Christmas, for me, has and will always be the best time of the year, sitting curled up on the settee with a warming mug of coffee, in front of a roaring fire, watching classic Christmas movie legends such as Elf, Love Actually and Home Alone, filled with feelings of love, warmth and happiness. For me, the best of Christmas, is not the decorations, the tree, the gifts, but the presence of a happy family, all wrapped up in each other.
Attempting to analyse my psyche and understand my mood swings and why I think and act as I do, has often caused sleepless nights. As a child growing up in an abusive domestic family environment, it took me years of anger, self-criticism and guilt, along with acknowledging and recognising the trauma and damage that had been caused.
Don’t get me wrong, I know there are other victims/sufferers out there, who have experienced far worse, and I know that each person reacts or deals with such treatment in their own individual way.
Consulting my friend, Google, I was shocked to read that some victims may actually be left in a state of shock, possibly leading to PTSD, and may have a significant impact on them as adults. Which can lead to emotional health, physical and mental health problems leading to difficulty maintaining relationships. Possible recurrent, unwanted and distressing memories, with the likelihood of resulting in poor memory, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety and a high degree of negative emotions.
Growing up with a physically abusive father and a weak mother, who herself was verbally abused by him, was difficult to comprehend as a child. I would lie in bed most nights, crying myself to sleep, wishing that a tragic accident would befall my dad. As I became a teenager the physical attacks lessoned but the verbal abuse worsened, I was constantly called a slag and told I was stupid.
My brother, seemed to escape some of the treatment, but a memory that has stayed with me, is when as a young boy, possibly 6 or 8 (as far as I can recall), he crayoned on the lounge wallpaper, this caused a massive temper outburst from our father, who proceeded to cane his bare backside, until it bled. I powerlessly watched as my brother ‘bummed’ down the hallway trying to stop the hurt. Even now, as I type this, the memory brings tears to my eyes.
As a teenager, I rebelled in the only way I knew how, I craved for people to like me, to want to be my friend. I mistakenly thought having a relationship, sleeping with boyfriends, meant that they liked me, that I was loved. Although, the need to self-destruct, self-criticise was constantly there, not only to self-defecate, but also to belittle others. Through this behaviour, it seemed I could bury my inner deep-rooted feelings and anger.
It wasn’t until I married and had my own children, that repressed emotions began to surface. The birth of my son coincided with these suppressed feelings and I am ashamed to admit I struggled with him as a toddler, and after a couple of years of problematic behaviour, I booked him into child counselling. At the end of the first session, the counsellor explained to me that the problem lies with me and basically, I was in danger of becoming my father. This shocked me into action, the counselling sessions were brilliant, I felt waves of pent-up frustration and anger coming to the surface, ready to be banished, along with realisation and some understanding.
It was suggested, that I write my feelings in a letter and send this off to my parents. I found this difficult, by this time I was in my early 40’s, but I put pen to paper, mindful not to be too abusive, and when finished, with trepidation posted it off. Over the next couple of days, I dreaded the phone ringing, but it did and the caller was my mum, who told me that they were both upset but in particular my dad felt very hurt. He was hurt, how did she think I felt, I asked, but no answer was forthcoming. I didn’t hear or see them for about six months, and when we did meet the subject was never broached.
I began to see them both in a different light, my dad was bullied by his dad, and therefore I began to envisage him as a victim, this messed with my mind. My mum was basically afraid of him. Although I continued to visit them both, this was mainly for the sake of my mum as she loved seeing the children, but unfortunately, I stopped taking them with me as they became older, they never liked or felt comfortable with their grandad and would argue back when he picked on them, as far as he was concerned, children should be seen and not heard. That old adage.
I realised as the years went on, that my father didn’t like women, they were either ‘fat’, ‘stupid’ or ‘slappers’, ‘who got what they asked for’. The irony of this story, is towards the end of his life, he relied 100 pct on a woman, my mum, for everything.
Do not mis-construe the reasons for writing this blog, I do not want sympathy, it just feels good to put pen to paper, airing out the cobwebs. My only sorrow, is that it took so many years to come to terms with my childhood and I am so grateful and lucky to have such a good relationship with my wonderful son.