I think that once a child is taught to believe that he or she doesn’t matter, you can write off that life for ever having subjective worth. I am sure my friends and family tire of telling me that I’m a worthwhile, valuable person in the face of my apparently obstinate refusal to believe it. I feel sad about that, but I find myself incapable of internalizing that belief. I can’t just make myself believe something.
I wonder how I was taught that I don’t matter. During some crucial years of early childhood development, two to six years old, I lost a lot. I lost my father to death. I lost my mother to depression and then work. I lost three of my four siblings to college, and the fourth was barely present and gone only a couple of years later. I lost my home and my friends and my pets to my mother’s remarriage. For a small child, that was a pretty brutal four years. I didn’t matter in the grand scheme of the universe. I remember wishing I were dead for the first time around the end of that period. Then, of course, I lost my innocence to sex worker training.
I think about all the children who grow up in the world unwanted and badly cared for, brutalized and used. They’re probably like me. They don’t matter, either. It’s a sad state of affairs. I wish I could fix it, but I can’t even fix myself. All I can say is if you are a parent, make sure you teach your children that they matter before it’s too late.