Most of us remember Silly Putty from childhood. A silicone-based toy, Silly Putty (trademarked by Crayola) could stretch, bounce, and replicate print images like those found in newspapers or comic books (today’s “graphic novels”).
Once removed from its protective shell, Silly Putty could be twisted and folded into a variety of shapes, and the images captured on it comically distorted. These properties still astound and delight children.
But to abuse victims, Silly Putty offers a caution.
All human beings – abuse victims included – need validation, confirmation that their thoughts and feelings are appropriate, and in line with reality. The need is part of what makes us human. However stoic we may imagine ourselves, we were engineered for connection to others.
When we are denied connection through abuse, our need for validation does not disappear. It intensifies.
Anxious to please, we may become putty in the hands of friends and family – willing to conform to their standards, to turn ourselves inside out, even if not asked to do that. It can become difficult for us to remember what we might have preferred, if our loved ones had not expressed a preference first.
The quality of our loved ones will be tested, in the process .
Most of us seek to comply with the desires of friends and family. Maintaining harmony in our relationships is a laudable goal.
Generally, it is not a great deal to ask that we pursue the same course of action our loved ones do. Affection will often sway us, especially if the choice is not of any great significance.
There should, however, be two major exceptions to this: the first regarding ethics and morality; the second regarding self-esteem. Continue reading