'It took me decades to finally realise that I had been neglected by my mother and just as long to try to overcome the affect it has had.
As a child I never climbed into her bed for a morning hug nor do I remember walking down the street holding her hand. New clothes were extremely rare and then I had to wear them until the T-shirts and jumpers didn’t reach my waist and I couldn’t do my skirts or trousers up before I’d get a replacement.
She’d even take away my plate if I didn’t eat quickly enough saying she had no time to wait for me to finish and in any case she didn’t want me to get fat. Nor was she around much. She was keen to keep up with new films and plays and her friends and barely stayed in. My father was around a little more but he too was busy. I mostly felt invisible at home.
Luckily I was quite bright and did well enough at school to go to a good university and build a stable career. Initially I felt guilty about buying myself new clothes, then I went on a binge and bought far too much but finally reached a balance by buying something new each season without going crazy.
The emotional effect on me has been more difficult to handle.
I find it difficult to trust people and when I do I become quite needy and worry that if I give of myself I might get hurt. I’m hopeless at parties as I think no one would really want to talk to me and when the person I am talking to looks beyond me to find someone more interesting I want the floor to open up underneath me. It’s also embarrassing when friends show me photo albums of their childhood as there are hardly any photos of me as a child and they are just kept loose in a box.
Things changed in my late thirties when one of my divorced colleagues took me out to dinner. He has custody of his two children who had by chance also suffered from a mother who had neglected them. The children and I clicked when we met. Perhaps we instinctively felt each other’s need and over time have formed a strong bond. By focusing on their needs rather than mine I became stronger and more confident. Their father and I married two years ago and I don’t remember ever being happier. I even believe that he loves me as much as he appreciates my relationship with the children. Yet in spite of all this I sometimes feel empty inside and that I don’t deserve their love. How can I stop these feelings?'