I named this blog in response to something my parents shouted at me when I was 21 and about to move out of their house: “What your brother did to you was normal! You’re just too sensitive!” Thus it was described as ‘normal’ for my older brother to violently assault me, to tell me I was fat, worthless, that no one would ever like me; to manipulate, rape me, and destroy my life under their noses. They proclaimed that he and what he did was all ‘normal’ and they were not saying that abuse is unfortunately very common, no to them ‘normal’ meant good, acceptable, right, they way things should be. While to be sensitive was in their view to be “weird” (as my mother had once claimed: “you only think you’re gay because you’re so weeiirrd”) to be weak, immature, childish.
But I reject their standards as cleanly as I have rejected their having any presence in my life. I value sensitivity, I see it as something good, something beautiful, and I know that many wrong, terrible, and ugly things in the world are prevalent, widespread, and even wrongly accepted by large portions of society. Thus in the beginning of my healing journey, I was confronted very violently with the prejudices of my abusive family which stated that nothing “normal” (whether it was actually normal or just normal to insane people) could be abusive, traumatic, harmful, or bad. I had once looked up to my older sister, but when I tried to tell her about my abuse experiences, she would often cut me off, saying “that’s normal,” or “lots of kids did that,” or sometimes she would let out a mocking laugh and then begin some condescending tirade based on this belief and her seeming view that something had to occur every day of my childhood to cause harm. These beliefs go entirely contrary to scientific proof about how the human organism works and responds to violence, intrusions, and cruelty, which does not know cultural bias on what is supposedly “normal.”
Now I’m in my late twenties, and while I accepted and largely remembered the physical and emotional abuse I received from my 18 months elder brother, I repressed my own knowledge of the sexual abuse for a long time. I first started having dissociative flashbacks to the sexual abuse in elementary school, and while it was his voice in the flashbacks (beckoning me to a ‘monkey game’) and we were in his bedroom, my mind still protected me from the horrifying truth for a very long time. I accepted that I had been sexually abused but by whom? I drew a blank for a long time; in fifth grade sex education class, I had to run to the bathroom, gripped with nausea and seeing red after the teacher had laid out some diagrams of the male anatomy, and I continued to be plagued later in life by a severe closeup image of my brother’s intimate part.
I was told for so long that I was the problem, my family members worked overtime to project onto me their view that I was just childish, stupid, and incompetent, not a teenage boy or young adult with PTSD, an eating disorder, social anxiety; they went out of their way to come up with the most insulting reasons for my behavior while they discounted the obvious signs and abandoned me to the wolf on account of their twisted views of what was normal. I dissociated for much of my life–that is how I dealt with things on a daily basis, I would separate everything out, and as my parents finally arrived home from work, I dried my tears and moved on from what had happened to me in the time I was left alone with my brother. But as he moved on to other things (running away, juvenile hall…) and I became an adult, I found that dissociating, turning on/off was no longer such an efficient lifestyle.
Things were disconnected, day to day, and I was so conditioned to just get through everything and dissociate away anything that was wrong that for instance, I learned to ignore persistent health conditions that lasted for a long time; as long as the symptoms weren’t 24/7, I forgot about it. But of course that isn’t really forgetting; at a later date, I would always be swarmed waves of remembrance, of the extreme hypercritical emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of all of my family, about the betrayals and hurt. But there was something I couldn’t access; I had been invalidated all my life, I had been mocked, I had been blamed for what happened to me. I felt that I was locked out of my life, and I wished so badly for someone, some beautiful person my own age to come and validate me, to say that I was like them, not this monster they had brainwashed me into believing I was. But of course that fantasy couldn’t happen.
I lived in secrets, my mind still needed time, still needed preliminary healing and safety before it would reveal the incest to me. Now within the past year it has, and I want to be open, I want to reach into my dissociated memories and pull them into a coherent chain, into one life. I’m making big life changes right now, I won’t be silent any longer about who I really am, I don’t want to hide or put up facades with other people. This is my life, I am a sensitive person and I am proud of that.