Messages From The Past

Messages from the past are a bit of a mixed bag, aren’t they? Remember the movie ‘The Goonies’, where kids are finding an old treasure map in the attic and get quite excited about the possibility of helping their parents out financially, ending up – after overcoming dangerous booby traps – finding an old pirate ship full of jewels and gold?  Happy ending, but a nail-biter in between. I suppose, one could say the message was a positive one, given that it evoked excitement and hope.

Other messages from the past are not so positive. Most people who read this blog have had a history of abuse and neglect. They struggle with old messages either given through hurtful words and actions or through neglect, the absence of caring and nurturing words and behaviours. In short these messages can be summed up as ‘you are not worthy of care, love, and protection. One can easily see that the later messages are negative ones given they can be emotionally crippling and causing symptoms (low/no self-confidence, lack of self-care, lack of emotion regulation skills) some people label as ‘mental illness’.

Most survivors, if I would be able to take them onto a journey into the past whereby we could visit a fellow survivor in her childhood and observe a situation when they are being hurt, would say without hesitation that the fellow survivor does not deserve to be hurt, it’s not her fault, there was nothing she did wrong. Indeed they would immediately see that the parent and/or abuser were accountable of their acts no matter what excuses they would utter.

How come that people carry these message for years and years in their hearts? Partially because there are strong painful emotions accompanying abuse and emotions act like glue, they make memories stick! Another reason is that abuse happens mostly in childhood when the kid’s cognitive development is mainly shaped by egocentrism causing her to believe that she ‘made’ it happen.

Looking back as adults, we can see easily the fault in such thinking. How then are we to understand survivors tendency to nurture these old negative messages from the past? Especially given that often the message sender was ‘out of his/her mind’? Given that what a person says or does has all to do with that person and with nobody else. Given that a statement such as “you are …. xyz” can’t possibly be true and accurate given that whatever a person perceives is filtered through his/her own history, filters, biases and subject to distortion, deletion, and generalisations.

I hope that survivors give some attention to the function of thought in human’s experience of creating reality and scrutinize their own thoughts about themselves. Thinking “I am not OK” or anything negative about themself can’t possibly be real because it does not take the whole person into consideration and completely ignores that thoughts are just thoughts. They are like a picture of a person but never the living person. A living person is more than a picture can ever convey.

I wonder what help my readers with putting their self-perceptions into perspective. If you want to know how understanding the processes of thought, mind, and consciousness can help you to have a better life, and if you want to know how to let go of a child’s perspective, follow this link and contact me.

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4 Comments

  1. Very good post! You are so right about a survivor’s ability to see other survivors in a different light. It took a long time for me to ba able to see myself in that same manner. I think we really forget how small we were. Because I was a teacher for the past 22 years, it helped me see when I was a little kid how I was clearly just a liilte kid. However, much of the sexual abuse I endured occured after age 13. For a long time I did not consider that CHILD sexual abuse. You know when you’re a teenyou think you are grown. You think and feel like you’re not a kid anymore. So, then I guess I wentinto adulthood still not realizing that I was a child then. Tis all clicked for me when my husband and I had a babysitter come over for our girls one night. She was 16, and whenI saw her it clicked how young she is, how technically she is still a CHILD! I thought for a moment, “WhenI was her age this was happening and that was happening.” and when I looked at her and imagined her dealing with that and dealing wi it alone, I realized what an overwhelming and traumatic experience it was for me. I was a child!

    On a flip side, I recall an amazing moment in my childhood which astounds me even more knowing what I know about child development. I guess this taps into an innate strength I have (the ability to find objectivity). I remember once when I was about 8 or 9 years old sitting on mybed in my room punished and in tears, yet again, and realizing this had been a daily thing for quite sometime, and it occured to me, “I cannot possibly be this bad. No one is this bad. There must be something wrong.” I remember thinking those exact thought! I then considered the idea that it could be my parents that are wrong, andI recalled an ad on TV for an abuse hotline and began to think about calling it. Really! I sat there for awhile a toyed with the idea. In theend, I did not because I knew my parents were classic manipulators (though not in those words). They would be able to fool the people that came to my house, somehow they would know it was me, and I would seriously get it then. Interesting I found that perspective at such an early age.

    • VK

      You do sound you were a very wise child and I am sad that you didn’t get the help you needed at that time. I have been enjoying reading your comments and with the strength and wisdom you write with, I am not surprised that you were once that wise and strong child.

      What you wrote made me think…I realise that when I think of myself as a teenager I do not think of a child but I think of a poorly behaved adult. I did sex work through my teens and I never consider myself at that age as a child and I don’t think of myself working underage as abuse- although I know technically it is – but I still don’t identify it as that. Also when I am with children I find it difficult to see myself as having once been one and I don’t know how to be compassionate towards myself at a younger age, even younger photos of myself are difficult to relate to .

      I do however sometimes make this sort of connection for other survivors when I listen to other survivors speak of themselves as children. Knowing children, I can see how small they were and this can be very difficult to be with and sometimes too difficult to be with. Somehow in all this I often feel like a fraud and what others suffered was abuse and I somehow fit it to some other category – a category I have not yet found. Relating to my own story is the hardest thing.

      Thanks for your comments, I aspire to your strength and wisdom at some point in my journey (:

    • VK,
      Even kids think they are big. Don’t get me wrong, they know they are kids. It’s hard to explain, but they do have this sense that they are “big”.. I have 4 daughters ages 15,13,11, and 8. When they were 4, they thought they were “big” now. When they went to school, they were “big” now (and so on and so on). I have gotten more than a few smirks when I have referred to them as little. 🙂

      Also, the thing about memory is that it is very difficult if not nearly impossible to recall an event without inputting your adult logic. When we think to ourselves, “I could’ve this. I should’ve that” we are thinking of those “shoulds” with an adult mind on our adult standards. Kids can’t process things the way we can. That being said, kids are often highly intuitive and often make the best decision they can in the moment. The truth is, not knowing your story, you most likely did the best you could given your age, situation, and circumstances. The child you did what he/she felt was right at the time to survive. If other, more viable options were there, you would’ve taken them, but either they weren’t there, you couldn’t think of them, or you sensed unsafety to do otherwise. I think the hardest thing for me to grasp was that I really was powerless. Thinking that I could’ve/should’ve done XYZ allowed me to hold on to the belief that I had some power. It really just masked my ability to tap into how powerless I really was. Tose are tough feelings and realities to face.

      I know this is very difficult! It took me YEARS!!! And that feels like an understatement.

      Hang in there,
      Lothlorien

  2. yana

    Hi everyone

    I would just like to send everyone my love,
    Im sure im not the only one thinking of Jacquie this next we while

    Lots of Butterfly kisses from me Jaques

    Love Yana

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