"Christina, your parents don't love you."

The words that would change my life forever.

"Christina, your parents don't love you."

I still remember the pain. It felt like a knife was stabbed in my heart slowly just to be turned over to do the greatest possible damage. Faster than he could think my middle school classmate, whose name I am not going to share, spoke those words to me in a regular break in between our lessons. His peers surrounding and celebrating him for his "coolness". He didn't know to do better.

And I didn't know my value. I didn't know I was loved. So, I answered in the same matter, trying to play it off cool by telling him I didn't need confirmation for that, but that I already knew. My two friends were with me, but I don't remember whether or not they spoke up for me. Overall this was not meant to be the responsibility of 9th graders around age 15.

A few weeks prior the youth office had taken me to an orphanage. Looking back it was a move taken a little too late. But let us back up a little more.

This is my story.

I was born 2½ months prematurely on February 24, 1997. My life started with the trauma of being separated from my mother due to my life's fragility and her fever after the caesarean section. They brought me to a different clinic for incubator support and according to my mother the doctors wouldn't let her see me for 5 days.

I can't prove it factually because I've lost the majority of my memory up unto this day, but the chances are high that my mother subsequently neglected me because of her post-pregnancy depression. I was told a story of infant neglect concerning my own life a few weeks ago confirming this assumption.

Today there are studies about the mother-child-relationship and the process of bonding and boundary development starting through the mother's response to the child's needs. If those basic needs are not being met repeatedly, meaning they are being neglected, the child's basic trust will never be developed and it will cause future mistrust in other human beings.

I can't tell much more about my childhood than that my parents raised my siblings and me to be intelligent and performing people and that we were lucky to grow up in nature rather than in front of glowing screens.

Around grade 3 (for me) my parent's fighting became obvious. Our performance decreased. My younger siblings even showed physical stress symptoms such as hair loss and warts. Teachers would describe us as respectful and also as shy, but I think we actually feared adults because of the devastating situation at home.

Physical (violence) and emotional abuse (screaming, cussing and threatening) joined the neglect of care for our physical needs of food and physical touch and reached a new height after my father's leaving due to a judicial decision of which I still don't know the reason in my mother's complete – often unexplained – absence. I remember her as the main perpetrator and I explain her behavior as an outlet for her own trauma and abuse that she probably experienced with her own parents and also my father. This does not excuse the abuse though.

Needless to say that we needed help. But it didn't come.

Instead my siblings fled from home. My older sister moved to her boyfriend (now husband) at age 17 and took my younger sister (back then 12) with her. My younger brother and I were given to a foster family shortly after in 2012 at the ages of 14 & 15 when my mother took a cure for 3 months. He refused to go home afterwards, so he stayed there until 1½ years ago. Now my younger siblings share an apartment. I went home because I felt responsible for my mother. Half a year later I was taken from her by the youth office and for 1½ years I lived in an orphanage just to have grown out of the foster care system at age 17 and be left without help at 18.

Despite the fact that we had literally no to very little support for our school history, we all graduated from high school either after grade 12 or 13 which allows us to study or do further education in Germany.

What is the easiest to believe when you have a story like this? "Christina, your parents don't love you." Right? It was branded in my heart ever since that immature little boy said it to me.

Due to my premature birth I've been the smallest one (physically speaking) in the family. My father preferred me over my siblings for that very reason. After he left the house my siblings and mother let me feel this injustice that I couldn't change or reason about as a child which let me stop speaking. I was supposed to be the next suicide victim.

But then God stepped into my life. I received an invitation to youth group at church and there I saw people who had something that I was missing: Jesus Christ. I think at that moment I didn't see Jesus, but rather joy, trust, love and fun. But sure enough I saw it was rooted in another dimension. These people didn't have perfect lives with no problems. All people have problems. These people had Jesus in their problems, a complete game changer!

For 10 more years after that I would have to survive and perform until I became aware of my traumatization.

It took me one mental breakdown during the graduation months and many awful trauma symptoms such as feeling faint, the worst migraines, random body aches, difficulty concentrating, fear of social interaction, rejection and abandonment and sleeplessness until I would finally take a break to take care of my soul sickness.

Depression has been like a best friend and I was stuck in pity and the state of screaming for attention for a very long time until I realized that I don't actually want to suffer anymore, but I had gotten comfortable in it.

I started reading good books and learned about boundaries, but got frustrated with my disability to set them right away.

My healing journey so far took many people who wanted to help, but got rejected due to my lack of trust, people who invested in me anyway. It took people who took advantage of my naivety. It took church people trying to cast out my trauma because they thought I had demons, but realizing that it didn't work. It took people telling me I was lazy because they didn't believe in my perception of myself while suffering under the symptoms of trauma. It took an MRT of my brain and the scattered hope for a physical sickness such as a brain tumor and a neurologist telling into my face that my brain was okay, but that I was highly traumatized and I needed therapy as soon as possible. I rejected that and even forgot about it for half a year! But finally I realized the truth of my reality and I accepted help to learn how to have stabilizing routines and how to manage my resources for my benefit. I tell you, being 23 and accepting help in simple life matters can be very humbling. I also started a professional trauma therapy 7½ months ago. The first one that I ever felt ready for, the first one I wanted to do and so far the longest of all.

So, currently I'm humbly receiving state support, not because of Covid, but because of personal trauma. That was a journey of its own... smart people normally do have capability to perform. I don't. I was kind of falling through the system that was meant to be a safety net. Anyway, I'm also on sick leave through state authority, but because I have at least one awesome friend I am informing myself about possible future studies and actually believing this could be a thing!

I'm dreaming big. I want to speak to people who went or go through similar. I want to support them and help them heal. I want to help them grow in their gifting and professions, so that they can be the change in their own family line. But that's not for now. That's for the future.

Now is my healing season.

Christina Schwuchow
Christina Schwuchow
Read next: Never In the Cover of Night
Christina Schwuchow

Hi. I'm Chris. I'm 23.

I believe in the Jesus Christ of the Bible.

I also believe in therapy.

I use Vocal to:

- share my personal story

- make Jesus visible through photos & creative writng.

I have PTSD. Jesus is greater.

🚩 Dierdorf, RLP, Germany

See all posts by Christina Schwuchow