22 May 2006

Buck-stop Mum

A story. I do do them once in a while, you know.

What do you do when someone sucks the air out of your space? When the psychological knife-play that they relish so much, feels like oxygen starvation? Pressure at the base of the skull, pain and heat at the top, queasy neck and gills, a throat made of sandpaper that couldn't swallow solids if your life depended on it? Laboured breathing; eyes constantly blinking but dry? Ice blood in your arms and the inability to close a fist?

Come to think of it, does that describe a condition, and what's it called?

Not exactly a panic attack? Shock? It feels more like a short circuit, or a heavy blow to the head. Here I am nearly an hour later, still feeling like I'm on some sort of evil pre-med. I felt my aura go 'thwrup' as it imploded. Heck it probably turned inside out from the speed that it shrunk in its own defense.

Only those we love can do this to us. Only those we have invested ourselves in; those we have hope for or faith in. Those we always see through rose coloured glasses no matter how many times they kick us down.

This woman was an abused child. She refused to crumble; she's not rushing around living out a hollow painful urge to please people and be seen as worthy. She was praised and supported and to all intents and purposes it looked like she had survived.


Now she is an adult herself, her fun is to make damn sure that as many others as possible feel like abused children themselves, by the time she's done with them. She doesn't get her self validation by seeking praise to lift her up, she does it by seeking people to crush and stand over.

Who but a mother would keep coming back for more, keep believing the apologies, keep being desperate to have her precious baby returned whole, keep refusing to accept the damage as intrinsic to the person.

But there comes a point where this spiritual vampirism saps so much from you that you feel so insubstantial, so ungrounded, so battered that you could lean on a wall and fall through.

So the big question now is what to do.

Fight or flight is screaming through me, although I froze at the time. If someone recorded her verbal cruelty and used it as script for a soap opera baddy, then some well meaning soul of limited capacity would have felt it their God given duty to save the world by exterminating the actor, probably inside the first week.

How do you cut off your most damaged child, your firstborn? I don't want to retaliate. I'm not sure that running, shutting her out, would do any more than give her ammunition to bolster her aggressive view of life.

Of course its all academic, if relating to her is actually going to kill me. I think I need to go and lie down.


Ms Mac said...

Ugghhh! Difficult. Is this a case of the abused becoming the abuser? If so, you need to remember that you don't want to be abused, no matter who it is that's dishing it out.

Please excuse me if you think I've spoken out of turn. It's just that I've seen this before, close to home, and it breaks my heart.

Cheryl said...

Thanks Mac!
It is, and will remain officially 'a story', wherever I got the idea from.

This whole question of nature and nurture is a biggy - did the child the parent hopes for ever actually exist? Is this hanging on to a sliver of hope, or just completely fooling yourself? Do you hang on to hope and keep getting kicked, or begin the grieving process? How, without closure?

Thaks for your comment, esp the last line.

Ms Mac said...

Oh, phew!

She Weevil said...

As this is a story I won't presume to give you advice. But if I happened to meet the mother, one day on the blog village green, say, I might say that she wouldn't tolerate this kind of abuse from anyone else and that she probably knows that tolerating it probably encourages it. I would give her a hug and tell her it is okay to say I won't take this anymore and mean it.
I would tell her that to allow her first borrn to crush her is just allowing her father's warped legacy to control her.
And then I would turn to the storyteller and say you are a brave woman and I always admire your courage.

zilla said...

I would say there's always hope. I would also say we never serve anyone by putting up with abuse. There's a way to draw the line clearly and firmly -- I believe it has to be done in a very rational moment as opposed to in the panic of self-defense.

Now I'm concerned for you :-)

Kim said...

Sometimes, the abused becomes the abuser and isn't aware of it. Sometimes, the abuser needs to be told how they are percieved. Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give them is to be the person who illuminates their darkness. I would spill it out in very blunt discussion, and then part ways until it sinks in. You never know when you can impact a life in a profound way.

Stegbeetle said...

Without wishing to seem like a cop-out I don't think that I could add very much to what She Weevil said. Someone like the person in your story is never going to be short of "ammunition to bolster her aggressive view of life" and if her only means of "self validation" is to lord it over others then the sooner she finds someone who refuses to play the game the better. A complete rejection of the behaviours (and if necessary, the person displaying them) may be enough to shock her into realisation. Whether it does or not, the mother of the person in question in no way deserves to get the brunt of her daughter's behaviour. The fact that she's tolerated it for this long shows her to be a strong and loving person and I feel for her deeply in what is a terrible position for a parent to have been put in.

Were she not a fictional character I would send her the biggest hug that she felt appropriate and tell her that her daughter, whether she realises it or not, is bloody lucky to have such a person for a mother.

Annie said...

That is some story, and brilliantly written as usual. I hadn't read the first line about it being a story and found it quite chilling.