Sitting in a teeny one bedroom flat, shivering, watching the mould climbing the walls as my small child fitfully dreamed under the covers, I decided this was not how it would end. This would not be a life my child would get used to.
We had recently left a refuge (that’s another blog), and moved to a strange town. Relieved to find a landlord who accepted single mothers on benefits I jumped at the chance of moving away from the chaos into our own, independent little home. But we could hear the neighbours screaming through the walls, which were wet to touch due to damp. The people of the town didn’t warm to outsiders, this tattoo-clad single mother was not welcome in their baby groups. My presence, too much of a threat for their Stepford existence.
Alone, broke and terrified we would be found by my homicidal ex, I shivered. How do I help my son heal from the trauma he suffered? How do I get us to a better place, a life of security, laughter, community, and financial stability? No-one, no-one could ever understand what we had been through. I didn’t understand what we had been through. How could this wonderful, creative man have done those things to us, to me, to his child?
I spent hours sitting in the dark, trailing the internet for answers, eventually finding a Ted talk by Leslie Morgan Steiner, that sparked a little hope, I felt a stirring of connection.
I saw she had written a book, Crazy Love, and immediately ordered it. And so, my healing journey began.
Over the next few months, I read every book I could find on domestic abuse, narcissists, and on my solicitor's advice, psychopaths. I began to understand. What had happened to me was real. It happened to others. ALL THE TIME. I found my people, my community, and my strength sitting in the dark while my son slumbered. He would wake several times a night screaming. Afraid for me to leave his side. Afraid to sleep, as that’s where he was alone with his memories.
So again I searched. I searched and I searched for books that would help him to process his trauma, that would help me parent a traumatised child. There were one or two books that helped open up conversations, and a couple more that led me to therapeutically parent. But they were written for foster and adoptive parents, assuming both parents were so bad the child had been removed. I’d read those books, feeling overwhelmed by guilt, by shame. Finding tit-bits, but no resolution, only feeling further isolated, alone, as my child continued to act out his trauma of living his first few years with a psychopath.
At night my thoughts went round in circles. Where could I gain further understanding? Who had the answers? Who knew what effects trauma had on the developing brain and how to heal them? This led me to enrol at University to study Psychology and Criminology. A whole new Universe of literature revealed it's self to me through the University libraries. In the midnight hours I devoured every book I could on trauma, child development, parenting and personality disorders. I radically changed my parenting, my world view and my perception of myself.
Simply, books healed me. Books helped to heal my son. Books gave me knowledge, peace, growth and community. I hope they help you too, to fly free.