Sunday, July 23, 2006

Psycho World

Last week I watched a show on Discovery called "Most Evil". It was basically about psychopaths, specifically serial killers. After watching the show, I am still convinced my dad is a psycho. One of the primary reasons I resisted facing the truth about my family was that I wanted to avoid this realization. My dad does not empathize with me; I am not important to him unless I am doing something for him, he did not consider my brother's feelings to be even relevant to him, and he derives satisfaction from other people's suffering. He is a liar, a manipulator- trying to destroy people who trust him without any sense of responsibility. This is my dad.

It is uncomfortable, to say the least, to be the offspring of such a person. I feel a lot of sympathy for the families of some of the serial killers in the show, especially their children. I know from experience that my dad is capable of inexplicable evil, and while I do not actually think he is as evil as a serial killer is, in the "right" circumstances I would not put anything past him. He does not have a conscience that prevents him from hurting people, and he shares a very disturbing trait with serial killers- when he sees that someone is suffering because of him, he is gratified and further motivated. Normal people, of course, will feel things like remorse and pity, and if someone, say, begs them to stop, they will usually feel bad and stop. It is hard for me to believe that people are capable of torture, because I have feelings and reactions that would prevent me from doing something like that, as most people do. My dad does not have these kinds of behavior controls. Even though I experienced, again and again, the deep satisfaction my dad felt when controlling and hurting me, actually torturing me, it is still hard to fathom that he did not feel any sympathy or remorse for his own daughter's suffering. I am only human, after all.

It is a violation. Society has certain assumptions about human behavior- people will feel guilty and avoid purposefully hurting other people, parents will feel a sense of responsibility and care for their children, adults will not do sexual things with children, people will not force sex on other people, etc. Of course, these things happen all the time, but that does not make it any easier to understand or accept. I used to worry that I would turn out like my dad, which would make a lot of sense if you think psychos are made, not born. I was afraid to be angry because of the way my dad took out his anger on me. I was afraid I would hurt other people, and not be able to control myself. I feel now that anger is not a problem. The problems are with the way anger is directed. If you address the cause of the anger, and deal with it, that is healthy. My dad never faced his feelings about his dad abusing him, or his mom not taking care of him. He takes it out on other people, and does not feel responsible for what he does to other people. He thinks he is justified because of what was done to him.

If I responded in the same way as my dad, I would be a very twisted person. I am not like that. I have feelings for other people; I do not like hurting others; I feel responsible for my actions. My experiences have emotionally damaged me, though. I struggle to trust people. It is reflexive for me to be suspicious of other people. I do not think about it; it is an emotional reaction. It is not good. It is irrational, and I have learned that if you do not trust other people they will not trust you. I certainly do not want to be a sketchy and evasive person. I am trying to deal with my distrustfulness by being open and honest. My dad deals with it by trying to control everyone around him.

Even though I still struggle with what I have experienced, and my dad and I share genetics and had similar childhoods of violence and abuse, I am in a completely different place than him. He is emotionally stunted and unable to be close to other people. It is as if there are 2 different worlds. There is the one that we acknowledge and expect, in which people have sympathy for each other, follow certain rules of behavior, do not violate other people rights to determine their own destiny, and feel a sense of responsibility for others. In that world, close relationships are possible. Trust is possible. Love is possible. Denial is also very possible. It is hard to feel comfortable and safe in this world with a full awareness that there are people living among us who are not trustworthy, not responsible. One person’s evil actions can pitch us out of this world. It is hard to hold on to that sense that most people are decent human beings. When someone is not a good person, a lot of well-meaning people will refuse to see this truth. It can do a lot of damage to our expectations of people.

Then there is that other world, the world a lot of people try not to see. It is the dog eat dog world. Children are often times ushered in by adults who do not see children as exempt from the harshest sides of life; rather, children are unsophisticated and easy victims. These people see only 2 possibilities- dominated and victimize, or be a victim. Their view is that their victims are weak, and they are strong. It is the victim's fault that they are not strong like they are. This world obliterates compassion.

If you were raised this way, you may have a deep-seeded resentment towards the people who were not exposed to this level of suffering, and shame, thinking you somehow deserved this while others do not. This is made even worse when others, trying to protect their own contentment, turn a blind eye to your painful situation. They just refuse to believe that an adult could violate the rules of compassion towards children. It is simply hard to believe what some people are capable of, and it is easier to blame the victim than to see evil for what it is. Psychos are not outwardly revolting. It is a misconception that we cling to, to protect ourselves, that evil is so different, so other, that we have nothing to do with it. We think that bad people do not inhabit our world, and if they do, we can distance ourselves from them. Psychos are actually very charming. They have to be to be effective. Not even my mom thinks my dad is a bad person. My dad is a very, very bad person, and completely arrogant about it besides. My mom has seen more evidence of that than anyone has, but she still does not believe it.

Of course, the first world of people trusting and loving each other is so vastly superior to the ruthless, selfish world, both for others and for us. Some people choose the second, though, either because they do not believe the first exists and cannot take that leap of faith, they cannot comprehend that world and those kinds of feelings, or they prefer the sense of power they feel dominating others rather than being on equal footing. I do not know where my dad is with that (probably the later), but I know he is deep inside that dark world. I also know I do not want to be there. I want to be as far from there as possible.

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