“Till it happens to you, you don’t know how I feel”.
To a lot of people, it’s a just a nicely written song with a powerful meaning. To many others, it is a complete parallel to their life. The song is by Lady Gaga and, I hear it as a personal message from abuse victims about how it makes them feel. By that I mean, how you feel is totally undescriptive and you only understand if you too are a victim. The music video is centred around anyone who has suffered physical abuse, but the lyrics alone I feel, is for all forms of abuse.
I start with writing about this song so that anyone reading this can try and get their head around the effects of abuse. This Blog post isn’t intended to hurt anyone, but is just a way of releasing experiences that are too painful to talk about. My Dad has been writing a blog for years. I wrote one for his blog when I was in year 9 and suffering from anxiety. Since that blog post I have been dealing with depressive episodes, one of which put me in hospital almost two years ago. This has been a long time coming, and Dad has been extremely patient. But, I write this as an 18-year-old trainee youth worker who has a heart to help youth know they are loved, worthy and don’t have to go through things alone.
When I was a Child, I grew up thinking abuse was a normal thing. As a young child, I even thought it was okay to scratch my older sister, sometimes leaving blood and always leaving scars. Luckily I did grow out of it and would never dream of hurting her again. Currently, I see my sister as a very strong and brave adult. For she took the most verbal abuse from Mum. My sister absolutely wears her emotions on her sleeve, and is very sensitive. But she is so strong for the way she has coped with everything. Her strength has influenced me massively and although we can argue like all sisters can, I know that even if no one else understands my childhood- she will.
I do remember the first time I know things weren’t normal in our house. My mum had thrown a bag of frozen peas over Dad in the kitchen. I don’t know if I actually saw this happen because memories can be unreliable, especially when I was that young. But what I do remember, is that afterwards mum told me I had to clean up the peas, because the bag has split. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people. But it was confusing for me, Because I had to clean a mess that wasn’t my fault and had just been used to intentionally hurt my Dad.
A lot of what I saw did involve meal times. The majority of abuse we witnessed as children was over the dinner table, with plates being thrown at Dad or hot drinks being poured over him. When I look back though, I can never remember why mum was so angry. But I do remember there was always an argument in which; mum always shouted the loudest, Dad usually got hurt by mum, my sister was crying and shouting, my brother was lashed out in anger- often to me. And I, tried to keep quiet. Someone had to! I think that’s why I probably feel victim to emotional abuse by mum, because I didn’t argue back so was an easy target. We all got emotionally abused in some way. And this isn’t a way of me to get some sympathy. I would just like to tell what happened to me. And hopefully spread more of an awareness for emotional abuse.
I never even noticed I had been emotionally abused until summer 2015, were my mum had moved house and I was living at her new house with her. When I wasn’t living with Dad, and so instead lived with mum, I was often the cook of the house. I didn’t mind, but when she moved house it got too much. Not only did I cook dinner, but at this point I cooked her and my brothers breakfast, lunch and dinner. More often than not, I was cooking meat. Which, as a vegetarian isn’t something we like to do. It wasn’t only the cooking I was doing however, I also unpacked the boxes for the kitchen, dining room, the lounge, the office and obviously my bedroom. I was doing this because mum was in her room unpacking her stuff, because to her that was the priority. I was also doing the cleaning, and even spent 7 hours scrubbing the draining rack because mum had let so much grease and grime grow on it. This took up the whole time of me being there, so I never sat down, only to eat. This meant I became so stressed and tired and I remember one day feeling so faint in the kitchen, and knowing I had to sit down, but didn’t because there was so much to be done. I never did get a thank you from mum, and the next time I was at dads I got in and cried. Most mums would probably be so thankful that their child was doing so much in the house, I don’t know if mine was. Instead she actually shouted at me for all the things she thought I’d done wrong. For example, later on that day I was feeling faint in the kitchen, O2 network was down. Automatically I got the blame from mum for braking her phone. It got to the point where she was screaming at me for hours, “You’ve done this” “tell me what you have done and why” and in saying I didn’t know how to fix a whole network because that’s impossible, the once screaming turned into a sly sounding “I think you do and that’s not nice is it” and “I’ll remember this when I next put money in your bank”. I had no way to defend myself and was too tired to even try, so I went to bed early and cried. Naturally, 02 fixed the problem themselves and mum never spoke about it again. It was a new day and I was back to making breakfast as normal.
There are so many other examples of when mum has emotionally abused me when I was younger but I don’t want to create a list on a topic this hard to write about. But I will give an example of a situation more recently. When I moved away to do my youth work course, I expected things to change. When I moved, I knew I needed space and time to deal with my issues with mum. But, mum did not give the space I so desperately wanted. I was getting texts every hour, which mainly consisted of “why aren’t you talking to me”. It wasn’t that I wasn’t talking to her, it was just that I had to work and so couldn’t be available every hour. I tried more than once to explain I was at work and her replies were often “but what have I done wrong” or “I won’t give you money anymore” or even sometimes “I’ll put more money in your bank if you reply”. She often loomed the threat of money over me and always offered to buy and spend on us as a way of buying my love. One day I even got a text saying “why aren’t you a sweet girl anymore” for no reason, for I had spoken to her the previous evening on the phone. The hardest moment when I moved was when I received a text form my younger brother which said “She told me to shut up”. To anyone else, they may not see the problem with this text. But, I know my brother and know exactly who he meant by “she” and know he takes it to heart when someone says shut up to him. When I rang him to see if he was okay, he was very quiet, mum took the phone off him and said “what happens here doesn’t concern you anymore” and hung up. I was with my Co-worker at the time, and so she heard everything. I cried and she listened and understood everything I was telling her. For once I felt like I wasn’t over reacting and finally someone saw the real side of mum.
The truth is, I have no way of knowing how to cope or be healed by these experiences except through God. But I am hoping writing helps. But I can’t get over something which is still happening and which my mum shows no sympathy or recognition. I wish she understood what she has done affected us all differently but I have to except that won’t happen. I know this coming Christmas, I will be at her house. I don’t think she will make me cook for her this time, having been away for so long she would have to have cooked. But I do know I will have to sit in the lounge with her and she will ignore me because that’s quite a normal thing for her to do. So normal that it was a friend who pointed it out to me when she slept over at my house, as I didn’t even realise. I will be talking and mum won’t be listening, or she will cut me off to say what she wants to say, and most of the time she just simply won’t be talking but sitting on her laptop. Being ignored by your own mother is hard, as is being blamed for things you can’t defend yourself in, as is watching your dad being abused. If your reading this and have similar experiences, just know that emotional abuse is a true form of abuse and you are not over reacting, it does hurt too. But only you have the power to control what and who hurts you.