Thursday, November 3, 2011

My Pandora's box... part 1

The saying "opening Pandora's box" gets thrown around a lot. It comes from the myth of Pandora, and the box that she was given by the gods and told to never open it. Pandora tried to tame her curiosity, but in the end she could not do it; she opened the box and all the illnesses and hardships that the gods had hidden in the box started coming out. Pandora was scared, evil spirits sprung from the box and she fiercely tried to close the box as fast as possible, enclosing the only thing remaining inside - Hope.

This is the story of the opening of my Pandora's box.

This isn't a pleasant story so it comes with a warning. If you have been abused -mentally, physically, sexually - there are details in this story that may trigger you. Read it with care.

I was  ambivalent about motherhood. My points of reference for parents were not shining ones that instil in you the confidence to go forth and multiply.  Instead I had a whole lot of things I knew I didn't want to do... and not a lot to fall back on in regards to how to do it right. So armed with my HOW NOT TO BE PARENT guide I became a mother.

My daughter was truly an angel. She fed like a champion, slept through from 6 weeks old, did everything the "books" said, was a coffee shop connoisseur by three weeks of age,  was so busy sleeping, or smiling, that my arms were often empty, or holding someone else's small person to give them some relief.

But with the birth of my daughter came the beginning of "postcards" from under the door of my Pandora's box. Postcards from my own childhood. Postcards from the place where I had very neatly folded down into tiny tiny pieces my life as a child... or to be more precise, from childhood until 23... stored and locked away so that I could re-invent myself into something - someone - shiny and new.

I kept slipping - sometimes kicking - those postcards back under that door. NO! was my usual internal response to these postcard moments. NO! That was then, this is now... the two aren't related, have nothing to do with each other, aren't connected, GO AWAY!

Then I had my son. I had no experience with little boys. I had a sister, no brothers. Maleness in fact alarmed and scared me. I didn't understand them.

The postcards came faster and my refusal to look at them or deal with them became frantic. I spiriled down into the abyss, where colour is washed out, almost non-exisitent. When you have no colour in your life, no light it feels like you are walking around in a fog, sounds, images, feelings are muted, or disappear completely.

When my son was 8 months old I went to the doctor. But I didn't tell her anything, other then I was tired, and cried a lot. I didn't divulge anything about my past, she didn't ask. I didn't offer. I was put on anti-depressants, and treated for Post Natal Depression.

It wasn't until nearly 3 years later that I began to realise that all the medication in the world wasn't going to stop the postcards. That, and the fact that I found out that I was going to have a baby sister. The man who I had all but deleted from my life was going to be a father again...

That was when my Pandora's box flung open, and the world that I had tried so hard to create shattered into a million tiny pieces.


  1. Oh Vicky..
    What can I say other than I hear and I feel... I knew before I read that I would feel like this..that your words would evoke these feelings... But it is better to feel pain than to be void.. an empty vessel.

    It is a rare gift to be able to paint pictures with words the way you do so well. I really need to paint a few of my own and slay some more demons. I haven't been able to write since I last blogged... and I miss it so much.

    Involuntarily went into lock down a while back. Funny, [NOT,] how the brain is able to slip into shutdown so easily when total sensory overload is imminent. What a terrible adaptive behavior we learnt as children to cope with trauma.

    I need to get my blog up to date...
    Look forward to your next installment. You inspire and give me hope.

    Take care. Love to M.

  2. These are such powerful words Vicky. Such powerful emotion. I don’t have a relationship with my biological father. We had something-carried-out-by-the-occassional-letter there for the years between when I was 30ish and last year but then I stood my ground and said no, I was not going to meet up with him. I was not going to take my children to see him. And he didn’t like it. So there have been no more letters. No skin off my nose, I am fine with him not being part of my life. I hope you will share more about your Pandora’s box at some point. It really is a most appropriate metaphor.


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