‘The Stars of the Show’

When i was 6 years old, my mother walked out of our family home never to return. She left my infant brother, my baby sister and I with our father. Her exit turned him into an extremely bitter and vengeful man. He used us, his children, as pawns to punish her…

…He punished us all

After my mother left my father he did not and could not see her as a ‘Mother’. He only saw a bitch, slut, slag, whore ( all cute pet names he had for her), that he despised. He used to say that, he ‘despised’ her. And he treated her so. They could no longer communicate due to anger. This breakdown in their communication led to all sorts of breakdowns in our whole family communications. My father became distant. Most likely depressed. Nastiness and mind-games ensued. Pushing and pulling. Back and forth. Any chance that my father had to hurt my mother, he took.

Shortly after she left, my mother took my father to family court for custody… She lost.

The judge ruled in my father’s favour and decided that their children would be better off remaining in their family home that they knew, with my father. In a letter, the only letter that i received from my father ever, in 2010, he states:

“The Judge had read the court welfare officer’s report which stated that your mother was unfit mentally to raise children and that the father was far better the parent. The Judge also wanted a proper routine for you 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.”

My mother, on the subject states:

“The judge said ‘I hereby state that the 3 children stay in the marital home to cause them less disruption but it is to be joint custody’. Which meant nothing to your father.”

My mother was granted access to her children for only 8 days a month. And my father made sure that is exactly all she got. My mother’s 8 days of access were every other weekend, from Friday evening at 6pm to Monday morning before school, around 7.30am. As well as every other Sunday in between from 10am – 6pm. Any other time between court-granted access, whether it be birthdays, sports days, etc my father disallowed us to see her. We were not even allowed to receive a phone call on our birthday.

I remember, on those school sport’s days that my mother did attend some. My father would be on one side of the field, my mother on the other. I dare not get caught even glancing at her let alone going over to speak to her, celebrate my victories etc.

I remember one birthday (occasion?) that my mum and granddad, her dad, came to my father’s house with a necklace for me. I can’t remember clearly but I remember being absolutely panicked about being caught talking to them. I snuck the necklace in… I think I said something like I can’t open the front – door but drop it through the letter-box! Anyway, I got it in…

…Most of my childhood is unclear. Dribs and Drabs…

In his home, our ‘safe haven’ as it were, we were not allowed to speak about our mother, or what activities we had done with her. We found that out pretty quickly. It remained like that.

If she (our mother) brought us back one week 10/15 minutes, half an hour late, the following week my father would make her wait outside in her car for that same duration.
“Mum’s outside” one of us children would say… Then we all sat there – dressed in our old charity-bank clothes that were too small for us because my mother couldn’t be trusted to bring ‘his’ clothes back every week. What with 6 children’s clothing being worn and washed, a few mix ups and latecomers were inevitable. Yet, intolerable for my father. Humiliating for us children… We sat there waiting until our father said that we could go to her.
Looking and waving out to our mother. My father would tell us to get away from the window.
If we complained and asked to go out to her then he would say something like,  “Are you so eager to get away from / leave me then?” (guilt-trip)
When he finally said that we could go to her, we all ran to her car.

That was one of my father’s favourite games to play where he used us children as pawns in order to hurt and humiliate my mother. Along with the ‘charity-bank clothes scandal’.

The ‘charity-bank clothes scandal’ … I felt absolutely humiliated. Having to walk out in the street where my neighbours and friends lived, i was so embarrassed i ran to the car as fast as i could. My father and my step-mother laughing as we put them on. I was old enough to realise that the point of the whole exercise was to humiliate my mother, for the sake proving a point… It pissed me off.

By then i think that i was around 10/11 years old. Every Friday after our mother collected us, she would take us to the Chinese Takeaway around the corner from now my Fathers house. I would get out and get the dinner for us all. It made me feel grown up, handling the order and the money and going into the shop by myself. Not anymore. I stayed in the car, down low, incase any of my school friends saw me in my charity-bank clothes. I felt embarrassed and ashamed, and sorry for my mother, who probably felt embarrassed and sorry for me too.

When my step mother came along I was 8/9, and she was 18/19. She was fun for a while, i remember liking her. I even contemplated and attempted to call her ‘Mum’, but it felt forced so that was short-lived. I noticed that she became vindictive and spiteful towards my mother. She seemed to hate her with the same seething anger as my father. Yet she didn’t even know her. She also had those cute pet names for my mother. I remember that she got involved in everything, i felt like she was over stepping the mark.

‘Slut’s outside’ she would say, as my mother pulled up in her car. She used to mock my mother, laughing calling her ‘Carol from Eastenders’. No offence to ‘Carol’ but of course that is a huge insult. She used to call my father’s mother ‘Jessica Fletcher from Murder She Wrote’…amongst other things. She hated my Grandmother. I remember she used to go and sit in my father’s bedroom whenever she and my Grandfather would visit, which was every other Sunday. They always brought us a big bag of Tesco pick and mix! She would sit up there until they went.

At times, my step-mother would ridicule and mock us children in a way that i would not as an adult, do to any child. We would be criticised and taunted. I remember thinking, Why is she such a bitch? And actually, all of my school friends and I came to call her ‘The Mega Bitch!’ … (Drop Dead Fred)

Yes, my step-mother was a bitch. And probably still is.

Pretty quickly, she came to make most of the family decisions. She became a housewife and step mother to 3 children very quickly. I remember that she ran a tight ship. She controlled the finances and had all the bills and money in a folder in their bedroom cabinet. She did most of the housework. She didn’t seem to mind. After a while, she also came to make most of the decisions. It seemed that my father was too lazy, but I now wonder if he was depressed. That is difficult to even imagine with his comical and humorous nature. I remember that he was funny, often making us children laugh with silly things. One time he came down stairs with his whole face and head covered in shaving foam. And at christmas he’d wrap a tiny jewellery box in 10 other boxes for us to open to extend the anticipation. He’d write us christmas cards from our cats. He wasn’t a complete ogre incapable of love. Which makes it all the more difficult for me to comprehend and understand some of his actions. Especially disowning me at 15…

Once my step mother had a hold of the household reigns, the decision making pretty much went like this: I would ask my father something and he would say ask my step mother. She would say ask him. He would again say ask her. She decided. She was strict but not as strict as him with things that went in my favour, so I didn’t mind that so much.

She seemed to be quite a controlling woman. Immature too.

One time, she spat in my brother and sisters face. A punishment because they were spitting in their bedroom rubbish bin from their beds at bedtime, playing a game. I remember she stormed up the stairs, and was disgusted with what they were doing. So she spat at them… To teach them a lesson?

I remember that i snuck across the hall to see if my brother and sister were OK. I daren’t get caught out of bed though. I also remember feeling shocked and thinking at the time that the spitting in the face was completely uncalled for. Again I think i was about 11 years old. So they would have been around 6 years old. But i can’t say that for certain.

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

It is my opinion, subjective and first-hand, is that the family court failed us children. Welfare officers failed us children. Child neglect by the state. But no responsibility by the state will ever be taken, or ever is. And it happens again, and again. Parental estrangement. Which a lot of the time leads to parental-alienation. Which in turn leads to child and/or adult mental health / personality problems.

In my court-ordered dysfunctional family setting… The Tit-for-Tat didn’t stop. The humiliation didn’t stop. The emotional neglect and abuse didn’t stop.

The show went on…