Pepper’s Ghost, the Illusion of Black Sheep Blaming.
“You act like that baby is a fucking handicap.”
I stared back in disbelief at the words that came out of her mouth. I had just opted out of going to the park with everyone to play bocce ball, and to take a nap instead. I felt like I had not slept in years. I sat next to the round kitchen table starting into the infant carrier that my son was sleeping in. He was tiny, only three months old, I was on the brink of tears or maybe a total breakdown.
I was young. I was single. I was parent-less.I was sleep deprived.I was tabulating the quantitative data I used to believe would one day rescue me.
I sat there in that moment and let those words worm into my brain. They wiggled right in, and laid on top of deep childhood trauma grooves, settling into the layers of the emotional sewage I endured for years. Toxicity wires into your neurological pathways, distorting thoughts and creating maladaptive connections. Bad things happen when you are involved with toxic people.
But God willing, you realize they are pretending. Your vulnerabilities, their playthings. The plastic toy lays broken on the ground at your feet. Thanks for the play-date but I’m not allowed to come over anymore, because all you do is break my shit.
Trauma recovery isn’t some soft pillow you get to lay your head down on at night. I can’t tell you how many times I got somatically angry over having to clean up a mess I didn’t create. This isn’t a letting go or some standard self-help ideology. The recovery isn’t chanting. The recovery is falling deep into the abyss of shadows. It’s battling the nasty critic in your head by showering him with all the love you can muster and then a little more.
I see how the mirror of projection is so hard for people to gaze right into and how growth is not linear. When you project strength, you are going to have to constantly ward off people who refuse to process their feelings or partake in introspect. These people do not logic, they are too engulfed in unprocessed feelings. They are too busy making ammunition out of your vulnerabilities, to fire away at will.
And then one day it tipped, I walked into a therapy session and happily told my therapist I finally cut those people out of my life completely. He said he was relieved. The hardest part for me, or what kept me going back to drink the poison was these people carried parts of my parents. Parts I knew I would be grieving and saying goodbye to. But I had finally seen the price of the ticket was simply not worth the show.