The guy in this photo has been stuffed and all his top teeth removed. Which is how I think sharks should be. But this post isn’t really about them, it’s about blood in the water. It draws sharks but they aren’t the only predators that find victims. Human predators do too. Blood in the water also refers to children – and the adults they become – who have been sexually abused. They carry a kind of stain, a mark, which has a feel to it. Just as sharks get attracted to the blood, so predators get drawn to that stain. It’s often not visible to people who haven’t been abused.
A victim can carry it around for years in adulthood – sometimes even their whole life – without being aware of it, and never realize that all the people in their world are predators. It doesn’t just draw predators, though, it also makes the victim a target for bullies at many levels. One member of a family can have been abused and have the stain, and the rest of the family can never have known. But they treat that member differently. They can gang up on and make him/her the scapegoat. Without realizing it.
It seems like a harsh life experience to have to go through; first being abused then being rejected and bullied and abused some more until you learn about the stain you carry. And it is harsh. Big wounds need a lot of healing, and life can be pretty much interrupted while that’s happening. Plus the people you don’t want in your world – predators – are drawn to you and the ones you do want turn away, because it’s scary dealing with somebody who’s been victimized and hasn’t found their power yet.
But here’s the thing. When it’s that brutal and challenging and you feel like you’re in the wilderness and you’ve got nothing, your craving for true unconditional love is raw and fierce. So you go in search of real high quality love and you don’t settle until you find somebody who wants to give it. It’s about being allowed to speak and express; being heard and appreciated. Having all my questions answered intelligently. Never being dismissed, never judged.
Being taught how to listen to and express emotions safely all the time, how to set boundaries. Always being taken seriously, being celebrated, applauded, congratulated. Being enjoyed, remembered, defended, getting sane teaching about how life and people work. Learning the different parts of my own mind, and how they operate. The experience of that kind of quality input really does something to your self esteem and entitlement, let me tell you.
I tried changing my self esteem and lousy entitlement with just getting my head around the theory, but all I did was get clever. My thinking brain didn’t enable me in any real way. My heart did, through that very consistent experience of love over more than ten years. It created a solid knowledge of my value and rights which I can act on, and which nobody can take from me. You can know it intellectually but still not be able to stop people trampling all over you. Know it in your heart and your life changes.
Blood in the water. With a big injury the healing always takes you way, way beyond where you were when you were injured. I’ve heard it said love your enemy because they bring you your greatest opportunity. I never want to hear it while I’m wrestling with a challenge, but once I’m through it I can see, it’s true. I have more knowledge and understanding of myself and people and life now than I could ever have had if I hadn’t been abused. Weird, huh.