August 20, 2007

 

Looking at What I Don't Want to See

You know how Scrooge had the Ghost of Christmas Past to point things out for him? That's how I feel with a dream I had last night.

Earlier in the week, I felt like my therapist was suggesting something that I just couldn't see at the time.

This dream last night was like that long finger of the ghost, pointing. It was like a voice in my head, directing and asking, "Look! There. Can you see it now?" What I hadn't wanted to look at, but finally saw, was the scarier, crueler origins of my ever-present fear of rejection.

In the beginning of the week that just past, I was so proud of myself. I stayed present and I stayed safe while I was assertive, stated my boundaries and stood my ground during a difficult confrontation. I felt stressed and tired from the confrontation, but I felt good about myself and I didn't dissociate. I even asserted myself as I insisted on some time-out for me for self-care.

Yee haw! I was on a healthy roll!

Then, WHAM! I got stopped in my tracks. I immediately felt bad about myself--rejected and unlovable--after some perceived social snubs by some wealthy parents of students at my son's school. Uh oh. I could almost feel myself getting smaller. I could sense the old, familiar urge to run away and hide. I had to grab my cozy blanket and rock in my rocking chair to comfort and ground myself, in order to resist the dissociative urges.

I felt a bit better after talking it out with my husband. He agreed that some of the behaviors I endured were snobby and rude. Pardon the expression, but I just have no patience for people who act like their shit doesn't stink just because they have money and live in a big, fancy house!

Aaarrrgghh! How did I end up in this situation again?! The people in our immediate neighborhood have different values and priorities. They don't act like snobs. They are very down to earth.

But now my son has to deal with this at school. Just like I did. My high school, for instance, was full of kids who got brand-new cars the day they turned sixteen and went off to expensive, private colleges after graduation. This one girl, I'll never forget, never repeated the same stylish, put-together outfit in the six years I was with her at junior high and high school. I was lucky if I could mix and match enough to pull together a week's worth of clothes without repeating anything!

Anyway, in therapy, I had been casting my nets, so to speak, in search of some junior-high-aged part that, perhaps, I needed to work with on this rejection issue. I feel bad that I dismissed a part who was obviously hurting and calling out for attention. I didn't think she "qualified" because she's younger--between the ages of six and eight, I think. I've always thought of my social rejection era as being somewhere between the ages of 12 and 18; especially concentrated in the junior high years.

That's the time, after all, when I had to endure the social scenarios like walking up behind a group of girls I thought I liked and overhearing them say, "Nobody tell Marj where we're going. We don't want her to come." I was mortified. Back then, I did, literally, run away to hide my embarrassing, unacceptable, unlikeable self.

The dream I had last night started out in this oh-so-familiar way, with the pretty, popular girls rejecting and snubbing me. Ho Hum. That again. Then, the dream took a more sinister turn. In this version of my nightmare, all the popular "kids" look about college age and all live together...like some kind of co-ed fraternity or something. For some reason--even though I know I'm not welcome, not "allowed" there--I go up to the door and one of the resident guys lets me in. He's kinda giving me the tour of the place and being really friendly and nice to me. How strange.

I keep glancing at the front door nervously. I keep thinking, "What is this idiot doing? Doesn't he know that he'll be an outcast if the others return and find him being nice to me?" By the time the others do return, his hideous plan is revealed. He has lured me there in order to enslave me there permanently as his personal step-and-fetch servant!

At the end of the dream they're all standing around, snickering and laughing at the fool--me--who is cleaning and carrying and delivering every whim and desired thing to this guy. The same guy who was once so nice and kind to me is now ordering me about, criticizing my work and belittling me with insults. He is treating me as less than human.

Less than human.

That's what I was in real life. I was stripped of my most basic human dignity, rights and respect, the respect that all humans--child or adult--have an inherent right to. Why do we do it? As a species, why do we stoop to inhumanity? Why do we fool ourselves into thinking it's "us versus them?" How do we allow our ourselves to treat our fellow humans, our brothers--OUR OWN CHILDREN--as less than human objects?

Instead of recognizing that we re all connected--that we are all one--we strip these other divine souls of their humanity. We take an equal--a being that has come from the same source of light and love as ourselves--and we beat him down and strip him of all his rights and human dignity, until he is nothing more than an IT. That's what the plantation owners did to the slaves. That's what the Nazis did to the Jews. That's what my parents did to me.

I was set up. How was I ever supposed to stand up for myself, love myself, or find any social acceptance after that?

My old therapist used to accuse me of taking on too many of the world's problems. But it was my problem It is my problem. As unthinkable as it may seem, this is what parents can do to their own child. This wasn't black vs. white or Christian vs. Jew. This was a case of a parent reducing their own innocent, precious child to an object--an IT--for their own sick pleasure and convenience.

I know this to be true. But, I'm still not quite comprehending or accepting it.

It blows my mind wide open.
It breaks my heart in two.

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Comments:
Dear Marj

first we want you to know that you deserved to be treated with respect, with dignity, with love and caring, not only as a child and a daughter but as a fellow human being. we know your hurt also, we understand, and we loathe those who treated you in such horrific ways. We see the aloofness, the snobbery not just in those who are financially better off but also in those of our own means we just seem to think that their crap doesn't smell! It seems to cross all social lines, all color lines, all religions, there are mean and nasty and evil people who have no qualms about walking all over others feelings and trampling them into the ground. Sorry for the diatribe, this is just a sensitive one for us also, know way too many people who are like this, gladly only know one multiple we would accuse of behavior like this, all the rest we have met have been super!

peace and blessings

keepers
 
Thank you so much for your support and empathy, Keepers. I feel a little more human and alive every time I connect with caring folks like you.
 
Marj,

Huge (((hugs))). I had the same experiences growing up. God, was I one of the biggest targets in school for teasing and bullying!

All kids get teased. It's how we handle it that sets the pattern and reinforces what we already believe. By that, I mean a child who is loved at home is likely to be able to largely shrug off teasing. Kids (like us) who weren't valued will hear the teasing as proof that all the horrible things we heard at home were true--that we aren't worthy of love. And so we begin to play out the body language and verbal patterns that encourage more of it to happen. And it hurts like hell.

The good thing is that as we heal, as we are able to love and value ourselves, we are able to adopt new body language and verbal patterns that make it far more likely people will be friendly and less likely they will see us as easy targets.

The best gifts we can give our children is to a) love them dearly and b) show them how to handle bullies.

Huge (((hugs))) again.
 
Thanks for all the big hugs, April! I appreciate your kindness.
 
I've come to learn over the years that those people who are involved in such behaviors do so because they are so terrified of not fitting in themselves. If they can point their finger at others and get people to look towards the victime, then maybe the bully won't be exposed for the fraud he/she is. It's pretty sad when you think about it.

The good thing about that knowledge is they can't hurt me anymore. I see them for who they really are.

They are not better than you or me, just different.
 
Thanks for your insights, rising rainbow. You know, you're absolutely right--it is really sad and pathetic, really, especially when the victim in a defenseless child.
 
I too had a horrible, awkward, acne filled, perm gone bad, haircut gone bad, new kid in school experience. Sometimee I wonder what became of those who picked on me so relentlessly. Then I remind myself how far I have come. I can't help sometimes but stick out my tongue at these conjured up individuals and say "so there" - I have come a long way buddy.
 
Hi. Marj, checking out your site for the first time. What still, sometimes, makes me so angry is that at 55, I am still dealing with some of the issues from my abusive childhood. Some things I have worked through and am no longer affected by them. Others catch me unaware and suddenly it is like I am that child again, fearful and hurting.

I found myself there tonight when someone who doesn't even tell me his/her name and uses someone else's email address sent me an email about something that they disagreed with on my blog. I find myself here at the computer at 3:00 a.m. not able to sleep because this person has upset me so. I would guess that was their objective and I have allowed them to succeed because some part of me is still that little girl so badly wanting the approval of her parents.

I have opened myself up to all of this by deciding to write about my spiritual journey and about my childhood experiences with incest. I admire the courage you are displaying by opening writing about your experiences also. I will be back to read more.
 
Abused for being smaller than them is no excuse, you were picked on for your smallness compared to their bigness and thats wrong.
 
Right there with ya, Enola! Those of us who have committed to breaking the cycle and healing have come a long way. We deserve TONS of credit for that. And when good things come our way, we can shout, "we're worth it and we deserve it!" Yeah. ;)
 
You're right, JIP, it was so wrong. I get really down about what is so wrong in our world that we allow child abuse. But then, about every few months or so, I get some resurgence of motivation to find meaning for my abuse and try my best to change things. I feel a poem coming on:

Wrong into Right
Darkness to Light...ah we'll see.
 
Oh, Patricia: I've almost pulled my blog and dot com site down because of these things in the past. I'm so sorry that you've lost sleep over someone's cruelty. I just had my first guestbook comment on my dot com site recently that felt threatening to me and I sure didn't like it. But, I've found that the positive that has come from both these endeavors for me has way outweighed the negative, so I keep on putting myself out there.

If nothing else, I remind myself that child abuse perpetuates in our silence and shame...AND I WILL NOT BE SILENCED. I'm looking forward to reading more at your blog as well. Hang in there!
 
((hugs my friend)) It is good you can talk about it now. You are brave and strong.
 
thanks for the safe hugs, wanda i really need them right now
 
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