Please be aware some people may find this blog triggering
As this week draws to a close my mind is focusing upon the family, my youngest child and myself will both celebrate our birthdays in the next few days. I can’t help feeling a sense of pride as I see my son celebrate another year, I am so proud of all my children and of the people they grown to become. Birthdays are especially poignant times for me, I want to celebrate with my children on their birthdays and try and ensure they always have a good day, I value the fact we can now share the magic of these times, I missed some of their birthdays during my hospital admissions and I guess that makes those we do share now all the more special.
This year I hope I will remember their birthdays, and not lose time or switch at the most important moments of their special day, you see as a mum with Dissociative Identity Disorder I have lost some of their birthdays. Not just when I was in hospital but as they grew up, I have no memory of certain parts of those years. Its hard sometimes as they talk of certain things we all did together and yet I am hearing of it for the very first time, for it wasn’t me that was there but another part of me.
Dissociation has meant I have lost certain parts of their lives, I can recall my daughters first day at school, yet have limited memory of my sons. I can recall some of their birthdays, but not others so I can remember as one would the finer details of my daughters first birthday and yet have none of my two sons. Such gaps brings me much sorrow and frustration too, I feel like I have been cheated and robbed of parts of their childhood and it feels so unfair. I know many of their birthdays had parties, some I remember through the photographs we have, but others seem like a blur or are just blank. I have had to learn that I cannot blame myself for these memory gaps, the truth is I might not have been there yet another part of me was and that is something that for my children was and is all that mattered. This body was there, just this body like all multiples is inhabited by many different parts of me. but we are still their mum.
I am blessed that my children accept me as I am, and I try and make each new day count, I am learning more of how to be a great parent, so I will make my sons birthday special. I will ensure he has a good day. We hope to spend time together as a family, time to celebrate with him and tell him how much we all care.
However it is hard at these times not to look back , when each of my children was born I was quite a young mum, but I knew the minute I held of each one of them that I would do absolutely anything to protect them, keep them safe and love them always unconditionally just as a mother should. Those feelings are I guess are part of that natural maternal instinct which many mothers have for their children, except of course mine.
I grew up knowing my mother was different to other mums, she would often shout and be physical aggressive, but most of all I now know she was even worse than that she was one of my main abusers. There are times like birthdays when I think of my own feelings as a mum and then I think of what I lost out on by not having a mum who had the ability to hold similar feelings towards me.
I would nurture and protect my children as best as I could, and yes I wasn’t the best parent ever, I had so little experience of a real childhood that I didn’t have that experience to fall back on, nor did I ever have a mother I could go to for advice. In fact I have no happy memories of this woman who gave birth to me, every contact we had even in my later life was fraught with tension and I would feel like I was walking on eggshells desperately trying not to offend or upset her.
A mother is meant to love her children, to have a bond like no other, and that is the bond I have with mine and yet my mother seemed incapable of parenting me her daughter. As my birthday draws near I wonder if she ever loved me, did she ever really care and then of course I end up with those nagging doubts and questions in my mind. Did she mean to hurt me? what was wrong with me? Was there anything I could have done to make her love me?
Questions which sadly will remain unanswered, and which I guess I don’t need answers for because I do deep down know the truth and that tells me the answers its just like many victims its not the answers I want.
Many people think its only men who abuse or hurt their children, but as we have seen this week in the news and sadly many times before Mothers do hurt their children, women do abuse. Yet each time it happens society seems to still remain incredulous that this type of thing could happen, if we are to ever stop mothers abusing their children I believe we as a society have to start acknowledging this is an issue, not a one off incident that we show shock at but then forget about. We actually need to teach medical professionals, teachers, social workers and all those who work with or come into regular contact with children, that its not only men who abuse they need to learn to spot the signs and stop being so blinkered.
I know I am lucky to be here for my birthday, I can recall times when my mother came close to taking my life, times when her anger, her rage was so great that my life was at risk, I was at her mercy. Yet despite everything there was a part of me that for years yearned for what I never had a mother who loved and cared for me. I am sure many others who like me have been abused will hold similar feelings, you don’t want the abuse whether that be physical, emotional or sexual but you still want to feel loved and to have that parent.
Yes this weekend I will be thinking of my family, the children and all the joy that they bring to my life I know I am truly blessed to be a mum but I will also be thinking of the family I never had, a family with two parents who loved and cared for me. With a mum who actually wanted me, loved me and was there for me.
I have to learn to accept those blessings I have and to accept that the past is something I cannot change, I didn’t have a mother in real terms and over time that’s something I have learned to survive without.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014