Ecopsychology: Addiction Recovery for a People (pt. 3 of 5)
The best part of growing up is making your own path. The broken world of the abuser, which has only two roles (abuser or victim), would have you either accept or deny its paradigm wholesale. Either you acquiesce to some degree or another, doing the best you can with CFLs and Priuses and accepting the overall will of the abusers (thus becoming one of them yourself). Or you run. You live the happy life with the birds (which will soon be extinct)—in which case, you’re just a victim. It’s like the frickin’ Hotel California. You can check out any time you want, but you can’t ever leave.
I think of Jesus, who came to a place and a time of lots of Either/Or thinking. Should we have Greek-centered or Judaism-centered culture? Sadducees or Pharisees? Capitulation to Rome or armed revolt?
Confronted with all these ridiculous nonsense choices, the Son of God called them all ridiculous nonsense. He struck out in His own way and lived and taught a better life than anyone could have thought of before He came along.
How good it is to follow Him.
It turns out that recovering from abuse is a lot like repentance. It’s the flip-side version of repentance, of course, because you didn’t do anything wrong yourself. (Actually, many abusers enjoy forcing their victims to do things they find morally repugnant. Think Abu Ghraib. For many people whose abuse included these domination-submission games, it can be an entire process in itself just to remember what the difference is between the two. Those of us trying to make do with CFLs and cloth shopping bags know a tiny taste of that insanity.)
But so many things are the same.
In order to repent, an abuser has to change their view of the world to one where other peoples’ agency matters.
In order to heal, recipients of abuse have to change their view of the world to one where other peoples’ agency matters.
For victims, this means coming to terms with the fact that someone really did force them to do something. This is difficult because, while it allows one kind of healing to begin—the acquittal of guilt—it also requires the realization of exactly how vulnerable we are. This is a large part of what makes recovery from rape so difficult—to realize how easy it was for someone to just make you their bitch because they felt like it.
That realization is terrifying. It’s why so many of us cling to illusions of control. It’s why we like to blame victims (“She was asking for it,” “Look what she was wearing,” “She’s exaggerating how bad it was,” etc). It’s why we’d rather self-loathe for being wishy-washy environmentalists than admit that we’re being coerced into doing things we don’t want to do.