Content: Heavily emotional. Being labeled heartless is the main topic but I also mention the death of a grandparent and a grandparent complicit in abuse by his silence. Bullying and cruelty goes with the territory of this entry.
The first part of this entry starts here.
I learned I was nothing, expendable and a burden to happiness, all before the age of fifteen. I carried that with me until someone spoke up for me.
In 1985 my maternal great-grandmother was in the hospital dying. The family gathered because it was believed she would pass at any moment. They decided that the youngest cousin was too fragile to see her. I'm not certain about other cousins or my sister. I do remember my Aunty S saying I could go in because I'm heartless and could handle the sight. That's when EVERYTHING changed for me. A man complicit by not stopping the abuse was the person who changed my way of thinking. When I was called heartless in front of my entire family my maternal grandfather spoke up and said, "Don't be fooled by her silence. She has a heart."
Now, why did that mean so much to me? It was his wording. Fooled. Silence. He knew I'd learned to absorb without expulsion. Someone else knew I should scream my head off, cry, beg...BUT I didn't. He knew I was not born with a defective condition affecting worth. Ich war nicht missgeburt. It only took once, a voice from someone who truly knew the horror of what was happening, to stand up and say, at such a critical moment, you're wrong, she has a heart.
A few weeks later I heard by causal conversation that she'd died. My immediate response was that I burst into tears. My mother and sister laughed. They thought it was strange that this person they still believed heartless would shed tears over the death of her great-grandmother. I did cry. I cried in my pillow so they couldn't hear. But see, I'd already been given a valuable gem. Someone knew I was faking it. They knew I was touched by all that happened. They knew I wasn't worthless. Why he only said it once is beyond me. Why he didn't stop the abuse of his children, then the abuse of his grandchildren is up for debate. But what he give me was a gem. My lack of response was a shield, not a sign of being a cold person and he knew it.
If I got nothing else passed down by my grandfather, at least I got that one morsel of understanding. It kept me going for years. I am.. a... living... being ...and I have... a heart. To let a 'nothing' a 'nobody' this information at a critical moment is powerful!!!
In 2017 I understand how PTSD has ruled my life. I understand why I developed skills to absorb horror. I also understand the physical / chemical / biological damage PTSD has caused. My response gauge is damaged. My adrenal glands are damaged from being constantly flooded by the flight or fight mode. Now, I'm quick to jump from zero to fight mode. I have to try to control that, but I understand now and I have professional support telling me once again, Faith, you have a heart. Faith, you are not worthless. Faith, you are not crazy and out of control. You weren't' dead inside as a child and you're not dead inside now. Your body responds a certain way now because of what you endured and this is how to better manage it.
Those are gems that will help me for many years to come.
I cry as an adult. Being perimenopausal I cry quite often. But what of those who don't cry now? Is it possible, and I speculate because I'm not a doctor, but is it possible that those who can't seem to cry are stuck in fight or flight mode, too? Is not crying your fight mode, or is it your flight mode? There's also a reaction to trauma where the person freezes and contrary to normal behavior or training they freeze or don't respond. It's all part of PTSD. When I found out how much PTSD changes body chemistry, I was blown away.
No matter which, tears have no bearing on the condition of a given person's heart or their worth. To be taught this lie through abuse is to cause willful, lasting emotional and physical damage. That's the power of a lie.
PS. My German is not as good as it was when I was younger and spoke to my great-grandmother. We read Herman Hess. Later, we read the Bible in German and prayed in German, but I hardly use it anymore. My heritage is African and German, specifically Congolese and Bavarian.