After my rather long comment on BlissChick’s post, I wrote up part 1’s post (which was kinda hard to write)… but she also emailed me some other (rather confronting) questions:
In psychological circles it is said that abusers are not born but MADE. So I wonder (not knowing anything about your home life as a child) what kind of environment your parents created in order to turn your brother into an abuser?
I don’t remember much of my early years, just tiny splotches. But I do remember my brother never liking me. It seemed to start when we were fairly young (he’s only two years older than me).
Perhaps this will sound new age-y, but I have this theory:
My brother was the next little being to inhabit my mother’s womb after the grief, illness, anger, sadness, stress and loss she experienced in giving up her first son. Never having had permission to deal with it openly, I believe much of her pain was simply absorbed.
I’ve had my own experiences with the body internalising pain… I know this is what happens.
So, in-utero my brother imbibed suffering as he grew. Marinated in it, really.
And what must it have been like, for my mother? Being pregnant again after that first time? She once said when we were little, she was always afraid someone would come and take us away… this fear must have affected each of the three kids that followed, right?
Also, my brother was part of a soccer club from a very young age, and in the 70’s/early 80’s, Australian soccer clubs were dominated by masochistic men and boys. He grew up as part of that culture, every weekend for years.
My parents I believe were just… too involved in their own lives and pain. They didn’t see what was happening in front of them. They weren’t equipped to handle it. They’d never been given the appropriate tools themselves.
Do you have to experience such things for yourself in order to recognise what’s going on?
I don’t know if something else happened to my brother or not. If it did, I don’t believe it happened in my parents’ home.
I also wonder why they enabled his abuse of you? That is what they did — they enabled.
These two sentences were very difficult for me to read. I truly believe they were unaware.
When I’d go to my parents and say ‘my brother hit me’, how could they work out how bad it was? That it wasn’t the usual sibling rough-housing (it never happened with them in sight)?
How could I understand what to tell them? What could I measure it against to give them some context?
People will claim they had no idea what was going on under their own roofs, but 99% of the time, they are lying (perhaps not even consciously so). The other 1% you have to ask HOW and WHY they did not know? WHY were they so utterly self-involved that they did not see your pain?
Because it was their job to love and protect you.
A little voice I don’t want to know about whispers in my ear… it was ongoing, though. It wasn’t infrequent. So why didn’t they stop him?
My dad was the youngest child with two older sisters and I don’t believe he’s ever hit a woman. My mum has a younger brother and I don’t believe he hit her either. Why then, was my brother allowed to continue to target and bully me?
I don’t know! It’s a question that pains my heart, and I have no answers. It makes a part of me feel raw and hungry and empty… it makes my lips purse up and I want to just stop thinking for a while.
How could they put up with my complaints of constantly being used as a pummelling bag? Then, it’s not just that he was physically abusive. But verbally too, and viciously cruel at every opportunity.
But, I was off with the pixies a lot. Did I just withdraw? Did I make it harder for them to know the truth? Should they have known anyway?
Thinking about this stuff, it makes me squirm. Does it matter if I ever know, or not? I kinda think right now it doesn’t matter any more… as long as I’m not pretending, and as long as I’m admitting to myself, that it wasn’t okay.
Whenever I see or hear about a woman who has chosen a partner who is or becomes abusive of her, I know (know know deep in my heart) that she came out of her childhood deeply wounded. Women who are raised in healthy households with healthy self esteem do not pick bad partners. They have an innate radar and can sense abusiveness in even the most charming people.
Today I read a post by a blogger I don’t know, via one of my blogger friends. And it really made me think. How do children get to the point where they taunt another person so mercilessly? She makes a good point – it’s because nobody stops them. They get away with it because they can.
And yes, I know my self-esteem was in tatters by the time I left home, aged nineteen. Through my own actions as well as those of others. But I think you’re right – had I been given a stronger sense of self-worth and self-love, I don’t think I would have let my first boyfriend treat me as he did. Nor do I think I would have ended up working in the sex trade.
Or, allowing myself, as you say, to pick bad partners. One after the other. To this day, I still can’t sense abusiveness in others. But those who are weird and wounded like me, sure, I can pick them a mile off…
Then again, my sister didn’t go through any of this. What was it in me that meant this was my path? My sister saw how our brother treated me and although he was mean to her, he never hit her. Just teased her all the time about her weight, resulting in a wounded self-esteem. But then, that’s bad enough, isn’t it?
Eventually wounded women who struggle and fight and put themselves back together again have even better radar. So do not fear. The work you do now most assuredly will lead you to a loving relationship some day.
I really, truly hope you’re right. I do. I get it when you say this is going to take a while. So far, it’s taken all of my life. If ever I can repair that abuse-o-meter radar, I know it’ll be good!
Of course, until then I know I need to keep moving. Like my therapist said, I can’t let the habits of my PTSD and depression, continue to lead the way.
So I have to try and reach out, to trust. And accept I guess, I might still get it wrong for some time to come.