From Ariel Leve’s 2016 memoir, An Abbreviated Life:
He tells me that scientists have found connections between children who are psychologically abused and permanent changes in the brain. We are discussing the neurological effects when a child’s rational responses are continually invalidated.
“The coping mechanisms that were adaptive in childhood become maladaptive as an adult.”
He gives an example.
“When you have an erratic, unpredictable, and aggressive parent, a child will detect signs and know when not to say something or know when to hide, so a threat-detecting sense begins to emerge early on. In the end, it wires the individual to be acutely aware and highly reactive to perceived threats.”
The times I remember my mother most at peace is when she would stand without moving, unaware of passing time, reading or rereading passages from a book she’d picked off the shelf. Words were liberation from the frantic world she occupied. She could lose herself temporarily in the sanctuary of the lyricism. Unlike people, words were always enough.
I did not hate my mother. I feared her. I feared her destroying my life. I feared her lies would turn others against me. I feared the incessant and unending conflict I would be forced to engage in with someone who couldn’t see past her own reality.