This emotion is a real tricky one to infiltrate just as the picture above illustrates and it won’t be easy to gain access into this mindset. But it is an emotion that is so often visited within adulthood by child abuse survivors. On arrival, they will be so very far away from an open position of acceptance. This emotion is one of the hardest to move beyond and is usually addressed within therapy once accessed. The need to defend that damaged child at that time will now be so very paramount, but that emotion does not arrive or ever stand alone. Rightly, or wrongly, for many, they will also feel the need to embrace justification alongside it. It is a knee jerk reaction felt towards a non-reactive parent, a staunch defensive emotion, towards a parent that they are now being uncomfortably quizzed around. There is no escaping this subject and the ever-burning question of did they know? Advancing towards the inevitable and that until now unspoken painfully reality will be extremely difficult. Accepting that which they have spent their life avoiding, well, just how do you process the fact a parent may just have stood silently by? By reverting to that which they have always done they defend.
This defence may be completely flawed and difficult to understand, but for that survivor, it is so very much easier, than embracing that the said parent had full knowledge. This choice will have been made so very long ago, the choice to believe that ignorance was the only culprit that withheld a valiant rescue. Within that place and time, for them, it just had to be. That belief has to hold fast, of course, there would have been an intervention if only they had the knowledge. Whether that sounds completely deranged within any clarity of thought today, at that time of choice, clarity of thought would have been nowhere in the equation. Things may not always make sense to the onlooker, but within child abuse can there really be any sense to be found? All be that a much mused over atrocity and the dark question that we may ask ourselves, for that child within that said abuse they had no hope in hell of correlating any reply.
In truth, to gain any acquired vision or access into the mind of a child abuse survivor it needs to be at their own request. With the understanding and requirement, that we can only ever enter where we are invited. In all truth, we are only ever accompanying that survivor on their journey, and as for our own vision and staunch emotions around this subject Well, they matter not and they will always be required to take a back seat.
The need to justify the actions of a none reactive or passive parent happens, simply because it is much less painful than to accept the opposite choice. That opposite choice requires difficult self-questioning entering a mind field of emotions. If this were to be chosen just where do they start? Was I ever really loved at all? If they knew why did they allow it to carry on? Was I just invisible to them? Was I worthless? Was it my fault? Was it a punishment? If so what did I do? In all truth, this list could become endless. Even before they start to question the truth of that parental protection that they were never given, as you can imagine it is a painful place in which to choose to go. It is inevitable, that in time some way needs to be found to deal with that conflict of acceptance and staunch resistance to the truth, but it is a process that will never be easily travelled through. That said, recovery will never really be constructively worked towards until acceptance of that truth is recognised by that child abuse survivor themselves. Within that achievement once arrived at, we can expect a very painful accompaniment. A painful realisation which can no longer be avoided and that said parents own truth will be staring them in the face. But still, all is not what it may seem.
It would be acceptable to think, that every child abuse survivor is filled with hate for that none reactive parent. But it will never be so very black and white, or even explainable to the onlooker even when shared within therapy. At times, it is so very difficult to separate emotions within this place because they are within that very murky colour of grey. As an abused child defending themselves was never possible, but the pain that will be immensely felt is that none was ever given in their name. At the time of visiting this defensive emotion, the child is no more, and the response that may be expected is that of an adult reaction. But what should never be forgotten is that this healing process is still very much being directed by that child.
What is seen in front of us at that time is an adult prop, a mannequin, because it is the only thing in which is visible is it not? But what is seen at that time is so very far away from the engagement which is taking place within. What is happening within for that child abuse survivor at that time, is so drastically different from any expectation. Within we find a child who is drowning, unwilling to feel that painful reality, a child that still needs to believe that they were loved. A child still trying to hold on to any memory where they believed that they mattered. That quizzical questioning child within immense pain, who in truth, never really experiencing anything that resembling love whilst subjected to their abuse. So just why would they want to return to that place voluntarily within the acceptance of betrayal, if the outcome of that journey would leave them wide open to another mountain of pain? Somehow, right there and then, denial doesn’t seem all that bad. It is only through time and patience that we will ever be able to yield any fruit in this place, enabling that healing journey of connection to take place.
When looking towards recovery all child abuse survivors will have two foes in which to face, the pain of their abuse, but also the pain of acknowledgement surrounding that said parent’s inaction. At that time an endorsement may even be looked for from another, because of course that said parent couldn’t have known right? Desperately looking for any confirmation that indeed they couldn’t have known. Just how can a point of apportioning the truth of reached within that mindset? How can they hold that said parent accountable, if they hold on to that belief that there was no knowledge? Denial can continue to be an active emotion within therapy for many years because it is rigidly defended within that belief. The smallest amount of recognition within any kindness remembered from the direction of that inactive parent, well, it is held on to tightly with a grip of iron. Even the slightest remembrance is felt like an endorsement of that said parent’s love, only aiding and confirming to them that they are right. It has become a life raft that they are unwilling to let go of easily.
When a child has never felt love within childhood and only the abuse, imagination is all that they have at their disposal. Suddenly, they are being asked to let go of that image, the one in which they had created to survive, just how can they do that easily? It is still a huge part of who they are today and it is a part of themselves that is still greatly needed. That child is still very much alive and within all adult child abuse survivors, the uppermost reasoning and understanding must be made whilst making any connection. Within that image, they were loved and protected even if that was never really their reality. Removing that segment within where they imagined that they were held is never going be easy for them, it is easier not to hold that parent accountable than to feel the pain of true acceptance and admission brings with it.
Of course, I hope that it goes without saying, that there are many child abuse survivors in which the situation above was never their own. That the assumption they hold within regarding their own abuse, and that the said parent was oblivious is completely right, but that is so very far away from being a reality for all.
Every child abuse adult survivor has their own story to tell and their own demons to address. But for many, it is still within the realms of their imagination to choose to stay within the need of that belief. A place where they created a picture postcard memory, one in which was sorely needed to have had any chance of continuing to exist. To allow any escape from the abuse they were experiencing because not doing so was not an option, Being thrust forward enabling them to put down that abusive situation within a very dark corner of their mind. It was somewhat a necessity at that time in order to achieve any balance of mindset, because what was seen felt and experienced had to go somewhere. Or that although faltering balance, could never have been achieved at all. Any life would have then ceased to exist completely. As that child which may be contrary to belief when faced with this situation they may choose that inventory life.
It is easy to see that holding on to that belief has merit just what do they have without it? Whilst processing through a child’s eye at that time it is easy to understand their motive, but sadly, it is not so very different when seen through the eyes of that adult they have become. In every essence, that child is still where it has always been still desperately seeking a way out. The difficulty in understanding and recognising such a misplaced defence, is that they are trying to find acceptance and understanding in adulthood. Whilst still being directed by that emotive and deeply pained child. Make no mistake, that child at the onset of this stage of therapy will always be the one holding centre stage. We will never really have any hope of reaching that desperate to recover adult, until we are invited to do so by that child, that said, it must always be on their terms.
An Untruth? Well, it would seem that statement very much depends on the direction in which your life had been taken……