It is extremely difficult to be manipulated in your life. It is even more difficult to experience manipulation when you have experienced the loss of your beloved child.
If you or someone you know struggles with manipulation from your parents or somebody else in your family, you are not alone. This one is going to be tough. But I will be bluntly honest. Like I always strive to do. Completely transparent.
I spent an hour in therapy yesterday.
My amazing husband sat there in silence and just listened.
That entire hour I spent sobbing. Not because my son isn’t here. Not because I feel stressed about carrying the weight of an organization. Not because other things in life get in the way. But because of my mother.
But because of the dysfunction in my childhood.
Dysfunction that a child should never have to deal with but yet, has seen so many despicable things.
One of these things I desperately struggled with was my biological father leaving when I was an infant. And as I cried and explained how abandonment felt to me, my therapist focused on the fact that an innocent infant could not be blamed. Fast forward to 2012 and my mom tells me that my biological dad could be one of two people. So being 22 years old, I made sure to reach out to both men. One of which I desperately wanted to be my “dad”. We had so much in common. We enjoyed the same hobbies, he was a firefighter and dedicated to his other children. While taking each piece of the puzzle and trying to put it together, he told me that my mom cheated on him with this other man. And that he saw it happen. My heart broke to hear his pain that he carried all of these years. My mom was young.
At only 16 years old, she had me. And while I waited very impatiently, the results were in.
It was the “other” guy. In whom I found out was a cocaine addict and had 5 other children. And was 100% Puerto Rican which then made me 50%.
My adoptive father whom adopted me when I was around four years old. And I recall my mother being at work and seeing my dad in the room with another woman.
I remember the shoe in the door so that I couldn’t get in, I recall opening the door and seeing a woman named Brenda buttoning and strapping her teal colored bra. Brenda giving me a bracelet that my mother then saw and asked about. Me being five years old didn’t know any better when I told her it was daddy’s friend. When my mother told me when I was older that my dad tried to kill himself by starting the car and making sure the garage was closed. I realized I was carrying the divorce on my shoulders. I was carrying the burden blaming myself for their divorce.
Or my other brothers dad whom my mother married and was extremely abusive. I saw my mom hanging off the floor against the wall, by his hands around her throat. Each time that they’d fight, I’d be so scared. There were holes in the wall, phones broken, bruises. I was the oldest with two little brothers who were in the same amount of fear. And when she divorced him, we moved some time later. And I witnessed many men come in and out of our lives. Some for a day, some for a month. One being a stripper, Julio. In whom I don’t believe spoke much English.
My mother was never home. We were daycare kids. Kids who spent lots of time in someone else’s home so that she could work her day job and then help run a bar at night.
What kills me is that throughout these memories, I don’t have positive ones. I can’t recall my mother ever opening a book and allowing us to sit on her lap. I don’t remember cuddling and hearing her say I love you. I felt very much like a burden to her, and I felt it then but we are programmed to believe that that is a “normal” feeling.
My mom settled down with a man named John. And I enjoyed him. He was one who paid attention to us. But the same story happened. Infidelity occurred and she left him for another man. He became her third husband who was EXTREMELY coarse. I didn’t want to like him at first, I wanted my mother to marry John so badly, but it was still so hard to understand. Through the months of my mom getting to know this new man, we ended up moving up to the house he owned. And while we were up there, a few more months passed and he kicked us out.
I remember all of our belongings in the garage of his house.
Everything we owned.
There was a disorderly conduct filed and I’m not sure who it was filed on.
We lived with my grandparents for a short while.
In their tiny two bedroom apartment, there my mom was with three kids, living with her parents. I saw her heartbroken again. We found a house and she picked herself back up. I remember a few more men come and go but nothing ever stuck. And while John came back once or twice, she decided to give this other man another chance. We moved in again and before you knew it they were in Vegas getting married.
But there was still trouble in paradise. I witnessed my mom cheat on this third husband. And when she and I got in an argument, I decided to come clean. I told him what I saw, where I saw it and who I saw it with. She cornered me and told me to tell him I saw nothing.
To save their marriage.
Because she couldn’t be without him.
So I did.
It all fell on me. I “made it all up”. And he, like my mother had two previously failed marriages, had children very young and thought he knew it all.
But those children all grew up, moved out and he stopped paying child support.
I only mention this because this was a HUGE deal to him.
He said he wanted to have a party when he stopped paying for his youngest child. But it seemed that’s where his parenting stopped. He became this grumpy, miserable old man.
An old man who was alone.
Without any of his children.
They went on to live their lives and not know the support of their father.
Through all of his childrens accomplishments and milestones of their children, his grandchildren, he was absent.
But he thought he had it all figured out.
He thought he knew.
He thought he could give advice on being a parent without being a father himself.
Because as we know, parenting doesn’t end when your child is 18 years old.
You’re involved in their lives all their lives because you love them and that’s what you do.
It’s not on your terms.
Because you love them.
Because you need them.
Because you’re incomplete
He fooled everyone at my wedding with my husband.
He fooled everyone by giving his “father of the bride” speech.
He fooled everyone because the more and more I felt authentic love with my inlaws, the more I questioned the morals and “love” from the people I called “family”.
Master Manipulation is what I’ve grown up with.
If we showed any emotion or expressed our true feelings,
we would be “targeting” who we wanted to express our emotions to and that was frowned upon.
And you would be looked at as “weak” or “dramatic”. It’s what I’ve known my entire life. Which is why I chose the friends I did, the people I did to have in my life.
Until my husband. And family swarmed my heart. Foreign love that felt so good to feel. But then child loss happened.
And my sweet Bo passed away at 10 months old. My mother and I had not spoken for three months prior to Bo leaving this earth.
She had not seen either of our children.
And the weekend that he passed was supposed to be the weekend we set up a time to sit down and talk about our differences. And I witnessed a victim card being played. The “I’m Bo’s grandma” and as she cried at work she gained attention from her colleges.
They drew photos of my son and gave her gifts to keep his memory alive.
And of course, they were just doing what they thought was right. But she wasn’t present. She wasn’t there for him.
The way that she should’ve been.
And for these reasons I cry in the office of my therapist.
Because when you endure a life of dysfunction- and then experience something as traumatic as what happened.
You begin to severely reevaluate true intentions. And now here we are years later. She still isn’t here for any of our children.
Work has always been her motive. That’s her identity. If you are dealing with the loss of your child and have NO support from your family. You are not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
It feels like it. Yes.
But you have other people that are enduring the same heartache. SPEAK your truth. Even if your voice shakes. Do not feel guilty for explaining your truth.
Do not feel villainized.
Don’t give up.