Growing up, i read Child Called It and Angelas Ashes. I read about kids chained to dog kennels and forgotten in cars for two days.
To me, that was abuse and neglect.
I had rather good parents. They provided us with everything we needed. They worked really hard. They never drank or smoked or gambled. They told us they loved us. Ensured there was always food on the table. Gave us the best possible education. They stayed together.
They were amazing parents.
Sure there was some guilt tripping and stress induced outbursts and an occasional spanking. And some over the top expectations.
My mum was a very strong woman with a difficult childhood. Her mum had physically abused her and often put her and her siblings down. Her dad died when she was young. Her brother committed suicide. Her sister turned to alcohol and married an abusive man.
But suddenly, under the blanket of abuse, I understand my mum a little better. I remember her once trying to leave. I was very young. I remember packing a bag of shoes and leaving with her. We got into a car and my dad chased after us and we went back in.
My dad was super controlling when he was younger. Now he’s a sponge. I feel my sister and brother probably experienced something much worse.
But my dad also had a super difficult childhood. His mum died when he was 9. She was burned. As the eldest, his gran put a lot of the family responsibilities on him. His dad became an alcoholic, smoker and gambler and my dad had to often go looking for him at night and would find him passed out somewhere. They also lost everything.
So I’ve never blamed my dad or mum for anything I experienced. After 6 shrinks, none of them ever defined my experience as neglect or abuse. And my age 17 break down was pinned on to my epilepsy medication. My self harm was ignored until last week with my therapist.
I remember my mum having a low self esteem. She hardly spoke when we went out. She put on weight. Growing up we all started telling her to speak out to my dad. That my dad took her for granted. That he didn’t appreciate what she did. That she shouldn’t put up with certain things.
Now she stands up to him all the time.
Not so long ago I remember her confessing to me that she thought she let us (my siblings and I) down. That somehow they didn’t raise us right. That we all are messed up.
I told her they were amazing parents. And they did an amazing job. And I believe that they did the best they possibly could.
And I’ll always love them to bits.