Rejecting Paradise

200456192-001Sometimes we just want to feel alone, to feel sad, to feel failure. It’s not that we enjoy self-pity. It’s just that loneliness, sadness and failure are what we think we deserve.

Growing up with poverty and abuse creates a powerful sense of where you belong and what you are worth. In its most destructive form, it gives you an overwhelming belief in your own worthlessness.

As I distanced myself from poverty, I eventually realized that not once did I feel that I deserved what I had achieved. And as I formed loving and caring relationships, I looked for ways in which those relationships would be used to inflict emotional harm on me. The more my life became ideal, the more I seemed to want to reject it.

I was not worthy of love or success in any of its forms.

Sometimes it is a parent who infuses in you a belief that you must, “Never forget your roots,” or, “Don’t get ideas above your station.”

Other times, it is the bullying of a sibling who constantly tells you the world would be a better place if you had never been born.

And so, when life gives you good things, you work hard at pushing them away, at not being happy.

A friend of mine sold his company and overnight he became extremely wealthy. I asked him how it felt and he said, “I’m worried and I’m fearful. I’m afraid that I will lose it all.” As the conversation continued, it became apparent that he had grown up poor and didn’t think he deserved to ever have more than his parents had.

In the end, for me, it took one loving, beautiful person to come into my life and explain to me my destructive behaviors. To show me how powerfully I was rejecting paradise because of a deep-rooted belief that I was not worthy of it.

Some people may think this is utterly ridiculous. But to someone who has experienced the self-destructive behaviors that reject love, happiness and material rewards, it is all too real. For some, rejection is a way of life – so much so, that paradise is always just out of reach and therefore not even available to be rejected.

The Truth About Lies

AloneWe think we see the world as it is but we see it as we are. And it is through our own eyes, that truth can become corrupted by experience. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too is truth.

That’s why it is so hard to expose lies. But to be free, we must hold truth close. In the end, we are our own evidence.

Victims of abuse so often find themselves in a conspiracy of denial. Those involved rearrange the facts and revise their memories to fit a rose-tinted pastiche of nostalgic fiction. And it is through the cliché of “the past is the past, so let it be” that innocence is granted to the perpetrators.

Those who are witness to abuse can never know the meaning of what happened to the abused with the same intensity of experience. It will always seem a lesser event to the observer.

As a victim of childhood abuse, I am passionate about the exposure of the guilty—whether they are still alive or not. Abuse never ends. It stays with the victims for the rest of their lives. We search for what is not there, in the desperate hope that the situation of absence is only temporary. Sometimes all that we are left with is the emptiness of sadness—that indifferent emotional state that is no longer committed to actual tears.

Of course, we should advocate forgiveness, not retribution. But that does not mean we should accept the denial of the guilty nor a corrupt rearrangement of the facts.

I wrote about my experiences from the perspective of a young child, through the eyes of that child. I wrote my book as a catharsis, but much more importantly to help others. Because it is only by revealing the truth that we can erase the obscenity of deception.

Throughout history, it has only been through the collective assessment of the facts that we have been able to define the truth. And by defining the truth, we are able to expose the lies and perhaps even to end the abuse.

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