Kara Thrace represents the effects abuse can have on the psyche of a young child. She spends her entire life believing in destiny, believing that she has no control over the direction her life takes and that when death comes for her, she will have no choice but to follow where Death leads her. Abused children spend our youthful periods learning how to follow orders and obey, so it is no shock that Kara should consider the most important moment of her life to be entirely beyond her control as well. Abused females particularly learn that self-sacrifice is our fastest and surest path towards being loved. We put this belief into practice our entire lives long, unless we ever address the trauma in our pasts and heal ourselves. Kara believed that sacrificing herself so that her loved ones could get to New Earth safely was an effective exchange, the best she could possibly perform. She thought she was doing a good thing by destroying her life so that theirs could improve, by preventing herself from ever getting what she wanted [life on New Earth] so that they could get what they wanted instead. She did the same thing when she chose to marry Sam instead of Apollo, sacrificing her happiness to keep him “safe”--from her. Men tend to follow women’s leads where romance is concerned, and Apollo was no different. Feeling rejected, he married his own female placeholder for the position he wanted her reluctant self to occupy one day. Kara, like most abused young women, could not abide the idea of being happy. She could not believe that her happiness would not somehow negatively impact the people she loved most. Thus, she did everything she could to avoid being happy at all costs. She was successful, eventually dying an unhappy woman married to the wrong man. She never would have recognized this state of affairs as anything less than adequate; if you have never been happy, you are incapable of recognizing the difference between self-abasement and true pleasure. Preventing yourself from ever being truly loved would not seem a true sacrifice at all, but rather one more necessary aspect of a life that never had any hope of being more than merely professionally fulfilling and personally empty.
Many women believe that if we can only convince the people around us to believe that we are happy with our sacrifices, they will stop seeing us as broken--which is the way we secretly see ourselves. We grow up hard and fast and we live the same way. Yes, our talents sometimes appear to benefit from our reckless behavior, but in truth we are only coming that much closer to destroying ourselves and every bit of the life we have worked for--if, that is, we ever manage to get out of the abuse cycle at all. The strongest among us may make it out of situations where we are being continually abused by people similar to the parent or other authority figure who abused us in the first place. However, we are never truly out of the woods until we deliberately and determinedly face our pasts. We continue to have nightmares and to continue whatever addictive behaviors cause us to feel somewhat safe from the onslaught of memories and the flashbacks that tend to haunt our every step. We may outwardly live in a perfectly safe and even loving environment that respects our talents and lauds our achievements, but it won’t affect the way we see ourselves and our lives. In our mind’s eye whenever the slightest conflict or obstacle occurs, we are dragged back to the terrible events that happened to us. We can never believe that we have gotten out because we never feel it. As far as our bodies are concerned, we still wake up in situations of extreme abuse day after day with no hope of getting out.
We can never truly value ourselves, because no one ever taught us how to. In the face of love, we turn away and act ashamed. We are brought back to the little children inside of us who wanted to be loved and did everything in our power to be taken care of like other little children but ultimately failed. We do not recognize this as the opportunity for healing it represents; rather, we begin to resent the person who brings this healing to us for reminding us that we were once that vulnerable. We have come to equate vulnerability with weakness, because that is almost undoubtedly the relationship our abusers created for us. We do not appreciate our own ability to love as anything save a downfall at best and the end of everything we hold dear at worst. We envision Troy-style wars coming about as the result of how we feel for this other person.
We cannot imagine that anyone could actually benefit from loving us, as our abusers told us again and again in interactions which content we’ve likely repressed that loving us was nothing but a burden and source of pain in their lives. We had no choice as children but to obey our abusers because of the power they held over our lives. We also had no choice but to believe what they told us, because these were likely the messages we got most often and most insistently at our formative ages. Thus, although we might wish to refute the idea of our own unloveability and burdensome nature, we do not have the tools to do so. This leaves us with no choice in the face of what we believe ails us--the possibility of permanent redemption--except to turn away and spin our love into hatred. It’s survival.
In fact, our actions that we claim are designed to protect all those around us oftentimes simply wind up destroying their lives entirely. We turn our potential healers into potential murderers of everything good inside of us, because in the course of our attempts to regain a safe distance from them we often destroy everything good in them. We do not recognize the parts of the person that love us as ‘good’--in fact, these are often the first parts we try to destroy in order to force them to abandon us to the clutch of the demons who are all the companions we’ve ever known. We do not believe that the ability to love us is anything but perverted and wrong, and so we respond accordingly. If the person will not give these parts of themselves up without a fight, we fight to the death.
We consider any threat to our loneliness and self-destruction to be a threat to our very lives, because these were the traits that protected us when we were younger and enthralled to a predator. We consider any threats to our process of slowly unraveling everything we are to be threats to our very souls, and we respond to this as though it is a challenge to our very right to exist. In fact, we have simply been operating as though our truest self and our addictions and self-hatred were the same for so long that we have forgotten that we are perfectly capable of surviving without trying to destroy ourselves on a daily basis.
Adults who were abused as children often experience far less fear of death than most other people do. This is not the result of some sort of inner peace or cultivated acceptance of reality. We do not fear death because we do not feel as though we have ever lived or could ever live a life worth living. This in fact is a large part of the reason why we live in a culture that contributes so deliberately to violence against children to begin with.
Children never adequately loved, who were neglected or hit or verbally harassed or forced to perform sexual favors for adults in exchange for food will think nothing of dying by the tens of thousands “for their country.” The idea of sacrificing their own wants and needs on behalf of someone else who stands in a parental role in their lives, claims to ‘truly care’ about how they feel and suggests they die for love makes perfect sense to them. They die honestly believing they are serving the values of those they love, believing they are expressing their love in the best way possible. They buy the idea that this sort of self-sacrifice washes them clean of their sins and makes them whole again. The truth however is that nothing but honestly assessing who they are and what they want and learning how to get it will ever heal the hurts visited upon the innocents they once were.
The path to love lies not through self-abasement, but through self-forgiveness.