This boy is kind. But being kind doesn’t disguise the fact that he has no knowledge of boundaries. He knocks at all hours of the day. If the back door is on the latch, he’ll come in uninvited and sit on Maya’s bed to await her return until I show him the door. He once tried to force his way in her room to wake her up and play.
We don’t treat people like we treat oranges because people are not things. No one can treat you like an orange. No one can take your juice aka… your power.
And if predatory behaviour is as ubiquitous among men as it appears and as I have experienced it to be, statistically it is likely that my son will violate someone, at some point, in his lifetime. That could be anything from ignorant boundary violation to, god forbid, rape.
Consent is not true consent where there is a power imbalance. You cannot make a free and retractable agreement about something, if that agreement is made in fear of losing your access to income, and resources–financial, emotional or otherwise.
The powerful emotional link that binds families who grow up together often manifests itself in curious ways when adult adoptees meet their biological families. Yet as common as it is, few want to touch it because–well–incest. But this issue needs more awareness, and not only because according to recent reports it’s on the rise. Also because I believe that it’s a fertile ground for a particular type of abuse.
It wasn’t your parents’ fault. It was your parents’ responsibility. That’s because the words fault and responsibility mean opposite things. So what’s the difference?
But six does not look as A.A. Milne described it in my childhood. Truth to be told, I now realise that it never looked like that, I only wish it did. Six is brutal and I’m feeling its brutality again through my children. It is not reasonable or rational. It is brutal.
What is here? Neglect is here. Overgrown plants are here. This hovel has never been occupied, never lived in, loved or cared for. It is dirty and lonely. It is private. It is the core of all things.
We attach to those of our ilk, beyond rationality. And few of us have enough self-awareness to overcome it. The law and our systems were designed to counteract this; ‘the law is reason free from passion’. The very concept of the American electoral system is based on a fundamental belief that some people are able to be more objective than others and will vote for the benefit of all. And yet because of the strength of their own self-interest, the strength of their own reptilian instincts, they will naturally fail to do so.
I believe that consistent and repeatable actions during childhood, no matter how small, will build up mental models that we continue to follow as adults. The flaps of butterfly wings do indeed sometimes cause hurricanes. Calling out and correcting unhealthy parenting techniques in myself and others, even I seem pedantic in doing so, means that we can stop hurricanes before they start. Giving children agency and responsibility too early before they are ready to assume them, will result in a catastrophe. Too late, and we risk disempowering them.
So going to meet his family, I knew I would be the square peg. To tell you the truth after 40 years, it’s not a big deal anymore. I have my partner, my children and I’m doing fine as the odd one out, thank you very much.
The gift of being able to feel your emotions is therefore the gift of survival. Emotions are signals from our bodies which help us devise strategies which we believe will help us survive. But in order to survive–and thrive–we need to be able to feel all of them. That’s what they are there for.