When you’re someone who dwells a lot in the past, it makes it nigh on impossible to let things go. If I got a £1 for every time someone close to me told me to just forget about something or move on, I’d never need to work again. I have always known it’s been a problem, and I’ve always struggled with being able to find a way to ‘just let it go’.
How cliche, lets blame my parents…..
I grew up a very bitter child. I was always so angry and agitated. My parents divorced when I was 3, and my Mum moved my sister and I from one end of the country to the other, so we could live with her friends. We settled in Scotland and this was to become our home. In the first few years of their separation I would ask for my Dad, and my Mum would tell me all sorts of reasons as to why he wasn’t around. Never the truth. I guess that’s a tough one to explain to a 3 year old, but I often think that a little bit of honesty should have been given. I wasn’t given the truth until I was nearly 6 years old. That is a long time to be strung along in my honest and humble opinion.
My parent separation wasn’t pleasant. They were both very bitter toward one another. My Mum will maintain that she wasn’t, but she was. My Dad was, and still is, incredibly bitter towards my Mum. He is under the illusion that it was a happy home, and my Mum broke it up. When he would come to see me growing up, he would spend our entire time together talking about my Mum, telling me stories about her, warping my mind against her. On the other side of the fence, Mum would get me to lie to my Dad, so that he would give her more money. It was a mess of a divorce and I was 100% used as a pawn to get back at each other.
When my parents first separated, my Dad would come to see me often. If you ask me, it’s because he hoped that he could rekindle something with my Mum. As the years went on the visits became less and less. Until it got to the point where I would see him maybe twice a year. My Dad had moved away, had been involved with a couple of women over a 20 year period. He was definitely more interested in them than me, he valued these relationships, his homes, cars and holidays, more than me. My Mum was always working, sleeping, with her boyfriend, or out with friends. Yes she would take me places, but that was only because there was no alternative. She didn’t like doing things with me, no more than I liked doing things with her to be fair. The older I got, the less I liked spending time with my Dad. What child wants to spend an entire day going over all the reasons why their life is shit?
One of my earliest memories of my Dad is me, sitting in the living room waiting for him to arrive. I had a little red chair, that I would put under the window. We lived in a top floor flat, that basically faced out onto nothing, so to see the road you would have to be at the far left of the window and peer down the street. I would stand on that chair and I would peer over the ledge and down the street for what felt like forever. Just waiting to see him coming up the path. As soon as I’d see him I’d run to the door and wait for Mum to open it. On this particular day, he had a bag with him because he’d just been on holiday. He brought me a present!
When my Mum opened the door she let him in, I was handed the bag. It was filled with sea shells. Lots of pretty shells. Dad knew I would love it, and I did. My most favorite place in the whole wide world to be is beside the sea. Whenever I was at the beach I would always pick shells. Looking for the most perfect ones. My favorites being the ones that are white, and iridescent on the inside. The bag was full of them! My Mum snatched the bag, threw them into the sink. A huge argument broke out between them, I was sent to my room and he was sent away.
That is just my earliest memory of this utter shit show! There were many more to follow over the years. Times he would say he was coming through, then just not turn up because they’d argued. I got used to it. I got used to him not being around! I got used to them both letting me down at every turn, so I stopped caring. Or at least I told myself I stopped caring. Up came the wall, and the chip on my shoulder just got bigger and bigger!
Getting older and becoming a parent just made me even more bitter!
By the time I was a teenager, I hated them both in equal measures. When I became a parent, I became even more bitter. The love I feel for my children just cannot be quantified or explained to do it justice! I’m sure any parent (well the ones that give a shit) reading this understand what I mean. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for them. They will never grow up and remember a time I wasn’t there for them. However big and small the situation, I’ll always be there for them. Regardless of how old they get. They will never stop being my children, and I will never not be someone they can rely on!
I have attended every single assembly and stage performance that my children have ever been involved in! I never ever miss them! I still have all the pictures and videos of them all. Some of them still make me giggle. Particularly the ones when they’re all really young, as it’s looks to be more of a desperate attempt of the teachers herding cats through water! Just adds to the comedic value, and makes the memories all the more precious.
My eldest son once performed in our main city hall with the city orchestra. I was the only parent to be there solo (my husband was away), and I was the only one at the end of their performance to give them a standing ovation. When my son tells this story, it comes from a place of deep embarrassment. I don’t care! At least he can tell an embarrassing story of the time his Mum attended his performance and was so proud she got to her feet!
My parents never attended any of my assemblies/performances! not a single one. Not even my P7 leavers performance, the one that my Mum promised me she wouldn’t miss. I remember the curtains opening and looking out into the audience and her not being there. I was gutted. She promised. At the end I was the ONLY child who didn’t have a parent/guardian to greet them and walk them home. I was so disappointed that she didn’t turn up. When I got home, she was in her bed! Shock. That’s not the worst one either, there have been countless times where my Mum had promised she’d attend something at school, or pick me up even, and just didn’t turn up. Another that comes to mind was when my entire high school year was taken away to a team building retreat. All parents were to collect us from the school, as we had luggage with us. I waited for an hour after the bus dropped us off. My holdall weighed a tonne! I had to struggle and get it home on my own, took me a freaking age to get it home. Was she even in? Was she fuck! She was away in the town shopping and out for tea. Completely forgot!! Shaking my head as I write that, because what parent forgets? My daughter has literally just left for the weekend with her youth group, and I will keep in touch with her for the whole thing, and if she needs me to be there when she gets back to pick her up, I’ll be waiting for her to get off the bus.
I realise that this is a lot of shade to throw on my Mum. Where was my Dad through all of this? Ah, who knows? He had the equal opportunity to turn up to sports days, school performances, awards even. Yup, I won an award in my first year of high school for being an exemplary student. Now that would have been something to attend, because it certainly wasn’t going to happen again. He didn’t turn up for that. No doubt, he’ll blame my mother and claim she never told him these things, or that he wasn’t welcome, or whatever bullshit reason he has. I don’t honestly know. All I know, is wild horses wouldn’t keep me from my kids. I’d do everything in my power to be involved. I’d never miss a single key moment of their lives. I guess it’s knowing what I would do for mine, that had made me all the more bitter that neither of my parents cared for me this way. Not even close.
Issues, Issues, everywhere…
I think that every single adult in the world can look back on their childhood and say “well, they only went and fucked up”. I’m sure my children will too at some point. No parent is perfect. At all. Not even you reading this now! All we can do is our best. All parents assume their parenting is the best. We all judge other parents, whether we admit it out loud or not. We all do it. We judge how someone dresses their child, how they talk to them, how they don’t talk to them, what they let them away with, the things they wont let them away with. We always assume that our parenting is best.
This also applies to how we measure our parenting against our parents. We will all assume that we’re doing our children a better service than we received, but I’m sure they’ll grow up and believe that we have done them a disservice somewhere and they too will vow that their children will not have to go through what they’ve gone through. For my children, it will probably be the nomadic lifestyle I’ve thrust upon them. I’m confident they’ll have issues about the 14 homes we’ve lived in, in their short lives! They’ll either continue this nomadic life, or pick a house, however big/small, and refuse to leave it. I can hear them telling my grand children about all of the times I made them move, and how they don’t realise how easy they have it.
At least they taught me how not to do it!
My parents didn’t teach me how to parent, but rather how not to parent. I often measure what I’m doing, against what they would do, and I will do the opposite! Yes I’ve had bumps in the road with my children and I would never pretend to be a perfect parent, but what I will say is my children are definitely making me proud. They’ve had their wobbles, but for the most part, are on the straight and narrow and are on the right track to paving good careers/lives for themselves. All I want is for them to be happy and healthy, and to grow up and be well adjusted adults. It means I make choices that don’t exactly sit well with my children, as they see me as controlling/meddling and I’m sure they hate me at times. However, I’m confident that when they’re adults they’ll look back and realise that everything I’ve done, I’ve done for them.
Knowing they taught what not to do, rather than what to do, also made me bitter. I have always been very jealous of those that are close to their parents. I had a friend growing up who was always out doing things with her Mum. I think this made me incredibly resentful of this friend. Looking back on it now, I appreciate how silly that is, but that the time it was very real and justified to me. Who was she to have a normal, well adjusted family that gave a shit. What a dick! I have a feeling you still read this blog, and if you’re reading this thinking “I wonder if this is me”, yup, it’s you! And I’m sorry for how I was with you back then. I guess now you know my reasons, however silly and unjustified.
How have I come to make peace with it all?
After many years of being a bit cray cray (understatement), going through counselling, therapy, self help books/online forums etc to end up at a point where I am today, all I can conclude is this; I have many issues! So, so many! Thankfully I have an umbrella, EUPD/BPD, that I can put them under. Why am I thankful for this? Well it helps me to better understand and know how best to tackle them. I’ll be fucked if I let this define who I am for the rest of my life. All of my issues are like weights that just pull me down and I can’t do it anymore.
The biggest weight I have carried is the bitterness towards my parents for my childhood. For the fact they don’t function like normal parents, and for the fact they have tried to be a part of my life as an adult, when being a part of my life when I needed them the most was too much like hard work. This has just etched away at the chip on my shoulder
Summing up my childhood
If I was to sum up my childhood in one word, it would be shit. There is no getting away from it. Did I have happy moments? umm, yeah? sure! lets call them that, but really it was just all out shit. The best bit about my childhood was not going it alone! I had my sister with me, and I’ll always be thankful of that. There was a chance when I was little that she was going to go and live with my Mum’s friends, and as selfish as it sounds, I’m so glad she didn’t. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how much more shit it would have been.
Would I have wanted my parents to stay together?
If you’d asked me this at 6 years old, of course I would have. I put all of the unhappiness down to them being apart. Getting older, and getting to know them as people, not just my parents, I appreciate this would have been horrible for them to stay together. They are so incredibly similar it’s frightening, and such a bad combination. The very fact they were even a couple in the first place amazes me! Them being divorced, however shit it was for me, was still better than them being together. I know this now.
Do I hate my parents?
Hate is such a strong word. I don’t hate them entirely, I just hate aspects of them. Does that make sense? There are parts of my parents that I just wish I could eradicate. Their addictive natures, their ability to completely skew the truth to suit their situation, their self serving nature, their love of money above everything/one else, but most of all, their being blind to it all!
Do I love my parents?
Of course. It’s a weird kind of love. It’s a protective, I wouldn’t see anything bad happen to them, don’t talk about them unless you want to lose teeth, kind of love. Not a ‘my parents are amazing’ love though. I’ve tried in counselling to explain how I feel about my parents and it’s really difficult. This is probably the best explanation I can give.
Does the things that have happened in my childhood matter now?
Had I been asked this as year ago, it would have been a “damn right!!” answer, but now? It’s a cool no. It doesn’t matter. The little girl that stood on that red chair, waiting to face another disappointment, or that stood on the stage fighting back tears because yet again no-one gave a fuck to turn up, is no more.
That little girl has grown up and defied all of the odds against her! I am proud to say I was that little girl, and that today, in spite of my parents, my childhood, my previous relationship, all of it, I am where I am today. I am the mother to 4 gorgeous (I am biased) kids, I too am paving a good life and career for myself at long last, and I live in a home filled with love! My children bicker like there is no tomorrow, they fight like cat and dog at times, in fact two of my children haven’t spoken to each other in weeks, it’s actually impressive! But I know they love each other, they love me, and I love them. They will grow up with happy memories, embarrassing memories, but most of all, memories of me always being there!
My childhood doesn’t matter anymore. It’s been and gone. I cannot change it. What does being bitter achieve? Nothing! It just makes the chip on the shoulder too big to handle, and I for one am done.
Most of all, I forgive my parents. For whatever reason, they just don’t have it in them to be a parent. I know that they love me, in their own weird way, and I guess that is enough for me.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. ~ Gandhi
And there we have it folks! Feeling pretty badass right now. If you could see me now, full on spandex, giving it the ol’ flex for how strong I’m feeling! Jokes aside, Gandhi was a wise man. I do feel so much better being able to just build a bridge over one of the biggest ‘issues’ and know I can be done with it.
I have forgiven, but I wont forget. I can think about my childhood, recalling memories, even the really bad ones, but I can let them go as quickly as they came. That’s the big thing for me. I can acknowledge that it was shit, talk about the fact it was, but no longer get angry and upset. It just was what it was.