Friday, 18 January 2013

Guest Post: Christine's Introduction

by Christine

My online name is Christine and I have struggled with my story a bit. Think of movies like “Memento” and “The English Patient” where issues and plot-lines get scrambled and only as the movie progresses does the true story come to light.

Where do I start? Firstly my mother’s death and what occurred as a result. I have changed names and left out identifying personal details.

"I was only 6. I remember my mother in bed and nurses coming to see her then the very next morning she was dead. My older brother, my little sister and I were in shock. My Dad was inconsolable. Years later when I got all my family tree records I learned that she had died of appendicitis; if only she had been treated earlier she may have lived.

Afterwards my father and my grandmother (mother’s side) had a massive fight and I never saw my mother’s side of the family again. We moved from my country town to Sydney where my father took on a housekeeper.

Irene was from England, was also a widow and had her own little boy. My father and Irene got married only several months after she moved in. My father and her destroyed all my mother’s photos, made me call Irene “Mum”, refused to talk about my mother – they made me pretend that she never existed. My new family grew further; in addition to Irene’s boy two step-sisters were born which made our household grow even poorer. I was so ashamed of how I looked compared to everyone else. I only ever got homemade haircuts, old second-hand clothes and I only ever had school shoes.

We were poor because my mother had come from a wealthy family, the third of four girls. She had fallen for a very handsome, dashing farmer’s son. Her line was from 19th century free settlers, his was convicts and bushrangers. She was well-educated, musical and intelligent, he only had a sixth grade education and when I was a teenager he was a real embarrassment to me.

She had not adapted well to living on a budget and I think some of their fights I remember were over finances. I remember sometimes her packing suitcases and me crying because I was so scared. After her death it took years for my father to pay off all her debts.

I was the oldest girl in the house, I was made to do all the housework and help Irene out all the time. I never got any encouragement; she expected so much of me. Irene always gave Todd special treatment over us and even my step-sisters. Nothing I did was ever good enough for her. Even when I got a scholarship to a private school secondary school all she could say is “that’s nice” and that’s all. You’ve had it so easy compared to me…."

I am coming clean now. That is my own mother’s story. The snobby fixation on outward appearances and envious nature that comes out clearly through those several short paragraphs do not belong to me. The somewhat childish language I used is the wording I remember from me hearing that story many times very early on, probably starting about when I was about 6 when she lost her own mother.

I am the oldest of four children, two sisters and a very little brother (born when I was 14).
As I got older the details of what she experienced and later on all her marital problems got more intimate and distasteful.  Incredibly my father didn’t fall for all her mind games and sob stories so I - and later on my sisters - got to hear it all instead. (My siblings and I have concluded he kept us literally sane – he was NOT an enabling father at all. A lot of strife, sometimes a single slap to shut her up when she started screaming but we never had to deny reality to keep us functioning.)

At first I felt honoured with all these secrets, perhaps in my mind I was being treated like a big girl. The anniversaries of her mother’s death were very difficult and draining. The atmosphere was very morbid. She who was not allowed to mourn in a way forced her children to mourn with her for the grandmother they had never known.  I think the psychological term is “dysfunctional grieving”. It has completely overtaken her life. I have no idea why she has not sought real long-term counselling to overcome her grief. My sister said my mother went to some counselling until she felt better. Not was better objectively, felt better.

That sister told me that my mother still visits mediums to contact her mother.  My brother recently told me that she still visits graveyards to read complete strangers’ tombstones. My teenage son listening to this conversation piped up “that’s sick, is she an Emo?”  Yes I suppose he’s right – fixated on death, writing death poetry while a teenager, kissing her second husband for the first time in a graveyard… as I said to my sister she loves death.

She always cared more about her dead mother than us. E.g. years ago when I told her I was having major potentially life-threatening surgery on March 12th she said ”my mother died on the 13th…” and pulled the sad face she does when she wants to be comforted .

I have looked for other survivor stories about growing up with parents who used personal struggles about death of loved ones to manipulate their children and meet their own emotional needs or else. She truly is an emotional vampire.


P.S. for your interests’ sake this is why it sounds like I now have nothing to do with my mother.  (read following entries too). 

And no she has not called me since and I have not called her. Whether or not this is permanent only time will tell.

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