Monday, 13 February 2012


My most excellent therapist and I have worked out that the cause of my pain - the emotional trauma that my brain is using the physical pain to distract me from - dates right back to the neglect and abandonment I suffered as a baby. Whilst it's good to know this, it's really not good news. It means that in trying to fix it, I'm 'dealing' with a 'baby' who hasn't even learned to recognise speech yet.

The idea with this kind of therapy is you work out where the problem stems from - what period and experience in your life - then you try to reddress the balance. If the problem is lack of love, you give love, if it's not listening, you listen. But you're talking and listening to the 'you' of whatever age you were then.

When I did all this over the sexual abuse, I was dealing with a 'me' aged between four and eight (the age I was when he abused me). But my mother's neglect and abandonment began from the minute I was born.

I know I was a breech baby, so I'm guessing it was a difficult labour; I know my dad was violently jealous of the attention my prescence took away from him; I know my grandparents shunned my parents because I was due 10 months after they were married - my gran didn't believe I'd been conceived in wedlock (which my mother denies, although she told me over and over throughout my childhood that I was an accident, which always made me feel like crap); I know my mother was young by today's standards (21) and had no experience of babies, being an only child; I know she didn't breast feed me (though whether that was out of choice, or in response to advice, I don't know); I know my father had already narrowly avoided jail for violent crime leading up to the wedding and she was probably scared of him; I know that parenting advice at the time told new mothers not to pick babies up when they cried, but to let them sort themselves out. I suspect, but don't know, that my mother suffered post natal depression. All of this together conspired to create a mother who didn't / couldn't bond with her baby.

She didn't pick me up, she didn't cuddle me. She changed my nappy and she fed and bathed me; that's it. She made no emotional connection whatsoever; she did nothing to make me feel safe or secure or loved. She didn't play with, she didn't sit with me- she just put me in my pram and left me there.

Once, she left me in the pram at my father's work (a car exhaust place), where he was supposed to be watching me. I grappled for nearly 40 years with a horrifying memory of being left alone and terrified underground, near a twisting spiral entryway, with a dark figure looming over me. I finally remembered a year or so ago what that was - the underground workshop where my father was. I don't know who the dark figure was, I don't think it matters. What matters is I was left there in terror, crying hysterically, when one or other of my parents should have been looking after me.

It's all this stuff that I have to deal with, if I ever want to be free of the pain. Somehow, I have to make that less-than-a-year-old baby inside of me feel safe and secure and loved. But that baby doesn't understand language, she only senses intent, senses what the other person feels towards her.

The therapist has recommended touch - that's how you might make a baby feel safe, stroke it's cheek or hand. The best I can do is to stroke my own hand or cheek, but I can't cuddle myself the way I would a baby; I can't hold her close so she can feel my heartbeat and feel safe. The therapist also suggested a pet that's more happy to be stroked than the chins. But I'd have to move house for that - turns out my landlord gave me permission for the chins when pets aren't actually allowed in the building - and I don't want to do that.

I'm finding music helpful - I think that's why I'm suddenly so obsessed with it. But somehow I have to find a way to allow a pre-speech baby to express the fury she feels at being abandoned, and to replace the attention, love and security that same pre-speech baby never received as a child, and is desperately seeking. Shit.

Can you imagine the conversation where I tell my mother I don't want to see her? It goes something like this:
Remember how you thought you could avoid culpability over the sexual abuse, by the fact that you weren't the actual abuser? Conveniently overlooking the fact that you didn't protect me.

Well, this is all on you. Good luck trying to wriggle your way out of this one.

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