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Don't know what to do with these feelings

(5 Posts)
Jarhead Fri 06-Oct-17 08:09:33

Have NC for this because it could be outing and I apologise in advance for the long back story but there's 44 years worth to get through!

I've never met my dad, he left for an OW just before I was born and didn't pursue contact with me or my DB who was 4 at the time. Growing up he was a taboo subject, referred to in hushed tones as 'him' and I remember feeling unable to ask any questions about him as a child even though I really wanted to.

As an adult my DM (who I am extremely close to and have massive love and respect for) has opened up quite a bit about the details of what happened and it's clear he utterly destroyed her, she remarried but I don't honestly think she's ever got over what he did to her. She's also told me quite a bit about the sort of person he was (weak, vain and selfish mostly) and I do feel as though she's genuinely tried to help me understand why he didn't want to keep up contact and reassure me it wasn't anything I did.

But I do feel him leaving has affected me massively, that despite my DM and other family doing their utmost to fill the gap I still grew up feeling like there must be something wrong with me because my dad didn't want me. I've half heartedly looked for him from time to time (with no success) but am pretty sure I wouldn't make contact even if I found him because it would feel (and I know she would take it that way despite trying really hard not to) too much like betraying my DM. But it still bothers me, DM burned all the photos of him so, at 44 years old, I don't know what my dad looks like and that bothers me.

The reason it's come up now though is that a photo has surfaced, a relative sent a box of photos to my DM after a death in the family and there's one of him amongst them. DM says she will show it to me when I visit next and it's stirred up a lot of feelings. I'm angry with her, I feel like it was selfish of her to burn the photos because they caused her pain rather than keeping them for my (and DB's) sake and I'm worried about my reaction when she shows me the photo she's been sent.

Nothing about this situation is black and white for me, I'm angry with her but at the same time I can see why she did what she did and have huge empathy for what she must have gone through, I also believe she did what she thought was best at the time and it would hurt her hugely if I told her how I really feel. I desperately want to see the photo but I'm scared it will open up a can of worms I don't really want to open with my DM. The worst bit is that she would usually be the person I would talk things over with so I feel like I have all these feelings welling up and nowhere to put them. Sorry it's long but I really needed to get it all out.

Mumanddadtoone Sat 07-Oct-17 08:38:43

Didn't want to read and run
It's a difficult situation and I understand why you feel as you do, I also understand why your dm did what she did. She clearly couldn't cope with having any memories of him around and maybe she thought she was protecting you and your db.
I really think you should talk to your dm and explain how you feel in a calm way. Remember your dm never abandoned you, she stayed and brought up both you and your db with no help from your df.
Your dm has offered to show you the photo so look at it and talk to her about the affect it's had on you, you need to get these feelings out, bottling them up will lead to problems further down the line.
My own df left for ow (I was 22 at the time), he didn't bother trying to keep in touch with any of us (I have 3 younger siblings). I still have abandonment issues due to this even though I was an adult when it happened.

jeaux90 Sat 07-Oct-17 08:45:51

She burnt them because she thought it would make her feel better. She was left with young kids and in a difficult situation.

Her feelings and reaction are just as valid as yours.

Just try and talk to her and maybe you could get some counselling to talk your feelings through.

I had to leave my daughters father when she was 1. He hasn't seen her since she was 3. She's 8 and rarely talks about him. I let her have a photo of him but she's lost it. Personally if photos weren't all digital now I would have done the same as your mum.

cresit Sat 07-Oct-17 08:54:24

She did what she had to do, she survived. She sounds like a terrific woman.

Please don't be angry with her, many of us, including you, might do the same in her situation.

Jarhead Sat 07-Oct-17 16:25:50

She is a terrific woman, she's the person I respect and admire more than anyone else on the planet and I'm far angrier with him for hurting her than I am with her for burning a few photos. She rebuilt her life despite him leaving her with nothing, went back to school and then college and retrained for a professional career (which she was fantastic at), bought her own house, remarried etc, she's incredible.

I get why she did it, and a huge part of me just wants to protect her from ever having to think about him and what he did again, but then there's a tiny voice in my ear saying what about me? I just feel like I don't know where I come from and I wish she'd been able to talk about him when I was growing up, to tell me all those little things that give you a sense of a person.

I can't (or won't) talk to her about how I feel, the pain is still written all over her face when she speaks about him and I love her too much to add to that with my own feelings. I think that's what I'm struggling with actually, it's the knowledge that exploring/expressing my feelings about it (in terms of asking her for information, telling her how I really feel or even, potentially, finding and meeting him) would hurt her massively and that means I can never do any of it.

That's where the anger is coming from, the frustration of knowing that me getting what I want/need would cost my DM more pain and so I can never do it. I do need an outlet though, will look into counselling I think, thank you all.

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