Tag Archives: childhood

Understanding Madness

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.” 
― Philip K. Dick

Very dangerous Idea. Imagine omitting the “sometimes” from the above sentence and what you got is a powerful conviction (or excuse) to do something outrageous.

Having said that, There are times when the mind is dealt such a blow it hides itself in insanity. While this may not seem beneficial, it is. There are times when the reality is nothing but pain, and to escape that pain the mind must leave reality behind. I guess that is what happened to my sister, she has gone insane to escape the sick reality of our lives.

Later on, she will choose to live on the streets than to face her responsibilities, leaving her six children behind. I’ve tried countless times to change her mind, fostering her kids, sending them to school, but although she will play with them and stay for a while, whenever I brought up the topic of her settling down with her children again, she will get hysterics and tell me she doesn’t want headaches anymore and she will disappear again, back to her old habits of moving from one place to another.

It hurts me to think of the horror she had been subjected to being the way she is and living the life she has chosen for herself. Sometimes, she will have deep cuts on her arms or bruises on her bodies. Other times, her hair had been chopped off badly and she was bleeding. Rumor has it she had been gang-raped in the cemetery… It breaks my heart but I am powerless to do anything. You cannot help somebody that doesn’t want to be helped.

I’ve nightmares about it and like her, I avoid thinking about her situation too much for the fear of joining her in her never-ending quest for peace of mind.

Yann Martel said: All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive.

Maybe that is what my sister is doing, saving herself in the only way she knows how. It might seem insane to onlookers but to her it makes sense. I hope someday she will find what she is looking for. I hope she will find someone who understands her and will take care of her and show her how it is to be loved. She needs it. Love is something she never experienced in her life. Certainly not from my mother who hated her from the moment she was born. Hate she passed on to anyone and everything that has something to do with my sister including her children. I don’t understand it. I will never understand how someone let alone a mother could differentiate her love between her children? 

They say all parents do it, they love their children in different ways, seeing each child as an individual, each one with their own unique characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses and may find it easier to understand one child from another. That I could understand. But to hate and shun your own child calling her ugly among so many other derogatory terms is to me unacceptable. 

Maybe my mother had her own twisted reasons for doing it. She never told me when she was alive and now that she’s dead, I will never know why. Perhaps that is the madness of my mother, favoring one child among her children.

Maybe we are all mad here in Wonderland.

Emilie Autumn said:

Some are born mad, some achieve madness, and some have madness thrust upon ’em.

I believe the last one is my sister.

Her mind is too weak to cope with our dysfunctional family situations. But she’s not alone. None of us siblings survived the ordeal of growing up without scars, visible or invisible. The traumas manifested in all sorts of bizarre behaviors which in turn have lead into more compromising circumstances breeding the next generations of the likes of us.

God knows where it will lead.

According to the experts___

When you find yourself locked onto an unpleasant train of thought, heading for the places in your past where the screaming is unbearable, remember there’s always madness. Madness is the emergency exit.

I will keep this in mind.

When things become unbearable.

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Home Is Where Your Heart Is

I discovered that what most people call creepy, scary, and spooky, I call comfy, cozy, and home.― Zak Bagans

They say we feel more comfortable in a familiar environment. With the people we know.

Studies have shown that we are all attracted to what is familiar to us and that repeated exposure to certain people will increase our attraction toward them. This is a subconscious process that we’re not even aware of or have any awareness of making such a choice. We are attracted to familiar people because we consider them to be safe and unlikely to cause harm. Even when someone’s behavior or personality is hurtful, on a subconscious level, some part of us finds comfort in the familiarity of that behavior. Good or bad, the environment in which we grew up is the only home we’ve ever known.

This is why it’s so difficult for people to leave hurtful relationships. It’s easy to criticize someone for staying in an abusive relationship and to blame the person for staying, accusing them of being weak or wanting to be treated badly. But no one wants to be treated badly. It is hard to leave because, besides the issues of having nowhere else to go, we are tethered to bad relationships as much as we are tethered to the past by our subconscious minds. [source: Psychology Today- The Familiarity Principle of Attraction]

I am a product of this principle though not by my own choice. I suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and still suffering the consequences nonetheless.

Going back to where I came from, I always seek the familiar environment of my youth even though I’ve long escaped that situation and now belong to another group. That makes me susceptible to horror and ordeal of the past which my family and most people are trying to escape and will gladly trade for my privileged position. Difficult and incomprehensible as it is, that environment could evoke feelings from me when nothing could and will forever be miss and long for against my better judgment.

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Habibi

Dear daughter,
if you’ve inherited my heart
then don’t be ashamed
of how desperate you sometimes feel
or how you stain sheets and shirts
that you are sopping wet
a walking hemorrhage
curious hands in the shower
the first menses of a young girl
a virgin writhing on a bed
you are on fire
you are like your mother.
So how could I ever talk about sin or damnation
when you have legs like creaking doors?
you welcome ghosts home
so I know you will know hell intimately
men who like to punch women in the face
who tongue kiss girls who look like their mother
men who hold you down, face in the mattress.
Daughter with a soft body
the hardest ones will fall for you
and you will usher them in
seek out their sharp edges
the abrasion
and by the time they’ve finished
you will be bloody and sore
teeth marks on your thighs
your torso a burnt house of worship.
Habibti, you do not deserve it but
you will be loved in fragments and fractions
until you no longer look like yourself
until your mouth is just the shape of his quiet name
oh my little girl
rip him out of your body
you come from a long line of women;
Hawa who doused herself in petrol
Ayan who pulled out her own teeth
Khadija who fell asleep in the river
forgetting is the hardest thing in the world,
remember that.

– Warsan Shire

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Paper Boats Forever

“We are what we remember. If we lose our memory, we lose our identity and our identity is the accumulation of our experiences. When we walk down the memory lane, it can be unconsciously, willingly, selectively, impetuously or sometimes grudgingly. By following our stream of consciousness we look for lost time and things past. Some reminiscences become anchor points that can take another scope with the wisdom of hindsight. 

Some details in life may look insignificant but appear to be vital leitmotifs in a person’s life. They may have the value of “Rosebuds” of Citizen Kane or “Madeleine cookies” of Marcel Proust or “Strawberry fields” of the Beatles. People regularly walk down the memory lane of their early youth. The paper boats of their childhood are recurrently floating on the waves of their mind and bring back the mood and the spirit of the early days. They enable us to retreat from the trivial, daily worries and can generate delightful bliss and true joy in a sometimes frantic and chaotic life.

When the shimmer of the past is melting into the presence, spreading a scent of attentiveness and inquiring ness, our mind may ask for a new reading of the story of our life. An innocuous flicker from a hazy sequence in our memory lane can affect our current awareness, making us raise questions, throwing new light on our expectations; crafting an airy vision of the future.”

― Erik Pevernagie

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Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantage of a Painful Childhood

Adults who were hurt as children inevitably exhibit a peculiar strength, profound inner wisdom, and remarkable creativity and insight. Deep within them – just beneath the wound – lies a profound spiritual vitality, a quiet knowing, a way of perceiving what is beautiful, right, and true. Since their early experiences were so dark and painful, they have spent much of their lives in search of the gentleness, love, and peace they have only imagined in the privacy of their own hearts.” 

― Wayne Muller

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Family

“One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart. I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong… Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay. I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.”

~Anonymous

“Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” ~Edna Buchanan

A few years ago I ended all contact with my parents, and I have not seen or spoken to them since then.

The truth is I am actually okay with that. Initially, I thought I was going to lose my mind. I had been brought up to believe that family comes first. Children should respect and take care of their parents. Family should—and will—always be there for each other.

Those beliefs were based on love, and I cherished them.

I wanted so much to feel that connection—that unconditional love those beliefs promised. It was never there.

Our lives were filled with so much fear, pain, hurt, betrayal, and lies. Manipulation and deceit were at the core of our home.

I told myself that all families have degrees of dysfunction, and our family was no different. I could not allow myself to believe that our family was different. I believed that one day my parents would realize what they were doing and change. I desperately wanted their love and approval.

On the night when my husband and I ended up inside a police station explaining why I thought my father was about to come to my home and hurt me, while my two grown sons waited in the car, I realized I had to wake up.

My fantasy was over. I could no longer go on pretending our family was just like everyone else. That night I said my last goodbye to my mother as she lied to protect my father. The next day I spoke the last words to my father as he screamed into the phone repeating the lies from my childhood. It was over.

Giving up the hope that things would get better was the hardest part. I was terrified that I was doing the wrong thing. I thought I was being a bad daughter. I was going against every cherished belief about family.

It broke my heart to know that my life had been based on an illusion. The picture I had created of my parents was shattered. They had never been there for me, and they never would be.

I had lied to myself to protect my fantasy and keep them in my life. Now I could no longer do it.

Over time I began to understand why I had fought so hard to live out the lie, and I began to forgive myself for not being brave enough to stand up earlier.

One of the problems was my belief that family were always there for each other. That was the cause of my pain and my guilt. The fact that I no longer had them in my life meant that I was going against a code I held close to my heart.

I had to modify that belief. I had to change my definition of family. It was no longer those to whom I was linked by blood. My family now became the friends who had been there the whole time. People who I knew I could count on when things went wrong. That was never my parents.

I also realized that I was afraid I was not lovable. In my mind if my own parents could not love me, there had to be something wrong with me.

I did everything I could to minimize disagreements between us, keeping quiet just to keep the peace. I knew that if I spoke up we would argue, they would get mad at me, and they would not love me. I failed to realize that this was something I only experienced with them.

It was hard work just to be around them. I was always on edge, cautious, and scared. That was not a loving relationship. I came to accept that if they could not love me, it didn’t change anything about me. I had created other loving relationships around me, and they were the scaffolding holding me up.

My first Christmas after was hard. I had always gone to my parents’ house to live the fairy tale of being surrounded by love.

It was always hard to ready myself for those days. We would act out the roles of happy family, hoping in some way that was our truth. It wasn’t. I had no idea how tense I was at these interactions until I no longer had to do it.

Part of the hurt was that I now had no tradition, so I decided to start a new one. Christmas is no longer a day of obligation. I now spend it with the people who are my true family.

I’ve come to realize that the love I had for my parents was based on a childhood need for safety and security. I had to see them as the parents who loved me, despite the things they did. I could not accept that the people responsible for my well-being were also responsible for my suffering.

So much of the world I had created around my parents was simply not real. I have had to accept that truth and move on with my life.

One of my fears was that by breaking contact with my parents, I was setting an example that my sons could repeat with me. I’d like to think this won’t happen because of my parents.

The pain of my childhood taught me how important it is for a child to truly feel loved, safe, and cherished. I’ve tried to live that truth with my boys. I don’t know what the future holds for us. I can only hope that the love I’ve shown them will have created a space in their hearts where I will always be thought of with love.

I try to imagine how I’ll feel when I find out that my parents have died. I honestly don’t know. I’m sure that part of me will be sad that we did not have a better ending. However, I know in my heart of hearts that I tried for over forty years to make it work. In the end, it just wasn’t enough.

My parents were never who I thought them to be. I have had to let it all go. The fantasy of the perfect ending with them is over. I am setting out on a new horizon where I have redefined my world.

As abused children, we may feel that it is somehow our responsibility to fix the broken parts of our family. It’s not. Sometimes there is no fairy tale ending where our parents realize how truly wonderful we are.

The hard part is recognizing that and moving on. Sometimes it’s the only way to find real peace. It’s heartbreaking. It’s not easy. Finding and surrounding yourself with people who truly care for you is your gift to yourself. You deserve that. You will be okay.

I no longer believe that I have lost my family. I have only now finally recognized who they truly are.

By Anonymous

homeless-girl

Pedigree

…mine is shocking. Both in tales and in reality. At least from one side. Father’s side. If I’m going to believe (which is very difficult not to when evidence is staring me straight in the eyes and based on my own personal experience I have no reasons to doubt) I came from a family of cheating conniving  incestuous gypsy witches and nomad warlords who were/are fond of betraying and molesting each other in all possible ways. From my maternal side, I can easily describe them in few words: They are a bunch of upper middle class (possibly even rich) educated prejudiced narrow-minded tyrannical self-righteous people who have written my mother out of a will (for marrying my -to their eyes substandard- father) and refused to recognize our existence till I married my (foreigner therefore rich) ex but by then I was a rebel enough already and only too happy to defy them. Our very own little family… Well, what can I say? You have to read few of my post to get a little bit of insight how dysfunctional and pathetic we are. End of my pedigree sum up.

 “All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
― Mitch Albom

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Betrayed

Like I said so many times before, betrayal by your own flesh and blood is the worst betrayal of all. No one can get over that. The wounds will never heal and will bleed at the slightest touch. If you cannot trust your own family, then who you can trust? If you are not safe within your most intimate circle, would you ever feel safe amongst strangers? 

If you have been betrayed by your nearest and dearest (over and over again) you will have trust issues whether you like it or not. It happened to me. And naive that I was I refused to believe the truth that was staring me in the face all my life. I thought I meant something to them other than a meal ticket, we’re family after all. But sadly I was wrong. It took me five decades to realized I was and will never be anything to them but a source of income, someone to provide all their material needs. Not a single time they asked me how I am, never show a single ounce of gratitude, not even a superficial thank you. No, they thought and still think they are entitled to everything I worked for and everything I have and could earn. Care is something alien to them when it comes to me. I was the one who got away, and they hate me for it. 

It hurts. And the subject of a family will forever be a very sensitive issue for me. Home and love of blood relatives are something I did not and will never have. It is hard to accept and I still lay awake some nights thinking about the hows and whys but life goes on and I have to move with it no matter how painful the experience is…  

homeless-girl

Nest

“If I could reach for something brilliant, that would be the home which been denied to me and the presence of the peace I’ve never known.”

I put this phrase on the right sidebar of my homepage. I yada-yada-ya countless times about my roots being pulled out before they can even have a chance to settle and get hold and never having a contingency to grow and flourish in a familiar soil. I teared up when I heard someone on TV said: “A tree without roots is just a piece of wood.” Why? Because the subject of home and family are two major sensitive issues for me. Always been always will be.

I have experienced countless betrayal by blood and like I already said before, that is the most painful deception somebody could experience in a lifetime. The wounds never heal and continue bleeding. It is not easy to get over it. It hurts.

As you probably have already guessed by now, I am living on a foreign soil. I arrived here 30 years ago and I’m still here. Let’s face it, skin colour matters no matter what others say and want to believe. I can never be white and that brings circumstances. I will not bore you with the details. Besides, this post is not about that topic. It’s about hanging in a limbo, not here nor there. I don’t feel at home in my own country, I live here for too long I don’t belong there anymore. I don’t understand a lot of things and at times I find that their views in life are narrow and limited and like here people are prejudiced and judgmental. They can’t look beyond their beliefs and fixed ideas. I feel like a stranger in my own country. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I expect too much. Forgetting that cultures will always clash. But then again, what happened to open minds? I told you, I expect too much.

When I was still living with my ex-husband I had a constant feeling of being in a transit. I knew I had a final destination but where? Other times I felt that I was having a nightmare (and really it was) and going to wake up eventually but when? I did manage to escape but it doesn’t  mean I found a home. I’m still searching for it. In the process, I lost my children. They become estranged from me. The last time I have spoken to my daughter was almost two years ago. Again, it hurts. I am still trying to reconcile with the fact.

I often wonder if I will ever find a place I truly belong. A home which I can call my own and feel secure. Maybe what they say is true. That home is not a place but like hell is a state of mind. I don’t know.

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Once Upon A Christmas

When I was young, despite our reduced circumstances, I always find Christmas the most exciting time of the year; better than New Year which is always dominated by extreme noises and possible fireworks casualties. I remember going from house to house all over town wishing the occupants merry Christmas and in return, you will get small change or sometimes a meal. A privilege reserved only for children. As an adult, it is seen as morally wrong doing the same thing.

I had a small pink plastic piggy bank for my holiday coins. All the cents I gathered on my tour, I put in there. It helped for the rest of the year when I needed money for school projects or to buy snacks during recess so, I will not feel left out and different from other kids. When my coins were finished, I put white wildflowers in the slot of my piggy bank; it looked good in my playhouse, just like a flower vase.

But the Christmas I will never forget was when I was a freshman. After 11 years of managing the fishpond, my father found himself in dispute with the owner. Proud as my father was, he rather dragged us down the drain than give into something which was against his principles; we found ourselves homeless overnight.

Out of desperation, lacked of other immediate resources and nowhere else to go, my father built a one-room shack just outside the perimeter of the fishpond (how stupid and embarrassing that was, but I believe if he didn’t  think about us, I have a very strong notion that he rather pack his bags and move to another town very far away from our then current location – he done this before – and never come back. But as it were, he swallowed his high pride and settled us in temporarily) you can read the rest of the story in details here.

That particular Christmas eve we locked our door early and tried not to hear the merriment outside, pretending we were asleep; in the dark, I can hear my stomach growling, we didn’t eat supper that night but no one complained. We all suffered in silence.

Out of a sudden I heard someone calling my name outside, my father put his finger on his lips and gestured for me not to open the door; I went back to my place.

But the person outside the door kept knocking and calling wishing us the usual holiday greeting and begging me to please open the door.

After a while, my father gave in and allowed me to see our visitor.

When I opened the door, I was surprised to see Macedonio; he was one of the seven brothers who just moved to our village couple of years ago.

I remember when we were still living in the fish pond; he initiated an introduction between his brothers, me and my siblings by purposely landing a big kite in the middle of our place, which was separated from the rest of the neighbourhood by an electric fence. He managed to convince my father to let them in to retrieve their kite, the rest is history.

Macedonio courted me briefly till my father (as always) pointed him to the fact that I was still underage and will not be available for such things until I’m 100 years old or so. He remained a trusted friend of the family as well as his other brothers who for some reasons don’t look like each other. Not a single resemblance. As if they are handpicked from different places and by some chance ended up together as one family. I have never seen more good-looking young boys in my time than Macedonio and his siblings.

Opening the door finding him standing there smiling at me was a (pleasant) surprise. He was wearing his usual lopsided grin which if I was more experienced that time, I will recognize as designed to melt every girl’s heart.  But I wasn’t. What caught my attention was the enormous plate he was holding full of Christmas delights. There was a mountain of pancit, a loaf of bread, suman, kalamay, sinukmani, half of a fried chicken and rice cakes! I looked at him full of disbelief! Still smiling, eyes twinkling, he poked his head inside and looked around. When he saw that my father wasn’t looking; he gave me a peck on the cheek and said: “Merry Christmas you gorgeous.” He winked at me before turning his back and disappearing into the night. I was left flabbergasted. 

He must have been aware of our situation (not much one can hide in a small village like ours) and how kindhearted of him to think about us in that time of the year and provide us with a holiday meal without hurting the sensitive pride of my father. Bless the people like him. Not only for making our Christmas unforgettable but restoring my fate in humanity…

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Memories Of Childhood

Since I I left my home country along, long time ago,
I miss a lot of things, the food, the sounds, the ambiance and the weather…
The way the rain feels on my skin when I run around the beach,
My hair flapping in the wind or drying in a gentle breeze.

My father with his fishing net, my mother cooking our favorite food,
My siblings playing with each other while I was pretending to be a pirate…
Chickens running everywhere, we had a dozen of loyal dogs,
They were guarding the property, day and night, hail and storm.

Up until now till forever my favorite food is seafood,
I grew up surrounded with crabs, shrimps, lobsters, fish and scallops…
Meat was then foreign to us we had it only on Sundays,
If we’re lucky we feast on it, on New Year’s eve or Christmas dinner.

Life was hard, we didn’t have too much of material things,
we had couple of blankets, selfmade pillows, plastic cups, plates and saucers…
Table and chairs we never had, no TV, phone or computer,
But we owned a transistor radio, my father’s most prized possession.

Now I have a lot of things, I owned a couple of houses,
A manor in the country side and a modern cottage in the suburb…
We ride the latest model of Gran Turismo 3 BMW
And on the side we also have a jeep GLC Mercedes (I have pictures, it’s not exaggerated)

But I will exchange my life now  if I can go back then,
I will gladly switch existence with my former self without a second thought…
Only it is impossible I now long established here,
I get used to the luxurious life I bet I cannot survive there.

But the most important is my children are here with me,
The only positive outcome of my disastrous previous marriage…
I cannot leave them no matter what, they are my joy and my pride,
I want to see them get married, have children, be successful and fall in -love.

So, in my head I will go back to that place in my memory,
When everything was so simple and life was happy and carefree…
I will hold onto the feelings, the sensation and the flavor,
Of long forgotten years when I was young, innocent, sweet and healthy…

Food-and-Christmas-gifts-for-these-little-kids.