It's a bit difficult to start respecting myself again after a good 4 years of Sensei's rants. But, as you said, I think with the right people I can pull myself together again. You're right on every point, thank you.
So do any of you think it's possible to talk to him (or write a careful letter) and set a boundary between acceptable and unacceptable mode of conversation? Or is running away the only option?
Well, here's the thing: all your life, you've probably been told all kind of things by adults about persistence and working through problems and sticking with it and all that good stuff. And it is true that you're not going to accomplish much in life that is really meaningful if you don't learn to push through the rough spots. But it's just as important to recognize when you're in a situation where all that pushing isn't going to take you anywhere that you want to go. There are many such situations in life, and it takes some practice before you can tell the difference between those kind of rough spots and the other kind, the ones that have something good waiting at the end of them. Unfortunately, there's no magic formula that you can use to tell the two apart. As we say in the backcountry, "Good judgment comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgment." Most of us who can look at a situation and say, "Uh-uh, don't need that," and walk away, got that skill the hard way. I do think, though, that there are some common-sense criteria that you can use to tell if you should walk away from a situation. Abusiveness is one big red flag: there's a laundry list of behaviors that characterize abusiveness, if you have any doubts. How being in the situation makes you feel about yourself is another. Where it's taking you -- not where you might hope it would take you, but where it is taking you -- is another. Finally, whether you can see yourself still fitting in this place in five years is another -- if the answer comes back "no", you may already have outgrown it.
So, as you look at the situation, you'll typically end up with some things in the "stay" column and some in the "go" column. Base your decision off that, but don't, DON'T, decide to stay because you believe or hope that you can make the situation better. Simple misunderstandings can be worked out. Entrenched patterns of behavior really can't. It's quite possible you could draw up a list of "this is okay, that's not", and your sensei would nod and agree. The chances that he would actually change his behavior in a lasting way are virtually nil. Don't decide to stay because you're hoping for this outcome. And if you do leave...just go. Don't discuss, don't explain, don't return calls, don't make or respond to contact. Go and stay away.