The trouble with families Saturday April 6, 2019
I had a flying visit from a close family member this weekend, but despite feeling very under par from a cold, we did our usual welcome. And then the box of old photographs came out... and there were a few questions and then... a statement which was as obvious as it was heartbreaking... to me. "Mum f*cked you up". That was it. Four words. I could not hold the tears back any more. It was like I was transported back into teenage hell, despite being as I am now, an accomplished, brave and extremely resilient 53 year old female. Because I knew. But I did not need it said. And it wasn't from a position of nastiness but it brought back a tsunami of painful memories.
Later that night I went to bed with a lump so large in my throat it hurt. Earlier apologies ensued... too many wines and a loose tongue were apparently the culprits. My husband, ever the mediator, said it was from the position of an older brother who had seen and heard stuff... but like my dad in all honesty had done nothing about the emotional abuse I had suffered as they both did their disappearing act. And I had issues with men – is it any wonder?
I was told that as a teenager, I looked like a slapper, and a tart and even in front of my friends, "Are you going out with her looking like that?" My phone calls were eavesdropped on, a cackling going on in the background and then the obvious click as she got bored with the conversation. I had the wonderful comment about my second cousin "You can't compete"... as well as jibes about being anorexic, wearing too much black... you name it.
Arguments in shops with her screaming at me because I had dared to want to go back to the shop to buy the thing I had seen in the first place (she would say "Oh we can look at the other shops and then if you still like it we can go back".. and then the "If you'd liked it that much you would have bought it there and then" or that I was a bit late for the final meet-up before we went home.
Another thing was mentioned about an incident with an "uncle" (neighbour) who took me upstairs when I was barely a teenager – or I may have been younger and tried to kiss me inappropriately – the excuse was "I've got something to show you"... The first time I recalled that memory it triggered a flood of tears and a questioning in my own mind if anything else far worse had happened. This was the same man who babysat every Saturday night and bought me chocolates and sat as close to me as a boyfriend would with his arm around me.
I developed body dysmorphia as a teenager from probably all the negative comments and experiences with boys at school – my arms were pinned back in a break one time and I was assaulted. I told no-one. I was followed into toilets. But the dysmorphia, although triggered by a photograph initially, haunts me to this day.
The strange thing is I have forgiven my mum but the hurt will never really go away. It's a scar that doesn't need to be opened however... but it often is, unwittingly by others... and I'm brooding again...
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