I am now 55 years old with two divorces behind me. I think that dealing with my parents’ marriage breakdown in my own childhood had a profound impact on how I have relationships with others and how I feel about myself. Sometimes I can deal with it, other days I cannot and feel so angry that it can engulf me. I am still in therapy to try and work through my anger and what happened to my mum and dad.
I think I was 6 or 7 when I realised something was wrong; I can’t really remember, it was a long time ago. My parents were doing what they had to do to get by. Living in a new town a few miles outside of London, paying a mortgage that was taking the bulk of their income. With the rest of their time and money, they went to the pub with their small circle of friends. I remember being given a bottle of coke and a packet of crisps to keep me quiet whilst I waited for them with the other children in the car park. That does not happen nowadays, but this was life in 60`s suburbia, or at least my life.
My mother decided to improve our family finances by taking a sales job to earn a bit more money for us. She was an attractive young woman who was soon noticed by her boss. He was about 20 years older than her, successful and well off.
I remember being taken away to the coast for the day by them, being fed ice cream and being thoroughly spoilt. Who was I to complain, this was fun. Dad was working all hours. We did have days out as a family, but they were local and we never had the money to fritter away. This parallel world my mother and I inhabited had no such hardships.
The realisation of what was happening came to me when I caught my mother and her boss kissing, once in his car and once in our kitchen. I tried to stab him in the leg that time, with my little penknife and got beaten for my efforts.
My parents eventually separated and divorced. I stayed with my father, cared for by my grandmother, which is another story. I loathed the person who had stolen my mother from me. I still hate him although he is probably long dead, but try as I might to forgive him, there is a little bit of me that never will.
I have always had trouble with trust in my relationships and know that this is why both my marriages failed. It might seem to be an easy thing to blame my parents for how things turned out for me, but I truly believe that it had a big influence on how I looked at and ultimately sabotaged my own relationships.
My first marriage failed due to a brief affair that I had, but also because I was so possessive. I would not let her go out for evenings with her friends. I could not stand the thought of her being “chatted up” by men who knew her through me. It was all right for me though to go out, drink and act like a single bloke. I can see now how unreasonable that was, but it made sense at the time.
The second marriage failed largely due to me again. In some ways, I had improved as I no longer had the double standards I used to. So while I insisted my wife stayed in, I also did. I was still, however, very possessive and controlling and ultimately, she could take no more of it and left.
My life relationships have been dominated by the “green eyed monster”, and I can’t trust anyone, in all types of relationships. It has been an awful thing to live with at times. I am very cautious when it comes to meeting new people – fearful that they will worm their way into my affections and then ruin my life, just as my mother’s boss had. Equally, I identify with my father who was hurt by his wife and so expect to be let down. To try to avoid this, I exert control over each partner I have in the hope that they will never hurt me. Inevitably, I am the author of my own hurt as I drive away the women who I love, and who love me.
It took years for me to forgive my mother but now I realise that despite what happened in my childhood life is too short to hold onto the anger with the person who gave birth to me and loved me. No-one’s perfect.
Now I can look at things a lot more calmly and I think that it is time for me to readjust the way I think about the past and the future with the help of a therapist. I am in a new relationship at the moment and although it is early days, I have been honest with my new girlfriend, the first time I have really been honest with anyone. I am hoping that that will open the way for a more successful time for me in the future. Here’s hoping.