THE STUFF WE DO NOT TALK ABOUT…
When am I the most happy? The most grounded? The most me? – Those questions are related…
I don’t know about you. But I am a contradictory… almost always have many perspectives on one thing. Many feelings about one thing. Almost nothing is crystal clear to me. Sometimes it makes me indecisive. There are so many things one can take into consideration – and yes – often they are – contradictory – or lead to contradictory solutions.
Sometimes I am contradictory just because of the above… I shift. I take different viewpoints – all seem valid, more or less perhaps, but still. Sometimes I appear contradictory because I simply have changed my mind. I am an ever-changing human.
“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
- Walt Whitman
So how do I ground myself. But accepting this fact. That I am a changing person. On many levels. All aspects of me are valid. All my feelings, all my memories, all my past, present and future relationships, experiences, thoughts – everything about me – is valid – as me.
That also goes for the hard parts.
The parts where I did not seem to share much with the rest of humanity. So I became that silent person. Sometimes even mute. There was no point it seemed, to talk, to share anything. I would be judged, labeled, sorted as sick, put into an “otherness” into a “them”. I couldn’t explain myself to anyone – we lacked common references, a common framework. So it seemed. But is that true? Am I that alone? When I started to share more of my experiences of what it is to be me. The human me (and yes, us). It seemed suddenly others could relate. Not everyone, of course, but suddenly my experiences seemed – human.
But why do we not talk about them? These experiences that very clearly are human (logically – because I have had them, and many others with me).
So while it is true that I have used dissociation as my major defense against things that were too overwhelming for me to take in and integrate as something happening to me – I am not the only one that dissociate away such experiences… Because no one seemed to be able to talk about them. If I did bring them up, they would be diagnosed, seen as sick. What those then listening failed to grasp was that they make perfect sense in the context of my life!
I can talk about my joys! How this morning is so beautiful. It is cold, the sun is shining brightly. Birds have started to sing – I feel like the whole nature around me is waking up. It makes me feel happy – full of joy and excitement. I feel alive and while wildly alive – I also sense the more contemplative side of me – the more quiet enjoyment of a shimmering of the reflection of the sun on a frosty roof. Of the crisp air. Of the anticipation of a coming spring and summer. Of the stillness nature now seems to hold before it leaps into buds, growth – and then the abundance of green, blue, warmth and – flies :-) (I am a horse person….)
I don’t think anyone has a problem with me sharing that.
But on my mind is also other things today. I think about the process of grieving. How closed-off and quiet we are supposed to grieve. Like a loss only awakens feelings of sadness and heaviness. Perhaps those feelings are part of what is awaken. But people’s relationships with other people aren’t simple. We are complex beings having complex relationships.
When my mother died – I felt happiness. I felt a sense of freedom. Of relief. Part of us pictured ourselves dancing on her coffin – like pirates, like Pippi Longstocking girls – doing the unbelievable… I also felt anger. Resentment. I was angry with her, for things she did and said, and for everything she did not say or do. For the lack of love, care, protection, interest that constituted our relationship when I grew up. I was also angry with her for never hearing me, never allowing my perspective. For never allowing me to exist as me. I also felt guilt, not much, but a bit. I never went to see her in hospital just before she died. I did not contact her, did not go visit her in her home, did not help take care of her. I thought about it – but I had no need. I did not want to. All my siblings that are still alive chose differently. They had other needs. I wondered. Did it make me a person lacking in respect? A cold person? An un-empathetic person? A selfish person? A bad person?
She was undoubtedly my biological mother. That was all. In relationship to the word MOTHER. Besides that, she was my tormentor, my abuser, a person that seemed to hate me, thrive on ridiculing me, have no problem abandoning me. I had no need saying goodbye to that person.
I am also thinking about a question I asked a renowned oxytocin researcher last week. That spurred other conversations as well. I asked if you can have a surge of cortisol rising at the same time as you have a surge of oxytocin hitting you. And yes. She said yes. And that this in relationships creates a very unlucky kind of attachment or bonding.
And this is quite another kind of grieving. Why do we not talk about the biology of sexual abuse in children? Where a child has a sexual relationship with an adult caretaker – where this also perhaps is the only close relationship that child has that gives any kind of warmth, contact, attention, confirmation of even existing beyond being a nuisance or a hated non-wanted child?
Does that child get sexually aroused? Yes. Perhaps. Sometimes. Often. If the pain is not too big. Or sometimes – that child learns to “like” pain. Pain is better than nothing. Perhaps.
It is easy to feel sorry for someone who experienced child sexual abuse. It goes against what most adults find is a pleasant thought or mental picture (or real picture).
What happens if you own and tell the truth (your truth) about what happened to you as a child? What you experienced, what you thought, dreamed, and fantasized about?
The cortisol (and other stress hormones) occurring at the same time as you are hit with oxytocin and perhaps also dopamine and so on… it creates a person like me stuck in patterns that are truly hard to break. I grieve this. I am sad because my life has been about wanting relationships, but being drawn to the wrong people, for the wrong reasons. It has put me in harms way. Made my life confusing, had me live in deep shame. I ended up hating myself, for being so wrong and bad. A child’s conclusion.
It wasn’t about what happened to me – it was how what happened to me made me feel, what it made me chose, do, decide, succumb to… It isn’t about “THEM” – the abusers – it is about me – what was left in me. That I then could not talk to anyone about. (I have talked about this in therapy before putting it here… - so this is not public therapy… this is me being open with my humanness).
A person contacted me a few days ago, saying – if only I had known this – so much pain and suffering it had saved me from.
Though children aren’t adults, do not have access to adult thinking – they are full of emotions. And they have a biology. Children get hungry, thirsty, need to poop, and pee, feel tired, cranky, happy – and they feel sexual arousal. Also during abuse. And this is a highly confusing experience.
It dosen’t matter if it is about having lost a parent, experienced sexual abuse, been bullied, been sick – whatever happened to you – what happened inside of you? And where there anyone you could share with, talk with, be with? Who accepted you in all your confusion, all your contradictory feelings? That did not lose patience with you?
What I grieve the most I think is that I was left to my own devices. I had no one. Therefore I experienced being no one. I did not matter. I was expendable. And I think that question has stayed with me my whole life – the question of – does it matter if I am here? To anyone? To me?
Which leads to another hard topic we talk way too little about – suicide – suicidal ideation – suicidal thoughts. Suicide as the solution to your pain.
Or the concept of self-harm – that needs to be talked about as well.
Or eating disorders as another coping strategy for dealing with the consequences of trauma.
I have experiences of all the above – and so many more considered as “hard topics”.
And I will talk about it all. Piece by piece. Why? If we who have experiences about it do not speak about it – others will. The experts. The ones who tell you they know more about you than you do.
Some of the experts have more or less of their own experiences of “hard topics” – nobody goes through life unscathed… the older someone gets, the more probable it is to have run into hardship. But very few speak up about them. So they stay the experts and you are the one that needs fixing. You are not “humaning” in the right way. You need to re-learn. Become more like them.
Or… do you?
Maybe you will re-learn – or learn for the first time – after you have been met. Not seen – but met. By another human. Someone who dares to be them.
I don’t want to be seen. I want to be met. And I do see others – but I also want to meet them.
“Trauma is not what happens to you, but what happens inside you as a result of what happens to you”
- Gabor Maté.
I have met people who can talk about what happened to me. To find those was VERY hard. But the ones that can talk about what happened inside of me? I don’t know. Are you out there?
What I long for is true, real authentic people who dare to meet me, others, themselves.
Who dare to talk about how things are, for them. Who dare to hear about how things are, for me – WITHOUT anyone needing to fix the other. Just support our common inquiry, our curiosity – into what it is to be human – in all diverse, different, common, similar – in all ways…
Let’s talk about our joys – let us also talk about the hardships. I mean the real ones. Not the “I once stole a coke in a store”, or the “I can’t stand my husband’s coffee breath” or the “I am ashamed over my breasts” … I am happy people find ways to talk about those things, it is needed too… But for those of us who need and want to talk about they hardships that goes beyond those – let us get real. Let us meet. As humans.
I am here.
Text and pictures are copyright protected © Katarina Lundgren 2021