Saturday, 23 February 2013

A Messy Head

My head is all over the place, a jumble of thoughts and emotions wanting to spill out of me so I can let them all go and find a place of calm.  I've been thinking about writing this blog for a few weeks now, about becoming so frustrated with my life and its restrictions, and the restrictions I impose upon myself, that the desire to find a way to fly free is overwhelming.  What started as a whisper is gathering momentum and turning into a shout so loud I can't think about anything else.  I found this quote yesterday:-

Nobody wants to change until the pain of remaining the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.       Nido Qubein
This feels so true right now.  Don't get me wrong, my life isn't bad at all, and I am truly grateful for the abundance of good in it.  It's just that so much of it isn't me.  It doesn't reflect who I really am.  I am carrying around so many ghosts that I want to lay to rest and so many fears that I want to walk through.  I can't remember the last time I laughed a deep belly laugh or bubbled over with excitement, or did something wildly spontaneous, or talked nineteen to the dozen because there was just so much to say, without a cloud of worry and fear.  I feel heavy, like my spirit is crushed, like I am wading through rivers of treacle just trying to hang on and keep everything together.  And I don't want to feel like that anymore. 

And so the ghosts.  The ghosts of my childhood which have haunted me throughout my adult life.  I'd like to think I am fairly intelligent, and heaven knows I have read so many books and spent so many hours trying to figure it all out.  I know all about living in the 'now' and not dwelling on the past and not giving energy to thought patterns that I don't want to keep showing up in my life.  The truth is, a bad childhood scars deeply and it isn't always as simple as it seems to let it all go, however much of the theory is amassed.

I grew up an only child, the result of my mum's affair with a married man, and my mum came from a long history of family abuse (physical, not sexual).  She and her brother were beaten, their dad and his siblings were beaten, and I believe even the generation before that were beaten.  I never knew my dad but I know he was the love of my mum's life.  From the little information I know about him, he was a successful business man, tied to his wife financially and unable to commit fully to my mum.  She waited ten years for him, then moved us away.  She married my stepdad when I was 14, but I know she never really got over her one true love.

Mum wasn't an affectionate person.  She carried a lot of bitterness from her childhood (the abuse, and her own mother had walked out when she was just 7) and having a baby out of wedlock in the 60's was frowned upon.  She never really talked much about it, but she said she was disowned for a while by my grandad and his sister (who had moved in years before to bring up the children).  The struggle to bring me up on her own turned her into a hard, cold woman and she could be quite cruel to me.  I was often beaten.  I don't really remember any affection from her at all except after she had beaten me.  I try and I try, but I just can't remember ever feeling loved or safe or wanted.  The overwhelming memory I have of my early years is always feeling like I was a burden, a nuisance, of my mum being tangibly annoyed by me being around in school holidays or being off sick.  I tried really hard to be everything I thought she wanted me to be, but I just never seemed to get there.  As soon as I could, I turned to boys, seeking the love and affection that I so craved throughout my childhood.

My grandad and auntie though, I adored.  I don't know when they patched things up with my mum, but I always remember happy times with them.  I used to sit on my grandad's lap and he would tickle me and I would play with the wrinkly skin on his hands.  I loved seeing them.  My aunt was very victorian, very prim and proper and quite disapproving of young children, but I always felt loved by her.  Until one day that all changed.  I chose to travel instead of going to university as was expected of me.  Overnight my aunt stopped talking to me and my grandad wrote me a letter telling me I was a sponger and a parasite, despite the fact that I had three jobs whilst I saved for my airfare, and I worked pretty much the whole time I was travelling.  Their reaction shattered me.  It seemed to me that I was only loved and accepted by my family when I was saying or doing the right things.  Every time I tried to express myself as the real me, I was rejected.  It hurt and the insecurity amplified within me.

I eventually stopped travelling and got a 'proper job'.  Grandad and auntie mellowed.  I went through a ton of relationships, always moving on, searching, still trying to find security.  I met the man who would become my husband, and three months into our relationship my mum was diagnosed with cancer.  We married eight weeks before she died and I remember being crouched down on the floor in my wedding dress, sobbing, because in my heart, I knew the man I was about to marry wasn't 'the one'.

Mum died when I was 27.  We became really close in the eight months I nursed her.  We didn't talk about anything deep and meaningful, but for the first time ever we did mother/daughter things - as much as we could while she was hospitalised.   I painted her nails, we did jigsaws, we laughed and chatted about superficial stuff.  It was a terrible terrible time, infused with moments of pure beauty and I thank god for those eight months when I truly felt my mum loved me.

I stayed in my marriage for 8 years and had 2 beautiful children.  It wasn't bad by any means, but there was no connection, no passion, we were more like brother and sister.  That's another story.  When I eventually found the strength and courage to leave, my grandad once again disowned me.  He wanted a relationship with my husband and children, but not me.  This time it not only hurt, it devastated me.  In my mind, here was proof again that I was only loved when I was saying and doing the right thing.  All the insecurities inside me came flooding to the surface.  For 5 years I wrote to him begging and pleading for him to see me.  His standard answer was 'he didn't beat you, so you had no right to leave him'. 

I forced him to see me eventually, when he was very very sick.  The first few times were awful, he did nothing but spit venom at me, but I persevered.  When he was a couple of weeks away from death I was sat by his bedside, playing with the wrinkly skin on his hand, when he turned to me and said 'you haven't done that since you were a little girl.  You've taught me what love really is.'


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