Feeling Bad for Wanting To Be Loved: Shame in Intergenerational Abuse
Shame and jealousy go together in ritual abuse scenarios. Jealousy is used to make the child feel insecure and shame is used to silence the child. The most destructive kind of shame a perpetrator can create in a child is for the child to feel guilty for wanting the things a child naturally wants like love, affection, and nurturing. It goes without saying that the child receives none of these things in the family home where intergenerational abuse is occurring. Instead, the child is made to feel bad for their naturally occurring needs, wants, or desires. Scenarios are also engineered to elicit jealousy and shame. These set-ups are planned to occur daily so that the blame and shame pattern is continuously reinforced in the child.
I was 4 years old when Mother accused me of being jealous of my younger sister, Allison. “You’re just jealous,” she would sneer. “Daddy loves her more.” I had known for some time that Allison was being sexually abused by our father. I was powerless to fulfill my duty as an older sister to protect her. There was nothing I could do to stop it, and it became another truth about life and my family that I had to dissociate from. Mother’s accusations seemed to come out of nowhere. I didn’t understand until much later that what mother was doing was projecting her own shame onto me, which is something perpetrators often do when they find themselves incapable of dealing with their own shame.
What I felt was grief, disgust, and powerlessness, but I could not show those emotions. I realized I did miss Daddy’s love but didn’t understand why that meant I also had to feel ashamed about it. I needed his love and adoration to survive. He was the only semi-loving parent in the family home. His periodic leaving to go on cruise was always anxiety provoking. He wasn’t home to stop mother from doing whatever she wanted with me. Not that he could stop her, I don’t believe. To enjoy his privileges with me, he overlooked her abuse which in some ways was far worse than his sexual abuse of me.
I knew by the age of 4 that my mother didn’t really love me. She had played too many games and hurt me on many occasions. I didn’t trust her. I was 10 years old when she screamed that her heart was cold to me. I believed her. Mother’s heart was cold to me, and it was because I had never wanted her as a mother. Nothing could have been further from the truth. I wanted her to be a good mother, someone I could trust and who would protect me, not continually set me up for abuse and exploitation. Blame, shame, jealousy, hatred – all these emotions were continually manipulated in me by my mother throughout my childhood. I was shamed for wanting to be loved. I was shamed for wanting attention. I was shamed for wanting to feel included. My entire existence was shameful. Fortunately, a small part of me never accepted this shame. I knew that her behavior was far worse than anything I had ever done.
Shame is meant to bury something within the child and make that thing completely inaccessible to the parts of self that have to operate in day-to-day life. This is the only way a child can function with that much trauma happening all the time. Shame was used to obscure sexual abuse and programming. When I remove the shame and see the abuse that was going on all around me at that time, I see that none of that shame was ever mine to carry. I am not ashamed for wanting to have been loved by people who treated me so horribly. They were my caretakers! They were the ones who were supposed to love me! The love I gave to people who never deserved it is what sustained me through a bleak and loveless childhood. This love is what drives my recovery and sustains me now.
Thanks for reading Love is Never Wasted! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
Love is Never Wasted, July 29 2023