I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance, who has no idea about my past, who was belittling someone, because they were “just not getting over” their childhood abuse. Just because it hadn’t been sexual, they reckon that it wasn’t as bad and should just be forgotten.
I wanted to blast her for about a nanosecond before I realised that she just didn’t understand. I mean, how can someone understand how debilitating emotional and psychological abuse really is, without experiencing it first-hand?
When you are a young child and you keep hearing how stupid you are, you will never believe otherwise, unless you re-educate yourself. If you constantly get criticized for everything from being “an accident waiting for a place to happen”, to being so fat “you will never be loved”, there is very little you can do to build your own confidence.
When everything you do, is not only bad, but stupid and crazy, how do you find the courage to take any risks? If your whole being was a “mistake” and you were wished away constantly, being a confident person takes herculean effort.
The abuser is normally so good, that no amount of compliments from outsiders will change anything. The power they feel making you into something not even yourself can love, is what they crave above all. There are many reasons why they do it, everything from simple jealousy, to self-loathing. However, that is irrelevant.
It has taken me many years and many heart-breaking battles within and with those around me, to eventually start differentiating between truth and lies. I believe that I can now see where I begin and the lies end. It is a good place to be.
But I am far from being “over it”. At the slightest proof of one of the lies being true, I have to battle with myself again, to re-evaluate everything. It is exhausting. The littlest thing can set me off. If someone looks at me funny, my mind immediately goes to the lies, to looks for a reason. “You are disgusting”, “you are crazy”, “you are a disgrace” and my personal favourite, “you are a whale”.
No matter how silly, wrong and totally irrelevant those thoughts are, that is how our brains work. At least bruises eventually heal, the internal injuries in all abuse victims, are very real and none of us can “just get over it” without a daily and sometimes even an hourly internal fight.
We can smile, function perfectly in many areas and fool anyone we want to, but know that inside, we are just little ones trying to survive in spite of our abuse. It never goes away we just learn to deal with it better.
I think I am in a place where I can see who I am beyond the abuse. That is knowing peace.