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When your kids reach the age you were...

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

My parents divorced when I was 6 and I haven't seen or heard from my father since I was 8 (he had a drug problem and I guess he never got it under control). It sounds naive, but I honestly thought I was fine with it, since I "turned out fine" -- I'm a compassionate, educated, loving, thoughtful person who has a wonderful husband and children. 

 

But then my DS turned 6, and I suddenly found myself thinking about my dad all the time. I'll notice myself looking at him and seeing how tiny he is, and thinking, "How could someone just walk away from that?" I think about the zillions of memories DS and I share, and think about how my dad (who was loving and involved when he was around) must have those memories of me too. 

 

This part sounds silly, but I watched The Wrestler (with Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei) last year, and I found myself feeling disgusted. It bothered me how this man who abandoned his kids was getting all this sympathy for his "loss," even though that loss was his own fault. It made me sick to think about the possibility that my dad may have used his abandonment of us as some sob story to get sympathy over the years. 

 

I know this is all over the place. I don't want to connect with my father. I'm just wondering if any of you had a surge of memories and feelings you thought you were over when your kids reached the age you were when something big happened in your life. 

post #2 of 25

Well I know what movie I wont be watching. 

 

hug.gif

post #3 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Charlie's~Angel~ View Post

Well I know what movie I wont be watching. 

 

hug.gif

 

ah, yeah, me too.

 

OP - I understand where you are coming from.  My bio dad was basically never around even when my mom was married to him and I have similar feelings when looking at my child - how could someone just not care?  I know he took off several times, leaving my mom and me with no money and at times, no roof over our heads.  I just can't wrap my head around how anyone could intentionally do that to a child.

 

My DH also experiences the same thing except he had the misfortune of loss and abandonement (and abuse) over and over.  Movies/shows trigger things for him too.  

 


 

post #4 of 25

parenting has caused me to see a lot of my past experiences in a different way, so i can relate to thinking something was okay, only to realize it's really, really not.  it sounds like this awakening is a good chance to really look at how this affected you and hopefully do some healing. 

post #5 of 25

Edited by A_Random_Phrase - 12/7/10 at 3:51pm
post #6 of 25

My DH and I have talked about this. His dad left when he was born (drug addiction, infidelity issues) and DH has said several times that he can't imagine any father leaving their baby/ child. My dad left when I was three though he visited frequently. Makes me wonder how I'll feel when DS is that age.

post #7 of 25

I've been going through this. My mother had PPD after having me (her second baby). She left my sister and I when I was around 4-5 months and never came back...I mean she visited a hand full of times, then from age 1 until 18 I saw her literally 2 times. By choice I lived with her for a few months when I was 18 to get to know her.

 

I think what freaks me out is my grandmother (my true mom)'s comments about how no one could understand how it could happen and a careless remark she made once about how attached my sister was to my mom was the same as my DS attachment to me. I know she meant "see you are so attached I bet you can't imagine" Rather than, "It could happen to you"

 

But I worry what if I all of a sudden completely change as a person and do that? It sounds so stupid and I have talked to Dh about it and he thinks there is no way no how and in my saner moments, yeah no way I could ever leave my kids...ever.

 

I just keep looking at DS and wondering how she could do that, even after getting over PPD, why wouldn't she come back? I know its not simple and I have forgiven her...but I don't understand it.

post #8 of 25


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View PostIt sounds naive, but I honestly thought I was fine with it, since I "turned out fine" --

 

I don't want to connect with my father. I'm just wondering if any of you had a surge of memories and feelings you thought you were over when your kids reached the age you were when something big happened in your life. 


Not naive at all.  It's the beginning of wisdom when you realize your adult conclusions-realizations-epiphanies-victories are just the beginning, not the end of a process. 

 

Yes, I've had the same experience.  Especially when my daughter turned thirteen years old.  At the same age I was having a particularly difficult time in school and was in a lot of pain.  I repeatedly went to my mom for help and sympathy but didn't get it. So I gave up. I realized that my mom couldn't help me, didn't understand and had no sympathy for my situation and basically implied my problems were the fault of my weak moral character.  Not only could she not help me, but she was hurting me. To protect myself I had to put up something of a partition between her and me.

 

When inevitably my daughter experienced difficulties and stress in middle school, at first I found myself withdrawing. But I realized what I was doing, kicked myself in the ass and re-engaged with her.  Maybe I can't provider my daughter with all answers and solutions but I'm trying really hard to let her know, always, I accept her, support her and love her, and at the very least I feel bad if she's in pain. 

 

Frankly, it's not just major traumas, either.  My childhood has replayed out for me like a movie in my head as my children have grown, in all sorts of little, simple ways. It's absolutely fascinating.

 

We get a second chance at the parent-child relationship when we have kids. 

 

Edited to add, I strongly believe that when I parent my children healthily I am re-parenting the child within me, that child that I put on hold by ignoring her and stuffing her away.  It's an opportunity to heal. 


Edited by journeymom - 12/3/10 at 9:32am
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

Not naive at all.  It's the beginning of wisdom when you realize your adult conclusions-realizations-epiphanies-victories are just the beginning, not the end of a process. 

 

I strongly believe that when I parent my children healthily I am re-parenting the child within me, that child that I put on hold by ignoring her and stuffing her away.  It's an opportunity to heal. 


Thank you for these words. I wish I could say more but I don't know how to voice it. Just, thank you. 

post #10 of 25

I used to think that some of the really awful stuff my parents did (and occasionally still do)... they just couldn't help themselves.  That's how I accepted them.

 

Then when my daughter was born... I looked at her and wondered, "Good god, how on earth could you do *that* to your child?"

 

As she gets older, that feeling hasn't dissipated - only grown stronger.

 

And yet I'm always afraid of screwing up.  Not like them necessarily.  I accept that I will make mistakes.  But I fear making BIG mistakes.  Or I fear making small mistakes with big effects.  I am afraid that if I can't fully accept and love my parents inspite or because of all their faults, that someday my daughter will dislike me too.  Because I couldn't model grace.

 

I'm afraid of forgetting that ... she is not me.  I'm afraid of wanting too much to "correct" the past with her future.  Of forgetting it's her future, not mine.

 

And yet I'm afraid of being too detached.  Of her someday growing up and thinking I don't love her, or don't care... when I love her in a way that I can't even begin to name.  And I think, "Oh surely my parents felt this way too.  But they still did those things."  So feelings aren't a guarantee.

post #11 of 25

I have asked myself the same question. 

 

My dad has a severe substance abuse problem that caused him to become permanently disabled and unable to work. For the first 10 years of my life, he was a good dad. Something changed over time, and he began drinking and drugging more frequently. Despite my mom's excellent heath insurance, which paid for therapy, rehab, etc., he never overcame his addictions. He finally bottomed out about 20 years ago-- stopped showing up for work, separated from my mom, became homeless. He essentially abandoned us because he couldn't conquer his substance abuse. I was 13 when he left for good.

 

A few months ago, my sister and I talked about what happened with our dad. She expressed the same feeling you did, OP-- that our dad's substance abuse and abandonment didn't really screw her up permanently; however, as a mom, she can't understand how he picked alcohol and drugs over his own kids. My sister asked me, "Didn't Dad think we were worth fighting for?" She was 9 when our dad left-- her daughter's current age.

 

I don't (consciously) dwell much on the past these days, but I still don't get how my dad could walk away from his three kids. We wanted nothing more than for our dad to get better and come home. He didn't.

 

I definitely identified with Evan Rachel Wood's character in "The Wrestler." Also, Mickey Rourke looks a lot like my dad, so the scenes where Randy tried reconnecting with his daughter were pretty hard for me to watch.

post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MissMaegie'sMama View Post

I have asked myself the same question. 

 

My dad has a severe substance abuse problem that caused him to become permanently disabled and unable to work. For the first 10 years of my life, he was a good dad. Something changed over time, and he began drinking and drugging more frequently. Despite my mom's excellent heath insurance, which paid for therapy, rehab, etc., he never overcame his addictions. He finally bottomed out about 20 years ago-- stopped showing up for work, separated from my mom, became homeless. He essentially abandoned us because he couldn't conquer his substance abuse. I was 13 when he left for good.

 

A few months ago, my sister and I talked about what happened with our dad. She expressed the same feeling you did, OP-- that our dad's substance abuse and abandonment didn't really screw her up permanently; however, as a mom, she can't understand how he picked alcohol and drugs over his own kids. My sister asked me, "Didn't Dad think we were worth fighting for?" She was 9 when our dad left-- her daughter's current age.

 

I don't (consciously) dwell much on the past these days, but I still don't get how my dad could walk away from his three kids. We wanted nothing more than for our dad to get better and come home. He didn't.

 

I definitely identified with Evan Rachel Wood's character in "The Wrestler." Also, Mickey Rourke looks a lot like my dad, so the scenes where Randy tried reconnecting with his daughter were pretty hard for me to watch.



Thank you so much for this. I'm glad you've seen that movie too and know what I'm talking about -- I felt silly bringing it up. I found myself unwillingly feeling compassion for the character (he really was pathetic, and the whole "I'm just a broken down piece of meat" line killed me), but at the same time being angry with the other characters who showed him compassion.

 

Sometimes I think that living life as an addict must be horrible, and he's probably more than paid the price for his "sins," but ... I don't know. I look at my DS's teensy little shoulders in the bath, and his little upturned, trusting face as I wipe his mouth after dinner, and something just breaks inside of me to think that my dad could walk away from that, for any reason. 

post #13 of 25

Yeah.

 

My mom had a huge drinking/drug problem, which started after I was 9 or so.

 

I had come to terms with it and was fine, mostly.   I had problems with it again after I had my kids. I can accept that my mother did not care to stop drinking or drugging for her children, but I cannot accept that she was not willing to do so for her grandchildren.  I'm not much, but my kids are incredible kids. I don't understand. I'm not sure I'll ever understand.

 

(I get it intellectually. I understand what addiction does to people. I just don't get it emotionally.)

post #14 of 25

hug2.gif  I don't have any advice, but wanted to send hugs.  That sounds really tough... and it looks like it will be something I will be addressing in the next few years.

post #15 of 25



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RiverTam View Post

Yeah.

 

My mom had a huge drinking/drug problem, which started after I was 9 or so.

 

I had come to terms with it and was fine, mostly.   I had problems with it again after I had my kids. I can accept that my mother did not care to stop drinking or drugging for her children, but I cannot accept that she was not willing to do so for her grandchildren.  I'm not much, but my kids are incredible kids. I don't understand. I'm not sure I'll ever understand.

 

(I get it intellectually. I understand what addiction does to people. I just don't get it emotionally.)


The whole reality of parents leaving their kids is heartbreaking, but RiverTam the bolded part of what you said is exactly why I hope that what another poster said about "parenting your own kids is a chance to heal the child you were when you were abandoned" is true (not exact quote but the gist of it).

 

RiverTam you ARE much, you and every single child ever born to anyone are completely and totally worth trying to hang in there and overcome one's demons.  Not everyone is able to... others could but for other reasons choose not to.  No matter what the reason, being that abondoned child is devastating, even where we go on to grow into amazing wonderful productive people.

 

But that feeling that somehow maybe you aren't worth fighting for but your kids are... of course your kids are, but so were you.  I just hope you and everyone who feels like you do (that they could accept and understand the abandonment of themself but not others) I hope you dig deeper and get to a point where you realize - truly and fully realize - that you were and are completely a nd totally valuable and amazing and so worth fighting for.  It's your mom's loss that she missed out on raising and loving such an awesome kid.
 

post #16 of 25

 

Quote:
-that you were and are completely and totally valuable and amazing and so worth fighting for.  It's your mom's loss that she missed out on raising and loving such an awesome kid.

 

nod.gif    Imagine that Young Girl You is right there with you. 

 

Forget for a moment that she will grow up and be 'basically alright'.  That doesn't matter, The little girl was wronged. It was wrong and it needs to be addressed.  And there was a time when the girl knew it was wrong that she was being let down. It hurt horribly.  But then in order to cope and get along she decided she was fine, she'd get along without the love and stability she deserved like every child deserves. The pain she feels from abandonment is no less real, and this girl is every bit as deserving of your love and affection as your own children are. 

 

Pull on the love you have for your precious children.  Take the girl in, hold her close, feel the ache within your heart.  You feel bad for her and she feels bad for her self. The difference is that this time you are there, a loving mother, to hold her while she's sad.  Feel the waves of healing leave your body and fill her up.  Feel the waves fill you up.  Let it soak in.

 

-------------

 

This kind of meditation stuff might be too weird for some, but it helps me.

post #17 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by limabean View Post

Thank you so much for this. I'm glad you've seen that movie too and know what I'm talking about -- I felt silly bringing it up. I found myself unwillingly feeling compassion for the character (he really was pathetic, and the whole "I'm just a broken down piece of meat" line killed me), but at the same time being angry with the other characters who showed him compassion.

 

Sometimes I think that living life as an addict must be horrible, and he's probably more than paid the price for his "sins," but ... I don't know. I look at my DS's teensy little shoulders in the bath, and his little upturned, trusting face as I wipe his mouth after dinner, and something just breaks inside of me to think that my dad could walk away from that, for any reason. 

 

hug2.gif I just wanted to reply to let you know that I don't think that mentioning your feelings about the movie was silly at all. "The Wrestler" really touched a nerve in me, too. When I watched it, I wished I could be like Randy's daughter and tell off my dad once-and-for all, just like she did after he stood her up.

 

I have very infrequent contact with my dad-- he calls once or twice a year, but my DH usually tells him I'm not home. I don't generally return his calls. He's almost always drunk or "on something," and I don't enjoy talking to him when he's like that.

 

He has no relationship with his five grandchildren, and has never met his four youngest GKs (my DS is 12, and my dad met him a few times when DS was a toddler). This, despite the fact my dad and I live in the same city.

 

He's been to rehab more times that I can count, and he always relapses. I think he's lived in a residential treatment facility at least three times in the past five years, most recenlty earlier this year. He's drinking and drugging again. When I was younger, I hoped that he's get sober and STAY sober; today, I'm older and less delusional!

 

Bottom line? He chose his addiction over his wife and kids, and walked away from everything he had. It's his loss.


Edited by MissMaegie'sMama - 12/7/10 at 1:22pm
post #18 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

 

Edited to add, I strongly believe that when I parent my children healthily I am re-parenting the child within me, that child that I put on hold by ignoring her and stuffing her away.  It's an opportunity to heal. 


I can relate to the OP and I agree with the above statement from journeymom. I had major issues with my dad growing up and I did a lot of therapy to get through them. I actually can deal him pretty well now - which is amazing since I was going to cut off contact with him completely about 12 years ago. (I have to give him very specific limits.)

 

But I have noticed that my relationship with my mother has become a bit of a roller coaster ever since my pregnancy. Each time I think "well, I am glad that's over" there seems to be something new pop up. My DD is now 7. My relationship with Mom is pretty good right now but we also have been talking about things a lot. I have found that talking about my childhood with her helps. And I've been asking both my parents about their childhoods as well. My mom has serious issues surrounding the death of her mother (Mom was 4 and the whole family separated then reunited with a stranger/new wife a year later). I've always know about grandma's death but Mom has shared a lot more about it with me now and about her feelings. There is a part of my 63 year old mother that on the inside is still a scared, lonely little 4 year old girl. When she shared that with me, it helped me to see her in a new way.

 

I've learned a lot about my parents in the past few years and I find this new knowledge helps me understand some of their previous motivations - even ones which weren't in my best interest. It makes it easier to let go of some of the anger even though I still don't agree with some of the actions. Letting go of some of the anger seems to help me become freer in my own parenting. (I am trying to break a lot of terrible patterns in our family.)

 

I also suspect many people go through this type emotional upheaval again when their aging parents begin declining more and dying. I see this own parents in trying to care for my grandparents who are still living and in the past decade when my paternal grandparents died.

 

post #19 of 25

Yes. My mom left us when I was 17 and my brother was 13. Then she came back, then she left. Then she came back. Then she left. That went on for about 2 years. By 19 she was gone doing her own thing. My dad finished raising us.

 

She kept in touch, but was more like a wayward older sister, not a mom.

 

We got along okay. Not great, but okay. She loved my kids. She has been a good grandmother.

 

However, when my older son turned 13, the age my brother was when she left the first time, I cannot describe the rage that welled up inside me towards her. I realized something was wrong and took myself to therapy.

 

My therapist said I was responding to "triggers." The ages 13, 17 and 19 in my own children have brought up all kinds of emotions that I thought I had either dealt with or had buried.

 

And yes, I looked at my own children and thought "How could she have left us? HOW?"

 

I will never understand.

 

I agree that mothering your children gives you a chance to mother the little girl you were, too.

 

hug.gif

post #20 of 25

Yes, mine left when I was 3. I have vague memories of him. I never saw him again (I realize that I'm better off).

I found out I have 2 other brothers and a sister by him too. I never met them either.

I was always a toughie about it and had a hard life that I felt shaped me into a pretty alright person.

When DD was around that age and I would watch her with DH I would cry inside myself. I was mourning the pain of something I never had, a daddy.

I was also crying for the joy of knowing DD does.

Shoot, now you made me cry!! And Im so tough, darn it!!

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