my first guest post! Marj aka Thriver blogs at Survivors can Thrive! and runs the Blog Carnival Against Child Abuse. i have been very impressed with the way Marj has used her experiences to help others. thank you for allowing me to post this, Marj!
After having a much better Christmas than usual or expected--okay, here's the whiny-wiener bad news--I fell while cross-country skiing and injured a few ribs. Then, I got a bad cold. While I was sitting around feeling pain and feeling sorry for myself, I realized that physical illness and injury are big trauma triggers for me.
At my therapist appointment on Thursday, my T said, "You know the actual physical trauma of child abuse gets overlooked and neglected in therapy quite a bit. We focus so much on the emotional trauma and working on feelings, that we don't spend much time on the physical part. As a little girl, you were very, very hurt physically. And most of the time your physical injuries were ignored and received no medical attention."
After she said that, I realized the childhood memory that my recent injury was reminding me of. It wasn't an abuse injury, but the incident reminds me of how many times my childhood injuries and/or illnesses were ignored, overlooked and not attended to in any appropriate, parenting sort of way.
My parents had divorced and, being the upstanding, attentive, appropriate, sane father that he was, dear old "Dad" got full visitation rights with us kids. He had his old, red, two-door jalopy parked in our driveway, waiting to take us to his place for our "visit." I remember that it was winter and there was snow on the ground. My older brother was already seated in the front seat, and my twin sister and I were scooting into the back seat when it happened.
I remember we were all in a hurry to get out of there (even if it was to be with our monster father) because our parents were yelling across the yard at each other: It was the same old topic of, "Where's the child support money?" I got into the back seat first. In her haste to get in after me and close the door behind her, my sister accidentally slammed one of my hands in the heavy car door. I immediately began to wail in pain, while my sister and brother scrambled to get the door back open and release my hand.
My father was oblivious to all this commotion. Instead, he chose this exact moment to zero in and focus on a tiny hole in the knee of my pants, about the size of a dime. Immediately he began to rage. "What the hell do you think you're doing, dressing like this for your visit with me?! Of all the hard-earned money I send to your mother every month, she can't dress you any better than this?! You both have a lot of nerve! Go in and change your clothes immediately! We're not going anywhere with you dressed in rags!" I remember his words and the look of disbelief and outrage on his face. The details of what happened next, however, are rather a blur.
I know my hand hurt like hell. I know all three of us kids did go back inside the house. I know my parents kept on yelling until my father finally drove away alone. I know I did not receive any medical attention--parental attention of any kind--for my smashed hand. There was no emergency room, no doctor's call, no ice pack, nothing. I think I went into the bathroom and ran some cold water in the sink to soothe my throbbing hand.
Now, with a broken rib, all you can do is wait for it to heal. You're not put into a cast. About all you can do is ice it down and take pain meds. It takes about six to eight weeks--and you wait and wait--to get back to normal activity while your ribs heal. That's about all I can do.
There's not much else to be done on this rib issue, when it comes to my healthy, present day self care. But, I started thinking that there are so many ways I can nurture and heal my inner child. This remembrance is an opportunity for me to mourn my lost and neglected childhood and to grieve for the emotional and physical pain that I, as a little girl, had to endure alone. What types of nurturing and basic care did you not receive from the people who were supposed to be your parents?
Hhmmm...let's start a list. Mothering we didn’t get: reassurance, warmth, comfort, empathy, compassion, protection, optimism, confidence, faith, songs, rocking, attachment, holding, gentleness, patience, allowance, acceptance, guidance, safety, reliability, consistency, TLC, caring, attention, medical attention, adoration, play, wisdom, tenderness, joy, trust, LOVE, unconditional love, nurturing, delight...
Delight. Yes. Don't you like that one? Is it so much to ask that a mother actually take delight in her precious child? It comes so easily for me with my own beautiful son. The day I brought my tiny newborn home from the hospital was about the most elated I've ever been in my life. I was so delighted with my new child. Why was it such an overwhelming burden and impossibility for my own mother?
This is one of the reasons why I did what many may consider an odd thing--I bought a baby doll and I sing to her. In a mindful and sincere way, I sing to my inner child: "You're my beautiful baby girl. You're an angel in this world. You're adorable. My beautiful baby girl."
Using my motherly list I started above, I wrote a poem, which I can also put to music in my head and sing to my inner child. Here it is:
Nurture My Soul
I love you
Let me comfort you
It’s okay to cry
I’ll protect you
It’s safe now for you to rest
Lay your head down
Here’s my shoulder
I will stroke your hair
You can show me
I will dress your wounds
Close your eyes
I will stay with you
No need to hide
It’s safe for you now
You can be you with me
Run to me
When you’re scared
I will protect you
You can feel
Even your rage
It is safe with me
You are beautiful
The way you are
I find great joy in you
I am patient
With your not knowing
And I will show you how
My arms are open
Fall into them
I will gently rock you
Be still; I’ll sing to you
Everyone has fears
But the world can be a wonderful place
I’ll help you to see that It’ll be okay.
Copyright 2009 Marj McCabe ~ All Rights Reserved