January 29, 2021•788 words
Tara dissociates from herself to cope with the physical abuse from her brother Shawn. This is very clear when she writes in p194:" But I don't sound like myself. I'm listening to the sobs of another girl.". As she is on the ground, with Shawn pinning her arms up, she is begging to be let go. When she does this, she is crying but she doesn't register it as herself crying, but as someone else crying. This is a very common form of dissociation. She feels ashamed that this is happening to her, near the car of Charles, and many people looking, so her brain pretends she is not there. This helps her not feel the physical pain of being pinned on the concrete floor by her older brother, but also the fear and emotional agony of her brothers bipolar episodes. Tara either receives great love and affection from her brother, or serious torture and abuse- two great contradictions, which when happening back to back, makes Tara question whether the abuse she is enduring is even abuse, or just his form of love and affection.
Tara distorts the truth as a form of denial to the abuse she endures. This is shown by the consist use of rhetoric. Questions without an answer often show confusion, as she is questioning herself on the series of events, as if she is not concrete about whether it happened. This is shown on Page 195, when she writes: "Was it really fun and games? Could he not tell he was hurting me? I don't know. I just don't know." She clearly questions her series of events after her brother comes to apologize, as the contradiction between love and abuse is shown. Earlier that afternoon, he had broken her wrist and sprained her ankle, and now he was apologising and nurturing her wounds. She questions whether the series of events were as tormented as she had seen them, because she felt that if he really wanted to hurt her he would not come back to apologise and take care of her. In the paragraph after, she writes: "I write this until I believe it, which doesn't take long because I want to believe it." In this sentence, she is obviously convincing herself of a distortion of truth about the events of that afternoon in order to deny that what she was enduring was not abuse, but love.
Tara self-blames in order to give herself a sense of false control over the actions of Shawn and her family. She does this as it is easier than confronting the truth of her family, which could separate her from the central point of her life. Her family has been a huge part of her life growing up, as she had a lack of social life due to the fact that she did not attend a school. In many ways, her family was the only thing she had and she knew that if she confronted the real truth of the physical abuse of Shawn, she would be furious and would try to confront her family, which could drive them apart and leave her even more lost and hurt than she already was. In many ways, her family was an anchor in her world, keeping her together for the first 20 years of her life. As she goes to University, she becomes more independent and in ways controlled over her life. When she travels back to Bucks Peak, she demands the same feeling of control although her family does not allow it, mostly through the abuse from Shawn. She cannot control Shawn's actions, but she can control how she believes it. It helps her deal with the overpowering feeling of powerlessness.
the older narrator of Tara has a selective memory of the series of events that leads up to her abuse. This is through years of denial, distortion of the truth, and self-blaming. Since a young age, she has distorted and denied her memories of abuse and neglect. As she continues to do this to cope, she falls into a spiral of denials, distortions, and blame. She does not seem to figure out which memories are real and which are fake, and questions where the events of abuse even happened as the coping mechanism she adapted would warp the actual events into something more endurable. This is seen in page 292: " Your reality is so warped. It's like talking to someone who wasn't even there. I agreed. It was exactly like that." When her mother confirms the cruelty of her brother, it opens up her eyes and makes her realise that regardless of the constant denial and distortion, her truth was the truth.