Over the years, I have had many conversations with my mother about what her childhood was like. This wasn’t simply because I wanted to know what this time in her life was like; it was because I wanted to find out why she behaved the way she did.
As the years went by she settled down and was no longer as abusive, but what remained was a general lack of empathy, amongst other things. Being this way was undoubtedly what made it easier for her to behave in a destructive manner and to be abusive when I was growing up.
A Number of Answers
When I asked her about her childhood, I would generally be told that this was a time when everything was fine. On the rare occasions when she didn’t say this, she spoke about the moments that were not fine and what annoyed her when she was growing up.
Yet, if I mentioned this later on, it would be as though I was just making it all up. It became clear that there was what actually happened and then there was what she believed had happened.
A Defence Mechanism
So, while being in denial stopped her from having to face up to what took place, it also caused her to be out of touch with reality. There was the effect that her childhood had on her, the effect that this had on how she treated her own children and the impact it had on her own mental, emotional and physical health.
Out of the need to avoid pain, the mind will cause someone to disconnect from reality and to create a false reality. In this reality, they can see life however they want to see it and believe whatever they want about the past; it won’t matter if this has absolutely nothing to do with what is actually going on or what really took place in the past.
A Matter of Survival
All the defences that my mother created had allowed her to keep her pain and trauma at bay, but it meant that she couldn’t face reality. It was far easier for her to stay detached from reality than to face up to what had really been going on.
There is a strong chance that these defences were put in place when she was very young. Through being brought up in a dysfunctional environment, this was probably the only thing that she could do to handle the trauma.
An Interesting Conversation
What gave me a clear insight into why mother was so controlling and saw my family and I as someone to be used, was a conversation I had with her a little while ago. She was going through old photos and a picture of her grandmother, her mother’s mother, was found.
In this picture she didn’t come across as particularly pleasant, her hands were on her hips and she looked very uptight. My mother said that she was “a bitch” and, when I asked her why she said this, she said that she treated her as well as others like a slave.
At this time I was thinking about her my mother behaved in the same way, but I didn’t bother bringing this up. I had spoken about this many, many times before and my mother would deny it.
Anyway, this is a clear example of how abuse is often passed from one generation to another. It is then as though each generation lacked consciousness, and this is why they treated others in the same way that they themselves were treated.
A Big Cover Up
I think that what plays a part here is when someone experiences abuse and doesn’t work through what happened, this can cause them to treat other people in the same way that they were treated.
Disconnecting from their pain will make it easier for them to avoid how they feel and this can allow them to stay loyal to their caregiver/s. Their need to be loyal can be so strong that it stops them from being able to acknowledge what took place when they were younger.
I think that this emphasises how important it is for someone to reach out for support if they were abused. This will give them the chance to process their own pain as opposed to abusing others.
However, this is only going to take place if they have the level of awareness required to do so. Sadly, this is something that doesn’t always take place and this causes them to repeat the cycle of abuse.