Sunday, July 5, 2009

You have no right....

Hmmm..... this one has been brewing for a while. In essence, it is simply this foundational belief that I have no right to sympathy or comfort. Why? Because if someone hurts me, it is my own fault for being weak or stupid or niave...

This concept has controlled a lot of my interactions in the past in ways I wasn't aware of. It has only been the last couple of months - through therapy both in a professional setting and with a friend - that I have even been able to pin it down enough to put it into wards. To many of you, it may sound patently ridiculous. But I have realized that this is a concept that was trained into me from the very beginning.

I was talking to a friend about it a couple of months ago, right after it first came out in words in therapy. As I was talking, it was almost as if my mouth was saying things my conscious mind didn't know.... I said, "This concept that I don't have the right to feel pain and ask for help - sympathy - comfort - goes back to when I was 2 and my mother said...." And at that moment, my mind shut down like a steel door slamming shut and I realized that I had almost seen something I've been trying to get a handle on for a while - what, exactly, it was that happened when I was 2 1/2. My mind is not ready to let me see that, but what I did get was a sense that whatever it was, my mother was aware of it and told me to essentially get over it, it was not a big deal... it was somehow my fault.... And I can get no further with that at the moment.

But as I have thought about it, there are other incidents. I remember when was 3 I found this stuffed gray cat lying somewhere. My mom let me keep it, but made sure I knew how gross it was to take a used toy you found laying around. She washed it.... And I named it Graytor. And I took him with me everywhere. It was almost like having a pet. :-) My mom has a picture of me sitting on the curb outside my aunt's house in Denver reading a Mad Magazine and the cat tucked under my arm - I was 3. Fast forward a couple of years. Still toting this cat around. And it is time for me to start school. I remember mom warning me to leave the cat at home. Warning that if I took it to school, I would lose it or it would get stolen. Warning me how horrible I would feel if that happened. But I never went anywhere without that cat. So, to school we went. And at recess, playing on the playground - there was this huge stump. It was the size of a table - at least to us little 5 year olds. And I left my cat lying on that stump at the end of recess. And even now, I can't explain how I forgot about it. But I didn't realize that I had left it on the playground until I got home and it wasn't there. I begged mom to take me back to the school. She told me that there was no way it was still going to be there, but she consented to take me so that I could be sure. And sure enough, it was gone. I was devastated. And I'm not sure what made me feel worse: the fact that it was gone or the fact that it was my own careless stupidity that caused it to be gone. And there was no sympathy or comfort. Only the stark fact that she had warned me and I should have listened.

There are many little incidents.

When I was 4, I gave my piggy bank to the neighbor boy in exchange for some toy (can't remember what). My mom was very up set. She made the boy give it back and told me I was naive and easily taken advantage of and needed to smarten up. I was 4! (I didn't get my piggy bank back - she kept it.)

If I cried, I was spoiled. She used to say that when I would go and spend a few days with either of my grandparents, it would take her two weeks to "straighten me out" after they had "spoiled me."

When I was in trouble, I was sent to my room (after being whipped with a belt) and told that I had to stay there and think about what I had done and not to come out until I was prepared to tell mommy I was sorry for hurting her. This started when I was 2 years old.

In a letter that I came across a few months ago that she had written when I was about 5, she writes about me getting in trouble and that she gave me a whipping with a belt and sent me to my room. She then wrote that the person the letter was to should not worry as it didn't do any damage as I only shed a couple of small tears. Yeah. I learned early not to let them see me cry any more than I could help.

When I was 8, my grandmother died and when my mom caught me crying in bed one night, she asked me what I was crying about. I told her I missed grandma. She frowned and told me to get over it.

When I was 13, my favorite teacher accidentally killed himself. No sympthay. Why should I be upset, I didn't know him that well.....

So many times, growing up, someone would hurt me - and my mom's response was always to tell me that I must have provoked them or I just needed to toughen up...

Is it any wonder, when my cousin began sexually abusing me, that I didn't tell anyone? I still struggle with the concept that it was my fault for letting him do it...

I still struggle with the idea that I do not deserve any sympathy or help because whatever the damage is - whatever the reason for the pain - it was my own fault and I should just buck up and move on and take my consequences like a good little girl.

Hmm.... today marks one year since I have seen my mom. And the pain is still just as deep as it was then. And there is still some guilt at not seeing or talking to her. And yet, to go back to the place where she actively controls my

I guess there is still a lot of confusion and pain here. And that should probably not be a surprise.

And you know....hmm.... forgiveness. That is an interesting topic for me - toward my mom, my dad... and toward my cousin, and all those others who sexually used me. I have thought about it and I really do not want any of them to go to hell. But I don't want to have to be around them, either. And I think that is one of the ways that the church is messed up in it's doctrine of forgive and forget. That is humanly impossible. And it is the height of stupid arrogance to tell someone who has been abused to forgive and forget - something they cannot possibly do (how do you forget?) and then tell them that unless they do, God will not forgive them and they will be in trouble with God. That is called a crazy making - telling someone they will be in trouble if they don't do what they cannot do.

Anyway, I think I have begun to just ramble, so .....