Tuesday, January 06, 2009

the final step in the awakening

I was struggling with what to post today. There are so many things I want to talk about, and so little time and energy to do so right now. But then I read this post by Mir, and I knew.  Mir did an awesome job explaining to her daughter the relationship pitfalls of preteen girls.  And then I thought about how this applies to our lives even as adults.

We all have toxic people in our lives...and many of us have to learn to cut those people out, it possible, or reduce our exposure to them if not.

My parents were divorced when I was very young.  My mom raised me with very little financial assistance or input from my father.  He was a person that I saw once a year (maybe) for a few days.  This brought out  myriad of emotions throughout my childhood...anger, hurt, self-doubt, apathy, you name it, it was there at some point.

When I turned 16, I wrote him a letter and basically gave him an ultimatum...you either have a daughter, or not, but it was decision time.  He suddenly became interested.  I visited a few times over the next couple of years. My dad had been remarried for the second time at this point, and my stepmom had a son that was a year older than me.  My father had adopted him.  Nope, that didn't annoy me, not at all (I don't lie well in real life either.)  My stepmom and I had an okay relationship.  A lot about her annoyed me, but I was good at letting it roll right on over my head.

I graduated from college, and like a dummy followed a boy.  After a year of living in a neighboring state with him and his crazy parents, I had to get out.  My dad was one small state (2 hours) away, my mom was several states and 12 hours away.  I moved in with my father to save money and figure out where I wanted to go with my life.  I met my husband and here I am.

When my husband and I were engaged, my stepmom (and therefore my father) wanted to pay for my wedding.  I agreed as long as I still had control...I didn't want wildly expensive, but I wanted what I like, not what someone else did.  We couldn't really afford a photographer, so we asked a sort of relative to take them.  I bought good film, lots of it.  It was videotaped.

I've never seen that video tape, and all the pictures of my husband and I alone are missing.  My stepmom came into our house while we were on our honeymoon and took them to be developed.  Then she kept her copy, plus the extras of quite a few.  She also had the "photographer" use cheap film she had and kept the good film.

Over the next year or so, many other things happened.  A rift formed.  I started to see a trend.  Between myself, my stepbrother, and my half sister (from the middle marriage), one of us had to be the "bad child."  And since I didn't bow down, and I wasn't financially dependent on her, I wouldn't play that game.  Eventually, I just stopped trying.  They lived less than a mile away from us, and we never saw them.  PB was 6 days old before they saw her, and that was because they stopped early in the morning to tell me they were moving to Kansas.  That was it.  A year or so later I tried  reconciliation, and after a couple of years, I found out how badly I was being treated, and that was it.  I haven't spoken to them since.

My father has never seen my son.  He hasn't seen PB since she was a toddler, and Bug since she was in early elementary school.  Every so often, I stop and think about this.  I test the wound to see how raw it is.  I wonder if I need to check on him...I think how I will feel when someday I find out he is gone.  And I've realized that while I'll feel sad, I don't think I will regret my decision.  It's one thing to screw with my feelings, but I won't let anyone hurt my children that way.  It makes me sad that they won't know as much about my father's family, as they were an important part of my childhood (I was the baby of all the grandkids...can you say spoiled rotten?)  But I see this as an example of cutting those toxic people out of our lives.

My MIL asked me over the holidays if I wanted to send him a letter, tell him all he is missing, show him all we have become.  And sometimes, that answer is yes.  Because he is my father, and sometimes I am that little girl that just wants his attention.  But then the adult quickly takes over and shuts that door. 

I have a great life.  I have people in my life that love me, that will do almost anything for me.  I have a wonderful husband, awesome children, a nice house and car and a good job.  I am a good person, and I've learned finally that I don't need his approval, or attention. 

1 comment:

Magpie said...

I'm so sorry. That must have been hard.