Thursday, 9 December 2010

Childhood Part 1

So, my childhood. I didn't talk about all of this with L, but I decided I wanted to write about all of it, to put it into context. My childhood memories are fairly sketchy. I only remember odd bits here and there. I have no memories from when I was very young, and really very few before the age of about 10. And even after that, I know certain situations happened etc, but I don't remember how I felt about them or anything. So a lot of it is quite hazy.

I always think of myself as having a happy childhood, and I think it was overall, and certainly was compared to the experiences of many others, which means I am always reluctant to criticise it in any way. But there were downsides. For a start, I never fitted in. From as far back as I can remember I just didn't fit in with most other children. I was more comfortable with adult company, which is probably unsurprising, given that I have 3 older siblings, and the closest of those to me in age is 12 years older than me. So I was used to being around adults the majority of the time. When I was young, and I am thinking back from when I was very young up to about the age of 11 or so, I was probably what Lexie would refer to as a 'pretend child'. I spent hours and hours sitting reading. I would wander around stately homes and gardens with my parents. I was always beautifully dressed. Overall I was pretty well behaved. Which is lucky really, because punishing me generally consisted of sending me to my room, where I would become engrossed in a book, and when told I could go back downstairs reply that I was ok in my bedroom reading thank you. I went to dance classes, and was a Brownie, and had riding lessons. I did well at school. I was intelligent. I had a reading age far higher than my actual age. I got all my spellings right. I think I was generally fairly amenable, although my parents may say otherwise of course... I got on well with my parents. I got on well with my siblings. My sister (yes, the one who now hates me) absolutely doted on me as a young child. So in that sense I was a good child, with a happy childhood.

The less positive things were that as I mentioned, I never really fitted in with my peers - probably because of being a pretend child. I had a best friend (whom I will refer to as C for this post), who I met when I was 4, who lived just down the road from me, and we were at school together until I moved school after a couple of years. I was very possessive over her. I wanted her to play with me the whole time. I wasn't interested in playing with any of the other children - she was my best friend, and she was the only person I wanted to play with. I don't remember it, but I apparently used to come home from school incredibly upset if she had been playing with other people instead of me. Early attachment issues, or is that too psychoanalytical? There was another girl at that school (who will be referred to as H for this post) whose mother used to look after me after school when my mother was working, and when I switched schools, she also switched half a term later. She was a very strong character. A bully essentially. Again, I don't remember it, but apparently sometimes when I would go there after school she would lock me in her bedroom and leave me in there and not let me out. Sometimes she would be nice to me. Other times she wouldn't. When I moved school at 7, I left C behind, although I still saw her a lot, and whilst I got on fine with the children at my new school, again, I didn't really fit in. I wasn't 'cool' in any way. I was certainly not one of the popular girls. I would try and tag onto some of the other less popular girls, but I remember often finding myself alone. I was also ill a lot - I had a lot of problems with my ears - constant ear infections, multiple burst eardrums, various other infections. I spent an awful lot of my childhood on antibiotics. My mum generally used to still send me into school when I was ill, as she worked there, and I was too young to stay home alone, so I either went to lessons, or if I was really ill I went to the sick bay. I didn't enjoy school though. From a fairly young age I remember exaggerating how ill I felt to try and get out of going to class. I remember pushing near the bottom of my neck to make me retch so that my mum would think I was sick. I am not sure why I didn't want to go to school, as it wasn't like I struggled with the work or anything, and it was a nice school. I just didn't want to go.

I have also had issues with food my entire life. Not an eating disorder, but I have always been an incredibly fussy eater, to the point where it has interfered with my life. In some ways I am slightly better now with that, but overall the foods I will eat now aren't very different to those I would eat as a child. When I was inpatient on an eating disorder programme they said I had always had disordered eating because of how fussy I was. I don't know whether or not this is true, or what is behind it, or if it contributed to my eating disorder in later life, but there have certainly always been issues surrounding food. I was always very attached to my mum. I suppose most children are, but I didn't like her being out or away from me. I would stay the night with friends, but I remember getting into a terrible state when I went on Brownie camp once. I absolutely hated it. I was horribly home sick, I had issues with most of the food, and I just wanted to be at home. The whole time felt like torture, and all the other children were having a great time. Obviously none of these things were major problems. Ok, I didn't really fit in with my peers and was teased a bit, but most kids are. And I was happy at home as far as I can remember.

Up to this point I would consider myself to have had a happy childhood. Although if I look back on it I can see signs that maybe things weren't quite right even that early on, ie up to the age of 11. But I don't know if that is just going into the realms of navel gazing. But things like being very attached to certain people, and feigning or exaggerating illness to avoid school, when actually there was no reason to not want to go that I can see do strike me as not being quite right. I also always had a need to please people - generally adults rather than peers. But there have always been issues with relationships I suppose. And of course issues with food. There was no reason for me to be unhappy, but I wouldn't say that I was happy, and I don't know why. Maybe there has always been something wrong, although I don't know what. But overall everything in my life was pretty simple up to this point, and there was no reason for me to be unhappy. It was after that that things became more complicated, but I will finish writing that tomorrow, as the more I write the more flashes of memory are coming back, and I need some time to process them. There was nothing I would consider to be traumatic, or anything more than an awful lot of children go through, and not nearly as bad as lots, but I still feel like I need to write about it. The appointment with L yesterday got me thinking a lot, but I will go into more detail regarding that tomorrow.


  1. wow. This is almost my biography for the first decade or so of my life. Things changed...but... you are either reading my journal or you're in my head...and I HOPE TO GOD it's the first bc my head is not a fun place to be..


  2. How strange! It is weird how similar things can be isn't it? I really should stress nothing terrible happened after that. I still have no reason for being the way I am. There was just some stuff that was hard for me to cope with, but I will write about that tomorrow. And my head is not a fun place to be either. x

  3. It sucks. It really sucks. I know I'm someone that can claim 'trauma' in my childhood, but my recollections of the most miserable time in my life to date were those of being ostracised (and later ((mentally)) bullied) at school. I don't recall ever feeling so lost, so empty, so utterly uncared for. I've still never written about it because it's too hard.

    So I commend you, Bip, for doing so yourself, for trying so hard to process the memories. I hope you can find some catharsis in doing so, but go easy on yourself.

    Hugs, as always.

    P <3 xxx

  4. Thanks for the shout-out sweetie! very flattered. Its funny... I DID have quite a traumatic childhood, and therefore should for all intents and purposes be even more effed up than I already am--- LOL

    AND, I remember it ALL in VIVID, mind-boggling, technicolour too. (I used the English spelling in your honoUr.) :)

    So, the evidence points to nature taking precedence over nurture, to a great extent.

    For those who don't understand the concept of "pretend child"... It is a term my husband and I coined to describe a child--- usually, a "female" (can also be applied to some males who fit the criteria, but much more unusual) who basically does not require the presence to any great degree of ADULT SUPERVISION, beginning at the age of 18-24 months.

    In other words, a child who a parent can appear OUT in PUBLIC with, who does what they're told,(without whining), even VOLUNTEERS,(without any reminders or provocation whatsoever) does great in school, can take care of basic needs, can bake bread by the age of 15, is fairly popular, gets into a great college... Marries another PRETEND adult and procreates 2 or 3 or possibly up to 4 more PRETEND offspring.

    Bip--- you are really really close on this one.;) I would say Pretend Child - NOS. :))


    Lexie (a formerly pretend child gone amok) :)

  5. I could have written this as well. I didn't fit in, was a loner, stayed in my room a lot, needed to be near my mother. Nothing bad ever happened to me. I did read in a book once that not fitting in as a child can be traumatic. I would never compare my childhood to someone who suffered trauma though. I also always tried to please my mother and never felt like I was good enough for her.

  6. Wow, this is also ME, nearly verbatim. And I thought I was the only one. I can especially relate to being more comfortable with adults as a child and being a "pretend child." I found it difficult to fit in with others and always felt "different" in some way. I've also always felt a strong need to please and was very advanced in my studies for my age. It's refreshing to hear that others have similar experiences/backgrounds. Well written and articulated. I look forward to reading more and perhaps also posting about my childhood (I don't believe I have at yet at this point). *hugs*

  7. It is really interesting to hear from so many people who experienced so many similarities with their own childhoods.

    And Lexie, I like Pretend Child NOS! I couldn't bake bread by 15, I think that must be where I fell down! We will ignore the whole college bit because I had turned into a disaster pre that age and therefore didn't have the opportunity to turn into a Pretend Adult (Stepford Wife stylee?) and create my own Pretend Children.

    Am in the process of writing part 2, will hopefully get it finished tonight.

    Thank you all for the comments. xxx

  8. I have learned in my own therapy that attachment issues are a key to someone with BPD.

    I also had a sketchy memories of things before age 10. That was until I was strong enough and had the support in place that I began to remember.

    I love your honesty. Thank you.

  9. I can relate to a lot of this, not fitting in at school, bullying, attachment to your mum, fussy eater (I only ate toast, branflakes and chicken)... Well done for processing all of this.


  10. I feel like a "Pretend Adult" myself too, at the moment...