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Monday, 26 November 2007

Beginning

I've tried to explain to you how I've ended up where I am. I've tried to explain it to myself too. But I've started half way through the story and I need to go back. I need most of all to see the bond between us, and how strong it was, and how it meant something.

It really meant something.

When my second marriage was cracking under the strain, he was there to help me. We were good friends by that time, and his shoulders were strong, strong enough to bear the weight of weeping women. My second marriage was not a happy one, although it gave me the gift of my son, whom I love more than my life. Nothing so obvious as violence, nothing so sordid as infidelity, but unhappy even so. My friends would laugh so at the person I was then, unable to reconcile that image of me with the Tina they know now, the strong minded, the laughing, the confident. She didn't exist then, except in my dreams, and I didn't imagine I would ever find her. I was berated constantly, told I was stupid, told I was a bad mother, a phrase that haunts my nightmares to this day.

An image of my son and I at the dining table, working on his spellings over the weekend. Being told to get out of the way, into the other room, because I knew nothing, couldn't help, was doing it wrong.

I became convinced, utterly convinced, that he was right, that I wasn't fit to take care of my son. I tried to distance myself from my son, perhaps I was doing him more harm than good. He was better without me. Wasn't he? The arguments between me and his father grew worse, I started to find my voice. But I never found my confidence as a mother. I knew in my soul that I didn't want my son to grow up in a house where arguments were all he knew. I confided in him, my friend, the man who was always honest, even if it hurt.

I told him I planned to go, and leave no contact. To leave my son where he would grow up better without me, where he could grow to be a good boy, a good man, without his bad, bad, mother. And even when my heart broke, as it surely would, I would know that I had done my best for my son.

He looked at me, I wept while I spoke, laying bare my plans for leaving, and how I would do it. And he took my hand, and talked to me, soothed me, comforted me, and made me promise not to go. Made me promise to wait until I knew I was wrong, that I was a good mother.

And I waited, and he was right.

He has made me the woman that I am.

But no. That is not the beginning of the story. Back further, to my first marriage. Married at 21, the first proposal I received. I rushed headlong into that marriage, desperate to join the ranks of women who had someone that loved them.

No. Earlier than that.

My first serious boyfriend. I was a late developer, my first serious boyfriend did not arrive until I was 18. Is that where I need to begin?

No. Earlier still. A 6 year old in the primary school playground. A quiet, shy little girl with long, straight brown hair. Standing on the sidelines, watching the children play. Unused to the rough and tumble of others, an only child, a protective mother who wanted to keep her safe from harm. A mother a whole generation apart, old enough almost to be a grandmother, but given one final gift of a child, not through God's will but from another. A taunting voice from the playground, an older girl approaching.

'My mum knows your mum. She knows you're adopted. Your mum's got to give you back, and you'll end up in a home.'

And there it starts. A lifetime of never fitting in, of never being quite right. Of never being wanted, not even by my birth mother. Too young to understand why this might have been, but the salving years have never soothed the scars.

Bullied throughout senior school, again never fitting in. Always the child with the wrong clothes, the wrong hair, the wrong voice.

The wrong life.

He has made me the woman that I am.

The miserable years at school, finally unable to deal with that last year. The tragedy of leaving school early, unable to continue, exams failed. A future gone.

But a spark remained. The teenager now tried to pick up her life, enrolled at college, resat her exams. took 'A' levels. Met her first boyfriend. A popular boy, the girl not realising that this was all some joke, some desire to slum, to see what girls like her were like. The boy that told her finally that he had chosen her because she was plain, that plain girls were more grateful. Was this true? In a way, he was right. She had been so desperate to be liked that she'd ignored all the signs, just wanting someone to love her for the person she was.

My first marriage, some three years later. A mistake from the first day. I thought I knew what love was, thought I had found someone who loved me too. I was wrong on all counts, and made mistakes that pain me still. An affair, over almost as soon as it began. A girl looking for someone to love her? Perhaps, but no excuses. Not any more.

He has made me the woman that I am.

He helped me to see that I could become the person that I wanted to be. He let me lean on him when I was weak, and he stepped away when I was strong, letting me stand by myself, to prove that I could do it. He held me tight when I received the call telling me my father had died, listened when I talked.

I loved him because he helped me be the woman that I am today. But it felt like betrayal when he didn't want the woman he'd helped to create.

It felt like one more person rejecting me. It was the playground again.

But he did a better job than that. I've started to see past that, started to see what lies at the heart of our friendship. Started to see that it's not a reflection on the person that I am, but instead, well, just one of those things.

And I've started to think that I need my friend back.

11 comments:

aims said...

He may have helped - but you are your own strong person - that you created and recreated - time and again...each time better than the last.

Cheering for you from the sidelines......

Rainbow said...

No sweetheart - YOU've made you the woman you are. Other people have helped, good and bad, but you're the one who should take the credit.

From what I can read here you are a great mother and a really warm-hearted person. I've been in similar places and my own opinion is you need some distance - but it's your call.

Good luck with whatever you choose
xx

belle said...

Tina, my lovely, this is heart rending. That little girl lost in the playground sometimes still peeps through. Don't credit him with everything. Rainbow and Aims are right, You created You. He supported and nutured you, but you're the one who did it.

Manic Mother Of Five said...

Hi lovely. I have read and re-read this post and am not sure where to start!

OK, marriages - I am on my THIRD! First one was a complete disaster - married on the Saturday after a 12 week whirlwind romance and he hit me for the first time the following Thursday..... Second one was a nice guy but totally unsuited to me. I guess its been third time lucky for me..... So don't beat yourself up about it - we go into these things full of optimism and sometimes it goes spectacularly pear shaped. All part of the learning curve and I have certainly learned from all my experiences.

That your son's father managed to make you feel so uncertain of your maternal skills REALLY made my blood boil. Respect to your friend for supporting you and giving you sound advice.

Adoption - a minefield of emotions. I have some experience but not directly..... I would offer that you are a child of the 60's if my maths hasn't let me down when single motherhood wasn't even part of the vernacular.... Your birth mother probably had no choice in the decisions made for your future...... You were so special that your adopted mother CHOSE you. Remember that - you were the most precious gift anyone could ever receive.....

Ok, think I've covered everything. Can understand you wanting him in your life as he's been such a good friend but YOU are responsible for who you are.

Phew. As ever, much love X

Crystal Jigsaw said...

I can only echo the other commenters. You are your own person. You have to learn to love yourself, love what you hold deep inside. That little girl in the playground has gone. She has become a woman with responsibilities. You are a strong person now, you are a mother. You are warm and loving are more than capable at standing on your own two feet. Perhaps he did help you to break free and save your son but he didn't do it for you.

Crystal xx

Swearing Mother said...

Tina, you are your own woman. And you sound just great.

Stinking Billy said...

Tina, I swear to God that my first glimpse of your title looked like "Too young for a midwife, too old for a tampon." ;-)

However, your tale was a serious one indeed, and has me feeling guilty about accidentally missing you out (and another new addition to my links) of a post earlier this week.

I'll catch you next time, though.

You tell a heart-rending tale.

Anonymous said...

Don't ya love the November weather Tina. I mean, all summer I've been cheerful and optimistic, and now it's cold and pissing down and I just realised why my life is pants. Oh well.

It's 7 below here in Prague, my scene is breaking up, people moving on or going home, I don't know what to do about Christmas and my kids aren't talking to me (ungrateful not-so-little gits) I've got the dentist tomorrow, too, but at least they are cheap here. Don't take on so about children; however hard you try, they grow up and shaft you, trust me. Still, I am glad I know you and Belle, and I am glad that Spring follows Winter, and that we will all be laughing together soon, possibly idiotically.

Boating in the Spring. Keep your diary clear.

Mid-lifer said...

I agree with the others Tina. he may have played a part in who you are now, but really it's you...

xx

Tina said...

Aims, that's just wat I need! A cheerleader! But you're going to need to relocate...

Rainbow, am damned if I know what I want at the moment. Am a bit wing and a prayer at the moment. Thank you.

Belle, she comes through more often than a lot of people know. Thank you.

MMOF, thank you so much. And I'm all for a third wedding. Don't they say, third time's a charm?

Crystal, that's very perceptive, as I'd expect. I hope it will come in time.

SM, thank you so much.

Stinking Billy, how lovely of you to visit! I swear you've made me laugh so much that I'm tempted to change the name of my blog to the one that you misread. It's so much better. Will be over to ctach up with you soon.

Mr Anonymous, there are often the darkest days just before the Spring, but know that the lighter ones are surely coming. You know your Second Mate is always ready.

Mid-lifer, we see you so infrequently these days! Thank you for coming again, we miss you.

menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

So, you were married to a control freak. Narcissitic little swines that get their jollies putting you on a pedestal, isolating you from friends and family and then when they have you all to yourself, set about chipping away at your self esteem and, emotional and mental state. The little turds are more common than we give credit for.

You are lucky - because you are you. He has to live with himself for the rest of his life and he will most likely end up alone - sweet justice!

Adoption - I agree with MMOF in that the 60's was not a good time to have a child out of wedlock. Did you ever want to trace her or your father? There is many a heartbreaking story behind a child given up for adoption and it is usually not about rejection but lack of family support, poverty, shame, and whatever other old crap that was put upon single mothers in their day.

That woman probably holds you dear in her heart and feels it break a little more every day that she moves emotionally further away from you. That little girl standing on the sidelines is in every one of us so you are not alone there because you were adopted - there are a few million others right there alongside you so budge up and make some room!

But I can only try to empathise with you as I haven't experienced it.