I woke up wondering that. How am I now that I lived through this long stretch of memories and I coped with all the triggers involved in being sick? And I don’t really know.

I think I am not all that fine. I feel a little bit like I am behind glass.

Ruthie keeps saying she wants to die, that she’s a bad girl and God is punishing her by making her sick. She’d rather be dead it turns out than a live in hell on earth. And I can see the logic in that.

So I tell her she has to stop listening to the chinchillas—the chinchillas are people who make a lot of noise but don’t actually make any sense, because they are always lying. I don’t really know that chinchillas make sounds, but I have this idea that they squeak.

I feel about this a sense of dread. One thing is better, and now this, because what it says to me that it’s time to deal with a completely different strand of abuse. This isn’t the Yuri side of things. This is the abuse from perpetrators within the 2x2s. It’s my dad, or it’s our church elder. It’s the stuff they said to me. It’s abuse I haven’t looked that carefully at, and I had hoped maybe I wouldn’t have to. At least not yet.

The upside to Yuri, as I remember him, is that he relied on fear and brutality. He had not need of subtle manipulation through shame and guilt.

But the abuse within the 2x2s did, and it started as soon as I could walk.

Having Ruthie out so much of the time when I am home is really helpful in getting some perspective on this. She’s such a sweet little girl, and I can’t help but like her. Which means really that I can’t help but realize I was a sweet little girl and I would have liked me.

Her world is very simple: she just wants to be around her special people. She wants to connect. She likes talking to me, and I have a friend she likes to chat with, and likes reading the blogs of my bloggy friends. What she would like most is just to sit on someone’s lap and be cuddled forever. But she can’t, so I tell her she has to keep Nata in her heart like a locket. She tries to do that, but it’s hard. I tell her she has to try to be brave, and she tries to do that, but it’s hard too. She tells me it’s hard to be brave every single day.

Yes, it is. I understand that completely.

But what it really makes me think is that my baby-self was too little to be bad or to do anything to be ashamed of. If a child that age does something they ought not to do, all it takes is for a grown-up to pick them up and move them. The child might cry, but she has no power whatsoever to be evil.

And there’s no planning involved, no premeditation. The motives for what small, small children do are limited: comfort, connection, curiosity. I don’t think she’s even big enough to want to punish people for hurting her. She can’t understand why anyone would want to hurt anyone in the first place. Why would you want to make someone sad? She can’t fathom it. You make them sad, then they will cry. They cry, and you have to hug them and try to make it better. That’s her logic. She cannot conceive of a different, where someone’s pain might actually give you satisfaction.

She does get angry, but it’s not directed. She’s not picturing Yuri’s head under her feet when she’s drumming them in a tantrum. She just can’t help wanting to move. It’s all just so clearly biological. I am in pain—she is—so I have this urge to be aggressive. It’s not to any clear purpose at that stage of development. It’s not channeled in any way. There’s no link-up between the aggressive impulse felt in the tantrum and wanting to cause someone else pain.

Of course, children do eventually develop it. By the time children are 3, and maybe well before, they do understand justice. They do start wishing they could punish the people they feel are hurting them, and they do lash out.

But someone was telling me I was bad and needed to be punished for it when I had neither the power nor the cognitive development to do anything very wrong.

And it just makes me sad.