Below is a book excerpt that touches on some ideas of where things can go wrong between parent and child. It sums up a lot of how I've trudged through my understanding of what happened in my life.
Confusion is so fucking boring, and yet it slowly has become a way of life for me. I find that it takes a lot of effort to simply know how I feel sometimes. Working through it is like walking through a daily labyrinth of walls lined with humiliation. I feel like I don't understand who I am to others.
Unfortunately, covert incest is not graphic enough to spell out to others. If only the dynamics were simple enough, based on clear events. Sadly, it seems that the very relationships that my life was based on had undercurrents of strangely communicated feelings. Nonetheless, when the words are missing, pictures of what happened and where the feelings went help a lot.
Here is the excerpt:
In his long suppressed, extraordinary final paper, “Confusion of Tongues” (Ferenczi, 1933/ 1980), Ferenczi did much more than point to adult sexualization of children, rather than infantile sexuality and fantasy, as a cause of serious psychological damage the child carries into adulthood. Ferenczi went further, identifying the complex, cumulative emotional trauma the child who is neglected and/ or abused experiences in the context of the developmental relationship. He went on to describe how parents project their disavowed guilt (and shame) on to the child; and how resentful they were, no matter how well masked, of the child's dependence on them— because of their own disavowed wishes to be the focus of attention and care. He recognized that such parents dissociatively take advantage of the child's instinctive willingness to “introject” the guilt and shame the parent disavows. The child, Ferenczi understood, does this by becoming self-blaming, self-loathing, and self-sacrificing. He becomes the caretaker of the parent, while dissociating the awareness of his own needs, along with his concomitant grief and rage about feeling abandoned and exploited…. The confusion of tongues Ferenczi observed, when the boundaries differentiating adult passion from childhood tenderness are violated by adult caregivers, is one of the grossest possible examples of parental narcissism. Aside from understanding the profoundly confusing, exciting, humiliating, and terrifying feelings of the child who is sexually abused by an adult, Ferenczi points to another layer of trauma involved in such violations: the utter failure of the parent to recognize who his child actually is and what the child actually needs. Instead, the child is sexualized and told that it is she, the child, who has caused the sexualization. This catastrophic misrecognition and misattribution is an extremely destructive and cruel rejection and betrayal of the actual child— the child whose links to her own subjectivity are being destroyed, and replaced by the projections of the abuser.
I'm curious if this makes sense to anyone else. If not, that's okay too. Like I said, I'm used to feeling confused.
Lose the drama; life is a poem.