Over the past week, I have been hearing stories about health problems my step-mother is experiencing. Today, I received the following message from a family member in my fb inbox:
Your dad asked that I let you know he is in the hospital (they are doing a full work up on his heart).
At first, I wanted to simply respond:
I don’t care.
However, I thought about the fact that she was really trying to help. I know people don’t always understand the extent of what has happened between my father and I, and that they really want help us make peace. However hurtful it might be that people don’t respect my wishes to be left alone when it comes to my father, I do understand that they don’t mean to hurt me.
As I waited for something nice and friendly to pop into my head, I worked on some therapeutic activities…On my fb status I posted:
for those that wonder why…they aren’t my family. we don’t share a bond….
I followed this activity up by going to my groups and adding one called, Extended “Family” In this group I added those that I consider my brothers and sisters, people who love and accept me as I am, and with whom I share a bond.
While I was contemplating what message I would send back, my mother called. She said my step-mother had let her know that my father wanted to know if anyone had told me. I shared with her that I had received a message already, and that I was trying to figure out how to respond. I told her how I really feel about it, and we talked about how she shares many of the same feelings about her own father. She talked about how people still try to get her to contact him, and how she doesn’t feel she has a reason to do so. Although I hate what my mother has been through, I appreciate that she understands how I feel. She even told my step-mom that she would tell me, but that was all she could do.
After talking to my mom, I took a little more time to contemplate things. I finally responded to my family member with the following:
It’s really nice of you to do this for him. I’m sorry to hear that he’s not doing well. Of course, you understand, I can’t be there. He hasn’t been my dad since March 26, 1989…the day he “disinherited” me for going to live with my mom…for wanting to stop living in fear.
You are his only chance at having a daughter now. I hope he treats you better than he did his own.
The more I think on this, the more I come to understand that my father did disinherit me. If I had known then what I know now, it wouldn’t have bothered me as much that he was using empty promises to try to manipulate me into staying in his home. He would never pay for my wedding, much less even begin to be able to help pay for a college education.
Even without considering that, I never had a bond with him. As I think back, after the age of 4, I can’t remember loving him. I remember being afraid. I remember obeying because I wanted to be a good girl. I didn’t want to hurt, and I didn’t want him to keep me from seeing my mother. But I never loved him.
The walls he caused me to put up also kept me from creating a true bond with my step-mother. In all of this, she is the one I feel he has really hurt. I was not able to develop a relationship with her because of the way he tried to use her to replace my own mother, someone who was still very much a part of my heart and my life. She is a very patient, loving, and kind woman, but in the end, she is like my father…she’s just someone I know.
Yet, as I read this, something else comes to me. I have never allowed responsibility to rest on my step-mother for not protecting me. I’ve always tried to protect her feelings, yet she never protected mine…