Updated: Jan 4
My childhood was filled with intense emotional and physical abuse.
My mother was a single mom in the 80’s. My mother was mentally ill, undiagnosed and unsupported, we lived welfare check to welfare check, in section 8 housing. I wish I could tell her story with a happy ending, I wish it was a triumphant tale about overcoming of adversity. It wasn’t, she never received the help she deserved.
My brother and I lived in a war zone. Her instability, mania and subsequent abuse changed us on a cellular level. She taught us the world was unsafe, which made it difficult to learn in school. We were her secret keepers, and we kept our own dark secret. We loved her because that’s what children do, we learned to hate ourselves because she told us we were the reason her life wasn’t better.
I dreamt of adulthood I daydreamed the way a prisoner is singularly focused on the day they are released. To feel the sun on my face. Break chains. Nobody would ever touch me in anger again, nobody could ever say cruel things to me again. One day I would be free.
I would be childless and free.
I decided I would never have children, because the darkness of another can get planted inside you it can grow and bare strange and bitter fruit.
I read studies, articles, books on surviving child abuse.
I knew that the odds were not in my favor. I was a victim poised to become a perpetrator.
I wanted desperately to break the silence, I began to tell war stories to anyone who would hear me. I wore my pain like a metal of honor. I made connections with those who had also suffered the pain of being a broken child. We were a tribe of lost children wearing grown up clothes, and moving through the adult world.
We soothed each other, congratulated each other’s survival instinct. I thought that somehow these exchanges had healed me.
I fell in love, I became I mother twice, to two beautiful boys.
Being a mother fills me with fear, even now that my oldest is in his 20’s. I am a fearful parent. I struggle with intimacy in my parent child relationship. I can be a distant mother at times. I’m never violent, I’m careful never to be truly angry. But it’s very hard to be a mom when your inner child needs a mother desperately. When you never learned to trust and therefore you can’t trust yourself. It’s hard to be a mom when the word MOTHER somewhere in your psyche terrifies you.
The wound that I thought I could self-heal in my 20’s still bleeds daily. My sons teach me so much about love everyday. I see my small self in them, it’s through their innocence and purity that I finally can truly see myself, the little self. She is so sweet, I’m learning to love her.