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Grieving for Me and My Inner Child

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Editor's Note

If you have experienced emotional abuse, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

One of my daughter’s little pet rats died yesterday morning.

I imagine a lot of you are going “Ewww… rat,” but we have found them to be clean, affectionate and amusing little animals, and Bilbo held a beloved place in our hearts. I am not here to convince you to rush out and purchase rats as pets. I’m here to talk about grief.

My daughter, naturally, was distraught and inconsolable. My husband and sons also had a cry but then got on with the day. What surprised me was my reaction. I literally cried all day, from that horrible moment at 4:30 a.m. when he died till’ my husband sedated me and put me to bed at 8 p.m. that night. My daughter was in better shape than I was. From my reaction, you would have thought my husband or one of my children had died, not a small family pet.

As I pondered my experience yesterday, it came to me. I was grieving the loss of Bilbo, but also so much more. Being brought up in an extremely toxic and abusive family, crying was not allowed and punished severely. Although I am now an adult and have been for many years, those intrinsic values that were taught to me 40 years ago still remain. My crying was for a little rat whose antics brought light into my depression, and comfort on my bad days. My crying was for a little boy who should be about to turn 10, but never left my womb alive. My crying was grieving the time lost with my surviving children due to hospital stays and the depression/agitation/PTSD that seem to rule my life.

However, in there too was a little girl crying, possibly for the first time. A little girl crying for the lack of love from the mother who should have adored her, and instead abused her and pimped her out to any man willing to pay the price. A little girl crying for a father who also hurt her, and an extended family who knew what was going on and did nothing. A little girl crying because she believed she was unlovable and evil because of what she was told. A little girl who grew up trying to protect her younger brother from hurt, the same brother who now has nothing to do with her because she spoke out to him about what happened and wasn’t believed. A little girl crying about a life of betrayal. A little girl crying about two girls she never really knew, but was closer to than anyone, for they endured what she did many times at the hands of their abusers, but didn’t survive.

An adult finally crying tears for friends lost to suicide and illness. Crying for the loss of identity she never developed because of the control she lived under when young. The name changes, constant moving and living in fear her family would find her, her husband and children as an adult, and hurt them. Crying for the aloneness — little things like having no-one of her own to call when her babies were born. Her husband had a mum and dad to ring, she had no family to let know.

And finally there is a 40-odd year old crying for the passage of years, of time lost battling mental health issues and the effects it has had on her family. For the years of financial hardship and being unable to give the children things they want most of the time. For the lines on her husband’s face, and his permanently exhausted look from trying to manage a wife with severe mental illness, juggle work and raise three children, often on his own. For the sighs she hears him make when he doesn’t realize she is in earshot. The tears for the present.

Sometimes the small things have the biggest impact. I know the grief cycle/stages, and have been through many of them numerous times. The crying is one step I tend to miss out when in fact I have reason to cry. That little girl was told lots of lies about the evils of crying, which we have carried all these years. It took a small, special little mammal to unleash some of those tears. I daresay there are more to follow, but I don’t know how to reach them. Guess I wait for the next trigger to get that dam to burst.


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Photo by Milada Vigerova on Unsplash


Originally published: September 22, 2020
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