Photos used to come with negatives when I was a girl. These were reverse images on strips of plastic film, with light areas appearing dark, dark areas appearing light, and colors reversed.
We would sort through our photos for the best, then resubmit the corresponding negatives for processing, so that copies and enlargements could be made from them.
Instead of storing images as patterns of darkness and light, today’s digital cameras store images as long strings of numbers. Film isn’t, strictly speaking, necessary. But negatives have something to teach us.
Hard on Ourselves
As abuse victims, we find it easy to be hard on ourselves. It’s second nature to us – as if we were specially trained to see only the negative aspects of our lives. And, of course, we were.
We question our every action, criticize our every decision – past, present, and future:
- Why couldn’t we have avoided the situations in which abuse occurred or have prevented it outright? As if children had such options…or such power.
- Why did it take us so long to figure things out? As if abuse weren’t incomprehensible to children, and understanding proceeded according to a set timetable.
- Why do we keep making the same mistakes? As if abuse had not impacted us at a formative stage in our lives.
- How will we ever leave our abusers, support ourselves, succeed at work or school? As if we were “damaged goods” for having survived an unbearable ordeal.
This ongoing critique should not be confused with a genuine effort to improve our character or atone for some sin . It originated as an attack by our abusers on who we are, an attack on our very being.
Judgment has already been passed against us by our abusers. We are simply carrying out their sentence – lifelong punishment for the failure to meet insane expectations, for the unpardonable “sin” of intruding on their lives.
But judgment was passed without any real evidence. Continue reading