I had a revelation this week, as it dawned on me that it isn’t the memories kids growing up in abuse repress, it’s the emotions connected to the memories that get stuffed down and buried. I have always remembered the abuse, tucked away and compartmentalized in the back closet of my mind, but what I had buried were all the emotions a kid feels when undergoing years of systematic and intentional abuse.
Growing up under a covert narcissist, one determined to break my spirit, and leave me ever dependent on them, a lot of emotion gets pushed aside and buried in the name of survival. The abuser controls everything, from comfort, food, and sleep, to whatever emotion is deemed appropriate to express, and in my upbringing only the abuser was allowed to express any emotions. My emotions were unimportant, ridiculous, the mark of an insane person, and completely unworthy of any attention or concern.
And it was those severely repressed emotional responses to systematic abuse that have been bubbling to the surface these last few years of sobriety. I was ill prepared to deal with them as I had been taught I had no right to them, no right to feel any way that my abuser didn’t approve. My abuser had a very limited range of emotions, and I was expected… No, it was demanded that I share only the emotions of my abuser, and disregard any of my own feelings.
Growing up like that, all my formative years spent trying to mold myself into my abuser’s screwed-up and limited emotional range left me unsure of my own emotions as an adult, and it sure explains a lot about my own life. A kid just wants to be loved and accepted, and that is something I never experienced as a child, which left a deep longing in me, and is the reason I put up with such insane abuse as an adult. I’d been groomed, beaten, and brainwashed by the continual abuse into not only yielding to the desires of the molesters who found me during my fourteenth through sixteenth years, but for accepting even more abuse as I grew up. My emotions had little meaning to me as I tried to fit myself into the emotional range of my abusers in adulthood, just as I learned to do as a child.
It occurred to me last night that I experienced at least a hundred abusive episodes at home between the ages of eight (when my sister died) and seventeen (when I left home pregnant and married). If it happened just once a week, then it’s literally hundreds of times, but I will settle with just the number one hundred for now. At least one hundred times of being hit, condemned, told how awful I was, and how much I was hated as my mother, my abuser, took out all her frustrations on me. It’s a miracle I have as much sanity as I do, it’s a miracle I’m not a hopeless and helpless mess, and although I am a bit of a mess, I managed, though the grace of God and God alone, to recover a spirit of optimism and hope.
So for those of you wondering, talking, scrutinizing, dismissing, and choosing sides, understand I’m not recovering forgotten memories, those have never changed, I am experiencing the emotions denied a severely abused and neglected child. Finally God has allowed me a space to feel and heal those deep, and unwarranted, wounds.