In the middle of 2010, my life was going in the right direction; I felt confident, I had a relatively fulfilling job, and I had a plenty of good people around me. It was as though my life could only get better.
Unfortunately, my life was about to get worse, a lot worse, and everything changed one morning before I went to work. I remember being woken up by my father, and being told that my mother had had a stroke.
I Carried On
At this point, I didn’t really know what a stroke was, but by the sound of my father’s voice it was clear that something bad had happened. My father said that he would go to the hospital with her, so I went to work.
However, when I went to see her in hospital after, I was horrified by what I saw. My mother was laid out on the bed and she was unable to speak or move.
I Was In a Bad Way
To see my mother like this caused tears to well up in my eyes and my throat tightened up. So, although my mother had caused me such much pain and suffering over the years, I was still affected by what I saw.
Growing up if felt responsible for my parents and, to see my mother like this, made me feel as though I had failed. Still, I did my best to hide how I felt from others; I didn’t feel safe enough to express my emotions.
A Cover Up
And one of the main reasons why I felt this way was because my mother would often tell me to stop moaning if I expressed myself, or I would end up being ignored. I had learnt from a young age that my feelings were not important.
I ended up disconnecting from my feelings and going along with what other people wanted. But even though I had to do this in order to survive, there was another part of me that was anything but submissive.
It was then not possible for me to rebel physically, but what I did have was my own mind, which allowed me to rebel mentally. I didn’t care if my parents told me something, as I would still question what I heard.
In a way, it was me against my family, and I had to do what I could to protect my mind. This could then be seen as a time when I developed the ability to think critically, or perhaps it was always there.
A Big Difference
Anyway, I continued to visit my mother in hospital, and it was hard for me to come to terms with what had happened. For so long, my mother had been a larger than life figure, and someone who had so much control over me and other people at home.
This was just the beginning, though, as my father went into hospital the following year and didn’t come out. My mother could use one side of her body and speak at this point, but that was it.
I was retraumatized
And due to what was triggered within me, after my mother came home from hospital a little while after, I ended up feeling even worse. It was as if I just ended up experiencing a lot of fear, and this meant that I would often go into fight, flight or freeze mode.
I soon came to see why this was taking place - it was the result of how my mother looked and how she sounded. Through having a stroke, my mother looked serious and her voice was the same, and this reminded me of how she looked when I was harmed as a child.
Consciously, I had no idea what was going on, but at a deeper level, her facial expressions and tone of voice reminded me of a time when I was physically abused. It then didn’t matter that my mother was in a wheel chair and couldn’t do much to harm me.
If I didn’t do as I was told when I was younger I would be in trouble, and part of me still believed that I would be in trouble if I didn’t do what my mother wanted. What made this even worse was that I had to take my mother to see my father when he was in hospital.
Part of me wanted to get away from her and another part of me wanted revenge for what she had done. Yet I couldn’t get away and I certainly didn’t want to harm her, so this created a lot of inner tension.
Another thing that made this even harder was that it was normal for people to feel sorry for my mother and to overlook what was going on for me. After all, I was a grown man and she was a disabled woman.
Under the Surface
If someone was able to put my appearance to one side and to really connect to what was going on for me, they would have seen that I felt like a terrified child. And if they were able to go back in time, they would have also seen that my mother used to be very different.
I remember going into a supermarket in December 2011 or 2012 and being dissociated. I felt completely disembodied; I was very different from the person who would talk to people wherever I went.
I couldn’t Give Up
I had to find a way to deal with what I was going through, yet it was as though I was looking for something in the dark. I tried things to change what was going on in my mind, but this only got me so far.
It was only after I started to heal my emotional body and to let go of the trauma within me that my life changed. Trying to change how I felt by focusing on my mind was like trying to cut a tree down with a knife – it was a total waste of time.