appearances aren’t what they always appear to be

I thought long and hard about this post and decided I wanted to share it. It’s a big part of who I am today and is important to me. Truth be told, I don’t think too many people know about this.

i was a stepchild

My mother passed away suddenly when I was 11 going on 12. Her loss devastated the family and tore apart what was left.

My father grieved in his way but was the type of man who couldn’t be alone. He dated shortly after and before I knew it, he married (within a year). The marriage uprooted what little bit of family I had left and was the beginning of years of unhappiness and depression.

Ya see, having a stepfamily takes certain a certain type of people. Some have it, others do not. Mine, did not.

the uproot

The marriage took me from my childhood home and family and moved me from my humble surroundings to the city life. It also meant leaving my school and all my childhood memories.

This also meant, kicking my older brother out of the house on the streets so her oldest could have a room.

I was forced out of the public school system and into the Catholic school system. Mind you, I was a confirmed Episcopalian and wanted nothing to do with what I saw of Catholic religion.

This didn’t matter to my father. By him remarrying, gave the new wife authority over me, and she gladly took that on. I was a good child. No problems, good grades in school, and respected my parents. But forcing a child into a completely different world and not being respected by their guardians can create issues. Big issues.

building trust

Being in a dual family situation can be good. It can also be very bad especially if one side is out numbered. This is where I stood. She had three children, and my father had me (since booting my brother). I was alone.

I was also torn away from family. I wasn’t allowed to see my mother’s side of the family. Mom had a larger family in which I had over a dozen cousins. We were all pretty close back then. But, my father and his new wife didn’t want me to have any parts of them. I was even distanced from my godparents and cousin who was on my father’s side.

This put a huge hole in my life. The world revolved around this new family and their family. What about mine?

Somehow I ended up being the black sheep in the family. The new wife was more concerned about restraining me then her own children. Of course, they did no wrong. I, growing up in a public school system, needed reprogramming.

As I tried my best to keep my father happy, my life dwindled away. I feel alone in this huge house without my family and friends. Dad drank away his sorrows. I knew he would. He was an alcoholic. I tried to warn his then, soon to be bride. She didn’t listen, obviously.

the black sheep

Being that I could do no right in the eyes of the wife, my father basically relinquished rights over me. He agreed wholeheartedly with this woman. I felt betrayed and honestly many times had wish it was my father who passed, not my mother.

I thought it would get better when I turned 16 years old and got a job. I got a car, dad picked out, yet I had to pay for the insurance and the car payment. That meant getting a job. I assumed at that point, I would slowly make my way back into the arms of the family I missed so much. My mother’s side and my father’s side.

That wasn’t allowed to happen. You see, the step side of life was controlling. Very controlling. I was allowed to take my car that I paid for to and from work. I wasn’t allowed to drive to school for fear that I wouldn’t go to school and get into trouble (so I learned later). I wasn’t allowed to go out with friends and drive. Actually, I wasn’t even allowed to go out with them and they drive! Yet, the step siblings had all the benefits of doing their own thing.

shut down and out

I thought by the time college came, things would be different. I was forced to go to college for a profession I honestly didn’t want. I wanted to go to votech high school and learn auto mechanics. I wanted to go to college to learn how to be a mechanic. However, the family would not allow a “grease monkey” in the family. So I chose the medical field.

Going to the local community college did give me a tiny bit of freedom. I was going to college full-time and working part-time. I ended up skipping school to meet with friends and talk about life. I met a boy, one I knew my family wouldn’t approve of cause he was from the wrong side of town, the side I grew up in,. I fell in love. My first love.

My family still continued to control me. As an 18-19 year old, I wasn’t allowed to take my car anywhere but school and work. I snuck around during the school and work time just to have a “normal” life. Eventually, it led to me running away with this boy. Of course, it was a very bad situation in itself but did allow me to escape the life that was killing me.

Little did I know, the boy would be just as controlling as them.

years of bad relationships

Years of bad relationships and getting involved with the wrong kind of men was “normal” for me. at 22 years old, I moved down state to escape it all. Never to look back at the life I once loved as a child and despised as teen.

I feel horrible for not getting back up with family over the years but I felt there may be ill feelings. Would they understand that it really wasn’t my fault for not keeping in touch? When I moved downstate, I honestly left it all behind and tried to recreate myself.

And here I am now. 50 some years old and have actually reconnected with the family and cousins that once held such a prominent space in my heart and life. Reconnecting even if just on Facebook is still much better than what I had. I still wonder til this day if they truly blame me for the distancing or my father. Did they have any idea what my “step” life was about?

I’m past that life now but it did damage during all those years. I don’t have anything to do with the step family at all. Of course, there is much more to this story and maybe eventually I will share all of the ugly secrets, but for now, this is the jist of it.

ya see, appearances aren’t always what the seem to be

Peace & Love xox

Categories familyTags ,

13 thoughts on “appearances aren’t what they always appear to be

  1. That is a sad memoir, Bren! 😢 I remember you mentioning your father was an alcoholic, as was mine. Losing your mom at such a young age must have been devastating for you.
    A dysfunctional family makes for an unpleasant childhood (my mother was very much like your step-mom – a total control freak), but one thing is for sure: It has made us the strong women we are today. That’s something to be proud of. Rock on! 💪

    1. Hi Debbie. You are right! It has made us much stronger and gave us a great example of what we didn’t want to become. I’m sorry to hear about your mother. So very sad that anyone feels the need to control one another. But look at us now! I think we are both beautifully, strong women that have so much to give others. As always, appreciate your comment and friendship! Love ya! xo

  2. One thing I have experienced Bren – and which you have experienced too – is facing and feeling deep fear, pain and grief frees you of these yolk-like energies holding back much of humanity. I imagine if you or I grew up in pure comfort, with no resistance, or no deep sorrow, or no deep fear or abject pain; we would be walking around weighed down with the fear of everything! Observe how easily manipulated humanity is with the virus and other worldly matters; that’s fear, never faced, felt and released.

    I am deeply grateful to have experienced sorrow and trauma; I would not be in Panama for 3 months now, if I did not grow through what I experienced.

    Bren, thank you so much for opening up and sharing your life with us. I appreciate it, as do many people who faced rough spots during their life.


    1. Hi Ryan! Great to have you bless my little home here!

      You’re absolutely right. I know so many people that are my age (50ish) and have not experienced loss. It makes me jealous in a way but in other ways, I’m glad I learned how to deal with it as a child. I honestly feel it made it much easier. Little setbacks in life help us fight much harder to succeed imo. I know you have fought to get where you are now and it’s very admirable! Sharing life experiences is what I’m good at. I know some can relate and I hope that folks know it is alright to feel grieve, loss, love, and such. How we deal with them is key to us moving forward.

      Peace & Love my friend!

  3. Brenda, I had no idea what you’ve gone through. You have emerged both strong and victorious from your younger years. I know that when I decide to write and publish something, it gives me a sense of empowerment.

    I’m thinking it may be the same way for you. You made that decision to write your story. You chose what to add and what to leave out for now. You are the victor or “top dog,” if you will, in your own life.

    Thank you for sharing what is obviously a very private part of your life.

    1. Hi Monna. Many have no clue. Back then, I was embarrassed to say anything to anyone and if I did, I left out the worse parts. But now that I’m 50ish, it’s time I left it out. I need to get it off my chest and totally heal from what I’ve gone through. I can no longer hold myself hostage to a life that was unpleasant. I’m sure many can relate as well thus I felt the need to share it.

      Thank you for your kind words. It is empowering to share our experiences no matter how painful or happy. We are in charge of our lives and can share whatever we want.

      I thank you for taking the time to read and share on my post. It’s been a long time coming and I’m sure I’ll shed more light on those not so pleasant years.

  4. My son has been dealing with a somewhat similar issue after my divorce from his father and his father remarrying – I feel this ‘dealing’ with it as I had to ‘explain’ why I wasn’t interested in dating after leaving the marriage NOR, even if I had felt like it, would I impose upon my teen son another ‘being’ in our house – I wonder how many things have been torn apart in my son given my actions, of, “I choose to say nothing, if you want to spend holidays with them, so be it” – – it hurt so badly when my son said to me, “why can’t you just find someone and get married?” when he was off to college and all – – it hurt so badly that year – when college was closer to his dad’s than to where I lived. I do not know where I messed up or what I could have done better, etc., but I do know this – I’m STILL scared to go out and make ‘new friends’ if they ever, once, display controlling behavior – and my son, now my ‘roommate’ as he did his journey and is, overall, one of the BEST ROOMMATES I’ve ever had as in, he pays his share of the utilities & groceries each month in the tiny home that we got after the ‘horrible’ divorce – etc. I read your post and mourn the losses and crap you dealt with – but I also read and think, “well, at least I didn’t get remarried right after’ – and all in all – I still wonder what I could have done better for my son – and I’m still mad at the ex for the hurt he has caused to his own son the past 9 years, but in the end – I guess, I can’t go back and do it over – whether through death or divorce, I do still believe, adults who can’t ‘bear to be alone’ for any period of time, really suck as parents – I may learn more and heal this part of my angst – but thanks for sharing your story, even though I got all riled up on your behalf, and wonder, whose arse needs to be kicked? who cares if it is 40 years later? 😀

    1. Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear this. I know not all “step” situations are horrible. Some are actually awesome. I just ended with a lemon of a family, unfortunately and a father who wouldn’t stand up for me. I hope that won’t be the case with your son’s father. Please don’t allow the “step” thing to deter YOU from finding happiness. We all deserve to have that special someone in our lives. Kids are adaptable for the most part. I adapted as much as possible. I’m just thankful it was for only about 6-7 years of my life.

      It sounds like to me, your son was giving you permission to have happiness in your life. I’m not sure how old you or your son are but listen to him. Find your happiness and share your life with a partner. No matter how much you love your son, he will grow up, get married, have kids. Don’t be alone all your life. My experiences didn’t turn me off from getting married, and now I’m divorced, I’d still remarry.

      Like you, I’d really like to kick some serious ass at this point. The step siblings didn’t even go to my father’s funeral. How’s that for a kick in the chops. There is animosity but I don’t let it rule my world. I chalk it up as their ignorance. They tried to break me and didn’t.

      Life can’t be all peaches and cream for all but we learn and move on. Girl! Get out there and find a partner in crime! And I really appreciate you taking the time to share her. Hugs, girly! xo

      1. Thanks – but no thanks! LOL – – I’m not ‘healed’ enough yet, to avoid the temptation of making another pay for mistakes made by those in my past, i.e. past hubby. LOL – – I am doing my best to protect adult males from me!

  5. Hi Bren,
    I knew about your parents but not about the religious part. That must have been tough too with the changing school and religion all at once, let alone a stepmother to boot. That’s a lot of change for any child at any age.
    I know my kids had an issue with my ex who was an alcoholic and was very controlling. That’s why he’s an ex, right? That makes a very tough combination to live with. I’m glad you have emerged so strong after all of this Bren, especially after your own divorce. I’m so proud of you!

    1. Hey Lisa. It was a huge change, especially so soon after my mother’s death. I was already suffering from depression because of that but I also wanted my father to be happy. I would do anything to see him not grieve so I hesitantly went along with his wishes. Unfortunately, he didn’t reciprocate. I honestly felt like everything that my mother taught me was being stripped away. Everything about her and her family had been removed from my life. It definitely wasn’t fair. I’m glad that I escaped with minimal scars and eventually found ME. I love who I am today despite the past. Even the fact that I too divorced, I knew I needed happiness in my life. Peace until the end. Thank you for your kind words. You never know what thoughts and emotions someone is harboring until they let them out. It is best….let em out! Thanks for stopping by Lisa!

  6. I’m so glad you’ve reconnected with your extended family after all this time even if it’s only on Facebook. I can hear your pain through your words and know that you had to fight hard to get to where you are today. I’m sorry that you felt so controlled during your teen years and I suspect it makes you value your freedom all that much more even now. Also, a mechanic! Wow! I’m trying hard to let my kids choose their path even if it’s not the one I would choose for them. Thanks for sharing this piece. It must have been hard to write but your story is a part of the woman. you’ve become.


    1. Hi Alli. Yes, I too am happy to connect with them. Being torn away from them was not cool in my book. They were and are part of my life and my father should have never allowed that to happen. I do value my freedom and don’t like to be controlled. No one should feel like they are being controlled. It’s horrible. I love cars so being a mechanic would have been a dream come true for me. I know I could do it but they wouldn’t allow it. I think children should be able to choose what their profession is, but not their gender. 😉 (sorry, had too) It wasn’t as difficult to write as I had thought but it did bring up some memories I’d like to forget. Hopefully, this will allow me to do so. Thanks for sharing, Alli. Always great to see you !

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