Chapter 4 of Love is a Choice is all about Abuse. Now, if you’re anything like me, your first instinct will be to instantly shut down because of course this doesn’t apply. I was never physically or emotionally harmed in any way, so maybe I can just sit this one out, right? Wrong! After delving into the different kinds descriptions that the authors discuss in detail, I realized that I may not be quite as unscathed after all.
There are 4 types of Abuse that are mentioned in detail:
1. Active Abuse:
” These are physical out-in-front abuses, easy to see. Beating. Battering. Sexual molestation of any degree to and including intercourse. They are no only morally wrong but illegal in nearly all venues…
Active and destructive, but not necessarily illegal, are such manifestations as extreme anger or rage – verbal violence. Shrieks and the irate laying of blame leave scars and bruises that will e felt not seen.”
2. Passive Abuse:
“One or both parents are so preoccupied they are not available to the child emotionally, physically, or both… The ones universally recognized, the ones with the really bad press, are alcoholism and substance abuse. Others may be praised and idealized in certain quarters – workaholism, for example…”
– “Abandonment is abusive, and make no mistake, divorce however amicable, is abandonment…”
– “The parent who constantly brushes the child aside commits passive abuse…”
– “A parent who is noemotional – a Star Trek Mr. Spock type of cerebral person – is not going to fill the child’s love tanks simply because children react at a spontaneous visceral level; the child and the adult aren’t speaking the same language…”
– “A lack of love between the parents is another form of passive abuse…”
– “The parent with compulsions or perfectionism may not force it on the child, but the child is watching as Mom weekly cleans the bathroom tiles with a toothbrush and Dad mows the lawn every three days. The message is there, expressed nonverbally.”
3. Emotional Incest
“Incest in one way brings up the wrong connotations. But in another way, the word’s connotations are exactly right. Emotional incest has of itself nothing to do with sexual matters…Rather, it is an extreme role reversal.
Here is where a loving relationship between parent and child has somehow been turned upside down. The parent’s mind (and rarely consciously considered) is the thought, I don’t care much for my spouse, but I have this child who I love more than life itself. What that statement so often mean is, “My spouse isn’t giving me the love I crave (because both our love tanks are near empty) but I can get it from my child.” The half-person is going to that little person for completion.”
4. Unfinished Business
“Unfinished business is Mom’s or Dad’s business that was never completed. One or both may have some area of their lives in which they’ve always felt discontent. Perhaps Dad feels frustrated and sexually unfulfilled in his marriage. As he views marriage and his life he gets this this tremendous sense of uselessness, of lack….Unless he makes peace with that…without intending to do so he may well hand that frustration down to his sons and daughters”.
I never knew that abuse actually had a place in my life, but after reading these descriptions, I definitely experienced some emotional damage upon reflection. Having an absent father was a form of passive abuse, and my single mother definitely attempted to make me the center of her world (emotional incest). It actually explains a lot about my current mindsets and personality traits. Abuse may sound “harsh” but unless it is addressed in such a way, one may never realize just how deeply our wounds travel, and how crucial it is to get help or begin recovery.
Truth is hard sometimes, and placing any kind of criticism on the people who cared for and raised us can be a difficult thing. But everyone is human, prone to messing up here and there, including your Mom and Dad! Mistakes are to be expected. It is okay to admit that fact as long as it is accompanied with heaping piles of grace. Even with these realizations, it does not demean the love that was given; it simply brings to light the need for further introspection that could ultimately bring much peace for yourself and for the future generations of your family.
So, dear friends, is it possible that there may be some wounds that you need to open in order to bring fuller healing to your life? If so, know that you are not alone by any means, and that accepting these (oftentimes harsh) realities is the first step to a better life. Persevere through that dark tunnel, and freedom will be waiting on the other side.