My earliest childhood memory is very vague, and I often wonder if it’s my memory or just what people have told me. I was 13 months old, I was on a bed, being wheeled through the hospital by two porters. One of my legs was broken. Supposedly because I “wriggled” so much as my Mum changed my nappy.
My parents split when I was two and I remember crying and flinging myself after him as he left. I don’t have many more memories from my childhood. There are a few when I was with my Dad, who idolised me and saw me each week. I got to stop at his house one weekend a month and it was my haven. I had my own room and I felt truly loved.
I think that most of my childhood memories with my Mum were when I was about 7, her brother and best friend both died suddenly, times were hard, but they were hard for me too.
One day she pushed me down the stairs, I was holding a dolly’s pushchair and I landed on it, I just remember that I hurt so much and was bleeding. Her favourite thing to hit me with was an upturned walking stick, I still don’t know why she even had it? Was it just for me? She used to send me to school in trousers to hide the marks and bruises.
I can remember she’d come home from work and the first thing she’d do was pour herself a Martini because “the music from next door was so loud and she needed to relax”. I can’t ever remember the noise of the music next door, just her need to have a drink.
She would wash my hair at bathtime, then because it wasn’t drying quick enough for her, she’d push me closer and closer to the gas fire, my skin getting hotter and hotter with each push, me wanting to tell her to stop, but too scared incase she hit me.
I had asthma as a child, but it wasn’t diagnosed ‘til I was older. Each time I got a cold it got really bad, and I’d be wheezing and coughing a lot, she’d send me to sit on the stairs alone because she couldn’t stand to hear me cough anymore.
She used to drive me to my Dad’s sometimes and I found out many years later that sometimes she’d have drunk a whole bottle of vodka before getting me in the car.
My sister left home when I was about 11. I don’t know if she’d ever suffered abuse from our Mum, but she never mentioned it if she did and to this day, we’ve never spoken about it. I suspect that she knew about it, but have always felt that she was the favourite and got away without all the abuse.
I used to self abuse, part of me wanting to feel the pain, as I felt I deserved it, another part wanting to make someone see what was happening to me. I doubt very much if I’d have admitted what my Mum put me through if anyone had asked though in reality.
I used to cut myself with razor blades, or ‘fall’ down the stairs. At that time, I believe I wanted to die, but then I’d feel even weaker afterwards as I hadn’t even been able to do that.
My Mum left me alone in the family home when I was 17, it was such a relief, she was about 7 miles away, remarried and we built a close(ish) relationship, seeing each other once a week, but her not being able to abuse me anymore.
Three years later I met someone and moved away. Soon after we found out we were pregnant and were over the moon, we told everyone our good news, including my Mum, who was pleased (I think?). Just a few weeks later, I started to bleed, we called the doctor out and he sent me to hospital. They didn’t do a scan straight away, just told me to take things easy, so we went away, knowing in our hearts that our baby was already gone.
My partner was a rugby player and had a game that day. He didn’t want to go, I said we should, I needed normality. Half way through the game I got the urge to ring my Mum and tell her about the impending miscarriage. I can’t remember her exact words, but I can remember the sentiment, it was flippant, like it didn’t matter, even though my heart was breaking and I was in floods of tears on the phone.
She then went on to tell me that she had news of her own, she sounded ashamed as she told me that she was an alcoholic, but was doing something about it. Maybe selfish of me, but I had hoped for more support when I needed her? Still I wanted to please her though, and turned it round so I was supportive of her.
Over the following years, I grew to feel quite proud of my Mum, she seemed to have really beaten the drink and was taking control of her life. She talked “honestly” about her deep regrets for letting alcohol ruin my childhood and about her “deep shame” at the pain, suffering and abuse she had caused me.
I still hurt, I still didn’t understand it, but I sensed that she needed me to be strong for her at that time, so I pushed my feelings to the back of my mind and carried on supporting her, telling her how proud of her I was.
When I had my first child in ‘01 she was there the following day, glowing with pride. As my daughter grew I told my Mum that I’d have never let her near her if she hadn’t beaten the alcohol as I wouldn’t have her ruin her childhood like she’d ruined mine. She cried and thanked me for giving her a second chance. She doted just as much on my second child who I had in ‘03 and I thought that maybe things would be ok.
In 2005 we celebrated her 60th birthday with just a small family gathering, she told me it was the best thing we could’ve done for her and thanked me for organising it all. Shortly afterwards she spoke to my sister and me, telling us both that she’d come to realise she wasn’t in fact an alcoholic, because she could have the odd glass of wine and then not drink again for weeks. She was so calm, it was like telling me that she was going to the shops for some gravy on her way home.
I was so worried, it seemed to me that she would once again become an alcoholic, because surely she had always been one? It’s taken me nearly 2 years of slowing growing distant from my Mum and our relationship falling apart again for me to realise that I am so resentful of her now.
She blamed all the abuse I suffered on being an alcoholic then casual as anything, told me she never had been an alcoholic afterall. She’s never talked to me about why she thought she was an alcoholic, and now she doesn’t. She’s never given me any other “reason” for why “it” all happened.
I don’t know if my Mum is drinking again or not. I am still in contact with her, but she moved even further away than she was before, she very rarely texts or rings me, unless she has a problem and I have no real desire to speak to her right now. I wish it wasn’t that way, but I can’t have this turned round on me again. She has, apparently, found the ‘finish’ line for her voyage with alcoholism and the past, me I’m still trying to get to the starting line.
My life, with exception of my wonderful children, is in tatters. I’m in my 30s and have a string of violent and abusive relationships behind me. I was bullied at school for no other reason that I can think of other than I had “victim” written all over my face.
I was sexually abused by a neighbour and friend of my Mum from the ages of 14 to 17, when I finally found a strong voice inside me to say NO.
I have told my Dad bits here and there about what’s happened in the past, and he tells me that he is sorry and wished he had been able to keep me when he and my Mum split up, as he never wanted to leave me. I can’t tell him everything, I love him too much to see his pain at the feeling he’s let me down.
My reason for finding myself at the entrance to the path to my recovery right now is because I’ve just split with another partner. While I’m in no way taking the blame for all that went wrong, I will admit that I pushed him away a lot over the last couple of weeks as all the realisation of why I’m so resentful to my Mum.
I’d like to think that I would’ve shared it with him sooner rather than later, but I’ll never know now. Last week would’ve been my first child’s 14th birthday. That’s the only thing I can think has triggered all ‘this’ in me right now.
Finally putting the pieces together of why I’ve been becoming so resentful towards my Mum, why I feel as if I have no control over my life and events that happen and why I pushed my ex, who was quite possibly the best man, apart from my Dad, that I have ever had in my life, away.
Right now, life feels bleak and lonely. Everyone tells me I’m strong, but I don’t feel it. I feel like that little girl who had no-one to turn to. I am over-emotional. My youngest child will sometimes see me crying and come up and saw “aw, are you sad”? “do you want a cuddle”? My heart swells with pride at how compassionate he is and how much he loves me. Thanks to my children I know now that I would never commit suicide, even though the feelings sometimes come back to me.
I have no confidence. I hate myself. I hate what my Mum has made me become. I hate that I have let her do this to me. I hurt inside constantly and push people that love me away as I’m scared they’ll hurt me too.
It’s only been in the last 6 months or so that I’ve been able to open up ANY feelings to two really good friends that I have and I’m still slightly wary that they might in some way betray me, although I do trust them.
One day I’d like to think that I will become a survivor, rather than always being the victim.