When I want your opinion…

When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.
I don’t know if my abuser actually said these words, but he surely lived by these words in some form or fashion.
A couple days ago, I saw a meme that said “the most destructive thing I’ve ever done was believe someone else’s opinion of me.” My response was that not knowing that my opinion of myself was someone else’s was more destructive.
Childhood trauma requires that the untrained mind, body and emotions develop under circumstances of a literal Big Bang. Within abuse, the child hears the same message over and over—you are no damn good. Processing that requires a thought process and if you’ve ever seen a child’s thought process in action, then you know that the child will jump to conclusions that don’t make a whole lot of sense except to the child. If that conclusion is left uncorrected, the child will continue to believe it, having been given no reason not to. In childhood trauma, the belief system that develops is not only uncorrected, it’s reinforced over and over throughout childhood.
The ongoing abuse creates an inferiority complex. It creates a feeling of inadequacy, of not being “good” enough…for anything or anyone. This is what abuse teaches the child. Having nothing to weigh it against, having no ability to combat it for lack of other experience, the child develops with these beliefs. Developmental trauma is different kind of disability. It hinders emotional and intellectual growth. It hinders the intangible. Many survivors of trauma usually do not come to know that he or she is limited until well into adulthood. And when the revelation comes, it’s a brand new kind of trauma.
The survivor already trusts no one and suddenly, she can’t trust herself. What is real? What is true? Am I doing this right? No? What’s wrong with my way? Oh, you’re offended? Well shame on you! When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.
Take a look at a scene from Pretty Woman. Edward (Richard Gere) took Vivian (Julia Roberts) to the opera. In the balcony seat there are magnifying glasses. Vivian picks them up and tries to use them. She flips the glasses but they don’t stay and after a few tries, she declares “these are broke. Mine are broken.” Edward kindly reaches over and flips the glasses on their hinge and they stay. Problem solved. Now suppose Edward didn’t care. Suppose he wanted to revel in his ‘superior’ intelligence and never helped Vivian. She would have put those glasses down. She may ask for new ones, but the embarrassment of that would be too much. People would see her and think her rude and stupid. So she watches the opera without the glasses. Would she have almost “peed [her] pants” (Parrots of Penzants)? She would’ve remained ignorant to the workings of those glasses. Now, she wouldn’t have been traumatized by this, but surely she would be upset. If she later found out that they weren’t broken and nobody helped her, surely she would’ve been pissed. Imagine Vivian is a child holding those glasses, trying to make them work. Edward would be the parent. As the parent, Edward would help the child to understand how to work the glasses. The abusive parent would not. The abusive parent would beat the child for not knowing how to use a simple pair of glasses (at least mine would).
When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.
Given this, a child develops a sense of self that is not his own. The self is defined by what the abuser gives. That definition of self doesn’t go away. It grows with the child. And there it is. Me. Given my sense of self, which, in the abuser’s world is no ‘self’ at all and is not my own.
And now I gotta find what’s true. The abuser lied. And boy did he lie big. But those lies have been my truth for most of my life. Lies masquerading as truth. I didn’t do this to myself.
When I want your opinion, I’ll give it to you.