs. We know Bill Wilson was on the spectrum, so how could anything SANE come from the source when the source was on the spectrum? It’s manipulation, it’s brainwashing, it’s like you said, a breeding ground for pathologicals; but, it seems to be the only thing those struggling with addiction have. I don’t hate the addict, but not keen on the program. I wish they had quality programs with multifaceted approaches towards healing…I hold most addicts are self medicating pain, or mental illness on some level (not on the Axis II cluster B Spectrum) and more than likely trauma…I don’t view all addicts evil, but there is the reality that there are some real phucked up folks walking around in there 13 stepping BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…you know the drill Kelli we’ve talked about it.

      That being said…when we speak of codependency, allegedly a codependent ‘enables’…if I am against codependency then I also trash ‘enabling’…

      The point you raise from a semantic perspective I’d probably refer to as having strong boundaries…when boundaries are strong, then one is not placed in a position where they are floundering and no one is getting over on you. PERIOD.

      Outside of the rooms, enabling can be viewed as a positive thing, such as enabling someone to succeed. That’s not a bad thing. So for that reason, I don’t buy into the enabling terminology either as it relates to the whole NA Jargon of codependency/enabling and all that jazz…

      My position stands on the ‘semantics’ of Tuff Love and I see from your response that even though you hold a different view in some respects you also get where I’m coming from…again, I opine it comes back to boundaries. Let’s even add an out of control addict into the picture for a minute – someone near and dear to us is acting up…strung out, stole the cable box, whatever…with BOUNDARIES firmly in place, action will be taken…there is no need for the word enabling to even enter the mix. In my book, enabling the generic term, not the bastardized manipulated word salad folks stole from Daniel Webster is a good thing…it’s a positive thing and is not detrimental to me once I know my limits and what I will and will not accept…;)

      As a result of this journey and it’s still a work in progress, my mouth gets me in trouble still to this day, but I try to be conscious of the ‘messages’ and how I relay them because as a whole, society has gotten complacent in their awareness or perhaps better said ability to be sensitive. Feelings are shunned, people run. There was an exceptional website I found on invalidation, and I’d say prior to becoming aware I was guilty for blurting out maybe most if not all of the invalidating statements. There is a distinction between the professional victims and those really struggling with a crisis…I think armed with the knowledge we have, over time we can sniff out when someone is yanking our chain…that being said, given the vulnerability one experiences freshly out of it, I try to keep uppermost in my mind I don’t know who is behind the screen, what their mental health background is, and so try to go as easy as possible only because I’d hate to say the wrong thing, and push them over the edge…it’s ‘my thing’ but I certainly understand and can relate to how frustrating it is to witness someone who is incredibly stuck because they are not choosing to be proactive in their own healing, but in that respect, being only a peer supporter I am powerless over that…when I encounter those types, I try to remain cognizant that I can only control myself…it’s back to boundaries…lol xoxo

      If you’re interested, here’s the link…Invalidation

      • Betty,

        The great thing about our ‘relationship’ is that we can have an open ended discussion that does not lead to spontaneous abandonment of communications between us. LOVE that!

        Having said that, I do believe we will have different perspectives about approach, subsequently AS A RESULT of our experiences.
        I do not like the word ‘codependent’ and never have. This word feels very ‘victimizing’ to me. I feel it removes self empowerment from survivors. I HATE it.
        I have learned through this process that it all comes down to choice. In some ways, it is black and white, heal or don’t heal. What you have in between are all those on the journey at different places. Some of whom are stuck. I have dealt with FAR too many survivors who will not and I am frustrated with the rise of blogs, pages and forums that focus solely on the ‘hysteria’ surrounding the disorders, that encourages survivors to spin, as well as a horrifying irresponsible labeling of others. We are talking about very serious disorders here. I do not take that lightly and while I understand the ‘hypervigilance’ stage, this has been projected by some survivors, even onto me when encouraging a move forward into dealing with trust issues.
        I feel my writing needs to change with my recovery. I no longer feel comfortable writing about the disorders, all the time…..everyday…..well, you get the picture. Anyway, I feel I’m participating in the ‘spin’ and i can’t. The integrity in my work, has to be where I’m at in recovery and all I’ve learned. With my horrendous background, what I’ve learned is that I have choices. I can choose to spin, or I can choose not too. Giving myself options empowered me to move forward. I guess a lot of determination goes with that.

        I do not believe one can squeeze a word like enabling to fit into boundaries. I like boundaries much, MUCH better as it relates to recovery. This implies self empowerment. As you can see, I have trouble with words that imply or suggest directly or indirectly, continued victimization.
        With regards to newbies. Well, they need a place to go. There is enough on my blog about spaths to last a lifetime. All that is really needed to know what they are if a survivor happens upon my blog and doesn’t know. I have seen survivors stumble in, read the stuff and WANT to heal. It’s so different than the page, although there are some awesome women on the page who are invested in their healing too.

        There is a place for everyone in process. Sending the newbies your way is what I intend to do. Hopefully you don’t mind. Perhaps your patience level is monumentally more than my own, but in keeping with my personal boundaries now and wanting to keep integrity with the blog, focusing on recovery and not the disorders is the right thing for me to do.

        I’ll have to read this about invalidation. As with everything you send my way, it’s always interesting!
        We could have different perspectives of invalidation too. To me, invalidation is to assume survivors want to stay victims. I don’t believe that. Aren’t I invalidating them if I encourage them to spin after the recycling date? I can’t be responsible for that. I think if survivors are looking for validation wherever they are in process, they can find it externally, but in reality, it needs to come from within. 🙂

      • Kelli,
        Please don’t misunderstand, I totally get what your saying and I AGREE! 100 percent on the types of support out there etc…which is why I said ‘choose wisely’ in response to one of your blog posts. I also believe your changing your direction on the blog is yet another indicator of further growth, you are or have run out of things to say on that level, it becomes almost like pounding a dead horse…I think its exceptionally wise and responsible to change the focus of your blog because if it’s not coming authentically from the inside you’d be offering redundant regurgitation…when we write (the writing thing a gift) I believe it comes from spirit and we have to be true to what is inside. You’re simply evolving and by going with what is flowing naturally from the inside you will continue to be a source of support to others who are where you are also – it’s all stages, changes…life goes on – it evolves. In my case, I don’t even write that much about it anymore the stuff I’m sharing here is actually stuff moved over from Blogger…I have a creative hub I’m working on and a Fibro/CFS page. I don’t even really engage in discussion unless someone is ‘referred’ and I share with them via pvt. message.

        In terms of patience, I’ve been lucky in that those who have shared with me, once they got it, they continued their journey and found therapy or are making moves, I can’t think of one I’ve dealt with that is still ‘spinning’ I do know the types of places you’re speaking of that propagate the hysteria and such…

        I think as peer supporters Kelli, there is no right way or wrong way and we have to be true and honest with ourselves. I think perhaps given the fact I was an educator at one time, maybe I do well or am okay with the newbies because in a way it’s the same rise I got as a teacher…when you see it ‘click’ or that they ‘get it’ you feel good that you were able to help someone…’enable’ them to get past the thing that will block them…I think everyone here on this plane has a special gift or two or three and not everyone is going to master everything. For example, you can continue to articulate and document the journey whereas once I felt done I ran out of things to say…I think that’s a gift Kelli…we differ in that while I can’t continue to document, I can deal with someone in the new part of it and not get frustrated. I am removed but I ‘get that part’….somehow I ‘connect’ to it and feel I have a skill with it provided the ‘victim’ is also doing their part…but however you slice it…I think we ‘compliment’ one another in terms of the ‘areas’ we do well in if only because you have the ability to go deeper and further into the ‘journey’ whereas for me, I am focused on a plethora of things and this NPD thing long term for me is not where I feel I’m being led now? Again, I view it as owing a debt to the universe for saving me, for leading me, and a newbie is not on newness forever, so if I’m dealing daily online with a few folks privately, it still frees me to do things that are true to my heart…I don’t feel stuck…because I do feel pretty much over the experience but still on my personal journey this is how I’m handling my growth…it’s the same way you are electing to change the direction of your blog. You too are still on the journey and you’re taking it in the direction you need to go – but I believe it still serves as a beacon of hope because people can see what a true ‘survivor’ and one committed to growth looks like. When we maintain in a healthy manner whether it’s moving directions on a blog, or venturing off…I think that too gives a lot of hope Kelli…it sets an example and demonstrates that YES they can and will survive…;) AND absolutely Kelli, I too am so delighted that while we may lock horns, we’ve allowed our spirits to connect in a way that demonstrates the ‘human’ won’t tarnish the inside…I wish more were able to do it the way we do!…xoxo

        Hugs…and love…;)

      • Interesting read! I don’t agree with all of it though. The part of the read I found interesting was the parent who learned the power of positive thinking. I do agree that we have choices. I know because I’ve made them and if I hadn’t, I’d have stayed in the position of victim, BUT where I do not agree with it, is that when I feel down or my children feel down, it’s discussed. A person cannot go through the process of healing without feelings their feelings. It isn’t possible and that IS the point of recovery…but it’s also to work through those things and move forward….a balance…aaahhhh

      • I get where you’re coming from Kelli and also agree there is choice and that ‘choice’ will be colored by individual experience. Today I have a choice…two years ago I had been living without choice because I was unaware. What led me to awareness? The experience. When unaware, choice is not an option because sometimes we are dealing with the unknown. That to me is the distinction and part of what plagues some of the newbies…not everyone gains the ‘insight’ it takes something to happen to ‘shake them up’ then the awareness surfaces. That’s when I believe choice occurs in a situation like this. I do not believe I chose to engage with a PD…the thing is the red flags were missed because my baseline for normal was skewed…but I did not know that…now that I do…yes, CHOICE and FREEDOM because now I see, I know and understand…;) As per the mom and positive thinking…I think we ‘repeat’ what we learn from our caregivers is what is also a contributing factor. If our caregivers were not skilled in emotional intelligence, there is nothing to motivate us to learn unless or until we get burned by following their methods…otherwise I think we repeat patterns if we don’t ‘learn’ which is why child abuse and pathology are on the rise. I believe all of this is ‘generational’ and that those of us ‘blessed’ to have lived with this nightmare are actually those who will help break the cycles because we see how certain things just don’t work. I did not do half of the stuff that was done to me, no one had to ‘tell me’ but there are also many who come from abuse and compensate by not disciplining AT ALL…and I believe that other extreme isn’t healthy either…the whole realm is very interesting, I don’t think anyone here will ever have a definitive answer, its trial and error…but in the case where those who go the other way and don’t discipline their kids at all to make up for their own ‘ish are also contributing to the generational dysfunction and the literature might seem to support they too in a way are helping raise lil narcs…;)

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