Understanding abuse, does it run deeper than we care to admit?

I used to think of abuse as being a very physical thing, actions for example that could be clearly felt, seen or heard. Sexual assault, hitting, shoving or shouting are all obvious examples, but I also included behaviours such as bullying, manipulation, coercion and stealing as being clear forms of abuse.

However, I now see abuse in a very different light. In fact, I now see it as the overarching theme of life – a theme that blends itself seemingly undetected into all of our lives, regardless of who we believe ourselves to be. I am now in no doubt whatsoever that I have been abused since birth; a potent mix of self-abuse combined with the abuse that comes at us all constantly from the outside.

You see we are each born connected to God, intertwined with his majesty, each one of us royal in our own unique way. But from the moment we are born, the abuse starts – a constant barrage that is designed with the sole intention of dislodging our connection to God. And how does this abuse dislodge our connection to God? Very simple, it muddies our connection with our bodies, because it is through our connection with our bodies, that we know God.

The tirade of abuse never abates; it comes at us from every conceivable source, so much so that we have come to know this constant onslaught as ‘life’.

To begin any kind of list as to the ways in which we are abused would do nothing other than detract from the unquantifiable number of ways that we are incessantly attacked; but I could, for the sake of clarity, provide a few examples of both my self-abuse and of the global abuse that came and continues to come my way.

I, like everybody else, was born into a world where very few people had managed to remain connected to themselves and so looking around me, all I saw and felt was disconnection. Like most babies in the 60’s I was given food and drink that either numbed me out or revved me up. As I was wheeled around the shops in my pushchair I was given Farley’s rusks to suck on – no doubt Mum was bamboozled by the manufacturer’s lure that the classic weaning food for babies contained ‘7 key vitamins & minerals plus iron and calcium’, and whilst it was great that there were no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives in these ‘nutritious biscuits’, what Heinz didn’t divulge is that they contained more sugar than chocolate digestives. Either way, whether it was numbing or revving, both had the same effect, they dulled my connection to my body.

The storybooks that were read to me were laced with all kinds of ideals and beliefs, many of them to do with the assumed differences between girls and boys, the virtues of doing the ‘right thing’, the merits of being beautiful and of having long hair, plus a whole plethora of unchallenged myths to do with the concepts of ‘good and bad’. As a child, all of these ‘concepts’ had to be introduced to me because I, like most children, just ‘was’ – life and I were one and the same, therefore separation from life had to be introduced and it was, books being just one way in which it was slipped in. Ideals and beliefs are absolutely rife, so much so that they overlap life like a frenetic decoupage.

When it comes to abuse, ideals and beliefs are perhaps the biggest bullies of them all; they come in via the head, wreaking absolute havoc with our connection to our bodies.

School is yet another source of introduced dis-connection. Schools have set curriculums for all kids, despite the wide variety of abilities and personalities – a curriculum that does little for them other than to cattle prod them into pre-selected pens, stifling their natural beauty, scribbling out their inherent intelligence and limiting their joy to fifteen minute intervals in the playground.

School forces children to continually ignore the natural impulses of their bodies. It forces them to sit down when they want to run and jump, they’re instructed to be quiet when their bodies want to shout, they are told to practise writing in a specific way, so that their writing conforms to whatever set of made up rules apply at the time.

By the time I left school my connection to God had been well and truly trampled into the ground, a dusty remnant that was so disfigured that I no longer recognised it but it was on leaving school that the self-abuse really kicked in. I went to town with food. I either over ate or under ate and only ever ate things that bombed me out in some way. I smoked. Cigarettes at first and then marijuana. Daily for years. I didn’t drink much alcohol but made up for it by losing myself in party drugs for a decade or two. I slept around, desperately searching for self-worth between the sheets. I caned my body with gruelling exercise and submerged it into the alluring world of spirituality… a world of glittering promise that momentarily fired up my nervous system but one that eventually fizzled out to nothing.

Pretty much everything that I did served no purpose whatsoever, other than to sever my connection to my body, which basically ensured that my notion of God didn’t even come close to showing up on my radar, and because we all live in a sea of abuse it never occurred to me to question any of it.

In fact not only do we accept this abuse as ‘life’, but we actively seek it. We seek the identification and the separation that is in actual fact the abuse itself. What this means is that the abuse just keeps repeating itself because we continually keep seeking relief from the abuse by venturing deeper and deeper into the abuse itself.

One of the major problems with dis-connecting from our bodies is that once we have dulled our connection to ourselves, it is very difficult to get it back; our connection remains as hazy as a mirage.

So is it possible that our connection to God is not nearly as elusive as history would have us believe? Indeed could it be that the belief that God is for the majority of us mere mortals something that will remain forever out of our reach, one of the most damaging and widespread forms of abuse ever known to man?

And is it possible that if the abuse were to abate – even for a second – then we would all instantly be re-connected with our bodies and through that re-connection be back to our natural connection with God?

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  • By Alexis Stewart, Yoga Teacher, Disability Support worker, Esoteric Healing Practitioner, Massage Therapist

    I am all about the body, as I have come to understand that it is our bodies that guide us back to the truth of who we are.

  • Photography: Rebecca W., UK, Photographer

    I am a tender and sensitive woman who is inspired by the playfulness of children and the beauty of nature. I love photographing people and capturing magical and joyful moments on my camera.