Annette’s Story

I was born in the 1960s in a relatively large town. My parents moved 6 months after I was born and continued to move frequently between this time and when I was about 6 years old due to my dads work. At one stage my dad worked away from home and we only saw him at weekends. Another time we lived with my paternal grandmother for approximately 18 months due to tight financial circumstances. I have an older brother and two younger brothers.. Both of my parents worked in the health care sector. I went to a small village primary school. I think the fact that my parents moved a lot in the first 6 years of my life meant that me and my brother grew up very close. It was great to have that relationship with him. It meant wherever I went I always had my closest friend with me. Whilst we were in primary school years we did everything together. Secondary school changes that somewhat but we stayed close as kids

I’m not sure there were particular events that made me feel loved by my parents more how they treated us in general throughout my childhood. I was always involved and included. I always knew the truth (age appropriately) when bad things were happening. My opinions and wishes mattered. This certainly made me feel like I mattered. From a young age I was also trusted. When I was younger it was maybe smaller inconsequential issues but as I got older I was given much more freedom but knew my parents were quietly watching from the bylines.

My mum had xrays on her back when she was in the early stages of pregnancy with my youngest brother, not knowing that she was pregnant. I was twelve at the time. My parents were told that the baby would most likely be deformed and that she should terminate the pregnancy. My parents told me and my brother all of this, they listened to our opinions and answered our questions as best that they could. They didn’t keep us away from difficulties in life they exposed us to them and showed us how to manage them. Everything was talked about. When they said to us that we could talk about anything with them if it was worrying us, they showed by example that this was ok to do.

My parents spent alot of time with me and my brothers and they seemed like they enjoyed this time with us. There were rituals and routines that could always be relied on. We always knew summer holidays from school were coming close as my mum started collecting all sorts of empty packaging and toilet roll middles etc and would spend hours with me in the summer making things with these packaging items. Also it created a great sense of anticipation weeks before the summer holidays. Getting in to bed with my parents on a Saturday morning was so exciting when I was little, dad used to sing and we would try and join in not always successfully. I look back now and realise it was just their way of not getting out of bed so early on a weekend morning but we loved it! Dad used to take us swimming every Sunday morning after Mass and he enjoyed it as much as we did. He enjoyed going swimming with us and would never miss it no matter what else was happening. We were a religious family and although in my early adult life I could take or leave religion, my beliefs are now a central part of me.

My parents gave me a lot of life skills that have allowed me to be happy. I think they helped me to be a relatively resilient child and adult. They taught me how to problem solve and look for solutions at difficult times, rather than become focused on the problem and difficulty. Most of this I think they did by modeling this behaviour. They never over reacted when things went wrong, whether this was me making a mistake or just being naughty, their reaction (in the main) was measured and reasonable. Im not saying they didn’t get cross, but discipline was fair and never aggressive. I felt they were in my corner,  having my parents in my corner made it  easier to be confident and happier as a child, I felt supported at all times even when I was wrong, they were still there for me.

At primary school I was bullied and it went on for about a year. I guess it stopped because I had an older brother in the school and my parents worked with the school. It just became too much of a hassle for her to keep bullying me so she moved on to someone else. We were a talking and sharing family. From as early as I remember we talked about everything.

Things got really tough in our family later when our parents separated. The impact was hardest because we had been such a close family. The initial impact might have been easier if we hadn’t had been so close but later I found myself drawing on the emotional resilience I had developed in my childhood to give me strength. I am still close to my family and really enjoy their company.

I work in a stressful management job where I have to deal with tough decisions on a daily basis. I problem solve everyday and operate on the principle that difficulties should be faced head on and solutions found. draw off my belief and faith in myself and in God which I know comes from my childhood.