There are times when I sit quietly and think about what a family should be like. The warmth, the love, the safety, the security, the respect… and so much more. I’ve spent times with familes like this and I marvel at the way the children in these families behave. The children have an amazing inner confidence, sense-of-self and… and a little something else I can’t quite put my finger on.
Their reality sits in stark comparison to my own childhood. Fear. Uncertainty. Shame. Confusion. Isolation.
I have no way of explaining my childhood. I remember being in, perhaps, grade two at a primary school in Tasmania. I always felt different. I did have some friends but I felt, somehow, disconnected from them. I knew I was different, somehow, but had no way of explaining that and I certainly didn’t share that with anyone. Only now does it make sense.
I remember being somewhere between age seven and nine and telling my mother that I thought I was adopted. I, actually, don’t remember the conversation but I knew it took place. It took place on several occasions. I insisted that my father, the person I called “Dad”, could not be my father. I had nothing in common with him, didn’t look like him and didn’t like him. I don’t remember my mother’s response, aside from insisting that he was my father.
I don’t remember if I told her, but my other theory was that she must have had an affair as she married my father whilst pregnant with me. In my mind that was more possible. It explained, in my mind, why I didn’t fit in with my family, why I felt so different. If I was adopted, if my mother had had an affair, that would make sense.
Given that I have my birth certificate and have remarkable physical similarities with siblings on my mother’s side – it’s highly unlikely that I was adopted. An affair – I will never know. Perhaps that was why I seemed to be the target of my father’s abuse and not my younger brother? I have no answers. I have no way of knowing.
I’ve gone a little off topic though. There is an undeniable pain inside of me for the family I didn’t have and for the family that caused so much pain. I try not to think about it too much. There’s very little I can do to change what’s already happened.
I am somewhat proud of myself for removing my destructive, damaging and hurtful family from my life but that doesn’t take away the pain of not having a safe, loving family. I don’t have parents to love and support me. That hurts more than any words can describe.
I do, however, have some wonderfully supportive family. I love them more than any words can describe. They, in turn, love me unconditionally and are always there for me. I know they don’t always understand, but they do love me and they do try to understand. These people are my half-brother, sister-in-law and nephew who live nearby. They took me in when I first moved to Victoria and have supported me through intensive therapy and building a new life. The other people are my half-sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew in Singapore. They love me so much and my niece and nephew never fail to make me smile!
I do have some family that love me. I just don’t have parents that are a positive, safe, caring influence in my life. Grief for what I never had, for what was taken from me is overwhelming.