Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.
By Ox Drover
Thirty years ago I met a special lady, she was my next-door neighbor’s sister-in-law. She had grown up in Italy during WWII. Her father was a “slave” to the government and worked for them. In exchange, he was given at least a limited amount of food. He loved his children and gave all the food to his children. As a consequence of giving all the food he had to his children, he became very weak and unable to work at full capacity. His masters informed him that if he continued to give the majority of the food to his children that when he became unable to work, all food would be stopped, and not only he, but his children as well, would starve.
This lady remembered watching her father cry as he ate, knowing that his children were hungry, but knowing also that by keeping up his strength, he might be able to save not only himself, but his children as well. I remember thinking what a terrible choice this man was given, yet knowing too, that he did what he did to save not only himself but his children as well.
This has been one of those stories that has stuck with me forever, one I will never forget as long as I have two synapses that communicate with each other. I realized lately though, how much meaning this story has on several levels.
One of the “common themes” among former victims seems to me to be our capacity to “give unto others” the resources of all kinds that we have. Story after story on Lovefraud tells of a former victim giving money and time to their abuser to their own detriment. Not just “sharing” what they have willingly, but giving everything to others, who willingly take, not caring at all that their victim is literally “starving” themselves in order to provide resources to the psychopathic abuser.
I am sure this father in the above story would have willingly given all the food to his children, and willingly starved himself to death in order that they might live. Unfortunately, his death by starvation would have only, later, precipitated the death by starvation of the very children he sacrificed to save. It was only by retaining enough food to keep himself alive, even though the children were still hungry, that they all could live.
Looking back on my life and the stories of other former victims, I see so many similarities to the way we have given to those we loved, but to the point of our own starvation, at which point, we were discarded by the psychopaths, who moved gleefully on to the next caring victim.
Caring and sharing is a good trait in loving and compassionate people. The Bible and other sacred works advise us to be “giving” and “compassionate” people, and to share our good fortune with others who are “in need.” I never found though, that any of these writings advise us to give the last morsel of food, the only coat we have, or to move out of our homes into the snow and invite others to move into our homes while we freeze to death in the snow.
I never found an admonition for the followers of Jesus to give money to those who are too lazy to work, or to house, feed and support anyone who could but wouldn’t work. I do find exhortations, though, that we should work with our hands so that we will have resources to share with those “in need.”
Depriving ourselves of the necessary things in life in order to supply abundant things to those who will not “help themselves” to the limit of their abilities is not, in my opinion, a good use of our resources.
Whether the “things” we give to others are our financial resources or our time, when we deprive ourselves of the resources necessary for a healthy life in order to give to another, and we deplete ourselves to the point we become “broken down” or “starved” and can no longer take care of even ourselves, we do no one a favor.
I can’t even completely imagine how that Italian father must have suffered with each bite he took, but he did what he did because it was the best thing to do. I would also imagine that his guilt at eating the food he did must have given him incredible pain, but all of his children and he and his wife survived the war.
In order to help others, we too much feed ourselves first, and take care of our own needs. It isn’t a crime to be good to yourself, though I know I still have trouble at times doing just that, being good to myself.