When I found myself pregnant with my beautiful daughter, who is now about to turn 18, I resolved that I would take full responsibility for my "stuff" and that the buck stopped with me. Little did I know that after the difficult birth of my son 2.5 years later that I would experience 2.5 years of serious post natal depression, and that around the time he was 2 that I would "unearth" the truth about the physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse I experienced as a very young child from both of my parents, in particular my mother. My father was a Methodist minister and my mother was his dutiful and musically talented wife.
My sister, an experienced counsellor of many years, had told me that I had had to self-validate all my life. There were abuses meted out to me that none of my other siblings experienced, fortunately. It is a very confusing thing to live in a family where "there's an elephant in the lounge room and everyone walks around it, doesn't acknowledge it" etc. I have worked for many years to accept the presence of that elephant in my life, and to take responsibility for the life that I created, warts, elephants and all. It appears to be a lifelong job!
Now no one is perfect and parenting is a challenging process. One of the things which I have learned from all this is that I had/have some big lessons to learn regarding accepting my personal power and how I can express my anger from a clear/ed space.
My son's father and I divorced 9 years ago. I had major concerns about my son's safety and about the many times he was not heard by his father, as I was not heard or seen by mine.... There were many times when he said/cried/yelled out "No Daddy! No". But his father would continue with whatever it was with the end result that my son got hurt, either physically or emotionally or psychologically. This continues to this day, although the safety issues have been addressed.
My son's father has been in relationship with a woman who is a counsellor who has worked for many years in the prison system. This woman considers herself an expert in raising children even though her daughter doesn't have anything to do with her. She has continually, in the presence of my son or directly to him, said negative and judgmental things about me, about my parenting and about our family, even though my ex-husband and I were told by a Relationships Australia counsellor that it is not appropriate for his partner to "wear her counsellor's hat" and make pronouncements about me, my parenting or my relationships with my children.
A couple of months ago, when my son & I went to his dad's house to pick up his stuff for his stay with me (he had been staying with his dad for a couple of weeks) I was ambushed by his dad & his partner where they sat me down, deliberately positioning my son across the table from me and she proceeded to attack me, my parenting and my relationships with my children "with her counsellor's hat firmly on her head". It was abusive and destructive. I left feeling absolutely shattered and later wished I had just stopped this process before it got going, collected my son's stuff and left the house with him.
When I began to protest and express my outrage and concern her hand went up and she refused to allow me to interrupt her tirade. She even complimented me after she'd finished with being able to sit there and take this, which I now see was not only a repetition of the abuse which occurred to me as a very young child at the hands of my mother, especially, and my father standing by and assisting or colluding. I do not feel safe in the presence of this woman and avoid contact with her. I try to keep communications as brief and clear and explicit as possible with my son's father.
Recently my son went on a holiday, taking a friend along with him, with his dad and his partner. I had misgivings about this and discussed this with my son, wondering how he would cope with being constantly harangued by "his step-mum" who would say things like "I notice you are depressed when you come from your mum's" etc. He got to the point during the holiday where he said to his dad that he didn't want to stay with them anymore and wanted just to live with me and have some time alone with his dad because of the way his dad's partner kept haranguing him about things and bad-mouthing me, my parenting and my relationships, even though this woman doesn't even know me and has only once been inside my home (at my son's 15th birthday party early this year). His dad then told him that he would have to confront this woman and tell her what he'd told him!!
Initially I thought well, ok she needs to hear this coming from him, but only if there's someone there to support him. He told me he has told them what he thinks they want to hear because that's the only way he could deal with the impossible situation in which he found himself. I do feel its important he can express himself openly and to stand in his truth. I am trying to find a healing outcome for all in this scenario. My son has created this situation for his own learning, as have we all. Is this appropriate for him at this time? Is it something the adults should work out between ourselves, in consultation with him? I am trying to find the right way through this.
I now resolve to not co-operate with abuse, which is what I learned to do as a very young child, where it was co-operate or be more hurt (physically) and to resist was futile. I actually resisted by harboring resentment, which eventually made me ill. I also acknowledge that I have co-operated with abuse of myself and others in the past and refuse to do this any more. Having made this commitment, how do I deal with this situation, given that my son is to be picked up by his dad from a sleepover at a friend's place tomorrow afternoon?