An Isolated Childhood

Please don't fall asleep, this is the short version. It is a story that I hope explains why you should never hold someone you love to tightly for you may cause permanent irreparable damage. Okay, deep sigh, here is my story.

I am the youngest of 3 siblings and thinking about it now. I came into the a situation that set me apart from my siblings. Out of all of them, I was the only one who would never truly remember what if feels like to have a mother around.

She left when I was one years old and my father took the helm as single parent. Okay time to get the mother stuff out of the way now. My sister, brother and I reunited with my mother when I was 23 years old (30 now). She has proved to be a disappointed. You see we wanted her to say that she was pushed out. But everything she says and does suggests that well, she didn't want us around. Not in a Flower in the Attic sense but more like, she was her main priority. I've gotten over it because if I don't I'll go nuts but my sister who is now a parent hasn't.

My father brought us up with certainty that food would be on the table and we were in a safe home. His strong character impacted me in the sense that I don't really take rubbish from anyone. But he protected us to the point of harming us. We hardly went out and were kept in front of TVs to watch films. Unfortunately we didn't relate much to other kids except in school. For my sister and I, it wasn't so bad cause we were girls. But I believe that it immensely had a bad effect on my brother. He has struggled in all aspects of his life and continues to suffer from low self esteem.

But for all of us, the effect has been that our social lives were controlled by my father. If he got upset with a family and we were friends with their kids, the friendship usually ended there. We were hardly allowed to go anywhere. I was an introverted (INFJ) child who didn't mind solitude so much but it hurt deeply when I didn't seem very good and keeping friends or boyfriends. It got to a stage that I stopped trying. Now, I have learnt what type of friends I should have so I have about 3 friends now. The internet and our mobile age definately helps for a socially weak person like me. As for intimacy that is my real stubbling block now. But I'm seeking my artistic dreams now and coming to terms with a childhood where although we were materialy secure, there was a very strong emotional poverty present in our young lives.

There were deeply hurtful moments of neglect when my father was absent. Cruel teachers and guardians, a viscious and manipulative step mother ( she used to beat me repeatedly as a child). But I am trying to keep going. However, my sister's isolation as a single mother and reliance on me to support her angers me. I adore my sister and would do anything for her but I'm angry that we were isolated from friends, family on both sides to such an extent that we have no-one to support us. My father built a world where he was our only protector and possiblity in life. I believe that is why my sister is isolated and reliant on my help and why my brother at 32 years old does not believe that he can make something of his life, therefore keeps self sabotaging at every opportunity.

I have read so many books about dysfunctional families, spirituality and self help. My conclusion is and always will be that you only have one life. Therefore, I am trying to make the most of it while I am still here - although I am left fearful of intimacy and of having children.

Today, I am grateful to my father's support - a support which I know my mother would have never given us. But I will never understand why he had to hold us so tightly that he's broken us. We were protected but broken. Now the shards of glass still stick and the wound still bleeds.

I want us all to be okay. Meanwhile as my father cares for his new young family, my siblings and I are all trying to pick up the pieces and I feel so powerless.

And yet, I plod on with my paint brush in one hand and hope in the other.

Who ever is reading this and whatever your trials and tribulations, I pray that you find something that takes you beyond the madness and dysfuntion that is family. I hope you are contented. Thanks for reading this tale. God bless and comments warmly welcome

angelgenie angelgenie
22 Responses Jun 13, 2008

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I feel a lot of sympathy with your situation. I have gone through a similar experience and have found that the effects of family, positive or negative, in childhood shape us for the rest of our lives and have a massive influence on our behaviour. My father left when he found out that my mother was pregnant with me and my twin sister. Our mother raised us in a similarly protective manner. We also attended a school around five miles from where we lived, as my mother was a staff member there, it made sense i suppose. However, this had the effect of making it impossible for us to socialise with school friends out of school, something which i felt was a great loss for me personally. Also, my mother was particularly over protective of me and encouraged me not to socialise with the 'local' children, but rather to stay in the house and play alone. I believe this is because I nearly died from pneumonia when i was born, but my mother denies this. Consequently this has rendered me very weak socially. I spend probably 350 of 365 evenings a year alone. The lack of social experience has seen a young adulthood of isolation and celibacy. The possibility of a group of friends and a relationship seems very, very distant. I am always reminded of Morrissey's lyric: "And when you want to live, how do you start, where'd you go, who do you need to know?" . I can identify strongly with your brother's experience. When your social skills, self esteem and self confidence are all low, many many doors are automatically closed to you. And the ones that aren't you seem to close yourself. Anyway, just to say that I, like a great many others, sympathise greatly with your story. Good luck.

Hi Jackjay - thanks for sharing your story with me. As I get older I understand my father's actions and can relate to your mother's actions too. She seems to love you and your sister very much. However like my father she was very overprotective. I've made piece with my father's actions now as for my mother who left us - I can't say the same thing. For now I try to put one foot in front the other and slow let people into my life. It is still very superficial though but I'll keep trying till my last breath. Jackjay - we have a lot in common and I pray that we can both find happiness in this world. All the best to you too.

I know this was written a long time ago, but I want you to know you are not alone in your having an isolated childhood. I did too. Mine was due to mental illness, alcoholism and abuse. It does effect your adult life, but in many ways, it is something of an advantage. I understand a lot more about people than most. I'm more forgiving and care more deeply for those who are marginalized or ignored.

Hi Lorsey - really appreciate your comment. As you say - my story was written a while ago and I'm really heartened to still keep getting comments. Yes I agree that it is an advantage to go through difficult experiences in childhood. It has also helped me to understand a lot about people. I think that is why I'm so interested in psychology. I've spent my life (and continue) to try to understand people and what makes them tick. It's a protective mechanism for me. But I realise that people cannot be understand by reading psychology magazines. I will follow your lead and look out for more vulnerable people. Like I said to a previous poster- Volunteering is the next step for me. I wish you well Lorsey and hope you are living and loving life.

you are incredibly strong.

i hear your resilience and self-worth, traits that have remarkably survived in you in spite of the very painful and difficult things you have shared here.

your anger -- understandable. it takes a village -- it really does -- and you instead have been the whole village for your sister while you needed support yourself.

funny, your having had three true friends may have actually been more than social/seemingly supported people have. you have quality, more than quantity.

i don't know how to do intimacy well, myself. sounds like you started to practice with your friends, in trusting more deeply. i hope you are well and at peace.

i found your story by searching for stories of people whose parents isolated them. it was helpful to read. i also have no relatives. my parents did the same thing of cutting off from people that they had falling outs with, friends and family.

i had no friends at school and no neighborhood connections, nothing. it's amazing to me i managed to make it through college, got a job, and functioned, to be honest. but then, i went into computers, so, like you, technology allows for some connection and healthy functioning. i'm back to not working after a major illness and several devastations. i literally have no one right now. it's spooky how alone i am, how lonely and isolated, too, desperate to connect in real life and scared to.

how did you meet and make your real life friendships??

your story also showed me how to heal. you are grateful for your dad, and you have let go of the aspects related to your mom that you mentioned. i still grieve the past.

thank you very much for sharing.

Hi Thea12345 - thanks for comment and I really hope you get to read this seeing as it is a while since you posted. I'm really sorry to hear about what you are going through right now. I am going through a condition right now which may or may not lead to me having an operation (hopefully not) but watch this space.

In terms of intimacy and friendship - since I last wrote - I have to say I'm still pretty distant from people. I have someone I sit next to at work that I chat to but I don't trust her enough to initiate a deeper friendship. I don't have the three friends I mentioned in my story - its really now down to 2 friends - I see occasionally. But I'm trying to reach out. So all I would say to you is to keep trying to reach out.

As difficult as it may be - understand that human being are essentially flawed. We are all flawed. But there are some truly great people out there - however you need to go to them. Trying joining sites like meetup or your local church or volunteer. Volunteering is great for healing loneliness. It really is. It moves us away from the 'I' to the 'Us'. You mention technology so why don't you volunteer and help someone benefit from your amazing skills? Or start a blog about technology? The choices are limited Thea12345.

I am also alone to. My sister and all my family are in another country and I feel so alone and isolated and yet...I have hope. As for the past - perhaps you need to grieve it a little. That is a normal part of healing but ultimately you need to dedicate yourself to living the life that you deserve and that means letting go. You want to look back on your life and say, 'Yes I went through some hard times but I made it through. I survived'. That's what life is about. People will hurt and let you down but ultimately they can also enrich your life. Really hope this lifts you up and inspires you. Take care (wish you good health) and keep the faith.

My circumstances weren't like yours. However, I understand what it means to have a family that screws up your head for a better part of your life. I've been to a Psychotherapist for the better part of thirty years. But they never intended that to happen and basically they are all good people. Counselling has been the one thing to help me keep my head on straight. Your not in this boat alone. Maybe it's because the flaws and imperfections in our own lives end up being passed down thru the generations.

Wow thanks so much for your comment ALincoln5. I wrote this so long ago but its great to still get some fantastic comments. I started counselling back in 2010 then stopped because I wasn't keen on the counsellor. This year I've decided to go back to it (a month ago). This time, no matter how I feel (even if I need to go to a 100 counsellors) I won't give up. I agree with you about family not intending to screw you up. You're right. I really have a better understanding now (being older). I don't blame my parents. But I'm focused on trying to help myself live a happier life. It happened and now it's up to me to keep striving. I'm happy counselling has helped you. Wish you well and thanks again.

Thank you

Christ is the only one that can fix us. He mends our broken hearts. All we have to do is believe in Him. Turn to Him, ask Him to save you and He will. He will make you a new person. It is life changing.

He died for us, He shed His blood for us, to save us from all that we've done... all of our sins. He bled for us and suffered that we might be forgiven, and then He rose from the dead. He said all we have to do is believe in Him and we can be forgiven and have a new life in Him. He changes us. It's real and it's life changing.

Pray to Him and ask Him to save you.... something like "God in Heaven, I come to you in the name of Jesus. I know I'm a sinner and I'm sorry for my sins and the life that I've lived. I need your forgiveness. I believe that Jesus shed His blood on the cross and died for my sins. Please come into my life and make me a new person. Please save me"

If you said the above prayer and meant it with all your heart then He will save you :)

Romans 10:9: "...if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved"

I love these scriptures.....

Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid"

Thankyou and Amen.

Hello theself, missczh, mermaid16 - just wanted to thank you for your recent comments. I am living each day as promised and surviving. As I get older (I first wrote this over 4 years ago) - my acceptance of the family members and the cards I have been dealt seems to have increased. I'm grateful they are all alive and healthy. I am still closest to my sister though and as for friendships...well those have fallen by the wayside. Trust issues are still a biggie for me. Some days I am just happy to be alive, healthy and have some family - other days (which is similar to what missczh said) - I wonder what I would be like if I had a big extended family and stronger social skills. But then I go back to being alive; healthy. Hope you are all doing the same - remembering you all are lucky to be alive. That is what matters in the end. Make the most off it. Take each day at time and use whatever you can to cushion you (could be kids, work, art, writing, sport or prayer). We all born into different family circumstances, gifts and challenges. Let's use what we get (whatever that may be) and turn it into our own paradise on earth. Let's make it into something positive. Peace and Love. Angelgenie

Thanks for your comment, I have realised something today, my ex who broke my heart never understood why i didnt talk to my family and i always thought that unless you have lived through it you will never understand. It got me thinking about what I want for any kids that i might have. So I cant be upset with him for having the family support and friends there for him all the time, I can however be upset with the way he has treated these people and how he takes them for granted.

I havent quite found what my cushion is yet, im still trying to work things out but like you said you only get one life and have to make the most of it.

It's very sad to hear your story. Things i went through weren't as bad. However, it was some kind of isolation and I think it does contribute to my problem now as an 23 years old adult. I'm on my way to find out more about my situation and trying to fix it. Life is short, make it a positive life and always keep your head's up.
Good luck everyone!

I can relate, Ii feel for you. I feel like my mother isolated us from everyone around us, I recently found out that we used to play with our cousins quite regularly, but my mum had a falling out and stopped us seeing them altogether.. <br />
<br />
I feel like I havent been given the correct skills to get me through life either, low self esteem and not having the courage and confidence to meet the right kind of people to help you through life is very hard.<br />
<br />
i dont speak to any of my family apart from my sister, but even that is tough.. there are so many bad memories and heartache from our family.. i cant even imagine what my life would be like if i had had a different family.. my ex, i loved with all my heart and i think i do this because i put all my effort into partners as i dont have any love for family.. and his family made me realise that you can have good, loyal families and i only hope that in the future I can have that..<br />
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Family problems can eat you up, and not everyone gets them.. but i'm at the stage in my life that i am really trying to put everything behind me, like you said we only have one shot at life and there's no room for regrets.. i have thought about getting in touch with some of my family, but im not sure, none of them have made the effort to get in touch with me.. <br />
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Anyway, some people are lucky enough to have the support of a good family, but others like us have to work everything out for ourselves..

Beautifully written, I hope you are also persistant with following your motto that you have only one life, sometimes hard to fully grasp but attainable with persistence.

I grew up with 2 parents, but they isolated us as well. Like you, we didn't have any outside interaction other than school. We didn't play with neighbor kids like I've heard others tell me they did growing up. In fact, I didn't interact with other children until I was 6 years old and started school. I watched a lot of TV as a kid as did my sister, but she read a lot as well. I also spent a lot of my days playing with toys in my room, sometimes trying to play with my sister, but we didn't get along because she was always "my way or the highway."<br />
We also switched schools a lot. For my sister, she never had any problems as she was always able to fit right in while I often got bullied with my parents blaming me for it because she didn't have those problems. I sometimes wonder if it was easier for her because she was a girl and suggested that made it even worse because our parents wanted me to emulate her more and often made comments about how girls were better than boys.<br />
The few friends I did make in school, always seemed to gravitate towards her and often pushed me aside. I actually gave up trying to have friends at one point because I knew she'd steal them anyway. I thought she should have her friends and I should have mine, but she didn't like the idea of me having anything for myself as she thought everything was about her and our parents didn't try to curtail that. They were often concerned about her self esteem, but cared nothing about mine.<br />
I've pretty much cut myself off from my family, and am better for it.

Hello - Sorry to hear about what happened when you were growing up. Yes it does seem very similar to my upbringing. It can definately affect children in different ways. You with your sister getting through it and you struggling. Sometimes you have to distance yourself from people (even family) to figure things out and to try to piece together what's left. I still have some family ties but I have been trying to build a life for myself through siginificant geographical distance from my family. It hasn't been easy but necessary. I hope and pray that someday we can both fully reconnect to their families with a stronger sense of self. I hope and pray we both find contentment and forgiveness.

Thanks for your comments. You're right. It is only with my own family that I can right the wrongs. I just need to trust in myself and take the plunge. All the best to you. Angelgenie.

Don't ever blame the old man in anyway, your mum caused it all and the love your dad has for you made him guard you guys like eggs and hoping that sooner as you grow up you would choose your own lives. Its better you grew up under the wings of a loving and supportive dad who made sure you got education and a better live than becoming drop outs and unloved. You have to learn a lesson now from your family and fall in love with your own man to marry and raise wonderful kids with. If you don't marry and have kids, then tell me how you would correct whatever wrongs you think your dad did to you and your siblings ? HAVE YOR OWN FAMILY AND BE TO YOUR KIDS WHAT YOUR MUM COULD NOT BE TO YOU....CHHEERS.

I agree with orangelover91. Your dad was doing the best he knew how, not knowing at the time he was hurting you. In his mind I'm sure he thought he had to be super-dad because he was doing it alone. I'm afraid i may have done the same thing to my older children, I just didn't want them to ever get hurt, I wanted to protect them with every ounce of engery God would allow. They tell me now (they are 24 and 27) that they couldn't even cross the street to go after their ball until they were 13. We that's kinda true, we lived on a busy highway and i would go stand at the edge of the road and watch while the got anyway, I have a 9 year old daughter now and after reading your story i think i will give her a little more freedom.. (maybe she can go to the mailbox by herself). No really, you seem like a very strong young lady and I think you will do fine. Just forgive him, I know it's hard, I still have a lot of forgiveness to give myself, and i need alot of forgiving. Best wishes to you always!

Thanks for your comment. I wrote this over a year or 2 ago and it's great to read a comment like yours. It feels wonderful to know that I have helped you to consider giving your kids a little more freedom. However as difficult as life has been because of my father's choices, at almost the age of 34, I am beginning to see why he did it. I'm not a parent but I imagine it's a really hard job!! Perhaps I will truly never understand until I become a parent myself. Best wishes to you too!!!

Thank you for sharing your story and it strikes a chord with me. My father was overprotective to the point of hindering my life. As cheesy as it sounds, I can honestly say that the only thing that helped me out of this pain was turning to Christ and letting Him be my Comfort...I know where you're coming from and you are incredibly strong from pushing on...keep going, you're winning!

Thanks Justulord. Sorry I haven't responded sooner. I decided to read this story I wrote over year ago and couldn't believe how many amazing comments I received. I agree with you about Christ. I'm letting him in more everyday. All the best to you!

your story means a lot to me as i am currently in a similar situation with my parents. you are setting a good example by reminding us to keep going and not dwell on the past. i will always try to do that

Thanks kitty993. Thanks so much for your comments. It feels great to know that I am not alone. I do still dwell on the past sometimes but I try everyday not to. That's all we can do. Our best. Hope you are having a great day. Best wishes!!

your story means a lot to me as i am currently in a similar situation with my parents. you are setting a good example by reminding us to keep going and not dwell on the past.

Thanks for sharing your story...I can truly relate. You must not dwell on the past, instead you must focus on your own life and do what makes you happy now. Although the scars will always be there as a reminder of our past, we can now choose to see them as having survived the torturous years of our lives.<br />
Best of luck to you and God Bless!

Thanks bagzy. I agree. The past can truly turn you into stone and freeze you in the past. Therefore stopping you from moving forward. I have gone through a long period of going over the past and overanalysing it all. But it shouldn't stop any of us from living our best life. All the best and God bless you.

hmmm.. **** happens... like nike... get over it

I agree. Short and sweet. Thanks for your comment

If I were you, I would just remain determined to live a full life. Be strong and be courageous. The world is your oyster. Strict parents are very common in single parent famillies. After my parents divorced my mother became very strict and restricted who can come to the house, where we could go, and what we could wear. However, looking back on it my mom just wanted to protect me. She may have done it too much but she had good intentions. Just understand that your dad probably just wanted to protect you . The best thing to do at this point is just to move on and live your life.

I am moving on orangelover91. Well since I wrote this - I am trying everyday. Like everyone I have good and bad days. But I'm still here and so is everyone else. Life must go on. Thanks so much for comment. It means a lot. All the best!

thanks for sharing and speaking out... having dysfunctional parents can do a number on your mental health. good luck to you and your siblings on your journey.

Thanks endorphine 18. Much love to you!!! Bless you.

thank you for sharing your story, it is critical to continue to tell your story. By paint brush, by words or actions it is so helpful to let it out.

Thanks redefine. I wrote this story a while back but the journey continues. Best wishes

your determination is over-whelming to me. i know how a dysfunctional family can affect growing children. i know that even though you think that you are an adult and living your own life, the thought of not having a perfect childhood keeps haunting you. all i can say is that you have made this far...anybody else in your place might have given up. though you can never repair your childhood, i hope you make your life now as fulfilling and peaceful as you can try. good luck.

Merci Madamoiselle. Thanks so much. With prayer, action and hope, I am trying to make my life fulfilling and peaceful. Best Wishes!!