A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Childhood Victimization & Domestic Violence

I experienced violence up close for over five years cyclically month to month with my addicted, mentally ill, abusive partner.  I experienced fear I had never experienced before.  The intensity of it created mental, emotion distortions that repeatedly wounded my spirit.  I lost perspective.  I became insane, locking myself into a addictive relationship that I wasn't able to free myself from year after year.  My lover was very young, beaten down by the end of his adolescence, a victim of abuse.  He followed the father who raped him repeatedly in childhood and adolescence; he became an abuser and in doing so continued to victimize his true self.

When my lover became triggered by something in his environment, I could see the boy, the silly, sad, sentimental drunk flip into his sadist persona.  I was no masochist, but I did put myself in a position to become a victim.  Sadists are drawn to victims like a honey bee to honey.  Victims are nourishment to this brand of violent insanity.  My lover, in this mode, in this part of his personality, fed off me.  He fed off my fear.  In his eyes he was a righteous judge.  He was the high king and I was an offending slave.  In his eyes my fear was confirmation of my culpability.  The more afraid I was, the more justified he felt in condemning me if not to physical attack then to psychological torture, though the threat of attack at any moment remained.

What is the lure of violence?  For a more powerful attacker, it is the lure, the high of power.  For others, the chance to dominate and control.  For people trained in sadism might does make right.  A sadist might think that he has honor and justice on his side, but when it comes down to it he or she really enjoys having the power to generate fear and through that fear to control behavior, to set the stage for a cyclical, unending play.  My lover was both the director and the lead in this play.  I was no threat.  I was literally a trapped animal, the prey for the predator.  Without me, there would be no play and he would have searched for another to play the victim role.

At some point I realized that he was associating me with his father and was punishing me for the sins of his father and family.  He became "the father" and I became the despised child, a representative of himself as a child.  He tried to convince me through the shame of humiliation that I was not worthy of love and kindness, that I deserved what I got.  It was projection, pure and simple.  Only he didn't know it.  To be aware of just what he was doing would be to ruin the play and the thrill of the act.  And yes, I know that to abuse me as his child self gave him deep pleasure, at least while he was inside this part of his personality.  When he did this he was also inside his insanity.  He lost perspective and was psychotic.

He could lose himself for a night of sadistic pleasure.  He became the-one-with-the-power.  There was nothing to stand in his way and it felt good.  But something that initially feels real good and is at its core harmful to self and others becomes an addiction.  It traps the predator in a different kind of cage.  And so there were two people trapped in the abusive cycle continuing the seemingly unending play.  Predator and prey.   Abuser and victim.  The father and the son.  Perhaps the initial goal was catharsis,  but anything so negative cannot be cathartic.  It is addiction.  The interplay during the play or abusive episode is the drug.

Because his father had raped him, he judged himself unredeemable and his deep ambivalence towards his father had a strangle hold on him.  Though in times of self revealing anger at his father he said he wanted to kill him, but he did not kill him, did not expose his crimes, did not threaten him at all while he was with me.  He did not place blame where it needed to be placed - with the sins of his father.  Instead he sacrificed himself, branding himself over and over every time he acted out his addiction.  He associated this with honor.  The injunction was to protect the family, especially the image created for others to see.  He took on the role of the black sheep while actually becoming the scape goat for the family.

But that was truly unbearable and so he sacrificed me and made me his personal scapegoat continuing the cycle of shirking self responsibility.  His family never took off their masks and costumes and let me really see them and I learned that the way to survive was to put on my own costume and mask and deny my true self, go along with the sickness, letting my spirit start to wither.  But somewhere in me I was still saying NO to all this sickness.  I continued to think my truths though I rarely opened my mouth and spoke them - too dangerous.  And I prayed.  After all, I was addicted too and I was powerless over it.  I prayed to be released.  When opportunity knocked a year later, I took it and took off.

Before, during and after this relationship I was one of the walking wounded.  After I became darker, harder, my heart difficult to access.  I said NO to my abusive lover and turned away I thought in order to re-embrace myself.  When I sang and made up songs I found bits and pieces of me but they were mostly distorted because my thinking was still distorted by the conditioning of my love/relationship addiction.  I was far from my true self still laced with residual self-hatred passed on by my lover to me during his sadistic projections.  I refused to enter into another romantic relationship but was willing to swap a relationship addiction for a romantic fantasy addiction that only left me frustrated and ashamed.  Still self hating.

My mysterious voices which came forward during life threatening moments during my relationship resurfaced after I left my partner.  They showed me that I was on a spiritual path despite the residual web of self hatred.  They led me to the study of Buddhism and to the ancient Chinese oracle, the I Ching; they led me to practice yoga and meditation and mantra.  They also led me back to art and songwriting and writing.  They led me back to art school.  And, after a year at school, they led me to an even deeper, more dangerous place along the path - they led me into psychosis.  I saw that my relationship with my lover/abuser had been a sort of boot camp to prepare me for what I would have to endure through in psychosis.

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