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The dictatorship of the normal

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

Philip Larkin

 

Yesterday I read the last part of chapter five of Pete Walker's book, about emotional neglect as a central wound in complex PTSD, and I had to cry again. Already in the morning I was feeling more anxious, and I have no idea why. However, I did manage to work a little bit in the morning. Then I took Pete Walker's book, and I cried. I had to cancel my attendance on a call and went to the river, to sit next to it and calm down. I stayed by the river for a while, and then I went home. Slowly the pain turned into anger and hatred of my parents.

I didn't know what to do with this anger. I thought about writing a post for my blog in the form of a letter to my parents - or to my whole dysfunctional family - but in the end I gave up. I really don't want to say anything to them anymore, not to my parents (I've made several attempts in my life, to no avail), not to my brother or sister. I don't have any contact with them, nor do I think about resuming contact.

I thought about my life during my childhood and adolescence. The dictatorship of the normal. There were no values, no ethics. The only thing that mattered was 'What will the neighbours think?' It mattered nothing to me what the neighbors thought of me.

I remember my attempt to refuse Lutheran confirmation (with two years of preparation). I had no interest in this confirmation, much less in two years of preparation, with one afternoon every week of classes of a religion that seemed stupid to me. Two years of at least every two weeks going to Mass on Sunday. I had never been to mass before, and my parents would never go to mass (even on Christmas Eve), as they were not really believers either. Why waste time preparing for confirmation when everything was a lie to me? The only answers my parents gave me were 'What will the neighbours think?' and 'Think of all the money you'll receive as gifts'. And threats. I don't remember what they threatened me with, but I didn't care neither about the neighbours nor about the money, or it wasn't enough to 'convince' me.

Emotional neglect was a reality of my life, of the first 20 years of my life. There was also some arbitrary violence, especially from my mother, and invasions into my intimate space (my mother opening the shower curtain and looking at me, but also both my mother and father entering my room without any warning). I don't know if there was sexual abuse beyond that, and I don't care anymore. I will never know, and really this emotional neglect is more than enough. It was highly traumatic.

And as Philip Larkin says, maybe they didn't mean to, maybe they even loved me, but they weren't able to see me, to see me as the child that I was, with his emotions and needs. They wanted a normal child, fulfilling their ideas of a good child. This was not the case. And they didn't see me as I was.

Then the problem was me. 'When my sister was born, my problems started,' my father told me. I'm sorry, a child of 1½ years doesn't have problems - he has needs. The problems were yours - your inability to address my emotions and needs. Your problems increased, they got worse and worse (and you, Mum, hit me because you were overwhelmed), and with this you added more and more layers to my complex trauma.

The compensation: money. But with a lot of small print.

I don't care about your fucking love anymore, or your money. I hate you. I want you far away, and sometimes I imagine you dead, and I'm relieved. I prefer never to see you again, neither alive nor dead. I won't go to your funeral. I don't care about anything, let alone hear all the people talking about you as 'good people'. I fear the urge to spit on your coffin. I fear the impulse of my anger and hatred. So I won't go. For my part, I still can't forgive you. You're shit, and I hate you.

I've built another life for myself - my life - far from the norm. The last thing I want to be in my life is 'normal', and I don't know what 'normal' would be either. I have my life, I have my friendships, and I have learned, despite your shit, to trust my friends, to build intimate friendships. I've learned to love, outside of the heteronormative. I have built a genderqueer identity for myself, outside the 'normal', outside hegemonic masculinity (or other masculinities).

I have built a life dedicated to justice; social justice, climate justice, global justice, a world without violence and without gender. Without capitalism, and without 'the norm'. My life is lived resistance to the dictatorship of the normal.

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Article | by Dr. Radut