There is a child I know who lives with anxiety.  His self-confidence is zero, his ability to self-soothe is in its infancy and his voice muted to the point of barely audible.

One of the things I know about anxiety is that the only person that can combat it is Me.  The only person who can measure it, curtail it and tame it, is Me.  I have lived with Complex PTSD from toddler-hood.  I have fought that dark demon with all my strength from the moment I realized that I stood on the precipice of madness – aged 3 (yes I actually remember the moment I stepped back and thought, no, not me, you won’t get me).  People all too often ignorantly believe that children, even very young ones, have no self awareness or ability to retain what they are experiencing, seeing and hearing.  That belief is beyond asinine.

That moment for me came watching my mother throw a tantrum with first some poor house servants (Africa 1973) and then a male, who I believe was my father but have no clear recollection.  Simply that he was white and male.  Memories and flashbacks, traumatic childhood experiences are not filed neatly but rather condensed chaos of crystal clear snapshots and vague smells, emotions, sounds that whisper death in my ear.  By tantrum I do not mean a pout or even screaming.  No.  With my mother things were always violent.   At that moment I saw her absolutely clearly.  I stared silently at her with absolute disgust.  I vowed to myself that I would never be that, I would never be her.  It is my loathing of her behavior and eventually her, that has kept me sane and allowed me to constantly seek wellness no matter how terribly damaged my brain is.

So it is doubly difficult to have to witness a child being destroyed by his own mother.

Whether it is the co-dependency crap, requiring him to fulfil her needs for affection, adulation and attention or her setting him up for failure knowing that she is at each step emasculating him, creating a fear of school and school friends because of the ridicule he faces when he fails.  Instead of seeking out the strengths, encouraging them, focusing on them, building on them I must watch a child slowly meticulously destroyed.

Do I perceive the dangers to children in a way that is far more extreme than a normal brained person does?  Yes.  Absolutely I do.  It is impossible for me not to.  I am overprotective of children because unlike most in the first world, I don’t think bad things happen to children, I know terrible things happen to children and I have the scars to prove it.  Those experiences can either break us, demonize us and cause us to be the darkness or it smashes us into a crystal so brilliant, so tough, so resilient and focused that nothing, nobody can crush us.

One day we will recognize Mental Health abuse as equal to, if not worse than, Physical Abuse.  Until then there is nothing I can do but watch silently.  The truth is that as advanced as we think we are not enough is done to focus on the mental health of our children nor are the agencies there to ensure they are cared for, protected.  The belief in the fabled resiliency of children continues, despite so much knowledge out there that our childhoods follow us throughout our lives.

Kate Gillie
Author

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