I was heartened, to say the least, because that piece came straight from my heart. And so does this one, culled from both personal experience and working with drug addicts.
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The Big Lie
The Big Lie
Toddlerhood. Littlehood. Childhood. The early years, the best few years of life. The time when everything is brand-new and wonderful and fascinating. Like discovering toes. And mom’s favorite knick-knacks. Laughing at dad’s funny faces. Laughing at dad’s regular face. Just laughing because it feels good. The time when everything is an adventure. Discovering grass and flowers. Bugs, both alive and dead, and trees. Stepping in dog poo for the very first time. Sun and rain and snow. Especially snow. The time for singing silly songs with nonsense words and playing silly games without any rules. Running and jumping and climbing, but mostly running. A sandbox with a pail and a shovel. Sand everywhere, in hair and ears and clothes and between fat toes.
It is a time to be proud. Learning to tie shoes. Making breakfast in bed for mommy, and even though she doesn’t eat much, she loves it and cries. Building a birdhouse for the robins with dad, and hanging it on just the right branch. It is a time of wonder. Waiting for Santa and the Easter bunny because of course they are real. Wearing beautiful costumes, and mommy’s high heels, and getting lipstick everywhere except on the lips. Dressing up like a cowboy or a pirate or a baseball player. Listening to incredible stories either read from books or told from memory.
Most of all, it is a time of love. Feeling mommy’s warmth and breath and heartbeat when she holds you in her arms. Laughing and squealing when daddy tickles your tummy and gives you piggyback rides. Knowing, when mommy and daddy say, “I love you,” that it is true. Doubt does not exist, but trust does because there is no one else to trust, and innocence does, because there is no one to take it away.
Except for the toddlerhoods and littlehoods where there is little or no love at all. The childhoods where life is full of doubt and there truly is no one to trust. Innocence, the most precious gift to the young, ripped away forever in an instant. The sins and the faults and the angers and the hatreds and the lies and the addictions and the sicknesses and the selfishnesses and the perversions of the parents or the protectors become those of the child. Automatically, by association, by merely existing. Trust and innocence, stolen by words. By fists. By touching where a child knows he or she should never be touched. By neglect and abandonment, both physical and mental. By sick and perverted punishments for simple childhood infractions and mistakes.
And therein lay the seeds of depression and worthlessness and unlovableness and shame. Especially shame, the belief in my soul that I am truly bad and evil, that the simple act of being a child, of being born, of being alive, of being me, is the cause and the reason for fists and filthy names and molestings and abandonments and punishments. The early years, the best years of life, are gone forever because of The Big Lie, “I am a bad child and I deserve it.”
So sad, so pitiful, so heartbreaking because it is all so wrong. A child should never, ever have a sick soul. A child is never, ever the reason for abuse. A child is always, always a victim. Always a victim.
But the child doesn’t believe it.
And as the child grows physically, the teenaged child doesn’t believe it.
And as the teenaged child grows physically, the adult child doesn’t believe it.
And as the adult child grows older, the adult child still doesn’t believe it.
Emotional growth stopped, it came to a shrieking halt, the moment the child believed, “I am bad, and I deserve it.” The Big Lie.
So we walk around in adult bodies with the emotions of a child. We doubt everything, especially ourselves, and we trust nobody, especially ourselves. We cannot give or receive love. We feel empty because we are empty. We feel pain, though, and we feel despair, and we think about suicide. We self-medicate with alcohol and drugs and food and sex and shopping and gambling and a dozen other addictions to hide the pain, to push it away, to stop it for a just little while. But it doesn’t work, it never did, and it never will.
The pain doesn’t stop until we start to un-believe the lie. Until we truly believe, with our mind and our heart and our spirit, our soul, that “I am good, and I deserved none of it.” Only then can emotional growth start again and healing begin.
I know because I have been there. And I have returned. I haven’t regained my innocence because that is impossible. But I have regained my childishness, and I revel in it.