2016-02-10 by Object of Contempt
This first post is a fairly long dump of how I got where I am in my spirit.
I believe God, and I believe the Bible. That is different than saying I believe in God, which is also true. Looking back, I am aware of God’s hand on me since I was a young boy. I wasn’t raised in a religious family. My parents had been in church as kids and had Bibles, but they were not raised in particularly religious families themselves. The Bibles were still around, and on occasion I would find one and curiously look at the pictures.
Somehow, among all the things I learned about my own worthlessness, I also learned that the Bible was different from all other books. It was an accident. I asked what it was, and was told that it was God’s Word as a matter of fact — no explanation or encouragement to read it. I was told about God once or twice. There was no animosity or discouragement. There wasn’t any understanding either, though. I was taught about a scale that weighed our bad deeds against our good deeds. Heaven and hell were not described in detail, but I knew I was bad because even as a young boy I had been relentlessly taught so. I wasn’t taught about sin, per se. But, I was still bad. I was bad worthless. I was selfish. I was slow. I was a pain-in-the-butt kid. I was a disappointment.
Those messages and more were communicated to me in a variety of ways. The messages were so persistent and strong that they became a part of me. Despite my efforts to believe I was loved and valuable, there was always the same message down in the core of me. But the day I first noticed the pictures in the Bible, God slowly began drawing me along. I didn’t always listen. In fact, I didn’t even start pursuing God until seven to ten years later. Still a boy, and still broken, I at least had a clue where to look for true answers because God’s hand was always drawing me.
I’m not elderly, but I have lived a while. Contempt was persistently placed on me at home. Whereas I was frequently upset with my treatment as a kid, I did not allow myself to see the contempt. Cognitive dissonance ruled me as I tried to prove myself and earn some love. That state of mind wasn’t permanent. Buried deep in my soul were suspicions that I really deserved the contempt. There is no easy way to climb out of that hole. It is an attitude that was visible in the way I carried myself, without my even being aware. Some people, even kids, gravitate to that type of hurting person for various reasons. I disrespected myself in many subtle ways. A man like this will not be trusted, because he might “screw it all up”. He won’t be chosen (or kept) in friendship because he’s “needy”. The friends he finds will generally not be safe, healthy friends who build him up. The work environment will be a place where, even if he excels, he will often predictably but subconsciously sabotage himself… or someone else will. In the end, the shame is non-transferrable. It sticks to the man and the “stench” follows him everywhere.
When a man even suspects he is worthless, he can choose from several paths. He can decide to hide his shame and pretend to be something else. He may develop *disordered or neurotic behaviors, with any number of resulting manifestations. He can be violent and vengeful. He can try to fool others in order to coerce their love and acceptance. Even if all he gets is fear and control, the power of that may be enough. If a person follows this route, they will cause a great deal of pain in others.
(*By disordered, I mean severely dysfunctional in spirit, emotion, character, personality or others. I don’t use those terms with their official psychological meanings because I am not so knowledgeable. They most certainly overlap. I am not able to dissect and discern exactly how. The symptoms and behaviors are part of a spectrum, so a snap diagnosis of “you narcissist!” is not wise, or even likely to be very accurate.)
The second path is to allow “gravity” to take him to the bottom. It’s the path I described as part of my journey. This man will gradually grow in disgust of himself, with despair and depression growing too. Although he may believe all humans are worthy of basic respect, his perception became skewed long ago. He rarely remembers his contributions, successes. The ones he does remember are minimized rather than celebrated because he feels exposed — the way a single tree in a vast desert would emphasize how barren the desert is. Besides, he doubts he could repeat any success. Failures are familiar, and eventually become more comfortable. He may know how to self-sabotage without even being conscious of it. Learned helplessness obstructs his perception. He can’t see how, or even where, to challenge this prison of contempt.
His ability to trust himself is eroded constantly. He doesn’t know if he can ever be thought of as a good man. This person may become disordered, too. He may blame others for his problems. He has given up expecting anything good in daily life. Further, he has given up on his life’s dreams — only fantasies remain. Eventually, he can’t even imagine any circumstance or person that could give him a boost. He has lost hope… and often the abuse continues, especially if the abuse is easily hidden. He may no longer trust anyone, or he may become desperate in seeking someone to simply validate his perception.
If a man discovers the truth about his situations, past and/or present, and is able to see and label them as abuse, he may very well begin that desperate search for just a single person to take him seriously… to watch his back… to be a support. But, men are usually not believed about abuse. Emotional abuse is a concept that is distorted and misused to control people already. And, there are plenty of people who do not even believe there is such a thing. While this man grasps at the possibility of finding a sane friend, the sheer desperation may blind him from seeing that he may well be giving ammunition to his abuser to use in a myriad of ways. But, let’s say that the abuser feels secure in the control of the victim, or for some other reason doesn’t cry “foul”, “slander”, “abusive isolation”. There is a problem that is unique to men in this situation: Christian men are expected to generally be understated in their emotions, never blame anyone for anything (even when it’s accurate and significant), forgive immediately and automatically, recover on their own (*they’ll pray for you, of course, so be warm, filled, and happy!), they are expected to accept even simple/bad advice (since you’re the mess and I’m not, you must simply not know the obvious stuff everyone else knows). The list could go on and on… The result is that the people you ask for help become burned-out, contemptuous, or even bring accusations and abuse of their own down on you. Hopefully you found a friend, too.
(*Believing God means I believe God answers prayer. Period.)
The third path is one I found only recently. I’m still learning about it. It is about learning how my first statement has practical application for my pain. I believe God. I believe he is good. I believe that all my pain will be rewarded fairly. For so long I took it for granted that God had His attentions focussed elsewhere. I realize now that he is watching closely. So obvious a truth for someone who has believed in God so long. It doesn’t make the hurt all go away, but it does give me a peace where I can find a bit of rest. And above all it restores a bit of my hope, which I counted as a total loss.
In the meantime, I will write here so I can think things through, so I can dump, and so I can see patterns of where God is taking me.