Welcome! Another flight, another blog post. Today I’m off to Vegas to visit my good friend Justin, a long-time friend who is in the process of moving back there. I get to spend a couple of days geeking out and hanging out. I’m looking forward to the wonderful experience of hanging out with him.
But this post is not really about that friendship or my trip to Vegas. It’s about a time before that. It’s about a darker time in my life, a time when I was more scared, angry, and given to allow my darker side free rein. It’s about the times I would yell at my sister, argue with my mom, beat up my brother, and contemplate even greater violence.
This is the story of the abused abuser and the trip to freedom from fear and anger, a journey that travels through no places and across no time. It’s a personal, inward journey that happened at the right time and in the right way.
Here we go:
They say conflict between brothers is natural. They say that brothers will fight. They say that it’s part of growing up. While this was the experience of me and my brother, I don’t agree that it is natural. I think it is the result of abuse, and abusing perpetuated across the generation by the uncontrolled fear of the inner child in control. This fear and anger travels across the family relationships by agreement from one generation to the next. Most children lack discernment skills, experience, and connection to their source that could block the transfer. In my case, the transfer allowed me to accept family anger and the desire to control. Even with the loving intervention of my grandmother, I was still trapped in my reality of isolation and abandonment.
My brother is 16 months younger than me. That single year gave me a physical advantage at a key time in my development. It gave me the upper hand at a time when this pattern of anger and dominating control was getting set up as part of my initial interpretation of reality.
When I was two, I would come into the kitchen where he sat in his highchair and bite him on the toe. I would do this everyday. My mom would spank me and tell me I was bad, but still I continued until, in an attempt to teach me how much hurt what I was causing, she bit me. I got the message — from then on, I just punched him.
It’s not that I didn’t love my brother, I surely did. It’s not that I didn’t know it was wrong to hurt people, I surely did. It’s not a matter of right and wrong. It’s a matter of connection to spirit and the desperate cry of the disconnected soul to grasp some sort of perceived control.
Living in an environment where no one was connected to their higher selves, and their learned survival instincts were to abuse, I took up the baton. I didn’t know how else to survive. With a desperate sense of fear of abandonment and isolation, I concluded that the only safe thing was to be in control. The feeling of love I wanted I couldn’t find, so I took controlling others as a very poor surrogate to having a real sense of self esteem.
For years I felt bad about the abuse I dished out. For years I told myself that I was a cold heartless person. This affectation of coldness pushed down my inner self loathing. It left me feeling pretty numb. That was until I came to live with my dad when I was 16.
For two years I just hid in my room when around my family, and as soon as possible, ran out to be with my friends. Thank God for Crockers, Scotts, and Sorensons. They may not know how much their love and acceptance did for me. However, I know it and I have shared that with them.
So with the love of my dad and his wife and the families of my friends, I was able to craft a better mode of survival, one where I felt a little safer. That new survival mode was better.
This and the study of martial arts transformed my relationship with physical abuse from an abuser to a protector, and then from a protector to who I am today. Today I’m glad to say that I am finally getting to the place where fighting with someone really feels wrong for me. It’s a fascinating place to not want to argue with people, or force my opinion. It’s an entire new mindset for me.
So that is some background for my thoughts about being an abuser and being abused.
Over the last week I have come into conversations about abuse and violence. In these conversations I realized I was identifying with the victim much more than the perpetrator. I was taking the side of the victim because I strongly believe that abuse should be stopped and the abusers protected by society in a way that stops them from abusing.
But there was more to it. As I grounded myself, I sensed an inner disquiet. I was harboring shame and guilt for my past abuses. I was wanting to nurture others in their feelings of grief and scare as a surrogate to my own feelings of disconnection and abandonment.
I have a lot of trauma from my past that, although I’ve spent a lot of time working on healing, still comes up from time to time. These discussions of abuse and victimization brought back to the surface some of that old emotional content and thinking.
I was remembering being abused and abusing others. There I found old beliefs that forgiveness equals forgetting and self abandonment. So a part of my sub-conscious mind was still running the circle.
I can’t forgive others lest I be nothing, lost and forgotten in my pain. I can’t forgive myself lest I either forgive others or risk being a hypocrite.
When I discover something I harbor in my subconscious based on really old belief structures and survival techniques, I am filled with sadness. As I sat realizing how afraid a part of my mind still is, I cried.
There are times in my life when tears flow when I experience the pain of others.This felt like one of those times, as if I was witnessing someone else’s pain. So I invited that part of myself to a prayer — a meditation with my higher self — and throughout the prayer I imagined myself holding that small boy.
As my connection with my higher self increased, there came a softness in me, and a sense of relief. I felt blessed and loved.
As I sat in that realization of love and connection, I regained my perspective. As I turned to the idea of harboring negativity as a form of protection against fear of isolation and abandonment, I found a whole new perspective. The abused and abuser are not the same of course, but the damage to the soul is much the same — fear, shame, guilt, and a disconnection from the source of love.
The freedom from this damage is always found in forgiveness, gratitude, and compassion.
The ideal is to fill my sense of self and connection so fully with these that when I think of abusers or their abuse I do not feel negativity, but an undeniable desire to love them.
Now, some may think I’m advocating forgetting, blocking out, or ignoring abuse. On the contrary — abuse must be stopped for everyone’s sake. The connection to the sense of well being for everyone involved is at stake.
However, I must differentiate between the abuse and the abuser. To stop the abusive action is critical. To stop the abuser from healing and connecting to God and happiness is not.
I know I am off-course when I have a desire or thought to inflict hurt or punishment on the abuser. This is a form of vengeance and attack. Containment aside, punishment and retaliation against the abuser is achieved at my own risk, to my own sense of happiness and connection. To harbor animosity and desire to attack is to harbor fear and anger in my heart. There, love cannot enter.
While my mind is focused on vengeance, I cannot be in a feeling of love and happiness. No amount of punishing another can bring me happiness. This road of anger, vengeance, counter attack, and punishment is a trap for my mind, a trap that I set and fall into by my lack of forgiveness. It can be my own self-imposed prison.
For me to achieve happiness, I must gain a higher sense of context. I must realize that my life is not framed by the birth and eventual death of this body. My life is defined by the lifetime of my everlasting soul.
From this context, I can see all that has transpired in my past as beside the point. The point of my life is to create and love. My function therefore must be to forgive and be happy. All else that happens, however physically painful or distracting in the moment, is, in the end, beside the point.
So for myself to find forgiveness I must start to change my context. Here is how I am doing that.
I see abuse as a mistake, a mistake against my very nature. To perpetrate or allow others to perpetrate abuse I must abandon the very nature of the inheritance God has given me, an inheritance of love and creation. To ignore or allow abuse by myself or others is to abandon them or myself.
When I contemplate this abandonment, I only do so based on a belief that I have been abandoned, and that my survival must then come only from my own actions, and at a cost to others. But the truth is that God has not abandoned me. She stands there, ever loving. God knows nothing of this self-imposed hell I have created. My self-imposed prison comes from me and is in my mind.
Only the abuser and the abused can truly understand what I speak of, for when we are in this relationship to each other, we are in a symbiotic hell composed of fear and anger. It may be an accidental relationship. It may be a relationship that neither desired, but nonetheless it is a relationship.
In my life I have been both the abused and the abuser. I have lived in terror and violent anger. I know now that both places are a choice, and that freedom from that place is found via opening myself to my higher self and my connection to God, for in Him I am everlasting and safe.
For those who are living as abuser or abused to see the option of choice is not to play the part of forgetfulness or adherence to self loathing, nor to ignore the acts of others. The choice is not between ignorance and fear. It is between feeling good and feeling bad.
It has taken me years to understand my role on both sides.
So as I heal these old wounds and forgive my abusers and forgive my abuses I realize the simple truth. God was always with me, but I forgot, and in my darkest times of need I turned not towards Her but instead made myself into an island, a victim, and a cruel person.
Be I the victim or the perpetrator my path is the same. Forgive, love, allow, and create using the source of God as directly as I am able to.
If you are in a dark place, suffering abuse from yourself or another, or abusing yourself or another, I would tell you one thing — I love you, and if you call on me, I will respond.
Go with good feelings and love.
God bless you.