|Unable to Work by David Olère. 131x162 cm, A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, New York.|
Inability to work was often an immediate death sentence. In the background of this painting, smoke rises from the crematorium to form the SS insignia.
"Then for the first time we became aware that our language lacks words to express this offence, the demolition of a man." (Primo Levi, "Survival in Aushwitz" p.26)
Do you ever feel like the words are not in your mind to express the pain you went through as a child? You have all these memories, thoughts, and pictures extremely vivid in your minds eye, yet you do not have the ability to utter a word. From my studies about the Holocaust, this is how a lot of survivors feel about their experience. This is also how I feel about surviving extreme physical, sexual, and emotional child abuse. I have a strong suspicion that many survivors of childhood abuse have the same problem. Words do not accurately describe what we feel. Why? Because, it was the 'demolition' of a child. My psyche was demolished. Among many things I lost my childhood. I lost 'me'. I lost 'all'. "...for he who loses all often easily loses himself." (Primo Levi, "Survival in Aushwitz" p. 27)
As survivors we were stripped of our dignity. We were stripped of our innocence. They took away our very essence. "They will even take away our name: and if we want to keep it, we will have to find ourselves the strength to do so, TO MANAGE SOMEHOW SO THAT BEHIND THE NAME SOMETHING OF US, OF US AS WE WERE, still remains." (Primo Levi, "Survival in Aushwitz" p. 27) (emphasis added by me). For people with D.I.D., they did not take away our name as such, but created many more names. I believe the key to healing is this: To dig as deep as we can until we find our true self...the self before the abuse. Some of us will have to go very far back. Maybe even as far back as infancy. We have to find the 'us as we were'...the innocent child hidden inside. Until we do, I do not know how we can begin to heal. We need to rescue our child. We need to wage a war against our attackers. I do not mean this literally, but as a metaphor. We need to assemble all our inner warriors and defend this child. Here is where our healing will begin. Here is where we will find our innocence and free ourselves from blame. This child will take away our shame. "The truth shall set you free". We will come to know ourselves through the innocence of her eyes. Let your journey begin there.