Sunday, June 4, 2017. Again I write from the perspective of being a severe early abuse survivor — whose perpetrator in my case was severely mentally ill. Would the abuse have happened at all, or if so, in any way, form or shape as the way it did if Mother had not been psychotically mentally ill? There is no way to know — so there is no way for me to know how MEAN my mother actually was as a human being. She was sick – AND she was extremely MEAN to me – consistently so day and night in and out for 18 long years.
It’s not that I wish to debate with myself here about intent to be mean vs accidental meanness. What I want to do here is simply write about a little something that happened in my life yesterday. Perhaps I will have more clarity about SOMETHING connected to this once this little story is written. I won’t know unless I write it, so here goes:
(I will call woman in town here #1 – Alice. I will call woman in town here #2 – Betty.)
While I have met Alice around town a few times, I have never wanted to establish a friendship with her because it is remarkably simple to determine she’s quite bossy.
Betty, on the other hand, is sweet and gentle. In the process of getting to know her better we walked together from my friend’s weaving studio over to the house Betty is renting a room in – and, yes, that’s in Alice’s house.
OK, so all is going according to plan. Betty and I have a calm and friendly slow walk to the house. Betty opened the door into the nice, large sun room whose floor is covered with very light tan hardy carpet – tough, evidently – because Betty told me it was fine for me to leave my shoes on in that entry area of the house. “You have to take your shoes off to go into the rest of the house.”
OK. I got that part. I also knew that I did not plan to visit in this house at all – not at that time, and given the hesitancy I have always felt to “trust” Alice one single bit, probably not ever. Without what I consider trust – well, what is the POINT?
No. If at all possible, I do not pretend.
So there I was standing on the carpet — Alice was sitting at a table visible from my point of view, evidently in a dining room – yes, in the ‘bowels’ of the dwelling.
Alice: “Take your shoes off and come in.”
Me: “I don’t want to take my shoes off.” (In my universe, I didn’t want to go any further into this place than I already was – so, of course, I didn’t want to take my shoes off, nor did I want to explain myself!)
Alice: “You’re lazy.”
Yeah, that went over like a ton of something extremely heavy.
To me — that WAS a mean retort. Did Alice MEAN to be MEAN? Makes absolutely zero difference to me.
Yes, I have a truly horrible long torturous history of being abused on every level – and yes, Mother did – among a billion other things – accuse me of being lazy (at the same time I did the Cinderella work of the household).
That’s not the point here. The point is NOPE! NOBODY gets to treat me that way — EVER! I couldn’t care less if someone means to be mean or not. I don’t give a damn.
MEAN is MEAN – I don’t deserve mean, never did. Nobody has the right to be mean to me.
I will turn 66 at the end of August, and yes, it has taken me this long to heal to the point I am THIS incredibly CLEAR about what feels and seems like what to me.
The problem is — I am usually too slow to be able to smoothly apply my new insights about my desires quickly enough not to stumble in some way — against myself and for someone else in cases where there is some kind of meanness present. “Be nice.” WHY?
Alice wasn’t the first to invite me to the potluck taking place that evening in that house. At least 4 people invited me. Nice. But NO POSSIBLE way was THAT going to happen!
I wasn’t rude in any way yesterday, but I was disrespected. My character was judged. (Lazy connected to sloth connected to 7 deadly sins and all that jazz. What mattered was that this was a mean slam against ME.)
Evidently I’ve outgrown “Give them the benefit of the doubt.” Finally. There IS no grace in that attitude toward people who are either by basic design or sickness MEAN, or choose to be that way.
Yet, for all of this, it’s the fact that trust will never be present between me and Alice that makes the whole of this situation impossible. I know that. And the interweaving problem is that I KNOW we cannot discuss even this little tiny situation. Without the ability to openly and HONESTLY discuss situations (like this and so many others), there is no hope for what neuroscientists describe about attachment relationships: If there is a “rupture” between two people – most especially in the beginning between MOTHER and INFANT – that rupture must be “repaired” for safe and secure attachment – with its trust – to be present. To exist at all.
Some people factually seem to LIKE asserting power and control over other people by subtle and/or not-subtle-at-all means. Was there abuse present in that little snippet of one of the shortest conversations on earth yesterday? Yes. Yes there was.
Yet the real problem if I cared, which I certainly do not, is that there is no possibility of repairing any such rupture. Alice does not care either. I don’t care – because I am finally smart enough to at least SOMETIMES be quick enough to know in the moment exactly what I know.
Nobody – and that means NOBODY – will disrespect me and get away with it if there is supposedly a relationship present or supposedly possible, because there will never be trust.
And trust matters, because without it there is no safe and secure attachment relationship — and that is exactly what relationships are all about. Repair in relationships is not hard, but it takes the ability to CARE about other people, to reach one another through honesty, humility, flexibility, patience, courage, kindness, often forgiveness and possibly even joy — and negotiation based on valuing one another’s perspectives, understandings and feelings.
I particularly found this experience helpful to me yesterday because I was able to see that probably a LOT of difficulties that take place between people are connected to how FAST everything can move if we are not involved with consciously paying attention to letting more time into our conversations and interactions with one another. I don’t think the speeding-up of human interactions is natural to us. I think we evolved having TIME on our side – as our friend.
I also noticed that what is probably connected to my autism is not at all ‘a bad thing’. Much of the ‘social difficulties’ I have is that people take so much for granted in their communication with others in this hyper-speed way I am describing. I need TIME to begin to sort out the MEANING in interactions. What do people MEAN? What are they intending to communicate, trying to say, expecting in return, wanting that they do NOT say consciously in any way?
What do people MEAN for others to respond to? What do they MEAN to slide in there in some secret way — hoping nobody will notice? (Like inserting ANGER, resentment, fear, shame, guilt, sadness?) If I could actually TALK with Alice, I would want her to be able to TELL me exactly what she had been FEELING at the moment those words to me came out of her mouth.
My problem might be that I refuse any longer to GUESS what people MEAN, or meant to say, or said and didn’t MEAN to say at all. The social patterns with autism are different, I suspect, in that we REALLY NEED TO KNOW what people MEAN to say so that transactions can MAKE SENSE instead of NONSENSE = NO SENSE AT ALL!
My mother was PSYCHOTIC! She REALLY made no sense most of the time, certainly when it came to her psychosis about me that came as a part of her mind that broke during her birthing of me (see book, below). I now understand how impossible it would have been for me to understand anything about what Mother said about me or did to me because Mother was NOT rational. She was nuts. Crazy. Insane.
And mean beyond belief.
So even if I had been a non-spectrum child, Mother could not have been made sense out of! She hallucinated. She saw things happen that did not happen. I knew from the time I was very tiny that this was true – but I NEVER developed any ability to make sense out of what happened to me because I could make no sense out of Mother. She MADE no sense!
So biologically and through a long, long tortuous 18 years of abuse, I missed out on any opportunity to make sense out of what happened to me OR to make sense of myself in the world. I looked back yesterday and realized this fundamental need for me to make sense out of life is intrinsic to my life experience. It is an essential part of who I am. And, therefore, MEANING is critically important to me.
It’s a paradox for the most part because I am not sure humans make all that much sense to anyone very much of the time. Yet my intrinsic need to make sense out of life slows me down so far and so often when I am in interactions with people, I very often end up experiencing anxiety and am left in a state of having absolutely NO possible idea about what they mean or how to respond to them!
I listen, yes, and often acquire all kinds of subtle information about people I seriously doubt I am supposed to know. People can rarely hide their truth from me.
Yet I now realize my pattern of being in the world with other people is tiring beyond belief. I either can’t, or won’t, any longer expend the kind of energy it takes to respond to people in the way they WANT to be responded to.
Nope. Not taking off my shoes or entering the house or offering any damn explanation about myself whatsoever. Such explanations, by the way, I heard many years ago are definite and classic “co-dependency” patterns. We owe nobody any explanation about anything. Either people respect us or they do not. It is not our job to be other people’s puppets, plain and simple
Here is my first book out in ebook format as it provides an outline of the conditions of my malevolent childhood. Click here to view or purchase–
Story Without Words: How Did Child Abuse Break My Mother?
It lists for $2.99 and can be read by Amazon Prime customers without charge. A daring book – for daring readers – about a really tough subject.
Tags: adult attachment disorders, adult reactive attachment disorder, anxiety disorders,borderline mother, borderline personality disorder, brain development, child abuse,depression,derealization, disorganized disoriented insecure attachment disorder,dissociation,dissociative identity disorder, empathy, infant abuse, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),protective factors, PTSD, resiliency, resiliency factors, risk factors, shame