My blog is really a record of what I am doing to cope with complex trauma. Very few people read it. I do have readers, but they are not reading my new posts. They are reading old ones. Sometimes I wonder if I ought to continue with the blog at all–actually what is the point, when I am my most faithful audience?
But here I am anyway.
Today was especially difficult. Anyone who reads regularly knows I find most mornings difficult, and it’s a frequent topic of posts, because I wake up and try to cope with it. Some days are better. Some days are worse. Some days I don’t cope at all and just get on with life, because that’s what needs to be done.
Today was worse.
I have been thinking recently about the multiple, incoherent models of attachment that come into play when I need support, because this clarifies my experiences for me. I think a common way to cope with these incoherent models is often to try to stay within the “good” one: the worthy, lovable support-seeker and the loving, competent rescuer. I think I tried to do that for a long time. I think I was encouraged by those around me to keep doing it.
I am working actively against that now, but instead to try to create coherent models of myself and others. It is not particularly easy.
My other thought recently is to consider that the times when I feel especially bad may be because I have a bad feeling–so I aim to particularize the badness so that it feels smaller and more manageable. I felt bad this morning–like my whole self was bad–and I thought perhaps I am having a negative feeling. Maybe I feel ashamed or maybe I feel guilty. I have been doing this recently: thinking, maybe this is a feeling, and maybe I feel that way about something in particular. Maybe I did something I feel is wrong and feel I guilty about and then to wonder what that is. This emphasizes myself as an intentional being, as a person actively making sense of the world.
So this morning I began to think that perhaps the experience of abuse taught me to misidentify my emotions. In an abusive family, if you do something wrong or that your parents don’t like, they generally do not tell you what you did wrong or what they didn’t like. They tell you that you are a terrible person, so that you feel guilty about your existence, rather than about something you did. One step away from that is to mistakenly think that you are guilt itself, because that is what feels bad to you.
Your parent tells you that you are bad, because of a family structure which does not support mentalizing and sees people the way the parent sees themselves–as creatures buffeted about by overwhelming impulses, rather than humans who can make decisions about what they do. The problem then becomes what impulses you have, not recognizing that we have thousands of impulses every day, and there is this layer of the person which is intended to decide which impulses to act on and which to restrain. Without that layer of choice, you become whatever idiot thing pops into your head to do.
What I am getting at is that one cannot control having urges, wishes or desires. If the parent sees the child as being their urges, then the child is likely to feel pretty ashamed. You feel guilty (for example) for wanting cookies–and who doesn’t want cookies?–rather than sneaking into the kitchen and eating 20 of them, when you could probably choose not to do that.