Thursday, September 29, 2011

"It's never too late..."

My mother died suddenly and unexpectedly when I was 12. My dad's mistress moved in within a month of my mother's death, and, while my dad took me to one counseling session soon after my mother died, when I refused to speak, I guess he gave up. After that, my dad and his new wife never mentioned my mother again - in fact, they pretended as though nothing had happened. I had no idea how to deal with my mom's death. And my dad was too busy with my step-mother to pay attention to me or parent me.

Over the next several years, my father and his new wife more or less ignored me save to tell me how terrible I was - and it's true, I didn't get along well with him or my step-mother. My father told me on multiple occasions that it was my fault my mother had died. I got into all sorts of trouble as a teen, although they rarely noticed. I would stay out with older friends for days and I'm pretty sure they were just glad I was out of their hair. My dad offered little guidance or discipline - in short, he gave up parenting me. I really resent that now.

After high school I moved away, but distance made me miss my 'family' and we continued to have a cordial albeit superficial relationship. My father continued to refuse to speak about my mother, but if we kept the conversation geared toward weather and work, we were fine. It continued that way for over a decade.

Then, last year, I gave birth to my daughter. My step mother, who I had never been close with, began emailing me with increasing frequency, which was bizarre since neither of them cared at all about my pregnancy. She told me that she and my father were planning on visiting, and when I told them that it wasn't a good time, she became increasingly pushy. I realized that they didn't care about me, my husband, or really even my daughter and what we wanted and needed as a family - they just wanted to visit to fulfill their need to appear like good grandparents. That's how it's always been with them - they always try to appear like they're such perfect people. It was the last straw for me. I wasn't going to pretend that everything was okay; not when it involved my daughter. 

I look at my beautiful, sweet, trusting, and innocent daughter and cannot imagine treating her - my child - the way that my father and step mother treated me. 

Reactions - My husband initially thought that cutting them off at the birth of our daughter after maintaining some semblance of a relationship with them for over a decade as an adult was somewhat vindictive. I don’t really see it that way - it’s just that having my daughter gave me cause to rethink my entire relationship with them. And, my husband has still been supportive - he does understand why I cut them off. As for my dad and step mother, I don't know what their reaction was. And I don't really care. Sometimes I'm sad, but it's because I still feel abandoned by my dad, not because I no longer talk to him. In fact, cutting off my parents has finally allowed me to grieve in ways I couldn't previously do. It's been hard. I feel so angry at my parents sometimes.

I think the important part of my story is the realization that it is never too late to cut toxic people from your life. It is never too late to try and make a better life for yourself and your family. My daughter doesn't need people who treated me poorly in her life. It isn't her job to help them win some kind of grandparents of the year award. She's not part of their game. My dad treats people he believes to be inferior to him with open disdain, and is generally impatient and negative. That attitude rubbed off on me growing up, and I work every day to fight it. I want my daughter to know that everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"Freedom did not come for me until I realized it was not my fault..."

The Back Story
All my life, I have lived with my dad's total disrespect for me, my brother, and my mom. He used very harsh discipline on us, that I am still emotionally healing from. When I was a child, he abused animals in front of me, which was very traumatic for me to watch. I still struggle with the images of what he did to innocent animals in front of me.  He's been in and out of my life over the past 5 years, ever since I had my first son. He meddles, wants to control. One time he even wanted to bite my son when my son was biting him! We tried going for counseling with him. He sat there and told lies about me to the counselor, acted like the poor victim. When I went for a counseling session alone, the counselor told me for the sake of my children, it might be the best thing to not have him in my life.
I made mistakes too. I used to lash out in anger when he would disrespect me. After speaking to the counselor, I held on to the hope that if I just apologized and stopped lashing out in anger the relationship would get better. I changed, and for a long time, I just let him make his disrespectful comments to me. When I bought him a birthday or Father's day gift, instead of saying thank you, he would make some sarcastic comment. When he came over he would insult the fact that I have pets in my house.  I kept hoping he would change. Freedom did not come for me, until I realized this was not my fault (he is still blaming me for everything) and that I cannot change him. Attending counseling sessions with him, asking my husband to talk to him, ignoring him, standing up for myself in a nicer way---nothing worked, I simply cannot change him. And as much as I hate where we are at, that my family is torn apart, I will not allow my boys to be treated in the same way I, my mother, and my brother have been treated.

The Last Straw
He was often very good with my boys. He spent time with them, played a lot of games with them, they adored their "papa" But I noticed that as they got older, every once in awhile, he would start to treat them the way he treated the rest of his family. He would wrestle and become too rough, if they got out of line he would speak to them in the same harsh tone that used to freak me out, as a child. It stressed me out very much. I did not want to confront him and cause family drama again. I did not want to be responsible for tearing my family apart and his not seeing the boys anymore because I was afraid my boys would somehow blame me..
Then, the straw that broke the camels back was last November. He was wrestling with my son and again being too rough. I told him to stop and he wouldn't listen. Things got out of hand, my son kept teasing him by slapping him in the face (he was doing it as a joke because my dad was hitting him roughly also!). My dad snapped, got mad and threatened to slap my son across the face. I should have intervened, but I froze in fear, I asked my mom for help and she did nothing  and before I knew it he hit my son on the shoulder. I told him not to hit my kids, that he was teaching them to hit him back. He got madder and argued with me, right in front of my kids!!!!
At Christmas, my mom made it sound like he wanted to patch things up with us. I bought him a gift and sent it home with my mom. I told her we wanted to patch things up too, and still come over for Christmas. I told her all we wanted him to do was phone us, promise us he will not hit our kids again. We waited all day on December 24th for his phone call. Finally the phone rang at 6pm!! It was my mom. She said he refuses to talk to us. How hurtful!! Thank goodness my boys were too young to understand what was going on. We later found out, from my mom, that he wanted us to drop our son off at his house -alone- so he could talk to him about the hitting incident, and then we could all come over for Christmas. We, of course, would never do that. Why did he insist on being alone with him?
I phoned a social worker to get some counseling after he hit my son because both my boys were so angry with him, I did not know how to handle it. I don't want my boys to grow up with bitterness and anger the way me and my brother did. I wanted to help them but felt completely at a loss as to how.My pastor was gone, a counseling service put me on a waiting list, I needed help asap!! Social services is listed in my phone book under counseling so I phoned them and a social worker spent a lot of time talking to me. The phone call was anonymous and it says right in the phone book they do not subscribe to call display. She gave me great advice, I told my mom what she said with the intention of helping my dad and our family. I also told her it was an anonymous phone call. My dad freaked out, said he is scared to talk to me because getting social services involved is dangerous, he's heard of people going to jail over social services!! This has caused me great hurt. I phoned a social worker for help because my boys said they wanted to "scratch his eyes out" and I did not know what else to do!! Once again, I am blamed, and he's made himself out to look like the victim who is scared to talk to me because I might send him to jail. How hurtful, I would never report him. I was looking for some help because he had caused so much damage with my boys and I wanted to help them.

Breaking Away
Since then, almost a year ago, we have had nothing to do with him. It's been a hard year, but a good one. He is no longer meddling with how I raise my kids, making subtle hints that they should go to school, treating them in the same poor way that he used to treat me. I'm glad to be away from him. I feel free and I don't want him in my life anymore. The pain he has caused me and my family, he refuses to apologize for or even acknowledge. My boys are still too young to understand what has gone on. They still ask about him sometimes, but they do not understand the seriousness of it all. Again, they are too young and I've tried to gently explain the basics to them, but shelter them from most of it.

Looking Ahead
The one thing I feel bad about is that my sons absolutely adored him. They still ask about him from time to time even though they never see him anymore. I'm very worried my sons are going to grow up and and blame me for why they did not get to see their beloved papa when they were growing up. Another huge fear, that they will want to have a relationship with him when they are older and my dad will try to turn them against me to get revenge.

I hope this blog can be a place to heal my heart because I feel so alone. My husband is a huge help, but only someone who has gone through a similar experience really understands what it is like. I also hope I can help others who are a part of this blog heal. It's so hard seeing grandparents who babysit and respect what their children want. I live in a small town. I often have people asking me about my parents. I just kind of brush it off and say "they are doing fine."  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"I feel so relieved now, yet..."

This story was submitted by "Marie."

My mother and father separated when I was very young, only six years old. My connection with my father was always strong (I'd be allowed to go visit him every other weekend, stay with him for weeks at a time during longer Christmas and summer breaks), and it was basically the only thing that allowed to keep me my sanity from when I was a very young child until we finally moved to Florida, where I was unable to keep these meetings up.

My mother was always verbally and emotionally abusive rather than physically abusive. As a young child, my favorite thing to do was always to read, and I gathered books from everywhere I could - old, falling apart books libraries and neighbors were giving away, or books I got for presents or books I bought myself with money I earned. One of the worst things she ever did to me was during the summer the year I was nine; due to the fact I had a less than very good report card (she considered high B's and A's very good), she wrapped up three full trash bags full of my books. Two bags went into the garbage. The third got donated...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Fresh Wounds, Part 3: "I will be OK."

Read Fresh Wounds, Part 1: "I allowed her to control me too much..."
And Fresh Wounds, Part 2: "I was making choices for myself."

The Back-Lash
Not talking to my mom had a really negative effect on me.  I did not even know it was happening at first.  I was falling into a depression.  I was grieving the loss of my mother, and my best friend.  She was dead to me.  We were not speaking at all for the first time in my life.  I can not remember a time we went more then 24 hours without speaking.  I was now pushing 2...3 months.  It was really hard on me.  There were little things everyday that reminded me of her.  It was hard not to pick up the phone and call her and just talk like we used to.  I did not want to do that though because I was talking to a lie.  I missed talking to my mom that was my best friend but in reality that never existed.  Every time I talked to my mom I realized she had a motive or a plan.  But I was still grieving.  A lot.

This lead to fights with my boyfriend.  I would get angry over the dumbest things.  He wouldn’t put his dish in the dish washer and I would end up crying.  I should not have been crying as much as I was.  It seemed like I was crying at least once a day.  I thought my boyfriend and I were just having problems but it was me trying to deal with my loss.  I wasn’t ready to address the reality that my mom was gone.

I started seeing a doctor and I started taking medicine and they seem to be working great.  Apparently not.  My boyfriend was not able to deal with the stress and unspoken pressure I was putting on him.  He felt like he was all I had left, like I depended on him to keep me happy.  He was having trouble dealing with all the tears and the little fights that were actually about my mom not him.  I lost him.  It is still very raw.

Looking Back
I have absolutely no regrets about what happened with my mom in the past 3 months.  I am dealing with the anger and shock stages right now.  I hate that I allowed my mom to control so much of my life.  I hate that she put so much pressure on me about my weight, grades, friends, and social decisions.  I hate that I live to please other because I spent my life making decisions that would please my mom.  The only thing I regret right now is putting pressure on my boyfriend.  I love him for supporting me and giving me the courage to move on from the controlling woman my mother was.

Moving Forward
I am very lucky to have the support system that I have.  My friends are amazing.
Everyday I tell myself that I am strong.  I am confident.  I will be ok.  I am beautiful.  I am independent.  I am amazing.  I will be ok.

I am going to get settled in at my new job.  I am going to take everything one day at a time instead of thinking way into the future.  I am going to control the things that I can control.  I am going to control my reactions.  I am going to control my emotions.  I will be ok!

As it stands now I am working on accepting that my mom is not and will not be a part of my life.  So far it is going pretty well.  I know she is still a human and still alive but the relationship I thought we had is dead.  It is gone forever.  Maybe someday she will wonder back into my life but I will have all the control.  I will control when it happens and if it happens.  I will control what I tell her.  I will be in charge. 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Fresh Wounds, Part 2: "I was making choices for myself..."

This is the second part of one woman's story of being controlled and manipulated. Read Part 1 for The Back Story.

The Breaking Point
I had been with my boyfriend for about seven months and I knew deep down inside that I
loved him. I was just afraid to verbalize it. He had I had been bickering here and there
and we 'broke up." We ended up working things out and getting back together quickly. This my mother did not support at all. That fight made me realize how much I loved him and how much I wanted him in my life. It sucks it took that to make me realize but I finally did. I loved this man with everything that I was and I loved who I could be when I was with him.

This is where my mother started to protest. She finally let it all out about how much she
hated him
. She did a celebration (not in my face) when we broke up. In hind sight I
realize many of the problems in my relationship with my boyfriend went back to my mom.

I would get upset with him over something stupid, like I didn╩╝t like the shoes he was
wearing, and after talking about it with him, all would be fine. He would leave and I would
go talk to my mom about it and she would make it seem like it was the WORST thing
that anyone has ever done. How could he wear SNEAKERS! So then I would get
angry all over again. I thought, “mother knows best” and she would never lead me
astray. She knows I want to be with this man so she would never try to convince me to
end things with him. I was so wrong.

She was jumping on every opportunity like that to drive a wedge between us. I was
blindly listening to the person I thought was my best friend. I thought my mom (and my best
friend) was guiding me for what was best for me. No she was leading me in the
direction she wanted me to go
. She did not want me with him and every day her
conversation was leading to that. I felt so stupid after I realized this.

Back to the “break up”... my mom used this chance to drive a further wedge between
us... she would make up lies about him on a daily basis to make me think he was this
horrible person. Lies like... he is a child molester, abusive, controlling.... Just so we are
100% clear, he is none of these things. He is gentle, caring, loving, and would do
anything to make the people he loves happy. If anything he puts his needs behind
others and sacrifices his health to do so.

It took me getting to this point with my mom to realize how controlling she was. My best
friends had seen this all along but I had not. They were able to tread lightly around the situation. They told me 5 years ago when I moved out that I might want to stop telling her as
much as I did. I should have listened to them.

My friends were trying to get me to see that moving out of my parents house and
leaving their job would the best thing for me. I, for months, thought this was not a good
idea. I lived for two months in misery with my mom walking all over me and trying to tell me what to do. The worst part was she was writing my pay checks and she knew what I need to live on my own and knew not to pay me that much.

My boyfriend and I decided we would move in together. I still worked for my parents for
another week or so until they decided to cut my pay by $5 an hour. Then and there I quit.
I was no longer going to deal with this woman. I was finished. I had a lot of people telling
me I need to make this decision and I was in denial that it was the right choice. When I
finally did it, I realized it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Finally, I was cut off completely from my mom (and dad) and living on my own for once
in my life. For the first time I was making choices for myself, not for my mom and me. I
was living with my boyfriend, on my way to starting a new job (that I got on my own
merit), and we had two puppies. I was the happiest I had been in a really long time. Or so
I thought...

Read Part 3, the aftermath.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fresh Wounds, Part 1: "I allowed her to control me too much..."

This woman very recently decided to become free from her parents. Her wounds are still fresh, and she has a lot to share, so her story will be broken up into three parts. 

The Back Story
I always thought my mom was my best friend. I thought I could tell her ANYTHING and I usually did. It seemed so wonderful to have the love and support of a mother. It seemed amazing to go home at night and have your best friend always there. I always thought she was not passing judgement and was being supportive of my decisions. There were a few times in my life when I felt my mom was dictating too much to me what I could and could not do. I just assumed these were normal “mother knows best” situations.

She was critical of almost all the friends I've ever had. In hind sight, this was because I was spending more time with them then I was with her. The only two friends she didn't have problems with were the ones who didn't take up my time, and pull me away from her.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

"I have come to realize that you cannot make people care about you..."

This is Connie's story. Connie has a beautiful blog called Creative Bubbles, and she has given permission to use her name here.

The Back Story
I was put in foster care because my mother was neglectful. Even though I am 30 years old, it still stings, to know that having 5 children taken away was not enough for my mom to get clean, sober, and be able to care for us. It seems that she always had a drug problem and a drinking habit. I remember her locking my sisters and I out of the house so that she and her friends could get high without us interrupting them. I remember having to pull her out of a bar so she could make us dinner. And I remember her making us lie- a lot. Lie to her OB that she wasn't smoking while pregnant, lie to the social worker that we were taken care of, and lie to my family that we weren't starving all the time and never had clean clothes or a clean house.

My youngest brother, one very cold December night, somehow got out of the house and was picked up by the police wearing only a diaper... he was two years old. My mother was not home and did not tell me that she was going out, leaving him all alone on the first floor. I am the oldest of five children and I am the one who told my teachers about all the stuff going on at home. Things were so bad when we were removed that the social worker threw up after looking at the contents of our refrigerator... I told her that we had been eating cake frosting for the last week because there was nothing else to eat that hadn't gone bad. My mother had her parental rights taken away and we were all separated and put into foster care. My youngest brother and I went to live with aunt and her partner eventually, which turned out to be an even more abusive situation than what we left.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

"There is no place for regret..."

This piece was contributed by Aubrey, who has given permission to use her name. She has  recently started blogging about her experience at Embracing This Moment.
The Back Story
My mother and father were very young, 19, 20, and not married when they had me.  My father didn't tell his parents about me until my grandmother found me on the couch while he was mowing the lawn.  I can't imagine that scene.  How did he attempt to explain it?  My dad's family laughs about it.  I don't.  My parents tried to make it work as best they could, but that wasn't much, their immaturity, their personalities, just didn't mix.  When I was two, my parents separated.  I grew up with my mother, and although times were hard, I am forever grateful to her for her sacrifices.  

As a young girl, I felt like an outcast in my father's life.   He had numerous women, and I felt like I always took a far distant third...job fling yeah, the girlfriend comes to get me for the weekend.  He rarely called me to check in.  He barely saw me but two times out of the year--holidays, summer.  By the time my father married and had two more children, I was 11, and I knew then it would be up to me to carry the relationship, so I did.  I called him with exciting news.  I made the investment in us.  I wanted to believe I had a dad, so I told myself if I proved my worth to him, he would want me, he would love me.  When I started college, near where he lived, the time we had to get together increased.  I even lived with him one summer in between the school year.  We really got to know each other, I got to know his new children and his wife.  I felt comfortable with our relationship, I loved my dad.  I felt like he loved me...

Friday, September 9, 2011

"It was for my sanity, my self-esteem, and my son."

The first of many anonymous stories to come...

The Back Story
They never physically abused me but I had enough of the emotional abuse, especially from my father. My dad was always very critical, demeaning, cold.  He'd often make fun of me, my brothers did this too a lot, and my mom would laugh along with them, treating me like my thoughts and feelings were silly, stupid, ridiculous.

I was labeled as crazy because I was emotional, and got upset when I was treated like crap, instead of laughing it off or acting like a robot like the rest of my family.  I wasn't emotionally tough enough.