Grieving the childhood I didn’t have (part 1)

This saying is about as far from the truth of my life as one could go.  In order to move past this ever-present sense of failure and self-disgust, I must grieve for the parents I never had.  Is that grieve for the parents or grieve for myself?  Not sure which is technically correct so, let’s just say I’m going to fucking grieve for my entire childhood.  (I could take the f-word out but then my readers would not know how pissed-off I am right now).

Okay, so you can see this post is not a happy one.  If you want flowers and smiles, goggle it.  This post is about how much I feel short-changed by my childhood.

The book, Will I Ever Be Good Enough?, insists I must accept and grieve  in order to move forward in life.  I am compelled to wonder aloud if that is not what I’ve been doing my entire life with all this self-pity, self-hate and depression?  Have I not been grieving for what I lack?  Perhaps I was, but not in the right way.

In order to heal I must grieve for the little me that didn’t get to exist.  I must acknowledge that I didn’t get the love I needed and, as a result, I’m left with a hole or void in my emotional development.  (I’m paraphrasing here from the book).  The author, Karyl McBride, says “Facing this sadness is crucial in developing your sense of self today.”   (The cynic in me asks, does that mean after I acknowledge my lacking childhood in this post right now, today I will have a sense of self that I didn’t have before I wrote this?)

I’ve looked long and hard at the relationship I had with my mother.  I believe she neglected my emotional needs because she is not an emotional person.  She just doesn’t get me, the intensity of my senses and emotions.  Because of this, I shut-down and believed I didn’t deserve my mother’s love.  The fact is, I did deserve it but my mother didn’t have the capacity to give me a sense of emotional security.

An early memory I have is before the age of 5 years when my parents were still married.  I often had nightmares and would climb into my parents bed, sleeping between them.  I have this foggy feeling in my memory that my mom didn’t help me when I was scared with nightmares.  She just didn’t react or care.  I stopped going down to her room because neither parent acknowledged me.  Instead, I had all-encompassing nightmares where my room was full of wild animals and I would awake in a panic, believing I had no one to help me.  This nightmare was so frequent that I couldn’t fall asleep at bedtime.  I would rock back and forth on all fours, self-soothing behavior, in an attempt to exhaust myself into sleep.

Even now, as an adult, I have woken with the same full body fear/dread/panic.  The last time was a couple of years ago but the sensation was unmistakable.

All of this occurred  before I was sexually abused in my bed at night by my brother.  Those experiences came a couple of years later.  I was in the same scary bedroom but my bed was in a different place in the room so I can distinctly separate the memories.

Fast forward to the present because that memory felt like a flashback. I am filled with dread.  My heart is heavy.  I’m scared and sad.  I’m also exhausted from this task.

I was going to write about all the ways my parents didn’t love me the way I needed.  But, recalling my childhood isolation and fear and the reality that I had nobody I could go to for help is enough for now.  Too much.  So I will begin grieving for the little me by saying this:

I would want a mom and dad who accepted me with open arms, wrapping them around me when I climbed into their bed at night, frightened from a nightmare.  My mom would rub my back, tell me “you are not alone, I’m right here and you can always come to me.”  My dad would hold me and whisper that I was safe and he would not let anything hurt me.  I would be reassured that my parents would protect and shield me and I would always be able to go to them if I was hurt or scared.

Shit, this recovery stuff is going to be hard.  ♥ Daylily

8 responses to “Grieving the childhood I didn’t have (part 1)

  1. Love this post. I wrote a poem on my blog speaking of the absence of my own parents.

  2. It’s hard for us to let go of who are parents never were. At the age of 9 I knew what I wasn’t going to find at home and sought it in teachers and other adults. It isn’t an easy thing to accept, but once we grieve – and it really is grieving – we can move on for ourselves, and maybe find what we never got in little parts of the world around us now. That’s my hope anyway. Great blogging as always, Hugs -Sparrow

  3. I can really relate to grieving the parents I never had. I had to grieve for me, not them. Might sound selfish, but we each have our own work to do.

    Your anger is refreshing; and it will end up being a big part of your healing if you let it. Anger is a reasonable emotion to have for what you went through. It was easy for me to get angry with my dad -he was the abuser after all. But, allowing myself to be angry with mom took a good many years longer. I had to allow ALL the emotions …grief, guilt, anger and more.

    It’s exhausting and you said it well when you said “shit, this recovery stuff is going to be hard.” Amen sister.

    • I’m stuck in this phase of my healing and probably will be for awhile because reality hits and I take breaks from my sense of grief. When that happens I go back to my old ways of coping. Thanks for your comments. –Daylily

      • I stayed stuck sometimes, too. One step forward, sometimes two back…but eventually making progress. The old coping methods still creep back now and again, but I recognize them more quickly and stop myself better. A work in progress!

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