What is the opposite of "having a relationship" with.....?
My national blog posting month is almost over. Today's assignment is the write about my relationship with my parents, and how it changed over the years.
I am going to read other blog postings today. See how fellow bloggers feel about their parents. You, know, for perspective. <-----the subject matter for this month.....perspective.
I am the second born daughter of the 4 Phillips girls. My mother was pregnant with my older sister when she married my father on Valentine's Day. The irony of that day being their anniversary is a bit much. She did not want to have the baby. Then she wanted to run away, give the baby up for adoption and go back to college. Instead she dropped out of college, got married and proceeded to have three more girls with what essentially was the Air Force guy she met in a bar, in Madison, Wisconsin.
Had she not had "knock-out" legs, per my father, there would never have been the hookup. He is definitely a leg man. Self-proclaimed.
The marriage officially lasted 12 years. The first few were rocky but I was too young to know this. The middle 5 were interesting. Dad was fun and full of it and Mom was angry and in the bed with a headache when she wasn't screaming and yelling and spanking us. Dad was very strict with the discipline as well. Quite militaristic. Lots of rituals and borderline torture techniques were used on the 4 of us to "keep us in line".
I never felt like my parents were anything special. I never felt like I had any particular feelings of love. I certainly did not feel protected or safe in their presence. Luckily the 4 girls were stuck like glue to each other and as the years went on we grew in our strength and resolve as we united against our common enemy.
My parent's divorced when I was in the 5th grade. My father found out that my mother was having an affair and he went on a bender, came home from work with some drinking buddies and tore our house apart in a rage. My baby sister was 4. Home to witness it all. My mom called the police and had my dad arrested. Again, baby sister in attendance.
Charming bit of drama....
When dad came home from jail, he said he was moving to Chicago to live with his brother. I begged him to take me with him. He was actually devastated that his wife was going to leave him. No comprendo.
After the divorce, Dad turned into a glorified teenager. Smoking pot, listening to rock music and hanging out with 20 year old dudes. He began to date a 19 year old gal he fell in love with at the court office where he went to pay his child support. He was 34 years old.
My mother married the freak she had been cheating with and turned our family home into a house of horrors because he was a complete pedophile.
My relationship with my father all but ended. We wanted him to be our dad but he was way too self-involved and stoned to give us any consideration at all. He would pop in and out of our lives but he was never a father.
My relationship with my mother was based on tolerance and pity. She was a poster girl for desperation and denial. I dreamed about her "disappearing" and my sisters and I finally being free and safe. Mostly safe.
Looking back, with my current lofty perspective as a mother of 2 girls, I am so disgusted at my own mother and her decisions to do absolutely NOTHING for her own girls all the while allowing her husband to disrespect, abuse, frighten and flat out assault us on a continual basis. She drank daily and I guess that, coupled with her diagnosed and untreated mental illness, got her through the days, weeks, months and years.
My father married that young lady. Their marriage lasted 12 years also. He moved his life to CA and when we were able, or allowed, or kicked out and forced to....all of his daughters joined him in one way or another. Six years after he all but abandoned us and all of his parental responsibilities, we still longed for him to love us and parent us.
Again, with my current perspective, I am sure it was 75% wanting to escape our living situation with Judy and the beast, and 25% holding out hope that his "love" was still available to us.
My mother is dead. She died alone. The man she chose over her daughters eventually cheated on her and left her with nothing. One by one her daughters grew up and left her as well. I last spoke with her in 1983. It was a short, one sided conversation. My only regret about that day is leaving my baby sister to live out her high school years under the roof of that shitty home with those shitty people.
Throughout my 20's and 30's, one or more of us had relationships with our father. Sometimes one of us lived with him and his second wife. After I got married, I tried to include my father in my life. I knew exactly who he was and I was an adult so I could handle it. My father was here for the birth of both of my girls. He was with my sister when she had her firstborn as well. He had so many chances to be our father, and time after time he screwed it up. Either by his drinking or his pot smoking or his own twisted way of interpreting real meaningful familial love and affection.
Today, my father is living back in Ohio. He has no contact with his 4 daughters save for an occasional email from me to let him know just exactly what he is missing. He has 4 grandchildren. Amazing, beautiful, interesting grandchildren. He does not know them. My own daughters have stopped asking about "funny Grampy Max".
He has held onto a flawed belief that if any one of us or any one of our children wants to know him, they must "come to him". It is unlikely. Unrealistic. Extremely self-centered. Nothing holds him in Ohio except his own stoned misconceptions about what it means to be a parent or a grandparent. My offers to bring him into my life have come to an end. It saddens me on a deep level because of my own feelings about being cheated out of something and what that may look like to my girls.
I do not long for a father's love any more. I have a husband who demonstrates ideal fatherly love on a daily basis. I see what it looks like and I know with 100% certainty that I never had an ounce of it growing up. It is ok. I mean that sincerely. With every fiber of my being.
I am a very good mother. It shocks me sometimes because I had no example. Except for the world class example of what NOT to do. I tell, show, write about, and brag about how much I love my girls. I would never choose anyone or anything over their safety and love. I am hyper vigilant in my protection of them because I have witnessed and experienced evil in a way they never will. They consider me to be over protective. I let them know what the opposite of that looks like and most importantly feels like. So they tolerate me.
I sometimes get sad that they have a shortage of grandparents. But they are super rich in the aunty department so that erases my melancholia.
My perspective on my parents has not changed much in the last 30 years. They were a disappointment from the word go and once I accepted that, they had no power to hurt me.
It may seem sad to others that I have no parents, but my sisters and I parented each other. We have a bond that rivals any fairy tale parental bond and I can count on them in ways that are immeasurable. It is unconditional and demonstrative and without limits. It is what I deserved and never received and it is also what I give to my own children.
Perspective is reality. Period.
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