As part of the therapy sessions we have been focusing a lot on my belief I was some how responsible for the horrific events in my past. I always acknowledged others played a role. But if I am honest I focused on the parts I felt were mine. They were the parts I could control after all. But now I recognise it was not my fault…none of it was… I may have made mistakes. I might have said the wrong thing or perhaps I didn’t try hard enough at times. But the reality is I am not to blame for any of it. I should never of faced those situations to begin with. I should never of had to decide how to respond.
The challenge now this self criticism has dissolved, it gives way to a barrage of other feelings and questions. I think I always knew that would be the case. I think one of the reasons I held so tightly to my blame is I knew I would be lost in not knowing what to do with these feelings and thoughts.
For decades I did more than tolerate my parents even in the throws of the trauma and abuse I was often their biggest advocate. I was the one who sat at my dads hospital bed every day for hours watching him die. Reading some random rugby book to him. I was the one who would advocate for mum and fort to try and ensure a better future for her. I would always tell people about their good traits. I would rarely if ever tell them about the bad. Only perhaps telling Stephen the high levels facts when it came to making decisions about our girls, feeling as the other half of our parenting duo he had the need to know. Or perhaps a passing comment to justify why I had been foster care, often wanted to evidence it was not because of me.
Now I feel like a fraud. I am so blessed that I even had a group of friends who turned up at my dads funeral. Yes they were there to support me. But if they knew what he had done I don’t think they ever would have understood my kindness. Because I don’t understand it now.
I think I forced aside my feelings because I wanted to be a good person. A kind, forgiving person. I wanted to bring some light to the world. I could not stand the amount of darkness I was subjected too. I was adamant the world had enough hate, I was going to bring the joy, the love, the compassion. Without my feelings I could do that. With my feelings I don’t know if I can.
Making conversations hard now…
I was talking to my aunt the other day and she was asking about a book I have been writing.
“Your mum would be so proud…” she went on to press how much it would have meant to her. Then came the usual add on.
“And your dad, he would have been proud too.” Now in the past I would have just thanked her for the kind words and moved on. But I can’t walk past it any more.
“I can agree with mum. But not dad, he would not have been proud of me. He was never proud of anything I did.”
She tried to persuade me and then eventually agreed to disagree. It was harmless enough conversation but it stung.
Then came an even harder situation. After a family jubilee tea, some of the family started up a conversation about dad, joking and laughing. I can’t even explain the detail because I just find it too hard. Suffice to say as they laughed and joked I found myself unable to breath. I asked them to stop, then told them to stop but they didn’t listen. Gratefully after a short while one of them changed the conversation. Perhaps they noticed my discomfort. I held it together as I always do, it didn’t feel like the right time or place to get into the trauma, but by the time they left I was broken.
So what now?
I fear this acceptance of the traumatic past I struggled through will change me. It will make me into someone I don’t want to be. I don’t know if I can forgive it all and what does that make me. And how the hell do I navigate the change in my world view when only last year I would have walked passed these conversations, brushed them aside. I might of then had nights of horrendous sleep but that was normal.
How will I paint a clearer picture for others when I painted a different view for so long? Do I even want too?
Once more I find a part of me wishing I could just put it all back in the box. But a part of me knows that path was getting unsustainable.
Slight aside I realised this week totally unconsciously I don’t have a single photo of mum or dad up in my house. And I have lots of photos up…
Perhaps part me never forgave them and I am just getting introduced to her.