It’s been a while since I have dropped by …. the 4th Step had in knots and still has, however I am starting to untangle the biggest twists.
In the past week, someone close to me was open and honest with me – she put a name to my past and all of the pain and memories I have held onto so tightly for fear of drowning in pain. Instead of confronting, learning and nurturing myself, I dulled my pain in wine, drugs and any other way I could find a way to ease the hurt and confusion.
I always knew that my childhood was abnormal – dysfunctional at best. Chaos, secrets, pain, death and blood featured heavily in my memories and life up until the age of 13. I am still struggling with remembering a lot about my childhood that does not feature drunk parents, suicidal mother and an abusive, extremely sick father. The complete opposite memories are of being the perfect grand daughter who looks lovely, says the right things at the right time, who is the keeper of secrets and the teller of all. Talk about conflicting expectations and experiences – in one day I would go from holding the hair out of mummys face while she vomited Victorian Bitter beer into a blue bucket I had retrieved from the kitchen that morning – in the hope she could brush my long hair so I could go to school.
Come afternoon, after school, I would go home to an empty flat, spaghetti bolognese simmering on the stove and a note from my mum telling me she was at the “Collo” with Judy – that she would be home in time for dinner. My best friends mum and my mums drinking buddy. I would call Brandy at her flat across the internal car park – I could see her kitchen window from mine – and let her know where they were. I would then wait. Wait for my mum to return to feed me. At around 8 o’clock, I would start the phone calls to the pub – the barmaid would know me – and ask mum when she would be home. Eventually I would have turned the spag bog off in case it burnt. I would be hungry so I would eat bread until mum came home – mostly past midnight when the pub would shut.
Then, on a bad night, I would be awake at 3am calling an ambulance and my nana and pa to come and get me. Mum had slashed her wrists in the bath again, or taken an overdose of pills, or dad had been around and bashed her. Either way, I would open the door to the burly ambulance officers who would take my mum to hospital. Hopefully my nana and pa had made the 20 minute walk in time to be there with me to ensure I wasn’t left alone – we would then walk back to their place where I would spend the night, the week or whole months living with them until mum was back to ‘normal’.
Countless other memories include needles, drug abuse, men, women, strangers, police and guns.
And apparently this is called child abuse.
I was not physically hurt myself, however I was witness to the chaos that was my parents life. And this is a form of child abuse.
I still feel strange thinking about my childhood in those terms, however it fits. It resounds on an intellectual level.
I should never have been exposed to that life, a life of blood, death and abuse of self – nor should I have been asked to be the keeper of secrets and the teller of all.
I am now starting to feel compassion for the little girl with long hair that just tried to survive in any situation as much as she could. She did the best she could with the tools she had. She wasn’t bad. She didn’t mean to hurt people. She was not supposed to be the protector of her mum. She was not to blame for the death of her dad, nor the pain that her mum inflicted on herself.
She was innocent. I was innocent.
I was abused in many ways, I wasn’t protected as I should have been.
But that’s ok. As long as I deal with it now as an adult and feel compassion and love for that little girl that is still lost, hurt and scared.
Keep coming back.