You’re ready to tell someone about your childhood. You may be ready to admit that something is happening to you in the present moment. Whether you’re ready to speak up because you want help, or whether you’re simply getting stuff off your chest, or if questions have been asked by your friends or partners about where your mum is or how come the two of you don’t speak or you avoid introducing her to people in your life, regardless of the reason first and foremost remember that you are brave and that you did not deserve any of what happened to you. Keep this in your head and hold on to it, tell yourself over and over that you are not the one in the wrong. As Rayne Wolfe tells us, “It’s not you. It’s her.” You must remember this as you move forward. Never let her words or behaviour change how you view that statement. There is no wavering, no wobbling, no grey areas. Your mum is the one who should be ashamed, not you.
Let’s break this down into chunks. Let’s separate the different reasons for speaking up, and make it easier for the readers. After all, this is pretty heavy stuff. First off, let’s look at those girls wanting to speak up because they want help or they’re at breaking point and need to tell someone what is happening to them. A lot of the time with this situation, you want a cuddle too. Chances are you haven’t had many in your life up ‘til now. Choosing the right person to tell can be tricky. Even when you think you know someone, abuse by mothers is a majorly taboo subject and people may not know how to react to it; they may have a facial expression which says “What the hell?” when really they’re just shocked and feel sad for you that you’ve been going through that alone, but they just need a minute to process. You feel incredibly vulnerable and it can sway you into clamming up if this happens, but give the person a chance. If you’re lucky you’ll pick the right person and they will know how to react immediately. Remember that when you disclose abuse of any kind to someone, you’re kind of passing it to them a little bit, giving it to them to handle like some sort of gloomy parcel wrapped up in negativity and sadness, and so they will need to get their head round it in order to help you. Don’t let this stop you from opening up though; chances are the person will do all they can to point you in the right direction where you can get proper dedicated help and they will be really proud of you and support you. Sometimes we don’t realise that there are good people in this world, especially when your mother has made your entire life a living hell. Usually a mother is the centre of a child’s whole universe, so it can skew your perception of others in your life and relationships too, but more on that in another article.
You can start your story in a number of ways, in depends on what is happening to you right then and there. If for example you’re under extreme pressure and are very tearful, it may be that the person asks you what’s wrong, rather than you having to utter those awfully painful first words “Can I tell you something?” or “I need to talk to you”. You may end up blurting it out if you’re already crying or emotional. If you’re not crying or tearful, simply take a breath and say something like “My mum is a massive bitch. And I don’t just mean we argue a lot. I mean she is a nasty piece of work and she’s really stressing me out and I need to just get stuff off my chest.” The person will probably reply with something like “Okay…” and you can just ramble on from there. Don’t forget though, those folks out there who simply can’t and won’t be able to ever understand. If this turns out to be the case, just go “Okay, well thanks anyway. I’m gonna head off.” Chalk it up to experience and move on. Tell yourself you’re okay and you’ll find someone else, and keep fighting. You will find the right person soon enough. Just hold on and keeping swimming.
If the person reacts wonderfully and says that what you’ve been through is terrible and horrible and they’re really sorry, embrace it. They probably genuinely mean it. Let them hold your hand even though you’re cringing inside, let them hug you even though you’re feeling disgusting and pathetic – if you weren’t crying at the start of the conversation you might very well be by this point – and just let the tears flow. You’ve probably bottled them up for so long, only letting them come out when you’ve been alone, so try your hardest to give in to the tears in the company of someone else. It feels vile to begin with and shameful, but after a few minutes you feel extreme relief. The person may want to ask questions and that’s only because they want to know more in order to help you the best they can, so if you feel comfortable then answer any questions they may have. Depending on your age and who you tell, these questions may be mandatory. Say you’re fourteen and telling your teacher, he or she will be bound by specific guidelines which state that they have to ask questions and get other professionals involved because you are still a child and teachers have to protect their pupils by law. If you’re an adult and you’re telling a co-worker or friend or partner, then the questions will just be a natural thing; people always need to ask questions when they’ve been given new information because they need to get their heads round things and understand it better. However if you don’t feel like answering questions you are well within your rights to say you don’t feel like answering that particular question or in fact any questions at all. You’re the one in control. But, remember that you have no need whatsoever to be ashamed, so if you want to answer questions but feel embarrassed, try looking away or focusing on a piece of your clothing like a seam or button, and just open your mouth. You may be surprised at what comes out when you don’t give eye contact.
From here on, the situation could go any which way. You could find that the person actually has experience themselves, or knows someone who has experience, or you could find that they’re just really great at listening and saying the right things, or they may have a contact who can help you like a counsellor or therapist or a book they know of. Accept any form of help you are offered because this is it, this is the first step on your journey into escape and recovery. It may seem scary and big and long and uncomfortable, but remember the reason you’re telling your story: you want help. You’re at breaking point. Your heart is hurting. You’re tired. You can’t do this anymore. Someone wants to help you move on, so take what they give you with both hands and trust that everything will be okay. It may get a little darker from here on out for a while but the clouds will part, and you will be okay.
If you decide to speak out because you’re sick of the questions, or you’re fed up of lying about where your mum is, then this is a little simpler than the previous scenario, although it isn’t a walk in the park wither. It’s just not as emotional. It may get emotional, but it’s likely that if you’re telling because you keep getting asked questions that you’ve already cut ties and therefore are stronger than those girls who haven’t managed to escape yet. If it’s a partner asking, they might be worried that you don’t want to introduce them to your family because you’re not feeling the relationship or something similar. This isn’t a nice place to be in for your partner, but don’t feel pressured into opening up if you’re not ready. Simply say “I’m not taking you to meet my mum because we don’t get along, we never have, and we don’t have contact.” You can even use Rayne’s line and say “Trust me, honey, it’s not you. It’s her,” and give them a huge hug to further reassure them. When you don’t talk about or even mention family members, a partner might feel like their treading on eggshells around you in case your family member is in fact dead, and they won’t want to upset you, so just reassure them that the facts are simply that you don’t have contact. If you feel like you trust this person you’re in a relationship with then open up, if you don’t quite know if it’s a serious relationship i.e. you just started dating, then just keep it simple. Don’t expand and if they ask you to expand just say “I don’t really wanna get into it right now, I’d rather spend time with you,” and if they’re a good person and respectful of the relationship so far then they will also respect you and your wishes.
If you’re choosing to tell because you want to help others who may be going through the same thing, or you have younger siblings who you can see being treated the same horrific way that you were, then it’s possible, or likely that you are a strong individual and are no longer scared of your mother and what she can throw at you. This is an amazing position to be in, and gives you so much power. There are no rules or even guidance we can offer here, because if you’re in this powerful and amazing place then you’re pretty much healed. Healed may be a big word to use, but even if you’re not fully healed, and some girls may never be fully healed, then you’re probably over two thirds of the way there and we salute you here at Girls Without Mums. Scream, shout, let everything out and take control, show your mum and the world that you can no longer be controlled or abused or made to feel worthless or stupid or dramatic or silly or hysterical or selfish, or any of the other horrible things your mum made you believe that you were. The only thing we can say to you is well done, and you are incredible, and you are magical, and you are capable of wonderful, brilliant things, and that we wish you all the best in your new life, and that we truly hope you fulfil every single dream or goal or ambition you have because you deserve it and nobody can ever take it away from you.
Whatever the reason for telling, we support you here at Girls Without Mums and while we are not a counselling or therapy service, as we grow we hope to connect with Girls Without Mums all over the world and help you connect with each other so that you know you’re not alone. Because, you’re not alone. There are girls without mums all over the world, in every single far undiscovered corner and we want them to all know that they are not alone in what they are experiencing, and also, that none of it ever was or is their fault. Girls Without Mums supports each and every one of you in your telling and in your recovery and also in your suffering. You don’t deserve a single part of the bad experiences you have been forced through, and we hope that we can bring you some comfort with the words in the articles we write.
You are not alone.