The other day I had an awkward phone call with my mum about my childhood. I only called to try to arrange for her to come down for the weekend to visit for her birthday. It was only meant to be a short call so I could sort out her train tickets and hotel room. But you know how some mums can be. What you hope will be a quick, pragmatic call turns into a never-ending conversation about stuff you don’t really care about: which for my mum is usually her religion or her soaps.
For some reason, however, during the call, we got to talking about my childhood. This resulted in me telling her some home truths about what I went through during my childhood, which she tried to play off as being wrong and that I had a good childhood.
Somehow, she didn’t know or choose to ignore the realities of my childhood experience. Which isn’t uncommon for my mum. My mum knows I was suicidally depressed from eight years of age because I’ve told her countless times before, but she acts like it’s new information.
Anyway, during the phone call, my mum got stuck on the fact that for the latter years of my life at primary school I used to be sent home from school at dinner time. This was something that was agreed upon due to a whole host of problems I was having at school (namely being a victim of constant racial abuse and the fights it would lead to).
Frequently when I went home for lunch, I’d come home to an empty house. My mum would often not be there at all to cook my dinner or arrive too late to feed me. For reasons unknown, I also wasn’t left food I could at least eat due to her not being there.
It was during these times alone in the house on my school dinner break that I’d have regular complete and total emotional breakdowns, where I’d take the meat cleaver from the kitchen drawer next to the sink and cry my eyes out as I thought about chopping off my left hand: this kind of breakdown happened a lot for me at this time.
My mum then starts to feel guilty about what happened (bearing in mind she’s never felt bad or guilty any other time I’ve told her about how I became suicidally depressed at eight years of age) and fixated on two things, the first being that it wasn’t solely the fact that she wasn’t there to feed me on my school dinner break that caused my suicidal breakdowns, going on and on about it because she needed to alleviate her guilt. I assured her it wasn’t, because it was a combination of all the shit I was having to deal with on my own.
The second was asking why she didn’t leave sandwiches for me in the fridge (how would I know what she was and wasn’t thinking) or why I didn’t make myself some sandwiches instead: this happened over the school year I was 9-10, so I don’t think feeding myself ever crossed my mind as I was having a suicidal breakdown.
These two points then became something that she brought up every time I called her that evening and the following day as I tried to arrange her visit. I’d also picked up a few extra tasks for myself during these phone calls, which I needed to help her with (one of the extra tasks was that she was being ripped off by Virgin Media for a broadband and TV package she didn’t need, so I had to help sort out that situation). All these calls were meant to be short and pragmatic, but none of them was as she kept bringing up these two points over and over again.
I don’t know why she now seemed to care about what happened to me during my childhood. She already knew I was suicidal at eight because, as I said before, I’ve told her quite a few times over the years. The only thing she didn’t know was the specifics of what was happening and when I was actually going through these suicidal breakdowns, but she was aware of the racial abuse she didn’t give me any support with as a child. It still shouldn’t have been that shocking a piece of information.
She clearly latched on to these two points because it was a source of guilt for her at that moment, not because it had fucked me up as a kid, and even though I kept telling her it doesn’t matter anymore, “it is what it is”. I told her that I knew she had her own problems to deal with (she was depressed too), but she still wouldn’t let it go.
Eventually, she asked for my forgiveness, which I said she had, but that wasn’t good enough. She wanted me to literally say, “I forgive you” which I did. How could I not? My mum became disabled due to cancer and might not live long because of it. Plus, she did the best she could, even though it wasn’t good enough for what I needed: emotional neglect can do a number on you as a child.
Even with all that going on during these series of phone calls I had to make to get this trip sorted, she still managed to keep bringing up the subject of god, and how I need to give my life to Christ, even though I’m not religious in the slightest. She has no chance of converting me. It just made for an even more annoying series of phone calls.
She ended this lovely bit of conversation by commenting on how “everything that’s happened to me has at least made me into a caring person who wants to help others” referring to me, not her, to which I retort that “I’d rather I hadn’t of had to go through any of that” I could have died many times as I went through all that shit, and my health is still paying for it now and always will be paying for it.
Oh, and she also reminded me that she still loves god first before me, which is always nice to hear.
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Unwanted Life readers.
15 thoughts on “Childhood Neglect: An Awkward Phone Call With My Mum”
I’m so sorry to hear that you had to go through this at such a young age lovely, I’m sending you all of the love. ??
With love, Alisha Valerie x | http://www.alishavalerie.com
Thanks, it is what it is, it can’t be undone, so you just have to learn to live with it
I’m sorry you had a difficult childhood, but through the difficulties (albeit challenging at times), you are working through this. This is a big forward that you were able to have a conversation with your mother and that she was able to ask for your forgiveness. You have a good heart, keep blossoming ??
I like to think my heart is good, it’s at least better than my mum’s
Wow. How anybody can talk about there being a God when they have treated their own child so badly is well beyond my comprehension. I don’t just mean the emotional abuse you were subjected to, but not recognising how much you were suffering at the hands of other adults and children. Again, I am so sorry you have to go through this. I do hope you have some lovely supportive people around you now.
My partner is extremely supportive, which makes a nice change
Yay for your partner!!
Indeed, it can’t be easy putting up with me ha ha ha
I’m so sorry to hear that you had to go through that. No wonder that you have so many mental health issues if your childhood was like that. Sounds like you’re better off without her
A lot might have been different if I’d had the kind of mother I needed rather than the one I had
Sadly you can’t chose your family. I’m not on great terms with my mom either. Not because of neglect though, she just drives me crazy sometimes. She’s the reason for my anxiety issues in the past. We get along better now that we live in different countries
Indeed you can’t. But I’m glad you’re on better terms with your mum
This is interesting to know more about you. And what a topic to talk about in the phone haha. I think your mom just want someone to talk to in that moment lol But honestly, I would love to have chat with my mom about my childhood and remember the good things.
My mum is lonely, but that’s her own fault for pushing everyone away with her personality. She’s insufferable to be around and to talk to