Still heavy

One thing from the video I included in my last post that resonated strongly was that often survivors feel afraid to grieve because it seems the grief will never end. That felt very accurate to me–how many years I resisted grieving because it seemed like the grief could never be resolved. I think people around me, various cultural messages, have reinforced that.

And when I did grieve, I remember how incomprehensible the grief was. What was I even grieving for? I couldn’t match things up.

I think as human beings, we are intended to construct reality jointly. No one is intended to experience life alone, or to try individually to understand what is happening. So how do you create a coherent narrative when the people around you don’t know what has happened to you? If they do know, they try to imagine they don’t.

I was also thinking one of the elements of my childhood were discontinuities in people who knew what had happened to me: they were restricted to certain environments, and when I left that environment, I also lost the people who knew about what happened there, what I felt and who I was there.

I was unable to carry the stories of myself from one setting into another, because the tales of one place could not be told in another. Sometimes because those experiences were secret and not meant to be told, but also because I did not have safe relationships in which to tell about myself.

“I” as a continuous state could not be carried through all of the experiences of my life. The sense of fracturing this leads to is immense.

My childhood was pretty horrific, but I can imagine this happening in a less dramatic way to someone whose parents simply won’t take the time to listen. Your school self can become a little box, separate and apart from your home self, because you cannot carry your experiences from one setting or from one group of people to another.

I think this sense of being fractured is problematized by the intensity of the feeling of “badness.” It is hard not to think, since you feel so confused about your “true” self, that your “true” self won’t turn out to be this “bad” self.

It’s hard to understand the “bad” self is something that happened.

This has taken me a long time to understand. I’ve been “corrected” countless times. The hardest part about this is that then I feel my perceptions are also “bad” and “wrong.” And it doesn’t answer the essential question, “If I am not bad, why did I feel that way?”

It doesn’t seem adequate to me to say children are egocentric and they blame themselves I don’t actually think this is quite as true as we assume. I think they have limited experience of the world, and their explanations for why things happen are very simple, and limited to what has happened to them or what they have done.

Their parents divorce and the child feels at fault, because the child has witnessed the parents disagree over how to parent–which a lot of parents do struggle with. If a couple is not on the same page about life, they are also usually not on the same page over how to raise their children. The child sees that, and doesn’t have the experience to know that the underlying problems with how to communicate and compromise in life are deeper than the issues of how to be parents–arguing is rarely caused by the topic of the argument.

That’s my take on it.

I have been coming to terms with the idea that I feel bad because my parents believed I was bad. The emotions I have of shame and guilt are my perceptual system’s way of informing me, “Look, they think you did something wrong, or that you are wrong.”

This is helpful, because then instead of “badness” being like a room in my head I need to keep locked, it becomes something temporary and external to myself–it’s something that’s actually in someone else’s head, and my body and mind are just telling me about it. So I can be the person my parents mistreated and neglected and believed was bad, and see myself as the person who experienced that rather than understand myself to be the feeling I was having at the time.



One thought on “Still heavy

  1. Alexandra Roth July 22, 2017 / 12:13 am

    These are incredibly subtle distinctions you are making in your feelings and perceptions – at least, they seem so to me – and I appreciate your achievement in doing so.

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