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Or are my parents - Their divorce was nothing to do with me and is never to be discussed?

(22 Posts)
ComingOutOfTheFOG Tue 03-Sep-13 00:12:40

I was 5. I never saw my father again until I was almost 40 (when he found me on the internet). He was never, ever discussed by my mother. It was as if he did not exist. He also never paid any child maintenance (I was not the only child). Mother remarried, new husband was 'dad'. Neither myself or my siblings ever asked about it (too scared of my mother no doubt). Having had DCs myself, I cannot imagine how they would have coped without having their father in their lives.

My father (on speaking to him as an adult) will also not speak of it. It's water under the bridge. No other sibling has got in contact with him but me and I am quite confused as the family 'legend' of him being a violent, alcoholic, and my mother being beaten and abused by him, does not ring true since meeting him.

They both maintain 'it did not involve you, you don't need to know what happened'. I actually feel that I was extremely screwed up by it as I witnessed domestic violence and I feel that the 'loss' of my dad made me extremely anxious (still am to this day). I also have some confusing memories which are apparently not what I thought they were hmm.

I am the only sibling questioning it though so AIBU in wanting to know why my childhood was blown apart or are they?

foreverondiet Tue 03-Sep-13 00:19:13

Sorry but I think you are being unreasonable to be pushing against old wounds. Let it go and get some counselling instead.

toolatetobed Tue 03-Sep-13 00:28:00

I don't think you are unreasonable, but given that your parents are so determined not to talk about it, it sounds like you are not going to get any answers from asking them. 35 years is such a long time that it is quite possible your father could have fundamentally changed during that time, particularly if his drinking was out of control then, but not any more.

jessieagain Tue 03-Sep-13 00:30:03

I don't think you are being unreasonable to want to know if what you were told you about him being violent and alcoholic was a lie. Was this is why you didn't have contact with him while you were growing up? Who told you this? I think this affects you directly so if you were not told the truth about him then yanbu.

However I don't think you need to know all the ins and outs of their marriage and reasons for divorce.

You should have information about the parts relating to why he wasn't part of your childhood.

mathanxiety Tue 03-Sep-13 00:31:31

But you do know why they divorced surely?

You witnessed the DV, right?
You know he never paid any maintenance?
Families that are 'merely' unhappy may all be unhappy in their own individual way, but alcoholism and DV tend to follow the same patterns. So does walking away from responsibilities. Seen one, seen them all basically. The way your father is now may not at all reflect how he was back then as a much younger man.

As well as all that, you are not his wife. You are basically an adult woman he found after not seeing you for many, many years, and has been talking to on a far different level from when you last saw him. Sometimes there is a different dynamic between spouses. Sometimes someone will go out of his way to impress a stranger (which is basically what you are).

He may not want to talk about it because it does not reflect well on him. Your mum may not want to speak of it because of shame (there is shame associated with being a DV victim, especially among older women, and shame about divorce too). It is also possible that your mum didn't want to talk about it to you because she didn't want to burden you with all of it or poison your mind against men. Plus, she had moved on with her life and possibly wanted to just put it all behind it, have everyone be a family together with her new husband without the former H intruding.

I recommend you find a counsellor to talk through it, or even a therapist, if memories are not what you thought they were or if people are casting doubt on your feelings.

TylerHopkins Tue 03-Sep-13 00:32:35


How they chose to live their life is their business. And, although it may have had an impact on your life growing up, I think you need to accept that the decisions they made were made with your best interest in mind.
Had your parents stayed together and violence was a factor in the divorce then I dread to think what you might have witnessed.

I don't think it would do you any good to open this can of worms. What possible advantage could it bring to your life.

I do understand your wanting to know about it but I really think your time would be best spent making the most of what you have now.

WafflyVersatile Tue 03-Sep-13 00:39:59

You are not being at all unreasonable to want to know about and understand your own childhood, especially if you suspect you have been lied to.

However, 1. memory can be quite tricksy and 2. at the end of the day you can't force them to talk if they don't want to. One way or another neither of them want to revisit that time.

For those reasons I'd advice some sort of counselling.

ComingOutOfTheFOG Tue 03-Sep-13 00:41:33

I am not trying 'push against old wounds'. I have suffered mental health issues, of which both parents are aware, of since young adulthood and the therapists I have seen have consistently brought up my childhood as a factor in this. I have this great void from 3-4 years old to around 12 and I am keen to explore it. I have grown up believing a lot of stuff about myself which I am now questioning.

I guess I would tell my DC the truth and help them make sense of some quite disturbing memories if the boot was on the other foot. I can't imagine that I decide it was 'not a big deal' and try to make my DC out to be some crazy person because they wanted to know.

I can't quite get my head around it and I have been trying.

jessieagain Tue 03-Sep-13 00:41:55

I thought the domestic violence op witnessed was between the mum and step dad.

Is this true or was it between your parents?

WafflyVersatile Tue 03-Sep-13 00:46:31

Are you the youngest sibling? What have your other siblings said about it?

jessieagain Tue 03-Sep-13 00:47:56

Yes I agree op. I would explore it too. Someone close to me left it too late to ask these questions and their dad died. They found out some of the things they were told were lies but they could never find out the real truth as it was too late. It destroyed their family relationships and turned their world upside down sad

ComingOutOfTheFOG Tue 03-Sep-13 00:51:33

Well I stated that mother never discussed my father except when she was telling me I was 'just like him' or his mother or his family. There was no contact with neither his or my mother's family after their divorce (she cut contact with hers at the same time).

I was brought up to believe it was DV (by my siblings) but the few clear memories I have of them fighting are false according to both of them. The memory of my dad being drunk on the sofa was after a 'one off' party.

He has sustained a marriage for over 30 years and brought up someone else's two children as well. He is in a job where he can basically not touch alcohol.

It is all so weird. I am not one anyone's 'side' at all.

Why should I not be able to put my childhood demons to rest?

ComingOutOfTheFOG Tue 03-Sep-13 00:56:01

I must admit though that most of my demons are from my mother, are from after the divorce and are from how I was like 'him'.

I was the youngest from that marriage.

Siblings have not had much to say other than 'why would you want to meet him?'. hmm They don't seem to remember much either.

mathanxiety Tue 03-Sep-13 01:25:11

Seems your mother did quite a number on you, and this might be your starting point in therapy (i.e. the relationship between you and your mother and the impact it has had on you) rather than trying to see what happened between them. You could also explore why you think piecing it all together is so important to you.

AdoraBell Tue 03-Sep-13 02:27:52

I think you may benefit from some counselling. A lot of people, both those who are abusive and their victims minimise the abuse in their own minds and therefore cannot accept someone else's memory of the situation differing from their adapted memory.

The fact that your father doesn't seem violent now doesn't mean he never was. My father was extremely violent while we were growing up and yet my OH views him as being a wonderful man because by the time we met he had mellowed. That doesn't change the history though. Of course because I wasn't there I don't know if your father was violent, or if someone else was, but you have these memories so something clearly happened.

You should be able to put your demons to rest, and a therapist can help to guide you through doing that.

ljny Tue 03-Sep-13 04:20:29

YANBU. It's ridiculous to say your parents' divorce had nothing to do with you.

Unfortunately, it sounds like neither parent is willing to do right by you and give you the basic facts. (Obviously they don't need to share all the gory details.)

Not sure what you can do about it but I feel for you.

Jaynebxl Tue 03-Sep-13 04:46:18

YA so NBU. In some ways your situation is like mine. Post divorce dad was a taboo subject and I hardly ever saw him until contact totally dried up. This man was your father. It isn't about opening up old wounds, it is about dealing with ongoing wounds and working out what really happened in your family. Totally irresponsible of your mum to try and move things on and make you all forget your own father even existed.

exoticfruits Tue 03-Sep-13 06:54:16

I don't think that you are at all unreasonable- one of the commonest hobbies is family history and those of us who do it are trying to piece together want happened with great, great grandparents etc etc and you can't even get the story of your parents.
However it sounds unlikely that you will get anything out of them.
Have you got extended family who could help? Have you met any of your father's family- if not could you?
Your mother appears to be the major problem and only thought of herself - has she got parents, siblings etc who could explain to you why she is like that?

exoticfruits Tue 03-Sep-13 06:58:00

I agree with Jaynebxi- it is nothing to do with old wounds- your mother's way of dealing with it was highly damaging and you can't move on until you know what really happened. Anything else is just papering over the cracks and getting on. However you may have to settle for that if no one will open up.

RedHelenB Tue 03-Sep-13 09:20:20

Memories are memories - the same events register differently to each & every person. Personally i can't see how dwelling on the past helps, unless it's to think X happened to me & i want my children to experience the same/not experience the same. say he was a raging, violent alchoholic back then, would it stop you having contact with him now? men do change according to who they are with as well.

DoJo Tue 03-Sep-13 09:21:51

YANBU except that by pushing it you are just making yourself more unhappy from the sounds of things so you might just have to accept that you might never know the details of what happened and work with what you do know.

miemohrs Tue 03-Sep-13 09:36:41

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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