I guess every victim of emotional neglect or abuse has a struggle knowing what’s what, who is really harmful and better not to be around. Feeling anxious when we receive a call from one of our ‘triggers’ can be a trigger, but due to our past holes in development we don’t alway feel we have the right not to take the call. I just read a post on unconditional love and part of me thought, yeah, I am not sure that I believe in that any more. Giving people the benefit of the doubt or trying to be stronger or a bigger person is what a Good Guy with the feeling we dont have a right to legitimate needs or boundaries is taught to do by conditioning.
When love is absent and real care and empathy, where do we go? What we experience is a terrible numbness, emptiness or void, a soul pain that often is not understood intellectually but since our body is really the home of our soul, somewhere inside our bodies know and yet for a child in this situation what can we do. When we cannot leave physically, we choose a form of dissociation, its something I have been thinking a lot about while reading writer Jeanette Winterson’s autobiography. Many of us escape into books or tv or we start to write from a young age. Like me Jeanette never had her boundaries respected, her adoptive mother violated them and read her diaries, she threw out and burned all of her books. Jeanette wrote in the quote I posted yesterday that she learned early on that anything could be taken, and the only thing that could not was her what was inside, her capacity to express and to create. For some of us, however, if our insides are invalidated and we are told we are bad or selfish it can be hard to hold onto the internal reality, too.
The abuser who wants control over us wants to destroy our reality as well as our understanding of them as a perpetrator so they turn it around on us, we are the ones who are selfish or too vulnerable or too sensitive for just feeling normal feelings that any caring emotionally connected person would. I had a commenter on one of my blogs yesterday tell me that feelings will get us in trouble, yes if we dont know how to use them as internal messaging systems and I dont think the person really got the jist of the post. This does not apply to feeling ‘bad’ which is a feeling that may be grown by thoughts that we are incompetent in some way when really that is just a form of depression or an introjected voice talking to us inside our heads.
Dissociation for many of us was a way to survive trauma. It was a way of preserving the inner self, the problem comes when we turn self protection and externalised fear into global concepts where we feel the entire world is bad and not to be trusted. As survivors we will always be wary and we need good boundaries. We need to know what hurt us was valid and not just all in our imagination as we will often be told by gaslighters. We need to trust our feelings not fear them and then put them to good use. We may also not ever need to forgive certain abuse and this need to forgive may be something that is forced on us by moralistic people. Abuse is not okay, its not okay to trammel a sensitive person and lead them to believe their reality is skewed when they are trying to be who they are and express their true and real selves. I had to leave one Al Anon group when two members told me I was not allowed to express anger over my Mum’s abandonment of me as a child. While I know my Mum went through something similar she never allowed herself to be angry at her own mother and as a result she never had good emotional awareness or strong boundaries later in life. The pain meds she was on in the end ruined the last years of her life.
I have watched two siblings struggle with anger and self assertion. I have seen them cut down when they were trying to break free but also I have seen them become manic with the unresolved fear and anxiety we all absorbed in our family home was not contained or made sense of in therapy only treated medically with a cocktail of drugs. I’ll be damned if I will shut up about it. I makes me angry and so, so sad. My living sister is not able to be emotionally and assertively present in any way these days and she is collapsed as a person. In the end she could not break out of her feeling wounded prison. It makes me cry, especially leading up the anniversary of my older sister’s death which occured on Easter Sunday in 2014.
Knowing who we are. Holding to our boundary. Knowing what we feel makes perfect sense these things can only come out of the long hard painstaking work of emotional recovery and these things are not given to us we have to earn our right to boundaries over and over again and we struggle so remorsefully with self doubt as our ego strength was never encouraged. As children we were not helped to develop a heathy ego or good boundaries, in fact we were conversely actively stymied in our emotional education and so we have work extra hard now. And we cannot afford to open once again to emotional invalidation from those who would try to convince us our boundaries are wrong or there is something wrong with us for protesting neglect, abuse or betrayal, that it is wrong to have an ego and that we should come to love everyone unconditionally. Yes hurt people hurt people and we can have compassion but if that means we lose our own passion for rigourous emotional health and self care that kind of over compassion can be dangerous.