I am making a new friend with a woman I have met at our local laundromat cafe who I will call ‘Marge’. Among the many interesting aspects of getting to know this woman as I share my own self with her is that I have a fresh person to tell my trauma story to. That is always an inevitable occurance now. Because I was completely blind to what happened to me during the first 18 years of my life throughout so much of my adulthood THIS part of who I am never came up in those old days. But it sure comes up now.
Part of the reason this happens is that everyone’s view of the world and of other people in it is colored by what they understand about how earliest experiences shape how one lives the rest of their life. The initial trajectory of what and how early experience was set into motion is determined — I guess I could most simply say — by how many early safe and secure attachments a person had — and by how much of what kind of trauma was present during their most vulnerable, formative years of life.
This woman did not have an ‘easy’ childhood (she’s 68 now), but neither did she have an early life so chock full of trauma that it overshadowed everything else that happened to her. She thus hears my story from a perspective of “OH MY GOSH! How could such things have HAPPENED to you?”
Thankfully Marge is savvy enough not to doubt a single word I tell her. Her initial shock at some of the very basic components of my early life that I tell her is equally balanced with her willingness and ability to expand what she knows about other people in her life who she KNOWS had difficult traumas in their life — that NOW she understands changed them in their early development so that lifelong difficulties were inevitable because of their early sufferings.
Marge is one of those voracious readers it is always a pleasure for me to meet. On a personal level, I am thrilled to meet someone who is willing ‘down the line’ to be a reader of my writings. Marge unequivocally assures me that my story is both unique and fascinating. She has no doubts that there is at least one ‘best seller’ in me – and I have no doubt that as our friendship grows and matures that she will support me in my book writing when I am ready to turn again in that direction.
Putting all of this in perspective as it becomes now almost a pleasant background sound like a gently running water fountain I can attend to in my thoughts and feelings — or ignore as I do whatever else I need to be doing right now — is giving me a renewed sense of, yes, the blessing of a growing ‘safe and secure attachment’ in my life that we all so deserve and need. These kinds of friendships are, I find, most rare. I NEVER take them for granted.
In the perspective I mention at this moment I am adding information back into my story, like carefully folded-in egg whites that make tapioca so deliciously light and fluffy, Marge’s clear reaction to the place my father has in my early story and hence in my life.
Marge can stretch her thinking as far as is needed to comprehend the mental psychosis and illness of my mother that led her to perpetrating such incredible insane abuse against me. Marge CANNOT, however, stretch her mind in any direction that would let my father off the accountability hook.
Marge’s clear reaction to my father’s role in the 18 years of abuse from birth my mother did is strong and clear. There was something terribly wrong with my father that he knew the abuse was happening and did NOTHING to help me or to stop my mother.
I found myself adding all the extraneous words I find myself always adding to my story in explanation and therefore in defense of my father.
No matter what, Marge states back to me, my father could have picked me up and driven me to the nearest police station or hospital and LEFT ME THERE.
Without detailing thoughts at this point about my father except to say that for all my healing work, all my inner research, all my studies about infant and child abuse, I have never achieved a solid HONEST idea about my father or about the role he played in my abuse.
I choose to say “Father was a mystery to me.”
Yesterday while in conversation with Marge something began to dawn for me that I’ve never even allowed myself to think before! MY FATHER HATED ME — BY CHOICE!
Mother hated me because she was psychotically mentally ill and deeply, deeply SICK and more than troubled. My father hated me because he chose to.
I have never accepted Mother’s hatred of me as being REAL. Hers came as I say from factors that put her ability to actually CHOOSE out of her reach.
The ability to CHOOSE to hate me belonged to my father. He made that choice and not only RAN with it, but STOOD with it. I have very clear memories as recorded in my trauma stories of Father being present — of him WATCHING — and of him doing nothing at all to help me.
I have a sense that the level of trauma reaction all the way down to the center of my being that my father’s support of my mother’s abuse created in me is so massive that I have always protected myself from knowing about his hatred of me because I suspect on a deep BODY level that this knowledge — should I ever know it in its fullness — has the power to destroy me.
Being destroyed is NOT a good thing. It certainly has nothing to contribute to my moving forward in my life in the best way possible. At least not up until now when at age 61 (turning so in less than 3 weeks) I MIGHT — through this newest friendship in my life with an entirely objective woman — when I might be willing to be able to look more honestly than I have ever been able to do in my life hence far — at the crime my father committed against me. (And, no, this has nothing to do with sexual abuse that I know of.)
Yes, with the power of her mental illness Mother was able to create an entire universe in which it was REALLY TRUE that I was not human, that I was the evil child of the devil.
My father’s crime, it seems to me at this moment as I peek through the tiny crack that appeared yesterday in the wall of denial and evidently of self-protection that I maintain around the truth about my father, is that he BELIEVED Mother!!
My father chose to hate me because it suited him to do so.
I don’t want to deal with any of this right now. So the only thing I will add here is that last week I again watched the movie, “Forrest Gump.” I wanted to see if I could detect what I resonated with in that story so deeply 20 years ago when I first watched it that I cried all the way through it as if I was hemorrhaging tears.
I will still say that that movie remains one of the most deeply disturbing ones I have ever watched — for all kinds of reasons. But I did NOT cry through it this time. I was able to remain far enough away from the ‘resonation points’ in the story to see the bigger picture for myself: I so desperately needed to be loved the way Forrest loved Jenny.
Obviously my emotional connection to the lifelong suffering Jenny experienced because of her father’s abuse of her (and evidently due to the absence of a mother in her life) struck me both times I watched the movie. But at this moment, after yesterday’s conversation with Marge, I am realizing that the abuse by Jenny’s father IS what that entire movie is about on the personal level — added onto by the profound and powerful emotions that resonating with the events that occurred during those years covered in that movie can create in those of us of the generation that lived through those massive social changes.
Gump’s depleted ability to add the depth of consideration for all the events portrayed in the movie, both personal and social, allow for the emotions connected to the events outside of him to carry their emotional powers to touch compassion and comprehension of the audience untampered by the story being told by a complicated speaker.
The stories of the movie simply RING — and resonate — according to the experience of members of the watching audience’s personal experience.
We take our own self to a story that anyone else shares with us – no matter what the medium used to convey it.
In my case it has taken me 20 years to be strong enough to watch that movie a second time because of the depths of my own sorrow that resides in my heart and that was triggered in resonance with this movie’s stories.
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