Saturday, November 22, 2014

Now That It's OK To Do ... Murder, That Is ...

I just completed an interview, as part of research into the effect that working with people who have been traumatized has on you in the role of helper, and am a little traumatized from the experience itself. To be fair, the interview was only done after a warning that the subjects discussed might cause distress, and I gave fully informed consent.

As the questions rolled by about how I, in my role, deal with various aspects of trauma as experienced by those I serve, I began thinking about a young man I met in an abuse prevention class about a year ago. Even though it's a long time since, I remember him, everything about him, and everything about the encounter.

We were well into the class when he stated that there was all different kinds of abuse. He asserted that he'd never been hit, that he'd never be touched when he didn't want to be touched. But, he said, when his mom told him that she wished she had aborted him, or, now that it was OK to do, killed him when he was younger, that was abuse too. The whole class stopped. He began crying.

This moment was so at odds with who I saw when he came into the training. He looked like a typical twenty year old, wore cool clothes, seemed comfortable in his own skin and flirted outrageously with the girls, who responded with jokes and affection. He was liked. By his peers. He was liked. At a glance, the picture of a young and happy man.

Afterwards, when we talked together, I discovered that he was a young and happy man, who's soul had been battered and bruised. He knows he's not wanted. He knows that his family wishes him dead. He knows these things. "Sometimes, when I'm having fun with my friends, when we're laughing and all, it comes. I go kind of numb and it feels like I'm alone in the dark."

"Why is it OK for parents to kill their kids with disabilities now?" he asked.

"It isn't," I said, and he looked at me as if I just didn't understand the world I lived in. I insisted several times in several ways that "It isn't OK."

We made several agreements. I was allowed to tell his support team that he'd like to have some counselling around suicide and depression. I was allowed to write about this, cause he wanted people to know what it felt like to know, absolutely know, that in another time and another place he would not have been allowed to exist. That his mother would have killed him, that society would have approved.

As I answered the questions in the interview, all I could think about was him. And about how hard it was for me to get on a plane and leave. And about how hard it was to have stood so close to his pain that I could feel it echo in my heart. And about how, sometimes, it all just seems so difficult. I see, increasingly every day, the value of people with intellectual disabilities and yet I see, every day, reports of violence and murder targeted towards them.

And I know it's not OK.

Really, I know it's not OK.

But that doesn' help him.

And it doesn't help me either.

I finished the interview, I was honest about the fact that sometimes the pain of others is difficult to hear and difficult to forget and difficult to move on from. I think I surprised them by saying that having a disability made it harder. I was asked why. All I could think to say was ...

"Because, I know, they'd kill me too."

"Can you explain what you mean by that?"

"That's the problem, I can't."


Anonymous said...

It is not just those who have disabilities who hear this.

I have a friend whose cousin has been quite clear to her son that she wishes she had never had him - she would have preferred a career to having a child and needing to take care of him.

As a Catholic, abortion was not an option but apparently telling her child she is sorry it wasn't is. There are no laws about killing your child's spirit so that is what she has done.

The son is now in his 30s and so many of his decisions have been a result of his mother's mental abuse.

Anonymous said...

As a very young child (5 yrs), I had something similar said to me by my Mom. After seperating from my father- she stated..."If I had of known your father and I were going to divorce, we never would have adopted you." Those words still sting today, 37 years later. I was a baby who wasn't wanted but yet, loved enough for some reason to be given the opportunity to live. I was adopted out- coined as a "difficult baby" with my crossed eyes and crooked jaw. It's hard growing up, knowing you weren't wanted by your 'first' mother; it's also so hard to know that the family you would grow into adulthood with...also found you to be a burden. I spent my life feeling like I was all I had. Although, I had family. I can relate to this young man on some level. It is a very sad place to be, it makes you feel so empty inside. Today, as through most of my life. I have always found it easier to relate to those who were in the minority, who were different from everyone else, who always felt like they were on the outside looking in.
Today, I am happy. Time did not heal the pain that those words inflicted. I healed, I moved on. I learned that all I had in this world was ME. I was responsible for ME. I would always have MY back and the backs of others who too, were unwanted.

Liz McLennan said...

This post and the ensuing comments have been a "whoosh" to the gut this morning. I don't know how I am still stunned by the awful things that parents do/say to children or we, as humans to other humans, but I am.

How my heart aches for all of you.

Mardra said...

Hey, yeah...
SO, since you moderate comments, I'm going to share that I wrote about this this week, too. In its way. Take a look if you like and I'm not meaning this as an advertisement for me but a reach out to you, so I am totally cool with you not posting this comment if you feel it isn't appropriate.
Here's the link :