Whilst my mother was in hospital recovering from her stroke, towards the end of 2010, it was just me and my father at home. But even though my mother wasn’t there, it was so much more peaceful.
And this was something that became clear when my mother came out of hospital; the energy of our house changed. It didn't stop there, though, as I soon noticed that I started to change, too.
It All Came Back
The way in which my mother looked and sounded ended up reminding me how she looked when I was being abused as a child. I didn’t realise this at the time; I didn’t really know what was going on.
In a way, it was as though someone had found a deconstruct button on me and pressed it. What this meant was that I ended up being overwhelmed with fear, terror, panic and anxiety, and this was due to the trauma that had been triggered.
When I was being physically abused as a child, I could either run away or I could freeze. Another option would have been for me to fight, of course, but I was far too small and dependent to do this.
As a result of this, when this trauma was triggered it would be normal for me to want to get away or my body would just freeze up. This was a time when my father and my grandfather (my mother’s dad) were there to look after her.
It Got Worse
The following year, my father went into hospital for a heart operation, and this meant that I could no longer keep at a distance. It was down to me to take her to see my father and to do other things.
The last thing I wanted was to get into a car with her; I didn’t want to go anywhere near her. It didn’t matter that this abuse took place many, many years ago, as the post-traumatic stress that I was experiencing made it seem as though it was happening all over again.
Reliving The Past
So in the same way that my boundaries were violated on a daily basis as a child, I felt as though I was being violated all over again. It was then irrelevant as to how old I was, how strong I was, or how much work I had done on my mind up until this point.
And along with freezing and wanting to get away, the wounded child within me was full of rage. This part of me would have happily killed her, but another part of me wasn’t prepared to go to prison after growing up in what felt like one.
What topped this all off was that there were people around during this time who had no idea what happened when I was younger. This meant that they told me to “look after your mother!” and they couldn’t understand why I was so reluctant to do so.
Perhaps this was because they had (or did have) a close relationship with their mother and were, therefore, not prepared to empathise, or maybe they were in denial. Thus, through being unable to face up to what happened when they were younger, it caused them to idealise their mother.
I Couldn’t Believe It!
I found it hard to get my head around how different I felt - everything I had built up just seemed to have disappeared. I had felt confident, generally in control of my emotions, and as though my life was finally going in the right direction, amongst other things.
But after all this pain had come up, I felt just like I did as a child: powerless, worthless, boundaryless, emotionally unstable, and fearful. I made me think that I had no control over my life and that what I had been doing all this time had no effect on me.
As I reflect on what took place, I can see that this trauma had to come up at some point; it wasn’t just going to disappear. I had to dig deep within myself during this time – I had to keep going.
Giving up wasn’t an option; I had already come so far, and deep down I believed that there was a way out. And, fortunately, I have gradually been able to move beyond the trauma that was within me.
When it comes to healing from childhood abuse, I would say that it is vital for someone to be patient and persistent - this is not something that is going to happen overnight. There is likely to be frustration and anger, but when this happens one can take a step back and think about why they are doing this to begin with.
No matter what they have been though, they didn’t deserve to be treated in this way; how they were treated was a reflection of what was going on for their caregiver/s, and not a reflection of who they are. And if they do give up, they can get back on their feet soon after.