No. For those who choose hurtful lovers and friends, pain is neither pleasurable nor the end point of what the seek. Seeking abuse is associated with being hurt in childhood and regarding the pain inflicted as the payment for the hoped-for love…. even if the love does not come, now. There always is a future loving in their mind. Accepting hurt as payment for love makes suffering reasonable. It puts love in your hands if you only finally do “it’ right, whatever the parent’s seemed for focus even if ever-changing. You can blame yourself for failing at achieving it forever.
Our sense of love is shaped by childhood experience.
if our parents often made us afraid of them by words or deeds or both, we tend to feel fear. The odor of fear we exude is a kind of perfume that we wear. Our scent of fear turns the bully on.
Sometimes, fear is so great we are afraid to try to gain love from the negative figure we would adore since punishment comes soon after. Such people may lead a reclusive life. Some seek therapy to help them leave the compulsion to regard pain as the price of love.
It is frequently misunderstood by us and those who observe it, why we chase people who make us afraid. We are drawn to those who will make us victims but rarely or never admit it. Our adult mind has a blind spot when it has to do with the domination of our childhood. It is the “frozen child” that the adult cannot know or even admit that draws it. Our weak adult mind lets the child take over and conceal its pathological motivation.
Some people are afraid when there is no cause, just a cold wind blowing from childhood. These are the lucky ones since once the relationship is established they find that there was nothing to fear. Some of these people will work like hell to make the person act abusive in order to establish the necessity of their being afraid. If it is not possible to arouse and turn the lover into a victimizer, their emotions will turn off and they will leave that person as not “right” for them. They need to be with someone who bullies and mistreats although they do not say it.
Then there is the second group which will seek and find someone of whom they should be afraid and stay. Their fear is totally called-for even though they spend eons of time telling themselves and even their friends that they should not be afraid of this person, that the abuse is not so bad and they probably deserve it, They announce that they love him/her anyway no matter what.
People who choose an abusive partner may remain otherwise functional but many do not. Take the story of Hedda Nussbaum who gave up her job as a magazine editor, abandoned her friends, became unable to leave her apartment especially after her appearance fell apart with breaks and bruises, who hid there with her young children who witnessed her abuse. She was supported by her lawyer boyfriend. She focused on whether he’d be nice to her this day, dreaming helped along by smoking the marijuana he provided.
Sometimes the evening started out OK but that usually did not last. He was driven to brutally beat and damage her. Her children watched the man break her nose, her ribs, tear this part of her body and dismember that. Smoking helped her live in the fantasy of a better night. It helped her disconnect this night right now from yesterday’s abuse and the coming abuse tomorrow.
When the abuse is physical, it often is progressive, first bad words, then starvation, then a slap in the face then broken nose, then shattered bones, then a failing heart due to injury, fear and grief, and eventually death. One of Nussbaum’s children was killed by her abuser, lying ignored in the bath tub while she existed in her beaten marijuana haze. How people hated her when all of this came to light. For a while, the legal system blamed and jailed her. It was only after they began to understand the deep meaning of chronic “abuse” that she was seen as its victim rather than the perpetrator.
All who find and cling to an abusive partner are living in the past. They remain the futile and frightened child attempting to win their cruel parent’s love. To recover from this, their childhood view of love must be surrendered. If they think they cannot do it, they need to seek professional help. A therapist will help them develop an adult self. They need to free themselves of reliving their masochistic “frozen child’s” struggle to win the abusive parent’s love.
It is a struggle for a once abused person to become an adult. A woman said after reading my book Unloved Again, that she has to learn to deal with her inner child in a reasonable way, to help and get along with it. I answered “no.” You cannot make a deal with the past. You cannot cure the past. You should not experience yourself as half past and half present. “Past- is- past and…ne’er the twain shall meet” as the Scottish folk song says it.
We are not to deal with the traumatized “frozen child” as if a now- existing part of self. To dedicate self to helping the inner child is to surrender to the past as you have always done. Your adult needs to separate from your “frozen child” and “freezing parent,” to treat them as memories. You need to learn from the past but you cannot learn if you are living in it. Then the experience is all “now.”
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