My parents separated when I was four years old. My mum left our family home and was replaced three weeks later by my step-mother.
Last year my Therapist asked me to explain what I remember from my childhood after my mum left. This is what I told her….
“I remember the phone-calls from my mum after she went. I remember every detail that surrounds me whilst I would talk to her. I had white long blonde hair, just like Betsy’s. I would twiddle it between my first two fingers on one hand whilst I hooked the phone under my chin. I would be sat in the hallway upstairs. We had a mushroom coloured house phone with one of those big round dials on it, it sat on a wicker shelf but the phone wire was long enough that you could stretch it across to the bottom stair. I would use my first finger of my other hand to try and wipe the dust out of the little round holes where the numbers were or wrap the curly cord round & round my wrist whilst tears ran down my cheeks.
I knew she was listening from the phone downstairs in the kitchen, and so did my mum. I knew if she heard my tears the call would be ended and so did my mum…because of this my mum tried to keep the conversation positive, but I was just too tiny and as hard as I tried I could never stop my tears from coming.
As soon as she heard my sobs down the phone she would fly up the stairs; she would snatch the phone out of my and slam it down. I knew I would then be given the usual option to stop crying immediately or go to bed. I always chose bed, my heart hurt too much to try and gain any composure.
I would then be given the same telling off about how these were all my mums choices; she chose to leave me and my siblings to be raised by another woman and she no longer cared for us and I would be told how rude and ungrateful I was for crying for her.
A lot of the time after this repeated rant I would climb into my bottom bunk and notice it was still so light outside, bright sunshine streamed in through my curtains.
I would cry myself to sleep into my pillow, I can picture myself crying so hard I would struggle to catch my breath and some nights my sobs would wake me in the middle of my dreams. I was so confused as to why my mum no longer wanted me, why she had chosen to just stop loving me because this is what I was being told all the time. I had no idea if and when I would speak or see her again and I worried that she thought that I had put down the phone on her. I would make myself a promise that next time she called I wouldn’t cry…a promise that I was never able to keep.
I don’t feel anything now though, I look back at that whole scene of me as a child in that situation…and despite seeing myself so confused, so scared and so heartbroken and even though I can see every single detail from my pink nightie to the cloud shapes on my bedsheets but I still don’t feel the sadness now that I can see I felt back then’.
After I had stopped talking my therapist told me that the reason now as an adult that I do not feel that pain I can see that I was in as a child because the agony of missing my mum would have been too much for me to bear.
She explained how my heart would have been so shattered at such a young age with the trauma of losing my mum then being made to believe she no longer wanted me that it would have felt like an actual physical pain, and for my body to be able to cope it would have learned quickly to block out those feelings as a mechanism to protect me so I could continue to function in life.
Today is parent alienation awareness day.
Parent alienation is child abuse & no matter what those children are told one day they will grow up and they will learn the truth.
The most painful Goodbyes are the ones that are never said and never explained.
Please believe me when I tell you from my own experience – the grief of losing a parent that is still alive as a child feels physical – and an alienating home is an abusive home.