Overcoming Fear of Separation as a Child

Let a comment inspire you to a new post:

Answering Anna Cutteridge in the comments under her post on social anxiety:

I also like to be on my own. As I child I didn’t understand it and was exhausted after being forced to be in a group like a summer camp. After having retired I enjoy writing blogs and reading at lot. This gives me inspiration to share what I read/write and think with people in real-time.

REPSYCHLsays:It must’ve been quite confusing to go through that as a child. I’d be really interested to know how you overcame it or understood it better. I’m glad it inspires you to write more.

Lynæs 1956

I liked to play on my own. I imagined I had a cradle for my doll

Background

My twin-brother and I were born two months prematurely in the early 1950s. At that time it was believed that the staff at the children ward were more competent than the parents in all aspects of the lives of the small patients. That meant that our parents were asked to stay away. Our mother was allowed to deliver her milk to us but she was not involved in the care of us.

our first spring

When we were released home our mother managed very well in breast-feeding and bonding but she was left with fear of losing us so we were over-protected for the years to come. Our father was busy making money in a job he disliked and was away for many hours. We really didn’t know him very well and I never got a close relationship with him.

I had happy moments with family gatherings as a small child. When I was three years old we visited my aunt and uncle and her three sons who lived in the close neighborhood. One of my older cousins surprised me with a little doll house made out of a big match box. Complete with red and white checked curtains and miniature cardboard furniture. That feeling of being loved by family and to get a precious thing like that was unforgettable. Why don’t I still have it ?

 


 

I sometimes played with a girl in my neighborhood but mostly we were on our own at home with our loving mother. We were seven before we started school and I loved to listen to the teacher and doing my tasks.

As soon as the teaching was changed into group work or even on excursions I found myself in difficulties. Who should I be with and what should I decide to be engaged in? My twin-brother was more organized than I so he always knew about our home-work.

I was twenty years old before we were separated doing different studies and I found it difficult to find out about home-work and locations of the classes. More about this in the post To be Twins.


 

The worst part of it all was the horror of being away from home. My parents thought I was strong and happy and sent me and my brother on a Sunday School Summer Camp at a lovely area close to a beach. We were ten years old. Boys and girls had of course different dormitories and I went through a horror and death experience. I remember walking around never looking up. I somehow didn’t know anybody. At the morning meal I remember the sounds of the big spoons in sweet-smelling oatmeal in metal bowls and I couldn’t swallow anything.

 

 

The area of the summer-camp

I had stamped post-cards with me from home and though I couldn’t yet spell properly I wrote anyway.

I need to come home I am suffering terribly. Please come and get me home!

The adults at the camp saw my situation but wanted me to stay the two full weeks. I was allowed to be with a nurse who had her little office in case the children got hurt. Everything was totally meaningless for me.

They also let me dress as a princess and I should sit beside “Hans Christian Andersen” who would read fairy-tales aloud. Also that was empty and a waste of time.

My clothes were difficult to find in my big suitcase and I missed my mother so much at bed-sime.

Two things helped me to forget my tears. One was marching along at a path in a big group singing together and the other was when we were allowed to bathe in the sea. The pressure of not knowing what to do with myself was relieved for a short moment.

My parents didn’t know that I should have trained this situation by staying one night with a friend near by and then tried again for a few more days.

They came after one week the long way to take me home though my brother stayed as he was more at ease in the situation.


 

Changes were difficult. I was very sad leaving my primary school and found it hard to get new friends in my secondary school. At that time in my teenage years I still hated to sleep over somewhere. I have walked home long distances from parties after graduating to avoid staying for the night.

Another problem was that I couldn’t speak to more than one at a time. I had a deep fear of my father since I was thirteen. He had difficulties in relating to me in a natural way and after he had read my diary he confronted me by telling me that my mother would go to the hospital if she knew what I had written. She was everything to me so something died in me.

Home-sickness dominated my first years I lived on my own during my nursing-training. I knew I had to endure the emotional pain and grow up.

 

I never thought of visiting the hospital area where I trained to become a nurse. But this June I took the step to see the old buildings now mostly used for store-rooms and offices.

 

 Bispebjerg Hospital. The hospital in Copenhagen where I studied to become a nurse in the beginning of the 1970s

You ask how did I get over it?

I didn’t get over it while I was young. After I had graduated as a nurse I slowly understood that I couldn’t function well in chaotic ward situations with changing of staff and patients day and night.

Once I sat down and talked with a young girl who was going to be released from the ward. I discovered that I enjoyed so much to have her on my own and to create a dialog with only one person. As a teenager I had the same experience a few times being with a cousin that I admired a lot. She was fun, brave and very creative and I wanted to be like her.

I became aware that I had to find a kind of occupation that was more like these situations with one-to-one communication. Health Visitor became my path of work which I came to love due to the meetings with mothers one by one.

The awkward situations would re-appear like when as a child my class-room situation was loosened.

An example of that when we were asked to reorganize or move our offices in my later years as a health visitor. I would get this feeling that I would know what to do if I could do the changes alone but got confused by other people’s interference and endless talk.


 

Unfortunately my four children have suffered from me having difficulties in handling them all at the same time. When conflicts showed up it was hard for me to cope. I wanted peace so much that I was too hard on them or interfered without listening to what had gone wrong. To this day it’s easier for me to talk to them alone than to have them all at family gatherings.

Coping with being introvert

  • To acknowledge that I am like that and have the background I described
  • If possible plan ahead how often I can be in a group situation and for how long. At long family gatherings I go for a run while the rest sit in groups and talk for hours
  • I invite people one by one or just a couple at a time
  • I go on holiday with my husband or alone
  • Once we took a Bus holiday on the D-day theme with a historical company. I managed to find a few to talk to and got as much out of museums and beaches at Normandy
  • Writing posts on subjects like this one on my life helps me to be able to share my life experiences in more detail at a given situation
  • I take the chance to share opinions and my life experiences to people I have confidence in
  • I take chances to contact people online and share things with a few who seem trustworthy and interested in others. If some don’t respond I ask my self not to be disappointed
  • I write about what I see in nature and travels and museums because I want to remember and share the memories with people like you my fellow bloggers
  • It has helped me to look people straight into the eyes while speaking as I feel my self-respect is rising because of this. Looking down sends a signal of insecurity that will only hurt the relation.

 

#1 most important thing was for me to find faith in the Lord Jesus. My life zeroed down in my 22 year but He found me and saved me. I owe Him everything.

7 Comments »

  1. My heart aches for you as I read this. I had no confidence as a child and young adult. I enjoyed being alone but also had friends. My problem has been that I grew up as a ‘poor little rich girl.’ —wonderful schools, expensive areas, but then grew up to raise my children in a middle class way. They feel I made many mistakes, I didn’t know how to relate to their situations. I had periods of depression. It was as if I had grown up in a foreign country. They are better parents than I was, although maybe not. they have turned out all right, but I think sometimes they are “overprinting’ their children and not giving them enough freedom, But every generation faces different demands.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true what you say Paula that often our way of parenting is a reaction to what we missed ourselves in our childhood. I am so glad I have come to know you and your life story too

      Like

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