(Warning – sexual assault triggers and book spoiler alert)
“It’s a catch-22,” she says. “You don’t want to think something as violent and horrible as a rape is out of your control. If it’s out of your control, it could happen again, couldn’t it? So you tell yourself you were in control. You’re the one who caused it. You went down the wrong alley, or trusted the wrong guy, or you weren’t wearing your lucky socks. That’s why it happened.” …
“But then,” Jen says, “if you make what happened your fault, what can you do with all the disgust and anger you feel? All that negativity turns inward. Because if you were in control — if you’re the one who didn’t stop it — then the rape must be your fault.”
Your fault, says the voice in my head. Your fault!
~~ from Elena Vanishing by Elena Dunkle
Replace “rape” with any trauma. Let’s say…relinquishment. ALL kids naturally make what is happening around them into something about them, even more so with trauma. So you don’t want to think that something as awful as your whole family abandoning you as out of your control, because if you have control it is less likely to happen again (i.e. because it was “your fault” and “you won’t let that happen again”). So you make sure to cover all your bases and stay in control, become extremely people pleasing….because hey, people stay with people who meet all their needs, right?
But being abandoned by your entire family is a traumatic and, well, honestly deplorable thing (no matter how society tries to paint it into being selfless gift…I mean seriously, no one in my large, loving extended family could have stepped up and made it so a tiny baby didn’t have to be left with a series of strangers forever? No one?) So what do you do with that terror, anger, shame, and disgust at the situation? You turn it inward, since if you were in control, it must be your fault.
Bad baby. Bad baby. It’s no wonder nobody wants you.
Dear ones, if you are reading this and feel this way, I am SO SORRY. And, I get it.
I don’t have answers. Those tapes that play in our heads can be so loud. With no pre-trauma personality to fall back on, it is all we know.
I get it.
It is not your fault.
My hands are holding yours
and you are not alone in this.