Friday, 14 September 2007

"It's her own fault she has cancer"

Continuing from previous post.

The more I think about it, the greater the adjective. I wasn't and am not shocked that anyone would say that someone deserves to develop cancer. I am absolutely stunned. Astonished. And yet, he used to say it in such a blase manner, as if it was as normal as eating breakfast. It's such a cruel, low-down, evil concept: he was glad she had cancer? Had he wished it upon her? Doesn't that, by inference, mean that he was glad my sister and I, and our two much younger brothers from our mother's second marriage, were about to lose our mother?

I remember how he behaved when she started seeing our step-dad. I've been left too, so I know how painful it is to see your ex with someone else, or even just to know that they have moved on. He was still reeling from the split so he must have been devastated. However, it didn't stop him. I guess it wouldn't. His frame of mind was then and is now the same. Even now, thirty years after their divorce, he will still happily give you a good rant about my mother with no less bitterness than when I was seven.

My step-dad wanted to make a good impression, naturally. He's a good man and I love him dearly (although it took me a long time, perhaps a decade at least, because my male parent couldn't say anything good about him either, and, as you will see, planted mistrust in my little mind about my step-dad's motives).

Step-dad ran a market stall on which he sold toys, particularly big cuddly teddy bears. He gave my sister and I a lovely bear each. I chose a tabby coloured bear, she chose a red one. We loved them! We were so poor at the time and our male parent kept EVERYTHING from the house, including our toys. He would not let our mother or us have anything. I can honestly say that by the time the divorce and visitation details had been thrashed out, I could not even remember my toys - the toys I had owned for seven, eight years! He wouldn't let us have them and so, instead of pining for them, we forgot about them. I had absolutely no bond with bears that I'd taken to bed my whole life. The bears that our step-dad gave us were like Christmas coming to two poverty stricken little girls living in a cramped house with our mother, aunt, uncle and grandparents. We were so poor that my school bag was a plastic carrier bag and my pencil case a plastic transparent sandwich bag, so you can imagine how happy those teddy bears made us.

The male parent said that we'd had only been given the bears because our step-dad was trying to buy our love. That put a damper on things. It spoiled the gift, but I guess that was what he wanted. I can still remember the feeling and the words. I was so happy: "Look what he gave me!" "He only gave you that to buy your love". To me, that meant: he doesn't really care about you. So I always thought: my step-dad doesn't care about me. He doesn't want me around. (When my brothers were born later, my male parent said, during the pregnancies, "They'll be more interested in the baby than you".)

Now this smells like more objectification to me. He didn't care how disappointed I felt or how hurt that he would trample on my OBVIOUS happiness. He had kept all my toys for so long I had forgotten them so sympathetic adults tried to help me, make up for the loss. My step-dad was just being kind. He's a good guy, although I wasn't allowed to like him.

Power games. Mind games. Selfishness. Objectification.

All I wanted was to be able to love all my parents - all three of them at this point - and not have to worry about saying anything that would set the alienator off. I just wanted to be able to enjoy all their company without him watching for an opportunity to criticize my mother or step-father or mother's family. When I showed him that bear, I wanted him to be as happy for me as I was.

Argh. I'm really angry now. It may only seem like a bear to you but it's a metaphor in a very real sense. It set the tone for nearly every conversation with the alienator after that. He was always looking - and finding - ways to criticize and belittle my home life. He wouldn't just let me be happy. I feel so hurt that his own feelings meant more than those of a seven year old. I'm still hurting now. I've hurt constantly for the past thirty years and I'm tired of it, hence the counselling and the blog. I need to let go of the pain. I want to let go of it! It just hurts so much to have a parent who doesn't love you.

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