The Cruelty of Neglect

Out of sight out of mind.

I’ve written in previous posts about the type of childhood trauma I suffered, and how neglect was the worst one for me personally. There are 4 main types of neglect, emotional, physical, medical, educational. I scored 4 out of 4. Lucky me right? There were so many instances I just wouldn’t even know where to start. So I thought I’d just pick a few at random.

It wasn’t unusual for my parents to be gone for days at a time from when I was about 11. But there were a few times when days turned into weeks.

There was one time in particular that sticks out in my mind (actually there are about half a dozen if I think about it). Anyway, I digress.

When I was around 13, we’d moved (again) out of area to a lovely little holiday park of sorts. I presume my mother knew the owner of the property somehow as it was a holiday home. When the bags were unloaded, I thought it looked cute, if a bit small. I could see a balcony overlooking a majestic mountain range and I thought, not so bad. It was just me, my sibling & my mother unpacking. Once inside it took me a minute to cotton on. There were 2 rooms with single beds and sheets on, the other room didn’t have a made bed. She wasn’t staying. Well, I thought, nevertheless, a nice little place.

The days passed with us walking the dogs, playing games, swimming in the onsite pool. One evening running with the dogs I tripped over a lead and fell onto the road, skidding as I went. My arms and legs were bleeding as the skin had been grazed off by the rough gravel. I hobbled home with the help of my sibling and cleaned up the wounds, picking bits of gravel out for a few hours. It was hot that night and I couldn’t sleep so got up for a snack. It was then that it dawned on me how little food we had left. But mum would be home soon, right?

The next morning we gathered together the little cash we had and headed off down to the onsite shop. We stocked up on what we could, and rationed the rest. Towards the end of that week I was starting to worry. We were stuck in the middle of nowhere with no money and quickly running out of food even though we’d rationed it (my siblings and I learned that skill a few yrs previously). What were we going to do? We were just kids. My sibling was only a year or so older than me and our other older sibling was staying with someone else on an apprenticeship.

We’d tried calling my mother from a public phone, but she hadn’t picked up. Where was she? Was she dead? It crossed my mind. By this point her criminal interests had gotten her into a lot of trouble. Her life (and ours but that’s a whole other blog) had been threatened more than once.

Then I thought about it a bit longer. Dead. Nope. No fucking chance. Dead would be a reasonable excuse. She just wasn’t thinking about us. She was off living her life, whatever that was at the time.

We were out of sight, out of mind.

Fuck.

We might actually starve here.

With our last coins we decided to call our older brother. Didn’t really know what else to do. But no one else would understand the severity of the situation would they? We were miles from any kind of support.

The phone rang and rang. The dread in my stomach grew until I thought I couldn’t breathe anymore. We hadn’t eaten more than a bowl of rice for a few days.

Then he answered. The relief was unreal. We were children connected by trauma, and we’d always pick up eventually.

The next day he turned up, with his boss and a full food shop. We chatted and caught up whilst unloading food into cupboards. He left some cash incase it happened again, petted the dogs, and left.

He was 15yrs old. His boss had driven him over 300miles at his own expense and stopped at a supermarket when almost here.

Some days it’s crippling when I think about it. Especially as our trauma has left me and my older brother estranged. He’s broken. A broken human being. His trauma was so severe that he never recovered enough to live a normal life.

She did that to him. To all of us. She broke us. So when people tell me I need to forgive her ‘for me ‘, I thank them for their kindness, and answer with a simple ‘I think fucking not ‘ .

Peace out.

Self Care. Or Lack of.

Life skills. Self worth. Self esteem.

There’s many documented long term effects of CPTSD, the most notable for me being a complete lack of self care. I’m not suggesting by any means that I punished or blamed myself for my childhood trauma, I always knew it wasn’t my fault (hence why I buried it in an attempt to ‘get over’ it or ‘just move on’. And in many ways I did move on.

Once I’d managed to free myself from my mother’s care (I use Care in the loosest possible sense of the word, she’d give Quokkas a run for their money) , I was 15yrs old. The last phone conversation we had (she’d already left the country to go back to her husband after dragging my siblings and I halfway round the world to be with him some years before) she told me I couldn’t possibly survive on my own, like I’d been doing any different for years by that point. It made me realise that she really was delusional.

So I washed my hands of her and everything that had happened in the 5yrs since she met this wonder of a man, I use the term Man in the loosest possible sense of the word.

The trouble was, she left me with absolutely no life skills at all. Yes I could wash and dress, feed myself some half assed food, and I could work and earn money. But I had no idea how to actually CARE for myself. I was never kind to myself, always my own worse critic, and certainly my own worst enemy. I dismissed my own feelings, wants, and needs as quickly as I dismissed other people’s. I had no idea how to handle money, save or budget, or even to prioritise food over ‘going out’. I had my freedom, but now I wasn’t sure how to move forward or what the hell I was supposed to do with this freedom now I had it. I’d missed years of education & become estranged from most of my family. Be careful what you wish for, right?

The lack of self care came hand in hand with low self esteem. I hid it as well as I could, but it was always there, a paranoia in the back of my mind. I was never going to be good enough. Important enough. Cherished enough. But of course what this really translated to was that I was never going to be good enough to keep from hunger, important enough to listen to, cherished enough to keep safe. All the things that had happened shaped how I thought about myself and my value. And I was fucking angry about that. In fact, I was pretty angry at most things for a while.

So I did what most teens do I guess. I found a part time job until I turned 16, then took a job that came with accommodation and moved. The next few years were full of work, parties, clubs, booze and drugs, a scene I never felt out of control in, as I’d previously been exposed to so much of it. I’d love to say I cried my misery into the bottom of a bottle, but honestly, I didn’t. I was so far away from processing my trauma that the complete opposite happened. I had a great time for the most part apart from the few blackouts. I drank until I was drunk, danced until I was sober again, then rolled a joint on the way home with enough time left for a shower and a sausage sandwich before work. Legend.

I burned the candle at both ends and had a great time doing it. This lasted a few years until the shit hit the fan.

BOOOooom.

Depression.

Possibly the most surreal experience of my life. I felt numb. Had no appetite. Barely slept. Took no interest or joy in my own life or the lives of those around me. And worst of all, I had absolutely no idea I was depressed. That sneaky fuck had wormed it’s way in and I hadn’t even seen it coming. I walked around like a zombie day to day. Detached. My body wasn’t mine. There were times when I would dissociate and have no idea how much time had passed. Had I moved from this spot since this morning? Literally no clue. The most bizarre experience of my whole life.

Some people break down. Others just check out for a time. But one thing is true. At some point we all need to face the reality of our experiences.

Peace out.