Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sentenced to be Forever Fine

After talking to an older lady about some parenting decisions, I am once again reminded that perhaps the most crippling aspect of punitive/shameful parenting is the way it traps the person.

That child grows into an adult forever stuck, unable to forgive, unable to acknowledge, unable to grow and move on to better things. The sting on the bum, the burn of harsh words, yes, those are hurtful. But it is the tight grasp of inferiority and self-hate that forever binds someone up in, "I'm FINE and I REFUSE TO LOOK deeper!"

The experience of being broken by loved ones leads them inevitably to more hurt in a cycle of abuse. And eventually, what they have done is submitted to the shackles, to forever carrying the guilt, shame and loathing on their backs. With that, the only option is denial.

Mental illness? That's a sham, they say, because it couldn't exist for them. Compassion? People don't care, they say. It doesn't exist, because they never had any and did just fine. Taking a break, having friends, developing personal interests, setting boundaries, forgiving, healing...none of it was theirs so none of it can be available to anyone else.

If you were to denounce an abuse, it would in turn shine light on all of their experiences, which instead of bringing acknowledgment and healing only angers and scares them because they have internalized the abuse and taken it on as an identity.

This might all sound very extreme, but if you take a look around, you'll notice it's pervasive, occurring over every topic in our culture for many people. The thing about oppressing a person is that it spreads. Like the common phrase, "Misery loves company," the reality is that the oppressed person wants all of her friends enslaved so as not to notice the rub of her own chains.

The true legacy of punitive parenting is creating a person who says, "I was hurt and I deserved it." From that standpoint, self-worth is so deteriorated and abuse and violation are so protected that no one can learn, grow, heal, forgive or otherwise reach full actualization in life and in their relationships.

What I'm seeing little glimmers of, here and there, are people who are hanging by a chain. I think back to the women who harassed me to "cover up" while breastfeeding, for example, and what I see are not people who think breastfeeding is gross, but people who were oppressed and so must oppress others. It had nothing to do with breastfeeding but rather the power struggles in their own relationships and pasts. To see me with a level of power reminded them of their powerlessness.

Or another example, when people want to gag me over the discussion of birthing without intervention, it's not because they think it's dangerous or bad, but because then they feel the chafing of the ropes binding them. To hear of a care provider being compassionate makes them see their care provider as hurtful. And the big thing in this society...c'mon fellow abuse survivors of all know what it is: our society hates the label of victimhood.

It's better to claim you caused someone to rape you than to admit that someone violated you. It's better to claim you needed that c-section than to admit maybe someone didn't have your best interests at heart. It's better to claim that breastfeeding is immodest than to admit that you don't feel equal in your romantic relationship.

They would deny anything, rather than acknowledge that maybe they've been hurt and that maybe they have healing and forgiving to do to truly awaken to life. Because it all comes back to internalizing the shame and hurt they felt at the hands of the person they loved most.

It call comes back to those little moments in your childhood, when in one split second, probably without your conscious realization, you erased the cognitive dissonance of being ripped to shreds at the hands of the people you loved the most, by deciding that your mom and dad absolutely loved you deserved it

Incidentally, that storyline is the same one for the circumcised man. And it's perhaps even harder for them to awaken in this culture that despises anything effeminate, and by that they actually mean anything expressive, emotive or human in nature.

"I'm fine! FINE FINE FINE!" They shout it. Scream it. Pound it into the table. "I'm fine. Because if I wasn't, I'd have to go back to every moment in my life where someone hurt me and I'd have to acknowledge it and I'd have to forgive them and I'd have to heal and I'd have to admit that others hurt me."

The story continues with the vaccinated child. "FINE! She's FINE! It was just a little redness. A little swelling. A little screaming. A little strabismus. It was only one stroke. He only has autism and that's DISPROVEN! My child was vaccinated and everything's FINE!"

So when people tell me things such as, "I was spanked and I'm fine," or, "I was circumcised and I'm fine," I do acknowledge that, yes, they are fortunate to be the ones who evaded obvious physical or emotional complications that maimed or killed them.

You're right. Most people, they weren't beat to death. Most boys circumcised, they didn't bleed to death from their violations. But surviving something doesn't lend credence to its purported ethical or loving traits. People can go on for years after suffering a traumatic event, violation or attack. They really can function quite "well" in terms of not freaking out or melting down or developing a chronic disease or an embarrassing physical complication.

That doesn't mean they are experiencing a fulfilled, nourishing lifestyle with deep and loving relationships. And the unique thing about being hurt by loved ones is that the wound doesn't scar over or fade away. It's right there 10, 20, 40 years down the road. It's there, as shackles that people pretend don't exist, dragging everyone down.

Once you jump into this, you see why those "cycles of abuse" make much more sense. I know for example, when the average person hears that pedophiles can be previous child abuse survivors themselves, people will recoil with disbelief. How? Why? How can someone be hurt so badly and then go on to hurt another person? Does that make them doubly evil? No, it only makes them doubly in denial.

On the contrary, they are so hurt, and so weakened, that it is easier for them to do the same to another rather than admit what really happened. It's easier to watch those dark, red lines of anger spread from generation to generation, like an infection striping down a leg with gangrene, than to dig into that wound or pour a salve onto it. It's easier to turn to your precious, defenseless, perfect children and slice and jab and hit and break them than to turn around to see what really happened to you.

How far are you willing to go to stop the cycle?

Related posts:

You're Fine and You Hate It:

Adults Standing on the Shoulders of Children:

Newborns are stronger than adults:

Are you stuck in a cycle of abuse?

© Guggie Daly

No comments:

Post a Comment