PREVIOUS: Parental Blame
NOTE: This post, of course, is about those of us raised in a variety of abusive, dysfunctional families & communities
a. External CAUSES – Growing up, our parents & other adults:
• blamed us unfairly, for all kinds of things (their problems, other kids’ bad behavior…), attacked & humiliated us, assuming the worst of us…
• AND didn’t allow us to defend ourselves, never bothered to ask for our side of a situation, didn’t believe us, weren’t on our side nor defended us
b. Internal – All children:
• are vulnerable to & at the mercy of their caregivers
• think in B & W, simple cause & effect, and so a believe in JUSTICE – that the world is fair
• AND, assume they are the center of everything, therefore everything that happens to them is about them (good or bad)!
SO: When our parents hurt us – it would make sense to a kid’s mind that:
• they were justified in what they were – doing to or not doing for – us
• we caused it somehow, even if we couldn’t figure out what we did wrong
• we deserved whatever was dished out: “The gods punish us for our own good (a lesson) & because we deserve it (being bad)!”
• we were in constant, intense pain. Even if we ‘bought’ that we deserved what was being done to us, still – we wanted it to STOP! Of course.
• no one else seemed to notice or care – no one else was helping (maybe someone did try, but it didn’t work out & we stayed trapped)
• we couldn’t get any justice from them (they didn’t care how their abuse effected us) and they got away with it – never held accountable! UNFAIR
• we tried & tried – to figure it out, to change ourselves and get them to change, to protect ourselves & others in the family
• but nothing got better, so we got more & more frustrated and hopeless
• failing to MAKE adults stop hurting us, our sense of danger never left
• which led to getting angrier & angrier. Being powerless in an unsafe family, especially one that was actually life-threatening – will always generate RAGE.
• and after all – fair is fair – eventually we began to have fantasies of REVENGE, to even the score, so the world would be in balance again.
Without help, comfort or a way of escape, we had to suppress the pain as best we could. Our fantasies scared us, so we pushed those thoughts away. We weren’t big or strong enough to punish ‘those mean, stupid adults’ the way they deserved, so we did the next ‘best’ thing:
• Sadism: some of us hurt smaller, younger, weaker things (toys, animals, siblings, school mates…)
• OR Masochism – some took it out on ourselves (self-mutilation, or fantasies of being hurt/ tortured…) REVENGE in REVERSE
IN THE PRESENT we believe that:
1. we have no option but to re-play the victim role (& wonder how we got into ‘this mess’)….
2. …. and since we have no choice but to be taken advantage of, we insist that the other person change (not us!) so they’ll stop hurting us AND so we don’t have to leave them. If they won’t stop and we can’t leave (yet), some of us become physically violent …..
3. …. and if they don’t stop hurting us, we have a right (& obligation) to be revenged, whatever that entails
WE ACT on these beliefs (consciously or not)
• obsessive hatred, which can cause us physical problems & also generally, being shunned because the rage is palpable
• fantasies & dreams of punishment, torture, murder
• wish for bad things to happen to others, getting off on their suffering
• drop a friend or lover for minor infractions of our rules (usually unspoken & unexplained)
• bad-mouth people we know, be judgmental, put everyone down
• slander, gossip, hate mail, lawsuits
• cause drama, trouble or fights wherever we are – etc.
• REVENGE gives us a false sense of power, and being false, is NEVER satisfying. It doesn’t make the pain go away, so we keep wanting more
• In spite of our desire for revenge we still believe that our parents were right to abuse & neglect us since we deserved it, just for being ourselves. Otherwise – WHY would they have done it??!!
• This creates rage – but we’re not allowed to be angry at them.
SO: Intensity of our DESIRE FOR REVENGE is equal to the intensity of our self-hate & powerlessness over past &/ or present abuse
No matter how good it may feel, NO amount of revenge will:
• ever sooth our pain or comfort us
• satisfy our rage, to make it go away
• make them suffer in equal amount (although Elder Abuse is an attempt)
• eliminate acting out the Victim Role, when we don’t have to anymore
• give us self-esteem or S & I (Separation & Individuation)
• make us feel genuinely empowered. We’re still a Victim by staying attached emotionally, since being a ‘perpetrator’ is turning ourselves into them!
TRUE POWER comes from :
• having our original trauma validated by skilled professionals, other abuse survivors, & sometimes by someone in our family willing to acknowledge what happened to them too, or what they witnessed
• understanding & accepting that we didn’t cause the abuse/ neglect
• learning the skills to actively treat ourselves better
• gaining boundaries, so we can stop others from hurting us now
• learning to LOVE ourselves
• surround ourselves with healthy, kind people – in all areas of our life
➼ GETTING WELL & LIVING WELL is the BEST REVENGE !
NEXT: REBELLION vs. Compliance – #1