I went to Bible Study tonight. We were supposed to get into groups and answer this question:
As a child, how did you adapt in order to be accepted or in order to fit in?
I didn’t answer the question.
I fully intended to go home and think about it, but my friend’s 3-year old threw herself at me the second I suggested going home, so I held her, hugged her, and prayed that she would never, ever have the same answer to that question that I have.
My answer to that question is “absolutely nothing.”
Because abused children know that no matter what they do, they will always be rejected.
I have a book called “Broken Children, Grown Up Pain” that talks about the affects of abuse on children and how abused children (often) grow up to be abusive adults. One of the things the book says is that when an adult abuses a child, the underlying motivation is always rejection.
Someone who loves and accepts you doesn’t beat the crap out of you. That just doesn’t happen.
When someone controls you, beats you, calls you names, belittles you, rapes you — they are saying, “You don’t deserve to be treated with respect. You are a reject. You are a loser.”
They are also saying, “I’m taking this from you because I am entitled to it.”
Abusers create an imaginary lower level to place their victims on.
I was placed on that lower level at a very young age.
I was never exposed to anything else and never had a clue that this wasn’t normal and wasn’t ok. I was expected to take the abuse and be happy about it, to be gentle, sweet, loving and submissive in all situations. I adapted to those expectations because I was told to.
I suppose you could say I adapted because I didn’t want to be beaten. I don’t like to say it that way because my personality is to please people, and I would have been all those things regardless of whether I was beaten or not. To be perfectly honest, I think I would be even more of a pleaser if I hadn’t been abused. That’s how much of a pleaser I am.
So, sitting in church tonight, I said nothing.
What would I say? “I got the crap beaten out of me regardless of what I did, so I just gave up.” It would be true. But honestly, no one wants to hear that. Especially not church people.