Part of my job as an author is to tell stories that people can relate to, and it forces me to learn new ways to reach out. This is a central part of my personal healing journey, and I’m happy to say that I’m pretty good it. This post is a little more personal – I responded to someone’s tweet lamenting our generations’ challenges with trust, loyalty, and relationships. My response boiled down to: “Of course you’re messed up.” That leads me to something I want to share with all of you on this Thursday afternoon. Practice a little acceptance and self-care today. If you’re feeling a little ‘messed up’ after the past fourteen months, a little bit crazy, hey: I see you. It’s not you, it’s civilization. You’re surviving a world of emotional abuse.
I don’t say this lightly. Forty-plus years of abuse and abuse survival have given me a measure of freeness when it comes to identifying relationships that have become abusive. In fact, you can read these 21 signs of an emotionally abusive relationship. If civilization was your relationship partner, you’d realize very quickly that it’s used aggressive verbal communication, isolated you from others, threatened your children, manipulated you. Current events have bruised and battered you mentally and emotionally, leaving you with symptoms of depression and anxiety that are directly related to your relationship with civilization. Even emotionally heathy people can be sucked into an abusive relationship, it’s even easier when the relationship is everything happening around you.
I don’t know a lot, but I do know dysfunction. Growing up with abuse and dysfunction gives you some special knowledge about survival, threat avoidance, and humanity. They also leave you with emotional ‘scars’ that are really defense mechanisms that easily work against you once you’re out of a dangerous environment. Those PTSD mechanisms that help soldiers avoid death and destruction in war don’t work in a peacetime environment that requires etiquette and protocol. Abuse touches you on a deep, personal level. I’m sure you’ve heard it before: ‘the consequences of abuse can last for years,’ ‘abuse impacts you physically and mentally,’ and how some abuse victims ‘don’t know who they are outside of that abuse.’
So if that can happen when one person is abusive toward you, think about how that impacts an entire society when it’s civilization doing this to you. Think about the systemic abuse suffered by minorities, think about how institutionalized disparities in opportunity and wealth have impacted Gen X, Xenniels, Millienials, and Gen Z. If you start to look at the behavior of society in general terms, you start to understand that many of these erratic behaviors can be explained as characteristics of Emotionally Abused People.
This topic is too big for a single blog post, so let me leave it at this for now: It’s okay to feel messed up. It’s okay if you have trouble completing things. It’s okay if you’re off-kilter in your special, weird way. You are, or were, surviving an abusive situation. Recovering from that trauma is going to take some time, and it’s going to take time for other people, too. Trauma scratches the lens through which you see the world. That’s going to mess you up in ways you never thought possible. When abused people make bad choices, turning them into abusers, we can hold them accountable without losing empathy for them.
So don’t be afraid to recognize it. You’re surviving a world of emotional abuse. The good news is, humanity has survived every horrible thing that’s happened up to this point. It’s going to survive this moment, too. If you need a brain taco, don’t be afraid to ask.