Featured image of post My mother was obsessed with building a house that I could inherit, but now, I can’t stand a minute being there
Featured image of post My mother was obsessed with building a house that I could inherit, but now, I can’t stand a minute being there

My mother was obsessed with building a house that I could inherit, but now, I can’t stand a minute being there

Photo by Peter Herrmann on Unsplash

How trauma changes everything

When I was born, my whole family (9 people) were living in an old rented house. Just too many. The space was so reduced that my sister and I even had to share a room with our parents. So, naturally, my mother wanted to give us a better life, a home of our own.

My parents were hardworking people so, eventually, they managed to build the structure. Then some basic floors and basic windows made it look like a home. Some friends of the family contributed with old furniture and appliances. There was no luxury, but our needs seemed to be met. Unfortunately, that was never enough for them, not for my mother, anyway. Her dream was to have a three-level house where each of her children could create their very own future homes. This means that most of her energy and attention went into working and looking after the house so it would look a bit more like the ones from the magazines.

Reading those paragraphs I imagine you cannot understand why after so much effort I would reject such a gift from them. And so don’t most of people that met them, because it is only this side of the story that they could see.

My father worked hard. When he had a job. The problem is that when he wasn’t working he was drinking. He was an alcoholic without the intention of recovery. And even worst, quite often he would become aggressive to the point of starting a fight. During the day and to the neighbours, a peaceful pitiful drunk. At night, a nightmare that lasted years terrifying my mind.

And my mother. She loved him. Oh, she loved him very much. As with her three-level house dream, she was determined to fix him. She also used to start fighting so that he wouldn’t go back to the pub. She was scared that he would have a traffic accident. So the fighting got more prominent over the years.

But he was a boy his parents sent to work on the sea too soon. The rough sea. That wounded drunken boy was stronger than my mother’s will.

Being a trauma survivor myself, I get the fact that growing out of a traumatic childhood of getting out of such relationships is not easy but here is why I can’t really forgive none of them. Well, I can’t forgive my father for obvious reasons. He never stopped being a drunk and he died without being present a single day in my life.

In the case of my mother, the feelings are very complicated. It wasn’t until recently that I understood how much alienation I suffered from her because I was always focused on trying to protect her from him. And also the fact that she died when I was only sixteen didn’t help, I guess. Under those conditions, you sanctified people.

I can understand that my mother didn’t mean to create bigger fights, but while she was preoccupied with her husband, she forgot about her children. We should be independent and fulfil our responsibilities (cleaning, laundry, cooking and, of course, studying) because she had no time for us. She was busy being a superwoman. If we didn’t need anything from her we were good. If we needed something, we were selfish. She was doing everything in her power to give us a nicer house and to make us look good in front of our neighbours. “For our good” she didn’t want anybody to think we were poor or to know any embarrassing aspect of my father. And that took energy and attention.

She was busy being a superwoman.

I didn’t care much about being poor. I accepted pretty soon that my classmates had could have stuff that I could not. Of course sometimes was difficult, but I could understand.

However I remember a day when my mother told me we only had 30 euros for the last week of the month. We could only spend 10 on food because the rest was necessary for my father. The funny thing is that she was not financially abused. My father was used to being poor and if he didn’t have money enough to go to the pub he would go to the shop and buy the cheapest wine. She was actually the one who managed the money at home, she had a better job. And that I couldn’t nor can understand.

In most toxic relationships, in most cases of domestic violence, women are scared of the consequences of leaving their husbands. They worry they are going to become even more aggressive and dangerous so they kind of grovel for their safety. I always thought that my mother was one of those scared victims.

There is a moment in my life in which I finally lost my sense of self, knowing I wasn’t worthy of her love. After a terrifying episode in which I thought my father would kill us, I put my foot down. Yes, I was not even 13 years old, but I did it. I used all my anger and energy into confronting my mother. I told her that I could not stand it anymore and while he was out I prepared a suitcase with his clothes and, ironically, his whole lot of medication. I placed it outside of the door and I locked up the door leaving the key inside so nobody could use another. My father didn’t even try to come in. He left for his parent’s house and didn’t even try to ask for forgiveness to come back. Looking back, I now realise he was so used to abandonment and rejection that it didn’t bother him. He knew his behaviour was unacceptable and expected it to happen at some point.

My father came back home after “I gave permission”. My mother begged me and described his wounds until I understood he was a person in need of care. My father’s sister explained to me that their own father was a drunk and she had to look after him so should I do the same with mine. A friend of his came by and did the same. The man was on his personal recovery pad and wanted to help my father. So I did give permission. Or that’s what they made me believe because I had no real power.

There is a moment in my life in which I finally lost my sense of self, knowing I wasn’t worthy of her love.

Powerless it’s how that house makes me feel. Within those walls, my feelings have no room, my sense of safety shutters and love is painful.

What I would like you to understand is that a child can be happy being poor if their parents love them. It might be difficult sometimes to tell them no to things you would like them to have. But it is much worst to make them feel unworthy because you are too busy to give them any love and attention. And when I mean attention I don’t mean looking at them do silly things. I mean listening to their feelings, to what they have to say or to what is hurting them. Because otherwise, you are going to have an adult child with more money than you had and barely any self-esteem (or even a mental illness like is my case).

I can blindly forgive my parents for their trauma reactions. They are not to blame for them. But at a certain point in your life, you have to become responsible for your own traumas and stop projecting your pain onto others. Nobody else will. Nobody else can do it for you. On the contrary to what many people think, it is not a matter of education or money. It has actually more to do with how much are you willing to leave behind in order to live a peaceful happy life. Sometimes is a toxic relationship, a dream, or wealth—even family. You cannot have it all. You have to decide, or you will lose your mind. And that is pure chaos and unhappiness.

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