Abuse really does so much harm to one’s ability to see reality. I realized it again when I made that mistake, memories of mistakes leading to severe emotional abuse and grudges (leading to more emotional abuse for those things I said sorry for) flooding my mind. This is true for the immediate as well as the overall. I’d learn this, and then relearn it for good measure.
I was looking out at work, at the church, at the whole of humanity with this clouded gaze. I saw all the sexual harassment I’ve had to put up with or “ignore”, all the being taking for granted or negative response to my issues, and applied it to everyone and everything. I wanted to get away, hide away, scar up my face more, work only at home, don’t go to church. I’d been having those familiar urges of self harm and suicide, driving me more than once to thinking about going to the ER in spite of the cost and encountering the less-than-kind doctors.
I told my priest friend, “I’m falling apart.” I told him how I was feeling about the bad way people look at me. In that conversation, he gave me some familiar advice, but then said something else that struck me. He told me about how people would look at him as a priest, things they’d say, things they’d do. He didn’t go into too much detail, but it was enough to know what it was about, considering horrible things his brother priests had done. “Look at what a priest did to you,” he reminded me.
As he explained, the shock probably shouldn’t have been as strong as it was, and yet it really was. He’s a good priest. He’s one of the best priests I’d ever known; kind, patient, quick to right any harm he might’ve done (which has always been on accident). Even more, he’s like my brother, a dear friend. Hearing him being treated like that was very upsetting.
He did acknowledge it to be different than my case, though similar. He told me how he learned to build walls around himself against people who were cruel to him, not letting them control him. “It isn’t ignoring it,” he told me. It isn’t treating it like it’s not important or wrong. He told me that he learned to be proud of who he was, because he learned to do this.
We talked more after that, about why I’m falling apart. I told myself earlier that day I didn’t want to be a victim in life anymore, but as we talked, I realized my current plan and method (running away and hiding, living like an unwanted monster) was exactly that. Slowly, another side of me came out, not the crying, hiding person he’s used to seeing; he soon had this little hermit crab coming out of her shell, and snipping at him. Funny thing was that he didn’t mind my anger coming out; he actually said he liked this “fierce side” he never saw before.
I ended up telling him the real reason why I left the parish, about the old man, about people like that have been treated. He offered to confront him with me, be with me as I tell him off (“in a way that’ll bring him closer to heaven,” he said). Part of me loved the idea; there were a lot of people I’d love to tell off. Another part of me still asked, “what good would that do?” He said that it might make him (the old man) a better man, and would make me not the victim anymore.
Who knows what will happen with that. I want to live a better life than what I’ve been living. Not in the sense that I have more or nicer things; that it’s more orderly, more secure. I’d like an emotional support animal. I’d like to live somewhere that I don’t have to fight tooth and nail to just make rent. I’d also like to live close to a lake. I want to do more work like this blog, IBIL, and/or something creative and curative. I want to get out of retail/customer service; I don’t want to work anywhere that I have to be professionally permissive.
I’ve outgrown the passive life I’ve been living. My shell is too small for me. I want to get out, scuttle to a better life, snip at anything/anyone bad, cut out all that’s weighing me down. What’s the point of having claws if you never use them? What’s the point of having gifts, strengths, and skills if you never employ them?
He listened to me. He cared about me. He gained new respect for me because I showed a little bit of that anger to him. He didn’t call me evil or a monster. He was proud of me.
If I kept going the way I was going, so afraid of becoming my mother, I’d probably keep being beaten down by life. I’d probably live a self-fulfilling prophecy, direct that anger at an easier target when it happens along, like someone I love.
Makes me mad, how much mistreatment people are expected to put up with in this world. Makes me very angry, thinking of all the mistreatment and unfairness I’ve had to put up with. Some of it, maybe, I didn’t have to put up with; maybe I could’ve done something about it, said something.
This change I want isn’t going to happen overnight. It also won’t happen if I never go further than the first few steps.