“It's the way the people regard the theft of the apple
That makes the boy what he is. “
Edgar Lee Masters
Nothing makes any difference except the lost love of your family and until you grieve that you can love no other including yourself.
However long I have been at the business of trying to help myself and others understand themselves and their place in the world it has taken that long to understand something about the above statement and articulate it.
Once said it made clear, to me at least, so many things. Central to this is a “tipping point” in the maturation in the family and that is was I sent off into the world stable and “vaccinated” so that I might manage the colds and flu’s of the emotional world or was I abandoned in any number of ways so as even to have the slightest of doubt to trip me up and make me feel that I was not loved.
The great model for this that I have in my own head is the Orangutan. Generally speaking I understand it that the young are attached to their mothers for a good two years at the end this consists of just holding on but the fact is they never let go. Now at the other end of life, of course this consists of nearly all of it, they are pretty much solitary creatures.
Now, of course, they don’t have to “think” about any of this as we do, they do not have to be nurtured or taught about parenting or how to live in the world. But I read into their ability to be these rather serene solitary adults the fact that they where in this “external womb” for two years. That is they were indeed “vaccinated.” That is their innate emotional system (affect system) was slowly prepared, calmly prepared, in stages, for the world.
They where taught first about interest and joy, lots and lots of it; that there could be security in the world. Then they where let lose on the world holding these strong memories. They where not let lose on the world with high levels of stress hormones and nightmares full of fear, anger, shame and distress.
Obviously my point is humans can be let loose with either and on average with a mixture and yes a minority, a minority with what might be called an orangutans’ upbringing.
So humans are different. It takes so darn long for humans to mature. We now know it is not until age 25, yes! 25 that the brain is fully integrated. If raised nurturing the child’s interest and joy the child will develop interest in the world that will lead to a natural separation form the family that will also maintain a healthy attachment.
On the other hand if there was never “love” and here we could talk much about “love” and the difficulties anrond that word. It is difficult as if there is one thing I have learned is that people will defend to the death their “love” for their torturers. For those who in fact can betray them daily. We have all in fact experienced at some level that “Crazy kinda love” of domestic violence.
And as I say this is about “Nothing makes any difference except the lost love of your family and until you grieve that you can love no other including yourself.”
But when we are told we where never wanted. We where a “mistake.” “But for us everything would be ok.” “God never created a more evil creature.” Or we are out and out abandoned for long lengths of time. Or it may be something many cannot comprehend and say “oh how can that be such a big deal?” And what is that? The absent father who continually says he will come to take us to the movie but never shows. Or the parents that are simply “not there” ever, emotionally for us. Let me count the ways. Well, it is a big deal.
Any of these situations are not akin to the mother and child bond of the Orangutans where mutual interest flows. No, in all of these there are a slew of impediments and so there is much shame and all the other negative feelings.
If negative feelings then the likelihood of or a “need” to, or indeed the necessity of doing something. We are physical beings so we are always doing something. So in many of these awful situations above noted there are mostly awful solutions such as trying to runway, fighting back, drowning our sorrows and very often blaming ourselves for the problem which we are often taught anyway from an early age. That is : “We are the mistake” , “We are the problem.” And the essential point here is that for most of childhood the most likely option will be to blame ourselves. It is the one place where we can put it in to words and where people are putting it into words for us. “You are a mistake” and we mimic it “I am a mistake.”
Here is what has become so very clear to me once again. That is I thought many years ago now that I understood what it was to “attack oneself” but I now realize that I believe I had only scratched the surface.
Right now let us for our purpose think of that “mistake” in our terms of our, once again:
“Nothing makes any difference except the lost love of your family and until you grieve that you can love no other including yourself.”
If the reader follows and if not it is my error. The lost love, of course, is bound up in and is the act of naming you the “mistake” or pick any of the other horrors. It is the “thing” the impediment. It is THE SHAME that should be what others actually experience as love and what you see them experience as love. You see others hugged and kissed by their loved ones and you try and wonder what is going on in their brain because the image on their face is not the image you feel on your face under the same circumstances. You are confused and at times enraged. How can you participate in the world? How can you consort with these other aliens? Well, you cannot.
You start school and you stop. You have many jobs. You have relationships and marry but he or she tells you that they always feel that they are “outside”, second to your family, to your “crazy” family.
As one trying to help people the great insight has been how we take “to heart” the sense of “nothingness.” I put it in scare quotes because “to take to heart” is to put it as if we have a choice and it is clear to me that “Affect psychology” is showing us that it is not a choice. That as a child running away is not an option, of course until much later. Running away into oneself is the default position. But why does one do that? It is probably first because one has been made to feel nothing and started to “attack self.” We can get pretty much stuck on “I am bad.” And I need to now be “good” and make do with whatever it takes to be in favor with my care takers. But the burden is great. My entire childhood, “normal” childhood passes me by. I do not learn how to handle my emotions in any “normal” way as I do not relate to other children normally or my own siblings normally. I am often put in the position of parenting my sibling or my parents. The list of things I will do to “please” the family and myself is infamous: cutting, eating disorders, drugs, incest.
Guilt can consume of course. If I am a mistake, if I am bad, then I must be guilty of something. But of what? Of course there is no answer because you are not guilty of anything. How confusing? This can only cause one great feeling of shame? How as it makes you feel stupid. You feel guilty and you can’t find the answer. That is how. But again there is no answer. Then more shame.
A final thought and well known syndrome and that is you will not, you will not rise above your family, for to do so would humiliate them and shame yourself. This would be a betrayal of them and their love. How could you ever then achieve their love if you rose above their station? Of course this does not always play out but as I say it is a well known phenomena and the best explanation I know of for all those Phd thesis’s for which only one copy was made of then lost.
Shame and Humiliation
http://www.squidoo.com/thinking-feeling-doing (Summary of Principles used in these posts.)
Tomkins, Silvan S.: Affect Imagery Consciousness NY: SPringer Publishing Company, 1963.
Shame and Pride : Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self by Donald L. Nat
On Amazon by Brian Lynch Paper Back and Kindle:
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