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Archive for February 28th, 2008

Shack (c) Lynda BernhardtYesterday, I wrote about the ambivalence that a child might feel toward his birth family after being adopted out of foster care on my professional blog, Adoption Under One Roof. I would like to explore that topic here for those of us who were not fortunate enough to be removed from our “birth families.”

I have worked hard to remove my ambivalence toward my mother/abuser. I have reached a place where I mostly feel nothing toward her – no hate or love, just nothing. However, I continue to have ambivalent feelings toward my father.

My father was the “good” parent, but he was mostly absent. He was always away on business trips, leaving me to be raised by a mentally ill woman. On the one hand, my father was my “savior” in that he made my mother stop harming me when he walked in on her abusing me when I was around six. On the other hand, he swept the whole thing under the rug, and his “fix” only brought more abusers into my life. Ironically, I would have been better off if he had let my mother continue abusing me than to bring these other, horrible people into my life. I do think my father tried to do the right thing “in his own way,” but it was nowhere near enough.

I love my father for being one of the few adults in my life who did not abuse my body sexually. I hate my father for encouraging a relationship with my ritual abusers. I hate that he did not see that each time they visited, they raped his little girl. I love my father for providing for our family financially. I hate my father for leaving everything to my insane mother when he died, enabling her to p#$$ away millions of dollars. She now lives in a shack. He was a well-educated man, so why didn’t he set up the money in a trust fund so it would last? I will never understand that.

Meanwhile, my sister continues to wrestle with her own ambivalence toward our mother. While I have washed my hands of the woman, my sister continues to feel an obligation to take care of her. My sister barely gets by with government assistance as a single mother of two children, and yet she felt responsible for replacing our mother’s broken television set. No matter how many times I have told my sister that our mother is a grown woman who is responsible for purchasing her own appliances, my sister cannot let go of feeling responsible to take care of her.

Even though my sister feels this responsibility, our mother drives her crazy. My sister continues to visit with her because “she is still my mom,” even though it causes her pain and aggravation to visit with her. While I do not agree with my sister’s decision to continue contact with our mother, I understand it because I was once in that place. Ending the ambivalence toward her was very freeing for me.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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