In the aftermath of this post and comments thread, I believe I have arrived at an insight I may have been trying my best to be in denial about throughout my adult life and which I was fixing to arrive at denial over again as a bearable way of navigating life, where ‘bearable’ means to say a life of a nature, where I get to blend in with the rest as best as possible instead of perpetually standing out with all my limitations and emotional disabilities. And now I clearly seem to see for the first time, how it’s hopeless to arrive at that idealistic idea. Because my concept of self follows the loss of dignity from early on – or impaired dignity at the very least. Loss of dignity – I think I may have identified this as the root of the problem that is ‘me’ – or rather: What specific version of ‘me’ I have come out as (different from the one I could have and should have become, needless to say…). In other, more brutal words: I seem to ‘live’ on the basic understanding that I don’t deserve dignity – because that dignity could and would have been taken from me at any given minute and for reasons I was unable to find then (now I think I have identified my mother as having suffered from a severe borderline personality disorder herself, mixed in with narcissism and a streak of sadism even). I was made to understand that I was more of ‘thing’ rather than a human being. In all fairness: This idea was brought (back) to my attention by another fellow soul searcher (nod to Jean).
So where does that leave me, leave us? I’m afraid, I don’t have good news in that regard. Because while most or all methods of treatment seem to focus on undoing as much damage as possible with the ultimate goal of getting us ‘up to speed’ with the rest of the – largely unaffected, unharmed – population, they all seem to overlook that loss of dignity can’t really be fixed. Sure, you can act as if you felt worthy (and I think, that’s how I got by in my previous life to begin with), you may learn to interact with people on eyes’ level. But can I, can ‘we’ really feel it? Isn’t the memory of abuse and utter degradation always present in our subsconscious?
Telling from my own recent experience that seems to shatter each and every little progress I thought I had made – and progress earned through brutal self-control, discipline, almost going against myself in order to ‘get somewhere’ – I’d have to answer myself with ‘Yes’ – the ingrained memory of inferiority, of being something less than human is omnipresent and never really vanishes. That’s a real downer and suckerpunch beyond comprehension….
I believe that’s what I partially noticed for the first time upon finishing Alice Miller’s book “The Drama of the Gifted Child” – upon concluding the read, I felt a blow that I wasn’t prepared to. Because her prognosis stayed rather gloomy. In a nutshell, her conclusion also is that the suffered damage can never be undone. The best she has or had to offer was the insight that a post-malum (post-damage) act of violence towards the child had to be acknowledged or ‘validated’ in order for healing to become possible – and then going about the still painful process of releasing as much pain from the ‘pain body’ (I’m paraphrasing here) as possible, again and ideally with the help of a – compassionate! – therapist or “compassionate witness” as she calls it. She offers creative approaches as to how this validation can be achieved even if the original perpetrators aren’t willing, capable or otherwise unavailable – for having passed on, for example – to (re-) validate the then-victim.
This may or may not work – I can’t say, because to this day I have gone without said validation – and my perpetrators in the form of former caretakers are still alive. But to this day, they have denied me the experience of starting to come to terms or a shred of inner peace with my horrible history. (I realize now that I’m not alone with that, but while that realization helps to feel a little less lonely, other than that it doesn’t do too much else, I’m afraid I’d have to admit. And as I have explained a few times on this blog, I can’t get access to outpatient theory and I’m horrified by the idea of comitting myself to a hospital and inpatient stay again given my totally ineffective, unproductive experience with such a stay in my late teens, early twens)
In fact, it’s the other way ’round: For as often as I (have to) interact with them (or as often as they intrude on boundaries set by me), they keep adding insult to injury. The latest aggravation – and so far and by far the most devastating one – is them contemplating to disinherit me on account of the situation I have arrived at. That situation is marked by utter poverty and depending on social welfare in order to have housing, (minimal, cheap) food and some household commodities. Anything else even remotely resembling a life – like e.g. getting to socialize, meet with other people, even just casually, – I can’t afford to do for simple lack of means. In other words: I’m put in the out-box on every level, emotionally, financially, and on days like this, even spiritually.
The realization that their decision to rate their material accomplishments over my well being again set off a horrendous trigger that seems to eradicate everything I have been relentlessly – and without the help of a therapist knowing and specializing in trauma work – working at (i.e. largely on my own so or sometimes finding support – as in: affirmations of my thoughts and feelings – from fellow ‘travellers’ here and there.) And now this! That final devastating blow that says: ‘You’re less important to us than the house we kept in shape’ (they haven’t even built it, my paternal Grandfather did). That assault on my already fractured sense of self that reads ‘You’re a thing to us that merits no more consideration than all the other things we accumulated’. Actually, it’s even worse: That course of action says ‘You’re here, because we wanted you to fix us – and that’s the only validation you’ll ever see from us’. Of course, they are so incredibly caught up in themselves and their (narcissistic) concerns for themselves, they wouldn’t even know what I was talking about… According to my experiences and everything I have accumulated from other, similarly affected people so far, my tentative conclusion is: There is no sitting down with a perpetrator and them making it up by showing genuine remorse. If I’m wrong, I’ll be more than glad to stand corrected! In that case: Don’t be shy to let me know. (seriously)
Sure, to any outside observer, these ramblings will sound like having gone crazy. I can’t blame them! I am going crazy with this utterly devastating insight. Or was I really missing something else here? For cryin’ out loud – where’s a tiny shred of compassion for my situation, which I haven’t exactly brought upon myself from poor choices – as e.g. concepts of ‘radical forgiveness’ seem to postulate (again, such theories or ideologies just take the abuse to another level in my view). Where’s the validation of the sentient being in me who is seeing the hardest of times already and has to cope with that impossible situation largely by himself? (even my use of third-person language speaks volumes of my concept of self, doesn’t it?)
Again, I must find: Consciousness is a curse! The more of it you got, the worse it becomes. This recent finding makes me sick to the gut in ways that I can’t even put into words any more. All I can say is this: I wish to ‘god’ I hadn’t been born… Wish me luck. I will need it (if for nothing else, then for keeping my – masochistic – impulse control and not going postal on them. The latter is a mere figure of speech. What I will do is assess any potential legal options I may have to take them to the cleaners… Fuck forgiveness. I want my dignity restored)
The other option: To really and finally divorce them without seeking to secure what I should have, materially speaking. I have always felt better, when not needing to interact with them, as abusive patterns continue. What’s worse in this case: If I give them a chance to ‘help’, they get to have the triumph of having done ‘everything in their power for me’ – and won’t have to be responsible for the damage they did burden me with – to this day so. Can I make them accountable – in ways I can’t give away here so as to not reveal my deck of cards, figuratively speaking? I doubt it. But I think, I’m going to look into that. However: If I divorce them, I let them get away and depression, self-loathing and self-abuse are likely to continue. And I even risk becoming homeless at some point. Like I said: I’m cursed.
P.S. For further reading on child abuse, see this for example: Alice Miller on child abuse and child mistreatment
Uhm…. this just in – and unfortunately not from the “good news” section…
(Maybe this related reading is of importance in this context, too)