Simon seemed surprisingly confident and very much ‘at home’, quite the ‘Star of the Show’ in fact. It was obvious he and my Mother were very close, they were constantly exchanging little looks, and one always seemed to know exactly what the other was thinking and feeling, all without saying a single word - it was almost uncanny. Simon was six and a half years older than me, and of course he and my Mother had spent those years and more together. He had been eight years old when he had beeen put in a Home so they had spent much more time together than they had spent apart whereas entirely the opposite had been true of our relationship. My Mother and I had spent much more time apart than we had together and they had been important formative years for me during which I had experienced profound emotional trauma, we simply didn't have the same 'connection' or understanding. She and Simon were so obviously enjoying being together again, laughing and chatting so freely, so comfortably it was obvious he'd been living there for a while. I wondered how or even if I could ever achieve a relationship like theirs, but I quickly realized that this was not in fact a 'happy' home and that although Simon and my Mother got on extremely well, he and Eddie didn't get on at all! The moment we all sat down at the table for our first meal together the atmosphere immediately became heavy, tense and uncomfortable. My Mother sat down next to Simon, leaving Eddie and I no alternative but to sit together on the other side of the table, perhaps even then unconsciously showing us both where her heart truly lay, revealing what would eventually come to pass… Eddie and I on the opposite side, shut out of their little world and left alone, on our own separate little islands.
Another indication that Simon had been there for a while was that he not only knew how to ‘needle’ Eddie but also that he was confident enough to do it! He knew he could rely on his doting Mother to protect him, and she certainly hovered over him all the time like an anxious Mother hen. Eddie said something to her in a very quiet voice, wanting her to correct Simon on some minor point, but she instantly swept his comment aside quite dismissively and made even more fuss of Simon, and stood stroking his hair affectionately… indulgently. Eddie was silent for a few moments, then he pushed his chair away from the table and left the room. I can't say that our first meal together had been an entirely 'comfortable' experience for me either because I'd soon become aware of everyone staring at me with horrified expressions on their faces! Apparently, my table manners were quite appalling, which was hardly surprising since I hadn't been taught any! At the Home we’d all just grabbed our food and bolted it down before anyone could take it away from us so meal-times had been far from 'genteel', courteous experiences! My Mother, now in full ‘prim and proper’ mode, chose to inform me rather haughtily that “it was not nice to eat with one’s mouth open”. Naturally I was very embarrassed and felt suitably chastened, but I did wonder why no-one had ever bothered to tell me about any of these social 'niceties' before!
I don't know how I expected to feel that day, but I do know I hadn't expected to feel unwelcome, or that my presence was an inconvenience everyone had to 'put up with', but that was how I felt...still 'on the outside looking in' ...still isolated, imprisoned inside myself. I hadn't expected to feel like that here, in my own home, with my own family, I'd hoped it would be different, I'd feel different.
During one of our first little ‘welcome home’ chats soon after my arrival, my Mother made it quite plain that my birth had been ‘an accident’- a ‘surprise’, and clearly not a very fortuitous one, since her lack of enthusiasm was obvious even to my young eyes! In fact, whenever the subject came up, and it seemed to surprisingly often during those early days, she and Simon would exchange darkly significant looks, quite obviously re-living unhappy times in their minds. She also informed me in a rather off-hand and dismissive manner that she had decided not to tell my Father of my impending arrival because she knew by then that he was going back to his family overseas, and as she put it “what did he matter anyway, when I had her?". [Most of the men she’d had affairs with during both the War and for several years after it were married Overseas Servicemen temporarily based in Britain.] It’s a horrible feeling to grow up with though… the awful emptiness that comes with the knowledge that the person who fathered you isn’t even aware of your existence - that you’re there, that you care, that you would have liked to have known him. It leaves an aching void inside, a space he was supposed to occupy. A fathers' absence becomes all the more poignant when the remaining parent chooses to abandon that child, rightly or wrongly that child will always wonder if things might have been different if Daddy had known.
I sometimes wonder why, since she always declared herself to be such 'a loving and extraordinarily sensitive person', it never occurred to my Mother that by telling me both those facts simultaneously in such a dismissive manner, she was rather brutally informing me that not only was I 'unplanned' and very obviously unwanted, but also that my forthcoming arrival was so trivial and unimportant it wasn't even worth mentioning to my Father! Was she being deliberately hurtful or did she simply not care that her words made me feel not only irrelevant but also totally insignificant? My appearance had been little more than a nasty shock! A child may be too young to grasp the full meaning of such statements when they’re first made, I didn’t know at the time why her words made me feel so very bad inside, so hurt, so sad…I only knew that for some reason they did, but the feeling those words evoked…that feeling takes root in the heart and soul and remains there forever. In time that child will work out exactly what those words meant, and why they felt like that, just as I eventually did, but it was a long, long time before I realized the hugely negative impact all these things had on me, and just how much they influenced the way I saw myself after that, and that they were the reason I believed nothing I thought or felt ever mattered. Feelings of being worthless...of being unlovable,insignificant, an unwanted intruder in other peoples’ lives, stemmed from way back there in my early childhood, and it was there that they grew such strong, pernicious roots, there that I became so painfully aware of being an encumbrance, a liability, and nothing more than that.
I now know and understand the origin of the low self-esteem, and crippling feelings of inadequacy and inferiority that made me feel so ‘unworthy’ and always held me back, and the root cause of my subsequent reluctance to believe or accept that anyone could or would EVER genuinely LOVE ME. It started with little seeds that were planted in my heart and soul the day my Mother first abandoned me in the Childrens Home - seeds that were fed and watered every time she returned me to the distinctly unloving arms of the Nuns after each and every one of her visits, always leaving me with the impression there was something ‘unacceptable’ and not quite ‘nice’ about me. Each one of those seeds took root and eventually flowered, right there in that awful, soul-destroying basement. Profound hurts of this nature can never be healed by occasional hugs and kisses, and certainly not by what even a young child readily identifies as false declarations of ‘love’ and ‘devotion’ that may subsequently follow them…the harm has been done, the hurt inflicted, the foundation of future fears and insecurities laid.
If you are a young person reading this and you are feeling any of the painful emotions described in this piece, can I speak to you personally for just a moment? You are important to God. Children are important to God. Too many people underestimate the intensity and depths of a childs’ emotions, but God never does. He is grieved when a child experiences pain of any kind, and is profoundly moved by their tears. God reached down and touched me as an infant, too small to understand anything, He did so then because He knew I wouldn’t make it if He waited any longer, He knew my inner pain was destroying my soul, and breaking my young heart, and if He didn’t do something then, it would be too late. If you are able to read this you are obviously older than I was then, old enough to understand what I am saying to you now. Please believe me when I tell you that you are not alone, no matter how afraid, unloved, isolated or abandoned you may feel, God is always there, He always Sees and He always Cares. He is with you now, whether you are aware of it or not, as you are reading these words. Always remember, His Love is PERFECT, it is Eternal [which means it lasts forever ] and it is Unconditional, which means you don’t have to deserve it, ‘earn’ it or ‘merit’ it in any way at all, you only have to reach out to Him and speak from your heart to His…it’s as simple as that. He’s there and He’s waiting. He already knows you, and is waiting patiently for the day you decide you want to know Him too.
Do you know God sees your every fear,
Hears every muttered comment
You don’t want Him to hear?
He sees every frown upon your brow,
And bending low He whispers how
You can find His Way.
Have you ears to hear and find His Way,
Will you make time for God in your day?
He’s always there, right by your side,
From fear and pain you need not hide.
Put your hand in His, Let Him show you the way,
The time is right, you choose the day!
The next instalment of this true life story will be posted on 1st November 2019.
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