My mother tried very hard to turn my sisters and I against my father ever since she divorced him when I was two years old. But probably the worst conversation I had with her was nearly 2 years ago, when I planned a trip to go to Colorado to see my father for the first time in 29 years. I took my three daughters and husband, whom he’s never seen except in photographs and video.
I documented the conversation I had with my mother when I told her we were going on another one of my blogs. I’m going to re-print it here with some pictures. I’ve been meaning to write more about my parents as part of my mid-life re-evaulation (no, I wouldn’t call it a crisis) and I’ve been thinking of my dad an awful lot lately. I mean, out of the blue, actually MISSING my dad.
My parents are part of the reason I am who I am today. I struggle with sadness. I struggle to raise my daughters, who are beautiful, charming, and emotionally sensitive, just like I am. My middle daughter used to be selectively mute, which added a layer of complication to our lives. She’s now a thriving 8 year old, very energetic, and the most moody of all my daughters. We clash from time to time because we are so much alike.
I admit this blog seems to be all over the place – writing, artwork, photography. The whole unifying principle of it is documenting my healing journey. I hope maybe someone might find something useful here.
My mom and dad, circa mid-1960s. Probably the ONLY photograph of them together in existence.
Look at my mother’s eyes. Don’t they look a tad bit evil?
What follows is a blog post from Februrary 12,2010 (between the stars ***):
Last night, after I went to visit my grandmother, I let my mother know we are going to see my biological father and step-mother. I haven’t seen my father’s and step-mother’s faces in 29 years except in pictures. He’s never seen his granddaughters’ faces except in pictures and video.
The train tickets are bought, the hotel room is reserved. I’m ecstatic and so is my dad and step-mom. I’m glad I get to take the girls on another “grand adventure”. The last one was when we drove to Pennsylvania for my brother’s wedding a few years back. We are all excited about the train ride we’ll be taking to Colorado this year.
I casually told my mother last night, figuring I’d get a chance to talk some about my childhood and my father some. I thought after 29 years, she’d soften in her views of him.
At first, she said she didn’t care that I was going. Then she started in on the grilling and bad-mouthing.
Mother: ” Why do you want to go?”
Me: “Because he’s my father and he’s never seen the girls”.
Mother: “Why would you want to do that? He’s just an asshole”
Me: “Well, I don’t think he’s an asshole. I know he had a severe problem with alcohol….”
Mother (interrupting): “Ya THINK?”
Me (ignoring the interruption): “…but he’s been sober many years now”.
Mother: “He doesn’t love you”
Me: “Really? We’ve had a pretty decent relationship for the past 10 years over the phone”
Mother: “I hope you don’t talk about me or about what’s going on in the family.”
Me: “I just talk about the girls and J and what goes on in MY life” (and some of it happens to include you)
Mother: “What do you think you are going to get out of seeing him?”
Me: “Oh, I don’t know…the chance to talk to him in person and know him and just show him the girls”
Mother: “All he was was a sperm donor”
Me (ouch): “Uh, yeah, okay. That’s what you think. Whatever happened between you and him doesn’t have much to do with me”.
Mother: “Oh, really, you were so young, you have no idea what happened. What he did to (oldest sister) and (second oldest sister)…”
Me: “Okay, so why don’t you tell me. What did he do? Did he abuse me physically?”
Mother: “I’m not going to tell you.”
Me: “Did he abuse me sexually?”
Mother: “I’m not going to tell you.”
Me: “Don’t you think I have a right to know if I’m so f*$#@& up because of something he might have done to me as a child?
Mother: “I’m not saying a word. You want a relationship with him, you’ll have to deal with him”.
Me (feeling a confidence I NEVER had in my life when I came up against my mother’s bull***t): “Okay, if you won’t tell me, I suppose I’ll get going on home. I’ll see you later.”
Me: “I love you” (but I don’t like you very much).
Hmm…yeah…okay. I know I’m different…stronger now. Once upon a time, an exchange like the above would have left me hurt, bewildered, angry and very reactionary. I’m really none of those things and I was extremely calm. I’m just aware that my mother is basically still the same old person she ever was. No I do NOT believe my dad ever hurt me. I have only fond memories of my time with him and my step-mother on visitation (he took us bowling and to the drive-in movies and took us to Shafer Lake one year and to Cripple Creek and to my paternal grandmother’s house in the country). He’s dealt with the demons of alcoholism, but he’s a different man now with that. And he’s still gentle, loving, caring towards me.
When I had a miscarriage 10 years ago, he called me up every day for about 3-4 days just to make sure I was okay. If he really didn’t love me, he would have never done that.
I think my dad and step-mother have more than adequately shown me I was worth their time and attention and love. They never played the withdrawal of love/manipulation/brainwashing game.
And this is what I’m talking about. When you are fed a bunch of lies as a child/teenager/young adult, how the heck do you sort out the truth? I’m telling you, this is part of the reason this journey has been so difficult. Even though I have been out of my home for 16 years, I’m still dealing with the attempts of psychological brainwashing. It affects my marriage and my mothering a great deal.
I have yet to write about actually going to Colorado for my 40th birthday, but it was an amazing trip. All those pictures in the background are of the sister’s kids, my wedding photo and one of my husband and daughters.
I think the best part was seeing pictures of me and my sisters and my dad together. That’s me in the plaid pants on the right.
My oldest sister, in the middle, actually finally succumbed to Parental Alienation Syndrome. For the longest time, she hated my dad worse than my mother did.
But it was actually her that told me what my dad’s phone number was, so that I could call him and re-establish contact 12 years ago. She reunited with him (over the phone anyway) when she was going through her own divorce.
My dad has 9 grandkids, but the only ones he’s seen in real life are my daughters. My sisters never made the time to go see him. No, I’m not sure why, though I have tried to encourage them.
It’s sad how one parent can do everything they can to erase your memories of being loved by the other parent and how it impacts them for the rest of their lives.
Why a mother could do that to her own children, I’ll really never understand.
I don’t have a good template of what a good mother feels like or behaves like. I have to make it up as I go along. I have to mother myself as well as mother my daughters. It’s not been easy. Not by a long shot.
And as crazy at is may seem, doing artwork reminds me that I matter and gives me things I want to work towards in my own life, with my own daughters.
I’d like to ask my readers:
What is the most special memory that you have had with your mother?
How has your mother impacted your life?