My nephew is now three and his take on the world is fascinating. Last week my sister asked him who he thought her mother was. He said, 'Is it Auntie bourach?' She said no. He then thought for a bit and then asked, 'Is it peanut butter?'
Now apart from making me laugh really quite a lot, this wee exchange made me think. My nephew insists on an almost hourly basis that he is 'a big boy.' He's not, he's a toddler, but in his world view he's a big boy and that's all there is to it.
He's about eight months younger than I was when my father first raped me. At the time I thought I was a big girl. As I understood the world I was as grown up as could be. It's only now when I interact with my nephew and niece that I realise just how young a child I was.
His exchange about peanut butter illustrates this very well. His first answer was relatively realistic. I could be my sister's mother (forgetting the fact that she is older than me etc etc). I am a human being, I am female. I am a member of his extended family. So much for reality. His second answer shows that children of that age do not have a realistic view of reality.
How could a child as young as I was understand and process what was happening to me? I only now am beginning to understand just how young, small, little and confused I must have been. How deeply vulnerable a child of that age is. How flexible and unconcrete the world is when you're little. Peanut butter is as good an answer as any.
Instead of building the concrete ideas of the reality of the world, my parents instead undermined completely any sense of structure I had. All the resources I had at that age to build a world that worked were twisted and broken by their actions. What I did instead was to build an internal world, a world that worked for me at the time, a world that made sense of my existence. The problem is that I am still encumbered with this world now. It no longer protects me, it no longer allows me to survive. Instead it causes problems. The world in my head is not the real world and it is a dangerous world for me because it causes me to be unsafe.
Therapy is the way of creating a new world, a fresh existence that allows me to be me - a safe, strong adult. But to get there I have to break down all the edifices of my previous world, the peanut butter world. This is inordinately painful, exquisitely so, for to do this is to break through all the barriers of more than thirty years of living to survive. I resent hugely having to do this, why should I, it wasn't me that caused the problem in the first place? But I am the only person that can fix this, so week after week I drag myself to the serial killers and try to talk. Try to build the real me. Whoever the fuck that is.