March 26, 2016

I Had No Idea I Could Be a Murderer

I still get tired of hearing how every murderer, serial killer, rapist, pedophile, robber or gang banger has a history of abuse.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, if you had a history of horrendous abuse there was a seventy or eighty percent chance that you would be so mentally screwed up you would become a murderer, serial killer, rapist, pedophile, robber or a gang banger.

Imagine the mind games that little statistic played with my head.  I literally was terrified that I would one day wake up and be some kind of monster because of what my mother and sister did to me.

But instead of just sitting back and accepting that I had such a high likelihood of becoming the female version of Jason Voorhees, I decided to do a little research about the psychology of human behavior. 

I came across a book I believe was written by Nietzsche.  He explained that we must accept that we are capable of not only great kindness, but also of heinous acts.  When we accept the dark side of being imperfect human beings, we can then become good human beings, because when we acknowledge and accept the bad things we are capable of doing, we are better equipped to fight those urges and choose to act kindly instead.

Instead of saying I would never abuse or hurt anyone, I accepted that while I thought of myself as a very good person, I had the capability of hurting others.  So when I felt angry and bitter toward life, instead of being rude and cold toward others and making them suffer for my pain that they had nothing to do with, I choose to show kindness.  If I felt too emotionally drained, I would at least offer a smile, even if it was a weak smile.

It's not easy to look within ourselves after we've been abused and acknowledge that there is a part in our own human nature that can be just as bad as those that hurt us, especially if you are a perfectionist, but in order to heal that's exactly what we have to do.

I knew that what Nietzsche was referring to was accurate because while I had never daydreamed or wished any harm to fall on my abusers, there were times when I felt happy if something bad happened to them. 

I was once bullied by a co-worker, and whenever she had a bad day, or her boss yelled at her, or even if she came to work sick and miserable because she had no more sick days left, I felt happy to see her upset or sick.

Acknowledging that I felt joy to see others hurting, even if they were not good people, helped me to realize that there was a darker side to my human nature.  When I acknowledged this darker side of my human nature, I realized that it was not the kind of person I wanted to be.  I did not want to feel joy to see another human being hurting even if they weren’t very good people.

I had to constantly remind myself that people who are bullies, rude or abusive, are people who are emotionally and mentally hurting that have never healed.  They are lashing out and hurting others in order to make themselves feel better and to feel they are in control.  Because they never healed from whatever caused them to become unkind people they are in a repetitive cycle of needing to hurt others to feel good about themselves.

Feeling happy to see someone hurting was no different.  I didn’t want to rely on the temporary “high” of feeling happy to see someone else hurting.  I wanted to instead learn to understand that they were in pain and instead of feeling joy when they were hurting, to learn to distance myself from them, even if it meant quitting my job and finding a new one, which is what I did.

What surprised me was the look on my co-worker’s face when she learned I was leaving.  She looked sad, and I knew it was because there was no one else she would be able to bully at the firm.  She was losing the outlet for her own pain.

Looking within myself when I was younger and acknowledging that I was capable of hurting others was not easy, especially since I was committed to reinventing myself to become everything that was opposite of my abusers.

Slowly over time I realized that in order to achieve my goal of becoming an emotionally and mentally healthy human being, the opposite of my abusers, I had to accept that I too was capable of becoming them.  When I accepted that truth, I was better equipped emotionally and mentally to ensure I would never become them and achieve my goal.

Don't be afraid to look within yourself and see how similar your human nature is to those who abused you.  When we accept that we are capable of committing the same acts that we were a victim of, it gives us the tools emotionally and mentally to fight to become better and stronger.

With that kind of power you will not only defeat your abusers, but you will find peace and be on the road to a stronger and healthier pattern of healing.

If you’re interested in learning more about the writings of Nietzsche, I recommend The Basic Writings of Nietzsche.

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