My mind's early training valued flexibility.
That is to say, my caretakers praised me for flexible displays and discouraged rigidity. I learned that my importance depended somewhat on how flexible I could prove myself to be. The other offspring don't want to have to share a room every. single. year? Ok, I'll move from room to room each year. It's totally cool that neither one likes me -- I'm flexible! Oh, it's not convenient for everyone to try at this family structure? You want to leave, and you want to follow your passion, and you believe God tells you to keep doing exactly the same stuff? Um, ok. I'm ...flexible... My self-value feels so... (years pass)... wait. What is self-value?
I can see pretty clearly now how and why I entered into and sometimes perpetuated abusive situations. I didn't see that so clearly in years past. I saw myself as a confident person. I believed that I was smart. I thought I had a good enough support system. So when abuse occurred, it didn't occur to me that any of those qualities of life were lacking in my life.
I read a couple of articles recently that led me to this post, Dianca London's http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/abusive-ex-valentines-day and Eden Strong's http://itisnotmyshametobear.blogspot.com/2015/03/i-dont-care-that-im-on-welfare.html. One of the commenters, XOXO, on Dianca's piece said that Dianca shouldn't have gotten into the car with someone she knew was drunk. As if she somehow deserved to get punched because she didn't decline a ride. Eden discusses how some commenters attempt to shame her for her financial situation and health decisions. These readers are apparently unfamiliar with poverty and how challenging it can be to get out of it. MeowMix observed the following of Eden's post on March 2, 2015 at 12:58 pm.
people attack and judge you out of fear. they are afraid they'll end up where you are and so to make themselves feel less vulnerable they convince themselves it's your fault and they would never do what you did to end up where you are. what they don't realize is that it could happen to them, too. but they can't live with that fear, so they convert it to judgement and criticism in order to protect themselves from feeling that fear or vulnerability. does that make sense? it's the same way people blame rape victims because then they feel like it won't happen to them. Here is an article explaining this very phenomenon that happens with victims of bullying, rape and poverty:
Victim blaming sucks. Sure, it's easy to look at a situation from the comfort of your own mental images of what life is like for people. Oh, I wouldn't have done that! If you'd have __insert life prescription__, you wouldn't have experienced that bad thing! You should have known better. You're too smart for that. And, a favorite in my family of origin: I'll tell you once and I won't tell you again, __insert important life lesson__. The truth is that abusive situations can happen in anyone's life. Blaming someone for a situation doesn't help anyone. Blame is a tool of limited use.
Abuse and flexibility went hand-in-hand in my life. Often, I told myself the following statements. (Beverley Engel discusses how statements like these can hurt more than help in her book, The Nice Girl Syndrome.)
So when conflict arose, I'd tell myself a few of those statements, acquiesce to the dominant personality's decision, and feel that I'd 1) accomplished a type of spiritual purpose (I gave more than I received [that's way spiritual of me, I'm awesome!]) and 2) done the best thing I could do for myself. I essentially convinced myself that my silence meant that I was doing good for others and myself.
Small child to grown adult has been an arduous and exciting journey for me. I once held many beliefs that don't apply to my current life. I'm seeing some things in an entirely different way. For instance, flexibility. It exists and is necessary, yes. It also requires rigidity. One cannot exist without the other. The key is to keep them in harmony. Much like any discussion about someone's life experiences -- to be fair, keep views in harmony and balance.
Well hello there.