The problem with a mental illness being derived by a set of certain symptoms, is that divergence from the norm is defined subjectively.
To explain genetic attraction someone who’s never experienced growing up without their biological family is a huge challenge, because it’s something most people take for granted. It’s an even bigger challenge if you call it by the name it usually goes by, and that’s genetic sexual attraction (because er, incest). As I’ve stipulated elsewhere on my site, I believe, in … Read More
Illegitimacy was in my blood, and it had tainted me. By the circumstances of my birth my honour was smirched, I was already a broken woman.
Achievement and failure exist only as a construct, a way to judge others and my sickness, my health and my worth has nothing to do with either.
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.
I googled ‘famous people who have borderline’ but I shouldn’t have. Amy Winehouse, Marilyn Monroe, Britney Spears. All touted as hysterical, unstable women.
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.
This world built me without boundaries, brought me up to accept authority, to obey and to work in the system. I was preprogrammed to play my docile part.
But what of the men who were genetic fathers to these lost children? Male privilege absolved them of personal responsibility.
But the loss of religion, shame and guilt left me without morals. Quite by chance, I found that I was amoral by choice.
Similarly if you experience insecure attachment as a child, all other things being equal, your mind will default to attach insecurely as an adult.
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.
It’s less about the dopamine high and more about the euphoria of finally feeling confident and capable. Feeling relaxed. Trusting that my children are safe.
Yet emotional abuse is incredibly damaging, perhaps in part because it cannot be recognised and dealt with in the same way. Emotional abuse gets swept under the carpet because it is supported and perpetuated by society as a whole.
When my self esteem was low, my relationships were abusive. Yet I always assumed that when my self-esteem was higher that my relationships would be healthy.
I knew that my father had tried to divorce my mother a year before they adopted me. I knew that I was ‘her project’. I knew that he was never around.
We are programmed as human beings with a biological reaction called ‘disgust’ and as a society, have reinforced this through any number of mechanisms to be able to live together. It’s part of the reason why so many stories of abuse remain untold and why many abusers can go on abusing, sometimes over decades. Abusees become disgusting by their association to abuse. Their stories are often doubted, shunned or dismissed as inconsequential.
But it wasn’t about love, it was about power. About how far I would be willing to go. About how much abuse I might be prepared to accept.
At least I thought, I can as much work as possible in the time I have left to prepare myself mentally to lie, as I felt I would have to… for their entire lives.
Agency was conspicuous by its absence in my upbringing. My adoptive mother neither trusted in me, nor in my agency and this might be regarded by many as wise. After all what can a child know about the consequences of their decisions?
As a crusader for this system, abuse was not my mother’s intent. She was an agent in an abusive system, whilst believing that it was the best thing for me.
Twenty years later those two people are now strangers and our story is one of the human condition, of love and tragedy. It was inevitable. And so I simply sigh, close the book and move on.
Coraline will give her eyes, she will sacrifice her unique perspective on the world, and lose herself to her other mother’s vision of herself.
My thumbs are hurting and my past me is whispering in my ear. She’s saying to me, watch out, danger is coming. Rejection is coming. Conflict is coming.
But although I drifted aimlessly on the open seas, buffeted by the storms I conjured myself from my grief, I also found that had the tools to fashion an oar.
The question of what a ‘real’ mother means, is increasingly relevant. What does it mean to be a mother? Who is the ‘real’ mother?
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