Note: As with many articles about abuse, particularly those that include anecdotes, this may prove triggering for some.
People tell me that there is something about giving birth that makes a woman worried. Not about actually giving birth but about being a bad mother. I don’t have kids, but every woman I know who has been initiated into the ranks of Mummy tells me they worry.
If my child comes home with head lice, am I a Bad Mother? If I let my child sort out their own battles, am I a Bad Mother? What if I step in to level the playing field when that kid from mother’s group is biting mine?
It’s really hard.
You worry. You worry so much about your kids. You just want to protect them, to see them grow into happy people. This is why I have always been puzzled as to why, when I told my mother that my father was sexually abusing me, she said I was lying.
It seemed so very…un-motherly.
And, if you ask me (and even if you don’t) it was an actual, real-life example, one of the few, of bad mothering. It took me five years to work up the courage to tell my mother what was going on, and then…nothing. No help. No acknowledgment. Just denial.
And instructions to stop giving my father attitude.
I was thirteen when I told my mother about the abuse.
I was fourteen when she found me screaming in my bedroom in the middle of the night with my drunk father in there.
It was then that she suggested we get counselling. Apparently, I refused. Funny that. I was a kid. I needed protection. Not counselling.
I’m thirty-five now, and I can safely say it’s only in the last year that I have really started to come to terms with what my father did.
And what my mother didn’t do.
In my teens and early twenties, I ran the gamut of child-sex abuse survivor behaviours: anorexia, binge drinking, inappropriate relationships, overeating, overspending. Anything I could do to avoid feeling. Anything I could do to punish my body for being so shameful.