People are all like little children still. We all know this (or should).
And some never learned how to take care of themselves because they were not taken care of properly when they were young.
They bounce from one situation to another where they suffer poor treatment, not knowing how to choose better - not even knowing that "better" exists, or how to recognize it. Or how to integrate it with their shattered self, when they do encounter it.
Sometimes they do move through a series of "betters", without ever actually reaching "good", or "healthy".
Reducing conflict and absorbing abuse is all they know of how to be "normal". They often become very good at shutting down, shutting out, forgetting, shifting states from one moment to another. This is the only way they know to dodge the agony that seems ever-present.
Some of these people are sweet and gentle (and generally continue to suffer abuse), and some are mean and vengeful (and perpetuate the abuse they learned). These two sides of the coin are often drawn to each other due to the commonalities in their backgrounds. They are very, very bad for each other.
The sweet and gentle ones at least stand a slight chance of improving their lot, if they can manage to identify those who do not harm them and cling tight to them as the years go by. If they manage to surround themselves with enough of these people, they may even be able to carve out a safe, tolerable existence and even begin to unravel some of the damage deep in their minds.
I'm not so sure about the hard and mean ones. They can't be cured with softness and kindness - those who would give it to them simply lose out in the bargain. Their need to externalize their pain is a constant problem for the many layers of those around them, from immediate family, to acquaintances, to co-workers, and even to society at large.
Even the gentle ones have to share, or spread, some of their pain to those near them. It can't all simply be kept inside. This is most likely to happen with those they let themselves get closest to, as their vulnerable unconscious seeks to protect itself from the risk of harm due to allowing intimacy.
12/30/17 in my head as I awoke
Inspired by someone who came very close to me for a short time in my life.