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Abuse—a badge of shame, or a badge of honor? (Or, NEITHER?)

I was an abused child. It is almost surely one of the reasons I took up law. God knows I don’t have the personality or values of a “typical attorney.” (For the record, that would be “pit bull”, “shark”– cold and emotionless, competitive to the nth degree, and so on.) Even in law school, when they did a personality assessment on all of us, I was in quadrant by myself.

My personality? HSP, INFJ , aka human life detector. Overly altruistic, idealistic, able to pick up on things others don’t, willing to risk my personal   safety when I see someone in need—and especially when my “spidey sense” says there is no actual danger to me. (I have written about one such episode on Quora. In response to the question”what is the nicest things you’ve ever done that no one knows about?”) I have written about some of these adventures on this blog also. Many other examples abound, untold by me. No—I am not boasting. No one knows about these things, so it’s not quite boasting, is it? I’m claiming these parts of myself. Finally. 

I am now claiming some of these parts of me, because I found out  in my 6th decade. that I am not alone, or utterly unique. I’ve become aware that Elaine Arons, PhD. bless her, hss discovered there are lots of us and has done terrific work to help us recognize ourselves, and use these characteristics for our own and other’s benefit.

It has been recognized by many writers that the HSP child who has poor parenting is likely to suffer many emotional issues. I can testify to that. As fate would have it, my HSPness—combined with my mother’s BPDness (which I now suspect to have been HSPness that went awry) I got the designation of the “broken one” in the family. (I had to find that out from a therapist in the 90s. I just thought I truly was broken.)

I am not sure if my obsessive overachieverhood is an HSP perfectionism—yes, perfectionism  is part of it—or dumb luck. But instead of submitting to my own belief in my brokenness, I set about a redemptive path, and redemptive achievement. One of these moves was to enlist in the USAF, where I was no longer bound to my mother in any way. There, I was promoted at the first round in every cycle, and ended up with a Good Conduct Medal—me, who was sent to the psych doc by one of my bosses (God bless that doc  for not crucifying me!). The immature, confused, me that I was, he did not give a destructive label.  He could have.

After that six year stint in becoming an adult land, I msde another leap. enrolling in the law school I have also written about. I not only did that program in the two years which made it unique—I also worked the whole time.  For a whole year, in the UDAF Reserves (no one on those duty weekends believed I really had to study all weekend!!) Later, as a house cleaner for my neighbors/ landlords.

Yes, the school said it couldn’t be done, but using my trusty spidey sense I did it. Luckily for me in several of these decisions (doing was they said “couldn’t be done” – or, say, applying to only one law school) here was no one telling me not to do it. Doings it my way  would have been seen as being “stubborn”—a label I have heard applied to me many times. (I say there’s a fine line between stubborn and determined. It can be hard to know which is which.) But in that journey—as so often– I was successful, so I get to say “determined.”

But having an inner guidance system unknown to the 80% who are not HSP–and a LONG track record of trusting it—can lead to much misattribution by the 80%,  and, of course, invalidation. (Thr bane of my childhood .) Which brings me to the current “crisis.”

Battered women. What do battered women have to do with all this, with me, with my spidey sense, my abusive childhood? Well, I’m glad you asked.

A lot, it turns out.

For most if my legal career I avoided all contentious legal matters. Even back when I was in Long Beach where  there was a decent community of attorneys who all knew one another (and the 2 judges), I knew these ugly cases didn’t work out well. Getting paid was always an issue, and the children were at risk. I never wanted to get into that mess, so I pretty much never did.

As things went along, year by year, I realized I almost always preferred the men in my mediation cases to the women. It wasn’t hard to see why—I knew that much about me. (Nice dad, mean mom.) But after that, I also noticed many of these men were abusees. Yes, you read that right. Abused men. Bruises, major scratches, martial arts moves—knives being brandished. Scratching, clawing.  Manipulation, lies, lawsuits. I saw it all.

Only one man I know reacted when his wife tried to get physical with him, and he is an aikido black bet—and a very manly man. (Sicilian, yet.)  The rest did not. (Do not underestimate the power of acculturation of men with regard to “hitting women.”) Many of these men, I later realized, were married to BPD women—as was my dad. He was usually calm, but  my mother got him to hit her once. Now,  I understand why. Then,  I was just terrified.

Is it OK to hit? Of course not. Do abusees play a role in their abuse? Well, yes, they do. I found that out, too. Abuse is about power and control—and both-or all—parties are caught in it. (Yes, me too. The childhood patterns are hard to work one’s way through and out of–but it can be done.) Now, as I have  found abused women reaching out to me for help, I have discovered I can assist them.

Except when I can’t.

I can’t help the HCP (High Conflict Personality) types. Not yet, anyway–although my extreme ambition of forever-blooming self improvement is sending me off to get the hang of that, too.

But some of the repressed parts if me—the wounded parts I have buried–have now erupted. BLAM.

Anger. You see, there is an entire segment of the politics of “battered women” is HCP and proud of it. They wear their abuse like a badge of honor- and they dismiss anyone who even so much as tries to point out that their strident behavior is costing them dearly. (Any honest attorney will tell you that, and studies have been done on it.) See http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/even-today-an-angry-female-arouses-fear-and-is-dismissed/2012/01/26/gIQAStovTQ_story.html.

A quote: “No doubt Marianne Gingrich is a more forgiving, pious woman than I. But it’s also likely that she’s keenly aware that female anger simply doesn’t sell, that it is regularly used to discredit and dismiss serious and real frustrations by women. In the myriad of personal and professional ways females have achieved parity with men over the decades, freedom of expression is not one of them.”

Se also http://www.huffingtonpost.com/myisha-cherry/politics-of-anger_b_2926891.html

“The “it” that I am referring to is a concept borrowed from philosopher Sue Campbell, which I term the “politics of dismissal.” When a man gets angry, (i.e. Mitt Romney at the first debate and Obama at the second debate), that anger is translated as toughness, leadership, getting serious about the issues. However, when a woman gets angry, her anger is dismissed as passion, hysterics, or irrationality.”

Yep. All true.

Is this “fair”? No. But it IS. It is and women who act this way in court are doomed. (The psychco-spiritual effects of this state of mind aside–and they are quite real also.)

But worse yet, yesterday it hit me– I AM FURIOUS with them—or had been, underneath my armor. (Hiding from my conscious mind.) Furious that MY abuse was invisible and I don’t get to be part of a self protective tribe that would validate me. Furious that no one see MY pain– MY abuse. They call themselves “protective Moms”. (I sure didn’t have one of those.) Alas, they refuse to see that even when the court system screws it up—and they do, God knows they do—their HCP behavior is part of why they are trapped. (See also http://janicelevinson.blogspot.com/)

And I am so triggered by all my bottled up (and so far not fully owned) pain and anger that I can barely even READ their stuff, let alone become effective in dealing with it. And the thing is–they DO need help. And they are not getting it. Oh yes, I shall indeed need to do the shadow work that is now so painfully clear. Yes, I shall.

But it’s messy. And maybe it is my grandiosity that thinks I can actually do something about it. We shall see.

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