Parenting – Losing Myself?

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:

https://breakingsarah.wordpress.com/2015/07/27/a-teen-pregnancy/

https://breakingsarah.wordpress.com/2015/07/30/motherhood-lost/

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.

https://breakingsarah.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/estrangement-from-my-son/

https://breakingsarah.wordpress.com/2015/08/13/sorting-out-estrangement/

https://breakingsarah.wordpress.com/2015/08/14/fragmented-reconciliation/

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.

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12 thoughts on “Parenting – Losing Myself?

  1. I couldn’t have said this any better. It is well expressed and I fully understood what you were trying to say. I was in the same situation as you, both before and after having my child at nineteen. We do what we can, with the limited tools that had been passed down to us, to be the best mothers that we can be given our circumstances.

    My son, now nineteen, started asking questions early about my, let’s say, ‘quirks’. My inability to show affection, how I was different from other mothers, etc., along with the hoards of other people. When he was old enough to understand, he started getting bits and pieces of what made me who I am. Now that he’s an adult, he wants to know it all. Because it’s something I still can’t speak of out loud, I gave him a copy of my book and told him to read it and then to freely ask any questions he may have. It’s not that I am ashamed, or have anything to hide, but when it came to him – a natural sensitive, loving, and protective boy – I just couldn’t bring myself to tell him myself. Does that in of itself make me a bad mother? I don’t think so. It’s my defense mechanism kicking in, something I have no control over. In the end, I did the best I could, and I still have his full support.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad that your son actually wants to know. I also think that sometimes the written word can get through to them better than from our mouths. I have a manuscript I am working on about my life. If I never get it published, at least maybe I can give it to him someday. You’re right 0 so much is in self-defense – what I like to call a type of subconscious self-preservation. I hope that someday I can have the support of my son – he would need to sort through and see past some negative and ill-intentioned outside influences. We used to be so close and I want do desperately that back. Hugs to you and thank you for your kind words and support! I hope your situation continues to improve.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow. My hat’s off to you for being able to write a memoir! I tried and was within a flashback every few words. So I made it 40% factual, 60% fiction (Shadow’s contribution), but shhh, no one knows that. As far as they’re concerned, it’s fiction. If you can finish it, and I really hope you do, please publish. I’ll be your first customer. And you have no idea what this does for you.

        And my son’s a smart boy, maybe a little too smart for his own good, but he was able to pick up early on there was something wrong with my ‘family.’ I wholeheartedly believe your son will come around and you will have that close relationship you once had again.

        I hope the same for you as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thank you! I actually started my blog when I got writer’s block for my manuscript. The words just weren’t coming out right. I thought I could take a break for a while and see if that helps. The blog allows me to jump around and be a little more -free-form.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, yes, we are totally at times controlled by our past. Not always, of course. We can get help, etc but even then things take time to heal. You do the very best you can. And in the end, no parent is EVER perfect. What matters is love. And even, worst case scenario for me, after all of the abuse… even if my parents came to me as an adult and said “we really f(%$ed up” I would have tried to start over. Sometimes later in life is just better than not at all.

    “Does having a child mean that you, as a person, are no longer relevant?”… you are always relevant. You are not your child. You are their parent but you also have to take care of yourself. It sounds like you are doing that and have been doing that for awhile. Give yourself some credit for trying. I truly believe that he will at some point let you back in. It also sounds like he’s tried a few times. I can only imagine how hard this has all been for you. I see your pain in your words. All I want to do is give you a big hug and tell you it’s OK! You will be OK!

    As far as “you are selfish if you don’t have children”, “you are a terrible person if you have problems parenting”… omg, what awful people told you these things? When I had my child I immediately had my tubes tied, terrified of having the first one. Was that selfish? Would it have been selfish had I done it before I was pregnant with her? NO, I don’t believe it. I’m glad I have her but PARENTING IS F(*#$ing HARD!! Oh my God… everybody has problems parenting. That’s why so many therapists start with family history. It is so hard, especially when you have your own memories, flashbacks, etc, etc, etc… what is also hard is to accept that there may have been times when these things did overwhelm you. It’s also hard to accept that you were weak. But did you survive? Are you here today?

    HUGS my friend.

    Listen, I’m not sure how to contact you besides this… my email address is lynneholly74@yahoo.com if you ever want to talk, email me and I’ll give you my phone #. As the wedding is nearing I’d be happy to be another layer of support for you… an actual ear if you want. OK? And if you’re not comfortable with that too, that’s totally OK.

    HUGS again…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh sweetness, your response made me tear up. I have never had such understanding from someone other than my husband. Thank you so very much for that! I actually had my tubes tied a while back; I couldn’t go through it all again. Even though my circumstances are different now, I just can’t risk “losing” another child. I have tried multiple times with my son; hopefully someday he will see things a little differently. I will keep your email in my contacts but right now at least, I am afraid to let me real identity be know to anyone. I thank you though and I will keep it handy for when I need or want it. Hugs to you my friend! You are so very special.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Never any pressure. I know what it is to need safety. Giving you my email address is the safest way to extend a hand for when and if you’re ever up for it. I will never ever push. I will stand on the edge in cyberspace and encourage though. 🙂 hugs to you.

        Liked by 1 person

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