Sunday, 25 September 2011

Is it Him or Is it Me?

I've been around a lot of anger of late. A lot. It's a tricky one. A very large part of me holds myself responsible when people treat me badly. I know somewhere, on some logical level, that that's not true, that when people act badly or abusively towards me, that's their stuff, their responsibility. But I don't feel it. I know it but I don't feel it.

Problem is, what's going on now gets confused by all the past shit it triggers off for me. My PTSD's in overdrive at the moment. Having been with someone who used to beat the shit out of me, and sold me to other men, and encountering more violence as I did when I prostituted myself, I find that anger - shouting, stony silences, aggressive body language, even sarcasm - all trigger that stuff off. I rapidly detach, or get faint and sick. It becomes unclear to me whether the raised voice I'm hearing belongs to the person in front of me, my ex or myself (yeah, I found in the end that his voice became my voice. Bastard.)

I went to IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services) for a while since getting sober, and they really drummed it into me that no matter what, you can't make someone hit you. They are in control of their own fist. I know from my own experience of when I get really angry that I could be violent if I wanted: I just choose not to be. I passionately argue against those who tell victims of domestic violence, of rape, it was their fault. When I think about anyone else on the receiving end of such violence, I can see that idea for what it is: BS.

Yet when it comes to me, I'm uncertain. I guess it goes to show how much I internalised what my abusers told me: that I deserved it, I made it happen, that I should count myself lucky they were so generous towards me (some generosity, huh). Yet in with all the self loathing and the self destruction and the self harming, it stuck. It stuck in my head that I am the problem. I am a big fat fucking problem. I attract trouble, I cause trouble, I make bad decisions, boy do I make some bad fucking decisions. I give out the wrong signals and I make people hit me. I do it to myself.

The judgment I encountered from professionals in the course of the violence has stuck too. My fault! I should just leave him. I don't count anyway, I'm just a drunk. After another talk with the policewoman, I remember saying do you really think I want to go and stand in court and be ripped to shreds by his counsel because with my substance abuse issues, my mental health history and with the way our system deals with victims of rape and domestic violence, I don't stand a hope in hell out there. Even if he went down, at what cost? My shame and my weakness hung out for everyone to see and judge. They would've destroyed me.

And I remember the policewoman saying, what if he does it to someone else? And thinking there's no point even trying to respond to that crap. If he does it to someone else, that'll be his fault, not mine. I'm not some kind of co-abuser, jointly responsible for him somehow. Fuck, I can't stop what he does to me let alone try and step in to save someone else.

I thought then, as I think now, what a broken system. And what a damaging misperception. Yet here I am, four and a half years sober, and trying to work on self care, on not hating myself, trying to put my shattered person back together, and I find a voice in my head telling me that if this person here and now in 2011 abuses me, its my fault! A large part of me still despises myself, still blames myself. Slow progress. My different fragments, the fallout from splitting, detaching through trauma, tell me different things. The voice that happens to be there, the person I happen to be when the triggers occur, dictate my response. My fault - not my fault. He's the dick - I'm the dick. His stuff - my stuff. I deserve to be loved - I deserve to be hurt.

I'm not sleeping which never helps. I feel trapped in the past. And confused, so confused with the jumble of thoughts, with the fragments. Still, I remain clean and sober, so I guess that's progress. The mind / body shit's taking a little longer to shift.


  1. Keep in mind, there's a difference between anger and aggression in the cases of self-defense versus reactive violence. If one's boundaries are messed up, then it might be the case that one may not want to act out to protect one's self versus internalizing it to escape it. It's important to have a self preservation mechanism in place.

    You might like to express it through some kind of martial art that you learn. It would help to center and give you a constructive environment to play with folks in a control and consistent family friendly circumstance.

  2. Follow up comment, it take at least two for a conflict to take place that's both parties fault, but it doesn't have to lead to violence necessarily. When it gets to that point, something else is at play. It's no longer about conflict in any rational sense.