I got sidetracked this morning by cool internet videos, so I’m back at lunch to M&M the post I wrote last night (Mortality and Morbidity, not the candy. :P). An M&M is a debriefing when a patient dies at a hospital, covering what happened and when and why.
I was already emotionally crispy when I read the article about the 14-year-old girl enmeshed in an abusive relationship for five years with an adult. It started before she could vote, before she could drive, before she could drink… and still, the article about her mentions nothing about statutory rape. Her mother and her best friend even condoned the relationship because they met the abuser and liked him.
Now THERE’S a shocker. An abuser was charming in the beginning. I think I’m going to have a heart attack and die of NOT SURPRISED.
All abusers are charming in the beginning, using a technique called “lovebombing.” Once they’ve gotten you totally suckered in by their enormous shower of affection, they start treating you badly because you deserve it. You’re so needy… and you have this habit of having feelings about things.
In an adult/adult relationship, it’s not always one person doing it to the other. Hurt people hurt people, and if both sides of the equation come from less than ideal childhood, the relationship becomes a tumbling, rolling mess of sunshine and chill… the words I always use for alternately lovebombing and gaslighting each other. All arguments boil down to this:
It’s YOUR fault.
No, it’s YOUR fault.
Go to hell.
Fuck off… ad nauseam until one of us dies.
It takes an ENORMOUS amount of work to fix that dynamic, and some people never do. I can only hope that I am fixing it by naming it.
Severely and with self-compassion all at once.
[Editor’s Note: The staff wishes to apologize for that run-on. We are being sacked.]
With an adult/child relationship, the child is too vulnerable to know the tactics used by an abuser and as they grow, generally either shut down or give so much of themselves that there’s nothing left in terms of self-preservation. None of the people I’ve met so far fall in the middle of the spectrum.
I do, now… because my personalities are in the process of fusing together after years and years of thinking I wasn’t enough… leading me to hurt myself and others with my actions and reactions. In so many ways, it was accidental. In others, it wasn’t. This is because sometimes I was self-aware and sometimes I was oblivious. When I was self-aware, I was in fierce protection mode, and nothing could deter me from it. When I wasn’t, I was stomping on others’ emotions because that’s what I knew to do, not how I saw myself or how I wanted to relate to the world.
I just realized that was in past tense, and realistically, I’m not sure that anyone ever fully recovers from emotional abuse. The main thing is that we all keep trying. We all have these epiphanies that drive us forward, but that is for people paying attention to them. Not becoming self-aware is perpetuating the cycle with no hope for redemption.
And, to paraphrase Elizabeth Gilbert, “I don’t know any story of self-actualization that doesn’t begin with getting tired of your own bullshit.”
Yesterday, I realized that on this blog I’d given up my mission- to destroy abuse itself and not just what resided in my own mind. To put myself out there in hopes of people recognizing patterns in their own behavior without coming across as a “judgmental dickhead” (still laughing about that one, Argo).
Dana: Did she really say that?
Leslie: Yes… Why? Do you like her BETTER now?
Dana: [huge conspiratorial smile]
(still laughing about that one, Dana)
I feel that an “I showed you mine” approach is better than coming at it like a professor smiling down from above. If there’s anything that Jesus has taught me, it’s to get in the shit with people and not lord things over them (see what I did there?). Build a community by sitting down while all y’all are standing up.
(Jill, Lindsay… see what I did there?)
[Editor’s Note: The new staff wishes to apologize for paraphrasing Ryan Seacrest. We are also being sacked.]