Friday, August 19, 2011

Reclaiming My Humanity

     The biggest secret of my life was that I was sub-human.  I had limbs and skin and a nose like everyone else but I was too shameful and disgusting by my mere act of existing to warrant respect or love from anybody.  The core message of every terrorizing, bullying, violation, brainwashing, and sadistic game by my father was humiliation.  I brought out his disgust.  I was given this message repeatedly all my life, along with the message that I should be exceedingly grateful to him for loving me anyway, and to be careful not to let anyone else find out or they would sneer and reject me as he had often done.  And I was.  Very grateful.  I worshipped the ground he walked on out of desperate gratitude for loving me, and in return I was loyal to a fault.  I did not question his assessment of me.  I did not even think about it, just accepted it as I accepted that grass is green, I was shameful.  More shameful than any other human could possibly be.  In public we both played along as the good family, and I dissociated enough to buy it whenever we were, but any compliments I received or good qualities I had were just window dressing, and we both knew it.  I never forgot that.
     I have heard any promise or oath a child utters becomes embedded in the mind deeper every time they repeat it, until it becomes a part of their psyche.  Mine certainly was.  Being near people was a trigger to bring out that alter who had been ingrained with the believe that she was abhorrently disgusting.  It was too dangerous to be around people, who might find out what I truly was and break the big secret, that horrible secret that they would hate me for.  With her out around people, I was usually extremely tense, and often started to shake and get extreme stomach ailments.  These were only treated with revulsion as proof of my nature, so that I could have no doubt.  Only dad and I knew my secret, and we never spoke of it, although the reminders of what she was- of what I was- were frequent.  I was only completely safe alone, and mostly safe around him because he was the only person who would accept and love me for what I was.  "I am not good enough to be around people", had been thoroughly ingrained, and following that, "I cannot be around people" became a rule of my psyche.  An impenetrable wall that was never ever to be questioned.  
     Even without conscious awareness of the rule, severe tension and stomach ailments still enforced it, until I became the most devout prodigy of solitude and silence.  I have gone to extreme lengths to obey it.  I avoided any group activity or extra-curricular program.  I avoid long trips other than by myself.  I avoid restaurants.  I do not date.  I do not go out in large crowds.  I never enter a room without an escape route.  Lately my bed-room has been under remodel and I have tried sleeping in the yard, the garage, and the car to avoid being too close to people.  Looking back through friends photos and albums I realize how much I have missed out on growing up, in high school, in college, because I was not allowed to socialize because of that inner rule that I could not voice to anyone.
     I forget about it when it is not a problem.  As if my mind deliberately discards any memory of it when it is not an issue.  So I can forget what a problem I have.  So I can forget that the person I was closest to treated me as lower than dirt, and conditioned me to be incapable of normal social interaction.  So I can pretend to be human along with everyone else and ignore that I have one big, huge secret.
     Perhaps the most important thing I have learned in therapy is that psyche walls can be broken.  They take time and patience, but no erroneous belief is ever set in stone.  I cannot just tell myself that I am as good as everyone else and believe it, but with time I can break the beliefs that say otherwise, and no longer live by hidden rules that prevent me from living my life.

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