Fragments of a broken past

September 28, 2014

Sometimes facing our traumas can be better than running away from them

Fragments of a broken past

There seems to be this natural human tendency to keep alive the happiest memories from our pasts, burying the melancholic ones away -- afraid that our mind or soul won’t be able to handle them. For some these events have been more traumatic than others, unconsciously seeping into the way they shape their lives and personality.

Time and again, we fail to address the ‘real’ causes of our inner hauntings. This is something that I have seen most common in our society of today. Don’t think about it, let it be and it will go away -- sometimes this is more of a necessity, a tool of survival than deliberate ignorance.

Recently, having  a conversation with a woman in her early 30s and delving into her childhood memories I came across someone who had suppressed her ‘feelings’ so much that she had learn to neatly brush away all the ‘dirt’ from her memory. As she was talking about her relationship with her mother, there seemed to be this underlying anxiety and an attempt to artificially construct a loving relationship.

The entirety of the mother-daughter relationship seemed to be built around household tasks, shopping sprees and superficial discussion about makeup. But as she talked more openly about her past the façade started to fade. She narrated incidents of brutal physical childhood abuse inflicted upon her by her very own mother -- incidents, which scarred the tender heart of a young girl, barely eight or nine years old. She felt neglected as her mother had preferred her brother over her, giving him more attention. She described her mother having fits of rage and going absolutely insane with anger on the minutest of things, such as school home work.

As a kid she had been terrified of her own mother, and instead of seeing her as a friend or as a close companion with someone whom she could discuss her childhood or teenage issues with; she viewed her as a tyrant or a ‘witch’.

Her father acted as her shield and it was these memories oozing with love and affection that she remembered more clearly. At times, even today, she feels scared to sleep in the bedroom next to her parents if her father isn’t home because her mother might turn into the same ‘witch’ again.

Over a period of time she had chosen to block away those memories because if she had not done so then she would not have been able to ‘respect’ her mother, as she could not make sense of all that had happened with her in her childhood. It was difficult for her to logically rationalise all of those experiences at such a young age.

The mother, on the other hand, was probably haunted by her own demons. Women in our society are more often suppressed. They are not allowed to work and rarely have full control of their lives. With no outlet to their frustration they turn the anger out on what is most easily available for them, which in most cases are the children. Both women (the mother and daughter) tried to block away their real issues, which over a period of time shaped certain characteristics in their personality. These they blamed on genes.

Maybe sometimes we should look at the darkness in our past but instead of sulking over it try to face it. Resolving the problem by talking about it with someone is better than carrying it around as a burden for the rest of our lives. The perfectly symmetrical fantasy world we often create for ourselves cannot last a lifetime, the cracks and leaks eventually do begin to show.

Fragments of a broken past