I believe this is one emotion that someone either has or have not. It cannot be cultivated, nurtured and grown. It cannot be developed. Fear tests the person A person either has the capacity to overcome fear or acknowledge it and take the fear invoking action or they cannot.
With other types of emotions which we all experience as part of the human experience, the capacities can differ with the individual. One may have a greater capacity to feel empathy and then act or a lesser capacity for empathy, or grief or guilt these all are emotions that God assigns a capacity for within a person. A person can diminish the capacity and ignore it, but I do not think they can increase what God has given. We judge actions. Actions are often based on emotions not so much on thoughts or maybe equally so. So we should not judge others because only God knows a person's capacity with a given emotion. Only God knows a persons heart, used here as the seat of the emotions.
The way disassociation works, and I think it is a form of shock common to us all, again a perfectly normal response to trauma. The dissociation gradually dissipates as one's return to consciousness occurs. Then comes the anger and decision time -- courage
I knew what had happened was wrong. I was hurt. The whole event was weird. Grandpa had not so visited me before. It was wrong. He hurt me and scared me and said bad words. It was wrong because he hurt me. It is wrong to hurt a child. It is wrong to hurt ME. Then I knew it intuitively. Now I know it intellectually. As I
this I am learning on a feeling level.
Then the anger set in as I lay. I wish he would come back because I would beat him up. This thought and inclination are all consistent with my maturation level at 4 years old. It is also courage, and I had no doubt I would have risen up and beat on him.
Although I am exceptionally bright, I do not know how far off of the chart my intelligence is, and I do not care to know. I don't think it means anything with regard to emotions, although it means a great deal in managing behavior. I was feeling and my rudimentary but developing sense of self and boundaries, which where still at the level of defining where did I end and where did other begin, and thus my sense of self confused, were violated and thus their development was challenged. I emerged with an internal sense of being ugly, and stupid and worthless. These would stay with me the rest of my life until I would be able to therapeutically process the memories which were now beginning to be repressed, and would eventually be completely suppressed through the deeper mechanism of amnesia. So having no idea of what was taking place internally the reaction of my mind, body and spirit to the violation of my self, as well as, the transference of shame from the perpetrator to me, and the resulting since of betrayal, the isolation and loneliness that would remain deeply inside me and remain throughout my life undifferentiated. And the stark terror. All of these were now a part of me, and on their way to the subconscious neatly tucked away by the normal trauma response of repression at the ready to emerge in undefined ways to affect the life of myslef and those who would come to love and be close to me.
Terror how many of you even know what it is other than intellectually, other than the titillating way threat movies lead you to experience in a controlled way what it is. But an element of terror is lack of control. Terror off the chart? Which of you and how many have experienced terror? Terror is fear that is off the chart. By off the chart I mean it is outside of the zone that a human being can comfortably or uncomfortably process ie get past on their own. These are not just colorful words they have specific meanings. The trauma response though is normal to hide the terror from consciousness through repression and later complete amnesia but we will get to that later.
So I did not have to deal with terror as the anger subsided or was also sub directed to the unconscious, This may be a maturation thing. I do know that this internalizing anger has been with me since. And I see it as occurring at this point although it could more easily be categorized as tucked away in the subconscious and turned inward as a process that developed for me with regard to what next occurred. Yes, there was more trauma on the horizon.
Courage? I have it. So the next morning as grandpa had left for work while my sister and I were still sleeping, I arose and immediately and over and over again -- a child learns he has to repeat themselves to get the attention of an adult even about serious things. I told grandma what grandpa had done. I told her grandpa hurt me. I was not shy about this. I told him in a four year old's words that has no idea what sodomy is where I hurt and how I got hurt and well the wholes story of how he awakened me. Repeatedly to the one who loved me and would take care of the situation and of course beat grandpa up so that he would be punished for what he did. Because you are not supposed to hurt people, and if you are hurt as a child you go to the adult who loves you that was not involved and they will take care of it for you. That is the nature of childhood. That is what a child has a right to expect. I knew grandpa was going to get it from grandma when he got home, and then and there I would have done the right thing and I would have been protected. this is what I expected. I didn't realize that there were other repercussions the areas that I described above that would need to be healed, even after grandma set things right with grandpa. I did not know because I was the child it was not my job to know. It was the adult's job to know and to get me the counseling that I already at four years old needed not because there was something wrong with me, but because there had been something done to me.
But Grandma did not fix it. She did not punish grandpa. She did not get me counseling. She did not even check my injuries down there.
What she did do was change. Once she heard me repeat the story over and over. Once she caught what I was saying she changed -- from grandma to the worst most scariest most hideous monster I could imagine at the time -- Frankenstein.
Then, at once, she went hysterical yelling and screaming at me. Something is wrong here, as I stood looking up at her. No time to process this discontinuity. Their terror she was trying to instill in me was not yet recognized. My neurological system had already been stretched out like a guitar string so it would take a much greater degree of fear, of terror for me even to notice it and feel scared. Besides it was grandma not Frankenstein. Maybe she would change back. What is this weirdness?
But she did not change back. She continued in hysteria yelling and screaming about me being a liar. That was the thing, I was a liar. He grandpa was good. He would never do such a thing. I a four year old boy was lying about being sodomized the night before by her husband.
Never did she question, how would I know to lie? How would I at four even think of such a thing that happened to me let alone lie about it? What was I covering. but she clearly was calling me a liar over and over again. This was a cacophony of hysteria as she defended the man who had wronged and damaged me. I was already filled with the guilt and shame that he so lovingly transferred from his psyche to mine and now this..
So her hysteria had not yet reached a level significant enough to illicit fear in me.In a split second that changed as she yelling and screaming hysterically, she grabbed me or rather the object I had become and and a brand new bar of soap. She took me to the laundry room sink. As she bent me over the edge of the sink my legs dangling did not touch the ground the edge of the sink pushing into my diaphragm the air being expelled as she turned on the water and unwrapped the bar of soap, lava, and the water ran over my nose and gagged mouth. Unable to take in any oxygen, the air was expelled from me by the edge of the laundry room sink pressing into my diaphragm, my nostrils smothered by the water and my mouth expanded beyond the size that was useful to me by the soap and itself smothered by the water, I struggled in a life or death battle to fight and flee.Not powerless and yet not powerful enough I struggled for my life held down my face in the water and ramming the soap with my protector turned perpetrator yelling and screaming. Now I was terrified.
The fear quickly reached a level that was beyond the terror of the night before, as I struggled for my life. Until I was no longer able to struggle. I was already in fight and flight mode. Fight or flight mode is a physiological term describing organisms faced with life or death terror. It is not something a human being normally experiences, let alone a child seeking help and protection from his family who loved him. I, unable to break free of this suffocation, this water boarding, eventually entered the next neurological state. After fight of flight is exhausted shut off ensues. In this state an organism's neurological system shuts down as they prepare for imminent death. A death that logically and always follows this state. I took what my body knew to be my last breath.
About eight hours later. This had occurred during morning light, when I came too in grandma's bed it was evening darkness. When I opened my ears and eyes. My sister was talking about the ambulance coming.Grandma went to the door. I felt a twinge of relief as I knew the emergency workers would save me. But that was not to be. Grandma went to the door, but she returned alone. How did she do that?
And so I was "treated." I was treated as if nothing had ever happened.
copyright 2013 Fred Celio