Category Archives: family violence

Blood Dripping

blloooood

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

 

 

A Narcissistic Lullaby

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“Hush little girl, don’t you dare say a word,

You must forget all that, you’ve seen and heard.

But if my baby bird, decides it’s going to sing.

Mama will tell the world, that you’ve come unhinged.

Poor little child, your minds lying to you,

what you think, you recall is not completely true.

It’s not my fault that, you exaggerate and lie.

It seems Mama, can’t make you happy,

No matter how hard I try.

There’s food in the cupboards, and toys on the floor.

There’s clothes on your back, so what you complaining for?

So now hush little baby, and stop acting out.

Or Mama’s gonna give, you something to cry about”

Written by Kira Cooper 2018

Photo credit: a girl, dreaming her life away 

 

 

 

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.

 

Puzzle Pieces

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Picture Credit: LongEnough

For so long now, it feels like I’m trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together in some desperate attempt to understand why life unfolded the way it did. The frustrating thing about this is that I don’t have all the puzzle pieces, there are large gaps in my memory, most likely due to trauma and perhaps due to so many years passing since I was a child.

This morning a new puzzle piece was found,  covert sexual abuse. Upon reading this article I felt immediate relief that there is an actual term to conceptualise this experience. It’s something I have posted about here in The Mother Talks Too Much. This experience of knowing the sexual pressure she felt from my Dad, and becoming her emotional support from a young age, seems to fit with covert sexual abuse. Combine this with a father who shamelessly raked his eyes over me or came into the bathroom whilst I’m showering, all seems to have contributed to the erosion of my self  growing up in this toxic home.

So far, I have always wondered if I was sexually abused, everything I have experienced seems to fit with something like this. I’ve experienced depression, self-injury through cutting, an eating disorder, drug addiction, binge drinking, promiscuity, extreme self-loathing, multiple suicide attempts, traits of borderline personality disorder and most certainly have post-traumatic stress disorder. Having children has triggered memories, one very disturbing memory  is of a woman’s hand sexually abusing me. Now whether or not this memory is real is not what I am focused on now, what I realise in light of covert sexual abuse, is that it doesn’t need to have happened for there to be the same outcome. The memory could simply be a manifestation of the fact that whilst I may not have experienced “hands-on” sexual abuse, my experience of covert sexual abuse, of being sexualised, has resulted in the same experience.

I feel like a weight has been lifted, I feel as though I can release this idea that I need to remember something. A wave of acceptance has come over me, and I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other moving further away from this dark past.

 

Little Things

Broken heart

Picture credit: TimOve 

“Crying tears on the outside and blood on the inside, a stabbing feeling deep in my heart”

A little thing about the Mother that had a big impact on our day to day lives, and still does;

She is never, ever satisfied.

There was always something I did wrong, could have done better or not enough of. I would be chastised for mistakes or beliefs in her own head of how I caused something to happen for years following an event.

If I vacuumed the house, she’d be upset I didn’t clean the windows.

If I tidied my bedroom, she’d be upset I didn’t clean the kitchen.

If a photo was taken she was later angry about my posture.

When I wanted to ride my bike to school, she was angry and slammed the door in my face (a stranger got out of their car to help me cross the busiest road)

When I changed my hair colour to a deep red, she referred to me as “carrot head” until I changed the colour to a more socially acceptable colour, in her opinion.

When I was in a bicycle accident and couldn’t get up, it was my fault she hurt her back helping me get into the car.

When she went through a red light and almost had a collision, it was my fault. And I was actually trying to get us killed. I believed this for a long time.

When I was accepted into a uni degree she was annoyed at my excitement.

When I asked her why she doesn’t say nice things about me being pregnant for the first time, she replied “I don’t want you to get a big head”

There are so many more…

I think the biggest turning point in my feelings towards her was around age 15. I went away with a neighbours family for almost 2 weeks. I felt so homesick and missed the Mother so much. When I saw her on the platform I ran towards her, dropped all my bags and gave her the biggest hug. She immediately told me off for dropping my bags.

Then, in the car started yelling at me about the chores I didn’t do 2 weeks ago before leaving.

When we got home I went to my bedroom. This is my first memory of painful crying. My heart felt broken. I vowed to myself to never feel love for her again. Something inside me switched off.

In therapy I have begun to understand the dynamic with her a little better. During early childhood, everything I did was to keep her happy. Conform and mould into whatever she needed me to be. She was my world. This is what young children do. We do it for our very survival. She was the source of food and warmth. Then we grow up.

As I yearned for more of my own identity I believe this became a point of tension. Suddenly I don’t need the Mother so much, I want independance. I want certain freedoms, away from her. I was becoming a teenager who needed my own identity, I needed to figure out who I wanted to be. The Mother could not handle this natural separation. Instead she became extremely mean. Name calling was her way of bringing me back into line.

Name calling.

Every day.

I was so many things. So many nasty things.

Around this time Dad stopped physically abusing me, but now I was dealing with something else completely.

The next few years that followed are a little blurry in regards to the order of events.

I became bipolar. I would have extreme moments of happiness, laughing hysterically for hours followed by hours of crying. I attempted suicide, with 3 of those attempts landing me in hospital.

The accumulation of little things. Living with the Mother was daily emotional torture. This post scratches the surface of how these little daily interactions eroded my self-esteem and ability to even think for myself.

Now in therapy, one of the things I hope to achieve is finding my voice, allowing myself to have independent thought. Learning to find the words to express myself in a way that is constructive, assertive and respectful.

 

 

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.

First Memories

Memories

Picture credit: Fe Ilya

One of the first memories I have of the physical abuse is lying on the bed, my father is beating my brother and I with his belt. We are rolling around on the bed, screaming, trying to avoid being hit – and there she is – standing in the doorway – watching – “ok, ok…that’s enough” she says.

This was a common event – my brother and I might have been naughty for whatever reason – I don’t remember the details of our behaviour as we would have been very little – but I do remember the threats – “just wait till your father gets home” – “no no no please don’t tell him…please”.

I remember so many times pleaing with her to just keep our naughtiness to ourselves – and there she would be all smug – happy to have finally broken us – and I would sit there for however long, waiting for that inevitable moment he would come home, the Mother would tell him all about the naughty things we did.

And then he would reach for his belt.

He would take it off his pants, or go to the bedroom cupboard for another one. I would run. He would chase us. He would beat us.

It was only when she thought we had been punished enough, the Mother would make it stop.