Living with my Aunt throughout my childhood was the most traumatic time of my life. My Aunt Maria was abused herself throughout her childhood. The result of her abuse was her reactionary drive toward avoidance of future victimizations. It became her tendency to overcompensate against anything which seemed to remotely fuel her sense of powerlessness, propelling her into eventually becoming an abuser herself. Thus, she likely became the type of person she hated most in her youth. The terror inside her had transformed the prey into a huntress. Unfortunately, the best defense is not often a good offense. She had strongly taken to the pop psychology ideal of 'empowerment'. Empowerment ultimately becomes the process of unintentionally becoming an abuser to gain power over others. It compensates for pervasive feelings of powerlessness which are fostered early in life.
Empowerment is a pathologically unhealthy philosophy embraced by feminists; replacing fear with hatred, and exchanging one type of lopsided relatedness for another. It is also often the highly destructive suppression of the feminine qualities, depriving relationships their of warmth, color, intimacy, gender roles, and natural equilibrium. Whenever a relationship has someone empowered, then one partner is an abuser and the other is a victim. It is a bogus cure which can be worse than the disease. No healthy relationship is ever based upon power. As a theme of my book: love is the opposite of power. Most of the so-called abuse 'survivors' have been empowered by the complete wrongfulness taught in current books -- and if these people were indeed healthy and recovered, then they would not feel such a need to constantly remind themselves, and everyone else, that they are survivors. True recovery comes from the self-understanding of painfully and honestly appraising what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. This is impossible for most abuse 'survivors' such as Maria, because like their antagonists, they are too busy looking for blame in their partners to ever be truly honest about themselves. Forgiveness is not always easy, but without forgiveness, they tend to perpetually live in their self-imposed hells. Empowered people are those who are still locked in their former power structures, for it is still about "winning" against their abusers, and proving that their abusers no longer have power. Of course, this obsession only proves that the abusers do in fact still have a power over them. Moving on means: moving on. In flashbacks and dreams, victims are reminded that they were a part of something terribly wrong, and something needing serious reflection by them. These are not merely cruel tricks of the mind. They are the painful manifestations of guilt. More often than not, they fuel rage which leads victims down the same dark path again. My Aunt Maria was empowered, and frighteningly so.
Aunt Maria's disciplinary techniques were typically physical, and her harsh discipline was usually unjustified. She brought her police officer training home with her. If I did not agree with her, or I if did something differently from her expectations, then I became like a criminal to her. She intensively questioned and interrogated me routinely as if I were a crime suspect, in order to ensure that I had done nothing disobedient. Her behavior frighteningly expressed her overcompensating need for power and control. In fact, it is almost certainly why she became a police officer. It is no coincidence that most abusers were once abused.
I was around nine-years-old when I received a model aeroplane as a birthday gift. It was a World War II Spitfire fighter plane. I was able to glue it together and paint it the color scheme used during the second World War. The result of my week of engineering was pride and confidence. On the last day as the paint dried, Maria was having one of her sudden explosive outbursts. She was searching for a mistake, and somebody to blame for her misplaced rage. Unfortunately, I was sitting at the kitchen table with my plane. I was an easy victim, as I continued to be for many years.
She screamed while claiming that I had not washed my hands after visiting the bathroom. She even contended that she had proof of my crime since the soap remained dry. I did not dare explain to her the obvious -- that we used liquid soap instead. In fact, I was far too afraid of her to even reply. After striking me in the face, she took my Spitfire and threw it into the trash. It did not break or snap. My intact plane laid there; waiting to be thrown out with the garbage. I cried for several days, including over the weekend which I spent with my grandmother. It was on the next Sunday that my au pair (a nanny from abroad) called. Her name was Gabby. She explained that she had covertly recovered my plane. She had taken it from the trash and hidden it amongst my toys.
Although most children would be excited at hearing this news, I was terrified. I wondered if Maria would call me when she found out, or would she be waiting to strike me when I arrived home? My imagination produced different scenarios which were each individually terrifying. I knew that I needed to hurry to get home, and place my plane in the the trash before she discovered it. I thought that it would be wrong to place the responsibility with Gabby, especially after she had saved my plane as an act of kindness. Therefore, I would have to be the 'criminal' who had disobeyed Maria's will. The thought terrified me, and on the way home I had a lump in my throat. It was fear.
When I arrived home, Maria had not noticed my plane as missing. Of course, the plane was nothing to her, but to me, it meant everything. I could not find a safe time to dispose of it, except when she and my Uncle both went running around the local lake, Rother Valley. So, the next day when they went for a run, I took the plane outside to the trash. Tears ran down my face as I had to personally throw away the toy that seemed so much to me, after it had been saved once before. My time and effort had made it into something uniquely personal that I was proud of.
It was only recently that I discovered how the loss of that plane has effected my creative abilities, including my present work on the book. Although almost eight years have past since the incident, it has become quite clear that the plane still unconsciously matters much to me; possibly even more than it did as a child. As recent dreams have revealed, the plane is now symbolic, and is a metaphorical reference to independence, initiative, and the creativity of that little child who is still within me. It was thrown away and discarded, but it could always be returned, and I was the only person who could really let it go. Nobody else could take these things away from me. Fear drove me to throw them away. I deduced that there would be no complications or dangerous decisions made if I could eliminate my initiative, independence, and drive. This set a stage of creating future relationships with domineering abusers like Maria, who would decide everything for me.
It was upon these realizations that I decided to get my spitfire back. We visited a hobby store and bought the model kit, and some enamel paint. Although it is more complex than my original plane from when I was nine, I believe that it still holds the same meaning for me. It means reuniting with my creative side, and embracing my individuality again.