Here in the UK we celebrate our mums on Sunday with Mother’s Day and though I am a mum to three wonderful children I still struggle at this time of year, it has been the same for many years and yet it never really gets any easier.
In truth I believe I do that thing many victims of childhood abuse do and I regurgitate the past over and over in my mind, questioning why and what if things had been different in my childhood. Of course I can’t change the past nor dull the pain that it has caused me but somehow I know we have to find a way forward and not allow the past to haunt us.
I try and tell myself that truth all the time and yet on certain dates it’s harder than normal to stay focused and strong and not do the ruminating that I guess I have found myself doing this evening ahead of Mothers Day.
I grew up in a rather dysfunctional home and to say it was different well that would be an understatement and my childhood was not a happy or stable one. I knew my dad loved me and I knew he cared and for that I will always be grateful, he was a good grandparent to my children too. But my relationship with my mother wasn’t such a positive one, I don’t wish to write graphically about that time it isn’t something I want the world to know, except to say my mother was sadly one of the people who betrayed my innocence as a child.
Previously it has been so difficult for me to celebrate Mothers Day at this time of year, especially when I knew my ‘mum’ was still alive. So my children came up with the idea we would celebrate on American Mothers Day and for a number of years we did just that, with the children buying their cards in March and saving them till May. initially after my ‘mums’ death I still couldn’t face celebrating in March, and then a couple of years ago I decided we needed to change this, I needed to stop letting her my ‘mum’ control my present.
The children and I agreed to realign with the UK date for Mothers Day and so I am already the proud recipient of a beautiful bouquet of flowers which adorn my lounge and smell divine. There are cards for me to open and we have already had an early family meal as sadly one of my sons has to work this weekend. I know I am richly blessed to be a parent and I know I am blessed too to have a great Mother in Law who I will call on Sunday Morning. I will be made to feel special, loved, valued and appreciated.
Yet I will still find the biggest challenge of the weekend will be stopping the blame game, I tend to find myself doing this blame game. I blame myself for being unworthy of a good mum, I wonder if I could have done things differently to make her love me, it’s the sort of questions I can find myself asking about any of my abusers if I’m honest.
I’m sure that I’m not alone in doing this, many victims of childhood trauma and abuse will take the blame for what happened in their past, despite knowing all the facts, despite knowing that they weren’t to blame it’s as if we cannot stop ourselves. The truth is of course as victims we have been trained to take the blame, any victim adult or child who has been under any psychological or emotional abuse will know exactly how clever the abusers are, they ‘the abusers’ will at some point make us blame ourselves for their actions it’s what they do.
Today though I am realising just how much control I have over my future, my present even, I now accept that I can’t change the past and believe me I wanted to for so long, I couldn’t focus on the future for constantly looking back at one point that is how bad the blame game was for me.
The fact is victims need to accept who they are, find themselves and find a way forward, I now comprehend that I cannot erase my past, I can’t erase the fact my ‘mum’ was like she was, it was simply beyond my control. The past will never go away but how I deal with it will change though and that will alter how much of an impact it does have on me In the future.
I feel able now to accept the truth that I control my present and my future, and I have two choices, one carry on playing the blame game, or two carve out a life for myself and my children. The past won’t magically disappear but it won’t have such a huge stronghold over my life.
It was recently suggested to me that maybe one of the ways to combat some of the negative memories of people, places, dates even will be to create new memories attached to those dates, places etc. This isn’t about fantasy, it’s about creating new positive memories about a place or a date which in time will enable me to feel less focused upon the negatives.
That’s why celebrating Mothers Day this weekend is important, each and every time I find myself tearful, negative thinking, playing the blame game or allowing the past to stop me in my tracks through fear, I need to take action. I will reassure those parts of me that are sad and hurt, I’ll challenge critical thoughts, I will kick back virtually at least any misdirected blame and I won’t let fear rule my life. None of this will be easy, but in time it will get easier and in time I will see a positive change towards such dates, places, people etc.
There are opportunities for change not just around Mothers Day but other dates too, I am more determined than ever to not allow this blame legacy to continue, I am determined to change how I react, you see my past is exactly that my past. I can’t live in the past I don’t want too, I want to live in the present and have a future, I deserve that.
I know this day won’t be easy for me, but it doesn’t have to be easy to be enjoyable, so long as I can make new positive memories with my children which I can then carry forward I will be making progress. This year that is my hope for all victims who find Mother’s Day difficult, that we can all make progress towards building our own futures, whether your steps be giant strides or teeny tiny footsteps like mine it’s still progress.
Copyright DID Dispatches 2014