[I wrote this essay in June of 2011.]
Many parents have asked me, “Who is your intended audience for this website?”
This is often followed by their admission that they feel alienated or attacked by my writing. Not infrequently, this is followed by a suggestion that I rewrite my website. Although they acknowledge that some parents can be terrible, other parents, they say, are looking for help, and can’t get it from a website that labels them as abusers.
Although I recognize that parents need help, helping parents is not the primary purpose of this website, because parents as a group are not my intended audience. My intended audience is the child: the child within everyone, the wounded self within each of us who was never fully heard, never fully recognized, and never fully nurtured by parents who themselves were never fully heard, recognized, or nurtured. In order to speak directly and honestly to this audience, I take the side of the child. If I did anything less I would fail at my mission.
But there is no reason why this website would inevitably alienate parents. To me, it would only alienate those parents who are not strongly on the side of their own children, and their own child within. I reflect on this whenever I have considered softening my website. Those who want me to soften it are in denial and want me to accommodate their denial, just as they, with all of society’s backing, force their children, and their own inner child, to do.
At basic they deny the socially acceptable damages they have committed on their children, because acknowledging this reality would pressure them to engage in a most painful revamping of their identity. How much easier to avoid this, avoid the reality of how alienated their children are, and instead ask me to play nice in the sandbox and revamp my website!
But I also reflect on how deeply alienated these parents were when they were children — and how alienated they remain from the best of themselves. Who speaks for all of them? Certainly not a softer website that absolves them and their parents of appropriate guilt.
But still, should I soften my website just a little? It would be nice to have more allies in the world. It would be nice if my psychology colleagues who loved my films about psychosis linked to this website. And softening it could be so easy. I could use gentler language, beat around the bush a bit, cut an essay here and there, not be so directly critical, occasionally turn a blind eye to my own conclusions…
But then I look within. And my inner voice yells out the reply: I cannot. I cannot betray the child. Not the child within me, nor the one within you, nor within anyone — not even the child within the mother or the father who abused me. And if my refusal to be yet another betrayer alienates parents, then so be it. Let them go find their comforting messages elsewhere. I see no lack of websites and books that quite effectively do that already. I prefer to stick to truth. I’ve only got one life and I don’t want to waste it.