So says Andrew Vachss: “If you are a victim of emotional abuse, there can be no self–help until you learn to self–reference. That means developing your own standards, deciding for yourself what “goodness” really is. Adopting the abuser’s calculated labels—”You’re crazy. You’re ungrateful. It didn’t happen the way you say”—only continues the cycle. Adult survivors of emotional child abuse have only two life–choices: learn to self–reference or remain a victim. When your self–concept has been shredded, when you have been deeply injured and made to feel the injury was all your fault, when you look for approval and love from those who can not or will not provide it—you play the role assigned to you by your abusers. It’s time to stop playing that role, time to write your own script. Victims of emotional abuse carry the cure in their own hearts and souls. Knowing you deserve to be loved and respected and empowering yourself with a commitment to try is much more than half the battle. And it is never too soon—or too late—to start.”
yes, i said.
worse than [the guy who struck you]? she said.
I won’t hear from my mother for months and honestly her silence is a relief. Her laundry lists of the salad bar she sampled, the vacations she took, are painful because there’s no sense of who she is writing to. Throughout my life if I have behaved as anything but her all-accepting, all-admiring audience and savior she has openly treated me as a pain in her ass.
Which is a lot of the time.
But she always manages to reach out when I’m at my rawest. She writes snailmails rather than emails or texts (she’d never call) because she does not want me to be able to easily reply. She wants to be able to say, look, I write my daughter letters, and she’s so awful she ignores them. But all she really does is write the equivalent of her name over and over in fancy cursive on the front and back side of a note card. She does not want to hear my response because my feelings about her–my feelings in general–always have been at best inconvenient.
I may sound cynical but that is why I don’t talk about her. Part of her brilliance is the victimhood she cultivates, even as she’s abused and neglected me in any way a parent can hurt their offspring. The bottom line: I seem strong. She seems weak. So there’s no question who the perpetrator could really be. Continue Reading →