My cheek burned, I could feel the swelling starting to appear while my ear rang. My mother’s long fingers had not only covered my whole cheek but had reached my ear making it ring. I placed my hand over my cheek to try and stop the pain while the other arm flew up protecting my face from any further blows. In awe, I stared at my mother in front of me.
My mother was not a tall woman, average height and back then a normal size 12. She was not muscly in any way but had her weight to back her up. I remember only being 9 at the time, not yet tall or old enough to intimidate her the way she did me. Little did I know that a day would come when I was 15 years old in a Woolworths canned goods shopping aisle, that I would finally stand up to her, slap her back and she would never lay another hand on me again.
WAS THIS LOVE?
Shocked by her reaction, I didn’t know whether to cry, run or ask her why she had just slapped my face. This wasn’t the first time and wouldn’t be the last, this was my mother’s chosen way of punishment. Swift, hard and humiliating. She was angry and when she got like this, the next move from her was totally unpredictable and would be fueled even more if she had consumed alcohol.
I stood still, not knowing how to respond waiting for the next blow that usually would continue with being dragged by my hair, (my hair back then was down to my waste line) to my bedroom. Only to receive further blows, not always by her hand but with her favourites, the wooden spoon, my hair brush or the vacuum cleaner pole. Generally whatever was within arm’s reach and could easily be grabbed while being dragged by my hair to a room so she could continue the humiliating beating.
My mother had the ability to make me feel worthless, to the point of me not wanting to exist. There was no love from this woman, only hate and I often wondered if she ever really loved my sister and I. Our brother had died before I was born and I always thought that if I had been a boy, would she have loved me then? Would she have remained with my father? If a mother had wanted children to be born into her world, wouldn’t she love them regardless? As I grew older, it became easier to look at my mother and not give her the satisfaction of knowing the hurt she had just placed onto my body and into my soul.
TRUTH BE TOLD
Sunday afternoon was a combination of a Sunday roast cooking in the oven, with the aromas wafting through the house. Watching the Sunday Walt Disney movie, which was a favourite for my little sister and I, almost a regular family tradition. Generally, this was a day I loved as it also meant the next day was back to school to catch up with friends.
This particular Sunday, the Walt Disney movie was about a young girl who had been sexually assaulted by her uncle. I sat glued to the TV watching and listening intently. Back then, movies had a life lesson, a message almost hidden and not really discussed straight out in the movie but a message understood. The young girl in question had slept at her uncle’s house to only be sexually assaulted while she slept.
She awoke to find her uncle in bed with her and she was too scared to tell anyone, frozen from her fear, it remained their secret for years. Until she was older and one day could stand up to him and she could say NO. When she had finally decided to tell her mother, the whole family rallied behind her and supported her as she reported the abuse to the police . The Uncle went to jail finally after years of abuse.
After the movie had finished, I was standing in the kitchen door way facing into the lounge room. My little sister was behind me and my mother, standing in front of me facing into the kitchen. “Mum I have to tell you something, what happened to the girl in the movie has been happening to me by your boyfriend.” I was trembling, I didn't know how she would react.
“Your lying, you’re always lying” Slap! This was never spoken of again and the abuse continued until my mother and her then boyfriend separated, moving just a few doors up. I was 23 years old, already with 3 children of my own when my mother mentioned it to me again. My mother had called her then ex-boyfriend to ask the question, the question she refused to believe or acknowledge all of those years ago. He didn’t deny it.
It has taken me 30 years to be able to tell anyone that I am a survivor of sexual abuse. I have finally come to realise that this was not my fault. I look at photos of myself as a child and it makes me sad. Sad to think I couldn’t protect her, sad that she had to become an adult at such an early age, sad that my own mother didn’t or couldn’t protect her and sad that she never had
the chance to be a child.
I was 37 years old before I forgave my mother, she had had a stroke and was frail and weak. I felt sorry for her. As I got older, I would think back to those childhood days, what had made my mother such a hateful person against her own flesh and blood? It didn’t seem to matter much anymore, carrying the hate I had towards her just made me angry, I needed to let it go. Forgiveness doesn’t come without damage control but it is a lot easier to forgive than hate.
I find it much easier to let go of things now and have moved on from my past. Although sometimes there are moments it creeps back in. Despite being there in the back of my mind, I have chosen to not let it break me but drive me to succeed. Through cooking and creating, I find it clears my mind. No more chatter, no more negative voices saying I'm not good enough.
Sharing my passion of cooking, healthy lifestyle, blogging, travelling and working for myself has given me passion and focus. It has also given me the ability to share my story with you. Regardless of life's circumstances, you have the power to create your future.