Growing up, I was made to believe that my father hated me and everything I did. Now you might expect this from a divorced couple, right? The old “he said she said” battle that continues to poison our society, when in fact my parents are still married. I grew up hating my dad in return. Wishing his demise because I believed he hated me. I wanted to run so fast from that house at every chance and did when I joined the Navy. It wasn’t until I was in therapy that I discovered the truth, my mother hated him so she projected it on me. With her mental issues that I wouldn’t understand the full scope off until recently, she made me believe that he was a monster, unfeeling and cruel. That he never thought I would amount to anything and that I was untalented, overweight and stupid. This went on for over 30 years and could have continued for many more until fate stepped in.
I had noticed that my dad was different then I remember when he was around the grand children. I chalked it up to being a grandpa and didn’t think twice about it. But when John was given the choice of being stationed in New Orleans, I took it as a chance to make peace with the life I left behind in 12 years prior.
We had to live with my parents for the first few months until we could get a place closer to the base. After 24 hours of being around my mother the blinders, I had on suddenly began to melt. She was starting with her old tricks but this time because I had been around other people for 12 years; her tricks weren’t working, so she became craftier in them.
One such trick was telling me my mean old father wouldn’t pay for her much-needed antidepressants and sleep aids.So being an advocate for the people who needed such medicine should have them, I confronted this tyrant. To my surprise, he said he just filled it a week prior. He also proceeded to tell me why he had cut off her funds and other things that my mother was working on convincing me he was this evil man. She had started drinking very heavily and would ask for money to get bread, for example, and keep the change or hide the receipt when she had bought alcohol. She would then hide the beer or whatever and often become so drunk that by the time my dad came home she could barely walk. She wasn’t taking care of the house, she was starving herself for sympathy and would tell the entire neighborhood that my dad was an ogre there for she drank.
It was all lies.
I would never have seen the truth if I hadn’t been forced to spend more than a week for vacation with her. I would have gone on thinking it was my dad that was wrong and put her on this pedestal. It didn’t dawn on me until then that all the times I wanted to ask my dad for things like getting to go to a dance, she would say “oh no let me ask him. He might say yes coming from me.” And he would always say no, that she never asked him and used the opportunity to build on my hatred by saying that he didn’t trust me or flat-out said no. It worked for a long time, but this time around my parents seeing them in this new light stopped it.
In watching my parents over the next two years that we lived in New Orleans made me realize that my father should get a medal for what wounds he has endured living with her. While he is not a saint, he has put up with her for almost 36 years. How he has lasted this long is beyond me, I can barely spend 20 minutes on the telephone with her without wanting to strangle her. She lies and schemes and drinks so much you can never tell what is real and what is imagined. She does things that defy reason such as collecting bones from dead cats to make wind chimes for goodness sake. She says she does this because my dad won’t give her money for real ones. Poor, poor mother. And she has called me Miss Sarah Heartburn my whole life. Gee, I wonder where I got it from.
Now, she will hate me for saying these things and that I only see what I want to see. But don’t we all. Our perception is our reality. If it wasn’t and I could have chosen something else for my reality, believe me, it would have been happy and fun, not dark and grizzly. My whole life was formed in that reality. Everything I have done is a direct result of that universe I lived in. Every mistake, every decision, every step I took was a manifestation of the world I grew up in, which for years I blamed my father for, but now I place that blame where it actually belongs.
For the first time, I feel free.
When I discovered this a few years ago, I immediate saw signs of my mother in my everyday life: the laziness, the poisoning of my children. I decided then and there that I would break the cycle. I would do what was best for my family I would get counseling and become a stronger person.
I am a better, stronger and smarter person now. So if my mother doesn’t want to speak to me after say that then it is her loss. I broke the cycle, which wasn’t easy, I stand my ground and I love my family the way it should be loved. I clean my house, I love my husband, I care for their needs and care for my own as well. Without manipulation, without lies, without the elephant of weight on my shoulder that I was a sell out because I got my husband a cup of coffee when he asked for one, that I wasn’t a failure because I wanted to be a mother and a wife. That I wasn’t wrong in choosing to be like my mother-in-law, my neighbor growing up, and my aunt who were women who cared for the men and their families with the same importance as a CEO of a company.
So I will end this saying I am sorry Daddy for believing the lies for as long as I did. “I’m sorry for blaming you for everything I just couldn’t do and I’ve hurt myself by hurting you.”
Ohh I’m sorry for blaming you
Some days I feel broke inside but I won’t admit
There’s nothing I wouldn’t do
Ohh I’m sorry for blaming you
If I had just one more day
I’m sorry for blaming you