Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What I might have Been

Do you ever wonder how you would have ended up had you not been abused? I suspect every abuse survivor has had such fantasies. Imagine if you had a mirror where you could see what "might have been."

My daughter is very much like me. In some ways that is good. In other ways, I am trying to influence her to be different. In her I see my love of books which is a positive. I also see my tendency toward being anxious, for which I am trying to teach her some coping skills.

This past week Munchkin came down with a stomach flu. The only person she wanted was Mommy. It was difficult to even get away from her to go to the bathroom by myself. In some ways the illness had nice results. It's hard to find time to really spend as much time as I would like snuggling with Munchkin. With illness, we couldn't go anywhere or do anything much. We spent all day napping, snuggling, watching TV, reading books and talking.

There was also a lot of time for reflection.

Of course I had the typical childhood stomach bugs, colds, chicken pox and other ailments. I do not remember much coddling or sympathy. When I was really young and sick, my mom would make a poached egg with toast dish. It was the only time she cooked that dish. It is the only concession I remember to being sick. There was no bell to ring. I learned early on how to hold my own hair back and my own trashcan. I learned how to clean myself up. I learned that being sick was not an excuse to interrupt mom's soap opera habit. You certainly never whined. Near death was the only reason an illness would require a trip to the doctor. Being sick simply meant you kept more to yourself.

At 6:30 am on a Sunday morning when I heard the pitter patter of little feet coupled with "Mommy my tummy hurts," I immediately scooted over on my bed, grabbed a trash can and wrapped my arms around Munchkin. I held her hair back and tucked it up in a ponytail when she was vomiting. I changed sheets, wiped her nose and mouth, and held her shoulders. I cleaned her up. I held her when she was sick and after. I made sure she had Gatorade, 7-up and everything else she needed. On the few times I did leave her sight, I was ready to run back in at a moment's notice if she called. I sat with her and watched hours of TV, let her nap on my shoulder and read her chapters and chapters of her favorite book.

I don't say this to toot my own horn. I can't say how I know to do this stuff. Some of it comes naturally. Some comes from what I've seen others do. Some comes from what I wish I had experienced.

I see much of myself in my daughter. It's interesting to see "myself" in a totally different environment from my childhood. In her I can catch small glimpses of what I might have been. I'm not sure yet what to do with the glimpses I'm seeing, but for right now I'm storing the information away to be sorted later.


Anonymous said...

aww x)

misssrobin said...

I have struggle with this question many times for many years. I have finally come to some peace with it. I believe that I accepted many of these challenges in a pre-earth life. I believe that I agreed to experience the tough stuff so that I could help others through their difficulties and put an end to things. Because I am strong.

I also believe that who I am is who God knew I would be. He knew I would experience these things, He has been with me through them, and He has prepared me for them and helped me heal from them. As difficult as they have been, I have never felt completely alone.

It sounds like we grew up in similar homes. Sickness wasn't an excuse to miss anything unless I had a fever over 100 or had been puking. Farmer mentality all the way in my house. Suck it up and get back to work.

I did get some coddling when I was younger, in the form of purchases. My parents couldn't give physical affection so they bought things. I hate stuff for this reason. It's a pretty crappy substitute for love and people think that if they give you stuff they don't need to give you themselves.

I hope you have found some peace with this issue. Or that you soon will.

MyThought said...

I was thinking about that many many times. But I came to accept myself just as I am and I think about the good characteristics I have that I sometimes don't see in other people and - obviously I'm not grateful for having been abused - but it made me to who I am. More sensitive to other people's needs.

I remember that I was also alone for most of the time while being sick as a child. I didn't see my father at all during these days. The only thing my mother did was bringing me something to eat. My parents weren't able to give any physical affection either.

You're doing a really good job!

beautifuldreamer said...

During my earliest years my dad was the one who brought me 7 Up (a rare treat), and new crayons and coloring book whenever I was sick. There was something so comforting about that.

Once Dad was out of my life and the stepfather took over, there was no more coddling while sick (or otherwise.) I learned to suffer in silence. I was molested while lying in bed with the measles.

I believe my mother had to stifle her maternal instincts in order to be so distant when I was ill. I believe this because as a mother myself it always came naturally to me, when my kids were little, to comfort them when they were sick.

Munchkin has it so much better than you did--and my kids also had it much better than I ever did when I was a kid. I find comfort in knowing I was able to extend to my sons the caring and comfort lost to me when I was still young enough to need them.

Rising Rainbow said...

I try to remember that the experiences I had are also a big part of who I've turned out to be. As much as I hated the abuse, I really like the person I've become.

Sounds to me like you've become a pretty amazing mom and part of that comes from wanting to be sure your children don't go without like you did.

Patricia Singleton said...

I don't remember being sick with any stomach viruses and throwing up as a kid. I remember being nauseous every time that the sexual abuse happened. It never stopped the abuse from happening.

My childhood illness was bronchitis. In my family, it was called a chest cold. Even with couching and fever, it was ignored and I was sent to school. I remember being sent to school in first grade with an ear ache for a week. I remember in 7th grade my science teacher giving me peppermint candy to quiet my cough during class. I learned what bronchitis was when I had my own children and they went to the doctor for it. Bronchitis hurts to breathe.

Illnesses unless they were major like whooping cough when I was 2 and the Asian flu when I was 7 were ignored. I learned that I didn't matter. I had no value and I learned to ignore my needs. Along with the whooping cough, I got major abandonment issues when the doctor told my parents to leave me in the care of my grandmother so my baby brother wouldn't catch it too.

Like you, I paid attention to the needs of my children, especially when they were sick. I wanted them to feel love which I never did as a child.

I bonded with my grandmother who cared for me when I had the whooping cough. All of the good times in my childhood were those spent with her.

mssc54 said...

This Blog post could have easily been titled, "The Difference in Being a Mother and a Mommy".

God's grace is awesome.

Breeya said...

I have wondered many times, and still do sometimes, that same question.
It is such a hard thing to think about, for me at least.

In the end my conclusion always seem to be that although I don't know where I would, exactly what different choices I would have made, I would be a happier person.

I know all that has happened has shape the person I am today, and a part of me feels like maybe I wouldn't be so empathetic, sensitive to other people's needs and moods. I think I wouldn't like that, maybe there has been something positive out all the suffering, I think maybe I am a better person in a sense that I might have been otherwise.
I don't like the idea of being blind to people's suffering or unsympathetic to them.
But I really think there must be other ways for someone to develop that part of one self without the abuse. It is a high price to pay.

Anonymous said...

I am reading this a visions from my own childhood flash through my mind. I heard the word anola in my dreams last night over and over. When i woke up i went straight to the computer and looked it up. It is strange to me because I feel like I have effectively dealt with my own experiences but just the other day I was telling my daughter that there are things about me that I wish I could change but I have not been able to. I wonder now if I really could work through this part of my life if that would change. Anyway as I was reading your entry it could have been me writing those words... i was surprised at how similar our thoughts are...

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