Having parts gives me more insight into the process of human development. I get to see the same developmental stages again and again, very up-close, very now. There is the trauma and the specific consequences of that and there is also just seeing the world through the lens of that particular developmental stage again.
One stage I have seen is the assumption that reality can be changed—a sense that there ought not to be limits to one’s power or maybe to the power of others. Like if you want it to be 10 o’clock still and not already 11, someone ought to be able to do that. Every part under the age of four has experienced this struggle to some degree, and so it seems to me that it is just something that has to be done. It’s the reason for the “terrible twos”—there’s that terrible frustration over the limits of what can be done.
I think not everyone gets through that stage. The lie in a family like mine is that the children’s needs aren’t being met. The desires of adults are instead.
I think this happened because my parents didn’t complete that developmental stage. They wished that their children didn’t have the needs they did. They wished so hard they believed their children didn’t have them, and as children we did our best to comply, because that is a part of what children do. They try to make their parents happy.
As I work through the trauma, I find myself wishing it could be easier. I find myself wishing the same thing my parents did: that I didn’t have the needs I do, I didn’t have the feelings I do, I didn’t have to do all the hard work. I can see how, in the past, I wished so hard I believed I didn’t have them. When the needs and feelings resurfaced, I coped by thinking I hadn’t wished hard enough. I wished harder. It worked for a while. Then things popped up again.
You can’t wish things into reality just by wishing harder, regardless of the stories we read as children. Wishing does not make things so.
And it really helps quite a lot to see this. Because, the corollary of this, is that I find myself afraid that if I embrace reality—if I really see how hard things are—this will spoil my life. It will not make things more do-able, more solve-able, more manageable—which is, in fact, what it does. It will, instead, make things too hard to cope with. I will end up “stuck” in the trauma. I will stagnate. I will drown under a sense of being victimized. I need to wish myself into a different state, without the needs I really do have, as a survivor or I don’t know what. Something other than someone who needs to do the hard work I have to do.
It just helps a lot to see this.