So I promised to give you more of me, and in this and the coming few posts I would like to tell you about the two moments in my life that have affected me the most – on very personal and emotional levels – and how I have dealt with them over time. So we’re talking about life-changing experiences, things that happen that change us completely and shape us into the person we’re meant to be.
The first life experience revolves Family. With a capital F, yes. Because we’re talking close Family.
In my last post I sort of scratched the surface a bit as to how I grew up: single mum, distant dad, close siblings, but on our own.
Well, above is a picture of my mum and I being a bit silly on her last visit to Australia.
She’s my rock. Literally. She has stood by my siblings and I through everything, and she does more for us than one can really imagine. Like mothers do. Only she had to be more than just a mum, she was everything all at once, because we didn’t have that much more when it came to family and relatives.
Now, don’t get me wrong. For me, this is nothing negative. This just means that I had a different childhood than my friend who grew up with two very supporting parents and a big network of family members, such as aunties, uncles, cousins, amazing grandparents, etc. But still to me, my childhood was perfect in its own imperfect way.
The only time I ever suffered was when my “dad” was in the picture. I put that word in quotation marks simply because he wasn’t a dad to me, and that title is one you need to earn.
Anyway. He was – or, is – a… special man, in lack of other words. He isn’t a person that makes people feel very good about themselves. He is very selfish and negative, and not at all truthful. He’s extremely manipulative. And he thinks that everyone is out to get him at all times.
My mum divorced him not long after I was born. So we spent every second weekend at his house trapped in cigarette smoke 24/7, eating nothing but bad greasy pizza and lots of sweets, and doing nothing but watch him sleep.
That middle part might sound like a dream come true for a kid, but I quickly learned that it really isn’t when you’re super hungry and just want some proper, home cooked food that you don’t have to wipe down with paper towels before you attempt to eat it.
He came and went, though, throughout my childhood. There were times when I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen him, and didn’t at all know where to find him.
It’s a strange thing, longing for someone, and yet not. I guess I was just longing for the thought of someone – someone that he was not. I was hurting when he was away, missing having a dad around, but then when he returned I was hurt having him around, because of who and what he was.
This is all way too confusing for a child, if you ask me.
So fast forward to two weeks before I turned 16. I had just started high school (in Sweden) the day before, and we were all spending time together at my mum’s house. Things had been going really well for quite a while and so mum brought up the conversation of him being more involved in our lives (this is what she always wanted for us, having had a distant father herself). But with him being what he is (thinking everyone being against him at all times) he took things way wrong. He got angry, to a threatening point. Something shadowed his eyes in a way I had rarely seen before. So he got up and started walking to the gate, claiming he wasn’t able to have such a conversation at the moment, that he had work to do.
I guess that was always his biggest problem – he had no sense of responsibility. Just couldn’t deal. And so he would always hide his lack of it, pretending that he had other, more important things to do.
I can still see it clearly in my mind, him standing on the other side of our green garden gate, telling me that he’ll give me a call. I knew in that moment what he was doing. I had seen it before and I knew things better now than when I was five. He was leaving.
I didn’t say anything, simply because I couldn’t muster it at the time. But I had decided in that moment that he was not the one leaving this time…
So I wrote him an email (I decided to communicate in his way, because it was his thing to write people letters when he needed to say things). I poured my heart out into that letter. And I cried and cried. I watched my brother disintegrate – he, too, knew what was happening. And I was furious about everything. As I sent that email, there was a weight that lifted off my shoulders; it was as if my whole body sighed in relief.
No more, I said. No more.
And there wasn’t.
For years, we didn’t hear anything from or about him. Except for everything we had to try and deal with, it was quiet and peaceful.
Until we found out that one of our aunties (that is, my mum’s sister!) had secretly invited him back into the family. We were furious with everyone for letting him in. They all knew the story, they all knew how much it had taken for us to be done with him and his poison.
So that’s when we decided to cut all ties (except for one of my aunties). There was just no reason for us to keep contact with people (we’re talking grandparents, aunties, cousins…) who hurt us in the worst possible way.
Last year, for my birthday, my maternal grandfather wrote me an email wishing me happy birthday. As if nothing had happened – as if we hadn’t not spoken for almost three years. I wrote him back, short and concise saying once again that I was hurt by their actions and wanted nothing to do with them. And I certainly didn’t want a “happy birthday” from them.
What I got in return was an email about the length of two A4-pages, I’d say. I didn’t read it. As soon as I realised my pulse was beating faster and faster, and after spotting a couple of not so kind words here and there, I knew that I didn’t want to know of the foulness pouring from that man’s fingers.
So I pressed the delete button twice, and it was gone forever. All of it. And with it all, their power over me and my well-being disappeared. There would be no use whatsoever in me trying to get the last word, because it was never going to happen anyway. Instead, I just let it go.
There are some things you can control and others that you cannot. Sometimes, all we can do is accept things for what they are.
Now, I may have only grown up with a mum as support, and there have been many times when I have missed not having an amazing dad and better grandparents. But I now also know that I am better off with what I have, rather than hurting from something that isn’t right.
So I guess you could say I had a tough childhood without knowing it – because I grew up with a mother who refused to let me know. I grew up with a mother who made the very most of the little she had – or most of the time, didn’t have. And I’m forever grateful for that. Sure, there are a lot of things I’ve had to go through and deal with as a teenager and adult (I’ll tell you more about this in my next post!), but I have no regrets and certainly no remorse. And neither do I hold any bitterness or any grudge towards anyone, because I have been able, in time, to forgive both them and myself for everything that has happened.
I am who I am because of all of this. And I’m honestly pretty damn proud of the person I’ve become!
Have you been able to forgive and let go of things from your childhood? And are you proud of who you are today? Let me know in the comments! It’s always good to know we’re not alone in this 🙂