The child lived with criticism - she learnt to put herself down.
The child lived with aggression - she learnt to be afraid.
The child lived with shame - she learnt to be guilty.
The child lived with strange (often terrifying) intrusive thoughts; anxiety, obsessions and secret compulsions. She knew what it was to fear her own mind.
If the badness The-grown-up saw wasn't badness enough; she had a head full of badness she didn't dare tell.
The child was hugged, loved, cared for; pulled around, raged at, beaten. She learnt vulnerability, confusion, resentment; mistrust.
The child was often naughty; "bad" - "hard work" - a "LITTLE GIT!"
She asked for it. Sometimes she'd been - "ASKING FOR THAT ALL DAY!"...
She asked for the huge, perfectly formed hand prints, red raised on her skin; for the slap, slap, slap, SLAP of the-dirty-blue-flip-flop against the top of her leg; for the welts that might never stop stinging.
She asked for the disorientation and pain that followed being hit full force (by adult hand) around the side of the head; to be pushed down (or stretched up) and whacked; to (on one occasion) be thrown out, shamed and sobbing, (naked bar a vest) onto the street.
She deserved to be raged at; the monsters face so close to hers that noses almost touched.
She asked to have 'Palmolive' rammed into her dirty little mouth; she'd learn from the gag inducing taste of it and the inevitable soapy spew!
The child would outgrow The-grown-ups hand. She never outgrew fear, or shame, or the badness in her head.
The child didn't know that The-grown-up (a victim herself of an abusive parent) was mentally ill; that she really was incredibly sorry after each meltdown, that she would carry guilt and regret into old age.
How could she know? - She was just a child!
Now; years on - The-Grown-Up is a very different person.
Her eyes; which (seemingly) once spoke "I hate you!" now cry, "I love you, forgive me; let me in, I'm sorry."
She is old now; healed, gentle, reaching out. Mindful that she won't be around forever, she is desperate for reconciliation; for her child's sake as much as her own.
And the child now? - She hurts The-grown-up, pushes her away; though she tries hard not to.
With an adults understanding of mental illness she forgives but she 'cannot' forget.
She hasn't yet buried fear and resentment; she still feels incredibly uneasy in The-grown-ups company, and stands ridged in, (or pulls from) her embrace.
The child now knows how much past mistakes are regretted; she can see how desperate The-grown-up is to be embraced as a loving, caring parent... which indeed, without exception, she now is. This only serves to increase the child's own guilt and self loathing.
The child loves The-grown-up (at least she thinks she does; feelings contradict) but she is still vulnerable, confused, resentful in her presence. She doesn't trust her.
And the welts on her skin; now faded - they are still red raw in OUR head!
We're not there yet, but we're getting there.
Lord, I pray that by giving the child a voice, through my writing; I will one day feel able to expose her to her mother again, Amen.
Thank you for allowing me to share
God bless you and all those you love