Punishing Myself for my Perpetrator’s Crimes?
*** This blog may be difficult at times. Please be gentle when reading ***
I have hated myself for years – the shame of “allowing” myself to be abused was too intense – Not only didn’t I deserve love, but I deserved to be punished…
How could I punish myself?
I didn’t have my own room, my own space or anywhere I could go where I could do this properly. I was too scared of my mom to do anything that would be visible so the damage had to be internal or invisible.
And so a new game in my life started. I was to steal a few seconds when no one was looking and punish myself.
In the kitchen, I used to put my hands on the hot pan to cause pain but without any burn marks.
I used a kitchen knife to see how far I could poke my skin without creating any blood evidence.
I used nails to dig into my body and see how far I could go.
I started skipping meals.
It felt good to punish myself but it wasn’t enough. I needed to find more severe ways…
I condemned myself to a life of loneliness. Not only was I not to have a partner but I also didn’t deserve to have any friends.
I don’t know what I did exactly but I know that in the school and the college, whenever I went and joined a group of mates, they dispersed as quickly as I joined them. I was one of those weirdos that no one liked talking to.
I was convinced that this pattern was to continue so I had to learn to enjoy my loneliness. I didn’t deserve to hang out and have fun with my friends so I had to learn to do things on my own and that’s exactly what I did. Instead of asking anyone to join me, I just did things on my own. The sooner I got used to it, the better my life would be.
During all these years while I hated myself, I loved my abuser. Strange thing to say, isn’t it?
To this day, I don’t understand but I wanted to be close to him. So I tried to find ways to be with him alone; I always remembered and wished him well when it was his birthday…
Maybe, he would restart to confide in me… Maybe, I would be important once again…
That never happened but I felt bound to him so I continued to be friends and continued to hate myself.
My life turned around when I attended an AsiaWorks course over a period of 4 months. It was one of those experiential self-development courses. I had never done anything like this before. It was life-changing; I really got the emotional shit beaten out of me… I cried, I banged the chair in sheer frustration and agony and I felt an emotional death that is hard to describe…
When I finally came to the other side, I realized that I couldn’t free myself until I broke the ties with him. The only way to do this was to meet him and talk to him… This was a scary idea.
Somehow the universe reorganised itself and I had an opportunity to spend some time with him.
I arrived at his place; felt weird being there. He was polite and courteous and went out of his way to make sure I was OK. I had never spoken to him overtly before this moment so I didn’t even know if he knew that I knew… We both pretended that everything was ok and that I was really just there to meet him and say hello…
Sleeping in the same house as he was strange… I couldn’t relax. I don’t know whether he slept or not… I also didn’t know how I was going to bring up the topic. I asked the invisible forces for some help. I really didn’t know how I was going to do this all by myself.
Next day, we were in the car and talking about general things. I remember I said something about my childhood in a very indirect sort of way…
He said that those were the darkest alleys of his life that he never wishes to visit again…
Finally, a form of acknowledgement!!
The moment was profound. I realised that I hadn’t done anything wrong; there was no reason to punish myself; I was innocent and pure.
In that moment, I became a free woman. I was no longer tied to him.
Previously, I wasn’t able to reflect on his actions but now I could. My last blog Looking inside the mind of my perpetrators? was a result of the reflections and my journey once I was able to free myself of him.
Having trained myself for years to be alone and punishing myself is still a pattern that shows up from time to time but thankfully, I am surrounded by therapists, friends, and lovers who care and help me come back to owning my power.
Life simply never ceases to amaze me…