That was a topic of a recent coaching session, and oddly enough it gives me pause. I say “oddly enough” because in my logical mind, it’s an obvious answer. Was my abuser mean to me? If we’re going to call abuse what it really is, then yes, he was being mean.
Is there possibly anything nice about abuse? Is there any good reason that anyone should ever be abused? Of course not!
For me though, while I know what that kid up the street did to me so long ago wasn’t good, actually saying that he was mean to me, admitting it out loud, isn’t as easy you might think.
The reason this came up was the fact that I had emailed my coach not long ago and I mentioned in that email that my abuser was mean to me. However, when we were talking tonight and it was brought up that “we know” he was mean to me, I minimized it and said, “well he wasn’t really mean to me”.
That sparked further discussion because it contradicted what I said before in the email. It wasn’t intentionally contradictory, but still it necessitated further investigation to try and understand why I am minimizing the intention of those acts.
From my point of view, when I say that he wasn’t really being mean to me, I was talking about in the literal sense. At least in the literal sense as I justifying it to myself at the time.
I wasn’t putting two and two together, so to speak, and really seeing the entire situation for what it was. I was essentially trying to let him off the hook a bit...more on that in a moment.
He wasn’t hitting me, screaming at me, or demeaning me in the verbal sense. His acts, although terrible, were very manipulative and cunning. He was skilled, and groomed me enough that I was believing what he was doing was fine, it was normal, it was what the cool kids did.
That devious grooming had such an effect on me that I was able to justify what he did as not really being mean. It’s almost as if I’m saying, “hey it wasn’t all THAT bad”.
That’s how vulnerable and how easily, as a child, I bought into this manipulation.
He knew that verbal abuse or physical violence would be more apt to cause me to run, never come back, or tell someone. Plus, it would be easier for people to notice physical wounds, than if he used my own emotional insecurities against me.
He stalked me like a wolf, and preyed on where I was most vulnerable, the inner me.
So here I am, going back time after time, to this teenager who I thought surely wasn’t mean, but instead the coolest guy ever just doing what cool guys do. In my quest to fit in and be cool, I bought in to his manipulation.
Was he really being mean? YES, he was being mean! Abuse is not nice, it’s mean.
Verbal, Physical, Emotional, Ritual, Sexual, it’s all abuse and it’s all mean. There should be no justifying it at all, not for us or for others. No excuses to let our abuser off the hook at all or place the blame on us. It’s squarely on the person(s) who did it.
I gotta say, it feels good to admit that YES, he was being mean to me. At the same time, it still feels a bit unsettling. It’s going against everything he told me, showed me, and ingrained into my head. It almost makes me feel guilty to admit it.
It takes time to process these types of revelations; simply saying it is one thing but believing it and embracing it takes time.
It’s a combination of trying to feel better, by equating the abuse as something mean that was done to me. Conversely, that guilty gremlin in my head still wants to try and let my abuser off the hook.
It may seem ridiculous to say that, but hey it’s what I feel right now. Perhaps you’ve felt this way before?
As time goes on and I continue doing all the right things, putting in the work to heal, and being honest with myself, I’m sure I’ll feel differently. I will be able to see this for what it is – a mean act; and not feel guilty about it and want to let him off the hook in any respect.
When you are right smack dab in the middle of a situation, you can’t always envision or accept what the ultimate outcome will be. I just have to be OK with that, and know I’m on the right track. This light bulb moment of sorts, is just another step in the right direction.
I’m on my way, just gotta keep goin’!
image courtesy of wallpaper.zone