I feel bad. I feel I am bad. I feel I deserved everything that happened to me. I feel I should be thrown in the river. I feel I should be hanged by the neck. I feel I should die.
I don’t know what prompted this. Something, obviously.
I try to just be with that for a while.
I am really, really angry. I feel bad and I am angry, and nothing much else is clear. It does not seem to be connected to anything in particular. It does not seem to be connected to any particular sense of wrong-doing. I am just bad and worthless.
I keep sitting with that, thinking that eventually the thread of this thought has to unravel.
And it does. I hope this is what I am experiencing anyway.
I start to think that is how a little child’s mind works. There is nothing much more to say about it for someone little really. I am bad. I must be bad because people treat me as though I am bad. I am angry about it, but I don’t know why I am angry. I don’t know why they believe I am bad either but this is how I am feeling.
As a very little child, there is no other way to communicate complex and powerful feelings aside from behaviour. There is no way to say I feel bad because people are treating me bad except by doing what has been done to you or doing the kind of thing they have done. There is no other way to say I feel worthless except to treat yourself as though you are worthless. There is no way to communicate your anger except by punishing something or someone, which might most safely be yourself.
That sounds like being three. I am angry and feel worthless and want to do bad things to myself, but I don’t know why. I can’t understand anything. This is the most complexity I can grasp. I certainly cannot tell you about it. I might have the words, but I don’t have the reasoning skills to string it together.
As an adult looking back, what I can say is I understand that. I understand why I was angry. I understand why I felt I was bad. I understand why I wanted to hurt myself: I needed to show how I felt. I could not say it, and there was no other way to get it across. I understand that it was all too hard for me to sort out, and that was the best I could do.
My rage at myself as a child does not mean I brought on the rage of adults. Wishing to be punished did not mean I made anyone punish me. They were adults. They made their own decisions about me, and their rage was because they chose to rage. Their punishment was because they chose to punish me. The pain they caused me was the result of their own choices and not my own.
I was little and I had almost no choices at all. Even as an older child and a teenager, I still had very few. I certainly did not have the power to control the adults around me, even if I hoped I did.
And it also does not mean that my rage at myself will make anyone—life, God, C, my friends, strangers, anyone—continue to punish me. Bad shit happens sometimes. It happens to everyone. Sometimes we make bad decisions and it ends badly as a result, but that does not mean my wish to punish myself is making someone punish me.
Freud thought so, but Freud was an idiot. Also a con artist. I’m sure of it.