As a child living in the constant fear of the top finally blowing off the pressure cooker and blowing up the entire house, it becomes tough to breathe. When reading the temperature of someone’s mood is an absolute necessity for survival, just being a child is out the window. When the sounds of flesh on flesh, the snap of a broken bone, the constant screaming, the arguing, the sound of broken glass, the incessant pleas to stop, are all more common than laughter or any sound of kindness, you almost have to make up a tolerable world.
As a child, we try to make our world make sense. We fabricate justifications that seem sane to a child. The ever-present mental torment; ‘What did I do? Why is this happening to me?’ The guilt that comes from thinking you have done something so terrible that this punishment must be justified. And you seek for things to make the punishment make sense. The punishment must equal the fabricated wrong that you think you have done. Even though it is made up, totally imagined, the guilt too must meet the punishment. Somehow, you must find something that makes it all make sense. But even as adults, we will never be able to make sense of insanity.
Even without the violence we are subjected to, children are prone to take responsibility for what they did not do. It is simply part of the human condition but add to that the idea of being punished when there is no tangible evidence that they have done anything wrong. The sense of guilt, which is only magnified by the real-time, underlying thought, is being punished, becoming a double whammy.
The violence in my own home as a child was excruciating and constant and in every form. I internalized my grandmother’s broken bones, my sister’s bruises, and my own inescapable terror. Were all my fault! Just before my mom passed, I saw her alive the last time she asked me for a goodbye kiss. I refused. The insanity in my home was all spawned by this one innocent action of a five-year-old. And I set forth to sabotage anything good that came to my life, because, ‘the thought of a child’ if they knew I killed my mom they would not be nice to me.
As a child, I was always looking for evidence to prove my guilt, and therefore my punishment was justified. And in looking, the proof was always found. And the fear that I lived in, I found a reason to believe was deserved and just punishment for my wrongdoing.
When a child is traumatized, they are robbed of hope, and no, this is not only true for children; if you are being abused or traumatized in any way by anyone, all of this holds for you as well. Without hope, the world is a terrifying place to live, and the traumatized find it almost impossible to hope, hope itself becomes frightening. Even more impossible is the act of trusting anyone. I believe this especially so for a child who has been traumatized by one supposed to be caring for, loving, and protecting them. Imagine for a moment trying to trust anyone when the one person in your life supposed to be protecting you is the very one you need to be protected from.
So; What is the answer? When trust seems terrifying, hope seems to always lead only to disappointment, and you see no light whatsoever at the end of the tunnel, especially if you have done nothing and are still holding on to a lifetime of guilt.
I had to face the two-headed beast that kept me imprisoned in my own fear. The first head of the beast to be faced, I had to allow myself to hope, even though I still felt there was no evidence that hope would take me anywhere but to even more harm. Still, even more frightening, I had to take the risk of trusting someone with all the deeply buried lies that only led me to self-destruction and self-loathing.
I beg of you, please, allow yourself to find a little glimmer of hope, someone you can trust and make the leap of faith not seem so terrifying.
There is hope you can trust, and healing is not only possible but needed. Forgiving yourself and the people you feel harmed you. Please, try to believe and trust that to forgive the victim, forgiving the victimizer is paramount.