Category Archives: childhood memories

Car Accident

 

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The other day I was in a car accident with my children. The other driver slammed into us from behind, the car was a mess, I was a mess, but thankfully no one was hurt.

At the moment of the accident I was trying to find my way to an address which wouldn’t show up on my GPS for some reason. Traffic was heavy, the girls were shouting in the back, I was anxious, stressed and distracted. Then, suddenly a loud crash and the car lifted from behind.

As I pulled the car to the side of the road I felt as though I was going over the edge, as though I was hanging on by a thread. My daughters looked to me in this moment, in all the commotion and confusion they looked to me to make sense of this situation, to make sense of what we were all going through. My emotions were raw.

Something happened in that moment. Something that affirmed my own perception of who I am in my heart and in my soul.

Knowing in that moment that my daughters were fine, that I was fine, that we were still here together and with each other was enough for me. I was relieved and thankful everyone involved was ok.

It was only later that the real shock and wave of negative emotion started creeping over me like a dark shadow in the form of a memory from my past.

You see, when I was a young girl a similar incident happened to me with the mother driving the family car.  Only that time, there was no crash, no commotion, just what should have been the relief of a near miss. However, instead of relief at narrowly avoiding tragedy the mother used this moment to guilt and shame me into years of believing that I had distracted her while driving, claiming over and over that I had tried to kill us all. That I had somehow intended to have her, my younger brother and myself all fall victim to a horrible accident – simply by  carrying on the way children sometimes do in cars.

It was my younger brother who screamed out as the mother went to drive into an intersection. He became the angel of our salvation and for the years following I became the devil who tried to kill us all. She literally said “you tried to kill us” more times than I can remember.

Thinking back to that traumatic experience with the mother, and looking at how I myself handled my own car accident and my own children in that circumstance AFFIRMS for me that I am nothing like the mother. This experience, this baptism of fire, proved to me that I am different. That I am cut from a different cloth.

I once read ‘that which we fear we attract’

I no longer fear being like the mother.

Already, I feel more at peace with being a mum. These last few days since the car accident, I have sat with my daughters, admired them, drawn pictures and have felt so grateful to be able to give them the love I didn’t have growing up.

 

 

Photo Credit: Hurt Meatz

 

 

Blood Dripping

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When I was a pre-schooler, around the age of 4, I have this memory of being dressed in a ballet costume.  I am standing on my grandparents front porch crying and looking at the blood dripping down and along my hand.

You see, I am a nail biter. It’s something I began at a very young age, and are my first attempts at self-injury. Later in life, I would cut myself with razors and broken mirrors or glass. The scars are still visible.

In this particular memory, I have made a real mess of myself. I look at the Mother, crying and wanting her to wipe the blood away. She is holding a camera, taking photos of me, smiling and laughing. Telling me to pose for the photo. 

Over the years, when the Mother was allowed contact with my daughters and I witnessed this kind of inconsiderate behaviour around taking photographs, it would trigger me to either ask my step-dad to remove her phone or I would hide her phone myself. And it was never just one photo, it was 10 plus photos.

The Mother was constantly behind her camera forcing my daughters to pose, scrutinising their natural smiles with comments like “act normal”; “oh that’s too much of a smile” ;“don’t smile too much”; treating them as if they are little dancing monkeys, there for her own amusement at no matter what the cost. There was no regard for what their needs might actually be, which is usually just wanting to play with their toys.

I would see the shamed look cross their faces, their plastered fake smiles and lack of joy.  All the while, the Mother continually wanting more photos. I feel so much guilt at allowing these kinds of toxic interactions into their precious world.

I’ve often thought that the ‘buck stops here’ when it comes to having my own children. So far, i’ve been No Contact for 10 months and I must keep reminding myself why this is so important. As time goes by, it’s easy to forget why I am No Contact and this natural forgetting is perhaps one of those inbuilt survival mechanisms of trauma that has allowed the mother continued access into my life after no contact periods.

I am not forgetting this time. This time the stakes are too high, I only get ONE chance to give my daughters the best chance at a happy, fulfilled life. Narcissistic parents go on to traumatise their grandchildren. This is fact. Everyone is narcissistic supply.

In 1975, Ghosts in the Nursery was published by Fraiberg et al., The authors conceptualise ‘ghosts’ as unresolved inter-generational trauma referring to these ghosts as ‘intruders from the past’ (p.388). The authors touch on the fact that traumatised children of narcissistic parents do not always go on to traumatise their own children. That these grown children seek help from professionals, identifying the ghosts and banishing them from the nursery.

This is ME. 

Not only are these ghosts banished. They are banished along with the Narc Mother who brought the ghosts into my life. The Mother is not aware of the ghosts that walk with her.

I am aware. The reality is all too real. There is no more pretending. In my grief journey of mourning the mother, I am finally at the stage of ACCEPTANCE.

I am FREE.

Physically free. I do not see her. The emotional anguish I experience daily at trying to NOT be like her is the legacy I am left with. Constant self-reflection, constant monitoring of my emotional reactions. This is the legacy of childhood abuse.

A good example of this is when my daughter stood up from the couch, stumbled and fell. The thoughts in my head were the mother “ha ha you’re so clumsy” “you’re so accident prone silly girl” “get up and stop crying”.

In the midst of hearing those things that were said to me as a child, I scooped my daughter up and gave her a hug, rubbing the spot where she hurt herself on the corner of the table. I told her she was ok and our day continued happily. The abuse cycle stops with me. 

The mother’s name-calling, snide remarks and meanness became my inner voice for a long time. I feel as though I am healing from this and am able to recognise when this happens. I allow those internalised comments to slide away because I know I am not stupid, I am not an idiot, I am not accident prone, I am not a bitch.

I am so many different wonderful things that she will never, ever know. She is not capable of knowing who I am because that would involve seeing me as an individual person who is different to her. And in her eyes I will never be enough. I now ACCEPT this without it affecting my self-esteem. This is an amazing feeling. 

Although there is still a long way to go in my path of recovery, I am allowing myself to enjoy this moment. This is what HEALING feels like. 

 

photo credit: Loren Schmidt

 

 

Fragmented Memory

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So far, my blogging journey has allowed me a space to move memories from my mind into something more tangible, a place where they are organised rather than floating around. It’s like I can remember, then write and they leave me for a while. I am able to live more in the present as a result.

As memories seep into my mind I have enjoyed searching flickr for a visual representation of how I feel. And as I was reflecting on my memories and how fragmented they are using various search terms, this beautiful photo appeared; it captures the state of my memory, where one thing is in focus, only some small detail and the rest fades to nothing.

One of these memories popped into my mind in the early hours of the morning as I lay in a bed, not my own and not able to sleep. In this memory I am yet again a fly on the wall. Outside of my body looking in. I can see myself lying in this bed screaming, crying and in pain. I am sunburned on my back. We are at the Mother’s cousins house. The room is dark and I am alone, left alone and crying. This is the strongest feeling of the memory, being alone, feeling alone, not being cared for. I don’t remember how long I was left there, in the memory it feels like forever. I can hear the Mother talking, laughing with her cousins. She does not check on me. Instead, as I remember this I can see how much my sunburn was an inconvenience for her. Clearly she had plans for a good night and nothing was going to stop her. Much like this photograph, this is the only part of the memory I remember. I don’t remember where or how I got so severely sunburned. I don’t remember leaving and going home.

I’ve often wondered why my memory is fragmented, with only small snippets, like flashes that fade to nothing. In therapy I learned that emotional or psychological trauma can and does affect memory. That this memory loss is a survival mechanism in the brain to protect from further psychological harm. There is a very real possibility that I will never remember everything because the emotional torture and physical abuse was so constant and so pervasive that bringing them into consciousness may in fact be more damaging than not remembering.

 

 

‘fragments of my memory’  Sonny NG

 

The Cutting Pain You Can Not See

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I drew this picture when I was in Year 11. That would have made me somewhere between 15 and 16 years of age. This picture was stuck on my wall, this picture was seen by anyone who entered our home. No-one ever asked me about the picture. No one raised an alarm that I would draw a picture of the Mother in such a grotesque way. At this point in my life I had begun self-injuring, cutting at my skin with razor blades or broken glass. Anything to distract me from the emotional pain, which now I only realise retrospectively. Drawing pictures like this must have been a cathartic experience to process the amount of hatred I felt towards the Mother that could not be expressed in any other way.

So here it is, I am looking at this picture through the eyes of someone so different to the girl back then and it brings tears to my eyes when I connect with this pain of the past. This pain grabs at my heart and then I can feel the ‘ball’. This is how I refer to the emotional trauma I carry with me everyday. If I allow myself to feel this ‘ball’ of pain too much I can experience panic attacks that feel out-of-body or I can shake uncontrollably. At different times during the years of therapy there have been moments of truly connecting with this unresolved pain and there are no words to describe the utter heartache my body feels, it physically hurts. Feeling scared is a severe understatement.

As I look back now, the first memories of experiencing this ball of pain began in those teenage years. This is where the name calling from the Mother truly began to escalate and affect me negatively. At this point in time I would swing between hysterical laughing and hours of crying. I was suicidal. Around this time I met a boy, this would be my first boyfriend, my first experience of love and sex. When I would come home after staying at his place, the Mother would say “Did you have a good fuck last night?” with such viciousness in her tone. And I would say we don’t fuck, we love each other. And she would scoff at me.

As I look back, it would have been so nice to have a mother who could embrace this new chapter in my life journey. Perhaps guide and accept that I was growing into a woman. A mother who would love me. And that is the clincher right there. For years I have wished for the Mother to love me. To truly love me without an agenda. In this later part of my life I have been grieving. I have mourned and cried for the Mother I never had and have slowly come to accept that the person who birthed me into this world is not capable of any genuine affection and love.

Since June last year I went from little contact with her to no contact at all. What I witnessed triggered me to the point of no return. In previous blogs I have discussed how the Mother has little regard for what is appropriate conversation for a child. On this particular day, the Mother was discussing my brother in front of my daughter. I politely asked her to stop multiple times. (To understand why I have no contact with my brother see this link here). The Mother proceeded to include my 5 year old in the conversation by directly asking her “its ok for me to talk about your Uncle and cousins isn’t it?” The Mother caught my daughter in the middle, she was between a grandmother and her own Mum who was clearly distressed. In response to the Mother’s question, my daughter began to self-injure, she started to bang her hand into her head and laugh hysterically. I could not believe my eyes, here was my precious little girl displaying similar behaviour to when I was a teenager. In that moment, I mustered every remaining strength in my body to stay calm, pack our bags and leave. And I have not seen the Mother since then. There is no turning back from here. The Mother is a toxic influence and I finally see that it is not possible to even have occasional contact with her. She has no respect for boundaries and no respect for the mind of a child.

 

The Mother Talks Too Much

Three wise monkeys

Photo credit: Anderson Mancini

So many things a child’s ear should not hear…

The first one being that when the Mother was heavily pregnant with me, my Dad tried to kill me by throwing her through the glass coffee table in our living room. This is one of those stories that also fed my fear of Dad, throughout my childhood I believed that he did try to to kill me. When I was in my 20’s I asked him about this; he said that the Mother was lying and it never happened.

When I was a baby and would crawl up to Dad, he would put me on his foot and kick me away. The Mother constantly reminded me about this and the fact that he did not like me or want me near.

As a child, I grew up knowing the sexual pressure the Mother was experiencing in the marriage with Dad. He wanted her to do things in the bedroom that she wasn’t comfortable with. I felt  so sorry for her that she had to do certain things to keep him happy but also didn’t feel like I really understood either. He likes blow jobs and anal sex. I was in primary school.

She often said that Dad hated my brother from the moment he was born, she would say it was because he had dark skin.

If we were ever to be robbed and had dangerous people in our home, the Mother said she would save us by seducing the men.  And to let her be alone with them in the bedroom. I remember feeling so safe, she loved us so much that she would sacrifice herself for our safety.

As a teenager she would burn photos of my dad into a pot and say “spells”. I participated and repeated the words with her. I felt scared when we did this.

I only have these snippets of talking memories in my mind, these are all I can remember. And for a long time were a part of my own life story in how I understood myself, how I related to my Dad, how I thought I was better than my brother because I had blue eyes and blonde hair.

I looked up to her so much and felt as though I was right there with her through everything. For my whole childhood, Dad was the bad guy and we were victims. What I didn’t realise was this other game going on, this narcissistic game where I was being played and toyed with.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing Chasey

Tidal Zone 2

Picture Credit: Andrew

As I got older, the physical abuse with the strap lessened. It was at this point in my childhood Dad would use his hands to physically abuse me. There are few memories of these, this being one of them.

We were in Mornington on a family holiday, visiting Sorrento. On this particular day we were walking around the beach and the shops. I remember feeling bored. Then I saw a ferry. I asked about the ferry and was told it takes people to Queenscliff and back again.

I got so excited and really wanted to go on the ferry. When we started walking towards it I thought maybe we were. But then we started walking in the opposite direction. At this moment, I remember making a comment about the day being boring.

Dad turned around, looked at me then began running. I ran thinking that we we’re playing chasey. I started laughing and feeling excited.

When he got me, he pinned me to the ground, got on top and started smacking my face in really fast. I remember making eye contact with a man in his car, we locked eyes for a moment and he drove away. The memory ends.

Getting this memory out of my head and onto paper has allowed me to cry. I have sat here crying for the first time at the sheer sadness of being so utterly misunderstood. At the feeling of happiness being so quickly turned into fear.

One of the more unusual things about this memory is that in the moment of locking eyes with the man in his car, I am seeing him through my own eyes in the memory. Even now as I write this I keep seeing the look on his face through my own eyes. This part of the memory is different because I’m not the observer.

I am a Mum now and my young child often says she’s bored, or this is boring. I smile and say well let’s find something to do. Quite often she doesn’t want to and would prefer to just stay bored.  I know it’s ok to feel bored, this is part of the childhood experience.

The Mornings

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Picture Credit: Kevin Dooley

“Any sorrow, upon the morrow, must surely fade away. For there is naught, that can’t be sought, upon a bright new day” – Mary Marks

My Dad was ‘The Man’ of the home, what he said went, no negotiation, no family discussion, no consideration for how other people might feel. I learnt from a very early age to accept this. For example, tiptoe around the house when he was sleeping, especially if he had been drinking the night before.

I vaguely remember my brother and I waking up early most mornings, walking quietly to the TV room and we would watch cartoons for what felt like hours.

The thing that would wake us up so early is my Dad’s long wee in the toilet. Door wide open and the sound of a long, long wee, followed by the biggest fart you’ve ever heard. The sound would echo through the house. I never lay their annoyed until I was much older, as a child it was simply time to sneak to the TV room and watch cartoons. I felt happy.

Then, later in the morning Dad would have his shower. And afterwards walk back to his bedroom naked. I would see my Dad’s penis daily, he didn’t care that I was looking. I would often hear Mother yell out, “cover yourself” or “get a towel” or “kids, don’t look” and he would just keep walking, ignoring her.

As I grew into my teens, he would make sure there was a clear pathway, then do the naked dash to his bedroom. It was at this point I knew him better.  As soon as I heard the shower stop, I knew to make myself scarce. Whatever I was doing I’d make sure that I was around a corner, or in my room. Then I’d wait, sometimes I’d stand quietly and wait for 5 minutes until he was definitely in his bedroom.

One morning when I was much older, either 14 or 15. I went to have a shower at the time Dad normally had his shower. He came in the bathroom and did his morning shave, the glass was opaque so he wouldn’t have been able to see me naked. Then, I yelled out, “I need to get out now can you leave?”

Expecting he would leave I turned the water off. He didn’t leave. He let me stand there and did not pass a towel over for what felt like an eternity. Perhaps, this was his way of telling me to never interrupt his morning ever again. And I didn’t.