Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thieves & Liars

It's a weird thing when you're raised by thieves and liars.  As a child, you don't have a clue that they're thieves because they lie to you about it, and no clue that they're liars because they swear they're telling the truth.  In the microcosm world of the family, what ma and pa say, goes...or you don't eat.  Sometimes, you don't sit either because they beat your ass. 

Language is another thing abused nutcases like me rarely take into account.  I remember the verbal stuff: the swearing, the yelling, the cruel taunts about my own worthless and financially costly existence.  I remember the physical terminology: slaps, punches, belts, yardsticks and fly swatters, violence and sexual brutalization; those were all a vernacular I recognized and acknowledged.  But I overlooked the myriad other languages my parents were communicating with.  I didn't address those, even though they were dug in like a tick in my psyche.  Why?  I didn't think about them, not consciously.  I tried jumping on the bandwagon of self-analysis, smug in the power of my own intellect and courageous determination to clean my wounded mind up and heal all that hurt.  Don't get me wrong, that was a good thing for me to try to do, but too shallow a way of thinking.  Kind of like trying to stitch up a deep wound with butter: all I was doing was basting myself for the oven. 

So what languages am I talking about?  The invisible kind, the unseen by fleshy eyeball kind.  Instinct and emotion, collective memory and soul-destroying corrosive cruelty.  Oh, yay.  Those fuckers.  Let's talk about them.

Daddy and Mommy both beat me.  On the surface, there's the obvious.  Physically, it hurt.  Emotionally, it was terrifying and humiliating. As I got older, it also pissed me off.  Those are the obvious.  But what were they telling me that hit both instinct and my soul at the same time?  What silent words were being spouted that could possibly reach that deep inside of me?  What were they telling me that I couldn't hear but absorbed anyway?

They told me that I wasn't worth being careful with.  They explained, with each blow, that it was okay for me to be damaged and broken.  I learned that all their suffering, whatever it was that caused them to be so unhappy as to beat their own flesh and blood, was entirely my fault.  That so deep and terrible a crime was perpetrated by me.  Not them.  Me.  Why else would they be driven to it? Their unhappy marriage, their financial worries, their misery at life itself, was all my own doing.

A kid'll search around for answers to what it doesn't understand.  It's obvious that accidentally dropping something on the rug doesn't deserve a beating, so the answer must lie somewhere else.  There's nothing in the room but me and my parent.  It's not the parent's fault because they're not beating themselves.  They're beating me.  They're also screaming that it's my fault and it's my job as a kid to believe whatever they tell me.
Again, that's a survival instinct.  So on both levels, I'm being told that I am worth less than food.  I have no decent purpose; I only cause strife.  No matter what I do to try and fix the situation, to do better, to please them, I can't do it.  I am the cause of all misery, my own as well as that of my raging parents.

Daddy fucked me.  In that dark and terrible communion, his actions told me I was less than a whore because I never got money, less than a slut because I never asked for it.  I was simply a dirty-holed secret that no one should talk about.  Even the clandestine nature of the incest caused severe damage.  What is causing this overwhelming shame?  I am.  All the other little girls' daddies love them.  They're worth loving because they're good, clean little girls.  I am something filthy.  I am less than human.  Something about me is making him do this.  Something about me attracts this sort of behavior.  All I am, all I have going for me, is the fact that I can give my father an erection.  And that makes my skin crawl.  Worst of all is the fact that I still love him.  I'm disgusting, abnormal.  Repulsive.

And then there's the one, the big loudspeaker voice, the one that never shuts up, even when we're alone. The voice of Me, Myself and I.  What answers to my own mysteries did I whisper alone in my bed, shaking with fear that the door knob would start slowly turning and someone would come in?  What did I tell myself in the primal reaches of my brain, what emotions did I embed in the very depths of me?  What caused all that self-contempt and hatred?

I didn't run away.  I tried but I always came back.  I wanted to eat and sleep in a bed more than I wanted to be free of all that monstrosity.  I could have died.  I could have used violence as well.  I didn't.  I lived and I didn't fight back.  Not to the extent that it made any difference.  I ate with these people every day, I took the food they gave me, I wore the clothes they bought me, and I was grateful for it.  I was a coward.  A weak, disgusting, two-faced piece of shit that valued creature comforts above my own worth.  I joined in the game of destroying Becky and I kept it going long after Mom and Dad were out of the picture.  I found people to have in my life who would keep the ball rolling, keep the pain and the self-hatred fires stoked and blazing.  I chose them on a level way beyond subconscious.  I chose them on instinct, beyond thought or reasoning.  That's how I stayed in such a quagmire for so many, many years.

But I got out.  I work daily to stay out.  I love myself now.  I am a good person.  I am a strong person.  I still hear the little mosquito buzzing of insecurity and self-loathing, but I do what I can to swat it away.  I don't want to live the rest of my life believing the vocal and silent words of thieves and liars.  People who stole my confidence, robbed me of my innocence and lied about it.  The truth of it is, it wasn't my fault.  The difficult part is believing it.  Repetition is the key for me.  All those nightly mantras of kindness and love to myself are sinking, like pearls dropped in shampoo; slowly, surely, perfect and gleaming, all the way down past instinct to my soul.  A little soul-healing.  Good stuff and well worth the effort.  May you seed your own heart with precious gems.  Let them fall, smooth and steady, all the way down.  Heal yourselves, my dear friends.  You can do it. I believe in you.

Love, R

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