I'm new to the forum, but had been reading the MACHM site for a couple of weeks. It was good to read in a post the things that have been filtering in my mind for a while. I had an emotionally and financially deprived childhood. My father was a stern disciplinarian who beat me regularly for my many infractions of his code of behaviour. I had counselling a few years ago, and was asked about physical affection in my childhood. I could remember my mother putting her arm around me when I was 14. I froze - it was an alien feeling because nobody had ever hugged me.
When I married at 17 - largely because it was so nice that someone actually said they loved me - I found myself in an even worse situation. My husband was unstable and abusive. But I couldn't go home, I couldn't get out because I had no money and was socially isolated, so I just tried to soldier on and raise my kids. I wasn't the only target for his beatings, so I began to put myself between him and the children. Eventually I was allowed to get a job, and with that I started to gain a measure of independence. In fact, I got three jobs so I could put my kids through a good school in the hope that a good education would free them from the life I had. That just intensified the problem - I was starting to voice the opinions I had kept hidden for so many years and that he wouldn't tolerate. Eventually, I defied the beatings and refused to be his doormat any more. So he got a restraining order and kicked me out!
Both of my kids have issues as a result of that time. My eldest, who tried to protect me from his father, suffers depression, but is working through it, has a good job and has married recently. He probably would be a different person if he had had a different childhood, but he is trying to make the best of it.
In all those years of being abused, and trying to protect my children from being abused, I allowed my younger son a lot more latitude than I should have. I gave him way too much, and did not hold him to account for things I should have. I know that now. He now has no room for me in his life. It is incredibly hurtful. He and his wife have decreed that my current husband and I are embarrassing and a bad influence on their child, so we're not allowed to see her.
Ironically, since being thrown out of my home by my ex my life has improved incredibly. I met and married my husband fairly soon after my divorce and with his support I had a LOT of counselling. It helped me so much. I am no longer paralysed by anxiety. I learned that I am intelligent and creative, and have a great job earning a salary I never dreamed of, a lovely husband, and a close and supportive group of friends. I travel; I have friends over for dinner. These are things that people take for granted, but for me it is heaven.
But there is a hole in my life. In counselling, I learned that my younger son exhibits antisocial personality disorder - he has no empathy, and so he discards people who are of no use to him. He has drifted in and out of my life for years. He didn't want to live with my husband and I, so he moved in with his girlfriend and her parents. He and his GF then moved out, but complained that the unit they rented was too noisy, they had no stability etc. So husband and I took out a loan to buy a unit for them to live in. The agreement was that they must pay a minimum amount of rent. They agreed, moved in, and within two weeks he dumped GF. He then stopped paying rent. My elder son moved in with him to help with the rent, but younger son (who had a job) started stealing from him. Eventually elder son told younger son to move out as he could not cope with his behaviour. I asked him to come and live with us, but he wouldn't. He moved in with his father for a while and blamed us for making him move out of the unit. He then disappeared from our life for a year or so.
He rang me one day to say he was engaged, and that his fiancée was pregnant. I was so happy to hear from him, and thrilled that he had found someone to love, not so thrilled that they were pregnant, but tried to say the right things. I started to give them things for the baby and all seemed OK until about a month before the baby was born when he again cut us off. I have no idea why. I didn't get to see my granddaughter until she was three when they visited, all smiles, and told us they had enrolled her in a private school (with fees of $12k per year), and that his fiancées parents were going to help with the fees. I said how lovely, and that I would help with school uniforms.
Over the next three years, I bonded with my granddaughter. She is the sweetest thing and absolutely loved me too. Every time I saw her, it was 'I'm going to sit next to grandma!' I happily paid for school uniforms, swimming lessons, dance lessons etc. I also paid for three holidays at five star resorts. Then his fiancée started mentioning that her mother gave them her wages towards their mortgage - with the clear implication that I should too. Well, pardon me for being selfish, but I worked like a dog to give my son a great education and he earns $100+k a year. DiL also works. Then I got an email telling me that they were married. OK, I thought, play it cool, don't make a fuss, just congratulate them. Did I say that in all this time, we weren't allowed to know where they lived? I asked what they would like as a wedding present - as I have no way of knowing what they have - and got a noncommittal answer.
When elder son got engaged and started planning his wedding, I got an email from DiL saying that I hadn't contributed to their wedding, but was throwing money at other son’s wedding! Um? Very soon after that I got a string of abusive emails from them saying that I am selfish and a bad influence and they didn't attend the wedding. We haven't had contact since. I have emailed, and been ignored. I have rung, left messages and been ignored.
So, here are my conclusions. Because I had a lousy childhood, and because I was married to a brute, I over compensated with my sons. My eldest, because he tried to protect me, bore as much of the brunt of the abuse as I did. Younger son took the goodies and learned to fade out of a room when he didn't like what was going on. He fades out of relationships too. All the tears in the world are not going to change this. Anything I do is not going to change this. Weirdly, one of my sisters, who rarely returns emails or phone calls started sending me emails a couple of weeks ago. I thought it was strange, but good. Then I got an email asking if I would go on a two overseas trips with her this year. She is divorced, and if she went on her own would have to pay the single supplement! Coincidentally I had already booked holidays (close to home - I want to renovate my kitchen this year) with my husband that clashed with the dates she wanted to go. So I emailed back and told her I couldn't go - and haven't had a reply. And finally the penny has dropped: my son is like my sister! You can't choose your relatives, and that includes your biological children. It is not my place to pay my sons mortgage, or his daughter's private school fees.
Me, I have a 'time off in lieu' day today, and it has been good to get some of this stuff out of my system. I'm going to go to the multicultural festival tomorrow, have friends to dinner tomorrow night, take those holidays, renovate my kitchen, and generally enjoy life and if that is selfish, well, call me selfish. Life is too short to waste on people who don't care for me.