Chapter twenty eight 28
Lost and alone
If we who were severely abused as infants do not have our true selves, then perhaps we can at least look to ourselves, even beginning in childhood, to find our own reflections. I don’t know that we can ever “connect” to our self, but perhaps we can move closer to it, to make it our best friend. Maybe we can stand nose to nose against the glass with it. Maybe we can place our hands together, each on its own side of the glass, and find that there is our closest match. That our fingerprints match, and therefore, our souls.
Over and over again I realize that the issue is not only that we were rejected, for the one who birthed us was not there, and could not see us either. Neither were we just abandoned, for nobody recognized us in the first place. We weren’t even only betrayed by those who left us so alone and hurt us so much, for they had no ability to connect to us from the start.
We were forsaken. Forsaken, that fundamental state that Christ expressed upon the cross when he cried out, “Oh God! Oh God! Why hast thou forsaken me?” This was an expression of the deepest felt human pain.
FORSAKE (bef. 12c)
[ME forsaken, fr. OE forsacan, fr. for– + sacan, to dispute; akin to OE sacu action at law – more at SAKE]
1: to renounce something (as something once cherished) without intent to recover or resume
2: to quit or leave entirely: withdraw from syn see ABANDON
[ME, dispute, guilt, purpose, fr. OE sacu guilt, action at law; akin to OHG sahha action at law, cause, OE secan to seek – more at SEEK]
1: END, PURPOSE 2 a: the good, advantage, or enhancement of some entity b: personal or social welfare, safety, or benefit
[ME seken, fr. OE secan; akin to OHG suohhen to seek, L sagire to perceive keenly, Gk hegeishai to lead]
1: to resort to: go to
2 a: to go in search of: look for b: to try to discover
3: to ask for: REQUEST
4: to try to acquire or gain: am at
5: to make an attempt: TRY
1: to make a search or inquiry
2 a: to be sought b: to be lacking – seeker
LEAD (bef 12c)
[ME leden, fr. OE laedan; akin to OHG leiten to lead, OE lithan to go]
1 a: to guide on a way especially by going in advance b: to direct on a course or in a direction c: to serve as a channel for
2: to go through: LIVE
3 a (1): to direct the operations, activity, or performance of (2): to have charge of b (1): to go at the head of (2): to be first in or among (3): to have a margin over
How can a parents “lead” the way for their own children or infants when they do not know the way themselves? How can they go in advance and direct their children’s course when they are lost themselves? How can they serve as channels something that nobody ever helped them to go through themselves? How can the LOST show the new infant, who is also LOST, how to go through normal developmental stages, or how to LIVE a good life? How can they “direct the operations, activity, or performance of “ their own children when they don’t know how to do this themselves? Nobody in their infant life went first to show them, and they can’t go first to show their children.
This seems like common sense. But until we realize how devastating early infant abuse is to the development of a human brain-mind-self, we will not be able to even apply our common sense to find desperately needed solutions. SOMEBODY has to go ahead and lead, be the leaders, for parents who are so lost. Otherwise they have no choice but to RELINQUISH their duties as parents of the newly born. Which is what they do, even if they provide for their physical care. They abandon their infants because they were, themselves, abandoned. How could it be otherwise?
These parents, who were themselves most damaged by their own infant peritrauma, “give up to the control or influence of” of their own infants. They “withdraw protection, support, or help from” their own offspring. These infants are left “helpless without protection,” just as their parents were before them.
And most importantly, they FORSAKE them, which means that their actions are “more likely to bring impoverishment or bereavement to that which is forsaken than its exposure to physical dangers.” Yes, the physical dangers are very real if the parent is physically abusing them – which I take to be a given. But FORSAKE implies IMPOVERISHMENT and BEREAVEMENT, also. This is where the emotional and mental damage comes into play. This is where the forming brain-mind-self is most damaged, even though it usually includes harm to the body. They body will appear to heal itself. And the other wounds remain invisible. Until we learn to look harder.
[ME abandounen, fr. MF abandoner, fr. abandon, surrender, fr. a bandon in one’s power]
1 a: to give up to the control or influence of another person or agent b: to give up with the intent of never again claiming a right or interest in
2: to withdraw from often in the face of danger or encroachment
3: to withdraw protection, support, or help from
syn ABANDON, DESERT, FORSAKE , mean to leave without intending to return. ABANDON suggests that the thing or person left may be helpless without protection; DESERT implies that the object left may be weakened but not destroyed by one’s absence; FORSAKE suggests an action more likely to bring impoverishment or bereavement to that which is forsaken than its exposure to physical dangers. Syn see in addition RELINQUISH
[F deserter, fr. LL desertare, fr. desertus]
1: to withdraw from or leave usually without intent to return
2 a: to leave in the lurch b: to abandon without leave – to quit one’s post, allegiance, or service without leave and without intent to return syn see ABANDON
Let us take a closer look at the concept that lies deep within the history and the original meaning of the word ABANDON: “in one’s power.” If it is not in a parent’s power to lead their child into life, if they are not in their power, then they are powerless. Just as powerless as the infant is that has now come to them for care and nurture – physically and mentally.
[ME, fr. OF poeir, fr. poeir to be able, fr. (assumed) L potere to be powerful – more at POTENT)
1 a: possession of control, authority, or influence over others b: one having such power; specifically: a sovereign state….
If a parent is not, itself, “a sovereign state,” a healthy entity unto itself, it will not have “such power” as it needs to guide either its own life or the life of another. One must be firmly in possession of one’s own self, to be able to control one’s own self, to influence self, to have authority over one’s own self, to be in a position to show another – one’s offspring – how to do it. An infant is born with an underdeveloped brain which operates in a simple fashion to keep the systems of the infant in operation. From its experiences with its caregivers the infant builds the rest of its brain, including its higher functioning aspects. If the infant is in a peritraumatic abusive environment with a caregiver who has chaos for a mind, there is nobody there left to lead or to guide the infant brain-mind-self’s development in any necessary way. So that parent raises a “non-sovereign” state person, too. Let’s look at that word: SOVEREIGN.
[ME soverain, fr. MF, fr. OF, fr. (assumed) VL superanus, fr. L super over, above – more at OVER)
1 a: of the most exalted kind: SUPREME b: superlative in quality: EXCELLENT c: having generalized curative powers: POTENT d: of an unqualified nature: UNMITIGATED e: having undisputed ascendancy: PARAMOUNT
2 a: possessed of supreme power b: unlimited in extent: ABSOLUTE c: enjoying autonomy: INDEPENDENT
3: relating to, characteristic of, or befitting a sovereign syn see DOMINANT, FREE
In our culture we expect parents to have sovereignty over their children, or that they have “undisputed ascendancy.” We believe they are capable of watching over them, hoping that their care will be of the quality of “the most exalted kind,” or “superlative in quality, excellent.” We include the concept of parent often even when we think of a concept of a God (yet, interestingly, often a different concept than with the word Goddess). Nobody likes the word “impotent.” Coming from its root in the word “potent.” Let us look at this word, as we see even the word “power” itself is connected to this root.
POTENT (ca 1500)
[L potent-, potens, fr. prp. of (assumed) L potere to be powerful, fr. L potis, pote able; akin to Goth bruthfaths bridegroom, Gk posis husband, Skt pati master]
1: having or wielding force, authority, or influence: POWERFUL
2: achieving or bringing about a particular result: EFFECTIVE
3 a: chemically or medicinally effective b: rich in a characteristic constituent
4: able to copulate – usually used of the male
It is interesting to see that the word “power” and the word “potent” lie connected in their roots primarily to masculine images and concepts. Yet parenting is a unisex concept. So, also, is the consideration of the human brain-mind-self. A brain can only form itself correctly if it is guided to do so by parents and caregivers who are sovereigns of their own mind. They obtain that power and potency themselves only if they had necessary nurturing during their own developmental stages by a potent and sovereign caregiving experience. Potent, at its core, is about being “able.” We are born “able” to do very little, because we are very little. And our brains also had to be very little or we could never have been born!
[ME, fr. L –abilis, -ibilis, fr. –a-, -I-, vrb stem vowels + -bilis capable or worthy of]
1 a: having sufficient power, skill, or resources to accomplish an object b: susceptible to action or treatment
2: marked by intelligence, knowledge, skill, or competence
On a most esoteric level, everyone who can conceive and bear a child is worthy of having one. The fact that a person HAS a child proves that they are “capable” of doing so. But when we look at the definitions of the word “able,” an entirely different image begins to form. If the object of having a child is to nurture it to adulthood so that it is capable of having offspring of its own (if that so be its choice), what about the WHOLE picture? Raising a child means that whomever is care taking it is FORMING a BRAIN, not only a body.
Yes, the brain is part of the body. But we now have too much information available not to realize that interactions an infant has with its caregivers FORM its brain. It is no longer the time for us to stumble around in the dark regarding the most significant and important action we can ever take in our lifetimes. Our parenting needs to be marked by intelligence, knowledge, skill, AND competence. When it came to the formation of our own brain-mind-self, somebody had to lead us from chaos into order. They had to show us HOW to create our own internal universe that could sustain, not hinder or abolish life.
The “able-ity” to foster and maintain organization within our brain is the most precious ability that we have – and we take it completely for granted. Yes, it is our birthright. But it does not come to us automatically, and it is time that we quit thinking that it does! It is this ability that allows us to take “response-ability” for everything we do as adults. If our brain was never shown how to be orderly, and therefore the adult is not able to have a smoothly functioning, non-chaotic mental state of mind, then something is WRONG. And their children, not least of all, will pay the supreme price. They will not be given the nurturing they need to get an able mind of their own.