Standing There... All Alone
One sunny morning, when the sun was still peeping through the window panes, I woke up and wandered about looking for my mom. I found her slippers lying in the hallway, but she was nowhere to be found. I remembered feeling confused… I was still waking up. I saw my nanny rushing about and found my dad sitting in front of the living room closet. He found a bag, pulled out a letter, and read it, straight-faced. I felt my heart stop. There were no explanations that I can recall! Mom left! The aftermath, I can’t recall at all. Why did no one care about how I felt? I was so vulnerable and alone. I was standing there … all alone.
I became a very quiet child, no longer the happy kid I used to be. I wanted answers. “Why did my mom leave me?” was all I could think about.
I was falling behind in school. I cried myself to sleep a lot. I was desperate for someone to love me for who I was. I didn’t know how to process all of this, and so I wrote it all down in my school essays.
My teacher was very concerned about me and very kind to me. She always had this tender smile, one I can still recall. Over the years, other mother figures appeared, caring for me as a mother would.
My dad was very busy with his work and yet, he was definitely there to show his disapproval whenever I did not meet his expectation. I was severely punished when I got bad grades. I was scolded often for things that he did not approve of. I felt scared because of my abusive father, but I was also confused because he was nice to me sometimes too. It was not a home I wanted to live in, and I missed my mother so dearly.
I only saw her again almost 4 years after their separation. She just showed up at the door one day, without any warning. I was happy to see her, but also afraid that she might leave again. My heart was wounded, and I had a hard time trusting my parents again. I could tell they were still not happy. They were living in different rooms. They often argued, and I can only think that the reason they were getting back together was because of me. I could tell my mother was not happy at all.
As a child, I blamed myself for not being good enough to keep my mom from leaving. I wish someone had been there to help me make sense of what was going on. I found it hard to forgive my mother. How could she leave me behind?
My heart was wounded, and I had a hard time trusting my parents again.
As an adult, I slowly began to make sense of what went on during my childhood and started my own healing journey. I came to understand that I could not fix my parents’ marriage. Now that I am a mother myself, I cannot bear the thought of leaving my kids. My mother must have been so desperate to cut off her human response to her child and leave me. It must have been so difficult for her to go through.
I blamed my mother during all of my childhood years for the difficult times I went through, but now I look at it differently. Instead of feeling anger or self-pity, I grieve for what I did not have growing up. I wish my mom had come alongside me and helped me through puberty, comforted me when I was scared, and been there when my dad was losing his temper. I wish I did not come from a broken family.
Instead of feeling anger or self-pity, I grieve for what I did not have growing up.
This change in outlook from blame to grief took many counselling appointments and a willingness to face my difficult past. I also went to trauma counselling and consulted an attachment therapist. Many people played an important role in my healing journey.
I have noticed that in the various seasons of life, there are new hardships and dynamics for me to process in my relationship with my family. I know my healing journey has not come to an end.
Often, the path to healing begins with finding someone willing to simply listen with compassion and wisdom as we go through each new challenge. That was the case for me, and it could also be the case for you. Please know that you do not have to stand there, all alone.
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