This morning, I had a random scenario play in my mind of Mini Me 1 (4yo) trying to find food for herself and Mini Me 2 (almost 2yo) because Mummy isn’t awake to feed them. I could see her using her little step stool to try and reach things, trying to find something for her little brother that he will eat, wanting cereal but being unable to get to it on top of the fridge.
This has never, in her life or her brother’s, happened and it never will. But just imagining them going through that nearly reduced me to tears and I had to wonder if those tears were for the thought of my children ever suffering like that or if it related to some surpressed memories of my own childhood… maybe a bit of both?
You see… Once upon a time, there was a fucked up family. The family consisted of Fucked up Mum and her 3 future fuck up candidates – all daughters. Fucked up Dad was largely absent due to his gambling and alcohol addiction. My mum was fucked up due to trouble in her childhood with her mum and alcohol abuse. My dad was fucked up for reasons I still don’t know to this day. Bottom line – it was a right, royal Fuck up.
My older and younger sisters were subjected to severe beatings by our mum largely for no reason other than an alcohol induced rage of an imagined incident – I can remember that my younger sister suffered from such a young age that the odds must have always been stacked against her. I’ve come to the realisation that I blocked out a lot of my childhood memories – therapy and my older sister helped me to realise that.
As you can imagine, living in such a crazy household meant a lot of uncertainty. Not knowing if my mum was going to be drunk, how many days she was going to be drunk for, which mood she was going to be in, if we were going to school and how we were going to eat. The first thing I learnt to “cook” outside of making toast and a cuppa were mini burgers – all I had to do was put the mini paddies under the grill, add cheese and place in a mini bun. This is the memory that came back to me when I saw that scenario of my children in my head. This is what I learnt to cook to ensure my younger sister & I had something to eat (my older sister left home at 15/16 when I was 7 and my younger sister was 3).
I would swear blind that I was never subject to the beatings my sisters were and that out of all 3 of us, I managed to escape the cycle as close to a normal person as I could.
The truth is I also suffered beatings I have surpressed so deep in my memory I have no recollection of them ever happening. I may have escaped the cycle of alcohol and drugs and managed to provide a happy, secure and stable environment for my children but I am far from okay.
I have gone from being employed full-time to being unemployed and unable to work; I have gone from being a somewhat happy person to a person plagued by anxiety and depression and now on medication; I have had weeks of therapy and still need counselling to be followed by more therapy. I can’t accept being happy because I’m scared of it being taken away. I have a fear of uncertainty which leads me to want to control everything because my childhood was so out of my control.
I laugh when people hear a little about my background and ask how I turned out “so normal”. I laugh because I used to think I was the normal one as well – a good man, a secure environment for my kids, aspirations and ambition for myself and I didn’t rely on drink to solve my problems. Considering the statistics and psychology, I was pretty “normal”. I guess it was easier to believe that than to accept the truth about my mental health.
So, have I really defied the odds just by not becoming an alcoholic or creating my own dysfunctional environment and ruining my children as much as I was ruined? I haven’t gone to university, I’m unable to work because of my mental health at the moment and I am going to need years of counselling and therapy to really find myself and accept my childhood. I’m sure my mental health issues would be expected according to some studies somewhere and I have gone down the route of many before me.
I thought I had beat the odds. The truth is, I am just another statistic from another dysfunctional childhood although I know that I am more than a number. I think the reason I struggled to write this post is because it’s a lot harder to accept something out loud or written down than it is in your own head, like a secret thought of possibility without admitting it as the truth.
I think this post was like a reminder to myself that I’m not normal but who really is? I might have more issues than some but I probably have less than others. My past doesn’t define me and my future isn’t decided by my past, regardless of what any statistics or psychologists say.
I define my future and I choose the person I want to be. This applies to everyone, everywhere.