This is a re-print from my own personal blog. It's raw and non-academic, but fairly effective in relaying the challenges an abused transracial adoptee has to overcome.
some of you who know me may have wondered why i disappeared from the scene. the answer is, i had a good old fashioned nervous breakdown.
i am an adult survivor of childhood incest, who has grown up and learned to work around the issues (or so i thought) to my own satisfaction, but apparently not to the satisfaction of others. and so i’ve decided to go public and share with you what those implications are so your awareness can make you a better friend to others than my friends have been to me.
there is in this society a gross lack of empathy that produces insensitive statements like, “get over it,” or “speak to the hand,” or “those with baggage need not reply.” and there is also an over-abundance of armchair psychologists with no more credentials than stacks of self-help books ready to point out where you need to improve yourself.
to which i say, unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, you just can’t know how moronic and/or inadequate your recriminations and criticisms are, so i ask:
is it morally right to criticize the actions of a starving person when one is well fed?
I think not.
i am a victim. victimization exists and you don’t get over it. you live with it and pat yourself on the back that you’re not in a morgue somewhere. you are a victim and you will always be a victim and you’re proud you lived through it and nobody can take that away from you. you are a veteran of war and every day that you are not dead, you are a survivor. you are always both. victim AND survivor. you process the world and people differently after a hellish experience and that’s totally understandable. or rather, it should be. but in our world, it’s not allowed. to disclose any trauma makes you a whiner. to show anyone your weaknesses makes you disgusting and pathetic. this is a no-baggage-allowed kind of world. A pathological system where victims are partially to blame for their victimization and whereupon silence is defacto and isolation is perpetuated.
when, as in my case, you are adopted from a foreign country, into a strange world where nobody looks like you, into a family where your siblings resent you for just being present and your unstable mother doesn’t believe in affection so your daily life is spent entirely alone and emotionally neglected, and your father who has more than affection for you molests you in the shower, molests you in your bed, molests you whenever nobody else is around, when mothers and neighbors turn a blind eye and you are always being watched by your perpetrator, when your minister molests you and others try to rape you, that fundamentally affects your approach to the world. when you spend your entire childhood in silence due to threats and manipulation, you can confide in no one and are therefore shut off from normal relations with society / friends, and every minute of every day you carry this huge burden, this secret that will shatter multiple lives that you are the sole keeper of. you never know what it is to be a child.
when you were not allowed to express your needs as a child, during that time in your life when you are all about needs and unable to provide for any of them yourself, and worse yet are hushed and programmed to suppress your own immediate needs or inner needs - that cuts you off from participating in the rest of the world and you must just watch and be subjected to everyone else saying, me, me, me. especially when it’s your parents saying me, me, me, and they use you, a child, as a resource to take care of their own needs. your needs are always less important than everyone else’s needs. you no longer even try to express them. you forget how. you tell yourself you have no needs. you become an island unto oneself.
you learn how to get by. year after year after year after year of never-ending abuse with no options available to you save the potential equal horror of some foster family. you do what you need to do. you learn there is nothing anyone can do to you which can’t be lived through. you learn to participate without being present. you learn this while you are still in diapers. you learn no one is going to save you or take care of you. you have no family. you are the only family you’ll ever have.
this is not something you “get over.” it is something you deal with daily, something you try to improve upon, but you can never get over. it formed you indelibly. this is the message i want to get across to people: incest victims are to be applauded for making it through another year, and not to be pitied over the violation of their bodies, because that was a minor assault compared to the comprehensive restructuring of their lives in order to facilitate that abuse. they are to be sympathized with because they live life without having experienced innocence, without having had a childhood, never knowing how it feels to be care free or loved, and growing up entirely isolated, with no one looking out for their interests. monkeys die in environments like that. and the ones who live are never the same. and you would not say to that poor creature - oh come on, get over it - you’re so pathetic. and it is not something any self-help book or spiritual teaching is going to make go away. it is something that has become part of who you are. it is a parallel world that no one but another incest survivor can understand.
so there you are, like a feral child in a foreign land of well-adjusted people who know how to communicate, who know how to express their own needs, who champion their own needs, and who trample all over you because you are mute. and because you are so handicapped, you get exploited time and time again. and you can’t comprehend how most people who have experienced one tenth the trauma you have can act so inhuman, be so self serving, living so purposelessly, so lacking in integrity, so blindly and without conviction. the human race disappoints so much so you wonder if being isolated and feral isn’t somehow better.
it is not true that you seek out powerless situations. it is more that almost anyone who can express themselves wins out because they are always more powerful, because your voice was taken away from you so you never gained any skill in its use. it is human nature for others to get away with as much as they can. they see your lame struggles to assert yourself as tacit approval for whatever they want. they don’t see that you are trying to form the word “no.” it is a silent scream. it is always at this point that your survival skills kick in to autopilot.
so you win and i’m your puppet. but you can never ever do anything harmful to me, because you can’t reach that deep. you play dead. and you live.
it is also not true that you have no self esteem or that you hate yourself. for to not end up like the infant monkeys that perished for science speaks a lot about self love and preservation. that all incest victims have not killed themselves is amazing. the positive side effect of living all your formative years in an untenable position is an appreciation for all things that do not cause you pain, and the knowledge that you have inner strengths unknown to most people is a source of pride. but the resiliency of children becomes brittle as you age, and you lose hope as each interaction with the rest of the world fails.
what is true is you have no clue how to form relationships. because you never really participated in the world, in fact, you were barred from participating in the world, you don’t understand how people connect with each other or how they communicate or what makes people laugh or what fun is. you can’t relate to them and they can’t relate to you. you have been sentenced to a life of never-ending isolation. you pantomime what others are doing so they can relate to you, but your message is lost on them. and the message is:
you are privileged and so, so lucky. be kind to your fellow man. be kind to wounded animals and abused children. be generous to those who struggle with skills you take for granted. be less self-serving and make the world a better, safer place.
my disappearance was due to a breakdown. an inner rage and grieving for that innocence everyone else knows that i can never know. rage for trying so hard to live an authentic life of integrity and meaning, doing an admirable job, yet ending up empty handed and alone and abandoned by those i love. rage that the only time i allow myself to trust i am betrayed. rage that i am judged so harshly for my social ineptitude. rage that i am criticized for not managing my life the way a normal person would. disappointed in humanity and its lack of integrity. i looked into the abyss of hopelessness and nearly threw myself at its mercy.
but somehow, the part of me that never gives up came to my rescue again. only this time, i go to therapy to learn how to live better amongst the rest of you, because you can’t do it through self help and you can’t leave it to the clueless. and today i choose to end the silence and express myself.
i’ve been reading and reading and reading other people’s stories on the net and it is so apparent that awareness is so lacking in the general population as to the effects of incest on victims as adults. i just thought it was my duty to let people know they’d met one and that they can’t/shouldn’t fit them into the paradigm of what they know. we had to thrive under unique circumstances and our methods are almost hard-wired into us. that we don’t choose to be victimized. that we don’t seek out co-dependent abusive relationships, but that we are more susceptible and vulnerable. that the victimization was so insidious as to affect every aspect of a person’s life, and that the struggle to adapt in a world where everyone else has the requisite tools, but you are lacking them, should be looked upon with charity instead of the disdain that it is. that the rest of my days will be spent debriefing and learning social skills you take for granted.
and to you “no baggage” people, i will NOT get over it. being an arrogant hard-ass does NOT make you stronger than everyone else, and you have no grounds discounting everyone who has issues. because someone who has no issues like yourself but can deliver “get over it” statements obviously has A LOT of issues.
this is my baggage.
i’m proud of what it’s been through, that i survived.
i deserve respect