I am angry. I am so angry it feels absolutely beyond words. I can’t even describe how angry I feel.
I think it has something to do with coming into a sense of worth. The lives of abused children are worth intervening in. They are not wrecked by the abuse. They are struggling, but it is not hopeless. They are not destroyed by it. And they are also not being abused because they deserve it. They are not bad. They behave badly sometimes because they are struggling, but that isn’t where things started. It started when they were young children like other young children, and their parents lacked the skills to take care of them. They lacked the coping skills or the empathy or the practical skills to meet their needs.
I was abused because my parents lacked skills. They could not take care of me. My mother couldn’t regulate and my father couldn’t give a damn. They couldn’t. They were damaged adults and they damaged me.
My future could be saved and it was worth saving. I am middle-aged and I am hard at work saving it now. The hard part about healing is seeing that it is possible to heal and maybe if someone had intervened earlier, I could have been saved decades of pain and also just lived up to my full human potential.
The hard part is thinking that I wasn’t helped more as a child, because it was sort of inconvenient to help me. My needs were absolutely crucial for me, but the adults who might have helped me and didn’t were mostly trying to remain comfortable. They were trying not to question their beliefs. They were trying not to make the extra effort. They were trying not to move out of their comfort zones. My mother got melty brain and lost her mind, and she couldn’t take care of me. Other people might have helped me, but it was difficult. It was difficult and uncomfortable and it was easier to look the other way—not necessarily about my situation, but about child abuse in general. I needed things, but many adults simply wanted to be comfortable.
I know it was possible to help me, because some people did help me.
I also think that if all adults saw the next generation’s welfare as a collective responsibility and worked together earnestly to address the problems traumatized children face, child abuse would probably disappear almost entirely within a few decades. That is my personal belief. But many people don’t see it as their responsibility. If they do, they don’t see it as an urgent one.
It is less uncomfortable to spend money on prisons, to rely on inadequate school programs and blame other people than it is to earnestly try to make a difference in society.
And that is why I am like that. That is why other children are growing up to be like me, with my pain and my coping deficits right now, as I write this.
It is easier.
My parents are deeply damaged individuals. They could not take care of me. Other people were not damaged, and they chose not to. Instead of helping me reach my full human potential, they chose to be comfortable. They had other choices. Their choices were not constrained by their colossal deficits in functioning. It was their choice to do nothing and that continues to be the case. Periodically, there are shocking headlines about child abuse cases and people are in a tizzy for a while and then they forget all about it. Meanwhile, they do nothing.
It isn’t everyone. It might not be you. If you are working on your own healing process, you are doing something.
But the majority of people are doing nothing, and they are doing it because their comfort is more important to them than meeting the needs of children who lack capable parents.
That is part of this feeling of worthlessness I have that I am grappling with now. The feeling of worthlessness comes from my parents’ treatment of me and from their distorted views of me, and it also comes from a society that was perfectly willing to throw me away, and who did not see my future as one that could be saved or ought to be saved. They might have felt pity for my state, but nothing actionable.
I am so angry.