My journal is rife with passages denoting my foolishness, stupidity, and cowardice. During EMDR and tonglen exercises on The Theatre I was clearly able to get in touch with my supporters' tender emotions toward the victimized Little Me. St. Francis wept and wept for the sorrow inside that young violated girl. Jesus was so enraged that we had to hold him back from punching my abuser in the face. I found this both humorous and comforting. As for me, I felt no compassion for Little Me. Dee asked me to imagine how I would feel if it were some other young girl in that situation. Instantly my feelings would morph into sadness, grief, and despair. But when focused on the actual me, I could only conjure remnants of disgust. Dee said that was the part which needed healing the most.
We zeroed in on this self-disgust on a quest towards dissolution. Dee challenged me, as she often did in the most insightful and poignant ways, to consider my humanity. What if, because I am human, I did want the attention, the affection, the comfort, and the pleasure? This question instantly brought out The Black Oil but it also unlocked a heretofore unnoticed pattern. When Dee asked about comfort, I immediately thought about the sound of my abuser's voice. At once I realized that in all of my abuse memories he had been mute. In fact in my mind's eye he had no mouth at all, much like in The Matrix during Neo's interrogation. Memories of my assailant had consisted mostly of his piercing blue eyes, his profile in various abuse scenarios, the feel of his hands, the sickeningly sweet smell of laundry soap (the origin of this nosmic memory will be revealed in The Terrible Awful), but no mouth and no words. Until now.
All of the sudden, I was aware that his voice had been a source of great comfort to me. The simple act of reaching for those memories washed a wave of warmth over me.
He was the one I talked to during the trauma of my mother's suicide attempts.
He was the only one asking me how I was, how I felt.
I trusted him.
In fact, I loved him in the way that a scared child clings to an adult in times of need.
And then he betrayed me.
Something happened inside me upon this revelation. This knowing of intermingled love and betrayal opened up my compassion for Little Me. I wasn't stupid, I was betrayed! I wasn't a coward, I was manipulated! Until this point, the muted monster in my memory was so clearly a predator that I could not help but blame myself for my failure of not knowing better. Doesn't the gazelle recognize the lion by instinct? But this isn't how it happened at all. He garnered and then abused my trust. He endeared himself to me - the proverbial wolf in sheep's clothing.
The monster had been identified for precisely who and what he was. He was both the good and the bad wolf.
And in either case, I was innocent.
The ASCA Survivor to Thriver Manual has much to say on the topic of unraveling self-blame:
Survivors grow up believing the classic myth of child abuse: that they, not their parents or abusers, were somehow responsible for the abuse. "I let him do it to me." "I should have been able to protect myself." "I liked certain aspects of the abuse, the attention, the gifts, the pleasurable sensations, the sense of being special." The child's often distorted perceptions of who was responsible are enhanced by the abusers' indictments [such as] "I am showing you how much I love you." These words are truly toxic because they do more than simply and unjustly place the blame for the abuse on your shoulders. They eat away at your positive sense of self, and the lingering messages continue to do so in your adult life.
You need to understand that you were the child and that you had neither the power nor the authority to make your abusers do anything to you. The abuse was their responsibility because, quite simply, they had the greater power and they did it to you. Nothing you could have done would have changed this, because families and society are set up to give power and authority to adults. Children have little or no power over their abuse, or much of anything else.
As a child, you were not psychologically equipped to believe that what your abusers were doing was wrong, much less speak out about it. Because you were dependent on them for so much, you couldn't risk alienating them by speaking the truth even if your child mind was precocious enough to make sense of the complex web of issues that comprises child abuse. Few, if any, children can do this effectively because their intellectual capacities are not sufficiently developed to do so. You desperately wanted to love them and be loved by them. It would have been foolish for you to incur their wrath and dash whatever hope of love, caring, and nurturing you harbored inside. Think back to what it would have meant for you, the child, to accept that the people who were supposed to love you were actually hurting you. It's not surprising that few children can face this horrible reality, because to do so would cause them to become emotional orphans in the process, and little could be worse than that.Step five of The Manual is "I accept that I was powerless over my abuser's actions which holds THEM responsible." This is when true healing began for me. Healing is transformation, and transformation is only possible through changing one's perspective from within. It took years of therapy for me to get to this place, but the unlocking of self-compassion was my turnkey moment. I no longer needed to forgive myself, for there was no transgression to forgive. Knowing this truth set me free from the blame and shame game I had played for far too many years. In my heart of hearts, I was no longer at fault.
I thought for some time that this is where my memory journey would make the upward turn. I was sorely mistaken. A darker, scarier truth lay far beneath the surface - one that would never have revealed itself until Puzzle Pieces connected and Shame was nearly dissolved. Now that I had full compassion for self, I was ready to know the rest of The Terrible Awful story.