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|08-11-2003, 12:54 AM||#1 (permalink)|
Guilt from sexual abuse (may trigger)
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<img src="http://whyfiles.org/shorties/061hypnosis/images/ticking.gif"><BR><FONT FACE="ARIAL NARROW" SIZE="-1" color="#000000"><BR>Look carefully at the watch... you are getting sleepy... your eye lids are getting heavy but your eyes will not close... you are going to read this article with a careful, open, health- and healing-minded mind...</FONT></font>
<FONT SIZE="+1" >The quilt of guilt.</FONT> After months of coming to my office and telling me she hated herself but wants to feel better but doesn't want to change, could see no reason to change, wasn't about to change, was trying to change and what the hell did I think I knew about her problems, and who the hell do I think I am to tell her anything and why the hell doesn't anything help, she tearfully sobbed, "I'm afraid. I'm so afraid."
<FONT SIZE="+1">Afraid of what?</FONT> Afraid of being practical and happy? Well, actually, yes. That's very foreign territory. Afraid of dropping the long held negative attitude toward herself. Afraid of the idea of thinking of herself before others. Afraid of being someone else she would not recognize. Afraid of being <I><U>expected</U></I> to be happy if she lets herself have a few happy days. Afraid of letting herself off the hook she's been sure she should be on because of her assumption that God must have wanted her on it. Afraid of forgiving herself for not doing something to stop him -- her father -- who molested her for years and years beginning in her preschool years. Afraid of forgiving herself for behaving like what seems to her now to have been a "stupid little ****" when she was FIVE and SIX and etc. because she had not fought, had not run, had not killed herself, had not found a gun and killed her father and -- worse -- sometimes even <I>liked</I> some of the unwanted attention paid her -- attention given her in the context of a childhood otherwise characterized by neglect, criticism and indifference from her mother or anyone else in the family. Afraid of forgiving herself and forgiving her body for actually, at one moment or another during the years he molested her, enjoying some of the touches even though she knew what he was doing to her was wrong.<BR><BR>She was especially afraid of how the therapist (me) would look at her differently when she finally blurted out that she both knew it was wrong that she was having sex with her father but she went ahead and did it anyway. Afraid of how the therapist (me) would "look down on her" when she finally admitted that she at times liked it. Afraid of adjusting her view so radically that she might be able to accept the possibility that it was not her body that betrayed her -- that her body was simply doing what it was wired to do -- but that it was her father betraying her. Afraid to change her view of herself after decades of holding onto the perspective that she was at fault and guilty as sin. Afraid of looking at the thinking behind the guilt she carried because she knew she didn't want to remember that being molested may have been important to her survival because it may have been one of the better things, relatively speaking, happening in her otherwise abandoned existence as an invisible, unwanted, resented child. <BR><BR>She was afraid to try to refigure, reconfigure, reorganize the puzzle -- rework, repattern the quilt of guilt in her head -- so that she could see that in a barren childhood, neglected by all others, ignored and neglected by her mother, she reacted as anyone would have reacted. She was afraid to accept that it might have been normal to accept and try to believe that because of how her parents treated her, it was normal for her to feel that her own feelings were unimportant, that it might have seemed the thing to do at the time to go along with her father's expectations and demands, especially when her father said it was okay and made it clear that she had no choice -- and also made it clear that it was her fault because he was unable to resist her and made it clear that it was something she would get in trouble for if she told.
And possibly most of all, she was paralyzed with fear that if she let the quilt of her guilt unravel -- that if she let her molestation be passed and in the past -- and that especially if she forgave herself -- it would somehow mean doom and disaster and the end of life as she knew it. She couldn't really explain the logic and couldn't really tell where the feeling was coming from, but deep down in her center, she had a feeling as strong as any possible "knowing" that the only way she was able to continue to breathe and keep her heart beating -- possibly the only way to keep the earth from crashing into the sun -- was to sustain and defend the monumental quilt of guilt in its size and shape and hugeness.
|08-11-2003, 01:12 AM||#2 (permalink)|
<B>So what's the Truth?</B> What's the Reality? What if one must do something repugnant to stay alive? What if "a fate worse than death" happens in childhood when high minded and often difficult (if not impossible) concepts like <I>death before dishonor</I> are even heard of? What if a child simply does what he or she is told by parents he or she must do -- and he or she survives, lives, endures, perseveres -- without ever having any other real choice but to do so? Should he or she then carry guilt about not dying before doing <I>those things</I>?
What does life, society and/or God -- and/or you, the reader -- demand a person feel, pay and give up if she (or he) realizes one day as an adult that she went through a terrible situation in childhood and it hadn't even dawned on her then that she should "do something" (e.g., stop breathing or something to die or something) rather than accepting what at the time seemed (and, of course, actually was) inescapable and inevitable? What should the punishment -- or reward -- be for a person who at age five or seven or ten or thirteen <I>didn't</I> go ahead and drop dead rather than accept "a fate worse than death"? What should the punishment be for a six year old who saves her own life by mentally and emotionally freezing up and pulling her mind away and leaving her body where it had no choice to be while her father touched her in very disquieting ways?
Could it be okay to have been a child who mindlessly, unquestioningly saved her own life and at the same time saved the lives of all her potential children by putting up with the fondling and pawing of a dirty old man? Could it be okay to have acted in the only way one's brain was programmed to act -- to survive? Could it be okay to have been a child who was able to find and feel a little relief and a little joy here and there? <BR><BR>Could it be okay to not sentence one's self to a life sentence of misery because of doing what was important to do to survive? Could it be okay if this was or is a tough concept to wrap one's brain around?
Could it be okay to forgive one's self and dismantle the quilt, piece of guilt by piece of guilt?
<B>Dismantling the complex quilt of guilt and disgust</B> is not easy but it is possible. It's a tough, anxiety-laden road but it is a road worth taking. It's a journey beyond the simplistic black and white thinking that <I>seems</I> to offer such clarity and conformity -- thinking that in a negative manner <I>seems</I> to make one part of the society that seems so far beyond reach by defining one's self as a guilty outcast. And, of course, as a guilty outcast, it makes it sort of okay to not fit in, not feel comfortable, not know really what is considered "normal."
To dismantle all the guilt and disgust is a journey "outside the box," as they say. It takes a recognition that the rules of the mundane society -- the society of individuals whose toughest crises may have been along the lines of postponing a big purchase or the break up of a love relationship, a broken leg before the prom or being skipped over for the big promotion -- simply do not apply. It takes a recognition that the rules of the society of individuals whose lives seem so attractive and unattainable -- the rules of the society of individuals whose lives are watched from afar like a hungry child might look in at through the window of a restaraunt -- <U>simply</U> <U>do</U> <U><I>not</I></U> <U>apply</U>. It takes a recognition that the rules inside for sustaining the feelings of guilt are primitive and illogical and wrapped in lies that treating one's self badly is good -- like the lies of the dirty old man that caused them.
<BR><BR>This is like it is for the individual with a significant disability who needs to accept that the rules in society and ingrained in one's thinking about holding a good job were meant to motivate able bodied individuals -- and make couch potatoes feel guilty enough to get off their butts -- and not meant to make the disabled feel guilty about not holding full time jobs. The "rules" are different for those in situations that the rules were not intended for. <BR><BR>
To dismantle the web of guilty, alienated feelings, there may be a number of possible paths. It helps when an abuse survivor finds a way to let him- or herself turn his or her back on the wish for inclusion in the society of the unhurt. It seems that the survivor, to feel like a survivor and not a defective, may need to accept that he or she is the member of <U><I>another</I></U> society -- a secret society of survivors that the mundane society cannot even comprehend without seeing a very good movie about it (and it's doubtful even then). (Yes, yes, yes -- it's secret society. But not because of guilt. It's secret because the mundane society does not comprehend what it is to endure and survive such abuse. And the mundane society tends to attack anything it doesn't understand.) He or she needs to believe in his or her survivorship long enough to give up the guilt, disgust and dismay and recognize his or her heroism. (At least mostly. It actually never completely, 100%, goes away.) He or she may need to recognize that there are countless others -- valuable, good, fine, worthy people -- from similar backgrounds "disguised" as members of the mundane and pretending to fit in. <BR><BR>When it's completed, such a change in attitude looks like it was a leap of faith more than a journey, but on the hurting side, it looks like a long, long journey. Either way, the bottom line is that it is by far more fun feeling heroic and exemplary than it is feeling hurt and excluded (-- though heroic and exemplary may sound entirely, impossibly far fetched at first).
The best metaphor I've ever known is that of the human-looking alien who has crash landed on planet earth. It may be that in the confusion he or she at first experiences after the crash, he or she feels dazed and doesn't realize this isn't his or her planet. He or she may feel out of place and sort of defective because who he or she is inside doesn't seem to match or be expressed by the rest of the people walking around. But with realization of the facts of the situation, it can seem quite practical to "pretend" to be an earthling, but it is both impractical and silly to feel guilty or bad about not really being human. In looking around for awhile, many other human-like beings from other planets can be recognized. And with closer scrutiny one can see that the humanity of the "humans" in mundane society is often more lacking and that there is actual more humanity evident in the beings from the other planets. (No offense meant to anyone out there.)
Look carefully at the watch... you are getting sleepy again ... your eye
lids are getting heavy again but your eyes will not close ... you are
going to comfortably, carefully, compassionately think about this article
with a comfortably careful, compassionate, open, health- and healing-minded mind... ...perhaps it will be a seed, beginning the growing
of a garden of new ideas... new attitudes... new perspectives...
|08-18-2003, 12:13 AM||#3 (permalink)|
Big kitty nose hugs
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Center of The World
I cant believe you posted this!! This is something I just talked to my counselor last week about! The guilt because being touched inappropriately was so much better than being beaten..and it was a desireable preference. But the wrongness of it is astronomical!! And the guilt is abundant!
We acted sane in an insane world. And we survived.
Love In Spirit,
Where my heart is.......
"Never Give In, Never Give In, Never Give In,
Never, Never, Never."
~~Sir Winston Churchill~~
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