28 Dec

I’m looking for a
Home- where the wheels are turning
Home- why I keep returning
Home- where my world is breaking in two. Brian Eno & David Byrne, “Home”

The house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace…the house is a large cradle…it maintains him [sic] through the storms of the heavens and those of life. Gaston Bachelard, “The Poetics of Space”

Because it’s Xmas I’ve been thinking about home, and the devastating effects of not having one.

Homelessness takes several forms. There’s hard-core dispossession, when people literally have no roof over their heads and live on the streets. Sometimes they find a bed at a shelter for a few nights. There’s couch surfing homelessness when people move round friends and relatives’ homes in an effort to stay off the streets. There are families and single people living in cars.

There’s the homelessness of asylum seekers, dislodged from their belonging by circumstances outside of their control, seeking somewhere on earth where they can safely settle.

Then there’s living in places where you just don’t belong, such as institutions, where you are only there because you have no choice. That was my kind of homelessness from the age of fifteen.

My kind of homelessness was middle class. I had a roof over my head. The roof was that of the boarding school I’d been attending. The family I’d lived in up to that point consisted of my mother, her second husband, my stepfather, and my two little half sisters. My mother married her second husband when I was seven, and he brought us to Australia from England.

Up to that point I’d been raised by my grandparents in what seems now an almost idyllic situation. We were cash strapped – Granddad was a retired coal miner, and working as a night watchman at the gasworks. I was much-loved by him and Eleanor, my grandmother, even though they’d raised three children of their own. We had food, clothes, shelter, entertainment, and Granddad’s corgi dog. I had an uncle, and an aunt who kindly painted my tiny toenails for me by the kitchen fire when she was attending to her own. I idolized my uncle. I was safe, treasured, and kindly disciplined. I had what every child needs – a bevy of adults to take a loving interest in her. There was always someone to listen, and there was always someone to play with.  It worked for the adults as well: nobody was overburdened with sole responsibility for my well-being.

I hardly remember my mother during this time. She lived in the same house but must have been largely absent from my child’s world, as the impression she left was negligible. It didn’t matter.

It must therefore have been a great shock to me to be wrenched from that cosy world into the uncertain future offered by my stepfather and mother, both of whom were practically strangers to me, and transported to the other side of the world. Such a shock that to this day I have absolutely no memory of the parting. While she was alive, my grandmother revisited this trauma endlessly whenever we saw each other, which was rarely as we were now worlds apart, in every possible way.

My mother made an upwardly mobile marriage – her second husband was a doctor. Her first, my father, to whom she was married till I was three months old, played drums in a band. I know almost nothing about this man.I did go through a period of trying to find out, without success, and eventually I thought what the hell, the man obviously didn’t care about me and do I really want to find someone who didn’t care about me? No, I decided, and finally let it go.

The marriage took my mother out of the North Yorkshire mining town and working-class culture she loathed, to a new country and the rich possibilities of middle class professional life.

Unfortunately, her new husband was violent, abusive in every way possible, and had an eye for her seven-year old daughter. Suffice to say the next seven years of my life were a kind of hell into which I felt I had fallen through some fault of my own. Children do this. They assume responsibility for the most enormous adult events and if no one tells them otherwise, they labour under the burden for years.

The contrast between those seven years and the seven that preceded them was absolute.

At the age of almost fifteen, I revealed to one of the nuns at my Anglican boarding school just exactly what was going on in my home. Astonishingly, these intelligent, compassionate women believed me. I’d explained for them their bewilderment at my lack of scholastic progress when I clearly wasn’t stupid, my inability to sleep, my habit when I did sleep of walking and falling down the stairs, my inability to eat and thus to thrive, and my constant illnesses. Within days they had taken action. They consulted the Bishop, the Dean, and their lawyers. They summoned my mother and stepfather to the school, having first hidden me in a safe house so neither of them could see me. Lawyers, nuns, the Bishop and Dean confronted my parents, who made no attempt to deny my account of events in our house.

A deal was done. I was to be handed over to the guardianship of the nuns. I was never to go home again. My mother would be allowed to visit with me, but my stepfather must agree to never attempt to see me again, otherwise they would call in the police.

I was safe.

I was ambivalent about these arrangements. My family was appalling, at the same time it was the only one I had. My home was a place of great danger, at the same time, it was the only one I had.  I was relieved and grateful to have been rescued, but at the same time, I had no home. A boarding school is not a home, no matter how kind they are to you. I was supposed to go to various friends’ homes for holidays, which I did for a while, until the mortification of being unable to reciprocate their hospitality became too much for me. I would hide on the last day of school, and not reveal myself until they’d all gone. Then I’d be allowed to stay with the nuns in the great big empty boarding house, until term started again.

The nuns were good to me. They were beyond good to me. They did everything they could to make up for my losses. I wasn’t always grateful. When I played the piano in a competition where everyone else’s mothers and fathers showed up to support and admire, I wept after my performance that the nuns who’d come with me weren’t my parents, and I was the only girl there without anyone. My final act of ingratitude was to repudiate their religion.

The humiliation of living as an emotional beggar in an atmosphere of comfortable middle class families stayed with me for years. It will probably never entirely leave me. Where I live, though I’ve been here for years, still feels disturbingly temporary. Every time I try to think of it as home, I baulk.I can’t go there. Such is the power of a word. I don’t believe I won’t lose  home again, and a real home is not supposed to be a thing you can lose.  No amount of rational thinking and concrete experience convinces me otherwise. I remain, on this topic, seven years old, and dumbfounded at the turn my fortunes have taken literally overnight.

The legacies of that time have been many and I’d be hard pressed to decide which was the worst. However, this is a piece about home, so I’ll focus on that one. I have never been able to get my head around the concept of home. It’s not about bricks and mortar. It’s a magical name for a yearned for and unattainable state, full of meaning, feeling and emotion that I’m unable to let myself experience. Why? Because first I’d have to rage and grieve over having home snatched out from under me all those years ago, and that’s a dark place I can only very infrequently visit. To survive I’ve held those feelings at bay. I hop over them as I hop over hot sand on a blistering summer day, never letting my feet settle long enough to suffer anything more than slight discomfort. And only when I’ve forgotten my thongs.

The price I pay for acquiring these skills of avoidance and denial is never being able to feel I’m at home, or even that I have a home. The pay off is survival. We’re urged to confront that which disturbed us, rather than allowing it to fester and thrive and taint our daily lives.  While that is necessary, timing is all. Premature confrontation brings down the defenses that have been our friends, and allowed us function in the world. After all these years, my instinct tells me it’s time to let them go, and I couldn’t have done it a moment sooner.

For our house is our corner of the world, Bachelard writes,…it is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word. 

What then, of the child whose cosmos consists of abuse and exploitation? What, then, of the child whose topoanalysis reveals primarily sites of torment and terror?

The truth for me is that I can’t let myself feel home in the present until I grieve for the loss of that first one. I can’t imagine doing that grieving, and surviving the experience. Emotional cowardice provokes childish, self-berating dialogue: I can’t do it! Yes you can, you have to! No I don’t, you can’t make me! Well, if you don’t you’ll stay homeless forever! I won’t! I will not! You can’t say that stuff to me!

In a more adult state I realise I have to lay these matters to rest. I don’t want to leave this life carrying so much ancient sorrow into whatever comes next, even into nothingness. I want to leave with the cleanest possible emotional slate, grievings grieved, angers soothed, losses accepted, insult and injuries forgiven, both those I inflicted and those I suffered, at peace, as much as is possible, with the hand I was dealt. I want to have used my potential for surviving that hand to my fullest extent, and I want to leave satisfied that I achieved that.

In other words, I want to go home.

So this is my New Year’s resolution. I will do whatever needs to be done to assuage the loss of home. And then, with any luck, I’ll be able to feel home again, as I did when I was born, as I did as a little girl, as I did till I was seven. I think this will not only make life better for me, I’ll probably be a more pleasant person all round, having relinquished one more source of post traumatic stress that shuts me off from others whom I care for, and who care for me. The misery buck has to stop somewhere in a family. Let it stop with me.

Heaven knows- what keeps mankind alive
Every hand- goes searching for its partner
In crime- under chairs and behind tables
Connecting- to places we have known

49 Responses to “Home”

  1. David Horton December 28, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    An astonishingly courageous piece Jen. I hope it helps you in your search and all who read it in their’s.


  2. Darrell December 28, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    Yes, another great piece of writing, ie. & or peice of Self-revelation.. Also with echoes of Richard Bach’s book ‘Running From Safety’.. about his going back as an adult to reaquaint himself with his former 9 year old child-Self..

    Meanwhile.. as I am habitually prone to do, I also decide to ask *the Sabian Oracle what the Universe wants to say to us all about all this talk of the idea of “home” & “family” etc.. at this time of year.. as I too, experienced a kind of ‘rejection, ie. a very real sense of absolute dissapproval that is.. ‘ for being who I am.. believing in such things as ‘astrology’.. And only after about a decade of in depth study & research into the whole subject.. experientially & otherwise.. No my experience is not quite as dramatic as ending up in a boarding house.. However, this all provokes the big question, what is life all about anyway then, in all its myriad different circumstances & trials etc etc.. Perhaps we are all born, with our own unique challenges we must face or work through in this life etc.. Buddhism 101 etc et al.. The Tibetan Buddhists also losing their “home”.. Anyway, back to the Oracle answer.. I got *21degAri..

    A BOXER IS ENTERING THE RING.. It may be time to fight, but it needs to be with dignity & regulation. There are rules to follow & it’s often others who will be the judge of the final outcome. Make sure you have the skills & training to have earned the right to defend what you believe. Remember that sometimes you need to back off if you’re not winning the contest. Is this a situation of attack or defence?

    Physical or psychological Self-assertion & determination. Being prepared to fight for one’s emotional, psychological or physical space..

    The Caution: Using power to dominate people or those who challenge you. Wanting to knock people out.

    An affirmation for this degree:
    My spiritual sporting blood is up! I am more than equal to this situation. Florence Scovel Shinn

    While here is astrologer Dane Rudhyar’s take on the same ‘symbol’..

    A PUGILIST ENTERS THE RING.. The release & glorification of Social aggressiveness.. Potency & the two-fold possibilities inherent in any release of power are seen operating at the Sociocultural & emotional level.. Mankind’s deeply rooted feeling of admiration & envy for whoever can generate OVERWHELMING POWER…

    **NB: Sabian Oracle used at http://www.sabiansymbols.com/page11bd.html?id=974 .. With added interpretation of this symbol from ‘An Astrological Mandala: The Cycle of Transformation & Its 360 Symbolic Phases’ by Dane Rudhyar…


    • Jennifer Wilson December 28, 2011 at 7:39 pm #

      I used to use the I Ching many moons ago, but haven’t looked it up for quite a while.
      Thank you for that reading – I know this can be a difficult time of the year for lots of people – a kind of madness descends, both good and bad, and the boxing metaphor is pretty accurate for negotiating family stuff!

      I really like the title of your blog. If you ever find out the answer, tell me. 🙂


      • Darrell December 29, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

        Thanks Jennifer… Now you have got me started on my latest blog titled ‘Christmas.. the Meaning of Home & Comet Lovejoy’.. Here is a preview…..

        Yes, well.. “Life,” the great mystery no doubt continues for all of us.. But of course that doesn’t mean we stop trying to find our own answers.. to the meaning of our own lives.. as well as that of life as a Whole.. Yes, I also use the ‘I-Ching’ occasionally.. along with various other divinatory ‘tools’.. like looking at my dreams & the ‘symbols’ they throw up.. along with what’s going on in my life at the time.. Yes, Carl Jung & all his exploring of life & its symbols etc.. & the strange journey of life etc et al.. Yes, what of ‘reincarnation’.. And the idea of the journey of the Soul from lifetime to lifetime.. astrology & its symbols has a way on uncannily picking up on these ‘themes’ we each seem to have, in relation to all this.. ie. via the Nth & Sth Nodes of the Moon.. in one’s birth chart.. Otherwise known in ancient times as the dragons tail & the dragons head.. With the Sth Node.. relating to our ‘past lives’.. ie. all the stuff, the good that bad & the ugly, so to speak.. while the Nth Node.. relates to our evolutionary future.. our Souls intended ‘growth direction’..

        And of course there is the whole idea of ‘good’ & ‘difficult’ karma etc.. Yes, where is our true ‘Home’ indeed.. we all may well ask.. According to many psychic mediums & Spiritual teachers thought the ages, this world, is not our ‘true’ home.. instead this is where we are all visiting for a kind of Earthly experience or playground.. for our Spiritual growth & development.. While it is the Spiritual World that is our true ‘home’ or place of origin.. Yes, & of course it is said that we come here to live out a loosely pre-arranged set of circumstances etc.. ie. Our earlier life.. parents & family etc.. But this it is up to us to also make choices about what we do with all that stuff.. once we are living in this kind of ‘play’ we have created for ourselves.. And so on & on it goes from lifetime to lifetime.. At least that is theory at least.. I’m sure many are familiar with this whole idea..

        And.. I myself went through the ‘death’ of my 4 month old son in mid-1995.. at the age of 30.. ie. my ‘Saturn-Return’.. And which resulted in the subsequent break-up of my marriage 2 weeks before Christmas later that year.. With this whole episode of my life sending me off on a kind of ‘Quest’.. ending up with of course my questioning all kinds of taken for granted assumptions about life……..


        • Jennifer Wilson December 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

          Darrell, I am so sorry that you lost your baby son. That would make me look for answers everywhere. What happens to us in this world seems inexplicable. I hope you find some comfort in your reading and searching. I agree with you that it is up to us to make what we can of the circumstances we find ourselves in, but at the same time, when they are very painful it’s hard to see clearly. It can takes years and years and then it only becomes clear in retrospect. Like another commenter advised me here, be patient and be good to yourself.


  3. Sam Jandwich December 28, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    My dear Jennifer,

    What kind of a strange world is this, where such good things can coexist with such bad things?

    One of the many many good things about your article is that you have shown just how much one person can do to take themselves from a position of adversity to one where the best of what life has to offer starts to coalesce and forcibly remove whatever it is that brought on that adversity to begin with. The effort you have put into this endeavour throughout your life is made very obvious through your writing, and of the endless amounts of things I could say, what I would like to say is that I think you are on the right track. I personally have found your writing over the last year a source of great inspiration. You have raised so many ideas that could be extremely valuable in helping to create a world where everybody is valued and respected regardless of who they are. And overwhelmingly I think that it is the effort that you have put into making sense of the set of circumstances that were directed your way (needless to say, through no fault of your own) that has allowed you to think in a way that is free from anything that might undermine its solidity. You have done the right thing.

    The world has changed dramatically over the last generation, and we are now getting better at respecting children for the precious, independent beings that they are. But stories like yours are still happenning in middle-class Australia, and throughout the world. This is a situation that we are all responsible for, and which won’t go away until can work more effectively to do something about it. Every time someone finds the courage to give as much of themselves as is required to tell their story, a small step is taken – but it is a step which also helps along those of of us who are in it for the long haul.

    So thank you, bless you, and I hope 2012 takes you to a more comfortable place.


    • Jennifer Wilson December 29, 2011 at 5:40 pm #

      Sam, you unfailingly get it, and for that, many many thanks.
      I think the fact that I was able to write this piece and then, thanks to reading DragOnista’s blog on fearlessness, was able to put it up, signifies progress. I have to tell you though, that I have for many years been lucky enough to experience times of great happiness, contentment and even bliss, in between the travails of PTSD. Those first seven years gave me everything I needed to survive the rest. I can hardly bear to think how even more difficult it is for those who don’t even have the benefit of such years but are born straight into horrors.


      • Sam Jandwich December 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

        Thanks for that link!

        “refusal to feel guilty for [an] act of self-preservation”. Mmmmmm, should be tatooed on the inside of everyone’s eyelids.


  4. gerard oosterman December 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Sometimes a new home is found in forgiveness. (but not always)


    • Jennifer Wilson December 29, 2011 at 5:46 pm #

      That’s lovely, Gerard, because it’s so honest. Sometimes but not always, is quite right.


  5. Jennifer Wilson December 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm #

    Thank you, DT. I wish you the very best also. I know everyone’s situation is unique. I hope there will be someone you don’t have to pretend with. Take care of yourself.


  6. Marilyn December 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    I have never had anywhere that I could call a home, I just have somewhere to live. I have been made homeless by my own parents 5 times before I turned 18, after that it really did become somewhere to hang my clothes and sleep.


    • Jennifer Wilson December 29, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

      That’s just what I mean – it’s somewhere to live, to keep your clothes and sleep. Home is something else altogether.


    • Di Pearton January 19, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

      I think that it is very difficult to forgive someone who does not acknowledge that they have done something wrong, and I don’t like the pressure that is sometimes placed on the victim to forgive. Some acts ARE unforgivable.


  7. Marilyn December 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm #

    Sometimes forgiveness is just not possible, like when my mother keeps accusing me of inciting my father to sexually abuse me when I was 7 and up till he raped me when I was 12 to show me how babies are made.


    • Sam Jandwich December 29, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

      Marilyn, you might remember that John Howard refused to make an apology to Aboriginal people because he didn’t think we people alive at the moment could be held responsib;e for what happened in times past. But I don’t, (and in fact I struggle to think of anyone I despise more) and for what it’s worth I’d like you to know that there is a cohort of people who give a shit, and who recognise, as I was saying before, that as a society we have a responsibility to ensure that kids, or anyone who is vulnerable, are treated respectfully. I think you have a right not to forgive not just those who were directly responsible for raping you, but also those who could have done something about it – which includes everyone. So please don’t feel compelled to forgive because from my perspective you have a lot to be angry about. As I think Gerard is saying, forgoveness is not always necessary.


    • Jennifer Wilson December 29, 2011 at 9:52 pm #

      Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to forgive. And if they do, insist that they tell you exactly what they mean by that word.


      • AJ December 30, 2011 at 9:52 am #

        Forgiveness allows moving on, It extremely difficult to do but you can gain some insight and emotional wholeness knowing you are bigger than what happened then and that your world view and awareness has expanded beyond what they were capable of. Forgive, but never forget or approve is my motto. It let me experience life on different terms but its not easy and not for everyone either


        • Jennifer Wilson December 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm #

          I think you make a vital point, AJ: Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or approving. IMO it’s something we do for our own well being so we can free ourselves. I don’t like the traditional Christian version of forgiveness, especially as expressed in the SA Truth and Reconciliation process, when victims were often made to feel they HAD to “forgive” their persecutors. This was like a re-traumatising process, and left many people in confusion and guilt. To me forgiveness is a very calm almost uneventful experience – I just reach a point where I choose not to expend any more energy on what has been done to me and by whom. It’s a process – it doesn’t all happen at once and forever.


  8. Marilyn December 30, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    My bitch sisters knew but refuse to accept, my school head master, my doctor, the Anglican priest and in fact it was the joke of the golf club that drove me out of town.


    • Jennifer Wilson December 30, 2011 at 6:24 am #

      In spite of all of them, and in spite of everything that happened to you, you never give up arguing for and supporting asylum seekers, and taking on hypocrisy and abuse when you see it. None of those people had that much strength of character, otherwise they would have helped you. Therefore, Marilyn, you won. Hands down.


  9. paul walter December 30, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    I agree with Jennifer’s comments re Jam, who made a point that never ceases to amaze me also, the sheer extremes that life throws up during its course. Jennifer’s point to Marilyn I was musing on before I even read it, that Marilyn and Jennifer survived first and foremost for not buying, or buying into, the lie.
    The classic intro for the Jane Eyre novel, where Jane refuses capitulation after being locked into the Red Room, an injustice imposed on her for accurately reading her own life’s realities and refusal of acceptance of the reasons for her abjection as “natural” offered by her snobbish, idiot foster family. For sticking to her guns she’s sent off to boarding school, but for having worked out the system a bit earlier than some her more naive school friends, she survives this, too.
    But this sort of resistance requires effort. In earlier times it would catch up even with smart ones like Charlotte Bronte. In our era physical survival is not so problematic as back then, at least for white people. As people get older they yearn for closure, having fought things out so strenuously earlier.
    Then it’s down to conscience- you did harm, or not.
    Eveyone does do things they regret, that they are responsible agents for. Its enough to carry the can for ones own mistakes, without having to wear it for others- what hope has a kid against the muscular power of an adult or an unjust system perpetrated by adults, as a sort of sly conspiracy?


    • Jennifer Wilson December 31, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      PW, have a happy new year. I hope you stay with Sheep into 2012 because I would miss you greatly if you left.


  10. Abigail Bray December 30, 2011 at 12:16 pm #

    peace 🙂


  11. paul walter December 30, 2011 at 2:58 pm #

    Amazing place, the Dales. You think you’ve visited Ireland or Scandinavia, yet also parts of the Adelaide hills round Angaston, or down on the Fleurieu, of all places. And the distances seems in infinite in some shots, but you know half a dozen big cities are going to be located within thirty of forty miles of some of it.


  12. Gruffbutt December 31, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    As I scan the vastness of the Internet and its squillions of sites, I try to revisit the worthy ones without giving a lot of thought as to what drives my choices.

    This article has made it a little clearer for me why your blog is a joy. Your writing is not only thoughtful, informative and insightful – all great things but not entirely rare online – but also generous.

    Sincere thanks for sharing this with a bunch of (sort of) strangers. And thanks to you too, Marilyn.

    I can’t know what it’s like to have gone through experiences like these, but I’ve heard similar experiences from female friends (no male friends forthcoming as yet – either we’re all lucky or keeping an eye on marketing and ultimate explosion, as DT says).

    I offer my grateful blathering as a contrast to your eloquent exposition, and offer best wishes in your quest. And I’m confident you’ll make huge inroads (many of them along delightful dales, I’m sure ;).

    Happy (but not mandatory) and – more importantly – contented New Year to all 🙂


    • Jennifer Wilson December 31, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

      And Happy New Year to you too, Gruffbutt. I count myself fortunate to have people such as yourself returning to the blog. I think we’re a pretty good bunch.


      • AJ January 1, 2012 at 10:19 am #

        We arent just “pretty good”, we are fabulous! 🙂

        Happy New Years to all contruibutors and thanks for the continually interesting read Jen


  13. Flaubert January 6, 2012 at 10:32 am #


    Thanks for your story. I too have a “thing” about home.

    Sitting on the side of the bath when I was eight, my mother applying her makeup while telling me she was leaving – leaving my father, but also leaving me.

    The following seven years were spent trailing in the wake of his alcoholism and gambling addiction, pauperism, ingratiating myself with “families” who would take me in for a while.

    But my adult life has been stable, almost in defiance of those crucial years that left such scarring.

    I found this Tibetan proverb years ago. It sits now, yellowing on the side of my fridge, but it hasn’t lost its truth:

    “Wherever you feel most comfortable, that is your home. Whoever shows you greatest kindness and comfort, they are your family.”


    • Jennifer Wilson January 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm #

      That is just lovely. I don’t know how my life would have been if it wasn’t for extraordinary friends.

      I’m glad you made a good life for yourself in spite of everything – I can’t say my adult life has been stable, but it does fell very rich and fortunate.


  14. Wellwisher January 22, 2012 at 7:09 am #

    You know Jennifer, it’s not that unusual to have little memory of your mother before 7 years old. Could you be reading too much significance into it? I have little memory of mine, and my own daughter has little memory of me or of anything much in those years. After my family moved from a place I particularly loved I still have memories of that place and my best friend but I’m convinced they are memories of memories if you know what I mean. I missed them terribly and I kept thinking about them and I think it kind of wore a groove in my memory so to speak.
    So I can’t help wondering how realistic it is that your mother was practically a stranger.
    Is it so wrong to marry for money when you’re talking about leaving the poverty from which you as a young child were completely shielded but for her as a single mother meant she had to live with her parents with no life of her own? None of us including you can assume that was the only reason for the marriage but if it made a difference or blinded her to any warning signs that sounds pretty normal. Anyhow, he was a doctor, smart enough to cover up if he wanted to and perhaps even targeted her as an easy victim because of her circumstances.
    It sounds as if she wasn’t forced to take you with her. She could have left you with her own parents. Perhaps she felt that their relationship with you was getting in the way of her own and saw the new set-up as a route to having a ‘normal’ family relationship with you. From your description here it was your grandmother who was traumatised at the separation.
    The very real problem, getting away form all the speculation, is that she didn’t stop this man abusing you. As a mother myself I find that an appalling and unimaginable breach of trust.
    On the other hand you’ve told a story of a young woman whose husband dumped her with a baby, whose parents had taken over to a large extent her own daughter, and who then found herself being abused in the very marriage she had hoped would allow her to escape the situation, in a strange country where she had no real or close friends and whose every contact came through that same abusive man. Perhaps she just caved in and collapsed inside.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 9:20 am #

      It is a very dangerous thing to make assumptions and judgments on another’s life. You don’t know me, you know only what I’ve revealed about my life and that is actually very little, and you don’t know any of the other people involved.

      I’m not sure what your motives are, but your comments are about your life experiences, and not mine.

      I did debate taking your comment down, because it is intrusive, and when I spoke abut my experiences I did not invite amateur analysis. However I don’t like to silence people on this blog.


      • AJ January 22, 2012 at 10:07 am #

        Hi Jen, I agree wholeheartedly with your suggestion. Although we are complimented that you chose to disclose your private life on this blog with the regulars, no one needs the kind of response you got, it wasnt a topic of political debate after all. Im sure no one would mind should you choose to delete the post in question.


        • Jennifer Wilson January 23, 2012 at 8:13 am #

          Thanks AJ. As I’ve put myself on the line about free speech, removing comments is like having teeth pulled!


      • Helvi January 22, 2012 at 10:46 am #

        I admire Jennifer for leaving Wellwisher’s post up; she is not attacking Jennifer, it’s just another person’s story…and maybe this person has been helped by Jen’s honesty.


        • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 1:54 pm #

          You are wonderful, Helvi. Gerard doesn’t know how lucky he is. 🙂


      • Wellwisher January 22, 2012 at 11:16 am #

        The thing about making assumptions and judgements on another’s life is what I was talking about too. I am sorry and my comments weren’t about your life experiences.


        • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 11:46 am #

          apology accepted. Thanks


        • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

          I guess my feelings towards family members aren’t assumptions because I know the whole story. I apologise for snapping at you. I hope you come back.


  15. ItsBouquet January 22, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Hope you don’t mind if I change my username here, Jennifer. (I seem to be collecting too many so am no longer “Flaubert”)

    I mentioned to you Nuala O’Faolain’s” bestselling memoir “Are You Somebody?” She was an Irish feminist, journalist, producer, etc who “inadvertently found herself writing a memoir after agreeing to pen an introduction for a collection of articles she’d written. It’s a tale of other times in another country, although a universal message shines through – the influence of her mother’s life and attitude – and the question of “passion” in a life. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it. You remind me of her….and she was a special person.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 11:46 am #

      Thank you. I think I’ve heard of this book. When things settle down a bit, I’ll find it.


  16. paul walter January 22, 2012 at 12:08 pm #

    Great point, Helvi.
    I thought it surreptitious and ad hominem, perhaps getting at an individual to get at their “line”.
    What a mundane soul this must be.


    • Jennifer Wilson January 22, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

      PW I have re thought my opinions on the Baird article. I agree with you. It’s written from the premise of MTR as victim. Thanks for provoking me to re consideration.


  17. Evelyn February 18, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    I hesitated to comment on this story as whatever I could add would seem banal and lacking.

    I read this courageous article with immense sadness, wanting to reach out and hug the ‘child’ you. The Tibetan saying posted above is pretty on the mark I think. Maybe what constitutes a home is just where you feel comfortable, safe and are surrounded by loved ones.

    Thank you for sharing a private experience with such honesty and thoughtfulness. That children can be subjected to these abuses still continues to shock me at my age, but shocked we should be to provide the impetus to ensure children are valued highly and individually and protected from these sorts of experiences. May all your wishes come true.



  1. In response to questions: disclosing where I’m coming from « No Place For Sheep - January 19, 2012

    […] fair enough to expect me to reveal my position. I actually sort of did that in this piece here  titled “Home” just a few days ago, but of course only the blogs regulars will know […]


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