50 YEAR JOURNEY

by Tabby
(UK)

I have managed to live my life not addressing the issues caused by my parents who physically abandoning me at 2 yrs old. I am now 52 and I can tell you I have worked incredibly hard all my life at burying my feelings about it, but finally it has caught up with me. This is a long post, but I have written it so that I can see it on paper and this has helped me. I also found the other posts o this site helpful to read so I am hoping this might also help others to feel they are not alone.

My parents were not happy together. My father married my mother when he was 47 and she was 27. He was an old fashioned kind of a chap who worked hard in a semi skilled job and loved DIY. She was young at heart loved to dance wear nice clothes and socialise, it was not a good mix and she became very unhappy and bitter. When I was 2 she met someone else and left us to live with him. I believe she left me in my cot alone in the house, and that?s where my father found me when he came from work. He was distraught and felt that he could not cope with me alone, so he fostered me with a neighbour and went back to work. I was there for a short time before being moved to a live with another family whose name I cannot remember. They lived 70 miles away and he visited me once a fortnight.

After a while my father decided to move me again to live with his sister and her family. I lived with my Aunt and Uncle and my two cousins for 2½ years, while my father still made the 100 mile trip to visit me once a fortnight. I was part of their family and I am still very close to my cousins now because of the bond I developed with them during that time. When I was 7 my father moved me back to our home city. During the next 3 years I lived with three more families and it was at this point that I completely "shut down" emotionally. I learned that there is no point in making emotional links with people I was not going to stay with for long and who were only paid to care for me.

Throughout my childhood I never remember feeling angry towards my parents. I idealised my father because he was my only parent so he needed to be perfect or I could not feel safe. As for my mother I was simply curious about her and what she looked like. I had never seen a photograph of her, she didn't send me a card on my Birthday or at Christmas, she had simply vanished when I was 2 yrs old and I did not ask after her.

When I was 10 my father remarried and I moved into his house. Looking back my father's house was always the place I considered home, no matter who else I lived with. Unfortunately, his new wife was not mentally stable and soon became abusive towards me, hitting me, accusing me of stealing money and not speaking to me for very long periods of time. Despite my fathers family witnessing her erratic behaviour no-one felt they could act and so I stayed in this environment for a further 5 years.

At 15 I began to stay out late and found a boyfriend. My Father and Step mother strongly disapproved of him not least because he was of a different culture. One night my father nailed all the windows in the house shut, bolted me in my bedroom and called social services to come and take me away. My father had finally decided that he could no longer cope with the fights and arguments between his wife and this rebellious teenager who was full of contempt for both of them. Social services asked me if I wanted to go into care and I jumped at the "opportunity".

I was sent to stay with a family who were kind to me, they set fair boundaries and I respected them. 3 months before my 16th birthday I had sex for the first time with my boyfriend and became pregnant. I did not use contraception although I knew what the consequences might be if I did not. I loved him more than I ever thought it was possible to love anyone and he loved me. We wanted to be together so my boyfriend asked my father if we could marry and he gave his permission.

At 16 and 2 months I got married. The following spring I gave birth to my first child after a long and difficult labour. I found that I did not bond with her and after a period of post natal depression I stopped wanting to hold her or feed her. My husband, having come from a family of 9 children, stepped in and became her main carer but the more he cared the more distant I became from my daughter.

I was married for 20 years and although we had difficulties we brought up both our children with moral values. But I simply could not be affectionate towards my daughter. Please understand me I could not hug her, kiss her or tell her how much I loved her. It was like living with a glass screen between us. I sincerely wanted to fix things but I did not know how, so the screen stayed in place and I now know that I abandoned her emotionally.

I tried several times to trace my mother because I was curious about her and finally in my 20?s I found her. She had remarried and had another daughter. Over the next 27 years I tried to develop a relationship with my mother, but she was a critical of me and I never felt worthy of her approval. I ended the relationship by saying something very simple that I knew would make her angry so she would not call again and it worked.

In my early 20's I gained some basic qualifications and then undertook general nurse training. Getting an education made me feel good about myself and in order to keep feeling good I carried on getting GCSE's, a University diploma, a Counselling qualification, voluntary work with People with HIV/AIDS, a teaching qualification and finally a first class honours degree. But still my internal voice told me I was stupid and dumb.

When I struggled academically I would self harm to ease the pain of potential failure. I sought therapy for this, but still could not address my anger towards my mother, or admit that she had abandoned me. After I completed my degree I set up a project to support young parents and their children and I replaced education with "doing" and I "do" all the time at home and work.

My husband and I eventually divorced. My daughter grew up moved out and became a nurse and I started a new relationship. One day my daughter came to see me. On the way out she challenged me about my emotional distance, she said she feared me when she was a child. I tried to talk to her about why we were not close, but because I couldn't make sense of it myself I could not help and I simply felt guilty for letting her down. I apologised for not being what she needed when she was a child. After this we began to argue a lot, she was rightly very angry at me - and now I had admitted that I had failed her she had a stick to beat me with - and she beat me with it on a regular basis. I internalised all of her anger and felt even more guilty and a failure - and so it went on.

My daughter married and two years ago she had a baby girl. It was a momentous occasion and fraught with emotional stuff for both of us. Within 3 months of the baby arriving my mother died. After not speaking with my mother for 3 years I went to her funeral simply to make sure that I was mentioned in the eulogy. Amazingly I still did not feel any anger towards her. I found that I had not been mentioned at all in her will, this was not about money but felt like I was not even recognised as her family I simply felt like I had brought it on myself by provoking her.

The problems I have had with my daughter came to a head again at the funeral when she caused a huge and painful scene in the car park after the service. At that moment something exploded silently in my head and I began slowly unravelling and falling apart.

From that day on I started to wake early in the morning at 4 or 5 thinking about my daughter and her baby. I began to cry easily and frequently and I would talk to friends and family about how painful it was that my daughter was so angry at me. I couldn't understand why she could not forgive me and I longed to see her and my granddaughter.

People began to want to change the subject when I spoke about my sadness because it was difficult for them to hear, and I began to realise that I was becoming obsessed with this problem for which I could see no solution. The pain and guilt were eating at me during all of my waking hours and it was becoming unbearable.

Last December I travelled to Flanders on a business trip. As part of the work I was doing I visited a residential project supporting and caring for very young mums 12 to 16 and their babies. The project manager who was a therapist had seen that many of the young mothers he worked with had problems with bonding and attachment. He understood how important this was to the development of the babies and the welfare of the young women and so, the staff encouraged the mums to massage their babies, give them lots of hugs kisses, smiling and eye contact.

When I got back to the Hotel in Brussels I cried - my heart ached, I felt totally bereft and wanted my own babies back so that I could learn how to do that too. From then on I cried most days and it became more and more difficult to concentrate on my work. I became more obsessed than ever with my feelings of sadness and guilt. I started to make big mistakes at work because I was so preoccupied with my feelings that my coping strategy "doing stuff" no longer worked for me and in February I cut all my work commitments down to the bare minimum and completely collapsed emotionally.

I am now in therapy. For the first time ever I am beginning to really "feel" the anger at being abandoned by my parents and to understand that those feelings have always been under the surface damaging my own relationships. Some time in my childhood I learned that it was better to bury all my feelings very deep because there was no room for self pity in my life. At the age of 52 I am finally addressing things that happened to me 50 years ago and know that I have a right to feel what has been suppressed for so long. wish me luck.

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May 16, 2010
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Difficult times
by: Tabby

I am having a really hard time at the moment. I am spending a lot of my time thinking about what happened to me after my parents abandoned me aged two. All the different people I lived with and all the pain I felt at not having a home caused me to feel very bad about myself. I remembered feeling that I must have been unlovable because no-one cared for me consistently and I was regularly moved around from place to place to live with strangers.

My biggest fear was that I had done something wrong in the previous house and that's why they moved me on again. I have kept these feelings hidden from myself my whole life. Last weekend I was not physically well and my feelings came to the surface very easily. I spent the day feeling totally unworthy and spent a lot of time calling myself names and telling myself how stupid dumb and thick I am.

Stupid seems to be the word that I use about myself a lot. I began to feel the full force of all the buried hurt and loneliness that I felt constantly when I was a child.

I was moved around so often when I was little that I never got to learn what the rules were in each different foster home before being moved again, I didn't know where things were kept, what I was allowed to do, what I was allowed to play and who to trust.

The food each family cooked was different, the bedlinen smelled different, my clothing became different as each family bought what they liked for me, in fact no-one completely knew me and I did not know them. I was a good child because I never felt confident enough to be naughty or to answer anyone back. I felt constantly anxious, uncomfortable and on my best behaviour, it was like living on a shifting carpet.

I realised at the weekend that this is why being stupid seems to describe how I felt and still feel. Of course I felt stupid if I spent my whole childhood [never] able to understand what the basic rules were. On top of not feeling wanted or cherished by anyone, I never even felt at home.

My real home was at my fathers house and I felt constantly homesick for its smells, sounds familiarity and old world comfort. I felt like this from age 2 until my father remarried when I was 10 when the whole picture changed to one of emotional, physical and sexual abuse by my stepmother.

I started this journey because I was broken hearted about my relationship with my eldest child. But my journey has taken me to meet my inner child who needs to be loved and cared for by someone she feels at home with and someone who will never abandon her. This healing can only be good for all my relationships.

I am going to do some hard work over the next few weeks so please wish me well.

Apr 20, 2010
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Reply to Kathleen
by: Tabby

I understand how painful it is not to have the relationship with your children that you would like. The pain I have felt at thinking that I may have lost the love of my child has been unbearable, I have felt totally bereft at times and I have cried so often about it.

My daughter has behaved very badly towards me in recent years and has caused me a great deal of pain. At me at my mothers funeral she shouted at me hurling hurtful things at me both true and untrue in equal quantity. But I think at that point she was so full of anger she saw anything and everything I did as wrong. That was very hard to get over because the funeral was already such an emotional thing and only weeks before I had been with her during the labour and birth of her first child. But I have forgiven her because she still has that small child somewhere inside her that hurts because she didn't feel loved and she was very hormonal.

I actually have three children two in their 30's that I had in my teens and one a little younger. My relationship with my eldest is more broken than the others and will take more time to heal. But I also struggle with my eldest son and our relationship, in a different way but also related to my abandonment, leading to bonding and attachment issues with him I think.

My heart goes out to you Kathleen I have struggled for so many years to mend the broken bits of my relationship with my daughter. We have both now admitted defeat and we will be going to seek help from a family therapist together.

I heard someone say recently that ALL problems within relationships are based on one persons expectations of the other and feeling that those expectations have not been met. So we are going to find someone who can support us to find out what our expectations are of each other and how we can meet those, and if we cannot, how to handle that without hurting each other.

We will do this when I am feeling stronger.

Is this something that you have tried with your son? would he go with you to a family therapist?

I will be thinking about you, please let me know how you get on.





Apr 20, 2010
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Very Encouraged by what you wrote
by: Kathleen D. Cone

Tabby,

I am very encouraged by what you wrote about the time you just spent with your daughter and grandchildren. You raised a genuinely kind daughter, who indeed is obviously very aware. It made me happy for you and it gave me hope for my own relationship with my son. I want to thank you for that!

Kathy

Apr 18, 2010
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Yesterday
by: Tabby

After my granddaughter was born I did not see my daughter for two years. it has been a time of great sadness and discovery for me and as it turns out for her too.

She sent me a text message a few weeks ago to tell me she was pregnant again. After this, small lines of communication once again opened up and we had my granddaughter over to visit a couple of times. I have now seen my daughter on a couple of occasions for short periods, but we have both agreed that in order to enter back into a proper relationship we must first seek third party counseling. I have asked for her to give me some time so that I can complete the therapy I have begun. We need to understand what went wrong between us all those years ago, I also need to acknowledge the pain that I felt at my abandonment and begin to heal the old wounds which caused the problems between us.

My daughter visited me yesterday with her two yr old daughter Evie. I gave her a picture of herself when she was 2 and we remarked on the similarities between her and her child. We talked a while and I spoke a little about the breakthrough that I had made and the acknowledgment that I had been abandoned and what that meant. I also said that I was very angry with my mother for leaving me and even more angry that it had effected my relationship with her.

To my utter amazement she was very accepting of this and said that she knew that I must have felt angry underneath and could never understand why I said I was not! She also said she understood my need to keep busy and that it was a cover, so that I do not get the time to think or feel too much. She said she had known this for many years. She talked about her fear of emotionally abandoning Evie and how she now worked very hard at bonding with her. She said it was like their hearts were joined with vines and she could never imagine leaving her. I am happy that she feels bonded with Evie it means this pain may have stopped at her generation.

Before she left she hugged me very tight and I held her tight, it was a very emotional moment and one I needed so much. I do feel that we may put things right between us, it will take a while to do but we are both willing to try.

I will keep writing here if that is OK it does help.

Apr 15, 2010
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thank you for your support
by: Tabby

Thank you for your support and prayers I really appreciate it. It was helpful to write my story down and look at it like someone else might.

In the past people have said that I must feel dreadful at being abandoned by my mother but I simply refused to acknowledge it, usually saying things “like oh well it doesn’t do to dwell on the past does it”. Others have strongly suggested that I am angry at my mother for leaving me and again I have rejected this thought/feeling and suggested that I had forgiven her and moved on. The truth is that I did not [feel] anything at all about my mother or my odd childhood, or any sadness for my myself and I think that is how I survived it. Its easy to forgive if you feel no pain at the site of injury, but for me it wasn't forgiveness it was denial. to move on I needed to be able to feel the pain in my conscious mind before I could forgive the person who injured me. What had always stopped me was the half knowledge that I would feel shame at allowing this act of self pity and so I kept it all tightly screwed down until I couldnt hold the lid on any more.

When I sought help from a therapist in January she also suggested that I was/am angry at my mother. Again I rejected this idea and said that I simply felt indifferent towards her. But she is clever and did not give up. She suggested that many of the issues that I have with my oldest child are as a direct result of being abandoned by my mother and if I dealt with my feelings towards her, I could deal with the feelings about my oldest child and work on a relationship with her on a different level. This was a very prescriptive approach, but I needed someone to challenge me, after all I had been successfully hiding my feelings for 50 years, from friends, family, my previous therapist and more importantly from myself. Finally during one session I faced my biggest fear and acknowledged that my mother had completely abandoned me. I found to my surprise that what I felt for her went beyond anger and was more like raw animal rage. Now I cannot imagine how I ever managed not to know it was there. I am not done yet I need to continue to see my therapist who will help me through this process. But I do feel differently already and I can see a light at the end of this long long tunnel. I am embracing the process and want things to change. I have recognised that despite the glass screen that existed between me and my lovely child, which meant that I could not be physically close to her, I still love her unconditionally and more completely than she understands at the moment.

I too have jumped right down into the middle of the volcano to deal with this childhood issue. My therapist made sure I was safe in there before I jumped in and am surviving the heat so far. This forum is wonderful full of love and acceptance and I am so glad that I found it. I am inspired by others who have written here and those who have commented on my story have been very kind and so supportive.

Apr 15, 2010
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To Tabby
by: Angie Carter

Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share your story with us. What an amazing journey you have been on. I try to envision a little girl going through all of that and it makes my heart sad.

I don't know what makes parents act the way they do towards their own children, but many times I think it comes from their own broken backgrounds.
Children can be quite resilient and survive many things. But usually what happens is when they get older something big triggers all of the abandonment and they have an emotional collapse, much like your case.

I also had one and I can share with you that was indeed painful and I chose to jump right down in the middle of it and pull out the childhood of origin issues and deal with them. I commend you for starting on your journey with this endeavor. Don't ever give up!!

These things don't heal over night and it does get tough, but the rewards are amazing and you will not regret it. Please post on here as often as you like, let us know your progress or anything else you care to share. Writing is such good therapy too!!

Best wishes to you Tabby and I will say a prayer for your healing to begin. If your therapist isn't fully schooled in dealing with inner child issues you can always try to find someone who is.
Angie C.

Apr 15, 2010
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Wow, What an Amazing Story of Survival!
by: Kathleen D. Cone

I applaud your honesty!

As I read your story, the longing for love you endured must have been very devastating and being the odd person out.. even with the kindness of your Aunt, Uncle and Cousins providing you with some kind of family in the meantime brings me to tears of empathy.

Your early years with your family members and the bonds you made with your cousins probably saved your life along the way... And all this before you were even 7 years old...

and I can understand completely why by the age of 10, you had to put somekind of emotional protection around yourself. Sounds like you reached an age where you understood more and were doing what you could to protect yourself...

***I'm sure Don can give you alot of insight as to the what and why of a 10 year olds mind and and be very helpful in answering some of those questions you asked.

In reading your own story, I'm sure you can understand more now why you found it impossible to bond with your daughter... I can! You'd been through so much loss and not having a mother of your own.. I think it's not surprising at all..

One thing I'm learning as I grow is that things may not always be able to be fixed in the ideal way we want them, but that you can make good progress towards bettering your relationships and even small victories are victories... and they encourage you to keep going...

finding "the internet of the mind".. well, it helps explain so much of what happened to us individually... you dealing with your daughter the way you did because of the way your parents
treated you and the way there families treated them.. and so on.. The positive way of looking at that is to understand that each generation (as crazy as this may sound) did the best they could with what was handed to them.. right or wrong...there's just so much truth to it.

I'm very proud of you for your determination.. because you had so many obsticles to overcome to even have the wherewithall to get an education and the strength of character to follow through... Again.. that's a big part of the WOW of your story!

I think what you are going to learn now is how you can create healthy inner voice responses to the way you have been thinking ..and this is where life starts to get so much better...where you start to really understand and love yourself.

Just read back your own story to yourself and think how it sounds to someone like me... I'm amazed at how fabulous you turned out against such horrible odds... certainly as an outsider... I can see!

Keep going .... your well on your way and this place is a great place to come and talk and tell us how you feel and think because everyone of us know exactly what you are talking about..

With the deepest of love Kathy

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