THE Letter

When i left my fathers house, aged 15 to live with my mother, my father and I parted on bad terms.

He had gone through my whole bedroom, my diaries, my pen-pal letters and more, whilst i was at my mothers house for the weekend (or day, i can’t recall).  What he found was a tiny little bit of solid cannabis, some cigarettes, the contraceptive pill that i got from the doctor, and written accounts of my weekend antics. Of course, a huge argument ensued. My step-mother dragged me down the stairs by my legs and threw me into a chair, screaming in my face. My father, couldn’t even look at me. Stood in the kitchen, playing with the knife rack. My step-mother calmed him down. He said he wanted to throw me through the window. I debated about jumping out of the window myself, it was ground floor, and i was a long distance runner. Could have nailed it. But would have still had to face it.. So i did. But nothing got resolved. Instead, i was made to feel like an outsider in my own home. My step-mother would call that dinner was ready, but mine wasn’t done. She would call down that the ironing was done, except mine of course, was not done. Little things like that, to purposely make me feel shitty. So, i thought ‘fuck this’, and went to live with my mother. Finally!

…But it was not to be the fairytale that i had envisaged as i grew up. By then, i was a tearaway teen. Resentful, damaged and rebellious.

That day that i left my father’s house, he let me take only these possessions:

One set of School Uniform; One shirt, One Trousers, One Tie, One Blazer. My school books. And a toothbrush. THAT WAS IT. Because the rest, he said, were his possessions. He bought them!

Then, he didn’t speak to me again, until i sent him a court order so that i may collect the rest of my belongings. He made me sign a letter at the door before i even looked at it all, to say that i have collected it all and was satisfied it was all there. Sneaky! Of course, it wasn’t all there. But i just wanted to get it and go, and he knew i would sign it. He knew my mother would not come to the door. And I was a naive, unlearned child.

What followed (and lead up to that) was years of me writing letters. None of which he responded to. Only my step-mother answered the letters. In the end, i started addressing them just to him. Still, he would not answer them. The only letter that i ever received from him is written below. Approximately 12 years after i first left his house. And it came as a reply to the letter i sent him after my daughter was born.

After my daughter was born, it made me think about my relationship with my own parents. I decided to write my father a letter, an olive branch. I said that in the letter, it was ‘an olive branch’ a way to rebuild the bridges. Of course it has questions and statements regarding my childhood. I sent that letter along with photos of my newborn daughter. And i literally begged him to answer it so that i may move on with my life.

Here is the only letter that i received from my ‘father’… 

“2009.

I will try to answer your questions and statements that you have put to me. But, Im afraid you may not like what you read. This has to start as a sort of history lesson because you need to be put straight on a lot of things.

When I first met your mother, she told me that she was living with a man that used to abuse her. Like a knight in armour I rescued her form that relationship and we were married four months later. I married for all the wrong reasons. I thought I wanted to settle down and was fed up going out with my mates spending lots of money, getting drunk and going crazy. Not really going anywhere or doing anything with my life. I was twenty three and still a bit naïve. I did not know what love was and I thought that I loved your mother. I now know that I never loved her and only felt sorry for her. I short, I pitied her and wanted to make her life better.

It was hard at first, living with your little nan. Your mother and I spent a lot of time out of the house together because we hated living there. We decided to start a family sooner rather than later. You came along and we moved out straight into a lovely two bedroom ground floor flat. Our relationship was ok. But I was working six days a week, doing lots of overtime. The strain was there and I noticed that your mother was not coping well with motherhood. Despite that, we had another child. Maybe our relationship would improve. What with moving into the new house and the new baby, your brother coming along this only made things worse between us. Don’t get me wrong there were good times, a few good times. Your mother fell pregnant again and told me that she wanted an abortion, she admitted to me that she couldn’t cope. After a couple of weeks arguing about it, she reluctantly went along with it and your sister was born.

It was all downhill from there, we hadn’t been communicating for some years and I think that your mother had given up trying to cope, she wanted out from everything.

Here are a few things that I remember about your mother….chasing you into your bedroom and battering you calling you a ‘fucking witch’, I dragged her off. Never changing your sisters nappy, our neighbour refused to babysit because she was too upset about the boils and infections caused by this. Your sister still has the scars today. Letting your sister climb the stairs on her own while your mother sat drinking coffee and smoking. Twice I came home from work to catch her falling down the stairs. She was only about 12 months old. Your mother used to take your siblings around to a friends house and let her babysit them while she had sex with her boyfriend upstairs….I could go on and on. I tried to keep the family together, I really did. But your mother lied to me over and over again. There was no love, no trust. You know what she used to say when I got home from work? “I was hoping you had died and would never come back”. Or “Can’t you just move out, I hate you, you make me cringe.” Probably the truest words she ever spoke to me. Because she was actually telling me how she felt for the first time in her life.

When your mother finally left, she left on her own and did not try to contact you for at least two weeks. Why would a mother do that? You have a child now, could you leave her behind?

Also your mother lied in court saying that I was abusive and a bully. If that were the case, what does that make her for leaving you children with me?…Obviously, worse. Its not as if she had nowhere to take you, your mothers father had told her a month before she left that she and the children could stay with him in Edinburgh. Scotland had different laws and that meant that I could never get custody, the children of a marriage always go to the mother. You all would have been well out of the way and I would never have seen you again.

But no, your mother decidedly selfishly, to live with her boyfriend instead.

Here is something else you probably don’t know. Your mother left me with a credit card debt of £8,500 and a few days later, I received an eviction noticed from the council stating that I owe £1000 in rent. I had to give up my job of thirteen years, by taking a personally negotiated voluntary redundancy. This came to about £6,500. With this money I kept a roof above our heads and paid off most of the debt. It took me at least ten years to pay the rest off.

I then decided to care for my children full time, no job, just benefits. Your mother would not help worth any payments for you and we just couldn’t manage. I had to go back to work and employ a full-time childminder. In the time that we were struggling, your mother got made redundant from her job and received a payment of £4000. I asked her for some money for you, she gave me 60 for shoes. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I remember it took two years to get your mother to pay some maintenance, I had to go to extreme measures just to get her to court. In the end, I had to serve her with a ‘committal to prison’ notice. This meant that she had to respond or go to prison. Anyway, moving on.

When it comes to answering your statements about not letting you see your mother, lets get it clear. At no time was I going to stop you seeing your mother. Just because your mother and I hated each other with a vengeance I wasn’t about to let my children suffer for our mistake. After all, she was still your biological mother.

I granted more that reasonable access to your mother. The judge at our court hearing wanted her to have less. The judge had read the court welfare officer’s report which stated that your mother was mentally unfit to raise children and that the father was the far better parent. The judge also wanted a proper routine for your children. That meant, your mother should not interfere with the bringing up of the children and only see them on the agreed access days. This would help not to unduly upset their emotions and daily routine. This made sense to me, because after every weekend when you came back home from your mothers, you would all play up. It took Lesley and I at least two days to calm you down and get you back into routine. Thats the way it was, week after week. Do you realise how stressful that was, it seemed that your mother was getting all the good times and we were getting the sticky end of the stick. No wonder I called your mother a few naughty names now and again, I’m sure she called me more.

And anyway I remember that you did not want to see your mother on numerous sundays and some weekends too, you stayed at home with Lesley and me.

It is true that I did not like you talking about your mother and what you all did with her at the weekends. I wanted that woman out of my life and did not want to be reminded of her. I think it showed quite good restraint when you spoke of her. I cannot forgive her for what she has put the family through, all the lies, deceit and selfishness.

You could say that I have a rather intense dislike of the woman. I know that she is your mother, but hey, i’m entitled to my opinion and I have known her longer than you.

You asked me why I fought for custody and stated that I couldn’t be be bothered in bringing you up and just wanted the ‘one up’ on your mother, to destroy her, no doubt. Well, I doubt that very much. Because if I wanted to, I could have, quite easily.

But lets not get into a slanging match, it serves no purpose.

If I didn’t want to bring you up, I would have handed you over to your mother. The truth is, your mother didn’t want to have you kids hanging around her neck. She was happy with her boyfriend and that was all that mattered. He resented you kids and probably still does. Why do you think he walked out on his kids as well? Ask yourself.

Im not the perfect parent, far from it, then again, who is? I tried the best that I could so, do teach you all the rights from wrongs, provide a safe stable home and a balanced life. I loved you all to bits and I own up to not showing it well. You have made me sound really strict and I resent that. If anything I was too soft on you all.

You must take into account that I was working hard to provide for my family and was almost always exhausted. Lesley has been my rock and she still has a major role in bringing you all up. We were a partnership and still are. Lesley has worked very hard for you all and endured many a rough time. She loved you all and we both brought you up the best we could.

I believe that the breakup affected you worse because you were that much older that your siblings. The teachers at your school told me that you had lost your sparkle. I tried so hard to get it back, and succeeded for a while. Then the teenage years set in and it all went wrong. You had too much of your mother in you and that was beginning to show. Lesley and I battled it, but we lost. You were so clever and you had the world at your feet. I wanted you to go to university and achieve your dream of being a vet. But you lost your way and I couldn’t get you back on track. I tried and you took it all the wrong way. Laying down the law, harsh rules, having ago all the time. Not true, like I have said, I was probably too soft. Maybe if I was harder on you, you could be living the life now. It was a very difficult time trying to install some discipline, especially when you had somewhere to run and lets face it, your mother was a pushover, wasn’t she.

In hindsight maybe I should have joined forced with your mother and tried to sort out your problems. But is was not to be and we both failed you.

It sounds to me that you haven’t really moved on from there and still do not understand anything that really happened. Try to see it from other peoples perspectives, mix that with different feelings and emotions. Try to stand out from yourself and look at you for once and ask yourself, why did I do that? Why did I say that? Understand that and you are halfway there. I’m glad that you are undergoing councelling, maybe things will seem clearer after a while and understanding will come through.

You stated that Lesley laughed at you in hospital. This is untrue. She came to see you because she cared and thought that a smiling face might cheer you up. Did you know that your mother came to our home just before you went into hospital. She told Lesley that she couldn’t cope with you and didn’t know that to do..did she ever? Believe it or not, Lesley loved you and we all went through some terrible times together. I am still amazed about the way she coped with us all and I’m full of admiration on her staying power. A lesser woman would have run far, far away in no time.

It’s funny, I remember your brother not being a very troublesome teenager. But you two girls were the opposite. I was expecting it though and know it was going to be tough trying to guide you both through it. Like I have said before, it was very difficult for me to make you live the rules of the home when you always had somewhere to run.

They say that, ‘the grass is greener on the other side’, not always the case. But you took that route and I was very disappointed. I wouldn’t say that I felt betrayed, I did feel annoyed because your mother should not have allowed it and should have backed me up. Maybe she thought that she was getting one over one me and that she won in the end. I think that I had every right to feel annoyed, when Lesley and I had brought you up for all those years, not even a ‘thank-you for trying’ from anyone.

One more thing about bringing you up, rules and discipline. Lesley followed my rules and wishes at the time, so what she asked you and told you, came from me. So don’t blame her for anything. I have lost count on how many times she has calmed me down in the past. Blame anyone..blame me. But blame me for what?

You ramble on in your letter, having ago at me about this and that, you talk about bad memories…well, how about all the lies you told me and sadness you caused me? Your mother left us with no warning, it was an uphill struggle from then on. Not only did I have to deal with my own emotions at that time, I had to look after three small children as well. Yes it was my choice and in my mind, I chose correctly because I truly believed that I was the better parent and I only wanted what was best for you all.

Think about this, could you walk out on your relationship without taking your daughter with you? Ask your mother what guilt feels like. Does she know the meaning of the word? To say that I should feel guilty is utter nonsense. The only thing I am guilty of is caring and providing for my children needs, being a responsible and loving parent.

As you state, you have sent me terrible letters in the past and your last one is no exception. That doesn’t really bother me. I have a thick skin. But what does bother me is the fact that you still haven’t put all of this behind you. It seems that your still suffering from your teenage angst and haven’t really grown up. Hopefully your counselling sessions will help you solve these issues and you can move on enjoying your life with your family.

You touched on me not talking to your grandmother or aunt.

Well, that is my business and if your grandmother gets to read this…thanks for denying me the contact and love of my father, this really hit me and I held his hand when he died, I have learnt a lot of truth since that day.

Anyway, I apologise for using you as a possible third party. But I know that she will read this and pass her judgements on it. Like I care.

It is true to say that I haven’t rejected your siblings when they moved to your mums. Then again, I didn’t reject you either. You rejected yourself and I just went along with it and i’m afraid that its been too long now to turn back. Come to think of it haven’t you rejected your half siblings?

Your sister had a rough upbringing, a lot worse than yours. She was a highly destructive child and needed a lot of help and attention. We gave her that and more. But she has grown up now and seems to appreciate what we did for her. She has kept in touch and makes an effort to be a part of my family and I love her for it.

Your brother, is his fathers son and I am proud of him. He keeps in touch and makes an effort too. What can I say about You? I remember a sweet little girl with a sparkle, whom I loved very much. But one day she broke my heart and I lost her. Too much time has passed between us and we have grown apart. I don’t know her anymore. Apparently she saw me at a sunday football match. I didn’t see her and if I did, would I recognise her?

Your father died a long time ago. Try not to hate him too much. He tried his best and it wasn’t good enough for you. If you want someone to blame, try looking closer to home.

I hope that I have answered your questions. I know I have written about your mother quite a lot. I wont apologise for that because i know that she is responsible for a lot of harm done to you and you needed to hear some truth.

(Same letter, dated a year later, 2010…)

The above was written over a year ago now and nothing has changed. Hopefully, this has answered most of your questions. I could go on and on, backwards and forwards, this and that, but its just not worth it. We have different lives to live, you chose your path, live with it.

Why should anything be different now?

To be honest I just want you to live your own life and enjoy it. Please don’t let the past interfere with your present life. People do say that the past makes us who we are, that is rubbish, people also say, don’t dwell on the past…who can you believe?

My final advice to you is to believe in yourself and enjoy life, you only get one shot. Sorry for sounding corny, its my way of saying that our relationship has failed and is beyond repair. But don’t let that upset you too much, our time has passed.

Take care and enjoy your time on planet earth.

Goodbye X 🙂

Dad.”

………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ………. ……….

It was very difficult for me to re-type that. He sent it, typed. I could not imagine saying any of that to my own child.

How many times does he use the word ‘blame’, yet accept none and take no responsibility? There are no admissions of guilt from my father. He even blames me. HA!! It would be laughable if it were not so mentally crippling.

I was a child when i left his house. I didn’t leave his life. I sent him letter after letter. Of course they were full of teenage angst. Nothing got spoken about, nothing got resolved. I was at the end of my tether. I took an overdose when i was 17/18 years old due to the breakdown of our relationship. I was in hospital for a week, he did not even come to see me. My step-mother did. She laughed. And then left.

I even reached out with an olive branch after the birth of my daughter, sending photos of her.

Yet, he claims that i made no effort.

Still, my brother and sister kept in touch huh so he loves them and is proud of them.

Hmm. I speak to my siblings. He does not keep in touch with them. They have had arguments about that with him.

I guess that all of those letters i sent, and there was a lot of them, must’ve really meant nothing.

All he could see was blame blame blame, something he would never and will never accept any part in. He’s an expert at stonewalling me and scapegoating me. Something he has made my sister an expert in too. She exhibits the same narcissistic traits as my father. She thinks that i need to stop blaming him, my father who loved me. She thinks i have an unsolicited negative view on my father and that i should keep it to myself.

My favourite part of the letter is the part where he asks ME to pass on a message to my Grandmother that says “thanks for denying me the contact and love of my father”

Like, is he fucking serious? Reading the whole letter i am like, is he fucking serious? The sad part is that Yes, he is serious.

OK, so the obvious fact that he himself has denied his own child, me, the love and support from her own father, himself. And the other fact of how much love and support he denied his children to have from their own mother. Instances of that denial and emotional neglect that i can recall quickly now are:

I had to use my BT phone box phone-card to make secret calls to my mother with. I’m sure that my father found out about this as i had it taken away.

My mother would secretly pick me up from school, take me for a drive and then drop me home. He never found out about this.

My sister started Gymnastics. My mother attended one session. My father found out, and Gymnastics stopped.

My sister was sent to a child psychologist. My mother was asked to attend the sessions, the sessions stopped.

Sports days we children were too scared to even go to our mother and see her, celebrate our victories etc. A little sneaky wave from the sideline is all we could manage. Don’t get caught!

…There is so much more.

In the letter, my father seems to be a very untrusting man. And he compares me to my mother a lot. And after he writes about something that i did, he writes about how she hurt him. It is unrelated to what i did, but i can see the comparison happening in his mind as he writes. I so look like my mother as well.

There are lots of apologies, and non-apologies…yet, no actual apology to me for anything! Telling me rather that i should look in the mirror, closer to home and accept that i am to blame for the breakdown of our relationship! Again, is he fucking serious? And again, Yes, he actually is serious…

That letter left me completely bewildered. And it still does.

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