Posted by Tamar on February 26, 2006, at 20:21:03
In reply to what's happened *mult trigger*, posted by James K on February 25, 2006, at 15:42:56
Gosh, James, you are incredibly brave to post what happened to you. It’s a terrible, horrible story.
I was reading an article in a psychology journal a while ago, and it suggested that children can construe spanking as sexual abuse even when the adults doing the spanking don’t intend to sexually abuse the kids. And I’m not an expert but it sounds to me as if what your parents did was a form of sexual abuse as well as physical abuse. I wonder if you’ve ever named it as sexual abuse? Maybe it doesn’t feel like sexual abuse to you. But when you mentioned that you’ve injured your own genitals, and when you mentioned the connection between sex, nakedness, pain and humiliation, I thought of the article I’d read. I’ll try to find the reference…
I know the feeling of wanting your body to pay for your honor. And yet… your body isn’t evil; it’s suffering. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to be able to see my pain because if I can’t see it I think I’m crazy or I think I’m imagining it. I can’t understand how emotional pain can be so invisible, so I make it visible but marking my body with blood.
Foucault (the French philosopher) said that history inscribes itself on our bodies, and I think that’s as true of our personal histories as it is of our cultural histories. And when I cut myself I feel as if I’m inscribing my body with the pain I feel in my mind. You have already inscribed your body with words. And you can see them every time you look at yourself.
I don’t know if this is a stupid idea, but it’s an idea nevertheless… feel free to ignore me… but is there a way you can inscribe your body with a more positive message about yourself? Can you take a pen (NOT a knife) and write on yourself? Write on your arm above the words ‘worthless nothing’: I AM NOT A. Or write ‘My wife loves this body and hates to see it hurt.’ Or if you don’t feel at all positive, maybe write in pen: ‘It hurts’. Write whatever comes to your mind, but write it with pen instead of with blood. Or just ignore me (but I think I’ll try this myself…) I think the idea of having a message written on my skin might give me something even more powerful than the blood… I dunno.
> All that is just to say the muliple personality parts of me are the hurt kid (that I hate) the adolescent who tried (and failed) and Me (who would rather break something than feel or remember any of this stuff that comes to me when I stay sober too long, or get triggered by the news or media of some kind)
I find the triggers in the news or media very difficult to deal with. Therapy helped; we talked a lot about the words and images I find particularly difficult. It wasn’t easy, but it made a difference to my life.
It’s easy to despise the little kid… it’s easy to blame him for your parents’ anger. Maybe you feel if he hadn’t been so weak or so little or so vulnerable it wouldn’t have happened. Maybe you sometimes think he deserved what happened to him, even though you know that no other little kid deserves it. He probably blames himself for your parents’ violence. But you are a very loving person and I think you’re capable of feeling compassion for the kid… it takes time. And the adolescent was probably just as powerless as the kid. We all think we’re adults when we’re teenagers, but we don’t have the experience to make sense of the adult world. Are you disappointed that the adolescent failed? Maybe there are ways in which he didn’t fail; maybe he found ways to cope, even if he couldn’t change things, and even if they weren’t necessarily the healthiest ways to cope…
It’s hard to admit how much it hurts. It’s frightening. It’s like exposing your own vulnerability and weakness. If you admit that it hurts, how will you protect yourself from being hurt again? It’s sometimes impossible to imagine allowing yourself to be so vulnerable. And yet… oddly, being able to name your experiences and face the pain can give you strength to live with it. Well, that’s how it was for me.
I hope you find the help you need SOON.