Today I am pleased to join Gwen Plano on her blog, From Sorrow to Joy–Perfect Love. Last week Gwen visited me, and now I have the privilege of visiting Gwen. I hope you’ll come over and read my post and take a look around Gwen’s blog.
Silenced Voices of Abused Children
A little spoken of tragedy in our world is the silenced voices of abused children. Voices silenced for a variety of reasons are a hindrance to well-adjusted lives and justice for these children. Their scars are invisible, etched in tiny hearts and minds forever.
I was born in 1946, the first year of Baby Boomers. Our parents adhered to firm rules of 1940s and 1950s etiquette and discipline. Mama and Daddy were firm believers in proper behavior from their offspring.
Some likely familiar phrases heard on a regular basis in our home included:
Children should be seen and not heard.
Children should not speak unless spoken to.
Children should stand when an adult enters or leaves a room.
Children will not talk back or sass their parents or other adults.
Children will not begin a conversation with an adult; always wait for the adult to start the conversation.
These are only a few of the rules laid down for children in our family and culture to follow. Some of these often heard rules instruct children to be silent in certain situations involving adults. These instructions lay a perfect foundation for silencing children who are victims of abuse.
Today it is my pleasure to introduce my guest, Susannah Birch. Thank you, Susannah, for sharing with my followers. In Susannah’s own words,
I’m passionate about women’s rights in childbirth, support for families of those who are mentally ill and domestic abuse prevention, particularly against men and children. I’m a freelance journalist, online marketer, blogger and content creator.
I am also a qualified birth doula. I’m an activist and survivor of childhood trauma & I’m currently preparing to publish my memoirs. I run a local writing group and manage the website and social media for the Toowoomba Writers’ Festival.
I’m going to change the world – watch me.
Join me in welcoming Susannah Birch to the blog.
It took me 25 years to forgive my mother for trying to kill me. It took me 11 of those years to realise that I had something I needed to forgive her for.
When I was two years old, my mother experienced her first bipolar psychotic episode and believed that she had been told by God to sacrifice me just as Abraham had been called to sacrifice his only son in the Bible. Unlike Abraham, nothing told my mother to stop and I sustained such serious injuries that my life hung in the balance. It was only because she came out of her psychosis enough to realise something was wrong, and ring the police, that local emergency services were able to get to me in time. [Trigger Warning]You can listen to the full story here.
My mother spent a year in a psychiatric hospital and then came home to live with my father and I. My father was assured that my mother was fine and although we lived with my paternal grandparents, I felt that my life was normal and that my mother was too. I could remember the event; I just assumed that because other adults accepted my mother’s current mental health, it was a onetime event outside anyone’s control, even my mother’s.
It wasn’t till my mother experienced a breakdown when I was 13, taking me to the other side of the country and changing her entire fashion style, beliefs and social habits that I started to realise something wasn’t right. My teenage years were confused attempts to find the mother I’d never had and at the same time push her out of my life for what she’d done to me.
I rushed into a relationship, marriage at 20 and then just a few years later, I had my first child. Instead of making me understand my own mother, it confused me even more. I didn’t understand how my mother could have done what she did, but I experienced graphic images in my head, imagining what would happen if some part of her was somehow in me. It wasn’t till years later that I’d realise this was just a facet of OCD and other issues that became more obvious after entering motherhood.
My relationship with my mother followed a pattern. I’d try and make contact in an attempt to find the mother I so very much wanted in my life. It’d always end in tears. Over the years I had a screaming match with her in the middle of a downtown area, hacked her Facebook account and messaged all her friends, refused to talk to her and yelled and swore at her.
I kept hearing how forgiveness would make me feel better, lift a burden off my shoulders, allow me to let go. All I felt when I thought of forgiving my mother, though, was that I’d be condoning her behaviour and admitting my own weakness.
In 2013 I read a book called Mummy is a Killer by Nikkia Roberson. It told the story of how Nikkia’s two siblings were killed by her mother. I finished the book in two days but the part that amazed me the most was that Nikkia had forgiven her mother. The first tiny piece of me started to question how I could take the same journey.
The day I forgave my mother came and passed without me even realising it. The first few tendrils of forgiveness didn’t feel like anything more than compassion, like walking in someone else’s shoes. My thoughts subtly changed from being about what she’d done to me to how she must feel, having done what she did. My anger started to change into something else. I thought of all the issues my mother had had over the years as she buried that traumatic day, tried to rewrite history and slid deeper into her illness in an attempt to erase her awful memories of what her own hands had done.
There is no simple journey to forgiveness. No one can tell you how to feel or how to forgive. It’s just something that happens, either as a culmination of learning and thinking or from slowly looking at the events that require your forgiveness.
I never believed that forgiveness was more about me than her, until I felt it. It’s a wonderful feeling. I don’t condone my mother’s actions and I still don’t have contact with her, but I’m at peace with what happened. And for the things I did to her on my journey to forgiveness, I feel that she needs to forgive me too. While what she did to me was outside her control, what I did to her wasn’t outside mine. Maybe, at some step on my future journey, we’ll both be able to find the answers and the forgiveness we’re both looking for, even if it’s not together.
Learn more about Susannah Birch ~
Susannah Birch is a freelance Journalist, online writer, blogger, birth doula, activist and survivor. She’s currently editing her memoirs. She has a loving husband, two daughters and is slowly piecing together how the events of her childhood changed her life. She talks a lot, writes a lot and likes to analyse and understand everything around her. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Joan Rough is an artist, poet, and writer of nonfiction. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals, and are included in the anthology, Some Say Tomato, by Mariflo Stephens. Her first book, AUSTRALIAN LOCKER HOOKING: A New Approach to a Traditional Craft, was published in 1980. She is currently at work on her upcoming memoir, ME, MYSELF AND MOM, A Journey Through Love, Hate, and Healing.
You can follow Joan’s blog on her website at http://joanzrough.com and on these social media networks: Twitter: https:// twitter.com/JoanZRough Facebook: Personal page: www.facebook.com/joanz.rough Author page: www.facebook.com/JoanZRough.Author
Please join me in welcoming Joan!
I’m getting close to finishing up what I hope is one of the last of the revisions of my memoir, ME, MYSELF, AND MOM, A Journey Through Love, Hate, and Healing. Some of the work on this project has been easy. Some of it has been very hard. The toughest part, for sure, was making myself sit down and revisit the memories and places that I wanted to hide away forever in a dark closet whose door I never unlocked. But struggling with recovery from PTSD and a bout with endometrial cancer, I knew I needed to clean up my act if I was ever going to be ready to pass onto the next level of existence, feeling good about myself, and the legacy I hoped to leave behind.
I’d watched both of my parents die without making peace with themselves or with those around them. They were difficult, painful deaths that I believe could have been less emotionally charged had they taken the time to examine the baggage they’d carried around with them all of their lives.
I did not want to leave this world the same way they did. I sat myself down and had a long talk with myself about what I did want. On the list were things like peace, clarity, authenticity, and the crazy idea of writing a memoir about the most difficult period of my life. That last item arrived with clanging bells, shrill whistles, and choral music performed by an invisible choir of characters, along with approval from my remaining family members and friends who wanted to know my story.
Today I have the pleasure and honor of welcoming Anne Peterson, author of Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival. Anne has graciously prepared a post recalling how she came to write Broken and what the process of that writing was like. As I prepared Anne’s post for publication, I was struck by many of her words and their combined power as an affirmation of the healing benefits found in writing. Please join me in welcoming Anne!
I knew it would be hard. I just didn’t realize how hard.
When I started writing my memoir Broken: A Story of Abuse and Survival, all sorts of challenges met me head on. You don’t write painful events without reliving them. And in my case, it was a full length movie.
Loss is hard
Loss has been a recurring theme in my life. I was actually introduced to loss when I was a little girl. Our neighbor called out for her son. Into the street he ran after his ball. He just never came back. All night long his mother wailed through open windows on that summer night.
But that wasn’t the only loss. They would come one after the other for years upon years.
Why write a book about loss? It’s what I’ve known.
Experiences are great teachers
We are products of the experiences that make up our lives.
We don’t have control over many things that happen to us. But we do have control over how we respond to them.
I found as I continued to pour my life into the pages of my book, I found healing. It’s not the first time I had shared these stories. For years, I’ve shared them to various groups of people. Highlighting how God taught me about his character through my pain. And what was the benefit? Apart from pain, I would never know God’s comfort. Continue reading “In the Rubble by Anne Peterson, Guest”→