Mental Health – A Mother’s Love: My Child Abuse Survival Story Pt I
Disclaimer: Trigger Warning
Before I start this, this is going to be a tough read, not only for my friends, family and people that love me but for people who don’t even know me. When I decided to create this blog I decided to be open and honest about everything I have experienced in my life, the reason for this? Well, it’s simple, to help others. I’m not an expert and I will never claim to be, but I’m a survivor and I’ve done it my way, whether my way is right or wrong. I am not going to apologise if this post upsets you because to be blunt about it, this was my life.
Okay… if I am totally honest, I’m shitting myself about writing this because I still suffer from night terrors and struggle daily with my PTSD. I suppose I’m worried what deep, dark, demonised doors I am going to open in my mind that I have closed and blanked out. I am doing this for the greater good and I know that, but I suppose you can’t help, but be absolutely terrified when writing something like this.
Where it all Began
I was born at 3:15am on a Saturday morning, I was forced into the world by those lovely salad tongs for women’s vagina’s called “forceps”. I was born with a birth defect which was a result of my mother’s alcoholism during her pregnancy. I was brought home to the first family home in North Belfast, three doors down from my grandparents.
I don’t remember much about my time there, just that I seemed to get sick a lot and I have a reoccurring dream of me waving goodbye to the house and feeling relief wash over me, I was only about 3 or 4 when we moved from there to the house I now call the House of Horrors. I was an only child until I was 10, my parents separated when I was around 6, I remember mother telling me that my dad was playing mind games and he’d be home, soon. Every night I cried myself to sleep, thinking I’d wake up and my dad would be living with us, again.
My dad was amazing, he would be there when I woke up and would carry me downstairs, I don’t think there’s ever been a time I haven’t loved my bed more than school/work. He was forever the doting dad, making sure I was clean and tidy, that I made all my hospital appointments and never left my side during them, he clothed me and made sure I was fed.
For a very long time, I was a daddy’s girl, I still am in a way. My dad is and always will be my best friend. He made mistakes with me, though. I had him on a pedal stool for so long because I thought he was this amazing parent because my real mother was such a bad parent. We aren’t here to talk about my dad, though.
My mother, on the other hand, was a different story, for a long time she hid her alcoholism well, but I knew where she hid her bottles and what happened when no one was around. I’d find them in cupboards, in the dirty laundry basket, under the sink where chemicals were kept, hidden behind other items in drawers, wrapped in towels in the hot press. Her drink of choice back then was a 2-litre bottle of Smirnoff.
This is where things get difficult for me to talk about, I don’t remember when it started, or when I noticed her drinking, but I remember the screaming, the witnessing of her treatment towards my dad who never raised a hand or a voice to her from what I remember. I was a small child, very quiet, had a lot of friends, though. Although I remember always being okay in my own company, I had an invisible friend, she’d visit me from time to time. I remember her being so old-fashioned, she’d a bowl haircut and always wore the same dirty white old fashioned nightgowns, you know like the ones you see in old Victorian TV programmes or movies?
When it Started, it Didn’t Stop
The abuse started with witnessing the violence from my mother towards my dad, moving on to me, she’d often scream at me if I did anything she considered wrong, I’m sure I was a normal child, probably getting dirty, I was a tomboy so there’s no doubt in my mind it was normal childhood reasons, more than likely being way too dirty for being a girl.
When dad moved out because he couldn’t take anymore. My bedtime went to shit or definitely got later. My aunt moved in for a while, she told me she knew of mother’s drinking and moved in so that she could keep me safe. If only she knew… I drive past that house often and it sets off the feeling of unimaginable panic that starts in the pit of my stomach. It seems to slowly torment me before turning into a full panic attack. I’m wise to it now, so I avoid it if I can, or drive past it quickly without looking, but I know it’s there. I tried to disassociate it, it’s not the house’s fault, it was just an empty vessel when we moved in and when we left, but the little girl in me still feels the terror that the house had brought upon me, even now, years later.
I was raped in that house by someone I’m not ready and will never be ready to name. My innocence lost at 7 years old. When my aunt moved in, she took my room, which meant I had to sleep in the same room as mother, the bed where I was raped. No one noticed any changes in me, because even then I was wise enough to hide the torture, pushing it to the dark recesses in my mind, with the rest of the trauma I had witnessed up until that point. The place, that even as I write this, still won’t let me in, because to open up that dark place, it would destroy me. My mind, my brain, as always, is protecting me and for that, I will be eternally grateful and will always use my head over my heart. It knows me best, better than anyone, but I’m still discovering just how resilient it has made me.
Mother took the opportunity of me being her bed-mate to tell me that my dad was having an affair with a woman, that he was playing mind games and that his new partner was poison. My memories are foggy, but I do remember she brainwashed me into thinking the woman I now call “mum” was evil and was keeping our family apart.
My aunt’s boyfriend bought me a puppy, I was absolutely overjoyed, I mention this puppy because what I’m going to talk about next, centres around him. He was a gorgeous little pup, so tiny, but my goodness could that little man POOP! I took responsibility for picking up his poop and cleaning anywhere he may have had an accident. I was no more than 7 years old but had full responsibility for a little puppy.
I don’t ever remember mother holding or cuddling him, she did yell at him, I feel like she did smack him when he was bad and I’d cry and run to protect him, putting myself between her and him, even though I knew it would result in her screaming at me and smacking me as hard as she could, even then I’d block her from him until she was done being a bully and yelled at me to “piss off out of her sight”. She only slapped, never punched because punching left bruises, no one could know that she wasn’t the woman she told people she was. She had a reputation to uphold after all.
Another time, this memory is burned into my mind forever, she was so drunk, she fell down the stairs with my pup in her arms. I woke up to the sound of my pup scream as he slammed against the front door. I ran out of mother’s bedroom and seen her, drunk, legs in the air with dirty knickers on and a nightdress, then I saw my poor little pup lay against the door, shivering and whimpering, I ran so fast down those stairs and scooped him up. I comforted him and checked to see if anything was broken, he seemed winded, again, I was 7 years of age, 7!
I walked a few steps upstairs, mother must have passed out as she came to when I was going upstairs with my pup. I cry recalling this memory, because how could anyone, accident or not, ever want to harm such a precious, beautiful and innocent little thing? My Psychiatrist laughed when I said that to her, not in a cruel way, I think she was shocked. “Well, don’t you think the same should have been said about you? You were a child, after all, an innocent, defenceless child” I remember her saying. “Maybe, but at least I knew how to escape her, keep her happy so I didn’t get her wrath and he was my responsibility.” I was 7…
I remember that called out to me asking me to help pick her up, this woman was 5ft and weighed whatever someone weighs if they’re a size 24 and 5ft. I told her “no”, defiant? Maybe, or maybe even at 7 years old, I was sick of her shit and sick of being bullied and attacked by her. She screamed at me about being a selfish cunt, caring more about the dog than her, I told her that I did care more about the dog than her, I was fiercely protective of my pup, looking back I was a Mumma Bear, even at 7 years of age.
She’d gone too far, she’d hurt my baby, it was my job to protect this puppy, he was my responsibility. The tears are rolling as I write this, I miss that little dog so much and I think of him still, hoping he knows that I love him and always will. My dog, now, has his big brown eyes, same shape, same winged eyeliner shape, same innocent, excitement and little personality.
I ran upstairs after that with my terrified pup and left her there, screaming I was a selfish cunt and other obscenities at her 7-year-old. Around this time mother, as I mentioned above, had brainwashed me about my “mum”, she was also working on me where my dad was concerned. I never remember mother being a cuddly person, maybe I wasn’t a cuddly child, she would pretend to be a Mumma Bear if the doctors hurt me whilst I was in the hospital having surgery on my birth defect because she had an audience. My dad though, dad and I loved a cuddle, even now. I love a good cuddle with me da.
Brainwashing the Innocent
She began working in the nearby shop (there is a reason I mention this), my dad would still come to see me, take me out to the cinema and shopping. I’d never mention anything about mother doing anything, I’d been threatened long ago, “daddy will go to jail because I will tell them daddy beats me.” Mother, 1994. She told him the same, the numerous times he tried to save me from her. Why would the police believe him over her? He was a big, strong man, and she was just a small, (albeit very fat bitch of a woman) woman who would be unable to defend herself against him.
Me da was a typical Belfast boy, he’d gotten into a few scrapes as a kid, he grew up in Belfast. I was the same, it was a jungle out there and we had to be able to prove we could hold our own, or be bullied. I was lucky, my surname was known, my family were huge, all boys until I came along, so I was well protected on the streets. I remember thinking, as one of my cousins rubbed my shoulder’s as I prepared to fight one of the lads from Tigersbay, “This can’t be any worse than what happens at home. I know how sore it is to be kicked and slapped.”
I did tell dad about the pup, I was worried about him, I can’t remember if dad took him to the vets to get him checked, but I’m sure he did as I seemed to not be worried about him after telling dad. Mother told him, too, she neglected to say she was drunk when she fell downstairs, of course, why tell the truth? When lies came so easy to her, she was an amazing liar, especially at benefit review time, Oscar-winning performances that would put Meryl Streep to shame. Dad believed my version of events, why would I lie? I was terrified my puppy was hurt.
My dad would give mother money, quite a lot of money as he would give it to me because he could no longer stand to be around her. So on top of working in the shop (cash in hand), benefits, borrowing from the Provident man, his name was Jim and he was a lovely man, (but she ran rings around him and would get me to answer the door to a complete stranger and lie to his face that she wasn’t there, or close the blinds and make me hide, saying she didn’t have the money). She also got money from dad, I have £180 in my head (per week), but I don’t know if that’s true or just a random number.
She would fill the cupboards, but I wasn’t allowed to touch the tins in the cupboard, I’d have to ask to have food from the fridge and I remember I would drink vinegar, I don’t think it was because I was hungry, but just because I liked the taste, “It’s sterile and I like the taste!” – name that movie.
I would be made to study during the summer months, I also forgot to mention she babysat my two long-term friends who I’ll name B&B. So, she also got money from that, but would always claim to have no money. The family would give her money, too. Looking back now I know the money was spent on vodka.
This would last her two or three days. She would also drink at the weekends with my aunt and her friends, or mother’s sisters, they would party into the wee hours, but I slept through and I loved having my aunt there, I loved having my cousin’s there, too from mother’s side. We were very close, but again, no one knew what was happening to me.
By the time I was 8 mother had me convinced that dad was refusing her money, that her money was being dropped and he was being verbally abusive to her. Again, I was an 8-year-old child who was in school from 9am – 3pm. My school was a good mile from where I lived, I was a good student, mother would meet me at the bottom of the hill which was about halfway to my mother’s house. I bring this up because dad found out, my mum had seen me walking home alone, she didn’t know mother was at the end of the hill, she was obviously concerned, I was 8 years of age so she was well within her right to be concerned. Dad lost his shit and thus began her plan to ruin my dad’s life.
We have to Leave
She convinced me to move to Manchester, away from dad, leaving my pup behind. I was devastated, she even had my auntie (my dad’s little sister) on her side, making her believe it was a good idea, she had her convinced my dad was some sort of monster. Dad had no idea, thought we were going for two weeks, found out when he entered the empty house to collect my pup. I never saw my pup, again. He was killed by a car a few weeks later, I will never forgive mother for that and even now I burst into tears when I think of it.
There are things that cause me pain, emotional upset, like animals being abused, or used for testing, hunted down in their own habitat and vile individual’s posing with them, losing a family member that I’ve a close bond with, animals dying in movies, Supervet, The Orphanage (oh my god, The Orphanage) and anything animal related basically.
The pain of losing a dog, though? It’s the worst pain you could ever possibly imagine, so much so, my dad lied to me for 12 years about what happened to my puppy because he didn’t want to traumatise me, talk about ironic. I don’t blame him, I blame myself for not fighting for him, for not protecting him. I was his mummy, I should have fought harder. I blame mother, the vile, disgusting, hateful, liar of a human, for everything she did, for my lost pup and for the tattered relationship I have now, with my dad.
She would torment my dad on the phone, screaming he was threatening her, my resentment towards dad was paramount at this point because I was brainwashed. She had her brothers convinced, too. I think they knew deep down she was fucked in the head. Her drinking got worse, the flat we lived in was filthy, I don’t remember there being food in the fridge, but the tins were always there and I wasn’t allowed to touch them, I never did as I was pretty sure she counted them.
I went to a Catholic school, I’m not Catholic, I’m Protestant, had any of my friends back home found out about me attending a Catholic school, I’d have been beaten to a pulp. I think she knew exactly what she was doing sending me there, I grew up in The Troubles and already didn’t believe in god, and I’d no interest in praying, nor learning about Roman Catholicism. However, this backfired on her massively, because the three women I call my soul sisters, they’re all Catholic.
I also love learning about new religions, she sent me there to fuck me up, she didn’t even go and visit the school and legitimately thought it was run by nuns. It wasn’t, it was a normal school like any other. She’d threaten to tell people back home I was Catholic, said they would see me for the vile, selfish person I was because that’s what she thought Catholic’s were. I was almost 10 at this point and had stopped listening to her warped outlook on the world, I thrived in that school. It was a brilliant school, my two best friends were Italian (like me) and Muslim. It backfired on mother, and I was absolutely delighted by it.