Why We Keep Bringing It Up...an EssaySo…dragonofjapan said something: “Yes, you were abused, but what are you going to do about it right now?”
So I was thinking about that.
What a lot of abuse survivors do…appears like wallowing. In some cases, it may actually be wallowing…but for most of us…
What it is necessary to do seems counter-intuitive. In order to become a whole person, we have to examine the past in detail. We have to be heard by others. We have to have the feelings we could not allow while we were busy surviving a life-and-death situation. We usually have to fight programming that continually tells us we are worthless; that programming never seems to go away entirely in many cases.
To survive, we had to shut off our emotions, you see, and while that kept us from feeling precisely how abandoned and in danger we were at the time of the abuse…the emotions will remain shut off. In many cases, this leads to profound depression and suicidal thoughts. Too, there are specific brain changes associated with PTSD. Metabolic brain errors are induced by trauma.
( http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091231153341.htm )
So to some degree, those of us who’ve had this kind of damage are never going to be what we could have been without it…and we have to come to a place of acceptance with that.
Our parents basically showed us by their actions, and in most case told us, that we were pretty worthless. Typically there was not a sane reward/punishment system, so we never knew what was going to get the crap knocked out of us. Learned helplessness ensued. We’ve been programmed from a young age that we can’t stop people who were supposed to love us…from hurting us so profoundly many of us want to die. So we have to disassemble…programming that was screamed or beaten or molested or raped into us, and furthermore, the programming was done while our brains were still growing.
I understand some people are able to get over the programming. I suspect I personally am always going to have the random nasty thoughts: you’ll never get that right, you’re worthless, stupid, you can’t do anything right, you’re disgusting, you should just kill yourself now and save everyone from the filth you are.
Fighting the thoughts is just something I have to keep doing.
We really need to hear, like a scratched CD, over and over and over, it was not your fault, you didn’t deserve that, that was crazy, who would do that to a child? Things like that, we really do need to hear them over and over…And I’m sure this looks ridiculous to the non-survivors…When you’re a child and the people you NEED to trust are putting your life at risk...the usual rationalization a small child comes up with is punishment.
“I am bad, this is why mommy whipped me with an electrical cord.” “I was bad, so daddy punched me in the mouth.”
We almost universally blame ourselves for what our out-of-control parents did.
Too, we associate love and trust with being tortured. Some of us seek out relationships that feel familiar. Some of us avoid relationships at all. Some of us are terrified by emotional closeness and do our best to run people off or run away from them. Those of us who have a lack of insight and a dearth of empathy, sadly, may be the ones who take the cycle on another generation.
We need to feel our feelings. We need to cry the tears and scream the outrage that could have gotten us killed. Don’t think it could not have happened in many of our cases. It’s not terrifically hard for someone who’s twice your size to hit you just a little too hard, or knock you into something and accidentally kill you. My dad’s sexual abuse gave me a bladder infection that put me in the hospital, so that sort of thing can happen too-kids’ bodies are really easily damaged.
As adults we run around with canned rage, sadness, terror, and loneliness…and have to slowly work through the feelings…and how they affect our current personality. There are a lot of alcoholics and drug addicts who have resorted to substances that can kill them to avoid feeling the agony that child abuse survivors feel. There are people driven to suicide by this stuff.
So many of us are told things like: “Oh, that’s in the past.” “Why worry about that now?” “Just forgive and forget.” “Get over it!” Well, if we’re having flashbacks…it’s as if it’s happening…right now. But even if we are not having flashbacks at the time, this stuff can often cast a lifelong shadow over our lives.
There’s potential that’s been shaved off our lives, years we will not get back, time and energy spent in healing from the abuse, time and energy spent running away from the abuse mentally, things in our lives we messed up because we did not have our head on straight, relationships that got damaged or destroyed, interior misery we suffered, self-hatred we didn’t deserve, damage we’ve done to our bodies and minds because we hated ourselves and wanted to die.
…So, that’s why we keep talking about this stuff. By talking about it we ARE trying to put it behind us.
Putting abuse behind us does not happen by clicking our heels together three times and saying, "There's no place like sanity, there's no place like sanity."
Feel free to add anything I left out in that litany as a comment.