Where the beaten go...


Where the beaten go.

Bonhoeffer, while in prison, said that he was more-free than his captors.  This of course has nothing to do with the body but the mind.  The email about the lady going to the nursing home talking about how she was just going to “love her new room, and the new roommate” had nothing to do with the person she would be rooming with and everything to do with the mind.  Corrie Ten Boom once told her sister to give thanks for lice as it kept the guards from raping them, again nothing to do with the body. 

So where is that you go when you are being maligned and reviled, threatened or beaten.  After a while there is a numbness that comes onto the body and the blows have no effect.  In some forms the numbness of frost bite occurs even to the point of feeling so hot you undress and try to cool down, all while you are freezing to death.  Others being gang raped or repeatedly raped by the same violator tell of a place that they go to “escape” the brutality while their body is being subjected to the violations.  Torture victims in a jungle prison or a dessert will say the same.  So where then, in some dissociate action do you disengage and let the blows fall.  Again, the numbness dulls all.  To what end and for how long and why now and why not sooner or later?  Each time is different, and each threshold is personal.  No one can know as you do. For instance, why snakes or dogs or the idea of bondage or blindfolds would be the disarming feature of a threat.  But until then, even the best conjecture is just surmise and not knowledge. 

In ways not far from decoupage where the picture is placed on the frame and the varnish is applied to the top in a systematic way, layer upon layer.  Always the picture remains, but always beyond the reach, so to say safe.  And yet is it?  What will you do about those that get close to the picture?  Removing each layer perhaps by sanding, perhaps by the use of a solvent, or the surprise of the smell or sound or sight that triggers the memories out of their slumber.  Where do you go then, with the roar and the smell and the sight that will not go away?  Is there a safe place?  You used to use the mind to escape, and now that has been removed as an option, or has it betrayed its trusted role?  Where will the beaten go?  Where will you? To escape.

We can all relate to this in small ways. You know the face you make when the person on the other end of the phone prattles on and on and on about the most banal of things, but you can’t be rude and hang up. Your boss, your crazy Aunt from Cleveland, The manager of your building.  We do this.  You make faces to your friends in the room… That is the same thing.  You go to a “safe place” to “escape”. No one ever told you that it was the same.  Not as dramatic as Bonhoeffer, but perhaps.  You do this with your spouse that is abusive.  Your mother that is demeaning.  Your boss because you can’t get a new job.  Where is this place that you go?  To escape. 

When I am on the plane going someplace it is interesting to watch the people that escape.  Some will put on the earplugs and zone out to music, others will dive into a spreadsheet or an email on their laptops.  Others play games.  It is the same I suppose for me; stepping into pondering the ways of people. To escape.  I find it odd that we prefer to flee rather than to confront.  To escape rather than to defend or fight for our dignity.  To be compliant rather than to face the disruption of change. To escape.

The “fight or flight” trigger happens in us faster than the cognition of it.  We like to believe that we are smart enough to see the danger and tell the body to run.  Science has proven that that is backwards.  It is not at first something we like to accept, but the reality is that we are running before we realize that we “should” be running.  It is so with pain.  There is enough evidence of people that have endured great things that talk of this that we can make some good conclusions.  First is that we have a great capacity to suffer.  More than is desired, by many magnitudes, but certainly more than you would believe for your own capacity.  Ask a woman that has given birth for a firsthand account of crossing that bar.  Talk to an old survivor of the depression of the 30’s about their childhood.  A prisoner that has been released after many years of incarceration.  The common thing is about their capability to endure.  Because they had a Why, that kept it worth the endurance and the challenges. 

So, I am still lost about the where that you would go.  It is a place of hope, or it could be defiance that drives resistance.  It could be that there is a “something” particularly individual for you, specifically that is the abode of the benumbed mind.  Individual. Particular. Specific.  To escape.

When the pain stops, and the bondage is over.  When the suffering is relieved, there is a different kind of pain.  It is a curious thing that severe burn victims are relieved of pain by their nerves being burned as well.  In an odd way this is beneficial.  The problem comes when the healing starts, and the nerves grow back.  The pain of the wound and the pain of the healing are not the same pain.  It is similar for emotional wounds.  The healing of fear to get to a place of security is different than the healing of the torn flesh or broken bones and bruises.  The bones heal, but there may be a limp.  The emotional wounds are far less easily set right.  There is a odd pain that is the companion to it, the cost of the hiding.  You spent the time in the bad marriage and the damage to your finance is on the mend, but the damage to the ability to trust is not healed yet.  It has been a long time, but it is not even a conversation topic yet.  It is in the freezer of your heart. A block of ice, in a dark and cold place.

The curious part is that when you do take out that block and slowly let it thaw, there is a mess.  Sometimes there is preparation for that mess and so that is good.  Here is the surprise; a bill for the freezer time.  It is a large bit of work to have kept that block frozen.  The pain of thawing is one thing, but the bill for lost years is a different one.  Friends that were kept out.  Stories untold. Opportunities lost forever.  Regrets.  These are bills that need attention and are not always cheap.  The strong will own the bill and confront the lender with a plea for a payment plan that will be appropriate.  The still unhealed will ignore them hoping that they will be stronger someday, or they will magically disappear.  They don’t though.  They will be paid one day.  You will be clean one day.  But first you will confront the debt.

To escape, clean this time.  Keeping your emotional health in the forefront of your checklist will help.  Giving yourself time to pay back debts to the lost time and opportunities is freedom.  Not ignoring the problem is an act of defiance that show your strength.  You are getting better.  You don’t need to escape now.  You are current.  You are here, present.  And now, you can give that which you have.  You can be the hope that you needed.  To tell of that place that you went.  To escape. 

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