I am going to touch on a very taboo subject today. It may be controversial and it may draw some bad comments, which I welcome as I want my blog to be a conversation tool, but I feel the need to be honest about this subject. I want to say straight-out that this post is not about normal parents/families who have lived largely without facing tragedy or trauma. This post is about parents who have, who in their lives prior to having children had terrible things brought down upon them. It is for these parents that I speak up and it’s for their children that I hope to give insight.
I’m trying to find the right words and I’m not sure if this will come out the way I want. I guess I should start with this, which I have posted about previously in detail: I was molested by my father and brother separately between the ages of 6 and 10 years old. Because I remained living with my abusers, I didn’t start to deal with it till I was pregnant at 18 years old when all the memories started tormenting me. After giving birth, I was hit hard by severe post-partum depression and CPTSD from the childhood incest. The abuse unfortunately took away my natural ability to be a parent; I had very little motherly instinct. This is not to say however that I did not love and care for my son. I knew I needed to be a mother for the sake of my son and I was; it just didn’t come naturally – I had to work at it. At the same time, I was working through the trauma of my childhood. Please read previous posts to get a full understanding of this story:
There was so much weight on my shoulders – abuse, my son, guilt, and I was 19 years old dealing with all of it. I know I made my own bed in getting pregnant at 18, believe me I know. Now, at 43 years old, I can look back and see how much my childhood had a hold on me, on my thoughts, on my emotions, on my ability to parent. It’s not an excuse but it was very much reality. I don’t think anyone can understand unless they have been through it. I know of so many others who have had the typical affects of child abuse but so far I have only heard of one other who found it difficult to parent. I think the memories hitting me while I was pregnant was a large part of the problem for me. Currently, even though I found ways to parent and for most of his life had a great relationship with my son, we are now semi-estranged.
This is what has led me to the point of this post. Does having a child mean that you, as a person, are no longer relevant? That you cease to exist as an sole individual and instead only exist to be a parent? Here are things I have heard from adults: “you are selfish if you don’t have children”, “you are a terrible person if you have problems parenting”, “how can you not have full custody of your child”, “you’re selfish if you can’t put your problems aside for your child”. It just seems like you are not allowed to be damaged once you have a child. The trauma I have been through is deemed irrelevant and I am somehow supposed to be, expected to be, this amazing parent; my emotions and inner conflict be damned!
This of course is all from the adult perspective. From my child’s perspective – I see how that is different; that’s where it gets complicated. The child doesn’t know any different or any better. And that’s exactly why I forced myself to be the parent that I was, that I became. I say “forced” for lack of a better word. It means that even though I lacked maternal instinct, I still was able to be a mother to my son. Ugh – I know I am not saying this right!
Let me try it this way – I feel like the fact that I am a parent means I have no right to feel my own pain, that I have no right to anything of my own, instead only that of my child. I feel like everyone, including my now adult son, thinks that the traumas I have been through, the abuse and how it affected me, doesn’t matter and that my only point in living is for my child. Is this making any sense? I know many people will see this as selfish – but have those people suffered abuse? Have they been hurt terribly by their own family? Have they struggled with the guilt of ? I easily could have given up my son but I didn’t! For his sake and his sake alone I decided to be his mother. The problem came when his father decided to bad mouth me to our son all his life – saying things that weren’t at all true. I never once ‘dissed’ my ex to our son – I don’t believe that is right! It’s not fair to the child. Unfortunately, my son grew up to believe those lies. My son, stubborn and bullheaded like his father, can’t see past the lies. He won’t allow his memory to actually remember the truth. I can’t blame him for it – I know I was not the perfect parent, but who is? I was molested by my father!
I guess it’s that I understand why my son has some issues with me, the valid ones anyway – I just wish he (and others) could try to understand what happened to me and how it affected me as a person, as a parent. It’s not fair that I am expected to be understanding but my adult son isn’t. Why is a child so much more relevant than a parent? Aren’t we all human, valuable, equally important? I feel like I, as a person, don’t matter anymore, that what I went through and what I am dealing with is being dismissed.
I think this is by far the hardest post for me – the words just aren’t coming out right. I just want people to be aware that parents who were abused as a child can struggle in ways others can’t imagine, in ways their children can’t see or possibly understand. It doesn’t make us bad people or terrible, selfish parents. It just means we are carrying and dealing with something traumatic as best we can. I didn’t choose to be sexually molested but I did choose to be a mother even when everything within me didn’t know how to be. I guess ultimately I just want to raise awareness, for me and for others like me.