Flower in winter

Trigger warning: child sexual abuse

I can only say this much of my mother’s childhood, without giving away identifying details: she lost a beloved sibling, the light of her life and her one protector.

Still worse, not one day passed without her and her other siblings being raped and hurt by their father. My grandmother, who herself had suffered abuse as a child, believed it to be the natural order of life. She used to busy herself with cleaning, cooking or shopping whenever her husband went after the kids. The children grew up in a neat and tidy home with no homeliness. The house was a suffocating atmosphere of narcissism, demeaning words and a complete lack of compassion. It is no wonder my mother developed several alters, of kind and mean and everything in between. I believe the kindness was inspired by the good sibling that died.

As soon as she was old enough, my mother moved to her own apartment. Studying a little and working odd jobs, winter turned to spring. Suddenly she (the front alter) found herself in the peculiar situation of having almost no childhood memories. There were some glimpses of a past – playing outdoors in nature with other children, and listening to music with her friends as a teenager. She also remembered being left behind as the rest of the family went to dinners, parties, and on whole vacations. But no memories of her siblings or parents, or of being indoors together with them. She asked around, but people told her not to dwell on it. So she threw herself out into the world; moved far away, fell in love with beautiful places and also some men living in those places. Life filled with warmth and wonder, it seemed an endless flower power summer.

Only through some force majeure, she found herself back in the city of her birth, working as a receptionist for a big company. In that company also worked a dashing, though somewhat shy, man in the midst of a successful career. He and my mother started dating each other. Around the time my mother fell pregnant, it was clear to both of them that they were better off as friends than partners. My mother must have been bewildered – she’d never longed for motherhood. On the contrary, she’d always considered the world too evil for one to put a defenseless child into it. My father silently slithered away from all responsibility. But she was nearing her due date. She had no place to call her own, no higher education and no close friends that could have helped her raise a child. Summer was long gone. Living in her parents house and waiting for me to be born, winter crept slowly closer.

The weather worsened when the time came for her to go to the hospital. I was born in the middle of a storm.


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