Abuse and Relationships

April 29, 2008 at 4:36 pm 1 comment

I’ve been reading Christiane Northrup‘s Mother-Daughter Wisdom, and I wanted to share some sections that in part confirmed what I already knew, and in part helped me become more aware of myself.  It was hard, though, because reading parts of this were like reading a fictionalized version of my life.. and the unpleasant bits that I don’t like to think about.

From Chapter 10, “Love Maps: How We Encode Mood, Sex and Relationships”

“The vast majority of children are born with an innate sense of joy and happiness… The mother who participates in her duaghter’s joyful emotions is actually helping to develop and reinforce the brain circuits that support healthy mood.  However, the reverse is also true. …

When a child feels something, she naturally looks around to see if others mirror her feeling.  If they don’t, she feels ridiculous and ashamed of herself for feeling joyful.  The inference the child makes is that her mood must be wrong.  After all, her mother is bigger, more powerful, and in charge – she must be right!  So the child starts to belive that something is wrong with her, and that joy is bad and must be hidden.

“As a result of repeated experiences when her joy isn’t reflected back to her, a child learns how to blunt her excitement and put a ceiling on her joy.  After a while, she no longer gets excited and may feel that life is hopeless and that she is helpless to do anything about it.  A feeling of futility and resignation gets wired into her body.  This is then transmitted to her posture.  Her head and eyes start to lower, and her exploration of both herself and her world becomes truncated.  In short, the child becomes depressed.”

Certainly goes a ways in explaining to me why I was so suicidal by the age of 8.  I used to wake up at night, sneak into the kitchen and hold up the butcher’s knife to my chest, hoping that I’d get up the nerve to shove it in eventually.

Also, I knew that one of the 3 main messages my parents translated to me was that joy was bad and would always be met with harshness from others, but I associated learning that lesson with being beaten up when my sisters and I were laughing to loudly & having fun when my dad was trying to read.  I didn’t realize how much deeper in my bones and psyche it had gotten.  But it certainly explains why I have such difficulty getting their messages out of my head.

The other 2 main messages they told me, for those who want to know, were 1. being female makes you worth/less and 2. it is impossible to protect yourself from those who want to hurt you.  This next excerpt addresses issues growing out of the first of these.

From Chapter 11, “The Age of Reason: Developing a Moral Compass”

“Believing that she’s responsible for the happiness of others often puts a girl (and later, an adult woman) in the impossible situation of having to betray her true self.  In the words of the famous physician Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, she is encouraged to become “a little prostitute.”  She learns not to trust her own moral compass – because her own passions and purposes are not deemed nearly as important as keeping “Daddy” happy.

“This double bind inevitably leads to unjustified guilt and shame.  And these two emotions, if not relieved by changing one’s thinking and behavior, eventually cause a great deal of wear and tear on the physical body…

“Feeling that she’s not good enough without a man puts a girl – and later a woman – at risk for all kinds of unskillful behavior in order to prove that she is desirable and worhty.  This ranges from unprotected sex to getting into and staying in abusive relationships, or, at the very least, unfilfilling, deadening relationships.”

Check, check and check.

But thanks to the support of my boyfriend and what I affectionatly refer to as “getting my head on straight” (a process I’ve been undergoing for YEARS) I’m getting a lot better.  I finally processed at least most of that incredible guilt and shame after I separated from my husband.  On top of dealing with feeling like I’d been an archetypal prostitute for years and years and years, I had to deal with my parents’ judgment for it, which was kind of like having to deal with all these issues all balled up at once.  Obviously, I’m still dealing with them somewhat, but not like I was July of last year through January of this year.  I felt so weighed down my guilt and shame and anguish and knew I just had to let myself feel it or else it would never go away.

Now the bulk of the raw emotions have been processed and I am just trying to deal with the life patterns it’s left on me.


Entry filed under: family, spiritual. Tags: , , , , , , .

Roots Standing Up for Myself

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. tobeme  |  May 3, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    You have given us much to think about. It is amazing how due to not being fully aware, how much damage an adult can inflict on a child and not even realize the extent of what they have done. May we all be more aware, especially in the presence of children who are formed by our thouhgts. words and actions.


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