Growing up in a guest house meant that there was always something to do; therefore, there wasn’t much time to relax. If I didn’t get up at a certain time or disappeared when I was supposed to be working, I would often be in a lot of trouble.
Sometimes I would go out when I got home from school or at the weekend, but it wasn’t always easy for me to do so. I would be told that there was a lot to do and, as I lived there, I would have to play my part.
Through receiving these kinds of messages, I would often end up feeling guilty for going out and putting my needs first. When I was at primary school, my closest friend was often physically abused by his brother or step father.
Years later I told him that I was also being abused during this time and he was shocked by what he heard. Ironically, this was someone who used to come over to my house to get away from it all.
I Was To Blame
I remember one occasion when I went to my room - or should I say escaped to my room -and my mother came and told me that my father was out there working. She said that he shouldn’t be out there struggling at his age.
It was then not that she was the one who was the slave driver or that he could have stopped if he wanted, no – I was the one who was at fault. In reality, my mother was trying to make me feel bad for something that wasn’t my responsibility.
Living in Fear
During this time I remember being told that if I didn’t “muck in” I would soon need to find somewhere else to live. I argued back, but it was incredibly scary to be told this as a young child.
And as I was neglected a lot as a child, I had a strong fear of being abandoned. Thus, it seemed as though it would only be a matter of time before I would end up being abandoned by my parents.
If I did what I was told everything would be fine, but it would be a very different story if I didn’t. My worth depended on what I did and not on who I was, which was why I had to do as I was told in order to be treated well.
One way of looking at this would be to say that the love I received was conditional, but this would imply that I was loved when I did as I was told. It would be more accurate to say that I wasn’t seen as an individual, I was seen as an object that existed to fulfil my parent’s needs.
A Human Doing
If I did as I was told, I was good and, if I didn’t, I was seen as bad. I then came to believe that I could earn my parents love by working hard and doing what they wanted me to do.
This saved me a lot of drama and allowed me to be approved of, yet it stopped me form being able to develop in the right way. I didn’t know what my needs were and I was not in touch with my inherent value.
I Felt Lost
The years went by and although I was soon expected to find something to do with my life, I would still help out at our guest house. However, this all started to change after my father passed on in 2011 and shortly after, when our guest house was closed for good.
For years I had thought about what about would be like to no longer have to wok all the time and to be free. Nevertheless, now that this had happened I felt empty; it was as though I had been in prison but now that I was free, I wanted to go back.
I Had To Start Again
I had played a role for so long that now that I didn’t have to play the same role, I didn’t know who I was or what I was going to do. I had been writing for about a year at this point, but it wasn’t a big part of my life.
What was clear was that I wasn’t going to wake up one day with an idea of who I was or what I was going to do – it would be a slow process. I had to gradually let go of who I was and to fully embrace my true needs.
Half and Half
I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water, though, as I was aware of things that I found fulfilling. Making a difference in some way and being of service was something that interested me, and this was something I could do by writing.
I started writing whilst our guest house was still going, so it was as though one business ended up making way for another. The experiences that I had in this house paved the way for me to do what I do now.