Overcoming Childhood Hurts

In July last year, I posted about Miss O being ostracised by 3 mean girls in her class.  The situation was eventually resolved, but unfortunately this year she is in a new class and she is still quite lonely at school.  She doesn’t have any close relationships with any of the girls in her class, and apparently spends most of the lunch hour on her own.  She  is creative by nature, so she used to spend it sitting outside the classroom drawing. But her school just opened a new building and so her classroom has moved to the new building on the second floor. Because the room is on the second floor, kids are not allowed to be on the second floor at lunchtime. So now she aimlessly wanders around the playground on her own.  She would go to the library if she could, but the school has a policy of each year level being allocated one day per week to visit the library. If it is not your *day* you can’t visit the library at lunch time.  (Probably the most ridiculous policy I have ever heard of). 

She wants to change schools.  In fact, I believe that she doesn’t want to go to school so badly that she has started feeling anxiety to the point of giving her tummy pain. Last week we spent all week seeing doctors – getting her an x-ray and ultrasound on her abdomen and eventually we spent hours in emergency so that we could rule out physiological problems. After much deliberation it was decided that part of her bowel was compacted and causing the pain. So I was instructed to ensure she stays hydrated, monitor her diet – make sure she gets plenty of fibre –  and if the pain was to continue, I was to administer some laxatives.  The doctors conceded that this entire problem could have been caused by emotional stress.

We are working on this – I have emailed the school principal with my concerns and have asked if we could meet, and perhaps get the guidance counsellor involved.  I will follow this up next week. I am really aware that the grass is often greener on the other side – and with only a year and a half to go until she starts high school, I really want to be able to work through these issues where she is, instead of changing schools.  That being said, if we don’t have a successful outcome soon, I may just be forced to change schools.

It can be hard to overcome childhood hurts.

Yes, hurts can make you stronger, they can drive you to become successful. But left unchecked, childhood hurts can still affect your self esteem in adult life; affect what you believe about yourself and the way you relate with others.

In my post last year,  I spoke about how  I was tossed ‘out’ of my group of friends when I was in year 8 and how much that hurt.

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The most awesome school uniform ever! NOT!

Excerpt from my post: 3 Little Bitches

Once I got to high school, things changed a lot. I was still ‘ugly’ and skinny, flat chested, with short brown hair and thick eyebrows. But I was thrown into a new group of people and for the first time ever, I had a group of friends. I wasn’t in the popular group by a long shot, but I had a group of friends and it felt great. I felt like I belonged.

Then about half way through grade 8, one day, I was ‘out’. I tried to join in with my friends and I was told I was out of the group. Just like that. With no warning. Needless to say I was devastated. I went home that night and cried about it.

Ironically only a few weeks before, one of the main girls in the group had invited me to a youth group event at the local uniting church. Now she was kicking me out of the group. I told mum about it and she told me to tell her that for someone who was meant to be a Christian, she wouldn’t even make a Christian’s bootlace. The next day, I confronted her in anger, and yelled at her, including my mums insult (even though I didn’t really understand what that meant until much later).

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Those hypercolour shirts were sooo stylish. heheh.

It didn’t kill me. But it hurt. And the whole situation is something I have thought about in my life from time to time…. and when I do… the hurt is still there.

So… last year I started going to a church congregation.

And who happened to be at the church… but the girl who had kicked me out of the group all those years ago.

My first thought was “Ugh! Not her! No way am I going to come to this congregation if she is here.”  I was still holding onto that childhood hurt.  It was more than 20 years ago, but it still hurt. But then I thought to myself. “Too bad. This  is the church I want to go to. I am not going to stop going here just because she is here”.  Still not over the hurt, but determined to not let it stop me doing what I wanted to do.

Even worse, she was now friendly towards me. I hoped that she might just ignore me, pretend she didn’t really know me. But that was not to be. So I was friendly in return, as much as was necessary, falling back on my habit of keeping people at arms length.

Experiencing depression and anxiety recently, I stopped attending church for the first half of this year. Not because I didn’t want to go, but because I was just too exhausted by the end of my working week to care.  But I didn’t like the way my life was feeling, the way my mind was spiralling, so a few weeks ago, I decided that I would commit to ensuring that I go to church each week.

So its been a few weeks and for the first two Sundays I smiled through my conversations with her, inwardly wishing that the conversation could come to an end.  I knew that i could not keep on harbouring these feelings of unforgiveness, but at the same time I was kind of afraid to let them go.

Then today after the service, just before we were about to leave, she said that she had something to talk to me about.

And she told me that a while ago, God had shown her that she needed to apologise to me for her behaviour towards me back then. And she said that she was sorry and asked for my forgiveness. We talked and we hugged and I accepted her apology.

Did I feel light and free straight away?

Did a burden magically lift off my shoulders?

No.

I drove home with feelings of ambivalence and sadness.

But I know that I need to overcome this childhood hurt and let it go, because holding onto it now is only going to hold me back.

In the Lords prayer, God instructs us to forgive others.

“…Forgive us our trespasses… As we forgive those who trespass against us…” 

Truth be told. I am wary. I am afraid of letting her in and being hurt again.

But I have been given a chance that not many others have. A chance to heal from my childhood hurt. A chance to move forward. Perhaps in time, a chance to regain a friendship that I once considered special.

I have a chance to let go of the baggage.

Forgiveness is a choice. I can choose to forgive, or I can choose to hold on to the hurt.

Yes, it is scary.

But I am strong.

Source : https://www.facebook.com/FeelingsWisdomAndLove

I can choose to forgive.

I will choose to forgive.

I choose to forgive.

As God has forgiven me.

A Fantastic Day

On Saturday, Mr S turned 6.

I am still not sure how that really happened. 6 years have gone by in a flash.  (You can read my feelings about that here).

So on Wednesday night last week, only a few days out from his birthday, my mother phoned me to find out what plans I had for his birthday.

I was like “What?”

Silent pause.

The cogs in my brain creak and tick over.

Oh.

Crap.  

His birthday is this weekend.

Plus, my hubby and I both had to work on Saturday Morning.

The guilt whispered in my ear.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

Mr S has never had a ‘party’ for his birthday.

Sure, we have had family celebrations – our little brood at home, at the beach or at a restaurant, with my mum and stepdad and my sister and her kids, a barbecue or nice meal, presents and cakes.

But now that he is in grade 1, I was really hoping to organise a birthday party, and invite some of his friends from school and after-school care.

But I left it too late to organise anything.

The guilt whispered in my ear.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

I made sure Miss O had a party when she was in grade 1.  Why am I not doing the same for Mr S?   I am not treating them the same.  Mr S is disadvantaged.  He will think that I don’t love him the same.

Worst. Mother. Ever.

STOP!

I will not let this guilt consume me.

I can make a big mud hole and wallow in this self-pity and self-disgust or I can believe in myself and make a plan.

I am a good mother.

I am enough.

So, I made a plan.

Step 1: The Birthday Lunch

Seeing as my hubby and I both had to work on Saturday Morning, I would need to take all 3 kids with me to work.

(I am so lucky that I work in a wonderful family-owned business and that I can actually bring the kids to work if I need to.  Best bosses ever!).

After work, we would head down to our local pub and have a nice lunch.

Our go-to for occasions like this is the Grafton. It’s modest and laid back – not posh or overstated. They have a kids playground, and a kids entertainment area with some computer games.  It’s usually not too busy so the kids can eat, play and have fun while the adults relax.  The food is moderately priced and the staff are always friendly.

We arranged to meet Mum and my Stepdad there at about one o’clock.

Step 2: The Birthday Present

I was at a loss as to what I should actually get Mr S for his birthday.  So instead of wondering and worrying about what was the ‘best’ thing to get him, I thought I would let him show me what he wanted.

Step 3: The Birthday Cake

In keeping with the theme of letting Mr S choose what he wanted, I decided to buy a cake and let him choose.

Sounds like a plan to me!

On Thursday night after work, we went to the Toy Aisle at Big W to have a look for some of the things he was interested in.

After looking and looking and looking, he finally chose a Transformer toy. That was what he wanted.  Nothing else.  And it was only thirty-eight dollars.  I agreed he could have it for his birthday and I explained that we would buy it straight away but that he couldn’t have it until his birthday.  He was happier than a pig in mud and agreed to my terms and conditions.

My hubby wasn’t 100% happy with this.  He felt like the present should have been a surprise. But Mr S was 110% happy.  He knew that in a few days, the precious Optimus Prime toy that he had chosen would be his.

On Friday night, I read a post on facebook from one of my closest friends. She had also been suffering from birthday guilt as they had elected not to have a party for her one year old.

She was feeling the same way that I had been.  How many of us suffer this guilt?  We put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything!  Meanwhile, our kids just want us to be there!

I replied to her, engraving this on my own heart and mind as well, for the next time I decided to beat myself up.

“You are a great mother. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Have a little cake with your beautiful family, and your folks if you like, and take a couple of happy pics.

Spend the time that you would normally take running around to organise the party giving your beautiful baby girl hugs and kisses and helping her play with her toys : )

In years to come when she looks back at the photos you have taken she won’t remember not having a big celebration.”

And that, in essence, was exactly what I planned to do.

Take the pressure off myself.  Enjoy my child.  Be there.

I am so glad I did – what a great day our family had!

Mr S was so excited when he woke up and realised that it was his birthday, and was super-excited to get his Optimus Prime Toy.

My kids were (mostly) well-behaved at work and after work I picked up my hubby and we stopped in at the cheesecake shop.

Mr S chose a delicious Strawberry Torte, because he likes pink.

We headed down to the Grafton, and the kids took off immediately to play on the playground and on the computer games, while I ordered our lunch.  My hubby and I both had a 200g steak with salad and chips with mushroom sauce (only $12.00 each) and I ordered a cheeseburger and chips for Miss O, nuggets and chips for Mr S, and pizza and chips for Mr J. Kids eat free every day if accompanied with a parent meal, so two of the kids meals were free.  Altogether the food only came to $30.00.  Mum and my Stepdad arrived, and they ordered the same steak, salad and chips meal.

The food was ready quickly and we had a great relaxing time, chatting, while the kids ate and played.

Eventually it was time for the cake, which was a total hit with everyone.

Then we went home and had a rest for about an hour, before we headed off to Mount Whitfield to walk the Red Arrow bushwalk.

We started walking the Red Arrow together (or as I like to call it The Never-Ending Stairs of Doom) but it wasn’t long before Mr S and I were lagging behind.  (Did I mention I need to lose 20 kilos?).

I am sure that Mr S could have kept up with the others, but he preferred to stay with me.

Mr S and I got to chat about all kinds of things on the walk, and it was a really special time, despite feeling like I was literally going to die.

There were times that I had to stop to catch my breath.

My beautiful Mr S took it upon himself to encourage me. “Come on Mummy!  You can do it. You just have to try.”

I don’t know if it is possible to be humbled and proud at the same time, but that is exactly how I felt.  Those moments were priceless.

Eventually, we made it to the top. The view was beautiful, and Mr S and I took it in for a bit before beginning the descent.

Although the walk was exhausting for me, I was glad that we had done it.  The kids were beside themselves and buzzing with excitement and want to do the walk together on a regular basis.

All in all a fantastic day – and I didn’t have to stress at all!

Sometimes the simple things are the best.

Chaos, Love and Laughter

On Thursday the kids and I were getting ready to pop over to a friend’s place for lunch when the phone rang.  I picked it up and was surprised to hear that it was my Dad.

Backstory: In 2006, when I was heavily pregnant with Mr S, my brother had a motorbike accident. His injuries sent a clot to his brain. They told us he was brain dead. As a family we had to decide to turn off the life support machines.  This was a horrendous emotionally taxing time for all of us.  Most of all it broke my father’s heart, and not long after Mr S was born, Dad moved away.

[One day I might be ready to do a blog post about this.  In the meantime the short version above is all I can muster up.]

Since then Dad has remarried, and lived in several different places.  At the moment Dad and his wife live on a remote island in the Gulf of Carpentaria (thats right up the top of Australia), so we rarely get a chance to see him and with my busy family life, I  don’t get much of a chance to talk on the phone.

It was a pleasant surprise to hear him on the phone and even nicer still was to find out that he had arrived in Cairns and was staying at my Uncle’s place in the city.

[Truth time. At first I thought it was nice. Then after thinking about it for a while I was secretly upset. At first I couldn’t work out why I was upset. But after I processed it for a while, I realised that because of my fear of rejection and my low self esteem (falling into the trap of believing I am not loved) I was being a selfish pratt.  This automatic fear began just because I didn’t know in advance that they were coming. Just because when they got here I wasn’t their first port of call or first priority. Basically just because the world doesn’t revolve around me.  So as I thought about this, I decided it is okay for the world not to revolve around me. It does not make me any less of a person. It does not mean that I am not loved. So I can either get over this princess crap, let it go and move on or I can let it hurt me for no good reason and spoil this wonderful visit and surprise.  I decided that I can choose the way I feel.  And so I chose to reject that habit of negative thinking and just let go.  And when I did, I felt great.]

Because Dad and my StepMum are are living in a remote community with virtually only a general store, they had a long list of errands and places they needed to go to buy specific things. There were important things they had to do before the shops closed.  So I picked them up on Thursday afternoon to take them shopping and made arrangements for them to come over for a visit to our house on Sunday Afternoon.

In the meantime, Miss O’s best friend phoned up to ask if Miss O could go to the tablelands with their family for the Easter Weekend.  Normally I am happy for Miss O to have a sleepover at Miss H’s place, but I wasn’t too keen on it becuase it was the Easter Weekend. I explained to Miss O and Miss H that I would need to talk it over with the hubster.  Miss O was torn.  She really REALLY wanted to stay with Miss H but she didn’t want to miss out on being with the family, or seeing both my Mum & StepDad in Innisfail, or my Dad and StepMum.

So after talking about it with the hubster, we made a compromise.  We would drop Miss O off on Friday Evening after we visited my Mum in Innisfail, and we would pick up Miss O from the Tablelands on Sunday Morning.  This would give her the best of both worlds.  She was able to be with her friend, and she was still able to see both lots of Grandparents.

I was still about sad about not having her wake up to her Easter Eggs on Sunday Morning with us, but the hubster and I agreed that it was time to encourage her to establish her own special memories and develop a little more independence.

On Sunday The Easter Bunny only just made it to our house just 5 minutes before the boys woke up. Phew! (Also real classy how the easter bunny used our bamboo steamer to put the eggs in). The minute Mr J was up and saw the eggs, he came running out to me to tell me and brought me back into the room to show me the eggs.  Then he woke up his brother and before I could say “Don’t eat any yet”, they had opened and starting munching on the biggest egg in their baskets.  

I was busy trying to do loads of washing and clean up the house a bit so we were a bit late leaving home on Sunday morning to pick up Miss O ( it was about a 2 1/2 hour round trip ) and we didn’t get home until just after 1pm.  As a result we were very disorganised.  Parts of the house were a still mess, so I zipped around quickly trying to tidy up as best as I could then zoomed into the city to get Dad.

The plan was that I would pick up Dad and my Stepmum while the hubster prepared the Webber (Kettle BBQ) so that he could cook a roast pork and veges. I had a Chocolate Mousse Profiterole Cake from Coles in the freezer, which we were going to have for dessert.

I picked up my parents and we were about 2 minutes from home when I got a panicked call from the hubster.  The firelighters weren’t igniting and he couldnt get the coals going.

He was still trying when we arrived, so we all had a go at trying to get the fire going.

In desperation I searched our crapheap our garage and found two half packets of firelighters.  These ones weren’t defective and we managed to get the fire going straight away. Phew.

So once the fire was going, I realised we didn’t have anything to drink, and its usually customary for the men to have a couple of beers, and the women to chat over a couple of glasses of wine.  So I nipped down to the bottle O around the corner and got some beers and wine.

I had just started to relax and had luckily only polished off half a glass of wine, when the next crisis happened.  The hubster took the pork out of the fridge and took it out of the packet and found that it had turned. Ugghh. Its smelled! We had to chuck it out.  I felt like I was chucking 30 dollars in the bin.

We had finally successfully made the fire and the coals were glowing perfectly but we had no meat to cook.

We have a coles less than 5 minutes from our house, and so I jumped in the car and prayed that it would be open and that I didn’t have to drive for another 15 minutes to get to the nearest Supa IGA.  I was sooo relieved when I got to the supermarket and it was open.

I got to the meat section and there wasn’t a great selection of roasts that were large enough to feed the family . They did have legs of lamb, but they still had relatively little meat if you took the bone into consideration. The cheapest one was 25 dollars and I felt like it was a bit of a rip-off.

I walked up and down the meat section a few times and then had a brilliant plan. We would have a trio of meat. I chose a small eye roast which was reduced and was under $10; a small rolled pork loin that was about $13 and a small lamb half leg which was also about $11.  This would give me a lot more meat than just the leg of lamb, for pretty much the same price.  And they would all fit in the webber together.

When I got home, I handed over the meat to hubster and was finally able to relax.  Once the meat was on and the veges were prepared, we took some family snapshots, and then walked down to the park while Miss O showed off how well she was riding her bike, and Mr S and Mr J raced around the park on their scooters.

We all had fun watching them ride and scoot until Mr S had a major meltdown, becuase Mr J kept on ‘winning’. Even though I explained it wasn’t a race (this is the story of my life), the meltdown began to escalate, so we cut our losses and we all came back home to chat and relax some more.  Thankfully after having some quiet thinking time Mr S was able to calm down and enjoy himself again.

The roast meats and the roast veges all turned out just perfect.  I joined two tables together so we could all eat at the one table, and set all the food out in the middle of the table, so we could choose what we wanted, like a smorgasboard. ( I wish I had of thought to take a picture of the food but we were all so hungry it didn’t even cross my mind). We all ate way too much, but it tasted soooo good, it was hard to stop.

I don’t know how we even ate dessert – but dessert is Dad’s favourite part of any meal, so I wanted to make it more special than just the coles cake (which by the way was awesome) so I quickly cooked up some custard and chopped up some bananas and grapes.

It was amazing to see how well the kids bonded with Dad and my Stepmum even though they had only seen them a few times.  There’s just something special about grandparents.

We had lots of lovely conversation and lots and lots of laughs.

It was a great day.

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Arms Length

As I prepare to write this post, my heart is hurting.  It has been a hard week for me.  Not because anyone has done anything to me.  Not because anyone has hurt me.   My heart is hurting because I have realised that I have hurt myself.

I have hurt myself by trying to protect myself against being hurt.  I have painstakingly maintained the barriers that I erected years ago, instead of tearing them down.

I have hurt myself by not really believing that I am loved, or loveable.  And because I haven’t really believed that I am loved, or loveable, I have kept people at arms length.

One of the people I have kept at arms length is my mother.

Looking back through photo albums for pictures of my childhood tonight, I found it hard to find a picture of my mother and I together.  (Sorry about this pic – it is  actually a photo of a blurry photo lol)

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What I did find is photo after photo of me having fun in all kinds of different situations.  I found newspaper clippings and report cards.  My mother took photo after photo, and documented so many of my achievements.  She was proud of me.  She loved me.

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But for me many of those happy memories were overshadowed by sadness.  My mother chose to let me down when I was 14 and I had to leave home.  I think I understand the reasons why she decided to stay and to let me leave.  I think it was fear of losing everything.  Or perhaps fear of being alone.

But from that traumatic time onwards, whilst i appeared strong on the outside, deep down I have really believed that I was not worthy of real love.  Not even a mothers love.

For many years after this, my mother and I did not have a lot of contact. She continuously reached out, but my walls kept my heart ‘safe’.

But eventually, her circumstances changed, my circumstances changed, and I began to let her in a little.

Since then, time and time again, my Mother has been there for me. Financially, helping me out of some tough spots.  Emotionally, being a listening ear in times of crisis.  And Physically, dropping everything to come to my aid.

But I have not been there for her.

I have kept her at arms length.

I have not been the daughter that I should be.  I have done things out of obligation, and I have done things to be polite, but I have not really been there.

At the end of last year whilst on holidays, my mother had what appeared to be some kind of heart attack.  She went to the hospital and ended up being okay, but they told her that some damage had been done to her heart, and when she got back home she had to see a specialist asap.

For a couple of months she has been arguing with her GP who refused to give her a referral to a specialist, saying she is not a risk factor for a heart attack, and that there must be something else wrong.  Finally at the urging of many people, she went to a different GP and managed to get a referral to a heart specialist.

So on Monday before seeing the specialist, she dropped into see me at work.  She had a quick chat with my boss and I, and one of the things that she said to my boss was, “You won’t find a harder worker than Michelle”.

She had so much confidence in me.  She was proud of me and I didn’t feel like I deserved it.

That afternoon, Mum contacted me to let me know that the appointment with the heart specialist didn’t go well, and she was booked in for surgery in 3 days time.  They thought that she had a least one blockage and had to have stents put in straight away.

That’s when I realised just how lucky I was that she had not died.

All these years I have carried around all this hurt, using it as a barrier to keep out more hurt.

Then I thought about what it feels like when my daughter (who is 10) is in a bad mood and doesn’t want to open up to me and how that hurts.  It must really hurt my mother to only be involved in the periphery of our lives.  To have to constantly be the one to reach out for information.

In the face of losing her, to think she might not be there tomorrow, that I might not ever be able to talk to her again, the things that happened in the past all felt pretty insignificant.

I felt petty and small.

I realised I need to tear down these barriers.

I need to love and I need to be loved.  

I need to realise I am loved.  

I am loved as a Daughter and I am loved as Mother. I am loved as a Wife and I am loved as a Friend.  I am loved as a Sister, an Aunt and a Niece.

I deserve this love just as much as all of the people that love me deserve my love.

So the good news is that Mum had the surgery and they found that she didn’t have any blockage that required stents.  She does have a problem with her Aorta that can be managed with medication, managing her blood pressure and managing her stress, and keeping a healthy diet and moderate exercise.

I have another chance to love.

I have another chance to be the daughter I should be.

I am grateful for this chance.

I won’t let me down.