Monday, February 2, 2009

Home Sweet Home (1980)

Now that my mother moved out of the house, we (my Dad, brother, and me) moved back in. Nothing, obviously, felt the same. But we went through the motions. My teachers at school wanted to know what was going on as my grades fell from straight A's. I still managed to be a Safety Patrol (placement based on honors), and even took the trip to Washington, DC.

My Dad wanted to be granted custody, so he started taking us to a psychiatrist. From what I understood, this man would listen to our story and then testify on our behalf. The trips to see him were CREEPY. We went after hours. Nightfall had already occurred, no one was at the office, and Dad talked with him behind closed doors. Just another crazy piece of the crazy puzzle. But my brother and I talked to his guy, not learning anything new about ourselves, how to cope with this crazy situation, or any counseling. We just talked, and he took notes.

Other creepy stuff?
  • My Dad would openly joke about how he would fill out as many magazine subscriptions as he could in my mother's name. He thought doing this to her was very funny. Even as a young child, I knew this was wrong on many levels.
  • He also let us know that he took one leg from her dining room set (that was her parents before their death), one suitcase from her set, and other various things when she was moving out. She battled him in court for these items. I know the court system thought they were not. And they were! See how parents like mine have spun around the court system during divorces: Joan Lachkar, Ph.D. "Courts Beware! Narcissistic/Borderline Couples: Implications for Mediation," Conciliation Court Review Bulletin, June 1986, pp. 31- 43.
  • When my great-grandmother passed away, she left my brother and me money. I remember that one day two checks came in the mail that my Dad brought to my brother and me to sign over to him (I was 12 at the time; my brother 10) under the pretense the money was to be put into our college accounts. First of all, our college was supposed to be paid for from the equity in the house that my mother gave up to him per the divorce agreement. Second, neither my brother nor I received this money-- so we signed the checks over to him for his freewill essentially.
My mother started wanting to see us again. We agreed to go out to dinner with her. When she came to pick us up one evening, she asked to have the popcorn maker. My Dad said no, and she asked why. Well, the entire conversation escalated, and they ended up fighting in the doorway. They were pushing and shoving each other, yelling, and tearing up the kitchen. I had my brother at my leg (we were still 12 and 10 respectively). I ended up calling the police, telling them there is a domestic disturbance. The cops came, everything calmed down, but my brother and I didn't feel comfortable leaving with her at this time. She left crying her eyes out. This happened again when she came to pick us up and asked for something that was her father's that she left behind when she moved. My Dad refused, she freaked-out, and the police were called again. My brother and I didn't leave with her again.

Another night, I was babysitting two small boys up the street when my mother came banging on the door. She was crying hysterically and yelling, "You're my daughter! You have to come back to me. You can't leave me, you're my daughter". The little boys had no idea what to think of the situation, and I was too scared to even open the door to talk to her. I tried to keep the boys at the back of the house so they couldn't see or hear what was going on. My mother eventually slumped down on the front door step. I called my Dad, and the police were called as well. I prayed the situation wouldn't escalate to another "domestic disturbance" with my mother and Dad at each other. In the end, I felt guilty, terribly sad, and even more conflicted. Although my mother was completely out-of-line showing-up at my babysitting job & behaving in that manner, I knew she was distraught over her children being gone. Trying to discuss my feeling with my Dad was worthless as he did not understand. He saw things as black & white-- and my mother was evil and to be discarded. Period.

I finally went out to dinner with her one night. The entire occasion was pitiful. Here is my mother, a person that was one of the biggest influences in my life, sitting there in her car, trying to gain my acceptance by handing me a little gift. Pitiful. We ate some pizza and talked some small talk. I felt totally uncomfortable but relieved to finally have time with my mother. How did all of this get to this point!?

"Borderlines will frequently sacrifice themselves, their family or their children. In court custody cases, children become the sacrificial objects, are placed in the middle of arguments, and are deprived, made to be go-betweens, and treated like little adults playing the role of mediators, therapists, and saviors" p 130 Lawson. From the time the divorce bomb was dropped to present day, I feel like I have always been in the middle. I feel like I was a pawn in the divorce, used by BOTH parents. I feel like I have been caught between a rock and a hard place since the inception of their separation. I also feel like I was expected to think and make decisions like an adult when I was a child-- and when I didn't make the decision that my mother wanted or expected, I was vilified. "The all-good child is the parentified child-- trained to parent the parent. All-good children are typically obedient and loyal, and may function as little therapists in their families" p 163 Lawson.

Well, the next step was spending the night with her. She had an apartment, and it was jammed full of all the stuff from our house. I remember feeling terribly uncomfortable-- to the point that when I saw what I later found out was an antique glass syringe, I was very scared of her. My Dad had me call him at certain times to check in, which made me even more scared of her. Obviously Dad is worrying, so I guess I should be concerned and worry too!!?? Over time, being with her became less of a stresser, including spending a week with her over the summer. No matter what though, I felt I had to play the game with my Dad and show undying loyalty to him (see subsequent blog post: Adult Children of Parental Alienation).

My mother married her boyfriend that summer. My brother and I attended the wedding, which was one of the hottest days of the summer on record. Now, my brother and I lost our family as we knew it, and a year later we have a new step-father and 2 step-brothers. These changes through the last 3 years have been heavy and traumatizing: grandmother dead 1977, grandfather dead 1978, parents divorce 1979, mother remarries to my Dad's ex-best friend 1980... and the story continues.

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