The Bus journey
When I was in high school I used to get the bus to and from school every day. In the morning I was somewhere towards the middle/end of the route so had very little choice on where to sit.On the way home we would queue up, so the trick was to be close to the front of the queue so you could run up to the top deck of the bus and get the front, window seat.
I was rarely out in time to do this.
Until one day, I excitedly managed to get the prime seat.
As it happens, on this day the bus crashed into a milk lorry. The lorry crashed into the drivers corner of the bus, crushing him in with his steering wheel. This also happened to be the place where I was sitting on the top deck, just above the driver.
The side of the bus was squashed in on my leg.
As there were no obvious injuries, I was sent home.
My Mother’s response
The next day, when I got up and tried to put weight on that leg, I couldn’t. I crawled through to my mothers room, and for some reason she got mad at me. She thought I was putting it on.
I was reminded of this by a friend who had a fall and fractured her elbow. She has a massive bruise. I remember I had a massive bruise all over the top part of my leg, and it was incredibly painful to walk, but I still had to go to school. It took weeks for that injury to heal and even longer for me to be able to take the bus to school again.
The need to feel loveable
And as I remembered this story, I once more reflected on my relationship with my mother. I lived with my father and abusive stepmother until I was 9. Then I went to live with my mother and abusive stepfather.
When I told my mother I was being abused at 12 years old she got really cross with me and told me never to talk about it again.She then refused to show up to court for me 6 years ago when I took my abuser to court, resulting in him being found not guilty. I no longer talk to her because of this, but my memories of my childhood with her aren’t bad ones.
Before all the court case, I felt that we had a good relationship. We had to as she was disabled and in pain most of the time, so I was her carer. My older brother had run away from home when he was 16 so it was all on me.
I have fond memories of us hanging out together. I would have described her as loving and caring.
But more and more, as memories like this one come to mind, I realise there is something wrong.
My mother was self-centred. She would care for me, as long as it didn’t distract from her own needs. She always put herself first. It was inconvenient for me to have an injury from a bus. It was definitely inconvenient to her need to be cared for to act on me telling her about the abuse.
As a child, I couldn’t see any of this. I had a need to be loved and cared for.
A Genetic need to bond
We are genetically programmed to bond with our parents / carers. This is a primitive need. When a baby animal is born, if it doesn’t bond with it’s mother it will die. Whilst our brains have not evolved, they have adapted. Now it is important to be loved. This means that as we grow up we are always filtering events through “Am I loved more or less as a result of this?”. If you feel you are loved less, you try and do less of that behaviour. If you feel you are loved more, you try and do more of it.
That’s nice and easy if your behaviour can be linked easily.
I broke my mother’s favourite cup. She shouted at me. She loves me less because I broke her cup. I will be more careful with cups in the future
But what happens if there is no obvious link? If your mother gets cross at you because your leg is hurting too much to walk on? If you don’t understand what you have done wrong? You still need to learn. You still need to connect it to being loved. In the end, because there is no clear behaviour, you just try and do more to be loved, while always feeling like you are unloveable.
Because of my experiences with my father, stepmother, mother and stepfather I have always felt unloveable. It’s only after getting help from the founder of Cognitive Hypnotherapy that I got to the point where I could accept the love of my husband and my child.
The single biggest consistent theme that I deal with in clients is feeling there is something wrong with them, and that they are unloveable, because of this need to connect love and behaviour.
It’s not relevant, by the way, whether your childhood was good / bad /indifferent. We all are programmed to make these connections