Doing unto Others

I very nearly lost my son. He was taken away from me by the authorities who decided that a man could not possibly be a primary carer. He was sent away. I almost let him go.

Some horrible, semi-human construct inside me, barely audible, began to canvas for his demise, my own child, a demise that would have had all the hallmarks of , ‘I told you so’, beginning with his academic collapse, progressive dishevilment, through self harm and cutting to…  what?

I nearly let him go.

Why should he have you? Who did you have? Does he deserve better? What about your needs? Its not fair! You are a victim of the State!

The inner 12 year old in me that had been sent away, rejected and violated, came screaming to the rim of consciousness, demanding congruence, demanding my son suffer at least his fate if not worse… and for just a brief moment, I capitulated. I hung my head and gave up.

A friend of mine once told me that stuff doesn’t change in life until you hear ‘the Voice of Noyt’. Noyt was a slang term at Uni for ‘no’. Only, its a capitalised,’No.’  and emphasised,’NO!’ and then screamed from the gut like a banshee..

On the way home from the court, having been given two days to comply with the judge’s ruling or be arrested for contempt, I heard the Voice of Noyt, made the Sound of Noyt, had to pull the car over, choking, and wrestle like a bitch with whatever it was inside me offering me an easy way out.

Compulsive repetition. Do unto others, particularly those you love. Again and again. One of the reasons that abuse is so pernicious is that the child is compelled to idetify with the abuser, paradoxically so as not to feel the pain of his wound. He steps into the shoes of his assailant so as not to have to experience what that other is doing. And then does that horrible.. thing, to some other poor bastard.

My default position, my automatic pilot, my deferential yes-man, so wanted my child to be sent away. What happened to me could then be ligitimised, I could forgive my father for sending me away and compulsively repeating what had happened to him, and, in the fullness of time, my boy would betray his child and forgive me for abandoning him..


To defy the judge meant much more than the prospect of 3 months in jail (and how would you look after him from prison, smartypants?) It meant, after years of analysis and being trained as a psychotherapist myself, that we would now find out what I was actually made of and whether I could bear the rapidly condensing memories, the abuse, the abandonment, the terrible under-resourced desolation of being sent away myself that was bound to claw for the surface if I refused the path of least resistance.

When Dracula tells his Igor to stop torturing the poor beast left in his charge, he turns and says, ‘Its what I do, master. I do unto others as they do unto ME.’

Not to ‘do unto others’, means stripping what the others have done… of their legitimacy. Suddenly an inner court is in session, and all kinds of unpleasant shit offered up for exhibit.

So, the enemy was not the judge, who I politely wrote to declining his kind suggestion, nor the coppers who came round and dragged my boy away, nor his mother who drove him half crazy with her bullshit, nor the corrupt CAFCASS officers grinding their double headed axes, nor the collusive court officials who lied and cheated, nor the expert witness whose report made me look like jack the ripper, but my own quiet… ‘do unto others.’

When I decided to forgo the luxury of being the state’s victim and risk detention at her Majesty’s Pleasure I found that I now had two kids to look after, my boy, whom the Universe quickly restored,( the Voice of Noyt carrying far in the halls of the psyche) and the neglected 12 year old in myself who was actually battered way beyond what I had remembered.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, ‘There’s what happens to us and there’s what we do with what happens to us.’

What happens to us is difficult enough, but most things can be survived and actually used as impetous to create and acheive, if only we will refrain from identifying with the aggressor or at least bear in mind that we are, strangely, liable to collude with the ills done to us and pass them on wholesale to others as a trade off with destiny not to have to feel any of it. The hot potato doesn’t burn if you are quick enough….

I see a lot of people questioning how to deal with narcissists. The trick, having protectively scooped up the child you once were, is to disable the narcissist in yourself.



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Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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