At nineteen years of age, my mother and I began building our broken relationship. I had, by this time, admitted her and my sister were right along (much to their satisfaction) about my father.
Our relationship did not fully heal until my late twenties as she was unwilling to forgive my decision to live with my Dad. I was to blame for the way her and my sister’s life was turning out, the depression and anger he had left them with and the lack of money they had got from the divorce. It was my fault they were in this sorry state.
However, my mother was still my mother and even though my sister fought very hard to convince her that I was a terrible daughter, she wanted to protect me. It was a side of her I had once been so reluctant to allow. I had my father’s protection, I did not need hers. But I was at the point where I desperately needed someone’s intervention. I needed a shield against him. I hoped my mother would be it.
As much as I tried to get some time alone with her, my sister would always be lurking in the background. She still lived with Ma; she was twenty-six, it would be something she’d berate our mother for later in life. I couldn’t get my mother to myself and when I did, she would often talk as though my sister had fed her the words.
At twenty, I was offered a lifeline.
My mother asked me to live with her. I was happy to feel wanted and loved. However, there was one specific feeling hanging over me.
How could I walk out on my father?
The abuse was bad but nothing like it became a few years later. I could change him couldn’t I? I was living out of hope. Perhaps my old father would eventually appear and he would see good things in me. Also, I had made the choice to live with him, how could I turn my back on him now? He had nobody else.
My mother was horrified by my defence for my Dad. It was just another slap in her face. I loved her so much and wanted to live with her so desperately but couldn’t abandon my father.
I did not feel entirely comfortable in my mother’s presence. There was no certainty to how she would behave with me each day. I aggravated her too. My sister’s influence was strong, she had an all consuming power over her and no matter how hard I tried, my mother would listen to her first.
My life was trivial and my opinions did not count. I had chosen the miserable life with my Dad and I had to live with that. I had no place in her house, no room, nothing that felt mine. My sister’s boyfriend gained priority over me. He had been there for them when I had not. I even had to sleep on the couch when he was over. It was not enjoyable being there and as much as I ached for an escape, it just wasn’t going to be there.
So I remained with my father and endured the abuse.
Should I have gone?
I’ll never know.