September 28, 2011

Finding Ultimate Causes - My Journey of Recovering From Child Abuse (1)

Join the movement to end child abuse: www.1sta...Image via WikipediaChild-abuse is always one of central subjects of my thinking during my adulthood, for 2 reasons: 1. I am a victim of child-abuse; 2. it creates the worst damages upon human nature (I literally mean: THE WORST).
To recover from this damage, the first step for me is to confront. By saying "confront", I do not mean "revenge", but "finding the ultimate causes" of all self-harming "thoughts and behaviors".

This morning I had another "sudden enlightenment" about one of my accustomed behaviors which caused my mental disturbance: my incapability of defending myself when under personal insulting (I actually acknowledge this weakness long time ago, but today's "enlightenment" showed me another aspect of my weakness). I found, this behavior was precisely caused by my childhood experience: I had to accept all kind of attacks on me from the early age of my life. I learned to oppress my "self" in order to keep the "harmony" with my abusive parents, who were the only "shelter" of my life at the time. Since this "oppressed" behavior - to yield to almost all offenses - was the only way I could get through my early life, it unconsciously became my "nature" of my later life as well.

By acknowledging such causes, I understand: 1. this self-harming "misbehavior" is NOT my nature (and it should not be anybody's nature); 2. in future, I will be more capable to recognize the "face" of personal insulting at the first hand, hence I can be more readily to protect myself.
Of course, I also understand that change will not happen over night.

This, is only one of my many "enlightenments" about many of my unconscious "mis-behaviors" which kept harming myself in the course of my adult life. I found, by being conscious of all of these problems one by one, I am able to change my life little by little.

People may take my "hobby" of reflecting my childhood as bad things, as a continuation of "abusing" myself, and may suggest that "to forget" is a better way to cope with the past. I understand their perspective, but I don't believe that problems (especially problem caused by child-abuse) can be solved (only) by avoidance. The problems of child-abuse are such: the traumas were created so early in your life that they become an instinct NATURE of yours, hence it will happen and harm you again and again no matter how "completely" you "forget" about them.

Here comes a question: what is our nature? My answer is: our nature is a "package" that contains both our mental and physical capacity which comes together with our life. And because it comes together with our life, it is almost UNCHANGEABLE.

I do not suppose our nature has difference of being good and evil, but I do believe that it has the difference of being "strong" and "weak". And I believe all our postnatal effort is to keep our nature from being harmed, so that we could achieve its strongest potential - as strong as possible.

The importance of childhood lies in its powerful influence upon our nature: a good (happy) childhood can preserve our nature as its best (strongest) form; and a bad (miserable) childhood can make damage on it - make a person with strong nature "less strong", make a person with weak nature becomes "weaker", or the "weakest". I can hardly imagine any kind of events during a person's adulthood could have the same impact on one's nature, not even a life sentence in prison!

Someone (such as Liu Xiaobo) even believe that "childhood" is so unconquerable that it actually BECOMES our nature, but I disagree. This is because we human does have plasticity to adjust ourselves in the course of life. However, this "adjustment" is not UNCONDITIONAL, rather, it depends on 2 factors: how strong our nature is, and how serious the damage has been made. So there really is no one solution for all (and for some cases there might be no solution at all).

I think for those victims whose problems are less serious, they might be able to carry on their life simply by oblivion, but for those whose problems are serious, "to forget"is just not enough. They may have to confront (with or without help) - to understand how all these happened, to acknowledge all these self-destructive thoughts and actions were NOT their nature thus they could be CHANGED. I believe, only if they reached such understanding, could they have a full confidence for the future action: to fight against their "imposed nature", and eventually restore the original nature that is healthy and self-confident.

However, since the adjustment also depend on how strong our nature is, for those who has weaker nature, or if the damage is too serious, recovery might be impossible. In such cases, "to forget", indeed is a better way to cope with trauma (the bad thing is, some of them are not even capable of "forgetting").

I consider myself extreme lucky, for I have such a strong nature which protect me from being destroyed by my dark childhood (while my sister had totally different fate). I was a happy person by nature, and I was a bright/positive person during my teen-age and 20s (which gained my lots of friendships and love). However, since I entered my middle age, my personality was shadowed (partly by my chronic illness), which made me a seemingly different person. But I knew I was all the same, the only difference (beside my physical inadequacy) was that I had to confront some traumas which had been always there preventing me from being my best. And it is precisely because of this confrontation, which was painful but inevitable, after all these years, I find I am in a new place - the freedom and happiness built on my true self-esteem.

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  1. Hi Yunyi, read your post, and I feel touched by your resilience and positive outlook despite everything. Life is beautiful, and so are you :) :)

  2. I sense your struggle to maintain equilibrium and progress beyond pain. I admire your courage--and it does take courage!

    Sometimes it also feels to me that I won't change essentially. Maybe that is true. I hope that everyone can overcome their childhood wounds, though.

    Isn't it ironic how we spend our whole lives trying to deal with our childhood "injuries"? But what else can we do?

    I think, just keep going and never give up. And along the way we are rewarded by new-found truths lighting the path and those delicious "aha" moments when we discovered something that will help us to kick away the "blocks" of progression.

  3. Thanks Psachno for your encouragement!

  4. Yunyi, I think that you are very brave to discuss in public what must still be a host of painful memories. Child abuse is something that I don't think I will ever understand, so I applaud the way you are dealing with it.

  5. Thanks Denis!
    I have been writing lots about "hidden" connection between child abuse and filial piety in Chinese. More and more Chinese people acknowledge it as a problem in Chinese people's upbringing, especially after one child policy, more Chinese people pay attention to parenting (even though most of them still focus more on children's academic skills than their psychological health.

  6. I didn't know when I was making my comments yesterday that this post was here. I sensed your pain - and I was right. You and I are soul-sisters. I, too, have lived through the horrors of childhood abuse. I only recalled repressed memories a year ago, so I am fresh and new on this journey. I walk with you! I understand the depths of horror and pain, and the resulting problems and difficulties which crop up. Keep writing and asking and questioning and healing - you will make it, I promise you!

  7. melody, i am grateful to have many online friends, especially ones like you who can share this deep trauma.
    i am in good place now, but, i know those horror deep inside me would not just disappear in no time, it dwells, and show up anytime. but, as long as we keep our confidence for our innocence, our fully deserving happiness, we will make it.
    thanks for your support! i am sure will walk with you too:-)