When the Bough Breaks


Copyright Living with shadows blog

Copyright Living with shadows blog

Today I was reminded just what a tangled twisted up mess of a family I belong to! Then I remembered the photos I took of an interesting tree a while ago and how perfectly they fit with this theme. I hope you are part of a less twisted family!

There was a time I was cut off from my grandfather, I would sneakily go see him now and then but we were still emotionally cut off; My grandad wondering if I had been sent on snooping missions. Once I left home and certain truths came to light our relationship healed.

When I had to speak my truths so I could get help, contact with my siblings was cut. My eldest brother would sneakily visit me and occasionally I would sneak him through to visit his grandad. It was very hard on him if he was found out.

Things at home were better after my leaving. The social work department keeping an eye on things. I didn’t need to be a human shield anymore but my mothers anger was still a stinging blow to the senses. He broke off contact, not a peep in fifteen years but a couple of years ago we reconnected on facebook and through this he added his grandad and wife. Things are awkward but it’s nice to be able to say “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Birthday”, “Hope your okay?”, etc. There is a seven year age gap between us but I believe he still has sharp memories of our childhood and they are the elephant in the room between us.

Yesterday he posted what he thought was a humorous comment in which he used a swear word, The C word! Friends and acquaintances began to write their disapproval. While I do swear from time to time I do not believe that facebook is the place for cursing. Swearing has become a casual social interaction, especially amongst the younger generations, it is no longer used as an exclamation to a situation like stubbing your toe, reaching the end of your tether or bawdy jokes with your mates down the pub! I’m not usually offended by it but I often feel disappointed by it’s casual use on such a public forum. I have a lot of respect for our elder generations and they are offended.

My grandad and his wife left a message about this, saying how they had known his dad and he would be disappointed in the man he had become. My brother responded along the lines of: How dare you bring my father into this? you knew him? then where the hell has he been all this time! He wrote them an angry personal message and unfriended them. Writing to me that they had gone too far.. Now my brother hasn’t seen his dad since he was maybe eight years old and his mother has been feeding him lies that his father abandoned him, that he didn’t want to see him anymore. This couldn’t have been further from the truth. His dad lived a few hours away, had been running his own business that was busiest at weekends, yet he still gave up a day at work to come and collect not only his biological son but also me and spend time with us on our visitation days.

it was a horribly acrimonious split and mothers sense of revenge was always to cut someone off from those they loved but while there was a court visitation rights order in place she couldn’t do this. She could make it as difficult as possible for him, often waiting until he had arrived in our town before phoning him to say we were “ill” and couldn’t go today, come back next week! While I would be hiding behind a tree, or round a corner nearby them so she could grill me for every little detail of how they had reacted. Then mother hit on a plan and it was wicked indeed. She would use me to end his visitation rights. I was told to act bad, to goad him, get him to hit me! When he didn’t I was told to say he had, say we’d been left alone, not fed, etc. At first I refused. When we would return home and I’d say what a lovely day we’d had the beatings were brutal. she had already used me like this during the time we lived together in our old town and they had freshly split up. It was tearing me apart doing this to a man that had accepted me as his daughter and had always treated me well and shown me fatherly love. I saw one way out, I told him I did not want to see him anymore, I could see how much it hurt him. I took her rage and I felt very sad but also happy that I couldn’t be her weapon. It made little difference. within a few months there were no visitations for either of us anymore. She had managed to use his alcoholism and depression against him and succeeded in driving him further into those pits of despair, ending his ability and will to fight her anymore.

Since then mother had made sure my brother would see his father as nothing. I changed that! There is always a silver lining in any bad situation if you look close enough. I scanned and sent my brother photos of his father holding him when he was a baby. His dad gazing down at him. He told me how he had no photos of him, hadn’t seen him since that last day out and did I have any that showed his face. I was sure I had but couldn’t find them. I told him how much his dad had loved him and how hard he had fought to keep his visitation rights. we spoke more than we have done in twenty years. He thanked me and said how much he loved and missed me. I suggested he get in touch with his granny or aunt that live nearby him as they might have pictures. He told me No I don’t want to talk to them. Our family fractured after I left home. Those who believed me (my mothers side of the family, those who had known already or had their suspicions) breaking contact with mother. He told me after Nana had passed he had seen them in a shop and went to them but they had blanked him, not responding and walking away. I told him those relationships were rocky for myself also. I asked if he could approach mother about it, time mellows, surely she would still have at least a single photo but he said there was no chance of that happening.

He said he felt sorry for how angrily he had reacted. I could see why he had felt so angry. Such a personal statement from someone he really hardly knows about a father he believed would not have cared at all about anything to do with him. It was just too much but then I understand my grandfathers offence at seeing his grandson use such degrading language. It was the straw that broke the camels back as they say! He has been getting more and more annoyed as he sees so many of his family swearing so casually and often on facebook so he took a stand against it. It must be the Libra in me that I am the constant middleman. Always trying to find a way to make peace. When there is conflict I am the negotiator. I play devil’s advocate often, trying to make the person see all sides of a situation, to walk a mile in their shoes. I try to use my libran scales to balance out difficult situations. It has been my role since I was a child, always trying to put humpty dumpty back together again but when it came to putting family back together again I always failed. The hurts, the anger, the resentments.. too deep and ingrained. So I find myself in the middle again. I have defended my brother to my grandfather and I have defended my grandfather to my brother but I don’t see a happy resolution. I have a great relationship with my grandfather, I have a sketchy not really what you could call a relationship with my brother, I am not about to alienate my grandfather and end up with two awkward family situations. In this they can each make their own decisions without my meddling!

To end on a positive note after searching through boxes of old photographs I found three photographs of my brother with his dad on a day out at the zoo when he was around eighteen months old. Face clearly visible and my brother was over the moon and emotional to see them! Now knowing a bit more of the truth he hopes to find him and re-connect. I wish him the best of luck in tracking him down and in building a healing relationship with his father.

Tangled and twisted we are still reaching upwards to the light.

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16 thoughts on “When the Bough Breaks

  1. Thank you for sharing, that was amazingly brave of you to be so open about your life and I can imagine emotional just writing about it too. Sometimes you just feel it is the right time to let a little bit of it out and certainly I really appreciate that you have allowed us to see that.

    I am a Libran too, but it sounds like you have had to be so much of a middleman and it doesn’t always work, sometimes one has to take a step back after setting the wheels in motion to let them get on with it like you say, hard but necessary, because you have precious emotional attachments on both sides and need to protect those which you are doing so well 🙂

    Your a wonderful woman, it sounds like you had such a hard time, especially emotionally being used like that as a child, I can’t think what that was like, but you are a more empathic, worldly wise, kind person after all your troubles.

    Big hugs xx

    • oh i have so many instances of putting myself up as the middle man, i seem to be constantly doing this my whole life but as i have realised why i do this i have been able to tone it down. try to instigate a middle ground and then back off. i don’t allow myself to be so fully dragged into situations anymore, i learned a hard lesson from that. i do appreciate your support and i thank you for your belief in me. i can say i am a better person now than ever before, chroinic pain and illness has provided a lot of life lessons and given me the time to think. When your in a medicated lethargy there is not much else to do! It is strange to admit but being ill has helped me become a better person, now i just need to get better so i can make full use of my new self! lol!

  2. It is a remarkable set of family circumstances that’s for sure, however what is important is what a person has become. Your sensitivity in your photograph indicates that you are speaking and seeing things from a particular bent and that this is now an advantage to you. If your photographs tell your your story, then let them do so. Everyone has a story and each one is relative to their circumstances, it is up to each of us to press on and spread our individual love and beliefs.Must have been difficult to write such a blog, but there we are it’s done now and time to show your own colours. Great work.B

    • Thank you B, this last year has brought me so much clarity and understanding. it is only because of this that i was able to begin this blog and though i have a way to go i really think by blogging about difficult situations i can help others. thank you for the support.

  3. Oh, there are far, far too many twisted families out there, and in some way or another most of us end up having to navigate through all their myriad roots and boughs. Sometimes it really does take just packing up and moving to a new spot on the field. Not an easy move, but in the end, a life saver. I hope all the healing needed for your family comes through.

    • Hi, thanks for your comment, much appreciated. I can’t ever see our family as healed but that’s okay, we can’t fix everything and sometimes it wouldn’t be the best thing to do anyway. Time is a great healer and in time things tend to work out one way or another.

  4. Shelley, This is a very interesting look into your past and I appreciate you havnig the courage to put it to paper. I didn’t hit the like button, because it is not a story to like. It one to reflect on, to review, and to hope the reader never has to encounter it. I am glad to see that some aspects are moving in a more positive direction, and clearly you are a part of that movement. Please take care, Bill

    • Hey Bill, thank you. i often feel the same way about that “like” button. some things are just not likeable! it was a very reflective blog for me, there was a lot of middle me moments i decided not to include as i didn’t want to stretch in too many directions at once.. also one thing to reflect on at a time is easier to do! realising there’s some things you just can’t fix, accepting and moving on. really appreciate your support.

  5. “Tangled and twisted we are still reaching upwards to the light.”

    This is a wonderful and uplifting conclusion. I think it applies to most everyone on the face of this planet.

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