Category Archives: mother

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 “Bully” in my life

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In Year 11 of high-school I became friends with girl who had bulimia. At school she would often compare our leg size with her hands, measuring her leg against mine. One day she said to me, “I can help you lose weight”. She took me to the bathroom and put her fingers down my throat to make me throw up. It didn’t work, however I really wanted to be like her. So I went home and continued putting my fingers down my throat until I threw up.

It didn’t take long until I also had bulimia. I did all the classic things that girls with eating disorders do, I was secretive and so sure I was doing a good job at hiding my purges. Until one day the Mother heard me purging and confronted me. From this point I didn’t care to hide it. And she didn’t care to help either. After meals she would encourage me to purge or make some mean sarcastic comment about what I would do after meals. The craziest thing she did a handful of times was also try to throw up her meal. And then later ask how I do it because she wasn’t able to.

The Mother told everyone I threw my food up, she told friends in front of me when they came to our house to visit.  I honestly don’t know why, perhaps it was some attempt to shame and embarrass me. I wont ever know.

I was alone in this experience, and food became a source of comfort. I was trapped in the bulimic cycle of self-harm. Swinging between food to numb emotional pain or cutting myself with razors. So deep in this darkness, my bulimia became my own inner “Bully”. I battled with this Bully everyday for 15 years. Trying various kinds of therapies and nothing seemed to work. I was trapped. At the worst times on this journey I would purge up to 10 times a day and abuse laxatives to the point of passing out in the bathroom. Once having to go to hospital due to cracking the back of my head on a tap.

As I got older, I felt as though even therapists thought I was a lost cause. There was no hope, and I came to a place of complete acceptance that I would be bulimic forever. And that I would just have to learn to manage this disease of my mind. So it became a two-steps forward one-step back. It was at this point that the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy I did years before actually began to help. My life was lived in 3-hour blocks. Getting through three hours of a day and then a small meal, making sure I had at least 5-6 small meals with me everywhere I went so that I never risked becoming too hungry. And slowly I began to binge and purge less and less. However, the final turning point for me in this journey was becoming pregnant. I had this little life growing inside me, and her well-being became so much more important than my Bully. Focusing on her enabled me to get over the final hurdle.

To this day I am still conscious of triggers, one in particular is the Mother. As I saw her less and less over the years I began to notice a pattern. In her company I would binge and after her visits would purge. This relationship between eating disorders and the mother-daughter relationship is a well established one. The dysfunction between her and myself is so utterly toxic that it would re-ignite my ‘bully’. Having this awareness has allowed me to regain some control over food in her presence. That being said, I really believe that having children and looking after their well-being has allowed me the space to also look after myself.

The time I have alone between caring for my family and working everyday is so precious, that now I prefer to read the news, put my feet up and have a cup of tea. Sometimes I’ll have a small biscuit or some other sweet treat and I am not triggered. Now I understand what it is to actually ‘take care of yourself’. This is something that has taken me a long time to learn. Children of narcissistic parents don’t ever learn to do this, it’s something we need to put effort towards teaching ourselves. My entire childhood was on high alert to someone else’s needs and moods, there was never an opportunity to actually learn how to self-regulate. And now I’m learning. Finally, in my late 30’s I’m learning to take care of myself and be happy in my own company.

 

 

False Beliefs Narcissistic Parents Teach Their Children

Narcissistic parents might like to think they’re the best parents ever, but they are so far from it. They instill the worst possible beliefs in their children that often follow (well, maybe more like haunt) those children for the rest of their lives. Below is a list of a few of them. “You need […]

via False Beliefs Narcissistic Parents Teach Their Children — CynthiaBaileyRug

Is Strength Found in Forgiveness?

Art Journaling Flowers and Forgiveness

Picture credit: Julie Jordan Scott

Both the Mother and my Father are very much a part of my life. There have been periods where I’ve had no contact with either or both, however one thing or another has always happened over the years that has led to contact being re-established.

Now that I am married, have two children and what I like to consider a fairly happy, stable life they want to see and talk to me more than ever before.

You may be asking yourself, why on earth I continue to have contact? The best answer I have is that through self-reflection and therapy I made a decision to re-define who I want to be. Do I want to be someone who hates and harbours resentment for the past. Or do I want to be someone who can forgive. I choose to at least try the path of forgiveness.

This has been an easier path to walk down in regards to my father. Like me, he is good at living in the present and we very rarely talk about the past. I think we both have an unspoken agreement not to discuss this too much. It’s a trigger for me, and well, he claims to not remember anything which is very frustrating.

The Mother on the other hand, lives in a perpetual past. She is a constant victim of everyone and everything. The Mother never holds herself accountable and will consistently place blame on those around her. This makes forgiving the past more difficult, because my present day interactions with her trigger memories and feelings of childhood. I want so much to be stronger around her, I don’t want to be triggered into this blubbering mess, or child-like state. It’s like she is the only person in the world who doesn’t see me for all my good qualities. I am only reminded of past transgressions or how I am the cause of her ill-health.

In trying to forgive, perhaps our current relationship is one where I can practice strength. I can learn to recognise my feelings and not react. One strategy I use when in her company is to imagine a sign on my chest that reads “Just Visiting”. It makes me smile and remember than I’m an adult now and she can’t hurt me.

Too Many Questions

Childhood Dream

Photo credit: calliphora ‘childhood dream’ 

Trigger warning – the following post may affect some readers

One of the traits of narcissistic people is this ability to make you feel and believe that you are the crazy one and not them. When they are confronted with what they have done, you can be told, “that never happened” or “wow, you have a great imagination”.

This is one of those memories which is vehemently denied by the Mother.

I’m so little, standing in the corner of the room, I distinctively remember my peach coloured walls, I’m crying, my brother is crying too. We are pertrified, I vaguely remember us just saying “no no no” over and over.

The Mother has a knife to my throat – “I’m going to kill you!” She’s screaming this at us – over and over “I’m going to kill you”. Then the memory ends.

As I look back through the lens of being a mother of two myself. There is a part of me which can empathise with the fact she may have been suffering and unable to cope. However, that’s where it ends. Even with various kinds of therapy I still can’t seem to forgive this, I can’t even forget it.

Since having my second child, I have been diagnosed with postpartum depression. There are days where I can not cope, days where I want to scream. I choose to walk away, I choose to ask for help. I choose to admit that at times, I can’t do this on my own. I take medication, I go to therapy, I keep trying to get better. I believe this is one of the fundamental differences between me and the Mother, I can admit I’m flawed.

For a long time I understood my upbringing through the lense of domestic violence, a drunk, unloving abusive father. That this in fact was the source of all my troubles. I attended counselling through out highschool just to get through.

The Mother was a victim too, people felt sorry for us, people wondered why we didn’t leave. And whenever we did leave, how come we came back? The Mother went to many domestic violence shelters when I was very little but she always went back. She was the typical battered wife. And for a long time I hated her for continually subjecting us to the physical abuse.

The real secret was the role she played in the violence. She encouraged my father to hit us when it suited her. Other times he would be violent because he wanted to. These were the times she really did try to protect us and throw herself in front of him. So where does this story fit in with the current rhetoric of family violence? Is her role in the violence simply a product of her also being abused? Are there any other mothers out there who participated in the violence towards their children?