Thursday, July 19, 2007

Confusing Pleasure and Pain: VIII

The thing about abuse is that it makes you think secrets are normal. It makes you think that when someone is weird or awful or hurtful that you are responsible for absorbing or fixing or hiding it. You have some very confused sense of loyalty and responsibility, protecting your abuser/attacker more than yourself.

You think that the secrets you share with this person are shameful and by telling them you are telling on yourself, revealing to others your own badness. It doesn't occur to you that you should tell, that you should not have to keep dirty secrets for other people. Because you are so ashamed of yourself, even though it's not your fault at all.

And your abuser/attacker is so damaged that they let you, or maybe even force you, to take the blame, to keep the secret, to hide the truth. They let you become the vessel for their damaged psyche, staying safe and secure in the knowledge that you are as committed to keeping the secret as they are.

And this perverted fidelity somehow binds you together, you and your abuser, sharing a secret, sharing an intimacy, that is dangerous and destructive. It turns the notion of intimacy on its head, making you think that intimacy is a bad, painful, scary connection.

It's impossible for you to conceive of intimacy as life-affirming, supportive and precious. It's impossible for you to conceive of relationships as something good. Which is tragedy on top of tragedy. Because they can be the very best things of all. They can be the very thing that frees you.

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