This is not easy and I don’t really want to do this or subject you to it, but apparently you have to face these things, come to terms with them, grieve over them and release them Many of the books, almost all of the books I’ve read say this. So here goes…
One particularly bad episode of my mother beating the hell out of me was when I was four years old. She came to pick me up from preschool. We got home. I was chewing gum that a friend of mine had given me. I was not allowed to chew gum because my mother thought I would get cavities. But my friend had offered it to me, and being the forbidden fruit, I had taken it and popped it in my mouth.
My mother saw me chewing. She asked what I had in my mouth. I became very scared and said it was candy and spit it out on the ground before we went inside the house. She asked me again inside and I didn’t say anything. She went outside, found the piece of gum I’d spit out, came in and started punching me in my face. She had rings on. She hit me as hard as she could, when her hand got tired, she took off her shoes and hit me with those.
I had black eyes, a bloody nose, fat lips, bleeding copiously. The house was dark and I sat there, blood dripping from my face , black and blue marks getting bigger on my body. How does a four year old handle this onslaught from the one person who was supposed to love her? I don’t remember, I have no emotional memories of this event even though it is recorded in my brain vividly and accurately. The first emotion I remember was after the incidence. When my mother saw what she had done to me and felt guilty and came over and started to clean the blood off my face. I felt pure hatred. I felt anger. I knew what she had done was wrong. I knew I did not deserve it, and I hated her for it.
These kinds of things happened regularly, whenever she felt like it, she would completely lose control and beat me into a pulp. She used shoes, sticks, large cutting board sized wooden boards, hitting me against walls and furniture and leave me bleeding and bruised. With my hatred of her growing every time.
Finally, she dragged me by my hair, up to a second floor room. I was 14 years by then, bigger than her. She was whaling on me, hitting me, kicking me, when I got so angry, I lifted my hand to strike her. I didn’t hit her, but I wanted to. She immediately stopped. Went downstairs and told my aunts that I tried to hit her. They all came to me and said “How could you lift your hand on your mom, you must apologize!” I just looked at them and thought, FUCK that, I won’t apologize! And I didn’t.
I hated my mother, almost all the time. Of course I did love her, too. Very confusing, she wasn’t horrible to me all the time, but whenever she wanted to, she pummeled me. She had no control, no one to whom she was accountable. All my relatives except my adored grandmother looked the other way, but my grandmother was bedridden by then and couldn’t do much about it except shout at my mother to stop. My mother shouted back and told my grandmother that I was her daughter and she could do whatever she wanted with me. Not quite true, but that’s what she, in her crazed mind, thought.
From four years of age to 14, I was horrendously abused, blood, gore, she probably broke my nose, I do have a broken nose. Black and blue marks. Hidden with clothes so I could go to school, or I simply stayed at home if I looked too much like hell.
Did I deserve this, NO! Can anyone wonder why my flight or fight response is overactive?
Did I get love, affection, encouragement? Yes, from my grandmother. Did it make a difference, of course it did. Did it wipe out all the effects of the abuse inflicted upon me by my mother? No. Did it negate the fact that my father abandoned me at age 5? No.
Sometimes I wonder how, after suffering all this, without addressing it, how have I survived? Strength. That’s how. I was strong enough to know that my mother was wrong when I was 4 years old. I must have cried, I don’t remember it, but I was strong enough to get up the next morning, and the next morning and the next and go on with my life, never knowing when the insane woman would beat me to a pulp again.
I was strong enough to forgive her in the late 1990’s, realizing that this old woman was not the same person who abused me, this old woman was my mother who was as sorry as she could be that she abused me. We did have a good relationship for a few years before she passed away in 2005.
Now I am doing all the inner child work that adult survivors of child abuse have to do to get their lives back. I am 55 years old and what happened to me when I was 3, 4 years old still affects me. So I am reparenting myself, letting myself experience and mourn what happened to me and I am hoping that will make me “whole” again. That’s what the books, therapists, psychologists, that’s what everyone says. Be there for the frightened child, the “inner child,” be loving and comforting to her and things will get better.
I think what this means is to make my fight or flight response less triggerable. When I am feeling intense emotions, possibly out of place, then if I can calm myself down and not have a cow, that’s progress. Imagine the child I was, how could I NOT have an overactive fight or flight? Of course I did. Any little thing could have been an inducement for my insane mother to beat the living daylights out of me. So now, I have to reprogram my brain to not feel things at the catastrophic levels I used to as a child. I’m thinking that’s what we’re doing with all this inner child stuff. Self calming, self soothing.
I am reading books, upon books. Gleaning whatever is appropriate for me and hoping that I will heal. I feel I am healing. I am healing. Every time my fight or flight gets insane, I calm myself down. I also remind myself that I am not alone, in that many others have gone through this and worse, and I have many friends and family members who love me, and whom I love dearly. I’ve put two pictures in this post, one the absolute most happiest day of my life, the day my son was born, with my mother holding him. She was not the same person in this pictures as the one who abused me, and I forgive her with all my heart and tell her that I love her and I hope her spirit is in peace. The second picture is of the day we took my son home. Another very happy day of our lives. And so we move on and heal and grow and live our lives with strength and love.
Sometimes life is not fair. But lemonade’s still good!