Every once in awhile, I am confronted with a situation that shows how heavily my abuse affected my psychological development. It is amazing at times how deep these affects are.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a co-worker had brought in a bunch of stuffed animals for us to pick through before she brought them to the Salvation Army's Christmas toy drive. There was a big, plush stuffed elephant in there that really struck my fancy. Why? Because my 20 month old niece really has this thing for elephants, and she really has this thing for really soft stuffed animals.
I wrote about the time, over Thanksgiving, when I held their dog out to her for her to pat on the head a couple of times. Instead, she hugged it and squealed with delight at the dog licked her cheek. This memory filled me with love as I contemplated grabbing this free stuffed animal to give to my niece. Since she rarely gets any toys except hand-me-downs, the toys that she does get that are hers first are a special treat. I know how good this would have made me feel, but in the end I didn't do it.
Because I couldn't stop thinking about what I would then have to get for my other two nieces and my nephew to make everything fair.
This dilemma runs deep with me. I have a pretty close relationship with my nephew, for instance, because we have a lot in common. Also, he was a big part of the reason why I decided to face my own CSA. I have, numerous times, seen items that I know he would love, but then elected to not get for him because I would then have to get something for all of his siblings to be fair.
Obviously, this has started to affect me a great deal, so I mentioned it to my counselor the last time I saw her. She asked me a simple questioin. "Does this seem fair to you?"
My response was pretty simple as well. "Well, duh."
She then surprised me by responding, "well, I don't think it's healthy to deprive your nieces and nephews of such loving gestures."
We then started to talk about some incidents in the past that were pretty important to consider. Last summer, I was playing with my oldest niece, a little girl who is impossible to figure out when it comes to gift time, and my nephew at the park. My niece slipped and fell in the mud making quite a mess. Her leg was all muddy, and she got some mud on one of her new shoes. She was crying because of the mess she made, but we cleaned up her leg. We also were able to get most of the mud off her shoe. Only a very small stain remained, but she kept begging me to promise not to tell her mom (my sister) because she didn't want to get in trouble. I told her quite simply, "I can't keep secrets from people I love, but I promise you that you won't get in trouble."
So we told my sister together what happened, we showed my sister the little stain on her shoe, and my sister replied quite distractedly, "oh well, they're not school shoes."
My niece thanked me and gave me a big hug. She then surprised me by telling me "now I don't have to worry about her finding out."
My therapist told me that is more precious than any gift I could ever give.
Over Thanksgiving, I was playing a game with my nephew when my four year old niece came into the room and asked "what are you doing?"
I responded, "we're playing a game".
My nephew elbowed me and whispered into my ear, "don't tell her that. I want her to go away."
I whispered back to him in a voice that I was hoping my niece wouldn't be able to hear, "I can't keep a secret from someone I love as much as your little sister."
My niece came over and hugged me and whispered into my ear, "thank you uncle Bryan". She then left the room.
Such a small incident, but my counselor again said, "what gift could be more precious than that? From you, three your sister's kids have learned that it is not healthy to keep secrets. That is not only a lesson they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, but it will also serve as a reminder to them that you won't intentionally keep a secret from any of them.
"The next time you feel the urge to get a gift for one of them, do it. Meanwhile, always remember that if you always show them all love equally, each one will grow up thinking that he or she is the one you love the best."
This was a pretty powerful realization for me. I have been depriving my sister's kids of some of the love I am capable of giving in an effort to be "fair" to all of them, and as a result, I have been "unfair" to all of them.
And it is a pretty good excercise for everyday life as well. Sometimes, it is hard to break a secret. I think everyone on this site can relate to that. I have also learned from this site the importance of not keeping secrets. Sometimes, the phrase "give me a chance to tell him/her in my own way" is necessary, but in the end, that is a stage of my life that I hope is over. I have learned that it is better to have a friend who will not keep a secret from me than it is to have a friend who will keep a secret for me, for a friend that keeps secrets for me is very likely to be one that will also keep secrets from me.
Edited by BJK (12/22/07 10:18 AM)
Revenge is nothing more than another way of perpetuating abuse.
What the world needs now
Is some new words of wisdom
Like la la la la la la la la la.
Having a friend who will keep a secret for you is worthless compared to a friend who won't keep a secret from you.