Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Not your punching bag



There are two types of abuse, physical and emotional abuse. Everything can be abused, nature, people, animals, situations, etc, etc. The extent of the damage caused by the abuse varies as it directly depends on how and to whom or what the abuse is inflicted.
Sometimes abuse provokes reactions and triggers positive results, as it forces someone to stand by himself/herself. But more often than not, abuse causes long lasting damages, especially when the abuse is inflicted on defenseless beings (nature, children, animals, etc.).
Abuse is cruel, unkind, mean, heartless, merciless, brutal, nasty, malicious, etc, etc… it leaves deep scars which are not easy to ill or disguise. We often hear or read that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” or “we attain the strength we have conquered” or “turn your wounds into wisdom”. But how do you explain that to a child that is being abused by his own parents? How do we stop that child from becoming bitter and resentful?
When one of my brothers was only fourteen he started living on the streets and with friends that gave him temporal shelter, but he did it out of no choice, since he wasn’t welcome anymore in our “home”.
I still remember how he used to be as a child and I can still see his sweet face trying to give me the strength he did not have. I can recall his weak attempts to mend what couldn’t be mended… I still have nightmares about the day that the top of his hand was placed on a hot stove and therefore badly burnt by our stepfather as a punishment for pilfering.
From the time he was physically and emotionally abandoned by our parents, his life started going down the ditch, he was always in trouble with the authorities, usually for stealing or drug consumption. At the time he was supposed to be nurtured by his family he was instead fostered by the streets… then his values and principles got distorted and his self-esteem was shut down by the fact that his very own parents did not consider him worth of love and support.
When he needed them the most, they turned their faces and lives away from him. They were ashamed and hated him for what he was doing to them; they considered themselves the victims and my brother the perpetrator. They never visited him when in prison or offered him any kind of support, as per their beliefs, he was rotten and getting exactly what he deserved.
All I got from him are good and bad memories from our childhood; we did not have the chance to walk into adulthood together as our paths where diverted by our parents’ choices and actions. So today we are complete strangers, despite my early attempts to keep close. Our lives are different, same as our life approach and values. Life events turned him into someone I would rather keep far away from.
I constantly write about choices and the responsibility we hold towards everything that happens to us, or that no one can cause you any harm without your consent. I absolutely still stand for that, but as everything else in life, even this fact has its exception… An adult do always have a choice, but a child does not!
As adults we have the responsibility to tender for our children, to look after them and nurture them with love and care. We can’t use them as a punching bag to release our very own personal frustrations; we can’t wash our hands from their lives as soon as they turn into a bad corner, as if we have nothing to do with it. We are their guardians, role models and masters; they need us to guide them while walking their way from childhood to adulthood.
I keep wondering how my brother’s life could have turned out had our parents been supportive, loving and caring. He had a good heart and was incapable of seeing anyone suffering, especially us; he was our protector and used to take all the blame to save us from our parents’ rage. He was a very intelligent boy and a brilliant student, whose teachers priced constantly and even predicted a bright future for him...
But things did turn out totally different, his good heart was smashed and his bright future destroyed by the abuses he was constantly subjected to. As a child he didn’t have a choice but to believe what he was told: good for nothing and a burden to his parents. He did try to prove them wrong and alleviate the best he could the burden he was, by working in a factory at a tender age and neglecting what he loved the most: his studies.
But it wasn’t enough; nothing he did satisfy our parents’ resentment, so they kept pushing and pushing until they got what they always wanted –rid of him and blaming him for that.
Until today our parents are unable to see the role they played in his life, they keep asking themselves: “What went wrong? He never saw us stealing or consuming drugs; for sure he got all the bad genes from his biological father’s side!”


© 2010 Gabriela Abalo

21 comments:

Elisabeth said...

Such a sad story, Gabriela, and sadly true. That which you describe here happens all too often.

A child's fragile and vulnerable heart is hardened under the impact of frequent abuse, so much so that they lose the capacity to connect.

Thank you for this poignant post.

Maria José Centeno said...

Mucha verdad Gabi,
Gracias por compartir.
besos

Tag said...

I empathize with your brother's childhood. Childhood abuse leaves anger and self-contempt in its wake. As adults, it now becomes our responsibility to break the cycle of generational abuse. A difficult but necessary task. Thank you for sharing these truths Gabi.

Gabriela Abalo said...

Elizabeth: I know my brother’s case isn’t the first or the last… but is still painful. I just hope that by sharing this story I can bring some awareness and understanding. Abuse isn’t right in any form, and isn’t acceptable, so it is up to us to stop it and break the cycle.

loveNlight
Gabi

Gabriela Abalo said...

Maria Jose:
True indeed...

Thanks for stopping by.

loveNlight
Gabi

Gabriela Abalo said...

Tag,
I fully agree with you, it is up to us to break the cycle of generational abuse. Getting stuck on feeling angry and therefore abusing others isn’t the answer, as we will end up doing exactly the same thing we are condemning.
Hope that by sharing this story I can help others to realize the big task we have in our hands – raising a child is a great responsibility.
loveNlight
Gabi

Kass said...

This was a hard post to read. I wish your brother could be reached - touched.

I have a tendency to let my sadness over this kind of abuse paralyze me. I never struck any of my children, but psychologically, I'm sure I administered abuse because of my choices and spiritual struggles. They will never get over my divorcing their father and they will never know about the nature of the abuse I suffered under him. That would pile abuse on abuse.

Gabriela Abalo said...

Kass,
Thank you for being so open.
Most of the time abuse is unconsciously inflected, as the person perpetrating it is going through their own inferno and therefore unaware that on the process is hurting others.
By nature we are prone to instinctively charge on the ones we love the most or the ones that aren’t able to defend themselves.
Despite the possible justifications we can have for our behavior, we shall remember that we can’t inflict pain to others as a way to release our own.

I’m sure you are a great mother, but if you feel like you have affected your children on the process, then you can always have a chat to clear things out. Talking from the heart from one human being to another is always healing (when done without resentment and/or hostility)

loveNlight
Gabi

Jonas said...

This was a hard entry to read because it evoked memories of too many I have known who were crushed by abuse (either physical or emotional, or both).

Gabriela Abalo said...

Jonas,
This was a hard post to write, to many emotions and tears that couldn’t being contained. The re-opening of wounds that I thought they were healed.
loveNlight
Gabi

Wine and Words said...

Mourning is such a process isn't it? We think we're done, put away the tissues, the sack cloth and ashes...then again we find ourselves covered in gray. I mourn my childhood almost daily, in so many ways, but in that mourning I also seek to relive it, to get it back...and this keeps me young, keeps my eyes open and my heart reachable again. So many of us bloggers have suffered in this way and writing has become another element of our mourning, a necessary one, each of us attending the wake of the anothers innocence.

(Hugs) - Annie

Kirk Jusko said...

The American commedian Louie Anderson was on this talk show a couple of years ago, and the subject of his lousy childhood came up. In his case I think he was verbally abused. Another guest turned to him and said, "You should be glad that happened to you! It made you stronger!" In exasperation, Anderson replied "I don't want to be strong!"

Anderson is a very succesful commedian, and would seem to have overcome his bad childhood. Yet you could tell that it still hurts.

Tag said...

I can see it would be hard to write. You open yourself to the pain with each sentence. Yet I know that you are strong. Of course a burden shared becomes a lesser burden with time.

Gabriela Abalo said...

Annie,
There are experiences that remain imprinted in our soul forever – unconsciously we learn to live with them, which doesn’t mean we are over them.
I try to look back at my past without resentment, as the past is in the past and there is nothing I can do to change it. But I can definitely learn from it and change my now – so that I try!
Writing about it is painful but necessary, it keeps me grounded and thankful for who I’m today.
Sharing it with others is important, as somehow it may prevent similar situations. It may also show others that having a distressing past isn’t the end.

loveNlight
Gabi

Gabriela Abalo said...

Kirk,
It does hurt!! As a small child it is difficult to understand the reasons to be abused… our instincts tell us to trust our guardians, to learn from them and to love them no matter what… but, instead we are just their punching bag, the one they use to release their own demons… How to forget/forgive that?

Many children survive the abuse, but as a broken mirror that was mended, they will always see the cracks on their reflection.


loveNlight
Gabi

Gabriela Abalo said...

Tag,
Taking the skeletons out of the closet does help, but only if it is done with love and respect.
We all have a story, a tale that tells from where we are coming from. We all have ghosts from the past that hunts us once in a while… and it is OK, that is “who we are”!
I’m embracing my journey, my story, my past…. and while I’m do in it, I’m also sharing it with others, no to ease the burden but to encourage others to embrace themselves no matter what…
The past is in the past, move on and don’t become what you blame.

I do love my parents very much, I know they did their best and it wasn’t their intention to tear us down. But, about that I will write later…

loveNlight
Gabi

Anonymous said...

Muy bueno este posting...
but i will ask, does he as an adult has a choice? when does chosing become an option? how are our today choices determined by our early experiences? how to overcome the imprinting of childhood when is brutal ? eternas preguntas sin respuestas generalizables...

lole

Gabriela Abalo said...

Lole,
As you said, these are the eternal questions without general answers. But such is the beauty of life, each of us so different, so unique that generalizations aren’t possible.
Adults do always have a choice, but that choice is determined by the early and current experiences.

I’m currently writing a post about it.

loveNlight
Gabi

Dances With Crayons said...

Dearest Gabi,
I read your blog and my heart goes out to you!
Some of my life is written here, although I made other choices, still made a share of mistakes too. Not sure exactly why or how I turned out to love living so much, because the statistics are scary (a good thing I was not aware of them, then). But I thank angels and god for it all, because I'm here today, celebrating!

With much caring, Love and Blessings,
Jane : )
ps will say a prayer for your brother too

Gabriela Abalo said...

Dear Jane,
Your comment resonates with me very much … I’m too thankful to my Angels and God for standing by my side during the tough times. Somehow they have always managed to keep my hope on a better tomorrow… so here I’m today, living life with joy and unconditional love… celebrating each moment… just like you!
That’s why we need to share our experiences with others, to give them hope.

Thank you for the prayer (which is very highly appreciated) and welcome to the blog.

loveNlight
Gabi

Dances With Crayons said...

Thank you Gabi! After reading your Blog yesterday, and visiting with friends...last thoughts before sleep were about faith, hope and love.
The gift of today and precious blessings we are.
Wishing you a lovely day, thank you again. Love, Jane : )