I just typed all this out in the forums at I have a secret… Now I’m a touch shakey from it. I guess it got a bit intense. Anyhow, I thought I’d put it in here, too… read at your own risk.
Parents… well, I suppose technically I’ve got four. My parents divorced and both remarried other people shortly after I was born (I was about 10 months old when they divorced.)
My mother is amazing. When I first started recovering from my childhood, (you’re not supposed to recover from childhood…) I was angry at her for letting me down, for not protecting me, but I eventually realized that I loved her too much to be angry with her, and I learned that in the time when she wasn’t protecting me, she was fighting her own battles with depression and chronic fatigue syndrome and such… and she didn’t even have a clue that anything was going on at all with me. I haven’t been angry with her for that (or anything else) in years. I wish I lived closer to her.
My father (biological) has all sorts of his own issues. By the time I was fourteen or so, I was his therapist and knew everything that had ever happened to him as a child. It seemed a natural evolution of our relationship for some of those things to be re-enacted with me… I haven’t spoken to him in over 3 years, and I have no intention to do so. He will never be alone with my children, and if I have my way he will never even meet them. I’ve written him out of my life, and I’m fully satisfied with that.
My stepmother has been married to my father for 18 years or so (I’m 23.) When I finally had the nerve to tell her why I didn’t want to speak with him on the phone one night, she told me I was lying and just trying to destroy the family. She hung up on me and didn’t call for 3 weeks. When she did phone me back, she said, “Okay, well, it’s all done and over with now, so you should be able to deal with him again.” Ummm. yeah. right. She has never respected my choice to leave my father out of my life. She phones me every few weeks, talks about my half-brother & half-sister from their marriage, tells me that she & my father miss me and that I should come visit them. She seems to cling to the image of a happy family where everyone loves each other… it drives her batty that I won’t co-operate. I think somewhere in her mind she’s forgotten my reasons for breaking contact. If my story had been someone at church’s story, or the neighbour’s daughter’s story, and it had involved anyone other than her husband, she’d be on a crusade to help them acknowledge it and maybe even take it to courts. But her husband would never have sexual feelings for his 14 year old daughter… let alone act on them. I suppose I should respect her for standing by him. I don’t, though. I don’t care if she stands by him, I just want her to stop trying to make me be part of a family image I want nothing to do with.
My stepdad married my Mom when I was 18months old. He was around the house for most of my life. He’s diagnosed manic depressive, but he “doesn’t need medication” in his opinion. He spent years making himself feel good by making me feel bad – if I was singing around the house and he recognized the song from a movie, he’d tell me that the girl in the movie did it better. When I was six and wrote my first song, I went in and sang it for him, and he told me that I didn’t write it, I stole it. I
haven’t written a full song since, and I’ve never written any songs that I don’t think I must have stolen from someone. If he got mad at my mother (which was often) he was mad at me by proxy, since I wasn’t /his/ daughter, I was hers – he wouldn’t acknowledge either of us for weeks. He spent years helping me develop my inferiority complex, and would argue anything with me just for the sake of arguing it and being right – because he was always right. It was subtle though… it’s only now, when I start to do something and his voice comes back to me in my head saying how I’ll never get it right so I shouldn’t bother, or something else to that effect, that I realize how much impact he had on my life. Hence the standard disclaimers any time I sing anything for anyone – I know it won’t sound as good as someone else could do it, so I don’t give anyone the chance to tell me so.
Now my mom is married to a wonderful man, who I think is the best thing that ever happened to her. I wish I could spend a day with her every week of the year. I miss her terribly, and I’m adopting her new hubby cuz he’s such a teddy bear. They live in Vancouver (across the country) so I don’t get to see them more than once a year. I’d move to Vancouver to be with them, if it was feasible, but it isn’t right now. Maybe someday.
Now that I’ve written all this stuff, is anyone still with me?
My parents have made me who I am. I can’t argue with anyone because I’m not right. I can trace back many things that are messed up about me directly to my parents. My initial choices in boyfriends treated me as my father had. One guy I was with for two years took over my entire life to the point that I didn’t eat certain foods because he was allergic to them and it would be mean of me to eat them – most notably chocolate and pasta – pasta being my favourite food on the planet.
When I was doing all that therapy stuff, we were able to trace everything back to my parents. If I couldn’t make a phone call, it was because of how I felt about something, which triggered another feeling in me, which initially became part of me because of something that my step-dad said to me over and over again… It really is that intrinsicly part of who I am.
Here’s where things get confusing though. I like who I am now. I am satisfied with who I am becoming. If all these things have made me who I am, would I trade them away? Would it make me less strong, less who I am, if I hadn’t been treated the way I was growing up? Would I trade who I am for who I might have been, even if I might not have ended up so much who I am right now, considering how much I like who I am right now?
Yes. I would. But no, I wouldn’t.
If it made me depthless, without passion, without the joy that I have for life, then would it be worth it? If all my moods were even, if I never felt the highs like I feel them now, even though I have felt lows just as powerful? I don’t know if I would be who I am without my past. I know I wouldn’t be the same. But I don’t know if I could have become myself had these things not happened to me. I survived, and I’m proud of that.
I accept my past as part of me. I don’t have the choice to change it, but I wouldn’t wish anything similar to my past on anyone even if it did make them a stronger person, or a more emotional person, or whatever. If I could, I would make sure that no one had to survive anything ever again.
Maybe it’s like being able to decide before a baby is born if they have genes that may give them a disability – maybe living with a disability is incredibly difficult, and their lives will always be a challenge, but people can rise to a challenge and become something truly special. There are countless examples of that. Those who have disabilities wouldn’t wish them on anyone else, but when they succeed in spite of it, it’s almost as though they’ve succeeded because of it. If Terry Fox had had two legs, then running across the country wouldn’t have been as much of a huge deal. If Stephen Hawking wasn’t disabled, he would have been another scientist with some great ideas, maybe even some really important ideas, but a lot of people wouldn’t know about them because he would be just another scientist. In media today there has to be a hook… and sometimes it’s just a person’s story that does it.
I’m not saying that it’s a good thing I was abused. It isn’t. And I’m not saying that it’s good that people have disabilities, because it isn’t. It’s just that sometimes what we survive, any of us, can give us opportunities that we may never have had, had we not survived something. All those cheesy inspirational quotes have some truth in them… what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. A failure is just a lesson. We may not always get what we want, and sometimes it’s better that way.