I have been trying to think through what a timeline of "this" might look like. How the process of being emotionally abused sneaks up on you and is your "normal".
Then later on how you begin to realise that its not all that normal and what that might look like in hindsight.
I think this is not quite right and I am inclined to change it as I process it but for now in a very abbreviated way I think for me it fell clearly into at least the following stages.
At first, as a growing child, there is acceptance - this is the life you know - this is how things are and this is the framework that you grow into, taking on and fully and unquestioningly accepting the framework your family provides for you. How people act towards each other, the difference in public and private interactions, and your role in the family and the world.
Then there is suspicion - not all lives are like this - quite a lot look better than this looking in from the outside - but still - maybe I don’t understand - don’t see everything. after all my public and private lives are quite different, so other peoples might be.
Then there is corruption, from both sides, one built upon the other.
They corrupt your trust.
Implicit in everything is, "Yes, it is different for you because you are bad."
You accept the corruption as being real and part of yourself.
Completely internalising, "I am bad and no matter what I do I cant be good,
I must be very bad because I am punished for badness so often and it hurts to be so bad.
I deserve to be hurt because badness must be punished.
Then sneaks in the insidious and horrible reversal.
I cant get away from it.
The badness is built into me, there is no way to ever be good enough not to be bad because I don’t even have to try to be bad and no matter how I try I cant be good...so I will punish myself and I will hide my real and bad self from everybody, I will police myself all the time, questioning every action.
Eventually realising that I cant be adequate, no matter how hard I try, I cant make myself better...
but I can be worse"
"People say I am good but I know I am bad and they just haven’t seen through me yet - but they will"
"Why exactly do I think that I’m soooooo bad, ? "
"I am not bad,
look at what you did to me. How could you do that to an innocent child?"
Anger burns on and on and on, weighed and measured over and over, as all the horrors are dragged out into the light to shrivel and burn, and then there must be pity.
Pity for the lost child who was never bad, may have been driven to it a little - just to be something - but not really bad, never born bad, never deserving of the litany of faults they were accused of.
Then more pity.
Pity for the monsters. Pity they didn’t know better.
Pity they didn’t care enough, weren’t bright enough, didn’t understand.
Pity they will never know the real me. Pity they never fixed themselves.
Pity about their inability to parent and so on and on and on.
And with this comes peace.
There is no forgiveness, that is important, not to confuse pity with forgiveness, but now, this unexpected pity, which feels oddly like vengeance. Who knew pity could be the coldest revenge - and create a peaceful quiet.