“You sure know a lot about being dirty, bad and evil, don’t you?”
This statement came near the end of my time with the work place therapist (WPT) today. To put this into context, we’d just been talking about safe internal places and stuffed animals… We have two internal safe places and both are fairly barren. WPT asked if there was anything that we wanted to take into the safe places… something like a stuffed toy perhaps? A young ones immediate response was that stuffed toys weren’t allowed in the safe places. You see, we are so dirty, disgusting and evil that if we touch a toy, it’s soiled and ruined. She explained that we can go into the toy store, touch them to check how soft they are, purchase the one we want; but then it’s put on a chest of drawers or on our computer desk (with the price tag still on) and left to never be touched again – except for dusting or photography purposes.
To us, this makes perfect sense; but it confounded WPT. He asked if the toys ever get lonely… well, aside from the fact that an inanimate object can’t get lonely, we have lots of stuffed toys. To ensure we won’t be tempted to pick up the toys, they’re placed in groups so they’ll never be lonely. He then asked about HIS stuffed bear… one he’d had from childhood. It was well worn, with an eye missing and some of the stuffing leaking out. What do we think of his bear? Well again, it makes perfect sense to us… his bear is well loved, beautiful and clean (unless it’s really nasty and needs a wash). It’s only when we touch it that it would become dirty. We never touch other peoples stuffed toys, unless forced.
The cause for this thinking could be for a number of reasons – OCD, perfectionism etc… and while I think these are contributing factors, I think the real reasoning goes back to what Katie said in her comment to me in a previous post. She quite rightly, pointed out how flippantly I assign negative labels to myself. I know I do this, and have done so since I was a child. I am/was sensitive, and remember the negatives said to me over anything positive. When I was called the “mistake at the end”, “strange”, “odd” or “difficult”, that is all I hear. I take those words into the system and hold onto them. They define me.
However, the most damaging use of the negative wording, were associated with the abuse I was subjected to. The abusers said that I was “evil for making [him] do this to [me]”, “a dirty little girl” or “a naughty little girl”. When this was combined with the mixed religious messages that I grew up with; it resulted in parts of me firmly believing that they are evil, dirty and anything they touch would be sullied.
We are our harshest critics. We believe we are stupid, useless, ugly, dirty… the list goes on. We try not to make it too obvious that this is how we view ourselves – we learned very early that some people enjoy playing with those who have low self esteem. So, we usually present a façade of calm confidence. We were so good at this during our teen years, that our aunt considered us a stuck-up perfectionist… Our protection system failed us… We’d taken it too far.
Couldn’t they see we were just trying so hard to make up for our dirty, evilness? We had to be perfect in order to try to counteract all that had happened. We had to be perfect to try and ensure that no one would see us…
You have to be invisible
If you’re invisible, no one can see you
No one can hurt you if you aren’t there
This is an enduring message that I have lived with for most of my life. It comes from a young one, and has been one of the driving influences in my life. During my healing, people have tried to point out to me that by being invisible, we are also invisible to those who want to help us. I think this new way of thinking is starting to sink in.
At the moment, I’m getting lots of little pieces of the puzzle of my life being thrown at me. It’s difficult to put them into a place or context. But I am becoming increasingly aware of how they have impacted on my thinking and being. Some of the enduring patterns of thinking are starting to be identified, examined and questioned. I’m both excited and terrified…
And the red dog… I found out today that one of the young ones used to stare at our red stuffed toy dog while we were being abused. She could look, but not touch…
Another reason why we find it difficult to touch stuffed toys.