Tag Archives: maternal deprivation

Touching My Own Void (final)15th January 2006

I realise I have always longed to be approved of, celebrated and be part of a loving family.  I have clung onto other families deluding myself I belonged, but on major days I was not invited, I had fantasised I belonged.  I have always found the world a painful place, the way I interpreted things in a way, but not everyone meant the things I thought they said and then I am told I am wrong and this just adds to my self loathing and actually it is how I feel. Always being wrong or feeling I am wrong never , never feeling loved, it is crap.

I have also to give up the fantasy about my mother and as my therapist says, it takes courage.  I do not have a mother, I have a woman who gave birth to me, but she does not mother me.  I now have a biological mother and I have been looking for a psychological mother my entire life.  The to will have to be seperate people and I have to stop going back to my mother expecting her to be able to mother me, she cannot and it damages me everytime.  I have to give up the fantasy that my mother can give me what I need if only I am good enough.  How can I be good enough for a woman who does not like themselves that much?  The venim that has come out of my mother’s mouth towards me has almost destroyed me and it is also a constant rejection as I constantly try to get her to love me.  I have now given that up too.  I have not ever been able to see it objectively, now I am learning.  if someone critises me, I am wrong, until now I have not ever been able to grab the concept that is is about them, that is why I have found the world so painful.  It started when I was so young it is not surprising.  I am now learning to find my voice and to be heard, not bollocked for every expression of emotion I had.  I said to my therapist that it feels like I am tumbling out of control, falling into the abyss and we both agreed that the rope had been cut.

However, she also said she thought it had been cut a long time ago, when my mother left when I was three, I have been in the void ever since, I think she is right.  I began to sob and my time was up, I looked at her and she said I have to go, thank goodness I was off to my first group session, it is all so much to take in, I felt like my heart was breaking, but it is a good breaking.  The fact that I had to leave her sesson straight away was really hard, I felt rejected all over again, no hug, no nothing just time up, somehow this was always a problem for me, having to leave and be alone with all that pain did something to me which felt really rejecting.

After I left my therapists I had a little time to pass before I went to my first group session, I sat in the car and gathered myself and drove to the meeting place.  I walked in and felt quite comfortable.  I sat down and one of the other members was there, I had obviously not met any of them before and we started to talk.  It felt odd to me because I was really interested in making polite conversaton i just wanted to be with me for a while.  It was not long before we were called to the room.  A nice light room and I sat by the window at the the far end of the room, it soon became the focal point as I was one of the new ones and they asked me to tell my story.  I was so grateful that there were therapists in the room, this was something I found very hard in recovery group meetings, I needed there to be supervision by a trained counsellor and here I was.

I began to look around the room and feel eternally grateful for what I had, a wonderful son, a car, money to pay the meter, a great home and I felt ready to take this leap.  I realised there and then how far I had come.  I told my story briefly of how I have been sober for 4 years and then started drinking again three years ago, actually it was almost four, and what I had not bargained for ws the shock of the people around the room.  They were scared and told me so.  How can you be 4 years sober and then drink again? I am struggling with each day.  I said that night became day for me and that black became white and a major crisis in my life took me back to the bottle and I have not stopped since……….I also said I am scared myself.

I was not prepared to tell them exactly what  had happened but I said that I thought I could cope with it and I could not.  I also said that I am so grateful that I have decided to get help again.  The meeting went on and we shared our experiences and as others did Ibecame more and more grateful, I have not lost my child, I am not brushing my teeth with vodka and I am not so physically ill that I can barely walk, all because of alcohol.  I am not feelling smug, I am feeling sick, humbled and I realised that this is serious, I want life.

As I left the room and got into my car I felt shell shocked.  I began to drive home and thought of all the times I had gone to recovery meetings all those years ago and how grateful I am to the handful of people who helped me, who stood by me and who really understood me when I did not understand myself, I was so shut down.

 

I drove along the country road with my music blaring out and thought, go get your future, it is over, the trauma is over, this is your story, your recovery and how you have been blessed, helped and how you have a duty to write the book and help yourself and other people.  The lack of funding for people who have nothing is a disgrace.  I realise this is why beginning to write about the time from 1996 makes so much sense.  I was not aware until then of  anything, and still struggle today but from then it is all retrospective.

I am grateful every day now for all of it.  As I peer through the shaft of light that is round the corner, will slowly get to the other side.  I am learning I let myself down and punished myself just like they did, I choose to learn to love myself as I am being loved and this is very exciting.

Touching My Own Void (cont-2)

The next day I went to my therapists and could barely wait to get through the door to tell her.  I had realised that I have to change, staying the same is too painful for me and really it is not an option.  I did another thing which was interesting, I decided to dress up, with a hat, which I love to wear.  As I put it on in the car, I realised I felt very uncomfotable and did not know why.  the it came to me ‘who the hell do you think you are, what do you think you look like?’ I know in the past I would have taken it off, but not today, I defiantly put it on and said ‘fuck you’ to the voices inside my head that kick into action the moment I try and look good. ‘Here she goes again, attention seeking, trying to look lovely, blah, blah, blah, blah’ and on they go, I call them the committee.  Is it any wonder I barely got out of bed? Should I breath in or out now, just so you fuckers stop critising me, the fact that I have the audacity to get up, breath in and out pisses them off, they begin the moment I become conscious, sometimes even before I have opened my eyes, they are in for attack………..So today, I choose to wear a hat and take a deep breath. T

I was nervous as I anticipated some judgement from my therapist, of course.  I then reminded myself that she celebrates me, I had to talk myself down from feeling so sick inside with nerves.  I rang her doorbell and she opened it, she looked lovely, as always.  Hair brushed, lovely clothes and make-up.  I sat down and looked at her and said ‘ I have to tell you this, you look lovely and I have dressed up today, I am expecting you to be horrible and I decided to risk it anyway’……her face lit upas she said I am so glad you did, you look lovely too, so we both look lovely I said, it is very uncomfortable for me at the moment.  It used to be you who looked lovely and I look like shit………you look lovely and so do I, how cool is that!  I realised three and then that whenever I have displayed my creative dress sense I had been critised, by my mother or my step-mother or my older sister and some other woman to be honest and it terrified me, but not anymore, I have become aware and it starts now.  It is ok, I am allowed to look lovely too and you are not going to shout at me, put me down, wow.

She then began to smile and I asked her what se was smiling at…’I am smiling as I am so enjoying watching you grow’. I really did not know what to do with that!  We went on to talk about the fact that I too can have lovely things.  I no longer have to be Cinderella.  It runs so deep, they put me down, got me out of the way, I lived away, banished to poverty and now I am on my way back up, I am so grateful.

Neil Morrissey – Care Home Kid

I was fortunate enough to catch this moving and for me, heart wrenching account of Neil Morrissey’s life. I always had a soft spot for him, there is something about him that I identified with and now I know what.  He spent a lot of his life lost,  bewildered and not feeling like he belonged.  He put on a great front, was a way-ward person, has abandonment issues and has had a sting of relationships,  deep inside he was troubled.  Now we see the softer, gentler side of a man, who for so long has been haunted by his past.

I spent my life feeling lost, but not knowing that is what it was, it is only now that I am begining to put the pieces together and realising that I never felt really like I belonged. When I did, it didn’t last for long, someone always came along and took it away.  My mother left when I was 3 and a half, but long before that I had been seperated from her she had to work long hours and I had one nanny after another, four in total before I was 9 months old and it had a huge impact on my life and my feeling of belonging and connection, lack of it. My father was married 6 times and my mother was the second wife so I had a succession of step-mothers to contend with.

I felt, and still do sometimes bewildered and just put on a brave front and get on with it, that is getting less and less now and the reality of it all is hitting me, which I am finding pretty painful right now.  Like Neil I was rebellious, had families I went to, to help me through. I have no real connection to my family now, and I still do feel very lost sometimes. There is so much unresolved crap that most of them don’t want to talk about that we just end up in our own little corners, doing our own thing, which I think is pretty sad.

Fortunately I have a son who I am close to and so we are begining again, which I am so grateful for.  The pain and yearning in me is still there for my mother and a family that will be all together, but it is something I have to let go, as painful as it is. I also realise that we are building it for ourselves. That is a great thing to have.

In this moving two part documentary Neil Morrissey explores the reason behind why he was put into care at ten years old because of stealing and how that has effected his entire life.  He visits prison, where 60% of the in-mates in the wing for young offenders have been in care.  He talks to people who were in care and who still are in care and explores the horror stories of abuse that still haunt people’s lives 40 years later.

Neil describes how the way he coped with the situation of suddenly being taken from his family was he just got on with it and was never really encouraged to discuss his feelings, never explored what was going on for him, and that is how he has lived his life.  On visiting a children’s home in Scotland, Lothian Villa, Neil finds a supportive environment for children in care, a far cry from most of the ones he is visiting and hearing about. The way they help people at Lothian Villa is to encourage the children to deal with their feelings of ingrained hurt, anger and distress so that they will no longer remain mad with the world, because they will unless the feelings are dealt with. He credits a lot of his fortunate experience in the children’s home to a house mother who was loving, firm and kind. However he did not learn to deal with his feelings, he says he ignored difficult feelings and made the best of it. He was one of the lucky ones by all accounts.

Most of the people he interviewed and indeed himself came to the conclusion that being in care had, in one way or another, had a devastating impact on their lives.  Neil was put into care because his parents did not properly care for their children and he was caught stealing on a regular basis and he and his brothers were left to run wild, with few boundaries and were often left alone to fend for themselves at night with no parents there for them. How his mother could barely cope with the housework and how his father spent time at the working man’s club because his home was so dirty.

The people who suffer are the children, one way or another, from neglect, abuse or just that feeling of being unloved and without love and support it is so hard to make it in the world.  I was a single-parent and often found it hard to cope, it was very hard. We lived on welfare and I was terrified to ask for help because I always thought that they would take my child away, because that is generally what they did if you were not coping as a single-parent.  I knew that there were many women out there who were also not coping being a mother but they had husbands and family to support them, I did not.

I struggled on and it was only when I finished my degree I felt less vulnerable, for some reason I thought that if I was a single parent with an education they would look more favourably on me.  Little did I know, I had depression which I was self medicating with alcohol, I had a mental illness which was at this point un-diagnosed and it was of course effecting me and how I was parenting.  I was desperate for help.  I now have such a clear insight into so many of the problems, people need love, support and encouragement, not punitive treatment, if parents are not coping they need support to help them cope.  Taking children away from their family and their parents can leave long term damage and worse. If we were to look at things differently and support instead of punish struggling parents, we would be supporting the parents and the children and healing lives. I stongly believe that if you support the parents, you support the child, it is not rocket science.

Recently I spoke with two friends of mine, one from Africa and another from Turkey, interestingly they could not get their heads around the concept of adoption or children’s homes, for them, they had a community and a family who would help out so that if the mother was not coping or on her own for whatever reason, they would all chip in.  It seems that this is a very British thing to do and it raises the question for me, why? Sadly I do not have the answer, but it is such a relief to know that this is as abnormal in other countries as it feels to me, it feels like an insane thing to even consider.

I read a great article by Andrew Mosley that about sums it up really, this is not the Neil Morrissey we have all come to know.  I have to say, I am so grateful to see this side of  him, it gives me hope. Hope that once you face the pain of your past you begin to heal. He has done a lot of good and spoken out for thousands of people who are still suffering, what a great way to use your fame.

He is also now in a committed relationship with his lawyer girlfriend Emma and says that he does not believe in dwelling on his past, and when he was in the children’s homes he always had a dream for a better life.  I personally believe we have to go back and face our pasts and the pain that is there in order to move on, I am in the process of doing that myself and am looking forward to the life the other side.

The Freedom Programme – Free from Domestic Abuse

I wanted to talk about my last few weeks, spent learning more and more about Domestic Abuse.  I have had experience of both physical and emotional/psychological abuse from childhood and guess what………I took it into my adult life and chose partners who would replicate my younger experiences.  It has taken me so long to make the connection and finally to get the help from a Domestic Abuse Outreach worker who very lovingly and slowly introduced me to what was normal and what was, infact, abuse, my normal.

It does not have to be physical abuse, it can be slow, emotional torture that can erode the soul, bit by tiny bit until you do not know who you are or what day it is or what is right or what is wrong, leaving you with no self esteem and rocking in the corner, that was almost me…….the scars of emotional abuse cut so deeply and erode the soul, this too is abuse, it is emotional abuse and it needs to stop.   Trouble is long after they have left, you are left with all their shit going round and round in your head, unable to break out of it, it becomes a living hell.

It has felt a bit like, actually a lot like re-programming and sometimes I still don’t get it, I have to have examples shown to me, little mini examples show again and again to really begin to get to grips with what is actually normal behaviour.  I have blamed myself, gone back again and again, believed whoever it was that it was all my fault and almost lost my mind.  It is programming and the earlier it happens, the more normal it feels.

The Freedom Programme is set out to slowly take you through the differences in all  aspects of Living with the Dominator is a book about The Freedom Programme that you can get on the website above, it is really insightful. Pat Craven has taken years of experience working in this field and turned it into a programme to help both men and women to break free from years of a cycle of abuse. Unfortunately I have acquired some of the really unpleasant characteristics and have had to have a good hard look at myself as well as looking at the men I have chosen, my relationship with my father, mother and step-mother to mention but a few.  I have been in therapy on and off for years, have had varying different support and still this stuff is so ingrained in my psyche, however, something is shifting.  In the book they also show you examples of what a good partner would do, a kind loving partner, not an unkind one, to me it has really helped me to see things differently and the patterns I have expected to just carry on.

I hope you will get something from it and if you do, please leave a message or e-mail me privately at penny@pennysnowball.com I look forward to hearing from you.

The rest of this video documentary series can be found at http://www.youtube.com/addicts4addicts

If you need support or advice the following details are very helpful.

South West Surrey Domestic Abuse Outreach Service 01483-577392 Mon-Fri

www.womensaid.org.uk and www.hiddenhurt.co.uk

The following books are apparently very good, I have not read any of them but they are available on Amazon or can be ordered in the local library if they do not have them.

Mothering through Domestic Violence; Talking to mum-ages 5-9yrs

Talking about Domestic Abuse – 9+ and When Dad hurts Mom.

I do hope something will help if you need it, I am so grateful for the day I approached the stand during Domestic Abuse week and said ‘can someone please tell me what normal is’.