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 grandaughters’ 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. Nope.
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 fucked 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 bullshit): “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 his demons, 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 hell 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. Only I think I’ve done a fair job of finally recognizing the truth.
But damn it took a long time.