The One Where I Share With You My Story of Becoming A Mum After Childhood Sexual Abuse.
My journey to becoming a mum has been, quite possibly, the most painful part of my healing journey and one of the parts, if not the greatest part of my life, which I feel my history of abuse has had the greatest impact on. Every day now, as a mum, I am grateful for the beautiful daughter, my husband and I share our lives with. Often, as I glance at her whilst we play, I feel the tears swelling up as I remember the years, and decades in fact, of painful waiting and longing for her to arrive.
I always knew from very early on in my 20’s that I wanted to have children. That maternal urge was always such a strong drive and desire for me, even all the way back then. It was so much more than a longing though that I felt. Becoming a mum was, for me, in fact more of a deep need, purpose or journey that I knew I had to take. Little did I know at the time that it would also become, during those years of waiting to be a mum and now that I am a mum, a very big part of my healing journey.
Back then in my 20’s the journey was definitely harder for me to take. I was younger with less knowledge and awareness of myself and life. I was impatient and driven by the fear. I thought having a child might never happen unless I took things into my own hands to make it happen. I desperately entered into new relationships. Armed with a renewed sense of hope and drive I put everything into that new relationship in the hope that it would be ‘the one’ and I would soon become a mum. But for such a long while for me, it wasn’t going to be. Unbeknown to me back then in my 20’s, it would be a painful 20 year wait for our daughter to arrive. I gave birth to beautiful Naila 3 weeks ahead of my 44th birthday and up until that day, there wasn’t a single day that went by without tears, hope and fear all being felt intertwined, with my overwhelming urge and drive to have a child.
What made my journey so long and painful for me, as a result of my abuse was the pattern that I had gotten myself into in terms of the types of relationships that I found myself in. Not uncommon to those who have experienced abuse, I found myself in a repetitive cycle of attracting myself to abusive men and relationships. Physical, mental, emotional and sexual abuse was all I had even known in relationships growing up and all I knew, and probably felt most familiar and comfortable with, as I entered into relationships as an adult. Those were the kinds of relationships that I spent the best part of my late teens and 20’s in. Through a combination of that familiar sense of comfort and attraction, naivety, lack of help, support and guidance, and simply not knowing how to get out I found myself unable to break the cycle of abuse and it was there that I was to remain for over a decade of my life.
Being trapped in the cycle of abuse brought a double layer of pain for me, pain from the abuse that I continued to experience and pain from that every increasing longing to be a mum With ever friend, colleague or family member that gave birth or announced their pregnancy there would be a painful stabbing inside that would remind me of how much I was missing out on and how desperately I longed to be a mum.
If you’ve been there you’ll have an idea of what it felt like for me. Not just that heart wrenching pain and longing to have a child but also the pain of being trapped in a life of abuse. However much I didn’t want to be there in that repetitive cycle of abuse, I just didn’t know the way out. And so, it was there where I ended up over and over again. Depressed, battered, bruised and tired on every level of my being from being abused and unloved, I would yearn and pray each day not only for a way out of the abuse but also for that one special relationship that would not only give me a way out, or that love that I truly deserved but would also give me the chance to be the mum that I so desperately wanted to be.
Being a mum for me was a drive from deep inside that I couldn’t ignore. A powerful surge from within that was driven from the heart and core of my innate being. It was a force of nature that I couldn’t switch off. The pressure that that force applied each day, didn’t waine with compassion or understanding towards my situation or past. It didn’t stop as I felt the pain and tears of my past or as I took another blow of abuse in the present. It continued despite all that I was going through to build stronger and stronger reminding me painfully, at each sight of a baby and child or mother to be of what I was missing in my life.
Each day I had to find a way to reconcile the misalignment which that power from within battled with. I had to find ways of reconciling that power and force with the powerless that I felt from my past. As that drive surged forward I had to fight against it to deal with and work through the pain that I felt on so many levels my being, from my past, my present and what I feared for, for my future. If I’m honest I can’t put into words just how immensely difficult it was for me to feel that sense of overwhelming yearning, desire, need, lack, pain and hopelessness for so long. Deeply depressed, hopeless, helpless, powerless and afraid was how I felt on many a day. I tried to hold to faith and trust with belief that it would happen and some days it was easier to find that hope to hold onto than it was on others. Those days and years were so hard..beyond hard, in fact, for me.
It was impossible to find the help and support from family and friends that I so desperately needed. Many of my friends never knew about my past and even what was happening in the present. I felt too ashamed and too afraid to share. ”It’s just not happening right now”, [ implying not getting pregnant], I used to say to them unable to talk about why and even what was really going on. They didn’t know what was going on inside my relationships. I didn’t even know at times myself, I was so blind to it all, engulfed in the abuse. We’d skirt around some fabricated story, over tea and cake sat around kitchen tables. Somehow that made it easier for me to get through the uncomfortable and difficult topic and enabled me to at least be able to hold some kind of conversation that enabled me to get some kind of support that I so desperately needed. Even though it wasn’t actually what I needed, the support which came for my diversion of a story enabled me to find some comfort to soothe my actual pain.
For so long the assumption was made that we were” trying” [to have a baby] but it just wasn’t happening. But we weren’t even trying . Well meaning suggestions and conversations of IVF got mixed in with the already complicated story being told. Although well meant IVF was not the solution that I needed and only added to my fear, pain and confusion. “Would that eventually be the route that I would have to take”, would be what I would worry about as I was aware, as each day passed that I was nudging closer and closer to 40 .
Conversations with family were no easier to navigate. The constant echo of the words “you don’t want to leave it too late or else” and “ you are not getting any younger, you know!” were a seemingly compulsory part of every conversation and again whilst, I’m sure in some way intended to be well meaning, they turned out to be words that only amplified my fears and drove a dagger deeper into my heart, as they met my ears. That’s how it felt to me every time. If only they knew. Getting a sperm donor was also suggested on many occasions and considered too at times but I knew that that just wasn’t the way that I wanted to have a baby. My mother, shockingly, even came up with the suggestion of putting holes in a condom. That was the kind of advice family had to offer and was the best I could get in amongst the the shame ridden advice to not leave it too late, that left me feeling such a failure. It was so difficult. I was hurting beyond belief in side…and hurting all alone.
I never did the hole in the condom thing by the way. I was desperate but I had morals, strong principals and ethics and that was never going to be the way that I would have a child.
My journey through my 20’s and 30’s journey was an arduous one, filled with pain, trauma and heartbreak. Alongside my feelings of fear, depression, desperation and hopelessness, feelings of self- loathing, anger, failure, unworthiness and hate, accompanied my beliefs that I must simply be bad, rotten to my core and undeserving in some way. I believed somehow that I was being punished for “what I had done in my past!”
This would all be the painful reality that would follow me around for each day throughout that , what seemed at times, tortuous decade plus number of years …all along side the ever present and ever growing drive and desire to be a mum.
How was it ever going to happen? Was it ever going to happen? I held on to some kind of hope the best I could each day but if I’m honest the fear that I felt was so much stronger than the little hope that I was desperately trying to hold onto. I feared so much that it would never happen and never truly believed or trusted inside that it could or would ever happen.
Starting to work on myself, through counselling, yoga, meditation and other self awareness and healing modalities, many of which I share with you on my blog, was the main turning point that finally helped me to find my way out of that cycle of abuse. Through developing a greater sense of self awareness and understanding I started to become aware, amongst other things of the patterns of behaviour, cycle of abuse and the negative beliefs and thought forms that I carried around about myself. Whilst it took years, and still continues to today, to change and heal how I thought about myself and relationships, I began to gradually see how my work was changing my life.
At the beginning of my 30’s I found that I was able to hold myself in a stable, safe and supportive relationship. This relationship, I will always be grateful for, because it gave me a stable base from which I would not only learn more about myself but also start the long journey of healing some of the deep seated roots of trauma that were holding me stuck in the past and away from the dream that I so deeply and desperately wanted to fulfil. I still needed to work through commitment issues and through issues around trust which developed as a result of my abuse and whilst this relationship turned out not to be “ The One” I’ll always be grateful for it as it helped me to open myself up to the one that came soon after. “THE ONE” in which I met not only my loving husband Michael but also the most wonderful Daddy to our beautiful daughter Naila.
At the age of 43, close to starting IVF and 5 days into our honeymoon after getting married, Michael and I found out that we were expecting a baby. After 20 + long and painful years with an extra 9 months of waiting on top of that, our beautiful daughter Naila came into the world. Not a day goes by since she was born without me feeling gratitude and love for her but also, I’m finding more and more towards myself. I feel proud of myself for the journey that I have taken, and for all that which I have had to overcome to bring me to the point where I am finally able to say that I have ‘ BECOME A MUM’.
Whilst it has undeniably been a long and painful journey there are lessons that I have learnt from all of this along the way. Too many to remember but here are some of the key ones:
- Life and the paths we have to tread cannot be rushed .
- There are no shortcuts in healing from abuse.
- What lies between us and the fulfilment of our dreams is the pain and hurt from our past.
- In order to fulfil our dreams and live in a truly whole, authentic and loving way we have to dare greatly to go within, to heal the pain that lies deep inside.
- Healing cannot be rushed and has its own natural process which we determine from within in accordance with that which we can handle and that which is in alignment with our highest good.
- The journey of healing from abuse cannot be travelled alone. There are so many amazing professionals out there who are qualified and safe. But more importantly trustworthy of walking alongside us on our paths.
- Once we make that decision to heal we attract to us everything and everybody that we need on our paths.
- We are amazing beyond belief with an immeasurable amount of courage, strength, power and resilience within that will support us on our journeys.
- Never doubt how far you can go. In moments of doubt, look at how far you have come for courage, strength an inspiration to go on.
- Through the darkest days on our healing journeys, it’s important to do whatever we can to hold onto our dreams, with faith, trust, hope and belief.
- …and never forget just how beautiful and amazing you truly are.
Whilst daring greatly not only on my own healing journey but also in sharing my healing journey with you today, I have learnt and healed so much. In sharing my story of ‘Becoming a mum’ with you I hope that my words can offer you comfort, hope and inspiration in some way.
As always I have loved rambling with you and my love is with you until next time.
Amelia Ella Hope.