At what point…

At what point did I become better than those around me at abusing this mind, body and soul?

Sitting alone


34 thoughts on “At what point…

  1. If I understand your post, I am so sorry you experience this. …I often ask how. How was/am I capable of doing those unspeakable things to myself? If I did them to someone else, I would be in jail.

    Please take care.

    • Hi rl,

      I really should have given some context to this question, shouldn’t I?

      What I meant, is that over time I became my worst abuser… My self-esteem was knocked down, and then I continued to knock it down through my self-depreciative internal talk. I was confused spiritually, and now the messages I hold are so confused, that it’s difficult to work through them. There became a time when the psychological abuse was internalised to the point where the fear of it was enough to start the repercussions.

      So today, after a really stressful weekend, I wondered at what point I started to take over the role of hurting myself. I know that it began as a form of control, and to try to correct behaviour that could never be correct… that it was a form of protection. But now it’s become controlling and negative to the point where the impact on my life is too great.

      In many ways, the question is moot. But a part of me wondered…

      In many ways, the question is dangerous… it could lead to blaming parts of the system, and that is wrong. There’s a difference between taking responsibility, accountability and blame.

      Take care,

  2. I hear you and I wish I had answers. Maybe we do what is familiar? We resort to hurting ourselves because it’s what we remember, like an old pair of slippers, we put them back on because they feel safe?

    Thinking of you.


    • Hi Jay,

      I don’t think there are answers… and as I said, I think in many ways the question is moot.

      I’ve just been watching the documentary Imaginary Witness, and a line summed up much of my current struggles – The need to understand, and the desire to forget. I’m stuck in the need to understand, but I don’t think it is something that can be understood. I was also watching documentaries about the psychology of criminals, and it was interesting how the presenter gave all the excuses why the person was put on the path towards their crime, but also put the responsibility for their crime squarely back on the criminals shoulders. It didn’t matter what their past was like, they made choices – often passive ones, which meant that they ended up where they did.

      Probably not the best of documentaries to watch at the moment 🙂

      You’re right, they are like a pair of comfortable slippers that we put on. A pair of dysfunctional slippers.

      Take care,

  3. I was thinking exactly what you said: probably not a good documentary to watch right now. 🙂

    I’d like to point out that the documentary was about criminals CG. You are not a criminal in any way, shape or form. The psychology of a person who seeks to hurt others and the psychology of someone who hurts *themselves* is entirely different.

    I’m not sure if the question is moot, because it brought up what sounded to me like a doubt about you deserving to be hurt. I heard it as more like a, ‘Why do I feel like I should be hurt?’ which is a question that comes up for many of us when we feel the need to either SI or just tear ourselves down mentally.

    Would it make you laugh at all if I told you that I almost submitted this comment with moot spelled like “mott” as in the apple juice? 🙂

    • Hi tb,

      I’m really not explaining myself well, am I? I know at times that I do think I’m a criminal, but watching the documentaries wasn’t about that. I think it was more about trying to understand. The thing is, that I know why I was abused – I was vulnerable. But that is a scary thing to realise… that I was vulnerable. It makes me think of vulnerable as being weak, even though I know it isn’t. It becomes a contradictory mess as I try to sort through the black and white thinking.

      There are ones who consider that they deserve to be hurt – that is all that they know. There doesn’t seem to be many questions about it at the time, it just is. It’s only afterwards that the questions arise.

      We don’t have Mott’s apple juice over here, so I just had to Google it 🙂 Looks yummy, and not at all related to the legal texts that I was weeding yesterday – which I think is what got me thinking along the lines of legal terms such as moot.

      Take care,

      • You explained yourself just fine. 🙂

        I understand why realizing that you were vulnerable would be scary and I totally get black and white thinking.

        Is it a bad time to ask how Winnie is doing?

        • Hi,

          You asking about Winnie has helped me realise a huge source of tension and conflict… there are ones within the system who are willing to have Winnie euthanised, but there is a fear that it will be done without awareness of the impact that will have on me as a whole. So, it’s complicated… like life 🙂

          Take care,

          • So, was it a good thing to realize that or not really? It is complicated. Am I viewing it wrong or is the concern being experienced within the system a clue that there is caring present? Did that sentence make sense? It just seemed nice to me that it matters to parts that you’re ok. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

            I’ve had to make decisions like this for my pets in the past and it’s never easy.

            • Awareness is good… the conflict is between the emotional and emotionally repressed ones within the system. There is a fear that emotional ones will come back to find Winnie “gone” – very much like pets from my childhood. So it was a good realisation, but difficult.

              Take care,

    • Hi Storm Dweller,

      Self depreciating humour is one of my favoured defense mechanisms. It’s easy to do, but so damaging as it feeds all those negative messages about ourselves. That’s sort of where the question in this post was aimed… we know the words, actions and behaviours that will be the most damaging to ourselves; when we use that knowledge, the effects can be devastating.

      Thanks for the link to your post. I’m sorry that you also use these jabs at yourself… you don’t deserve them.

      Take care,

      • And the horrible thing is that most of the time I shrug them off because I feel they are honest. Thank you for your affirmation. Please know that as an outisder I don’t think you deserve them either.

        • It’s easy to take in those negative messages and use them as a shield, but that doesn’t make them true. We don’t have to believe other people’s press about ourselves. We don’t have to add to that press, by layering it with more messages that we create.

          I was once joking to a work colleague about how my brain didn’t work right… he seriously responded that he’d never noticed my brain not working correctly. He wouldn’t allow that self depreciating humour, and it threw me. I’m used to people buying into it, and adding to it. It stopped me short when he didn’t.

          Thank you and take care,

  4. CG,

    I hope your week has taken a turn for the better. As you know, I don’t know you well at all (aside from your wonderful blogging and responses) … so please forgive stuff I write here as just my own musings, food for conversation, internal or external.

    To speak to your original question … I wonder if you *never* really became better than those around you at abusing you. You experienced abuse, in which select people around you were treating you in a horrific, inhuman way. Dissociation and splitting off functioned to save your life. You had to do what you had to do, in order to survive. We think that oftentimes, people internalize those negative, hostile and even sadistic voices of perpetrators. Certainly, a host of processes can help to create and maintain the negative, persecuting voices within us: how abuse happened, how we were within its context, being neglected and unprotected by others who may have been in a position to help, and responses we received afterwards. But it is hard for me to imagine that you hurt yourself worse than others did. Their actions were crazy and inexcusable … the worst.

    So many of the choices, you did not make. While you certainly have choices now, and can express your initiative, I would tend to feel that the responses you have to so many of life’s events (both positive and negative) have automatic components to them which almost seems to make the notion of your responsibility in the situation moot. Stuff can just *happen*, and responses may come flowing out. Amnestic barriers and “the desire to forget” make it more difficult for you to drive towards the tools and internal states you may need in order to respond to “stuff.” But the last thing I would want to do is blame anyone with dissociative processes for their “desire to forget.” It must be one of the great paradoxes of this work.

    One hope I have for you is that you might be able to keep working on a heightened awareness of yourself, including efforts to identify voices and where they come from. I am with you on the idea that (if I’ve got you correctly) blaming or demonizing parts of the system is not really productive. I was shocked to read a post you wrote in the past in which you were faced with a decision of “which part to give up.” But better internal relations, not being ok with parts harming the body or others in the system or scaring others to death … these I think make sense.

    What do YOU think? Again CG … really tough in an online post to be able to try to speak intelligently about someone else’s life. I think it is risky for sure, so much potential for getting things wrong. Forgive me if I miss the boat completely? I hope you are well, and so much appreciate the knowledge and honesty you put into your posts all the time.


    • Hi Michael,

      While I agree that I don’t have the same motivations as the abusers, I’m much more efficient at demoralising and tearing myself down. I know which buttons to push in order to cause the most amount of pain. That is what I was referring to when asking this question… I’m on the “inside”, so know what forms of self-injury will do the most damage psychologically.

      You’re right that many of my responses are automatic. It is this sort of automatic response which I’m currently trying to understand and slow down. It’s easy to slip from having a reaction to the event, to having a reaction to the part who participated in the event; but that isn’t helpful in the long term. Understanding and healing is the way forward.

      I did have a rather interesting experience with a clinical psychologist once 🙂 I can look back on it now and be thankful that I was able to test my reaction, and walk away. It was so confusing, as she came so highly recommended.

      This question came from one within the system who is sensitive, and often hurt. In many ways, putting it here has been a test of my ability to keep true to the confusion and vulnerablity that is shown within that one line. It’s all too easy to veer off and start intellectualising it, but by doing so, that part of me would miss the message totally. I’m trying to walk the line between the two more often…

      Thank you for stopping by and reading, I always appreciate the thoughtful comments that encourage me to extend myself 🙂

      Take care,

  5. Hi CG,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. In struggling to understand your experience from reading/rereading a post, perhaps I get a deeper understanding. You sound like a real meaning-maker … I can really relate to that. While processing something … even the one-sentence that started this thread, “At what point …?” … can be very complicated and laden with meaning and both hope and despair, you very obviously bring a huge amount of energy to that work and that awareness. As my old Kiwi friends used to say, “good on you” … and not just the ones from Levin. 🙂 I wish you the very best in this work! May your parts be increasingly respectful of themselves and the needs of one another. You all very much deserve that.


    • Hi Michael,

      You’re being too kind… I can now see how choppy my response was 🙂 I’m at work at the moment, so I appear to be in high-functioning mode, but that mask sometimes slips.

      I am a meaning-maker. I need a context and a framework within which to place my experiences. I know that in some respects that is about control, but in others it’s my nature. The question came from a curiousity, but I know that there was pain and confusion behind it too.

      We now shorten it to “good on ya”, or just a nod of the head, or a raising of the eyebrows 🙂 Us kiwis don’t like to expend unnecessary energy!

      Thank you and take care,

  6. CG,

    “Too kind”? Is such a thing possible? Banish the thought! Plus, I think it is *you* being kind … I feel like I’m just barely understanding, but I really somehow doubt that’s due to you being unclear or choppy. Pretty rich stuff. Pretty ridiculous to try to grasp in a few posts. But we’ll give it a try!

    Also, thanks for going easy on me while I’ve made the cardinal mistake of trying to use someone else’s idioms or cultural mannerisms while speaking with them. Preposterous! Now, the only thing I’ve got going for me is an accent!!

    Hm. You’re too kind. 🙂

    Be well!
    Michael (of the mutual kindness club)

    • Hi Michael,

      Considering it’s taken me over 5 years of confusing and difficult work to get where I am, I don’t expect anyone else to understand it all quickly. I always appreciate a different perspective though, it helps me to look outside the limited view that you can sometimes experience from being inside the situation.

      Accents can get people a long way… especially if it’s Scottish or Irish. Why yes, yes I am shallow 🙂

      Take care,

  7. Hi

    Yeah I try to figure out why there is self abuse for me too. This part of my life i find hard to figure out. Self harm seems to happen when i am not there i wake up with burn and cuts. Same with when the bulimia gets out of control i wonder why is this happening why am I doing this. I have recently got this wierd sense of achievement? or satisfaction? with seeing the results of self harm but I dont undertand this either because I feel stupid and pathetic that its hppening.

    I dont have a good understanding of my past or of any abuse so I dont know about that. I am trying to piece things together and at the same time getting overwhelmed with feelings that i am a liar and that its all just crazy and I am making stuff up.

    I have always felt that I am the worst abuser of me. I have created all the bad things in my life, I abuse my own body and i sabotage my own life and make my own bad choices. I would like to be able to say its because of…… but I dont have anything to put in that blank- only bits and pieces of crazy.

    Thankyou for your post.

    • Hi vickilost,

      I used to “come back” to find the evidence of the self injury, and sometimes I still do; but it’s better than it was. I say that to try and give you some hope that what you’re experiencing can change. It took a lot of time, work and mainly trust before it began; but it was worth it. Even now when I switch, I’m not always aware of the shifting, and if I switch in therapy, Allison will ask if there was a feeling or something which was felt just before the switch. It’s another way to try and encourage my awareness of what is happening internally.

      I understand about the sense of achievement… and it’s a scary feeling. It highlights the compartmentalisation that happens within us, where some feel the shame, some feel that it wasn’t bad enough, and some feel a sense of satisfaction or numbness.

      I could be totally wrong here, but I get a sense from reading your comment that there is a great deal of self-loathing and self-blame happening… while we are all responsible for our own actions, if we turn that into self-hatred, then it’s possible that parts of the system feel ostracised, not understood, and unwelcome. This is definitely what happened with me, I looked at all of my past and current actions, and turned that into hatred of myself and parts. In my case, this increased the compartmentalisation, and increased the self-injury. When I became less judgemental of myself, and more accepting, then things started to shift. I’m not healed by any stretch of the imagination, but there is more communication and understanding now.

      We are our worst abusers, because we know exactly what will hurt us the most – we have that inside knowledge. But try to go gently…

      You don’t have to have a good understanding of your past in order to heal… my childhood is still like swiss cheese, and I imagine that it will always be. But that doesn’t mean that I can’t heal my reactions in the present. I’ve heard it said that the more we heal in the present, the more the past is understood. I’m not sure if that’s true, or a therapist trying to make me feel better 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting… although I’m so sorry that you know this pain as well.

      Please take care,

    • Hi bird,

      Wow, I’m not sure if I could handle someone else asking me this question… are you ok with being asked it? I can see how they might be trying to bring your attention to something, so I can see the potential positives; but can also see why it might feel harsh.

      Take care,

      • It doesn’t come out as feeling harsh when my T asks me, but he’s about the only person I know who I would allow to ask it. He is able to present the question in a way that is caring, curious and patient, whereas if I ask myself the same question, it comes out as brutal and impatient. Truthfully, examining this issue usually brings on great upset, but I forget sometimes that I am not/have not been my only abuser, so it’s important for us to be able to lay it out on the table and examine – if that makes sense.

        • That makes total sense… sometimes it’s the kindness and gentleness of our therapists that mean the tough questions can be asked without blame or self-destruction. It’s easy to look at our own path of self-abuse, and concentrate on that, to the exclusion of everything else. It’s not about blaming others either, but understanding where we come from and what drives those behaviours.

          It sounds like you have a really good therapeutic relationship… 🙂

          Take care,

  8. Its hard to feel like your past will always be swiss cheese… I find this place to be in so hard – the place where you dont know which reality you hold is the truth and the inner realities fight eachother. I have no peace with this – I understand the truth is subjective and can be a bit of both – but still i feel this internal war, its relentless.
    Part of the self abuse is I think a release sometimes from this interal war, sometimes its one side punishing the other for telling ‘lies’ about the family, sometimes its something else.
    I still feel that i can’t be DID and that i have created all this and I can’t stop. I don’t know how to make it all stop.. If I stop going to therapy i think i would combust and if I keep going it further rile up the war. I just want peace.
    Peace would be w here I could say I was abused and now I can heal -or -peace would be I had a good family and I am a good person. But I can’t have either of those peaceful thoughts because one comprimises the other. Instead these thoughts collide and I am at war with my mind and body.

    • Hi vickilost,

      It’s not easy, and there’s all sorts of tensions. Part of the system will come forward and share a feeling or experience; and immediately there will be three coming forward to call that one weak and/or a liar. It’s tough, there’s no doubt about it, but it’s also possible to work it through so that healing can take place. I say that, knowing that “healing” is a slow process, and one that seems ever elusive.

      One of the things that I’ve found which helps is acceptance. So I accept that the one who came forward and shared what they did, and I also accept the reaction to that sharing. I’ve found it’s not about right or wrong, because that just solidified my black and white thinking. It is about living with the ambiguity, and understanding where the different parts of the system are coming from. It was easy to be caught up in the yelling from ones saying that others are liars, but what I found important was to understand why they were yelling about the others being liars – were they really lies; was it the truth, but too scary for others in the system to cope with; etc.

      I used to live with what I called two parallel realities, one where I was treasured, loved and cared for; the other was all abusive. I used to think that it was only possible for one or the other to be true. It’s taken me many years to realise that there might be aspects of truth in both of those realities. Sometimes I still go back to that thinking, but it’s better than it was.

      I hope your internal war eases. Are you working with someone you trust, and is skilled in the area of healing from trauma?

      Doubting your diagnosis is fairly common, and all I can suggest is that you look at your life in it’s entirety… when there’s doubts it’s easy to focus on the here and now, but try to broaden that view and see what makes sense.

      Please take care,

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