I remember a lot from when I was younger, but there are two distinct memories that are embedded in my mind, I did not know it at the time, but these memories played a part in mapping out my future.
The first memory involves me being in a car, I was being told if I cried and said I did not want to go and see my dad just say so and I could go to McDonalds. I was young and did not understand what was going on- I thought my father was mean and that I shouldn’t go near him. I liked McDonalds, so I cried….
I do not remember if a mobile phone was involved or if I was taken into a building or left in the car, that part is a blank. I remember if I cried I got McDonalds.
The second memory I am a bit older and I remember being told I could not go to my father’s funeral because of a few reasons, one being “there will be too many men there” so I did not go to my father’s funeral. At that point in life I didn’t really know about cremation, I presumed everyone was buried-I had only been to one funeral before, my Grandads’ and he was buried. I presumed that if I had no choice over going to the funeral it would be ok because there would be a grave I could go to. It turns out this was not the case either as my father was cremated and his ashes scattered.
I have been told that I am a liar and these memories are imaginary because they did not happen, but I remember them clearly, I can see them if I close my eyes. I may forget what I went upstairs for but these two memories I remember clearly.
What I did not know was that me being in the car that day, was because I was due to see someone (I don’t know if it was a judge or social services) however I know that this one decision had an impact on who ‘won’ custody of me. Of course I had a lot of good things happen to me growing up, I have four younger siblings that I love, but if I could go back to this day I would not have cried for that McDonalds and I would have gone to my Dads’ funeral. Judge me if you want but I was young and knowing what I know now, my father was not “dirty”, “bad” or “nasty” – he was my dad and he loved me.
The same goes for the second memory, apparently it did not happen and I was given a choice, but if that as the case I would never have missed my father’s funeral. These days I get very emotional surrounding death that I believe comes from having a lack of control at a young age when I lost a parent. Yes, I did not see him for about 8 years until he was in hospice care and yes, the parent I lived with got remarried and I have an amazing step Dad, but I still had another father. I have two dads (not in the sense of same sex parents) but my biological dad and my step dad (although I do not like the phrase step dad, he is my dad too).
As a child/young person, we aren’t always given freedom or choice, perhaps it is for protection or to maintain our innocence, but I draw the line on decisions being made for a child on the opinions of the decision maker-they should be made for the best of the child.
My bereavement for the loss of my father has only just begun recently and it has been 15 years. I never grieved, I didn’t want to, I was scared and did not want to show emotion in front of a certain person.
I have not forgiven myself for not standing up for myself, for not giving evidence in a custody battle, or going to that funeral and I don’t think I ever will. My life would have been so different if I stood up for myself.