Thursday, March 16, 2006
Talking To The Walls, Scene 2
Just Seeking Attention?
Mother: Marble Wall
Father: Stone Wall
Son: Rocky Wall, Age 12
Daughter: Crystal Wall, Age 4
Rocky and Crystal have just come into the house as Marble is feeding baby Perfect and Stone is sitting smoking at the kitchen table. Crystal is upset and seems on the verge of crying as she is asking older brother Rocky, "Why do you do that to me Rocky? I didn't do anything to you."
Marble asks Rocky (not crystal) what Crystal means by that to which he responds annoyed, "Oh she is just whining because I told her she had to stay in the back yard." So Marble turns to Crystal to correct her saying, "I have told you you must mind your older brother and do whatever he tells you, so you need to stop whining about this."
"But Mommy he is mean to me and gets his friends to be mean to me too."
"Your brother is NOT mean he is just taking care of you as he is supposed to and he does does a good job of it too."
Stone then speaks up, "Marble don't keep talking to her about this. She's just seeking attention and this behaviour needs to be stopped."
"He's mean," insists Crystal. He calls me stupid all the time."
"Rocky, did you call her stupid?"
" No Dad," Rocky said, She's just saying that to get me into trouble. She's always making up stories.
" I am not making up stories Rocky. You are."
Stone decided to repeat that back to Crystal, word for word and Rocky, exchanging looks with his father who is clearly on his side in this, joins in. As Crystal is being mocked by her father and brother, she notices that her mother says nothing about it but her eyes are glowing with amusement as she watches them do it and observing Crystal's distress. A little smirk appears on her mother's face. Crystal starts to cry out of confusion and frustration so Rocky, still testing his limits, mocks her some more while Stone just looks amused by her reactions.
"Whiny crybaby," he taunts her, "tried to get your own way and you can't do it can you whiny crybaby?"
As Crystal looks right at Rocky through the blurred vision of her tears, she sees clearly how happy he is to taunt her, and how pleased he seems to have both of their parents supporting him while he does it. Of course back then, she would not have known exactly how to express in words exactly what she saw. That would come a little later in life. So Rocky goes on and on with his verbal taunts and not only do Stone and marble NOT stop him, they continue to act amused at Crystal's frustration and blocked efforts to talk.
Crystal has never felt this alone and totally powerless before but it is only the beginning of this group routine; one she will experience often in the future as her life follows an inevitable path towards being psychiatrized in her late teens for her perception and reaction problems.
After fifteen minutes or so of taunting, Marble decides that's enough for now saying to Rocky, "All right Rocky, we really shouldn't go on with this forever. Let's just change the subject now."TO crystal she adds, We are not going to talk about this any more so let it go."
That was the first "let it go" in a long series of blocked attempts at resolution.
At that point, Rocky looks crystal right in the eye and smiles openly and broadly. You see he and Crystal are sharing a secret.
Back to "the Walls" in a moment.
Recently, I was watching one of the cop shows on T.V. (where I enjoy getting messages) about a man who had been falsely convicted of a crime and a team of forensics cops were taking a second look at this case to see if they could find something that had been missed the first time. The team members didn't know where to begin looking, so the team leader said something like, We start by taking a step further back from where they started to build the case the first time, assuming the convicted man was guilty. I think this was one of those messages off the T.V. intended just for psychiatrist. Let's me see if I can help them get the message.
Now let's look a little farther back in this particular episode in the life of the Walls, and take a look at what actually occurred before Rocky and Crystal came back into the house.
The Missing Information:
Before they went outside, Marble gave Crystal her usual instruction, "Rocky is in charge outside and you must do everything he tells you."
Once outside, Rocky's friend Tommy showed up to see if Rocky could go bike riding. Rocky complained to him that he had to stay and look after her his little sister. He also told Tommy how much he hated her, hated having to watch her, and how stupid she was. "I'll show you," he said.
Then, turning to Crystal who was right there and had just hear all of this, he told her to sit in the back yard in the sun, on the grass, and wait for him to come and get her. He told her she was not to move until he told her she could. He and Tommy then went to the side of the house and "peeked" at her from around the corner about fifteen feet away, while he talked about her to Tommy.
"See Tommy," he pointed out, "she's just going to sit there like I told her to until I tell her to move. She's so stupid that she doesn't even know that I am not going to come back to tell her to move. He and Tommy then laughed together about how stupid Crystal was.
Crystal could not make any sense out of what he and Tommy were doing. But even at four years old, she was aware that no matter what she did, the fault was going to be found to be in her. If she did not obey her brother, her mother would punish her and if she did obey him, she was going to be called stupid for doing so. What Crystal did not know at four was how blind Rocky was to the truth about both himself and her. He was already deciding FOR Crystal what she would be aware of and what she would not, so even though he and Tommy acted the whole thing out right in front of her. Rocky had edited it in his mind to make himself fell "superior" to Crystal. he had decided that Crystal did NOT see his perfectly obvious intent to set her up in an untenable position, as an object of ridicule, that she did not understand what he and Tommy were saying and doing, and that she would not be aware of the fact that no matter what she said or how she reacted, she could not win in a situation like that. She was effectively psychologically immobilized.
Such is the standard delusion in the minds of those who abuse others because they convince themselves that the "other" is getting just what she deserves for not understanding she is being abused. The Circle of self deceit.
Since this pattern began in Crystal's early childhood and she was not "allowed" to tell her side of the story, this became her assigned role in the group. She was constantly told by the whole group that her legitimate complaints were "just" attempts to "see attention" and they also told everyone else, inside and outside the family the same thing. So that is the basis upon which nearly everyone related to her. Most of the instructions on how to treat Crystal were given to others "covertly," then Crystal would find the way others treated her to make no sense.
Because Rocky, in particular, got away with it every time, the abuse escalated over the years and the family's response to Crystal's complaints, or attempts to get help, which were never acknowledged as 'real' were dealt with in a manner that became as automatic as pushing buttons on the family taperecorder. She was invisible to them as a human being and would stay that way under growing pressure from the whole family to deny the reality of herself if she wished to be even minimally accepted in the group. They also involved friends, neighbours and relatives in accepting their definition of crystal as inherently defective, instructing them not to take anything she said seriously. Most of them co-operated with that instruction.
In time, the unrelenting pressure, abuse, invalidation, and stress would break down what fragile ego structure she had left. When it finally happened, the psychiatrist would proclaim her defective based upon the "interpretations" of her given to him by others, mainly her family. After all, the family members would all tell him the same thing so they couldn't all be misunderstanding her could they? It would be the psychiatrist who would finally prove Rocky to be "right" in his opinion of Crystal so that he could feel justified in all that he had done to her over the years, mostly in secret, with the family's support, which only he and Crystal understood between them. No one was on Crystal' side. It was to be the psychiatrist that the family would hire, who would destroy the last vestiges of Crystal's hope to be seen and heard as she really was. The psychiatrist's label would put an end to resolution for Crystal and she would be trapped in the mental illness system for life, completely powerless to escape her fate.
But that was yet to come and Crystal would not see HOW it had really happened until after she looked back on her life and relationships with the kind of clarity and understanding only hindsight can provide.