In the quiet of the early summer lockdown of 2020, the fields and hedgerows were full of sheep's parsley. As I wrestled with uncomfortable memories from my childhood, the thick smell of the pollen in the air reminded me of a time as a small child when I collected armfuls of sheep's parsley to give to my mother. A present from a child to her mum, that would have been gratefully received by most mothers, but not so mine. The hurt I felt then as the little girl, with a bunch of ‘flowers’ for my mum, that were tossed to one side with a hurtful comment, stung yet again as I stood with my camera and the sheep's parsley some fifty years later.
Emotional and psychological child abuse is not subjective and cannot be categorised as parental tough love or teenage angst. The Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that 3.8 million people have experienced emotional abuse before the age of 16; this abuse was most commonly perpetrated by a parent (ONS, 2020)
Why tell my story now? Having had no relationship with my mother for over thirty years, her death in the May of 2020 stirred memories long since buried and the emotional scars of my childhood rose to the surface. As a child I had no voice or words to describe neglect and psychological abuse; as an adult I still struggle to find the right words.
Sheep’s Parsley is a creative expression for those words I cannot find.