I'm not sure now where I first decided to check it out, but an almost frighteningly powerful book arrived while I was away on my trip along with several others. The second evening home I picked it up and began to read... That was a real OMG moment and I stopped, reeling, staggered in a mental and soul-deep way,.feeling too much emotion and ah-ha recognition pounding through me. Of course I had recognized and known in a basic way for much of my adult life although I had never quite labeled my experiences so bluntly, but this definition and portrayal of parental abuse had an impact like a large meteor crashing on me.
Many of you may be too young to remember Roberta Flack's song, Killing Me Softly but lines from that song ran through my mind. How could this author, even if she has been a counselor for many years with a doctorate in related fields look into the past and describe so closely events and issues in my life? Of course I realize that the difficulties my brothers and I had were far from unique. The peculiar combination of environment and situation with the particular forms of abuse we suffered were a bit less common perhaps, but so many people will see their troubles in this book, just as I am seeing. No family and no parent is perfect; it is only when those imperfections become constant, violent or virulent and very irrational that severe damage occurs.
I am speaking of Toxic Parents by Dr. Susan Forward. She has also written Emotional Blackmail (which is a phrase I have used a long time and thought I coined but clearly not so!). Another book on a similar subject is The Emotional Incest Syndrome by Dr Patricia Love. They are all about familial and other relationship dynamics and how they can become or be dysfunctional, and cruelly damaging to those who endure them. In some ways I wish I had come across a lot of this information long ago. Both the definitions and suggestions with potential to help people work their way past the scars and angst, or to avoid making the mistakes that were made in their lives with their children and partners and allowing the past to overpower your present.can be invaluable.
I am not a huge fan of what I call "psychobabble" and the whole 'we can fix you' industry with its buzzwords and often pompous assertions that, "It's not your fault" (that you are messed up, use drugs, fail in various ways etc.) because all these bad things have happened to or been done to you. I eschew a victim mentality and will not fall into the trap of pretending I am vindicated and do not have to own my many adult life errors. We are all still ultimately responsible for how we respond to and deal with the trauma that everyone has to some degree during childhood and young adult years.We are all some kind of survivors. Do we build and grow on the hardships or sink beneath them?
In some ways maybe my brothers and I were fortunate. There was no sexual abuse and physical abuse was not too prevalent. There were no drugs or alcohol involved. But the verbal and psychological abuse at times was truly brutal. For much of my life, I was ashamed or embarrassed to even think about it very much although I did have a sense that my first twenty three years colored the rest of my life in both subtle and blatant ways. To some degree I now come out of the closet after many decades. Perhaps it is time. Most of the people who had any connection to me at that time are long gone; classmates and friends did not know a lot or even care, for the most part. It won't even create the smallest scandal!
To all who have locked these hurtful memories in a mental back room in a tightly sealed "too hard" box, please get a copy of this book. It will be hard reading but in the long run it will help if you can make yourself accept and deal with it. It is not a panacea and you should not expect a miracle cure that wipes away all the blots and shadows. That is not possible but gaining some understanding is a step toward healing. In very few cases was there real evil intent on the part of the abusers; often they did not realize what they were doing, much less why.
What happened then was not your fault; how you deal with and rise above it as an adult is, however. Perhaps you cannot confront those who hurt you; they may be dead or too ill and aged to react at all. That is okay, too. You do not even have to tell yourself that you forgive them. Some things are unforgivable but I truly believe there will be a time of accounting, and confronting if necessary,. There is another realm where we have to look openly at our personal karma and perhaps face those we have harmed and been harmed by. Then we may possibly decide to give life another try and make it better with those people. I think I would like that.
Go in peace and seek harmony!
Welcome to my World
Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!