I have been thinking about my thoughts—not my ordinary thoughts, but the trauma ones. I have been breaking them down into categories. They actually don’t vary that much. Sometimes they are exactly the same, word for word. But sometimes the thoughts are kind of wordless. I wouldn’t even know what the thought was if I didn’t try to tease meaning out of it.
I am worthless. (This is in the sense of just unimportant—imagine a stone you can just move around.) This is a big one.
I am bad.
I am a failure.
I am not real.
I want to die.
I have been thinking that we are wired to try to take the perspectives of the people who feel like “us.” We don’t bother so much with the perspectives of people who are “them,” but we try to understand how the people who are “us” think and feel. We try to imagine their minds.
My parents abused me, and I tried to take their perspective. Those thoughts are my attempts to take their perspectives when they were abusing and neglecting me. Those are the things I believed they thought. It is part of the trauma.
Trauma is remembered in pieces. We could not process the experience enough to create a coherent memory out of it, and it resurfaces later in disconnected pieces that need to be integrated: This is what it looked like, this is how it felt to my heart, this is how it felt to my body, this is what happened, these were the people involved, this is what he people involved thought.
They treated me like an object who could not think or feel and did not have any needs. Therefore I must be worthless.
They punished me because I was bad.
They expected me to behave and perform in ways I am unable to. Either they expecte me to be developmentally capable of something I am not capable of yet, or they expected me to do things no human can comfortably do. I was a failure.
They kept telling me I didn’t have the feelings I have, I didn’t have the thoughts I have, and I knew I was not supposed to remember or talk about the things I remembered or wanted to talk about. I must not be real.
They were trying to kill me. I must need to be dead.
The thoughts are a part of my traumatic memories, but they are different in that they do not belong to one memory or even a handful of memories. They went with experiences that happened every day, several times a day. They are what a child would think a parent who lacks empathy thinks about the child. In some cases, it probably was what my parents thought. My mother certainly thought I was bad and needed to be punished when she was beating the crap out of me. My dad perceived me as an object rather than a human being nearly all of the time.
I had another thought about my dad. I was reading about Reactive Attachment Disorder. It made him make sense to me for the first time. His mother was schizophrenic. She was fairly normal and functional (seemingly) when I was around and interacted with her, but that doesn’t mean she was coping well when my dad was a small child. My dad’s dad was a harsh man. He lacked empathy. My dad may not have been cared for when he was little, and my grandmother’s delusion may have led her to torture her son. He may never developed a feeling of trust in other people, and he might have spent his whole life getting his needs met and pursuing his desires by deceiving other people, and they might have been very peculiar desires and fantasies, because he had been tortured by someone who did not have a full grip on reality.