Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Zombie Zombie Zombie

Still from the documentary Sins of Our Mother

So much going on in the world that’s all of this…I don’t know…waking up? So scary and hard and also, to me, it feels…right…makes sense…even though it’s closer and closer to being a world of systems we don’t recognize…I’m so glad for us…sad for us…rooting for us…terrified for us… But we keep fighting... 

To talk about the hard things though… Justify, protest, debate, them…because that’s the only way we can make change…so here goes…here’s some more…

I was watching this Netflix doc, #SinsOfOurMother, and this man pictured here is the interview that…brought me to my knees. It's the moment where he, as a child, told his mother that her husband had been sexually abusing him and the way he describes what happens next is the inciting incident for the way the documentary builds the narrative around why his mother ended up so mentally unstable she murdered her own children. 

This man is the surviving member of his family and he spent his life, still spends his life, pointing to the day he confessed what happened to him as the reason. Because I’ve gone decades learning about how not to hate myself for what happened to me when I was small and how to survive the shame and guilt, and even though, of course I’m not even remotely alone… I’d just never heard my exact experience from anyone else before. And it…helped…it just does. We collectively know this about the power of story. But when it happens—SEEING someone else survive your similar story and KNOWING you’re not alone (even though logic and all the memes tell you you’re not—you just can’t explain an experience with words and learn the same lessons in your bones like when you FEEL it because you did it.) I’ll be damned for how much it matters to have that mirrored back to you. Validated. 

Believe it or not, it’s way more often than you’d think that the young victim is blamed by the old guard. I had a therapist yell at me once—“Why didn’t you just tell him to stop!? Why didn’t you say anything?!” Well. I told her I did. “Yes but not around the time it was happening?! You said something after it was too late?!l” She was furious with me. Too late for…? Oh! Making it not happen? Yes lady that would have been an amazing super power. I’ll bet you’d feel more comfortable too knowing time travel was real. (Ya I didn’t go back…) I don’t think it’s meant to be cruel. Just meant to try and make sense of it. Or hate the beaten dog because after all, that’s their role in the pack. Defend a dying system. (Or memory?) Keep the control in their purse. ”If only [you/he/she/they] hadn’t [said/worn/looked/smiled] then the [violence/pleasure/disgust] wouldn’t have happened.”  I mean, I suppose. 

We often face complicated child abuse scenarios like the TSA tackles terrorist threats…reactionary Wack-a-Mole and punishment for all. It’s just a bummer and there’s no more snacks on the journey. Sometimes it’s more humane to just throw up your arms and say “sometimes humans are awful” and before we lock away the perps, ask them ”why” until they run out of answers. Maybe we can learn some things. But everyone seems so afraid of what they themselves are capable of, they don’t want to know. You really CAN learn to do anything you set your mind to. Including evil. (You can also become evil by avoiding it. You might not recognize the symptoms. #DonaldTrump) 

It’s so difficult for people to understand why children blame themselves for their parents’ pain and abuse. Because we’re not kids anymore. But If you know you know. You know that it’s just devastating. Including the after shocks. Especially when a child shares ANYTHING they KNOW will make their parents and guardians—their initial means of modeling survival and self worth—hug them a little less tight or, cut them out all together. (i.e. sharing or revealing a stigmatized truth—identity, bullying, obsessions, divergence from what they’ve witnessed) The courage it takes for a child to even speak up in the face of a deathblow to their essence is almost unheard of. Can you imagine a blind and vulnerable day-old baby bird defying the instinct to open it’s mouth when it’s time to feed? It absolutely will NOT survive. It’s suicide. Would you, on your own, enact a solo defiance without planning any resources or support or calling on anyone's expertise, and tell your boss something that you know would not only get you fired, but ostracized? Arrested? Canceled? Killed? Because that’s not only how it feels to do such a thing as a child—it can be a reality. (Conversion camps and hospitals and medications can be as cruel as experimenting on small animals. Because…we have so little answers…whether we like it or not,  that’s exactly what we’re doing. Ask any rape victim how many times they were asked what they were wearing.) 

I always knew my mom was fragile in a sense. Strong in other ways but mostly made of glass. Kind of like I was. We were close to the same emotional age when we met only she could read self help propaganda, smoke, and have dessert any time she wanted. What I didn’t know and never will is that I suspect relative to how SHE grew up, she was actually in a thriving state. Not just surviving. She was probably a thousand times stronger than I give her credit for. She just never really told me. She choked on it I think. If I’d known the truth about her abuses…well…there we go blaming the victims for not speaking up….

My mother was also really beautiful back then. Except her body got heavier and darker muffled by silent trauma and as we both got older, she only seemed beautiful to me on her good days. 

As I watched life happen to her—well, I guess us—she got more and more vulnerable, her bones liquified by shame and addiction. Eventually I had to be the strong one, including walking away from her. She just couldn’t come back from the constant cosmic concussions. I didn’t mind that much in hindsight. I didn’t know any different really. I loved her. She was The Mother. But, as I mentioned, my tools were child’s play—make believe castles and toys. 

So when I told my mother—it was like watching a tree whose trunk was already leaning dangerously out of the ground, roots exposed, carrying the weight of the dying limbs, CRASH to the earth…and instead of laying there as a fallen tree…POOF, it became something else entirely, like a psychedelic fever, the moment it’s expected BOOM was to resound on impact, it made some anachronistic continuous noise instead. Like the sound of echoing sitcom laugh tracks or an amplified pack of malnourished lions eating a mare. Just horror. Pure horror. And the noise is forever there in the background like a haunting tinnitus. 

Because sometimes when you tell them the awful thing, you’re inadvertently their one bullet in the roulette chamber for every time life put the gun at their temple. And you had no idea you were even a part of the weaponization of their sanity. Until the light in their eyes just…goes out. They’re never the same again. Regardless of who’s fault it is that got everyone to that situation…it just is a fact. It was you that pulled the trigger.

I always thought I was alone in this experience. I don’t know why, except I’d never met someone who told me they got it in the same way I did. Maybe no one talks about it. Maybe no one I knew had a mother that was that close to the edge. At least mine didn't join the same cult as his. His chose religion. Mine, medicine. 

I’m so grateful to be years beyond the guilt and shame about all this. Thank goodness. And thank GOD for all of the incredible people who care enough to help each other. Love each other. Share their lessons. So…just in case someone else needed this moment in their heads…I just wanted to share what this man said in this film, because it really is this simple. He explains it, well, obviously way more concisely than I. 

It’s just…this death…this sharp change…this explosion…THIS is why kids think it’s their fault. Because, technically, it is. It’s just they are only doing what kids do…pointing out illogic of how poorly they are protected. It’s their parents and the grown ups around them who need to maintain the blame and shame and the lies and systems that protect the status quo so they don't have to face their part in it all. Kids will say the darnedest truths...

I don’t have answers or ideas here. I just wanted to try to explain how it feels to be a kid who is being abused and desperate enough to face the terror of surviving it and how grateful I was to hear someone who survived that life altering moment. Maybe if we normalize talking about the hard things even more, I don’t know, less bombs? More flowers?

#cptforptsd #pflag #PFLAGProud

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