Her shuttered room was dark and full
To bursting with the fear that harboured
In her broken heart.
A childhood like a pocketful
Of broken dreams and nothing seems
As empty as the pill box in
Her mother’s hand, as she lay
Sprawled across the floor.
For now I leave my own mother
In her own room
Like the wicked witch in fairy tales,
But really, she’s just broken,
Hoping that I’ll come to her
And show her that there’s love
In this broken world.
I’ve written about my relationship with my mother a few times. It’s always been difficult because if I ever put a foot wrong she would isolate herself in her room and sometimes not speak to me for weeks, even when I was quite a young child and really needed her.
This meant that I grew up thinking that I was a really disappointing child. I also found myself striving to be perfect and threw in the towel if ever I came up short. I thought that if I got something wrong people would take their love away from me.
It’s taken a lot of therapy to get to this point where I know that I’m not a hateful person and I know that it’s her behaviour that has almost programmed me to feel the way I do.
I also know that she had a horrible upbringing with a mother who suffered from awful mental illnesses that resulted in her trying to take her life on several occasions. My mother had to deal with this as a teenager and I can only imagine the harm this caused her.
I wrote this poem for people who are feeling the effects of family trauma as it trickles down through the generations. It’s a confusing set of circumstances because, on the one hand, I love my mother very much. But on the other hand I feel like my whole life has been made difficult because of her. And then, how can I blame her when she has been through so much more than I’ve had to?
If you’re struggling with a parent, maybe take a step back and look at what they might have been through before you were even a twinkle in their eye. Past trauma doesn’t excuse everything but it can help you come to terms with your own experience.
I hope that I can reconcile with my mum soon because I miss her so much. I do know that I need to tread carefully though. I’m as scared as I was when I was little and she would lock herself in her room. The difference is that now I’m thirty five and I’m a strong and independent woman. I can stand on my own two feet and that is something to be proud of!