It was pitch dark in the room and the middle of the night. I was lying in my wooden crib. I was probably three years old.
“Mama”, I called out, “Mama…”.
I was afraid. I was afraid of the dark, of being alone.
I could barely recognize a cupboard and the curtains in front of the window. There was no light.
There was nobody who comforted me.
“You cried a lot at night,” my mother told me years later. “But I could not always get up. I let you cry, and at some point, you stopped. When you were bigger, you climbed over the crib and wanted to sleep in our bed. But this did not work. I couldn’t sleep well.”
I know. I also remember climbing over the crib with all my strength with my short legs. I trudged to the door in my pajama, I could barely press down the door latch, I trudged along the corridor and opened the door to my parent’s room. I loved the smell of my mum’s bedsheets. I loved to feel her warm body. It felt safe.
I remember. She always carried me back into my small, dark room with the curtains and the cupboard.
For many decades, I did not understand my mother, why she acted this way.
I was so angry at her for not being able to give me the warmth and love I so badly wished to receive.
For years, I sat with psychotherapists, hours and hours, I lay on my psychoanalyst’s couch, and I cried a lot, tears of despair, of hopelessness, and of being lost in this world.
With the help of professionals, I analyzed myself, my mum, my dad. I tried to understand my mother. Why couldn’t she give me more love? I tried to understand my father. Why couldn’t he tell me that he loves me, that I’m enough?
Again, and again, I slipped off into the bottomless depths. If there had been a simple method to put an end to my life, I would have done it. I thought about it for the first time when I was 16, and I thought about it many years until I finally found the key to my happiness only a few years ago. But this will be another story at some other time.
Let’s come back to this little girl with her beautiful long blond hair and blue eyes. She was perfect. But she didn’t feel it. Her parents told her the opposite.
It was a Sunday afternoon. We mostly went for a walk after lunch. My mother wanted me to have my long hair to be either plaited or tied together or on top of my head. That Sunday, I wanted to be different. I don’t know what brought me to this thought. Did it happen at the church? Did someone mention my beautiful hair and suggest to me to keep it open? I don’t remember. But I remember I fought this fight with my mother to go for a walk with my hair open.
“You look like a witch”, my mum said, defeated.
I heard how she put myself down. But my pride to have won the game was bigger. I felt so different walking on the streets with my hair open. I was convinced that everybody would notice it.
My father did and he had his camera with him.
Unfortunately, the picture got lost, but I see it very vividly in front of my eyes. I sat there on a tree with my open hair – like a princess.
When we came home, I started looking at myself with my mum’s eyes. I saw my long, very fine hair hanging down my head in long strands and I didn’t think it looked so great anymore.
The way I looked at myself for many years was the way my parents saw me. I was far away from perfect; I wasn’t even enough.
It took me so long until I finally understood that my parents would look at themselves the same way, feeling not being enough or good enough. They are now in their nineties, and I get the impression that they haven’t changed much, and they would not always feel good about themselves which is sad.
Today, I recognize as well that my parents did the best they ever could do for me. They gave all. I’m grateful for this although it has been a very painful story for me for many years.
So, this was a small part of my story.
How about your story? Have you been struggling similarly?
Would you like to write your story?
Writing helps to heal wounds from the past. My clients experienced it.
Here is a special checklist I created for you to encourage you to do the same.