(Dad, I know that if I tell you not to read this - you will... but read this in the way that it's intended - I'm working on healing, and I haven't had the opportunity to talk through all of this with you yet... but I'm going to emotionally explode if I don't get it out and process through some of it... so that being said - I would love to open up the door to talk about what happened back then from your perspective.)
Today is my grandmother's 80th birthday, and in light of recent developments with the family on that side - I am not there to celebrate with her. She had a big birthday party on Saturday and I missed that as well, but I felt it was the best thing for John and I at this time to not be there.
I called her this morning to wish her a happy birthday, and I finally got a glimpse of what/where some of the tendencies that my own mother has come from. I can't ever remember a time when I felt a chill come from my grandmother - but it was loud and clear today. The sad thing is that she probably either doesn't know what the issue is right now - or she thinks that it is something completely beside the point.
The argument did stem from frustration about the party, and more importantly from a comment that my aunt made in reference to John. It goes much farther back than all of this though, and it just happened to be that this was the final straw for me to be pushed into a need to deal with all the things from the past.
When I was about 7 - my parents split up. This is rough for any family, no doubt... but some families are able to deal with it in ways that are less destructive to the children involved. Unfortunately though, in my case - what was a bad situation was made worse by women that were then and are still now unwilling to deal with their own feelings of hurt. As a young child - I had to learn how to hide my true feelings in order to validate theirs. I don't know how I did it, but I do know that to this day - I honestly can't remember a single thing that went on back then.
I remember all of a sudden my parents split up, and I wasn't allowed to see my Dad without my aunt being with me. I was told that I was scared of my Dad - but for the life of me - I can't imagine what in the world I would have been scared of. This was my father - the first man in my life that I loved... and a man that I would learn 11 years later was simply amazing.
At the same time - I was removed from seeing my sisters - who don't share a mother with me, but we have the same father. My oldest sister was accused of being abusive toward me, but again - no memories can back up where this claim came from. So in the divorce settlement - I wasn't allowed to see my sister until such a time as I was old enough to defend myself. Thank goodness that time came when I was 13 - or I would have missed my sister's wedding. I would have also missed my oldest niece's first few months of life if it had been mandated that I not see her until my 18th birthday.
From the time I was 7 until the time that I moved away and went to college - my relationships with my Dad's side of the family were strained, and sadly - I missed out on a lot of important events. Including but not limited to having a real relationship with my Dad's parents. I understand it all now - but at that time I was told that my Dad cared more about my sisters than he did me - and that's why he'd take my sisters to family events instead of me. I see through that now, and realize that he did what he needed to do for his older two children - as he had no control over the rest.
For better or worse, I was the kid that missed out on a lot of things because I was afraid of a lot... I didn't try out for cheer leading because I was afraid of rejection... no sports... no girl scouts... I pretty much had my television/Nintendo to keep me company when my friends had other activities, and I learned to just internalize my feelings and stuff them down further with food.
I was the kid that would cry all night before going to visit my Dad because of hurting my Mom's feelings by potentially enjoying my time away, but then also crying all night the last night at my Dad's because I'd miss him so terribly.
To this day, I still have trouble controlling my emotions when people leave from visiting - or when I leave... there's something to that, but I just don't know what it is yet.
I've also been hurt pretty badly before by direct comments from my aunts and mother about my Dad, and they are certainly hurtful things said out of anger or hurt - the most intense comment came out of one aunt's pain while going through her own divorce - but no less hurtful. No matter what they think about my Dad - he's mine... and he's a part of who I am. I think that they seem to forget that. How would they feel if the tables were turned and someone was saying hurtful things about their father? It would bring up the same emotions.
You would think that after 23 years, these situations would tend to die out - but they don't... it's the same now as it was back then. Worse even, because there have been some major events in my life that have been missed because they can't get over their own issues enough to attend events for me. My 30th birthday for example... everyone in my life was there - with the exception of a single member of my mother's family.
Now as an adult, and having watched my sister-in-law get divorced while having a young child. I see things from another perspective... I have watched John's family struggle at times, but for the most part - the allow Taylor to have the relationship that she's meant to have with her father. In her own time - she'll figure out for herself all the rest. The great thing though is that at no time does she have to pretend for us that she doesn't enjoy her days with her Dad or anything else.
Sadly, as I've grown up and gotten married - the problems have only gotten more intense - as I am now the lucky person that gets major guilt trips if I spend any time with my in-laws or any family member other than theirs. The interesting thing though is that everyone else in my life makes an effort to come see me... not the case with them.
The main issue here is that I absolutely 100% refuse to carry any of this forward into my children's lives. As I think about the possibility of starting a family in the next year, I have to figure out what that means. I know that I will not tolerate anyone bad mouthing their grandparents, parents, or anyone else significant in their life in their presence. (Really at any time, but certainly not in front of the child) I've got to be able to let it go and be the best, most Godly mother I can be - and it won't involve me holding back my feelings about my childhood - or letting anyone carry those feelings forward into their life either.