Saturday, April 27, 2013

If a victim cries in the forest.

In heaven there is a pastel air-continent where warm enswaddling blankets, soothing lullaby-like (but not Kenny G-like) music, and soft tear-soothing hands descend automatically around you when you enter. This is where you go when you've been assaulted, and admitted it, only to be disbelieved.

Denial is a cruel thing. Like medieval torture. It can often hurt as much as the assault denied.

Because deniers at least (sometimes) start off really seeming like "good people" with "values." Every time you walk around the darn corner just to buy your toothpaste you get blunderbussed by one of them, wearing a sweater vest and a smile, with Gotye Almighty instructions to forgive and forget. And who hates forgiveness, right? (Cause me, I loathe Ghandi. And Martin Luther King, Jr. Ya'll suck, you, you heroes you.) But when these generally admirable people say, "I don't believe you. That couldn't have happened," it's kinda soul-crushing.

And you know there's actually a soul-crushing process built into your lower cranium? (It's like the opposite of an emotional can-opener):

Step 1) Part of you immediately takes the noble deniers' word and retracts inward to inquisition all your pain, asking, "You got that angry? They said it's not that big a deal. You believed this happened? They said he would never do that. He loves me. What's wrong with you?"

Step 2) At the, "What's wrong with you?" stage, the question becomes a statement. And the statement gouges into your being.

Step 3) Conceding you're wrong, you start remorsefully mentally packing up all your now unacceptable hurt and outrage.

Step 4) You condense all that down with the garbage compactor of your mind into these tight little cubes of shame and fear that are magnetized to your soul for the rest of your life.

Step 5) These slowly accumulate more of themselves over time like stalagmites.

Step 6) You live on the dirty floor and can barely move or breathe.

Luckily, knowledge is power. And freedom. Just ask Frederick Douglas.

You can unclinch yourself from the vice-like grip of disbelief with deep knowledge that denial is a reaction to trauma. Hearing that a husband, son, friend (or, sigh, favorite football player) is a pedophile, wife-beater, car-jacker or terrorist is kind of a traumatic experience (except for the football player part; that's just stupid). Alright it's not like getting hit in the face with a bus, but the spontaneous demolition of (or severe injury to) a primal love can wound anyone as deep as a stab to the kidney. Just take the pitiable, grief-stricken musings of Zubeidat Tsarnaev:

While it's probably bad karma to pry too deep into her mindset (and all charges against her son are still, technically, allegations), her sad story is a good example of a prevalent problem: People will actually fail to believe what hurts too much to believe.

This sucks. But if seen clearly, it reveals that denial is not about your truth. And that's the wonderful truth.

Disbelief does not disprove the crimes denied. Nor shrivel the veracity of accusers. No one really thinks those pressure cookers were shooting red crayons.

While trauma-reaction denial does not cover all the myriad miserable ways that disbelievers let survivors down and kick us around, it does often inspire the most decades-of-therapy-and-maybe-even-a-vodoo-doll-or-two-worthy rejections. Like those from Mom, or Aunt Martha or your little brother.

Even if the entire world claims you're lying (or, at best, have False Memory Syndrome), your truth is your truth. And someone in heaven sees it.

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