Childhood Stories

I am collecting childhood stories from readers, so as to share them with others. All of the names have been changed to protect the anonymity of the writers, and some of the stories have been edited for grammar. If you would like to share your story, please feel free to add it in a comment on this page. By sharing our childhood stories we acknowledge and validate the world from whence we came, as well as make a commitment to our present-day to become healthier, stronger and better able to love ourselves.


When I was a kid, I was well loved. I received my fair share of hugs and kisses from both parents, ate well, laughed a lot, had an enormous loving family and for the most part, got along with my brothers. My mother was a quiet, loving, beautiful, tolerant woman who not only adored my father, but “believed” in him. She was the quintessential doting housewife, and loving, stay-at-home mother whose whole life revolved around the care of her family. My father, on the other hand, was hugely charismatic, funny, clever and talented. He taught himself how to play guitar, banjo, drums, harmonica, and even the violin all before the age of 18. He told amazing stories, was a fabulous, award-winning sale man, wrote his own music and could answer nearly every question on Jeopardy. Trouble is, he was an addict. And his addictions were so deep and so many that they got in the way of what might have been an average, normal life.

We moved 12 times in 14 years. Most of the houses we lived in were big and ostentatious—an odd phenomenon considering that my father never exactly held down a job. None were “ours.” All were attempts to dodge creditors or loan sharks, some of whom would find us anyway and show up at our front door with guns not-so-hidden in their jackets, telling my mother, “We know where you live.” I went to seven different schools in six different school districts, had virtually no friends until the eight grade and was a very poor student–I think at one point they considered me borderline “slow” and so, I was put in remedial reading, writing and math classes. On top of my father’s addiction to alcohol, he was bipolar, narcissistic, sociopathic and equally addicted to gambling, pornography and money. He was a chronic liar and invested in every get rich quick scheme you could imagine, including pyramids and swindly deals and even sold women’s edible underwear. My brothers and I credit our distaste for red and black licorice after eating boxes of it that had been left, unsold, in our garage. There were dirty magazines everywhere when I was growing up, so I became very well acquainted with adult interests from the age of five–which ultimately later in life could have confused me about love and relationships. Finally, there is even a story told–to be believed or not–that I was kidnapped for ransom to pay back a bad debt. My life was hugely unstable, chaotic, unpredictable, and unsafe, and more than anything, my mother sent us the message (me, in particular, the only daughter) that it is perfectly acceptable to love and remain with a crazy person who’s capable of putting his entire family in danger. So, while love was indeed present in our lives, and we did have loads of “fun,” there were some pretty severe mixed messages. Bottom line: I was raised by a pack of wolves. Or, more precisely, by two avoidants, one of whom was also an addict.



I grew up in a very loving household. But could tell from a very young age my dad was a selfish person. He used to hit my mum in their room; we could hear it happening and hear mum crying but she would always tell us nothing happened and everything was fine. This was so confusing to me. Dad was in a band and used to come home late at night and never give mum much respect or attention but we kind of worshipped him and would be excited when he got home.

I grew up thinking that the man ruled the house and could do whatever he wanted and the woman was there to please him. Dad cheated on mum and she argued with him about it. And so, he packed his bags in the middle of the night and left. I watched him leave. Mum was distraught and cried every night. I didn’t know what to do to comfort her even though I tried. Nothing ever seemed to make her happy.

Mum became a different, colder person after dad left. Dad didn’t look after us financially but, instead took care of his new family. We struggled while they seemed to have everything. I still get triggered if I meet someone who is funny about money or not financially stable. Mum, meanwhile,  lived her life through us. If we weren’t succeeding she would be extremely upset. There was a lot of guilt inside me if I didn’t lead my life the way I thought she wanted me to. And it still triggers me when I do something (like be single) that she doesn’t agree with or want me to do.



I am the middle child of three and the only girl; I think this is an important point to note as it often determines the roles that we take on when things go wrong. When I was six my father left my mother (or she threw him out depending on the story) and moved out of the family home. I was devastated. My Mum suffers from serious mental illness and although she never hit or abused us physically and we always had food on the table, her moods were very unpredictable and you never knew what you would wake up to. The atmosphere in the house was very tense and this was magnified by my elder brother and my mum who fought continually. I was the peacekeeper in the family. Trying to keep a sense of calm. If something went wrong and my Mum demanded to know who it was I would say it was me so that she wouldn’t be angry anymore (even though it usually wasn’t me!). Anyway, my brother eventually left home to move in with my Dad and today he no longer speaks with her. And although I wanted to go with and live with my father as well, my loyalty to my mother (because however young I was I knew she was ill) kept me where I was. This sense of loyalty remains today even though I find it very difficult to spend a lot of time in her company.

My father is the sense of calm in the family. The ying to my mother’s yang. When my home life got too bad I would sneak out of the house and go and spend some time with him (I had to lie as she would get very upset if she knew I was visiting him out of the agreed court time). He would ask if everything was ok at home and I would say yes. I didn’t want him to know what really went on. Should he have pushed a bit more knowing what she was like?? In hindsight probably yes, and therapists have told me over the years that he effectively abandoned us, leaving me and my brothers with someone who was mentally unstable. They said he should have fought more for full parental custody. And although I have disagreed with them as I love my Dad very much, I do know that my childhood has affected me and it is something I have had to come to terms with over the past eight years.

Once my elder brother moved out I took on a much more of an adult role to my younger brother. I had to do a lot more around the house, a lot more peacekeeping and I kept a lot of things hidden from the outside world. My “escape” as a teenager was to sit in my bedroom reading romance novels, sometimes two a night. Reading over and over again how love was difficult and a struggle but the man always came to the rescue of the woman in the end and everything always had a happy Hollywood ending. This helped me forget what was happening at home and made me hopeful for when a man came into my life. My first instance of loving someone from a far [torchbearing?] was when I was about 13, just after my brother moved out. Was I trying to further escape what was happening by replacing him and focusing on someone else?? You can’t help but think so when you look at the timeline. This “fantasy love” lasted four years, even though he only ever once said Hello to me.



My parents were divorced by the time I was one , and I was an only child. My dad was an alcoholic, my mom a narcissist. I never felt a bond with my mom and felt that she never really liked me. If I didn’t act the way she thought I should, I would get the silent treatment, and she could go for weeks completely ignoring my existence. When I was five, that’s when I started spending every other weekend at my dad’s where he lived with my step mom and her two kids. My step mom verbally abused me as she frequently raged at all three of us and she physically abused her own. It was a very chaotic household and continued to get worse until my dad died when I was 23.

At my mom’s, life was different, she re-married when I was 11 and had my baby sister when I was 13. Before then it was just her and I– a very silent and cold place to be. I fell in love with my sister the moment I laid eyes on her. At 13, I was already sneaking out of the house, smoking cigarrettes and marijuana, and refused to do anything my mom said to do. My sister’s birth and my relationship with her kept me from really going off the deep end. Yet, I felt lonely, worthless, ugly and unwanted. I was fearful most of the time as living with either parent was never predictable. A family member began to sexually abuse me at age 10, and my self-esteem plummeted. I bounced from house to house until my dad finally drew the line and made me stay with him until I was 18.

I did listen to my dad and felt he hung the moon in the sky. Though, I always felt second to him and wanted to be first. I was fighting with alcohol to get his attention. I felt I deserved it, as I was his only child. This began my love and relationship addiction, which was the foundation for all of the others. There’s a hunger for love inside of me that never really goes away. My addiction has taken me to places I never thought I would go, do things I never imagined I would do, and am working on forgiving myself for the things I did for love. My dad died when I was 23, my baby sister when I was 34. I am a single parent and have been married and divorced twice. I ended up extremely depressed, homeless, addicted to drugs and the men that did them. I had been beaten, broken, and almost gave up. I’m now three years and 38 days in recovery and my love and relationship addiction is the hardest one. I’m aware that IT is what I’ve been feeding for many years. I’m just beginning to understand it and this site has helped me a lot. I have struggled with panic attacks since I was 10; today they aren’t as debilitating. I was so unaware of the coping mechanims I naturally did as a child to protect myself. They had become serious issues as an adult.



I was the fourth child born to my father. The second to my mother. My father had been married to another woman before he married my mother, and had my first three half-siblings with her.

My father was the pastor of a small church. The way he was at church was not how he was at home. He was a complete narcissist. People “loved” him, but he was usually not nice at home. All of us kids, and my mother were basically ignored. It was all about my Dad and his world of being “worshipped” by his “followers.”

My memories of my mother were that she was very stressed out, trying to please and keep my father happy, which was impossible. We all had to look good and be good to please him. What was actually happening at home was completely opposite than what happened at church.  He was usually mean and controlling, but at church super charming and charismatic.

When I was 10 years old my father took my mother on a fishing trip out on a lake in a small boat. She never returned from that trip. She drowned. He claimed she fell overboard and claimed he couldn’t find her. There were no witnesses and since this was the early 70’s and it was a small town, there wasn’t much of an investigation.  And, because my mother’s death was never investigated,  my father was never held accountable.

As an adult, after my father died, I researched what all happened and so did my older brother. We discovered my dad had been having many affairs with many women leading up to my mother’s death. I have spoken to one of the women who, at the time of my mother’s death, was only 18 years old.  She too was afraid of my father and to tell anyone about their affair.

We moved the next year to another town and he was pastor of another church. He remarried when I was 15 and continued to ignore me and my other siblings. He was caught up in his world of being “Mr. Wonderful Pastor” and also trying to keep his new wife happy.  His new wife was only nine years older than me.  She was horrible to me and my little sister and very abusive.  When I was in 10th grade (15 years old), I was sexually assaulted by the principal of the high school I attended. This happened repeatedly until I graduated at the age of 18. I was afraid of this man, but also confused. He told me he loved me, but he also controlled me and threatened me if I told anyone what was going on. Most of the abuse happened while I was babysitting for him and his wife, on rides to and from babysitting.

I finally left and went off to college. I was pretty messed up, as you can imagine. Lots of trauma in my life that has contributed to a lot of my problems now. I turned to addictions for comfort as a kid.  I see that now, and I’m working to understand myself and break free.  And while I’m finally coming to terms with some of what happened, it’s still a long journey.


Marie Carmen

I was one of two girls in my family. My mum married an alcoholic. I think he hated me for not being a boy. My Mum was always very busy studying, so our dad would pick us up on weekends and we’d stay there. I was a depressed teenager, was abused by my uncles, and emotionally abused by my narcissist, egocentric stepdad. At one point, even my mum started drinking. Suffice to say, we did have a nice granny who loved us. But eventually things got so bad, I ran away and remained in a different country for 10 years. I am now single with two kids, and was able to get away from a man I married who gambled, lied and abused me.  I am trying to rebuild life for me and my kids. But, after another two failed relationships, it’s not going well.  Today, I hate men.

6 thoughts on “Childhood Stories

  1. I am a recovering alcoholic and a love addict. My parents separated when I was 5, mainly due to my father’s drinking and absences. I am the eldest of 3 children and I have a younger brother and sister. My sister is 2 years younger than me and my brother is 4 years younger.

    When my parents split up my mother took us to live in the European country of her birth. She worked full-time and my siblings and I were mainly cared for by au-pairs. At that age I adored my Daddy and it was a huge wrench moving away from him. My mother has always been a workaholic and these days I realise she has a text book avoidant attachment style. I always felt lonely, ignored by her and desperate for scraps of her attention.

    We returned home from Europe after 1 year and my parents reconciled briefly. Around this time my sister and I were sexually molested by the teenage boyfriend of our babysitter. It took a long for us to tell our mother (my parents had parted again) and I’m not sure that she ever believed we were telling the truth. A police complaint was never laid.

    When I was 7, my father left to live in the United Kingdom permanently and we only ever saw him for 1 or 2 week periods each year, when we would holiday with him there or he would visit us. My father, who was a heavy drinker, re-partnered with a woman who was also European like my mother, but also severely alcoholic. She didn’t have any children of her own and was very jealous of us taking Dad’s attention away from her and she could be very verbally abusive to us when she was drunk.

    After my Dad left, we struggled financially as he was only paying minimum child support. My mother was preoccupied with providing for us and at one stage was working 2 jobs and finishing Grad school. We would only see her just before our bedtime. Our main babysitter was our next door neighbour’s daughter, who was only 4 years older than me. I always felt that my siblings and I were a big burden to my Mum and I felt guilty too as we were constantly reminded to be grateful for all the things she was doing for us. When my mother met my step-father around this time, it diverted what little attention she had for us, towards him. They used to spend hours analysing my Mum’s divorce and talking about what a bastard my father was. As I got older, I started to believe all the things they were saying about him and over time, I built up a lot of anger and resentment towards my Dad.

    My relationship with my mother started to completely break down when I hit puberty and I developed an eating disorder, becoming quite anorexic. I was labelled a ‘problem child’ and I felt like the family scapegoat. I also became obsessed with boys, skipping school to hang out with my girlfriends and experimenting with smoking pot and drinking. My resulting bad grades were a sign that I was “never going to amount to anything in this life”. I was also repeatedly told that I was “completely out of control, a slut (even though I was still a virgin), that I dressed like a prostitute and was an alcoholic and drug addict” The alcoholic bit was/is true though!
    When I was 14 my mother decided to send me to the UK to live with my Dad. I cried for weeks and pleaded with her, promising to good if she would only let me stay etc. I felt completely powerless, rejected and defective. Living with my Dad turned out to be OK though and I gradually overcame my eating disorder. He was extremely permissive, letting me smoke and drink at home and even go nightclubbing. I also got drunk with my Dad and his girlfriend a couple of times. He was away a lot because of his work though and when he was away I was looked after by an elderly neighbour. I still desperately missed my friends back home so I staged a suicide attempt and Dad agreed to let me go and live back with my mother (and I suspect he was relieved to see me go).

    Things were even worse with my mother after I returned. My brother and sister were very stand-offish with me and I felt like she had been turning them against me while I’d been gone. I felt like my mother hated me and I was filled self-loathing and shame. My Mum kicked me out again and I went to board for the summer with the family of one of my school friends.

    I was seeing a boy who was a year ahead of me at school. His parents went away for a long weekend and he invited me, my best friend from school and 2 of his friends to stay over and party at his house. The 1st night we all got so drunk that we passed out. The next thing I remember, my boyfriend was dragging me out of the house, which we narrowly escaped from before it burnt to the ground. One boy didn’t make it and lost his life. As I was a newcomer to the group of friends, my boyfriend’s parents blamed me for starting the fire. The cause of the fire was a lit cigarette that had rolled under a sofa and we were all too wasted to notice it smouldering. I believed that I was such a bad person that it must have been me and I carried the guilt about it with me for years. I also carried a lot of shock and grief over my dead friend.
    My boyfriend no longer wanted to have anything to do with me and I was shunned at school. So I dropped out and worked in a series of fashion retail positions. This gave me enough money to move into a flat with some new friends who were a few years older than me. I also started to drink a lot more heavily and I was very sexually promiscuous from the ages of 16 to 23. Living in a small city, I developed a very bad reputation and I was slut shamed a lot. I had very low self-esteem and I always seemed to attract bullies and men who abused me emotionally. I also had several friends comment that “I didn’t like myself very much”. A female friend said that people could “pick up on my low self-worth” and that was the reason she could be extra mean to me…because I would just take it!

    I’ve been in relationships with very damaged and/or avoidant men including 2 long distance ones, a married guy, and a heroin addict and a meth addict both whom I met in rehab.
    I am 44 now and finally working with a really good therapist.

    For the 1st time in my life I am learning to stand up for myself, set boundaries, practice assertiveness and exercise my values. I’ve also managed to get an undergraduate degree and start work in a career that I enjoy.


  2. I grew up in Ireland where love is harsh. You are usually told “ahh you’re all right”, if you cry and given a wallop if you ask for affection. It’s all or nothing over there. Emotions are not expressed and feeling inadequate is a given, it goes hand in hand with low self esteem.

    It was normal in the 70’s in Ireland to leave your children home alone when you went out, and as my mother was only 21 when she had me, I was routinely left home alone so she could go out and socialize. That is another phenomenon of growing up in Ireland, they always had a Saturday night out. Dancing, socializing, drinking, courting, dating, but everyone always went for a “good night out”, at the end of the week. I remember being put to bed, and it does not get dark until around 11pm. My childhood memory is of constantly trying really hard to squeeze my eyes shut to go to sleep to make the time go faster, when I was alone, it was still bright outside and I could hear the other children still playing in the street. The following morning of course she didn’t get up to feed me, so I would sneak around the house ever so quiet as not to wake her. At the age of 2 she sent me to live with my grandmother. I was retrieved at the age of 5 when she remarried and had three more children. He was an alcoholic that was in and out of prison. By the age of 9 I became the mother to my younger brother and sisters. At the age of 18 I left home and moved to America and have lived in this country ever since. And guess what! every single relationship I have been in, my marriage and two engagements – all three men were classic love avoidants!!! So classic in fact, their picture could be used as the poster.

    Now I am your typical ESFJ. I am outgoing, funny, altruistic, chatty, kind, suffer from depression, but generally happy go lucky. I am extremely caring and of course a high achiever, being self sufficient since I was 18. Each man I fell in love with (three serious relationships) were under achievers, emotionally damaged (just like me) but pursued me, at first lavished me with love, were passionate, giving, kind, introverts, mysterious, and enamored by me. Chased me relentlessly. I thought this was amazing, had met the loves of my life, the sexual chemistry as intense and the love passionate. Then as I tried to get closer, BAM!! They shut down and pulled away. My husband was the most like a poster child. Would deliberately do anything not to come to bed. Deliberately withhold affection. Contempt, passive aggressive behavior, for 15 years until my self esteem was in the gutter (he also had an addiction to strip clubs and spent 25K unbeknownst to me and the reason for our divorce).

    Amazingly, now in my late 40’s, I completely recognize the cycle. If I meet a man and I’m so excited and the chemistry is off the charts – I run. If I meet a man that has never been married and is my age, I run. If I meet a man and he runs hot and cold. At first his gazes burn ardently for me, and he can’t wait to consume me, I run. What I have found is that this type of man PURSUES me. I joined and the avoidant finds me. I don’t know if it is because of my photos, my zest for life, but they seek me out. I can recognize the red flags, but for some reason I am a fly trap for this type of man.

    Of course, I do try to explain this phenomena to the new prospective date and they think I am just spouting therapy mumbo jumbo, LOL. So I am now 49 and single. The dating scene seems to be filled with addicts and avoidants, because the securely attached have already waded out of the dating pool.

    Good luck ladies – don’t settle for less. Securely attached is the only way to live life! I am stead fast and still looking.

    Rita, Cork, Ireland

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rita! I loved this story of yours (and I read it with an Irish accent too, just to get the full effect! 😉 I wanted to comment on something you said–that you attract avoidants. I too used to believe the same. And then I realized, avoidants (and all unhealthy people, really) will chase after ANYONE, not just you, not just your type. The difference is, for people like you and me, we tend to accept them into our lives, whereas healthy women do not. And yet, you sound like you’ve created some pretty healthy and hopefully sturdy boundaries! They will definitely work in your favor. Lastly, if the argument were true, that avoidants RECOGNIZE love addicts (and this may, indeed, be true) then, it might be time to look within and determine what kind of “vibe” you’re giving off. Avoidants love women are willing to dive into relationships quickly. They are looking for women who will do all the work, do all the worrying and do all the nagging. They are looking for insecure women who won’t notice their own insecurities and most of all, they are looking for women who share their same level of stunted growth! Ack! Sounds horrible. But, the answers lie within you. Bottom line is, water seeks its own level. Like begets like. Raise yourself up, love yourself more, become healthier, and voila! Suddenly a healthier man is attracted to you. 🙂


  3. I loved Rita’s story too. I am online dating at 46 and I’m finding most of the men are addicts or avoidant too!

    How do I take my full name off my Childhood Story (the one before Rita’s)?


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