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Redefining

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I sometimes feel as though I’ve lived several different lives. So much of  what has happened to me in my life does not fit with how my life is now. As I have changed and moved further away from those past versions of myself, I have developed a bit of cringe. I think there is a part of me that wishes to have had a ‘normal’ childhood, a ‘normal’ adolescence.  I feel false when I reminisce about childhood things, about teenage difficulties. I can either play along with everybody else, or confess to all of the things that set me apart. People don’t understand. When I tell them the things that I have seen and done. They can’t reconcile the adult me that they see with the younger me that I describe.

I have not had a life that most people can relate to. People, when they hear,  are embarrassed for me, sad for me? I don’t know, but this is my little room to sit and talk. To say the things that make  people  uncomfortable,  but are nevertheless part of me.

When I was fourteen I boarded a train bound for Melbourne, for a holiday on my own.

It was six weeks since we had moved “home” to Adelaide, after spending all the childhood that I could remember in Melbourne.

As I boarded that train I knew that I would not be returning to live with my parents. Not if I could help it. They had allowed this visit to my friends as a gesture of “trust”. To stop me from being so evil. I felt a small twinge of guilt at that, at betraying their trust, so maybe I was not pure evil. I still remember the nervous excitement I felt as I boarded the train, afraid that they would change their minds at any moment and drag me back, trap me. It was pure exhilaration as the train pulled away. They could not get at me now. I had escaped.

At the end of my planned holiday, I called a helpline for children. I told them that my parents had been abusing me. The details I told them were partially true, but I was afraid to share all the truth. I was afraid that my truth would not be considered serious enough, so I told them a story I thought would be easily believed. There was enough truth in it that my parents couldn’t dispute it. Even my mother, who dwelt so deeply in the fantasy, which she projected to the outside world.

I was lucky to have a friend whose family were willing to have me. They had fostered before and knew something of my family life. I was able to stay there for several months before moving on.They were kind to me, but I was a burden there, after a time, and had to find other places to go. I only lasted a little over a year. It was a good year, I have fond memories of my life then.

Sometimes family is not the best place for children. It took less than a year, after I returned to live with them, for me to be place in a psychiatric facility for children and adolescents. In retrospect, I should have fought harder to stay away. It can be easy to convince yourself, when living in less than ideal circumstances, that ‘home’ would be an improvement.

I have fought this internal battle, it has taken many years for me to see that  I was not an evil child. Happy children from happy homes do not go to such extremes. I was not a “bad child”, as I was led to believe. I reject the self-image that coloured my early adult life.

To leave my family was simply self-preservation. I was not selfish, well not more than the average fourteen-year-old girl. My parents still see it that way. I was a bad child and thusly, did bad things.

Just to clarify:

There were bad things.

My teenage self  was not one.

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9 responses

  1. Wow. You summed it up well. There are SO many people who had less than acceptable childhoods, and many of them carry self-blame with them into adulthood, which turns into self-loathing and self-destruction (amongst other things).

    I’m so glad that you have the perspective to understand your 14 year old self.

    And that you have us to listen to you.

    ((((((( Ali )))))))

    Fe’s last blog post… A BIG BIG day….

  2. I could have written those first two paragraphs word for word myself. I said to my brother-in-law recently that I found it bizarre in the extreme that family members should expect me to feel ashamed of the things I had to do in order to survive the upbringing (or lack of it) that they gave me. I’m not. I’m just not and I won’t pretend.

    tinsenpup’s last blog post… Far Horizons

  3. Good for you honey.xx

  4. Hugs hon. I think that a lot more people than you know have at least a few cringe-worthy memories buried behind their ‘normal’ childhood. My husband has blocked out most of his memories, he can barely recall any details of his childhood, and from what he has told me, it’s likely better that way. Be proud of how far you’ve come, and how much better you’re doing for your kids.

    badness jones’s last blog post… art lessons

  5. Im sorry you went through that. But you have come out stronger and more empathetic as a result

    Suzie’s last blog post… Not At All Wordless Friday

  6. Heck, there are 50 moments of my childhood I wish I could go back and re-do. And I had a happy childhood. So don’t feel bad for doing what you had to do as a kid.

  7. It is terrible when you think about it how much we assume it is our fault. It takes wisdom to step back and say that behaviour is about them, not me.

    Hope your heatwave is over, poor Adelaide.

    Stomper Girl’s last blog post… Spur of the Moment Beach Holiday

  8. I can so totally relate to what you said and I wholeheartedly agree with Suzie, it’s made you a much more understanding and empathetic adult as a result. I’m sure most people can relate to cringeworthy things in their past. I can. I hope you never feel ashamed of that because it’s made you who you are today. I, too, was a good kid, but my parents so believed that I was bad that I went ahead and fufilled their belief. It may have been stupid, but it’s what I did. I was young and immature. I hope you find a sense of relief in sharing and you’ll begin to feel less alone.

    Victoria’s last blog post… The Good Doctor. Excuse Me While I Laugh For a Minute.

  9. I am impressed with your power and understanding at that age, to run. I wish I was armed with similar weaponary. At that age, I was still clueless – my upbringing was my ‘normal’, I didn’t know there was an alternative, another way, something different. Families that socialised with my family all raised their children the same way, it was all I knew. You ability to see past that at such a young age is huge.

    Looking back, I saw the light at around 17. I still find it amazing that I was a young adult before I learned that I was, in fact, being raised in a minority.

    Rhubarb’s last blog post… Goals, Joy and Miscellanea

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