Today I am grateful for my growth, and my support.
Last year I worked up the courage to open up about some of the abuse from my parents. I was too afraid to say this in person so I made a post on Facebook. Sharing that for the first time on such an extremely open platform is similar to my reasons for creating this blog. I want to share my struggles with people, but I feel a sense of discomfort with how people might respond. I’ve been a very private person for most of my life.
There was so much support from friends and people I went to high school with, and it made me feel less ashamed of sharing such a personal matter with the Facebook community. But behind the scenes I had my Grandmother, who is a person I always cherished so much, telling me this caused her to become depressed, and she had no idea about it (even though I had opened up to her about this several times), as well as claiming she had apparently been contacting me and couldn’t understand why I was avoiding her etc.. Other members on my fathers side contacted me asking why I was avoiding her as well. All of it was strange to me and the claims of ignoring her calls were entirely untrue.
It’s true that these moments shine light on who is really there for you. I made the post after a difficult conversation with my stepmother.
My mother divorced my stepfather when I was 10. Life quickly spiralled out of control after this happened. My stepfather found love in a lady (whom I refer to as my stepmother). She had her own children, and was going through a difficult time, having recently going through a divorce with the father of her children, her high school sweetheart. She did not warm up to me at all, and I remember feeling that she had a right to feel that way as my brother and I were no longer my stepfathers problem. I desperately wanted to ask him to save me from the abuse I was experiencing from my mother and the people she surrounded herself with, but I saw how happy he was with his new partner and I didn’t want to cause them any more worries. I quietly reminded myself that I’m lucky he’s still in my life at all and that I should be on my best behaviour to show gratitude.
One night last year, as we were sitting around the table after dinner, the conversation turned to some dark topics about jury duty and abuse. I tried to express small parts of insight and she dismissed me as had always been the case when I tried to involve myself in conversations. My stepfather also made a joke about how I had never been a studious person. It really hurt. I thought to myself, if only they knew how much pain and suffering I experienced without complaining or expecting anything from them. Why were they so inconsiderate of my feelings? I didn’t say anything, and when we all went to bed I was awake, feeling anxious and alone. I cried quietly for what seemed like an eternity.
This is how I’ve generally dealt with my feelings. Alone, and quietly. A few days later I was still feeling hurt and decided it was time to stick up for myself. So naturally I took full advantage of keyboard warrior confidence and politely but firmly expressed that I will no longer stand for people being ignorant or accusatory about ‘how difficult I was as a teenager’ etc. I wrote that I had done the best I could, and that after my abusive, neglectful mother sent me to live with my biological father, I was diagnosed with PTSD, and he was beating and neglecting me.
It was scary and extreme, but what has resulted is something so beautiful I will never regret making that post. My stepmother called me that night, on speaker with my stepfather, and they apologised and cried about not acknowledging how difficult life had been for me. So again I can ask myself, how could they be ignoring my feelings? Looking back, I literally never shared my feelings with them. I was hiding my experience and emotions from the good people in my life and opening them to negative people. I’m not sure why this happens, but apparently it’s normal.
Well, in truth, I do have an idea of why it happened for me. I was born into an incredibly ignorant family, with equally ignorant advice. So this was a pretty big barrier. It was also difficult to make stable friendships as my unstable home life scared the parents of my friends. I appreciated this as being isolating but for the best. It was at quite a young age that I noticed myself understanding things that my school peers couldn’t and shouldn’t relate to. I reached out to school counsellors for superficial support, but I never wanted to appear needy, and my father told me that I was not to share any details of how abusive he was because it would be my fault if he went to jail and my brother and I were sent to foster care. It’s pretty f*cked up to see this typed before me. But for many years I believed him, just as I believed him when he said that I had no rights, that he owned me, and the way he treated me was nothing like the things I would experience if I were to go against his rule of talking about the abuse.
At fifteen, I realised that I no longer believed him entirely, and I left. My subconscious, however, still struggles with these rules. I haven’t let that stop me from cautiously moving forward. It’s difficult to know there are subconscious beliefs that still cause me difficulty in connecting with people, without knowing what it is or what I can do to ‘fix myself’. I have a way of knowing things without understanding them and sometimes I allow preconceptions to rule my world. Experiences like opening up over that Facebook post are what keeps me grounded in moving forward.
While being very emotional about my recent move, I am immensely grateful for my ‘step family’ who travelled a few hours to help me move. It’s a funny experience as to how they came to help. My stepfather was talking about helping a family friend to move that weekend, and I felt a pang of jealousy. In a matter of seconds I thought to myself, he has never helped me to move… And then I remembered how appreciative I was for their phone call when I opened up about the abuse. My realisation that keeping to myself was quite damaging. So I made a joke like “Ooh my lease is ending soon, would you like to travel all this way to help me?” and he instantly replied with yes. I didn’t expect that at all. A few days later he messaged me to let me know he had hired a truck. It was so heartwarming.
Not only did they come to help, but they stayed the night at mine and partners home. And when difficult topics came up, like some of their judgements on ‘kids who can’t be bothered doing well at school’ I spoke confidently about the fact that no one knows what these poor children are going through behind closed doors, and that I could relate to the feelings of isolation when parents are neglectful and abusive. They listened to me, and they agreed that it is probably true for many ‘difficult children’ to be experiencing emotional hardships alone. My stepfather also brought up that my reasons for having trouble with exams would have been because of the horrible things my mother would say to me when I asked for help. When he said this, my stepmother looked very sad and showed a great deal of empathy for how difficult that must have been.
This journey of building emotional trust is very confronting and difficult at times, with certain people targeting every insecurity I have to bring me down. But I don’t want to strengthen those emotions or relationships any further. I appreciate my courage in reaching out (ever so slowly), and I appreciate even more the trust I am feeling for having this reciprocated. I have no negative feelings towards my stepmother for the past, she is human and she was doing the best she could at that time. And she has never given up on me entirely anyway. I feel closer to them than ever before.
I wonder if the way I dealt with my difficulties was something I needed to do at that time, as pretending to be OK allowed me to build an identity of my own. But that perspective also prevented me from building depth in relationships that are meaningful. It has also prevented me from building trust in the beauty of peoples love for me, so it no longer serves me.
I’ve always been an avid learner, revelling in the knowledge I have but being afraid to share any of this knowledge out of fear of judgement. With a strong support network I won’t have to worry about the judgement of others. And I’m quietly beginning to feel that sharing my knowledge might actually be appreciated by some.
I’m excited about building on my knowledge of love and support, because it is both humbling and heartwarming to trust in the beauty of others.
Warm regards, xxx