This blog originated three years ago next month. In its beginning I never thought about censoring what I wrote here. I wrote with passion then. I wrote believing in what I had to say as it expressed what I was learning. I believed that what I had to say had value to myself and to other severe infant-child abuse survivors. I wrote with hope.
Today? I could almost say that more than 100% of the time I make a decision that what I could write here on any given day has no value to anyone. Somewhere along the line in time I crossed an inward line of self-judgment that keeps me from freely expressing myself here because I can’t find any value in what I think during most of my days.
Self-judgment. Self censorship. I don’t even know where that came from, or when it entered my blog writing process – but I do know it’s here. Somewhere along the line I began to believe that life is too complex, too complicated, for me or for anyone else to have any ‘answers’ about anything. Therefore if there are no answers then there is no value in anything I have to say? Evidently I believe that…..
I do think it is hard to self-examine one’s beliefs – at least it is hard for me to do this. In this blog’s beginning I did not worry about feeling vulnerable or about being open to criticism. I did not worry about saying something ‘wrong’. I did not worry about ‘making mistakes’. I did not worry about any reader judging me. I had confidence. I did not judge myself.
My guiding thought seems to be, “If I don’t have anything useful (positive) to say then it is best I don’t say anything at all.” This blog is therefore beginning to be full of “nothing to say.” Which does leave me thinking about words words words.
My daughter, who lives 1,700 miles away from me in the north, told me on the phone yesterday about difficulties she had with her day yesterday due to difficulties her little son, who just turned 2 last Sunday, had with HIS day. I think mostly due to the hour change in time which is makes a HUGE difference to a little person’s schedule, the start of the day followed into difficulties all the way down the line for the little person.
By the end of the day when his mother picked him up from daycare he was in tears – the stiff-as-a-board yelling like there is no tomorrow kind of tears. Momma couldn’t get him to even bend his body enough to strap him into his car seat for the ride home.
Throughout the conversation with my daughter I found myself telling her that for all the experiences her son has through a very busy day, he is at a disadvantage because he has no words to TELL her what he is feeling – or why. At the same time I mentioned this I realized he ALSO has, therefore, no words to THINK himself about his own life. Imagine that! No words.
I also know from remembering the growth and development of my own children that when my grandson does grow a vocabulary large enough to begin to TALK about the complexities of his own life that he will not censor what he says or thinks. When does that self-censorship process enter the language-using process? And once it does, what purpose does it serve?
Certainly this child will, as all children do, first go through the stage of chattering constantly. I remember going through the stage with my children of helping them understand that they do not need to SPEAK every word that they THINK. But what an amazing step in human development it is to be able to use language! What a miracle!
And then, as I can see so clearly now for myself, there can come a time when as an adult one can judge nearly every thought that goes through one’s mind. Too many words? Too many thoughts? Too many of the ‘wrong’ thoughts? How do I really know what I think – or what I might be able to say, to write – is NOT productive?
Certainly nobody in my entire childhood ever cared about what I had to say. Nobody cared about what I felt. Given that terrible severe abuse was ongoing throughout all of my childhood, I never learned THEN that there was any benefit whatsoever about being able to talk about myself to anyone else.
This is tied to what I find myself thinking about quite a bit lately: What is it about my being in the world that really matters or has value to anyone else? On this level my self-judgments are about far more than what I think or say – the judgments are about what I do, what I am doing in a day, what I can do – and most importantly the judgments are about what GOOD I have to offer to anybody else.
I realized yesterday that the great difficulties I experience with being disappointed are directly tied to words I use such as ‘depression’, ‘ sadness’ and ‘loneliness’. I realized that because I live alone in a very limited small life, I most often feel I lack the ability to MATTER to anyone.
As a mother, for the 35 years of my life I had children under age 18 in my home to take care of, I never thought about things in this way. Of course what I did MATTERED. I was a mother who was raising my children. Anything else I did along the way paled in comparison to the important impact I always believed that I made regarding the short- and the long-term well-being of my children.
I have been working outside in my garden in recent days as the weather warms. What I do matters to my plants. Caring for my chickens, dog, 2 cats and parakeet matter to them. But what of human beings?
I realized that the struggles I had with the cancellation of the Congo drum group events I had planned (scan back for recent posts) was mostly about my frustration with having thought I could do something useful that could matter to other people in some small way. This is no different than what I wanted for my writing efforts on this blog. It is no different for the hopes I had for writing a book about the traumas of my infancy and childhood.
I am limited financially and emotionally and physically in many ways that keep me living a quiet life – which I DO need. Yesterday I found myself wondering if I don’t have some kind of ancient memory in my DNA that reminds me of what it was like to live intimately in community with other people. Loneliness was probably unheard of in those days – un-experienced, un-thought of, and therefore not an experience to be expressed in words.
In today’s world with 7-billion of us on this earth, and in this American culture I live in, it seems to be that ‘independence’ has led to isolation and compartmentalization of experience – it is so easy to live in ‘pieces’ while being deprived of the experience of finding oneself mattering in the bigger picture of the ‘whole’.
Unless, I suppose, one can be creative enough to find some way to connect in social circles. Me? A part of a social circle? What does THAT mean?
A big part of the ongoing abuse I suffered was, as I have mentioned here many times before, about extreme isolation from EVERYONE – my siblings, my father, any other relatives, and from any hope of friendship (except for a very brief time spent in Brownies). My grandson lives a very very social life. He is loved and tenderly attended to by his parents, by their friends, and spends most of his days immersed in a social environment of day care. He is being created to be a social being.
Given that the species of humanity IS a social species – my grandson is being given very real advantages that I never, never had. Once I left home when I was 18 – I began – through force of circumstance – to PRETEND to myself and to everyone else that I had a single clue about what being a social being in a social world was all about.
Over the years these efforts have exhausted me. This doesn’t mean I have ever stopped having social needs. That I can no longer experience the ‘social’ experiences that I did even as a mother raising my children, and given the fact that I have no mate and am not likely at my age of 60 to EVER again have a mate, and given a whole LOT of very real limitations of place and finances, etc. – I really don’t know how I am going to find a way to MATTER to anyone except, of course to my children and friends I am closest to.
Does it help me to begin to clarify in words that what could so easily be named depression, sadness, frustration, disappointment, loneliness is ACTUALLY directly tied to my sense of not mattering on the bigger SOCIAL level? Do I feel any ripples I might make in the universe are so infinitesimally tiny that NOBODY but God will ever notice?
Does any of this matter? Is there a solution? Can I find it? Can I stop censoring my writing because I have THESE thoughts and feelings?
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