A few moments spent trying to untangle a knot about some ways people deal with the painful things that happen to them in life.
For a child raised in an angry home, or a cold home, or in a place where little physical or emotional support is given, the options in adulthood may seem limited.
The adult can say, as many do: I turned out OK, all humans have problems, when I stay busy I don’t think about bad things, the past is the past, I’ve made a decent life for myself, people love and depend on me, I may have a temper, and my faults, but I’m basically a good person.
The adult can say: what was done to me was wrong, no child should have to endure abuse, though millions unfortunately do. The parents were perhaps incapable of doing better, but damage was done. On a cellular level, it turns out. Steps must be taken to acknowledge the harm done, identify it clearly, begin to heal real wounds that were inflicted. That the infliction of these wounds was largely unintentional does little to mitigate their ongoing harmfulness.
Some adults will be infuriated by adults who take this second approach. The idea of a person feeling entitled to revisit the wrongs done to them drives them into immediate anger. They may begin, as my father always did, to reflexively compare any complaint to what they themselves have endured and, in their mind, surmounted. This reflex short circuits empathy. The new complaint will always emerge to them as a whine, a cavil, the sniveling of a weakling.
That there are sniveling weaklings who justify their own failings, even brutality, by their victimhood, there can be no doubt. Depending on which side you feel more drawn to, the very words I’m typing now could be seen this way. Of course, unlike the child being hectored while held by the collar, you need not read another word of it, nor consider:
To many people it seems preferable not to dwell on childhood injury. To others, it’s a necessity, attempting to understand and overcome the harm and live a more intact life of integrity. When I get that burning in my lungs during someone’s attempt to bully me, I know exactly why it happens. Many others are not so “lucky”, or lucky, as the case may be.
Then again, luck, I suppose, is largely a matter of luck.