Like many survivors, once I moved passed my denial and accepted the reality of my abuse, I questioned: “Why?”
“Why was/is my mother so cruel to me?”
“How could my own mother _______(reject, betray, torture, abandon) me?”
I think it is human to question why. We long to make sense of it all. As if the answers will magically give us a handle on what happened.
In time, I realized that my questions were fruitless and that they kept me stuck in an unhealthy emotional place. The important thing was to move forward with my own healing, and so I did.
Yet, people continued to ask me, “What was your mother’s childhood like? What happened to her that caused her reactions to life and to you?”
I do appreciate why they asked me this question. They wanted some relief from their discomfort.
I understand wanting some relief. I remember watching the move “Sybil” many years ago. I was horrified for Sybil throughout the movie and kept asking myself, “How could a mother do such things?”
Finally, towards the end of the movie, it was divulged that Sybil’s mother was schizophrenic. I felt a sense of “relief” when I heard this, because the diagnosis offered an “explanation.” Surely, no “normal” mother would “mutilate” her daughter’s internal reproductive organs with a knife.
I “walked” away from the movie less disturbed, and that really horrified me!!!
The diagnosis didn’t change Sybil’s trauma, or experiences; it didn’t serve to lesson the impact on her life. I felt ashamed that I let her mother’s diagnosis mollify me.
In my books, I deliberately avoided any theoretical discussion as to the root causes of my abuse. I know this leaves the reader more “disturbed” about the abuse, but it more closely aligns with the survivor’s experience. As children, we did not have the benefit of understanding “root causes,” or our parent’s history. We didn’t know we were taking on our parents issues. For instance, all I knew was that my mother told me I was “bad,” and I believed her.
As children, we didn’t get the relief so many people want when they hear our stories. In my opinion, we should feel disturbed when we see, hear, or read about abuse, rather than mollified.
It is my hope the day will come we when are able to take the emphasis off of the perpetrator and our own discomfort in order to “share the burden of pain” with the victim/survivor and make an effective shift in our collective humanity.