Lost Childhood, Lost Family

My name is Jeff. I am a thirty year old man, married, a baby on the way. I am currently in the process of grieving what happened in my home as a child. Not death, but certainly painful and broken relationships, which left me carrying a heavy burden of pain and sadness that only now have I begun to grieve.

My dad was an alcoholic and the child of an abusive father. As a kid he never spoke to me. He never tocuhed me. He never played with me. He always said no when I would ask him to play. He was almost always gone. I wanted him to love me so badly. I wanted him to acknowledge me, to tell me I was special. I wanted his blessing on my life. But he didn't bless me, and, as a very sensitive kid, that hurt me deeply. If my father doesn't love me, then there must be something wrong with me. What else could a little kid think? I learned to feel worthless, because he didn't make me feel worthy of his love.

My mom, on the other hand, had a horrible anger problem. She was very involved in my life, but she was controlling and had a sort fuse. She would shout, often, and, again, sensitive as I was, I lived in fear of her. All I wanted was her to be gentle with me. I wanted the kind of motherly love that makes a kid feel safe, but her anger and her unpredictability left me always afraid, always watchful, trying to protect myself. Her anger only added to my feeling of worthlessness. If I were worthy, then wouldn't she be gentle with me?

Now, at thirty, after dealing for the past few years with a great deal of anxiety, I have gotten to the pain and loss that I couldn't deal with as a child. I am grieving, and in that grief, I feel anger at my parents for letting me wither every single day of my life as a kid, for the way they put their own problems ahead of me and the love I needed. I vent my anger, hit my pillow with a fist and say the things to my parents that I need to say, and then I weep, and it feels good to cry over the ways things were, to finally let go of the pain.

But there is still so much more inside of me, and I get impatient. I don't want to carry these things anymore. I don't want to be sad any longer. And sometimes I push myself too hard to grieve faster. Sometimes I am not gentle with myself in the same ways that my parents were not gentle with me.

Anyway, I am in process. I will survive. I will one day soon, finally, for the first time in my whole life, be free from this pain and sadness. It is such a beautiful thing to think of, almost to good to be true, because I've never known life without my past weighing down on me. I look forward to it with great relish!

Comments for Lost Childhood, Lost Family

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Oct 20, 2013
just a thank you
by: Anonymous

hi jeff ive just managed to deal with the loss of all my family,they would`nt listen to me for years which was making sad and angry.and very ill at times iam 36 my hubby had to step in and stop them this time.drink theirs nothing wrong with it but in the wrong hands thats another thing.i am a sencertive to.sorry about my spelling i have dyslexia.i truly understand the different stages its ok to see the way we do.your letter was very helpful.i hope you get some comfort from mine.thank you:)

Apr 24, 2013
Thanks Jeff - really resonates
by: cass

Really interesting to read yours and others experiences. I too had a lost childhood, and absent father and a highly aggressive step father, and a hysterical mother. There were constant fights, constant high emotion. If there was not a fight then I was smothered by my mother and told how special I was ( I didn't feel it).
I am now 43, and after many years going in and out of depression, I have come to terms with much of it but not all. Having my own children was the catalyst, like you, for looking back at my own childhood. I can't help myself but give loads of my time to my kids and make sure they have fun. This is great for them, but the downside is that my career has ground to a halt and as a result I feel rather worthless again. Now I know I need to strike a balance between giving to my kids and making sure my own life is in order. I think I still have to convince myself that I am valuable, but it takes time.
Good luck to all of you and God bless.

Aug 07, 2012
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING THIS
by: cara

My mother was a manic depressive whose comments"everyone is talking about me,what did they say about me?where did you get those bruises from (figment of her imagination as nothing there)" disturbed me greatly at such a young age, her actions?even worse..finding your mother with her head down to the stereo, finger up to mouth "shush they are listening to us, the whole house is bugged" (I was about 8 years of age)i now realise through therapy has left me with devastating scars, top that with a father who was full of anger from his own dysfunctional upbringing,therefore, was not capable of supportive love and making me feel special, in fact it was the opposite "try harder, you can do better"= message to the young child and adult i am today YOU'RE JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH..he also had alochol problems which brought out a terrifying bad tempered bullying side to his personality..so basically i was walking on eggshells throughout my whole childhood and yes,like you, was also a very sensitive child...i also struggle in interpersonal relationships and yes do the EMOTIONAL MURDERING every single time..always go out with a bang. I am now in the deep dark stages of therapyy, grieving for my lost childhood, which i didnt really truly understand, until i read your posts and dont feel so alone now and understanding=awareness=action! I cried my eyes out reading these stories, I know there are many more tears to be shed, my parents are both deceased so yes I am sure there is a certain amount of guilt too re my thoughts..they both also fell apart when my sister and I left home, its all so scarely familiar but also comforting..through my therapy I pray I get to the point where I can have a successful and fulfilling relationship one day, but, must start with learning to love myself..THANK YOU, you all have truly inspired me and given me strength!

Aug 07, 2012
THANK YOU
by: Anonymous

I cried reading your article, through therapy I am now at the grieving stage for my lost childhood and it hurts so much, I cant stop crying and feel that grief like grasp on my heart,however, your story made me feel I am not alone. thank you so very much for sharing and good luck to all of us going through this, I am sure you will be a wonderful fulfilling father to your new baby..yours in gratitude..

May 24, 2012
The daughter's version
by: Anonymous

I was looking for through the web on "grief over the loss of childhood" and found your blog. That is how I feel, my mother died 12 years ago, I never grieved for her, I was relieved when she died and it was strange but I did not miss her either. I was left with all of the responsiblities following her death. Neither my father or her family stepped up. My father was abscent and has re-married several times, I have a few half brothers and sisters.

My mother was a narcissist on a very extreme level. Now I know my grief, is not about loosing her, but for loosing my self to her every whim and selfish need. She was quite abussive, just as many of the replies I read here. This type of treatment of children should not go on, it's emotional abuse and I too abuse myself with I feel I "can do more" or I didn't do "my best." I wish for all of this go to away and feel like normal, secure 34 year old woman with a normal adult relationship. All of these things have kept me from having normal, healthy relationships. My biggest yearning is to accept as I am, not as how she wanted me to be, an extension of her frustrated self.

Apr 17, 2012
JEFF, I DON'T KNOW YOU, BUT....IT IS AS IF I DID
by: Al

Hi Jeff.
I don’t know you, but it is as if I did.

My dad was an alcoholic too. My mum was an extreme emotional abuser who kept criticizing him, screaming and threatening him at any given opportunity and his get away was alcohol.

I hated him because I heard my mother criticize him so much, all the time. I never heard anything good about my dad from my mum. And because I was his son, I’ve learnt to rate myself as worthless, just like him.

My mom is the female version of the devil.... she started screaming and critisizing me heavily when I was very young. I had to be the best at school; I had to make my dad stop smoking and drinking. At the same time, she just held on to me and never wanted let me to go; she thought the two of us were one person only rather than two(it’s really messed up).

Things got really worse when I was 18 and about to leave to Uni. They were both completely shattered emotionally and I had to pick up the pieces.

By the time I hit 25, I had to leave my country (Portugal) because I couldn’t bear it anymore. It was all too much for me. I felt really selfish because I thought I should be there with my mom (although I couldn’t just stand being around her and didnt know why).

Depression bout after depression bout came around and I did not really know why.

During the last four months, I have been crying almost every day. It all started during the Holidays season, when I had to go back home. Now, through therapy and hard work, I've been gathering all the pieces of the puzzle.

Grieving has been very though. But it will get better. I know it will.

Al

Apr 16, 2012
I don't know you, but it is as if I did.
by: Al

Hi Jeff.
I don’t know you, but it is as if I did.

My dad was an alcoholic too. My mum was an extreme emotional abuser who kept criticizing him and screaming and threatening him at any given opportunity and his get away was alcohol.

My dad was almost inexistent in our house. Lifeless. I hated him because I heard my mother criticize him so much, all the time. I never heard anything good about my dad from my mum. And because I was his son, I’ve learnt to rate myself as worthless, just like him.

My mom is the female version of the devil.... she started screaming at me as well when I was very young as well as criticizing me. I had to be the best at school; I had to make my dad stop smoking and drinking. At the same time, she just held on to me and never wanted let me to go; she thought the two of us were together as one human being (it’s really messed up).

Things got really worse when I was 18 and about to leave to Uni. They were both completely shattered emotionally and I had to pick up the pieces.

By the time I hit 25, I had to leave my country (Portugal) because I couldn’t bear it anymore. It was all too much for me. I felt really selfish because I thought I should be there with my mom (although I couldn’t just stand being around her and didnt know why).

Depression bout after depression bout came around and I did not really know why.

Last Xmas I’ve gone back home. Days before I’ve gone, I started crying without any particular reason. Whilst I was there, I cried for 3, 4 hours in a row. I came back to the UK, I’ve started hypnotherapy, I cried almost every day. It’s been four months now and I still cry like a 2-year old baby. And its all about my mom.

Grieving has been very though. But it will get better. I know it will.

Al

Mar 29, 2012
EMDR
by: Katie

Hi Jeff,

Wow, thank you for posting your story, as strange as it may sound, I'm really glad to hear that after the life you experienced as a child, you're managing to grieve for what you lost. Sometimes it can take people decades to even acknowledge the issue, you have done so much in a relatively short space of time.

It's also good to know that this is happening before, and perhaps because of the fact that you will yourself become a parent.

I had a very similar life to you, apart from the fact that although my mother was useless and has issues with boundaries, she is still a lovely person. Like you, I am also very sensitive and am yet to work out whether this is a gift or a curse!

I'm posting because very recently, I was diagnosed with complex PTSD. This was due to the various situations I had been in as a child, then as an adult. I've been referred for EMDR which is an eye movement therapy.

The theory goes that when an event occurs that we can't process during REM sleep (where the rest of our memories are processed and filed)it is stored in a separate memory bank.

The brain will then try to continue to process these memories through our lives, often in the form of nightmares or flashbacks. However, this often makes the situation worse as we haven't yet developed the knowledge to deal with the original event. It then becomes a vicious cycle.

EMDR is a technique which essentialy mimics REM sleep and allows the brain to process the 'stuck' memories.

I'm due to have this in a couple of weeks, but as you said that you feel that you still have a lot of issues and grief to deal with, I wonder if this technique might also help you.

Anyway, it might be worh a look - links are below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Complex_post-traumatic_stress_disorder

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_movement_desensitization_and_reprocessing

Take care and I hope that becoming a parent will bring the same happiness and resolution to you as it did for me.

Katie

Oct 19, 2011
Lost but found
by: Anonymous

Wow.... thanks for inspiring me. I came from therapy this week wondering why my ten year relationship just does not work and I do not trust. I have been thinking I am borderline, however, I was told or it was discussed with me that I have not dealt nor grieved the dysfunction of my parents and their inabilities to care for me properly as a child. My mother was a severe alcoholic and my father absent.... So I struggle today in interpersonal relationships... I do not get them and fear rejection and abandonment so much, I run away at every turn causing a hurricane or tornado before I go. Always need to go out with a bang. I call it emotional murdering.

Nov 25, 2010
I lost mine too
by: Tom

At 67 I've been dealing with my issues for over 20 years, but only recently have come face to face with the fact that much of my childhood was missing. My parents were so overwhelmed with the presence of their 15 children that they did not have the emotional resources to be able to truly care for us. Most often they were negative, critical, ridiculing and unsupportive. That's left me longing for the childhood I never had - the one where I could have played freely, felt joy in my own presence. As I write this I realize I have grieved over this in some ways without knowing it. But when the issue comes up at my weekly CoDA meeting it always hits a nerve with me. Thanks for letting me know I am not alone.

Sep 20, 2010
Thank you
by: A mom

Jeff, Thank you. I will be careful what I say to my children. I will try to make more time for them. Because you shared, I may be a better mother. I love them, but I get busy.....Now I will be mindful. I'm sorry you felt in the way, or unappreciated. I hope it helps that you may have made a difference in the lives of 5 children. I will pray for you.

Feb 06, 2010
Proud of you
by: Anonymous

Dear Jeff,
I am so sorry to hear of your painful childhood and the difficulties it has burdened you with in your life. However, I am also proud of you for finding the courage to now heal and to also create a more loving and joyful legacy for your child.

I can relate to your past home circumstances there was much of the same garbage in our family and it had a powerful effect of me growing up and into my young adult years. I always knew things were "off" but I guess for a long time I put on blinders and stayed in my mother's (aka the dragon lady!) life.

My father (a hard drinker) left when I was quite small and only had minor re-appearances throughout my life. It has been easier for me letting him go... hard to miss someone who's never around, but my mom has been harder. It's only now at age 40 and after the death of my only sister that I have been truly shown who she is.

I see how toxic they both are and I actually feel sorry for them.I finally feel ready to forgive them and really let go...

You are right in that it takes patience and gentleness with ourselves to heal from this kind of trauma and loss. But it can be done, and we can change our legacies for our children. My kids are nearly grown now and I look at them with such love and admiration at the beautiful and benevolent people they are becoming. It has helped me with healing and growing in my life. I think it will be so for you too.

I wish you much love and peace on your journey and I thank you for sharing your story.

Dec 07, 2009
jeff
by: Anonymous

Jeff,
The 12 step program of Al Anon, a support group for family and friends of alcoholics (whether those alcoholics are still alive or not) might just help you finally deal with all those crippling childhood issues, and start a new track with your child. Good luck and God bless.

Nov 23, 2009
You Are Worthwhile
by: Lynne

Jeff, your story was very sad to read, and it is really wonderful that now you are able to start dealing with the past and hopefully letting it go. I fully understand the feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness, however after a lot of work on myself, I have come to love myself and have confidence to do the things I want to do. In time you will feel the same Jeff. You have a new baby about to come into your life, and you can give the wee baby everything you were starved of. In being the father you wished your father had been for you, you will help to heal your pain.

I found writing letters to my (deceased) parents telling them how much pain they caused me and how much I hated the way they treated me, etc, helped me so much. It was amazing how it all just poured out onto the paper. Things I didn't even think were very painful to me at the time, just went down on that paper. Both my parents have died, so I just wrote it all down (in fact 26 pages of it) over a period of days. It was so therapeutic, I felt like a big weight had been lifted off me! (Don't send it to them though, just ceremoniously burn it when you are ready, and hopefully you will feel so much more worthwhile and happier).

Be kind to yourself, Jeff, and never forget you are worthwhile; your parents just didn't have the skills or the knowledge to show you that. They obviously had issues of their own, and passed them onto you. Only you can fix that, and by writing to this site you have made a great effort to do so.

Good luck with the future Jeff.

Nov 22, 2009
JEFF LOST CHILDHOOD
by: ANN

DEAR JEFF, I WAS TOUCHED BY YOUR LETTER. I COULD FEEL THE SADNESS THROUGH WHAT YOU WROTE.
BY BEING OPEN WITH YOUR FEELINGS, AND BEING ABLE TO TALK ABOUT YOUR PAIN, IS A GIANT STEP TOWARD HEALING AND MOVING ON.

CHILDHOOD SHOULD BE THE HAPPIEST TIME IN LIFE. FREE FROM WORRY AND PAIN. BUT THAT'S NOT ALWAYS TRUE. YOU ARE A SURVIVOR. YOU ARE MARRIED AND WILL SOON BE A DAD YOURSELF. THIS MAY BE THE KEY THAT HELPED YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT WAS LIKE WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG.

YOU WANT A SECOND CHANCE TO BE HAPPY. YOU CAN BY BEING THE BEST FATHER POSSIBLE TO YOUR CHILD.
SOMETIMES OUR MOST PAINFUL LESSONS ARE THE ONES WE LEARN THE MOST FROM.

I'M SORRY FOR YOUR SADNESS. I'M SORRY FOR YOUR LOSS OF A WONDERFUL LIFE AS A CHILD. ASK GOD FOR
HELP AND TO SHOW YOU HOW TO BE THE PARENT YOU WANT TO BE. LOVE AND CHERISH YOUR FAMILY NOW,
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND GIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED MOST RIGHT NOW.

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