Having the audacity to hope


I had a lousy childhood. I was a scapegoat for my mother’s anxieties, fears and rage. She birthed me at a most inconvenient time for her during a very brief second marriage with a man she hated, all the while having an affair with my future stepfather through the four or five dismally volatile years she lived with my father. Once she married my stepfather she spent the rest of their married life in and out of rage at, or fear of abandonment by him.

She needed me in the mix like a hole in the head!

And she let me know it, warning me not to make too much noise or eat too much food lest stepfather would notice. When they had my younger brother I was eight years old, and whatever was left of my miserable birthright vanished immediately and forever. I remember my childhood as a dark and fearful time; all the while doing everything I could to go unnoticed. Now and then when I attempted to make a stand for myself even as a young child, I sought attention through outbursts, migraines, or sickness. Alas, it was in vain. For mother’s attention came at me in the form of terrifying wrath shaming me into believing I was a destructive and hateful being.

In my first marriage my husband disliked me. I know for many different reasons. But most importantly he blamed me for making him marry me, and forced me to have an abortion early in my second pregnancy threatening to leave me if I refused. I agreed to everything because I believed I deserved what he doled out. My mother had taught me that I was worthless, and that I should feel grateful to anyone who would want me at all. I believed her theory about me, that a “black star” hovered over my head.

That abortion broke my heart for the rest of my life.

Knowing what I know now about early childhood development, care and education, I am aware that young children believe they are at fault, and that they deserve abuse from their parents. Therefore, I understand that it was impossible for me not to believe that at my core I was a worthless and unwanted being.

Looking back as a sixty-six-year-old woman with silvery hair, and as an accomplished early childhood professional, author and teacher, I realize that somehow through all the abuse I managed to hold onto an audacity to hope that I could deserve better. As a survivor, I developed resilience through searching for support through the kindness of strangers. Growing up, I discovered ways to belong by joining organizations and groups whose ideology included compassion for the human condition, and a belief that we are all in this together. Each time I tried to love or help others feel included I retained pieces of the feelings for me.

Sitting around hating and whining never became my shtick. Lately as I continue to heal, I seek out those who are non judgmental, or able to accept me as I am. Of course I still struggle with self-acceptance or self-compassion.

And I realize that at some level I probably always will.

A year ago at Mining Nuggets: It's all about compassion