The Outlier – An Open, Honest, Portrayal Of Family Betrayal, Guilt and Neglect
Have You Ever Felt Totally Alone and Unloved?
Everyone’s family is unique but we expect our family unit to be one of support, of love, kindness and protection. We turn to our mothers for nurturing and for guidance but what happens when love is not given freely? Some children do not receive even the basics in life and they are left to struggle – bullied, neglected, abused and even ostracised in society. What happens to those children who are tainted by neglect, living in a house where only superficial qualities are valued and their emotional needs are ignored? What happens when children grow up totally starved of moral guidance and compassion?
We asked author Morgan Harrison some heart-felt questions about her up-bringing and how her childhood shaped the here and now.
- In your book The Outlier, you talk about neglect in your childhood, can you explain how you felt as a child?
As a child, at first, when I was really young, in infant school, I felt upset. I was bullied at school so I didn’t get a great start to my education but to come back home to an unfinished scruffy mad house made things even worse. It did make me cry most days but as I got older, I think the upset inside turned to anger. I started talking back to my mum, outsmarting her. When she stole what little money I managed to save up, I would be furious and demand it back, it never happened but it still got me angry and I never stopped asking for it.
When my mum left dad and went out with the guitar player from her band, I felt like I wanted to die, I was so depressed I couldn’t stand life at all and to this day, I don’t know how I made it through life.
2. Looking back to your childhood, define the key moment(s) where you knew you were different to those around you.
I would say it started when I was about 5 years old. I knew I didn’t want to play with the children; I wanted to talk to one person and one person only. I could never understand fashion as a child and why people at school were so fickle. I knew I hated the kids at school and I was alienated and bullied so this didn’t help but as I got older, I found myself choosing to be alone rather than hang around with the other kids.
I would look at the trees, the birds and other animals and feel I wanted to be one of them. These days you can get help when you feel you were born as the wrong gender but what about when you feel you were born as the wrong species? No help available there!
When I got to around 9 years old, my mother stopped buying me things like underwear and expected me to buy the essentials with my pocket money. I found this so cruel and unfair. I knew at that age that this was very wrong and I started to notice what a horrible person my mother was. She would always buy things for herself and not for her three children. You might think that if this was the norm for my household, that I would have just gone along with it. Well my other two sisters did but I didn’t. I was honest and have been to this day and that’s what made me very different from the rest, that and I was blessed (or maybe cursed) with having some brain cells, although where they came from I will never know.
When I was around 13 years old, I would look at the children in the play ground, watch their body language, and listen to what they said. I was always fascinated by their cruel comments to their so-called friends, their back stabbing and their idea of fun. I knew I would never, ever fit into society and I still haven’t to this day!
3. We trust our parents to guide us in life, teaching valuable life lessons, what lessons do you believe you missed out on?
My parents didn’t really teach me anything; I picked it up myself as I went along. My Nana taught me a few things and I learnt a lot from her but maybe later in life rather than as a kid. Parents are meant to motivate their children, encourage them to do well in life, take them on outings, educate them, buy clothes for them and things like that, all the things I did as a mother when my daughter was young but they didn’t! Mum taught me how much a 4 pack of lager cost and how face lifts work. I tell a lie, mum taught me a tongue twister and how to juggle.
When I was really little, I was a little curly haired cutie, as I got older, mother pretty much washed her hands of me; she just couldn’t be bothered. She didn’t like me going anywhere and said she worried about me but she never showed any love towards me past the age of around 9 years old.
What happens in your childhood affects the rest of your life and I am still bearing the emotional scars today.
Dad wasn’t much better but dad worked, he didn’t have any more kids and admitted to me once he didn’t think he had been a good dad, those things instantly made him better than mum.
4. If you could say one thing to your parents today, what would it be?
Why did you have kids? I never understood it, they were both very stupid, very volatile people, both arrogant in different ways, they should never have had kids at all but everyone makes mistakes so if they would have had my older sister, why have me and my younger sister afterwards? Mum told me dad had always been violent to her so why stay with a person like that? I just don’t understand why they wanted children at all.
5. How have you come to terms with your upbringing?
I’m not sure I have hence why I wrote this book. Every day I struggle to get by, the only thing good to come out of my terrible upbringing is that if I would have had a normal childhood, I might have missed the things I see today. I wouldn’t be aware of all the cruelty going on in the world, I would have become one of the masses that walks around in a bubble, not realising how bad the world is. I am trying to pull something out of the wreckage here; I still would have liked to have had a good childhood, or at least a normal one.
6.After the birth of your daughter, clarify what you did differently to ensure that her upbringing was so different to your own.
First of all, she always had things she needed, clothes, shoes etc. I didn’t steal her pocket money from her and I gave her it, mum didn’t give me pocket money my Nana did and mum stole it. I encouraged my daughter with everything, academia mainly because I wanted her to have the opportunities I never had. I didn’t force her to do certain subjects, I let her chose. I also educated her to a high standard so she got a 100% bursary into a private school, this is very unusual for a teenage mum to have a child like this but I was no ordinary teenage girl, I was a teenager with a brain.
Throughout my daughter’s life, I have helped and supported her but I have treated her as an equal. Mum and dad always made a point of saying that the older you get the smarter you get and I think that is rubbish. At age 13, I could wipe the floor with my mum so I always treated my daughter even as a young child as an equal to me.
I was there for her to talk to but I gave her some space too. I didn’t stop her from playing with other children like my mum sometimes did with me and I let her go to parties and mix with the children from a young age. I took her to nursery at age 2 because I wanted her to socialise with other children, I always made sure she went to school. I was kept off school for probably about 3 out of the compulsory 6 years you are in school however you can count on one hand the days my daughter had off school. I wanted to make sure she got the best education without being pushy and I think I achieved this, I hope I did, she has done exceptionally well and although she is not a great fan of human beings like myself, she has had some fantastic achievements so far in her life and I hope she goes on to have a good career.
7.In your book, you state openly that you still feel haunted by your past, how do you move forward and heal past traumas?
Well, like I said in one of the previous questions I’m not sure I have fully. I suppose it’s similar to if I had lost my legs, I wouldn’t be able to function how someone with legs would function but I would do the best I can with no legs. Strange analogy but it makes sense to me. Basically I have deep psychological wounds that will always be there but I have to survive the best way I know how. It is hard; I know I am not normal. I don’t like being around people, I stay in the house most of the time and find it hard to hold down a job. I am a bit of a hermit but I think considering what might have happened to me I’m doing pretty well. I record my music, campaign and write which helps but the emotional scars are there and some days are darker than others.
Depression has always been in my life and probably always will but I try to understand why, instead of just taking pills, I ask why it’s there. Just like pain receptors are there to stop you damaging yourself, I think depression is nature’s way of telling you something is wrong. Having said this, I still hate every minute of it and if I could make it go I would in a heartbeat. I find holding down jobs is hard because of my depression and because I have a problem with how I look, my figure and other things. It’s hard to explain and ever harder to cope with but I muddle through, taking jobs when I can, leaving when I can’t stand it anymore. There are people far worse off than me and when I think of what humans do to animals and what I have previously been part of, I feel it may be some kind of punishment for me. This might sound harsh but as a vegan, when I think about eating meat now, I feel repulsed and I feel so guilty for eating it so maybe I deserve some of what I get.
As you can probably tell, moving forward is hard, I try to move forward but it is often one step forward two steps back but sometimes I get a little further.
8.Explain why you wanted to write The Outlier
Initially I wanted to write a book about my crazy theories and why I don’t like the human race very much but as I started to make notes a lot more of my childhood came pouring out, I decided to combine all of these instead.
The book was mainly for me, sort of like writing a diary, I wanted to get a lot of my thoughts out on paper because I thought it might help me and to an extent it did. I wanted to explain to people why I was a little weird and try to make people understand that I was raised weird so I was hardly going to be normal.
In some ways I like being how I am, I am glad that I am not a run of the mill person, I love my honesty and like my theories, I also like being smart and being able to see things others don’t but it comes with a price, depression and proper depression not just boredom which I think a lot of people have. It also comes with extreme worrying to the point where my stomach aches and I generally hate myself, the way I look etc. –
I think The Outlier was about me being honest about pretty much everything, my past, which I am, why I think how I think, what I think. It was also a stepping stone to my next book.
9. If you could give advice to anyone who has experienced emotional abuse or neglect, what would you say?
That’s a tough one, I would say don’t do what I did, don’t break down and cry about it for the first 5 years but do nothing to try to help yourself. Emotional abuse is worse in a lot of ways than physical abuse because the wounds cannot be seen, they are hidden inside us but because of this they don’t heal. My partners weren’t very supportive because they didn’t understand it or me so I was pretty much alone. My mother denied being a bad parent and used to say “It’s all in the past, so grow up!”
I would say don’t turn to alcohol, I tried this, it doesn’t help at all, only take pills if there is no other way but try to talk about it more. Don’t leave it 20 something years like I did, it will eat away at you. Maybe get help but proper help, not some counsellor who reiterates from a few guidance sheets, get help from someone who is good. Talk, call the Samaritans, they are great and did help me a lot when things got bad, they don’t get paid so there is no ulterior motive for them other than to help people. Also don’t let your good friends go, I did and it meant I was alone.
My childhood and my bad parents ruined my chance of ever having a happy adulthood. I probably can’t be 100% happy but at least now people know why and don’t just think I’m a reclusive weirdo kill joy, hopefully they will now understand.
The Outlier is available on Amazon Kindle now – if you want to have a little look at Morgan’s book, scroll up to the image and click on preview.