As much as we profess that we have left the past in the past and that we are firmly focussed on the present and even more so, the future, it isn’t always the case.
I’ve already had a discussion about whether the past defines us. In the majority of cases that may be true to a very small extent, but in everyone there is a basic understanding of what is right and what is wrong, and if we are wronged during that valuable learning period as a child, there is nearly always someone there to guide you in the right direction.
For the most part, during that time, it’s your parents.
And if the are the perpetrators of that wrong, then hopefully you know enough that it is wrong, and that you have the courage to tell someone else, like a grandparent or school counsellor, or even the police.
That’s now, of course, where we live in a far more transparent world children who are being abused have a voice that will be heard.
Wind this back 60 years.
There were no such protections. Any stray aunt, uncle, neighbour, or just a good friend of the family could get away with sexual assault, or any sort of domestic violence because society then had a different set of rules.
Grownups would first believe their fellow grownups before they listened to the ramblings of a child. In those days a child never had a voice, and we are now discovering just how many children were abused.
The same went for women. There are untold numbers of women out there that spent many years cowering lest they were beaten or verbally and mentally abused. Trying to protect their children from a bullying father copped the harshest treatment, but there wer many reasons, the simplest being not having dinner on the t sable when he got home.
As young children seeing this behaviour and not understanding it’s significance, can lead to the practice being handed down simply because a young child will accept it as the norm. It’s still the reason why some children are still bullies at school, that boys treat girls badly and swearing is very common among children as young as six or seven.
Back 69 odd years ago the results of parental behaviour had far more serious ramifications because the people who should have done something about it, thought nothing of it. Why? Although some people thought it was wrong, it was the people who mattered that didn’t. A woman who depended on a man who bashed her was far less likely to leave than one today.
Back then there were no half way houses, no protection from the bullies, and no social welfare systems in place to help these women or their children.
My mother was one of those women.
Me and my elder brother were two of those children. Don’t ask me how we came out the other side, totally different people to what we might have been.
Perhaps it was down to my grandmother with whom we spent enough time to learn there was a different type of world out there, and all we had to do was embrace it.
And, for the few years my father finally come to his senses, and leaving us all alone, life wasn’t normal but it was better.. We just kept moving, so loneliness was a way of life.
But, it seems, he changed in a different ways, and became controlling, especially in my mother’s case, and though I didn’t really understand then the results of it, the full extent of this behaviour came out when I had to make the decision to separate my mother from him in their nursing home because he was verbally and mentally abusing her. There were other aspects to this controlling behavior that tipped the scales.
Having done that, he turned his rage and vitriol on me. Imagine right there and then, every terrible memory came flooding back and the fear and despair I felt.
We had a blazing row, I was denounced as a conspirator and a lot of other unrepeatable things, and I have not spoken to him since.
Mercifully my mother is safe from him now, but she has full blown dementia, and it is, I suspect the end result of the beatings she suffered.
But there’s always a silver lining, as my grandmother used to say, and that was for me to write, and from a very early age I would read any book I could get my hands on, and then behind to invent an alternate works to live in, one where there wasn’t the violence and misery we suffered.
And using that imagination, and using the many books I had read began to write my own stories. I have a trove of material written back then which I pull out every now and then, and which have fuelled many stories now.
Perhaps it was a side effect from my younger years that I was introverted and had very low self esteem. Because if that it too years, being married to the most remarkable and generous woman, that I finally found the courage to publish my stories.
They’re not bestsellers, but their mine, and ar the result of self achievement I never though, all those years ago, was possible.