That’s my reputation. Has been since I was a child. It’s a shame really. Thirty years and not a single member of my family has thought me anything other than cold and heartless.
When my dad left my mum didn’t leave her room for two weeks. After being told (and crying for hours) I was informed I needed to be strong for her and my little brother. I smiled and played with him and did well at school and gave my mum everything I could. I wanted nothing more than to be with my dad. We were given the choice of course, but we were asked to stay together, and he wanted to stay with mum. So it was settled. To this day my brother has no idea that was my choice.
When my mums boyfriend was paying a visit to my bedroom every night, when I had told every adult I knew including friends parents, DOCS, my year adviser and the school counsellor and they left me there I stayed strong. I knew it wasn’t my fault. I knew what he was doing was wrong and to this day I don’t suffer the same guilt so many child sexual abuse victims get. I never told my brother what his father did, he didn’t need to know. I never told my father. He found out of course (step brother read my diary) and I was raked over the coals for not telling him. His reaction was to take my brother away from my mum, something to this day he has never forgiven me for.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter and madly in love I took him to meet my family in Sydney. We stayed with my grandmother who not only disapproved of him, but of my choice to continue my pregnancy. Each day she would inform me she had made yet another booking at the abortion clinic and beg me to reconsider. She would tell me he would leave me and I would be alone. That babies ruin lives. That children ruin careers. When I reached my limit I left. As I was walking out the door she said “If you leave now, things will never be the same between us.” She died a few months later. Everyone asked me if I regretted it. But I didn’t. She had no respect for me, my wishes,my unborn child or my choice in partner. I was, of course, sad that she had passed. But she was right. Things were not the same.
I tried to kill myself when I was just 21 – marriage of just 2 years on the rocks and two babies. I took over 150 pain killers (my dad always filled his scripts, but never took any of the medication) the doctors were surprised I survived. My father took it personally and decided he didn’t want to see me any more. So I wrote to him to inform him it had been his last chance and that he would no longer be allowed to see my children or me.
I all but cut my mother out of my life because I know she is incapable of changing and she will hurt my children emotionally if allowed in my house any longer.
Six months ago I told the love of my life that our marriage was over. There was nothing else to say. I didn’t cry. I was apparently an Ice Queen about it. The day will soon come where I will have to inform our daughters that our marriage is over. I will put on a brave face and tell them nothing will change, that we both still love them and that sometimes relationships don’t work. He will cry. He will tell them he still loves me and that I don’t love him.
I have stood strong in the face of adversity many a time. I have recovered from abandonment, abuse (phsyical – step brother, sexual – step father, mental – mother) alcoholism (when I was just 16), homelessness, bullying, the loss of seven babies and so much more. I have cut people out of my life when I realise they are toxic to me or my children. I will stand strong and be told yet again that I am cold as ice.
But hears the real truth of it all. I loved my father so much that once I was sure my brother was asleep I cried every single night. I feared everyday that hideous man would do something worse, that I might end up pregnant or kidnapped. I begged my dad not to take my brother away from mum. I have never recovered from losing my grandmother before she died. I would give anything for a hug from my dad or to crawl into bed with my mum and have her read to me.
Every day i live with the loss of a man that I would have done almost anything for. I hope that he will realise what he is loosing in me. I dread the thought that I am going to tear my family apart. I tried for so long to hold it together until I couldn’t take the physical toll it took on me. I go to sleep in a bed that I was suppose to share with him until we grew old and died together. Some days I think I have cried more than any person is capable of.
I have lost so much. But at the end of the day I have a choice. I have a choice to lay down and let this destroy me, or to put on a brave face and move forward. If 6 suicide attempts and 150 pain killers can’t keep me down, then this won’t either. But just because I seem brave or nonchalant, don’t make the mistake of thinking I am made of stone. I am not nearly as cold as I seem.