Empty Cereal Box

Views From Inside an Adoptee

April 18, 2006

Power and Abuse

WTF? In California where I live, diesel fuel now costs between $3 and $3.11 per gallon. This weekend we paid $85--that's EIGHTY-FIVE FREAKING AMERICAN DOLLARS--to fill the tank of our 1992 diesel truck. (Okay, okay, I know we should be driving a Honda hybrid. But we do our own construction and repair on our property and it's difficult to haul huge slabs of broken concrete, bags of sand, and ten-foot lengths of ABS pipe in a Honda. I only drive the damn thing when I have to get somewhere I can't reach on my bicycle within a half hour.)

Someone wrote somewhere on the Web that if it pisses you off that you're now paying $3 per gallon during the Iraq fiasco, how are you gonna feel when it costs $5 per gallon when the U.S. begins its invasion on Iran? This is total bullshit. When will people start getting it? When will they figure out it's not worth it to spend their ENTIRE PAYCHECKS commuting to work and back? We have to start weaning ourselves from this phoney charade created by the Reality Corporation and move toward Life.

There. Okay, got that off my chest {crawls down from soapbox}. But the whole smelly lot of it reminds me of a post I read on Peter's blog, Acts of Resistance about the psychology of those in power positions. I'm talking about my own personal experiences starting with my amother, my teachers and principals, religious and government officials, and most people who speak or write with "authority" on any subject. To me those who maintain this charade are all rotten and outdated. Here's an exerpt from Peter's blog:

"Having read other peoples accounts of child abuse I am now aware that abusers often do maintain two personalities. But then isn't that the case with almost anyone in power?"

Maybe it's my innate personality, or maybe it's a reaction to my early years living as an adoptee with a certain amother, or maybe it's a combination of both, but I think the core of my rage comes from being controlled, lied to, and manipulated by those who had power over me, by those who as a child I had to trust were looking out for my best interest. I don't know if all childen are abused, but because they have no voice, they are totally vulnerable to those who can abuse them.

On the one hand I had everything I could want on a physical level. As an only child, my needs were more than met. I was given a home with two parents, good food, a room of my own, pets, music lessons, private schooling, travel, camping trips, and all the things that comprise the "ideal" life in the eyes of those who provide it.

It's just that I never bonded with these people who adopted me (both dead now). While my aparents never fought, there was also never any physical affection in my family. And everything was a big secret: my father's silent raging bigotry against blacks, his affairs on business trips, my mother's infertility, my adoption. None of this ever got discussed.

I see now that their silence and secrecy was what bolstered a type of abuse. When I did something that my amother disapproved of, I got the silent treatment. Now how does that make a child already abandoned feel? If I did something really inappropriate in her eyes, I got whipped and sent to my room. And along with these mild forms of abuse came my amother's double-speak, when she'd say something and mean the opposite in a cynical tone. I still have the most difficult time believing people's sincerity, and it hurts relationships of all kinds.

But the worst was the enemas. Oh shit. Every day I had to "produce" or I got cathartics and soap and water enemas administered in the bathtub by my amother, this huge hulking figure looming over me with an enema bag, its hose and nozzle, like nurse Ratched, only worse because this was the person who was supposed to make me feel safe. Maybe my amother thought these enemas were hygenic, but as a child, I thought there was something horribly wrong with me and I had to be punished. That regular rape-by-nozzle and the cramping and being told not to let it out...

Now I'm not saying that this is criminal abuse. And I'm not saying that non-adoptees don't also experience abuse. What I'm saying is that there was an inherent betrayal at work here, maybe unconscious, but nevertheless insidious and caustic, and it left all kinds of kinks inside me that I still haven't ironed out yet (hence the blog). What is it with the power/fear dichotomy?

It's like rape. The victim may not see it for the crime that it is, or may blame it on him/herself. Rape by a gasoline nozzle or an enema nozzle, it's still rape in my book.

I won't pretend that my abusers were anywhere near as heinous as Peter's. But abuse is abuse, and it must be written about rather than hidden in the secret closet crammed with all the other issues of adoption. I'm trying to work out why, after my amother landed in a nursing home, I refused all contact with her for six years and she died utterly alone. That's not the way it should be.


Blogger Kippa Herring said...

Taking a whip to a child is a terrible thing - no matter *what*. There's NO excuse for it. And daily enemas are just plain cruel, - maybe even vindictive - as well as, I'm quite sure, quite unneccesary. I'm really sorry. Your aparents sound totally fucked. It sounds as if they were taking their rage out on you (I guess that's where the expression "whipping boy" comes from).
What grim bigoted cruel people. I'm quite sure living with people like thathad to have been a constant misery, and done permanent damage. Honestly, I think you've done remarkably, loss, lack, pain, void and all. I don't think I'd have even survived what you went through - let alone what Peter lived.
I'm sorry you had to suffer all that.
No, it's not the way things should have been for you - or anyone.

Blogger Marie Jarrell said...

You would have. It's a matter of survival. You can't let them or it get the better of you. And thanks to the adoption-related blog ring I'm going to keep writing and keep pushing out the stuff that keeps me from being a whole person. Thanks for your input. It's appreciated.

Blogger HeatherRainbow said...

When I read Peter's blog, it really spoke volumes to me, that adopters have two personalities (at least). Like, it really opened my eyes, because I had read a story about how the US breeds sociopaths (due to our culture), and that is their description.

First and foremost, I believe that the first ABUSE adoptees have suffered, is from society, when you were all taken from your moms. That is the first evil, destructive, cruel, vindictive, (every other word used to describe abuse), thing, and everything thereafter is just a continuation of the abuse the adopters started.

All adoption is oppressive against class, some are also oppressive against gender and race. Choosing to be oppressive is a violent act of abuse.

Blogger Kippa Herring said...

I suppose you do know I'm an adopter, Marie.
My name is Legion ;-)

Seriously, I was looking at your picture yesterday (the one of you in your Osh-Kosh-B'Goshy dungaree things, that's posted on your blog), and you look so lovely and trusting, I had an almost visceral sense of the double betrayal you've experienced.

Blogger Marie Jarrell said...

Double betrayal. Hmmmm. Now that you mention it, I guess that's right. And it's a triggering thought. I don't think there's language to describe the feelings that boil up, like images in a horror flick. Now there's something I must write about. Kippa, I think you're on my shoulder, a wee voice in my ear :o ;)


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