I am getting it now. I think so anyway.
I am working through the formation of my conscience. I was punished for things catastrophically—by being assaulted and by being deprived of my basic needs—but the mechanism of punishment is fundamentally the same. Other terrible things happened too, but this is one piece of what I have to deal with.
I did stuff my mother didn’t like, as all kids do, and she punished me as parents do, only the punishment was so extreme and she was so unable to help me cope with the emotional aftermath of punishment, that it all kind of stalled out in my mind. It never became something I could be consciously aware of and modulate like a thinking adult. It was all just impulse.
Also, she punished me for stuff that most people don’t get bothered by. It didn’t help me become a considerate member of society. Quite the opposite.
She punished me with abandonment and she punished me through physical and emotional assault. What emerged in my mind as the pattern for right and wrong was wanting connection and warmth and making errors of any kind.
C left on Sunday, and I felt really sad and then ashamed. Because leaving was punishment. Some part of my mind remembers that and is thinking, okay, we are being punished now, what did we do wrong? It understands that leaving means we did something bad.
The other pattern is really kind of just existing. If my mom noticed me, it wasn’t going to be in a good way. I was in one of the shops buying something, and I was very friendly and smiley with the shopkeeper and I suddenly, for a second, became aware of myself. I just kind of had this picture in my mind of myself and how I looked in that moment, being friendly and smiley. And I felt abruptly washed over with shame and angry. Being myself is bad. It seems to me that the punishment was so erratic, that that was the main pattern which emerged. There must have been times when actually I couldn’t find any pattern to the wrongdoing. The only constant seemed to me to be me or that someone noticed me. Something like that.
The important thing about this, maybe, is that the solution isn’t to say, well, really I am not doing anything wrong right now, so I will stop feeling ashamed. That closes off my awareness of the feeling, but not the feeling itself. Feelings don’t turn off through an act of will. I think that’s what I have tried to do in order to cope.
More later. I am really, really tired….