Tracing Dishonesty and Prerogative
When I was a little kid…between about four and eight years old, I would go off on long forest explorations all by myself. It was a wonderful place, the place where we lived at that time. The little house (it was actually built to be a cottage) was in the woods, a few feet from the ocean water. Evergreen forests, with birch trees, protruding bedrock, carpets of pine needles, and beautifully rich green moss. The amazingness of this wasn’t exceptional for me at the time. It was just there. It was a gift that I felt and lived, but did not think about.
My home had a less natural feel-good feeling. It was less. ‘Being’ at home was confining. Constraining. A place where I felt uncertain, often alert. A place where I was taught to dumb myself down, obscure myself, blend in to the walls, the furniture, the corners of the room.
Outside I would walk through the woods, across the street from my house, and then through the woods again to the ocean on the other side of the peninsula. I could breathe. I could use my energy, my senses, be in such good communication with all that touched me me and that I touched. The beach with the huge rocks, mussels, splashing waves…and I I could scour for crabs, and snails, and different kinds of pebbles, and shells. My best excursion – I took it only once – was up a rock face nearby. I climbed up the side of the rockface itself. These days people do it with climbing equipment. No one could possibly see me (and my 4-year old friend David who I convinced to come along) then. I had packed us a lunch and we made it all the way to the top. We sat on the huge boulder that you could see from 100’s of meters down. I surveyed the space that was mine outside my house and we ate our lunch.
For so long I have asked myself how, at that age, that excursion, and the many others alone in the woods near the ocean, could and still do feel so…fine for me. I was not trying to deceive. I was also not trying to hurt myself. I was going as far as I could to find freedom. Freedom from a more vicious, more damaging, more hurtful danger.
Today I was chatting with a friend about some of my personal inventory – it’s specifically about honesty right now. I was trying to answer questions such as “what did you lie about as a child?”, and “who did you lie to?”, and “what were the consequences of the lies you told?” Not so long ago I had answered a lot of the questions, and the answers were things like, “I lied about taking candy from my Dad’s side table” and “I lied about how much I knew about the dirty movies in the cupboard” and “I lied about how far I went into the forest and whether I went close to the ocean”.
With these answers, I now realize, I was playing into the trap, the trap that my secret excursions, my ‘dishonesty’ was possibly always about me defying, or deceiving someone, or about my mischievousness. Playing into the story that as children what we do is about obeying or disobeying our parents or authority figures. And into the story that as kids, when we do something we are ‘not allowed’ to do, or when we do something or know something past our age or supposed level of feeling or comprehension it is wrong.
Recently I tried answering the questions again. And the answers came to me differently. The lies I told were lies of omission. I didn’t reveal to my parents what I knew, what I understood, how I felt, or what I was doing. And my decisions and my actions were the prerogatives of a girl like me.
I learned at a very young age that my mother was not protecting me from people that would hurt me. By the time I was three years old I was around a man who I knew I had to be scared of. My mother was not aware of that, nor aware of me, my reactions, or my feelings. She married him. Over the next few years this man would get angry with me if I displeased him somehow and beat me with a bamboo switch. If I cried because he scared me he would also get angry with me. One night, at story time, he tried to smother me with a pillow so that my mother wouldn’t hear me getting upset. I couldn’t breathe. His face was a monster’s. At about five years old I was molested by the boy next door. He walked me into the woods and tried to get me to put his penis in my mouth. At nine years old I was molested by another boy next door, who up until that time I had trusted like a big brother. At 13 I became interested in the ‘bad boy’ that lived nearby. When he found out he took me down to the end of the street and tried to get into my pants. At 14, my 23 year-old swim coach seduced me. He was engaged to be married at the time, but within our first couple of months ‘hanging out’ I would have sex for the first time. Our relationship continued to his marriage and on still for about three years. Soon after that I tried to seduce my driving instructor – he was 29. I lingered after him for a couple of years, slept around a little through high school, university… Lingered after other guys…for the attention…and to figure out what it meant to get control of my life. All of this, like the climb up the side of the rock face, because it was safer ‘out there’ than it was at home. I felt more in control of my own care and my own life climbing up a rock face as a kid. I felt safer risking myself in situations like these than being a daughter.
That is was I learned to feel as a young, young girl.
When I would explore the woods alone, and go on these independent adventures, it was because I was learning that I could save myself from adventures that I put MYSELF in. Not situations that others did.
Up until so recently, I had continued to put myself in relationships that were dangerous, iffy, risky…because I wanted over and over again to prove to myself that I could ‘get myself out safely’. I was “keeping my enemies closer.”
And now I want to change this life.
What does one do instead of create challenges, instead of resolve challenges that one has created for oneself?
Posted on February 16, 2016, in 12-step, AA, Addiction, Adult Children, Alanon, Balance, codependence, Domestic Violence, emotional abuse, emotional sobriety, Gratitude, health, Inner child, Outer Child, Parenting, physical abuse, recovery, Relationship, Self-Care, Teen, Uncategorized, withdrawal. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.