Friday, August 3, 2012

Still Crying: Destroyed Connections

This post is from Dara. She has been amazingly supportive of this series and it's message. Thank you for your powerful voice, Dara!

The paddle hung on the wall in the laundry room. It was rarely pulled down, but, I could likely print out a photo of it right down to the exact color and grains in the wood if I could hook a cable from my brain to a printer. That paddle just hung there and had no life in itself but looking at it made me feel fear. That paddle equaled pain.

When I messed up I always knew there was no getting around what was coming next. I understood that I'd done wrong. I was over their knee and then, "Whack! Whack! Whack!" Pain. I never knew how many times I'd get hit or how long it would last. So, I'd just scream and kick. Scream and kick. Then, a scowling disappointed face would tell me to, "never do it again" and walk away.

I didn't get hit with it much, and never anywhere except my bottom in a "controlled" manner. Nothing that would incite YouTube commenters to agree that I was "abused" but then why didn't I feel loved if I was not abused? Unlike David in the Psalms who looked at God and His "rod" and felt comfort…when I thought of my parents I only felt the same thing I felt when I looked at that paddle: fear.

Was I made into a "better person" by the paddle? I didn't commit the same particular offenses twice, but, I don't know that that made me a "better person". It made me clear on what I could and couldn't do without getting in trouble. It made me certain that getting caught doing wrong hurt. And, that knowledge made me craftier and trickier. But, did I feel loved by anyone? Did I feel safety in people? Did I feel accepted by others? Did I feel safe when I messed up? Did I see my parents as a source of refuge and wisdom to take my problems to? Did I feel connected to anyone? As a young person, I felt none of those things. And sadly, I would say that the way my parents "raised me up" has not departed far from me…

I never understood why I was so angry and alone as a teenager. But, how else could a child feel whose primary source of love are actually her primary sources of pain and judgment? Regardless of my parents' intent with spanking me…all I knew was what they did…not why. Just like the belief that a plain backpack is actually a parachute will not help you if you jump out of an airplane no matter how strongly you believe it…no matter what my parents believed they were instilling in me that's not what happened. I did not learn self-control, self-discipline, respect, and responsibility. I learned those somewhere else…I learned that making mistakes hurts and that the hurting comes from those who love you most. I learned not to trust anyone to be safe and not hurt me. I learned "love" hurts…which is one of the universe's biggest lies and is one sad thing to believe...

Anger…stereotypical "teenage rebellion" isn't something that is a "natural phase" for all teens to go through. It is not something we're born with and a normal developmental milestone like cooing, crawling, and taking our first step. Humans are hardwired for connection…not alienation. We are hardwired to love and to be bonded to others. Anger and loneliness was not something I was born with. It was put in me the first time I'd been held down by the people who were supposed to protect and love me and hurt for things I didn't quite understand…and sadly though I function and push my way through things in life I am uncomfortable with some level of success, what was born in me…the hardwiring for connection and love…has forever been re-wired. Those natural connections have been destroyed and the rest of my life since their destruction has been spent in trying to manage the mess…trying just to survive…when I was born to thrive…

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1 comment:

  1. I sincerely hope that you find your way through the pain and destruction. Your experience resonates with me. I find that I hit a brick wall of shock and confusion when people cross my boundaries, or at least, where my boundaries should be. I'm hoping that it's possible to regain the part of myself that is able to recognize a trespass and deal with it appropriately instead of shutting down.