I am still working my way through the project of sorting the family slides, trying to clear a table top buried under the disorganized heaps of old childhood memories before my daughter and 21-month-old grandson arrive for their visit this Saturday.
Nothing but completing at least the first stages of this task is going to make me feel any better. For any denial I might still be holding onto about the truth of my singled-out-child for severe abuse of the six children in my family of origin, this slide sorting project is chopping out huge chunks of it.
So far I have found two slides of Linda only. One faded picture is of me the summer before I turned 12 ‘on the way to camp’ (yes, the same one I stole the canoe at as written in previous post). I know it was only because of Mother’s belief that she was doing something so good and so heroic by sending evil-child Linda to a week of Christian camp that this picture was taken at all. I cannot fool myself into believing the picture had even a microscopic bit of love for me within it.
There is one other picture of me on my 18th birthday sitting alone on a couch.
In perspective I have sorted piles and piles and piles and piles of pictures taken of my other siblings in their starring roles as adored children of my parents. Very many of these pictures have been duplicated so that there are piles more of repeats of each of my five siblings.
Any pictures other than the two mentioned in which I appear the picture was most often taken of my siblings at the same time my back appears in the picture or some tiny piece of me is barely visible in a corner of the picture. Most all pictures of my siblings at play, parties and celebrations do not include me at all. The same happens in several holiday pictures. As I grew older I often appear in the background in or emerging from the kitchen with my apron on.
In many pictures that I do appear in I am off to the side of the ‘loving’ family group as the spurned outcast that I was. Certainly I do not appear in one birthday party compared to the many for my siblings. There are far more pictures of the family’s dogs over the years of my childhood in this slide collection than there are of me.
I am sorting out the piles of sibling photographs to send to them individually. I am finding the history of the family’s Alaskan homesteading history included in this mess, which pleases me. I am also staring into the face of snake-headed Medusa Mother as I work my way through this project.
I cannot do this part of my work without feelings. Grief! Disgust, anger, sadness.
I am also amazed that I survived at all! What appears as an indication of the lack of love for me in these slides is not showing the massive true reality of my childhood — the violent, brutal, abusive trauma — the HATRED that existed for me in place of love. I must have been continually starving to DEATH for love, affection or affirmation of any kind.
But I am also finding myself thinking that nowhere in my own 18-year history of infant-child abuse did I really get a single clue about what love was.
I have no memories, as I have mentioned before, of envy or jealousy or self pity regarding the favoritism heaped upon my siblings. I never had a chance to get to know myself in any different kind of world. Reality was reality in our family — exactly as my severely abusive mentally ill mother determined it to be. Nobody ever questioned her, certainly not I.
I have heard it said that so-called ‘adult children’ are left ‘guessing what normal is’. The matter is far more serious to me than this phrase might suggest, and includes for me a complete lack of understanding even about what love is.
I have done my best all of my life to be a good person, and to me that means being a loving person. I let my three children each show me the way to what loving them was. I call that ‘borrowed secure’ (rather than ‘earned secure’) attachment.
Where I end up suffering the most is not being able to know what adult relationship love is. I seem to be able to love someone, but I have never chosen to love a man who has ever loved me back.
In addition, another big problem for me in my inability to really know what love is because I was hated for those 18 years of suffering and never loved at all, is that I don’t know what God’s love is or what it means to love God in return.
I am gaining clues — but I struggle. I am hoping God understands how terribly difficult my first years of my life were and cares about those failed and brutal attachment relationships set me back what feels like a million lifetimes in being able to understand the most important love relationship of a person’s life here on earth.
I believe that a well loved and well cared for infant-child learns what love is by how it is treated in the very first months and years of its lifetime. Love builds its body-brain.
If such a child is also fortunate enough to be taught about God’s love and love for God right along with being taught about love within its family, I can’t conceive of that little person growing into adulthood with the same kinds of limitations about love that I (and perhaps other severe early abuse survivors) have.
To be invested in this lifetime with love for God must allow a person to have their priorities absolutely straight! Increasing well-being for all must be the result. Certainly feeling lost in a thick gray fog would not be the experience of someone who was born into a family of love.
I am not talking about doctrine or dogma or rules or even about religion as most people know it. I am talking about the essence of love, the only true Source of love — the kind of love that is linked to faith, yes, but is also life itself as we have each been gifted with it.