You can't walk away from your past.
I was 4 when my Mum and Dad separated and unusually for the time, my Dad gained full custody. and I did not see my Mum again until I was 13.
The early part of these nine years were tough. While I couldn't have wished for a better Dad, I really struggled not seeing my Mum. In the first few months I would cry myself to sleep, every single day. "Where's Mummy?" I would ask, "why isn't she with us? Doesn't she love me anymore?" "What did I do wrong?" My poor Dad was heartbroken, not only struggling with his own pain, but mine too.. He would tell me "She does love you darling, she just can't be here", "You didn't do anything wrong, we just couldn't be together" and "it's not you, it's us".
To be honest, Dads words didn't help me much, I couldn't understand why if she had decided she didn't love him anymore, but still loved me, why I couldn't see her? As the years went by, life got easier, I stopped being immersed in pain and I suppose became a bit numb as I tried to hide my hurt from him and myself. I realised many years later this was the start of my struggle with low self-esteem and confidence. On the outside I appeared very together, in the cold dark of night I was riddled with self-doubt and feelings of never quite being good enough.
Then when I was seven, another bombshell hit, Dad sat me down"I need to tell you something darling, let's go sit in the garden and have a chat", even at seven years old I knew this couldn't be a good thing. It went a bit like this.......
"Are you ill Daddy? Please don't leave me, I won't have anyone if you're not here",
"No darling don't worry I am fine and I would never leave you", "You know your older Sister Jennifer, she is actually your Mother, I've have just spoken to her on the phone and she wanted me to tell you, we both think you are old enough to know and to understand"
"Will she be my Mummy, I really miss not having a Mummy",
"Yes if you want her too" replied my Dad
Then something dawned on me "Daddy she's got children, does that mean I have a Brother and a Sister?"
"Yes darling, they are your half Brother and Sister".
I was elated, someone wanted to be my Mummy and I had siblings. I was an older sister.
"Daddy, does this mean you are not my Daddy?"
"I am actually your Grandfather, but I will always be your Daddy darling"
"Daddy who is my real Daddy"
"I don't know darling, but let's not worry about that now, do you want to go and see Jennifer, your Mummy?"
"OK darling, we'll drive down there this weekend"
I skipped around for the rest of the day, excited at what the future would hold, I had a Mummy and she lived by the sea, we could spend days on the beach and go shopping and she could do my hair, my Dad was really not great at that sort of thing, while he tried, he was a mans man. I spent most of those early years looking like a scarecrow! Oh to have nice hair.
My elation was short lived.
We travelled down to Margate from London for the weekend as promised, it was wonderful, we went to the beach and I played with my siblings, we had the most amazing time. I had family, a real live family. Mummy even did my hair. Sadly, as the months and years went on, the novelty wore off for my new found Mummy, she stopped calling, the visits became less frequent and I would not hear from her from year to year. My Sister and stayed in touch by letter, sharing news of our lives and what we were doing in school. For my Mum, well I think she struggled with the reminders I brought of a time when her life was harder, a time she wanted to forget. There were intermittent calls and visits over the years, generally when she had been drinking and always with the promise to stay in touch, but she could never keep it up and I never did find out who my biological father was.
Fast forward to March 2010 and my darling Daddy was dying. I called her to let her know, she was his first born but their relationship had been a difficult one. While he wouldn't have known she was there, I thought it might help her to make peace.
"Jen (I'd stopped referring to her as Mum in about 1980) it's Sue, Dad is very ill and probably only has a couple of days left to live, I think you should come and see him"
"Oh how awful, he's a cantankerous old b*&@£%d but I do love him, I'll ring you in the morning and try to come tomorrow"
" OK, but try not to leave it too late, I really don't think he's got very long"
" No I promise I'll come as soon as possible"
She never called and I never heard from her again.
Over five years later last November, I was coming out of a meeting in Victoria, London and there Jen was standing right in front of me. My heart raced as she smiled at me and walked towards me, my head started spinning and I thought I might pass out. We chatted briefly she asked me how I was and how the family were, polite conversation, the sort of thing you would exchange with an old neighbour or work colleague. As I stood there I realised she didn't know who I was, she knew that she knew me, but it was a vague recollection of someone from a past time in a past life. After a few minutes I headed off to the station to catch my train.
At aged 46, I sobbed like a child the whole way home.
By the time I arrived home I realised that I was still holding onto pain from the past and needed to deal with it now, nearly 40 years of sadness are not a healthy thing to hang onto and over the next month I worked with a coach to gain new perspective and understanding. Finally I forgave Jen and myself.
The experiences that happen to us, are just that, experiences. Events in our lives, they are not who we are, Some events are better than others and we can learn something new from them and gain a new perspective; even many years later. If you unpack and relive negative emotions, day after day not only will it effect your enjoyment of life and relationships but it will also have a negative effect on your health too.
And here we are in August 2016 and Jen is the one dying and while I have forgiven her, it is now my turn to make peace.