Q This week I’ve seen lots of people on Facebook posting pictures of themselves as a child – for their profile picture – and it hit a nerve for me.
It made me realise that I don’t have any childhood photos of me. Let alone happy ones.
I don’t know why but I do know my mum and dad were always at war and they both hit me and my sister a lot, and we were taken into foster care on and off. I don’t remember much about those foster parents.
It makes me sad to think that they thought so little of us that they didn’t even take our photos, or if they did that they didn’t bother to keep them.
They’re both dead now and the house has been cleared – but still no photos were found. Why would they not have photos of their kids?
A When I saw this new trend on Facebook I wondered to myself ‘what about those who’ve had a troubled childhood and toxic parents who don’t have happy childhood photos?’ So your message and question really struck a chord with me.
I can’t give you an absolute reason why there are no photos of you or your sister. I can only guess that your parents marriage and family life were so unhappy that they didn’t want a reminder of it in photographs. Fake smiles and posed family shots make the pain all the more acute.
Perhaps they were too wrapped up in themselves and their own needs and problems to consider having photos taken. Maybe they didn’t own a camera, or were unwilling to pay for photos back in those days.
One thing I would suggest is that you ask any other family members you might be in touch with if they have any old photos of you and your sister that they could give to you, or allow you to have copied.
If your foster care was arranged by Social Services then there should be records that you have access to and there might be some photos in there taken by foster parents.
If that doesn’t work you could create your own ‘album’ and instead of photos you could draw (basic stick figures are fine if, like me, you’re no artist) some happy events from your childhood. Make sure you colour them in brightly!
Think about play times with your friends, being in nature and with animals. Anything that shows you that your inner child did have some happy moments sprinkled amongst the sadness, fear and pain.
I’m sure that you’ll be taking many happy photos yourself in future that can be cherished and shared…and you’ll see your inner child’s new found happiness reflected in your adult eyes.
Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy)
www.maxineharley.com – where you’ll find a page of FREE RESOURCES that may be of interest to you and help you to make more sense of your own troubled childhood and the effects upon you.