Watching “Intervention” yesterday, I was deeply moved by this girl, Cassie, who had been addicted to painkillers. A 22-year old mother of one young son, she faced a great deal of trauma in her life, as do most of the addicts on the show, but her set of traumas were particularly haunting. First of all, her mother abandoned her on a neighbour’s porch when she was only about 3 years old and of course, she faced the usual anger and abandonment issues. What really affected me however, was her father’s remarriages causing her emotional distress and ‘acting out’, which in turn, caused him to send her to two separate boarding schools in third-world, corrupt foreign countries, because she was taking a toll on HIS marriages.
First of all, what kind of parent ships their child, no matter how “troubled”, off to a foreign boarding school, especially in a third world country, ESPECIALLY without the proper research. Cassie mentioned in the episode that she was not allowed to speak with her father on the phone or have any contact with him; the institution sent letters to him on her behalf; if I were there in the same situation and was not contacting my parents, they would have sent me home on the first plane. I’m aware that there is a stigma of children getting sent away by their parents to schools away from home because they’re causing problems and acting out; in some cases I suppose this couldn’t be closer to the truth; it’s an incredibly selfish act on the part of the parents to get rid of problems by sending them away, rather than dealing with them in caring and constructive ways.
Cassie described the traumas of her experiences in this school; of being pushed down in your own vomit after ingesting chemicals on purpose in the hope of getting sick and being able to go home and/or at least SPEAK to their parents and tell them how it was there; of being beaten and pushed into walls and smacked around; of going days without proper nutrition and clean water.
And then she said something I found really interesting: something along the lines of, “if my own parents were going to send me away to this, why would I ever trust anyone at all? I don’t think I’ll ever be able to gain back my trust for people ever again.”
It’s good logic…
When you’re a child, if adults around you – the people who are supposed to be caring for you and attending to you and making sure that at LEAST, your bare minimum of needs are met – mistreat you, violate you, abuse your trust and your youth and your naivety and your lack of control over what you can and in many cases, SHOULD do, why would you ever trust anyone again? If someone you love abandons you in any capacity, after an unspoken promise to ensure your protection and to love you and spend time with you and share with you, why wouldn’t you assume that everyone you love will eventually and inevitably abandon you? If someone close to you treats you coldly, why wouldn’t that set a standard of how you relate to other people? If your own father chooses someone else over you, if you’re forced into essentially a prison at a young age and no one hears you screaming, then why would you ever believe in love? Or think love exists at all? If there was even so much as a hope of love, it would soon be crushed; because you can scarcely love yourself, because you would be thinking, “I did this”; “I caused this, because I’m such trouble to the people around me.”
One’s beliefs in love, emotion, caring, trust and togetherness forever and friend and familial relations, can be so easily shattered by just one violation, one huge misstep, one broken promise, one lost love. And if it feeds into lies you already tell yourself every single day, then it will only reaffirm what you may already believe about yourself; that everyone will leave you, love ceases to exist, there is no such thing as forever, and no one is to be trusted, that no circumstances are worth trying for, that you will fail because you are a failure.