I believe that my father’s entire side of my family was given the same story line that I was, spoken or not: My mother walked out on us. She had an affair and then left us- and my sister and I were better off without her anyway, because what would happen to us in her care, living her not-fit-to-be-a-parent lifestyle? My father stuck with us after the divorce. He was the hero. She was the abandoning parent.
That she was a young woman attempting to escape a harmful marriage that she felt trapped in were never addressed. That she planned to take my sister and me with her if and when she got up the courage to leave was not mentioned. Most people may not have even known this. The intimidation she felt being married to my father may not have been obvious to others, I don’t know. Or it could have been minimized, ignored, or simply accepted. This was the 1960s after all. Domestic abuse, emotional abuse, and certainly parent alienation were hardly on anyone’s radar.
The fact that my memories of her were good and loving and of a normal bond between child and mother, was something that was never acknowledged.
A loving bond between parent and child being violently, suddenly severed is wrong.
One man holding all the power he needs to do this is wrong.
Writing my memoir, and reconnecting with my mother, and my grandmother before her final days, are the best ways I know how to salvage this tragedy.
Recently, a family member from my father’s side told me that she remembers my mother as a kind person and a good mother.
The words rang true for me. They were congruent with what I remember. No one had ever said those words to me before.
I wonder what my sister would think if she heard those same words. I wonder if, despite her lifelong rejection of our mother, she would recognize the truth. I don’t know. Probably not, because it is a painful thing to accept that you have swallowed a lie that altered your life. I don’t think she could handle that.
Why do some adult children come to recognize parent alienation and others don’t? I don’t know.
But I have. It’s taken time and searching and questioning. It’s taken courage and the relentless desire for the truth. I recognize the truth. And that is why I trusted my gut all these years. I knew I held the truth. I was just afraid to say it. I know all too well the power my father has held and the intimidation he can instill. It ends now.
Fear be damned. I am done with fear.