Friday, November 30, 2007

Punishing the Parts Within?

In the comments on More Questions from Jumpinginpuddles I was asked by anonymous to do a series on accepting the abuse that happened when you really don't want to believe that it did.

Q: In other words how do you embrace the fact you've been abused and accept it without hurting yourself so bad to punish yourself.

I did a series on my therapy process that started with the post My "Real" Therapy While that covers the generalities of my journey, it probably doesn't address this issue as thoroughly as is needed here. I also did a series about Believe It or Not - Ritualistic Abuse which is also on target for this discussion.

But the fact is that while I still can find myself wondering from time to time if it all was real, I really have embraced my victimization and accepted it. Mostly because there is just nothing that explains me so well as this history.

Most of my life, I just didn't make much sense to anyone, let alone me. I felt like a duck out of water with no idea why. Today I know why for all of my little quirks. I know why my body hurts. I know why I'm afraid of snakes. I know why I'm so self conscious about my body. I know why I can't relate to being a child. I know why I'm so darn serious. There are a zillion things about me that now make sense.

I understand the night terrors that used to seize me. I understand why I didn't want to go to sleep until the sun rose in the morning. I know why I was that penitent seven year old sobbing during the stations of the cross each Good Friday. I know why I was never twenty-seven years old.

So as repulsive as it is, I accept it After all, it is what has made me who I am today. Through all of the pain, I have turned out to be a pretty durable person. I have more compassion, understanding and tolerance than most. Because I know what it's like to fall down in a major way and try to get back up. I know what it's like to need forgiveness.

And also what I have learned on this journey is that the world is not black and white. There are so many shades of gray out there it is mind boggling. Learning to recognize the shades of gray that affected my victimization was a huge step in being able to accept myself and see where the responsibility for my actions really belonged.

By being able to understand the circumstances that surrounded events, I was able to understand what influenced my decisions throughout my victimization. I was able to see that I really didn't have control. Because I didn't have control, the things I participated in, I did not do willingly. Even though I might have thought so at the time.

The series I did about taking away free will, Human Nature with All It's Twists and Turns explains how the cult takes over control of a victim's mind so they can be manipulated to do whatever the cult wants. It explains the process and how "good kids" could be made to do such bad things.

I understand that the person who is asking me for this information hasn't come far enough in the journey to understand all of this. And I understand that me speaking as "I" here probably isn't making it any easier. But I speak in that form because my entire system believes this information to be true. Each of us, "we" believe it to be true that ALL of those things that were done by different parts of us were NOT our fault. They were the fault of our offenders!

So when we remembered something new and someone was swallowed up with guilt, the rest of us, comforted those aching parts. We did not blame them because we totally understood that they were victims too. Even when they didn't understand that they had been forced, the rest of us knew that they were. The rest of us understood that the freedom of choice had been removed a long time before.

Every time a voice inside wanted to say "OMG how could I have done such a thing?" Another voice or even voices inside said, "It was NOT your fault, you did what you had to do to survive." If we had to, we wrote the words over and over in our journal or in our book of rules. But we never let the blaming statement go unanswered. It was the fault of our offenders. ALL of it!!

While I have never cut myself or overdosed, I used to bang my head into walls. I have set myself up to fail so many times I can not even count, because I used to believe that I didn't deserve to breathe, let alone be successful in anything. I used to take unusual risks tempting fate to take my life. I was relentless at finding ways to abuse myself. But when I got into my "real" therapy that all came to a halt. I finally understood that the answers were coming.

I guess you could say I made a deal with myself not to do anything more to my body or my mind until I knew the whole story. I agreed to give myself a break until I knew for sure if I was really as evil as I thought. If I believed that I deserved punishment after everything was out in the open, then and only then would I do anything about it. And I would do it with my therapist overseeing it to be sure it was appropriate.

By the time the last story was told, all of me finally accepted that none of it had been "our" fault. It turned out that I wasn't evil at all. I didn't deserve to be punished. I firmly believe in my heart, that the same is true for you. It is not your fault and you do NOT deserve to be punished. To do so would only be continuing the abuse of your offenders.


Cheesemeister said...

I didn't go through the kind of abuse you describe, only one perp and for strictly abuse reasons rather than anything ritualistic. When the realization that something really had happened was triggered, I was obsessed with knowing details. I realize now that I don't need to know details to prove to myself that it happened. I know it did. For me knowing exact details is no longer necessary.
I've cut myself, hit myself, scratched myself. I still don't believe that I deserve for anything good to happen to me. And I don't seem to be able to lose weight no matter what. Abuse leaves life long scars. That's all there is to it. Sometimes we can learn to cope. But getting a decent therapist, at least for me, is impossible. They cost too much. The ones at county mental health are a joke. Because that's how seriously mental health issues in this country aren't taken.

Kahless said...

I am glad you found a way to all work together to get to a place where you needed and wanted to be.

Anonymous said...

i dont want to sign my name because im embarassed to do so but i was hoping you might be able to write about body memories. How do you stop them being so bad you feel like its better to not be here anymore and how do you stop it when your body starts to show marks and things all over again but only when you are having those bad memories then the marks just go away like you are crazy or soemthing.

April_optimist said...

GOOD FOR YOU and what an important post to write! Yes, this is something we each need to learn. It was not our fault or our guilt or our shame--that belongs to our abusers.