Children tend to believe their parents, but once they get older they might start to ask questions. In this case, certain questions needed to be asked. And what this woman found changed her life completely...
Many thanks to Reddit user tellmysecrets for sharing this story.
My mom has been a single mother most of my life, in between husbands and boyfriends that never lasted. I don't remember anything about my dad or his family, so whenever I asked my mom I was consistently told the same thing.
"They tried to take me from you," "They were abusive," "They were crazy." And I believed her. As a naive child, I believed anything anyone told me. My mom was my best friend.
I didn't think too much of this as I got older, lots of kids come from divorced families. I was an honor roll student, never misbehaved, never snuck out, never smoked/drank/did drugs. I thought I turned out pretty great.
I also always got along with my mom, more so than my siblings. I have a half-sister [29F] and half-brother [27M], we share our mother and they share their dad. I don't remember much of my childhood, just that my mom and siblings argued a lot. They moved out when they were 14, 13, and I was 8. So most of my preteen-teen years were spent as an only child with no contact with my siblings. My mother told me my siblings chose to live with their father in Tennessee (we're in Florida) over her, and that's why they left. I accepted it, moved on with my life.
I've visited my siblings twice in TN, both when they had their children. Never really since.
For the past three years or so my mom has become increasingly critical of me. She is passive aggressive, attention-seeking, plays the victim, and guilt trips like a master. These are all behaviors which I've gradually noticed over this time, so I'm not sure if she's aways been this way and I've never noticed, or she just started doing it to me. I've moved out to a college town and have lived with my boyfriend [21/M, 3 years] since August 2013.
My sister and I became pen pals earlier last year (my brother cut contact with the family long ago), and I asked her if mom ever acted the same. She replied that things had always been that way, explaining their strained relationship. Today I messaged my sister over a particularly horrible text my mom sent to make me feel guilty about not giving her money (we've always been very poor, and I'm trying to establish good habits).
My sister and I got to talking, and mentioned my mother's behavior was a catalyst to her moving out and living with my grandparents when she was 16. Yes, MY grandparents. Remember my sister was 14 when she left, and my mom told me it was to stay with her dad in TN? I prodded my sister for answers, and she told me the whole story, which she had been afraid to tell me for 15 years...
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My mom was constantly talking to guys online, and when my dad found out he filed for divorce. My sister said my dad always treated us well, respected us, played with us, and was just generally a great dad overall. She wanted sole custody, so she lied to the judge and told him my grandfather abused me. I was put into therapy and it was concluded I wasn't, but she apparently manipulated the judge into banning my dad and his parents from seeing me until I was 18.
My sister says she lived with her grandfather when she left, and when he passed my own grandfather offered to take her in when she was 16. She said they were very accepting, taught her how to fix things around the house, bought her a homecoming dress, and were loving people to be around. They had a wall of photographs of me from our trips to WDW and birthday parties. She said it was like a funeral for them when my dad lost custody.
So I've found out my grandparents aren't crazy. They're normal people. I could have had a normal relationship with normal grandparents. And a normal, loving, dad.
My sister told me timelines of boyfriends and husbands, all guys I remember but never knew overlapped. She told me the reason I would stay at my friends' houses for weeks at a time. Why my mom would take trips often. I was sobbing in front of my computer the entire time, my boyfriend was also in the chat and beside me absolutely dumbstruck about this.
I never wanted to find or contact my dad because I thought he was a horrible person. I've found my grandfather's address and phone number on some reunion website. It's him, because there is a "related" link and my mom is one of them. It has her picture.
I decided to call him the next day.
Around 10:20 two days later I got a call, and I immediately recognized the number as the one I had been trying to call. I had left my name, saying I was looking for (grandparents names) and a callback number.
So I pick up and say "Hello?" And I hear "Hello, it's your mammy." I ALMOST STARTING CRYING SHE SOUNDS LIKE THE SWEETEST GRANDMA EVER but anyway, we asked each other how we were and then we started to catch up a little. Well, I didn't really have much to tell them that they didn't already know actually. She said they've never forgotten me, and have kept tabs on me my whole life. They knew where I went to high school, that I was in color guard, which town I'm in now, they already knew about my boyfriend. She even said at one point they had a list of all my previous addresses (which was a LOT, since my mom moved us around), but they've since thrown it out because they were starting to believe this day wouldn't come. My grandfather was there too right next to her.
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I asked about my dad. He had always wanted to talk to me, but was extremely hesitant and afraid to because he feared I'd believe everything I'd grown up hearing. So that's why they never reached out to me. I was sure to tell them I didn't believe anything that was said about them and I was so happy they called back.
My grandmother was telling me stories she remembered (like grandmas do), like how we went to WDW so often that I knew my way around the park without a map. And my grandpa would always carry me around on his shoulders. She said they still have a tree that I planted with my dad. It meant so much to them that when they moved, they had it uprooted and planted in their new front yard where it still lives.
She said she wanted us to get together and that my boyfriend is welcome to come too. I told them I'd be happy to drive the four hours down but they insisted we'd meet halfway. She said she'd get back to me on where we could go, and to wait on trying to contact my dad for the time being. She ended it by saying "We love you, take care." and then my grandfather said he loved me too.
I was so happy.
I got a call on Thursday morning. No caller ID, so I assumed it was my grandparents again. But a much younger voice was on the other line: it was my dad! He called me before work, he sounded so anxious and quiet. It was crazy...a week before I had never wanted to see him and here I was talking to him. He said he's missed me so much these past 18 years, and he never thought this day would come.
My grandparents called later that night and told me to bring a jacket to Orlando since it'll be chilly (aww!!) and my dad called right after.
Friday flew by, I could barely focus in school! We made our way down to Orlando around 2:30 and got there around 4:30. I texted my grandpa asking when they'd be there and he sent "Soon enough, just go ahead in the hotel and ask for your room :)" So I knew that meant they were already there waiting for me. Sure enough, immediately when my boyfriend and I walk in the lobby two people run up and start hugging me and two more are taking pictures. My Mammy is short and feisty, and my Gampy is tall and subdued, he lets Mammy do all the talking. They were so excited to see me and kept saying I look just like my dad.
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We went to dinner without my dad since he was going to be another couple hours. My grandpa said "I want to know everything about you, what's your favorite color? What's your favorite movie?" I told him that I loved anything Disney, especially Lion King. They just smiled and said "That's because whenever we were together, we all went to Disney as a family. You had so many Disney VHSs and we still have a whole box of them."
I told them I had no idea they still cared about me all this time, and they said they've bought me a birthday and christmas present every single year and kept it all in my old room, hoping one day I'd come back to them and they could show me they've never forgotten me. It was only just last month that they organized it and donated a lot, they had finally accepted they were probably never going to see me again and needed to move on. I teared up and told them I was here now, and maybe it was best that they learned to cope with 18 years of grief before actually meeting me.
Finally, it was time to meet my dad! We went back to the hotel and the four of them sat in the same spot in the lobby as when they greeted me, and my boyfriend and I hid behind a pillar. My dad entered and was silent, so I turned around and he was waiting with this pained expression and a giant teddy bear and a bouquet of flowers.
He looked like he was about to cry and he was very quiet. I just went up to him and we hugged. I didn't cry like I expected to. For the rest of the night we just all sat together and talked. I told them how I grew up - constantly moving from houses and even having to stay with my friends. It really hurt them to hear that I've always struggled. I found out my phone had said "No Caller ID" whenever they called because they weren't sure if it was really me wanting to find them or my mother putting me up to it to get to them again. That's how hurt and afraid of her they are, their first thought was that it was my mom.
I thought going to Disney might distract us all from catching up, but going with them really brought so many memories! I had to go to guest services as soon as we got in to get us all "Family Reunion" buttons. We hit up Animal Kingdom first because it was really important for my dad to do something Lion King related for me. We watched the Festival of the Lion King show and that's when it finally hit me that I was sitting next to my dad, at Disney, with my most favorite movie of my entire life. I started crying. My boyfriend nudged me to look at my dad and he just had these streaks on his cheeks from crying too! This movie has always meant so much to me, and I finally know why. It has always been hard for me to watch the part where Simba loses his dad, I guess because it's happened to me.
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I really wish we'd all had more time together. It went by too fast. I said goodbye to my grandparents and my grandpa was in tears saying goodbye. I told them they'd never have to wait to see me that long ever again. I must have given my dad three good bye hugs before actually leaving. He checked my car before we set off, and I told him I'd let him know when we got back safely.
I missed him as soon as we left, which is a feeling I never thought I'd feel. During the trip, we talked a lot about my mom and things made more sense. How her awful behavior towards me starting around 3 years ago, when I was 18...and coincidentally when my dad's child support checks stopped. He said she'd contact him throughout the years asking him for money, and when he requested to talk to me first she'd always say "You can't talk to her! You can't see her!" So he would refuse and the cycle repeated.
A few weeks after that my grandparents came up to visit my boyfriend and I at our apartment. They took us to dinner. Afterwards they asked when I could come visit them and we realized neither of us were doing anything that weekend, so boyfriend and I made plans to go down the next day. It was a looooooong drive but it was so worth it!
Then I had to confront my mother. A few weeks ago my mom was talking to some guy on Facebook who commented on her picture something like "You have all the makings of a marine" and she replied "I was married to a marine once." Since I knew my dad was a marine I started a conversation. I mostly wanted to see how much she'd tell me about my dad, and whether or not she'd keep lying about him.
Me: Which of your husbands was a marine? I remember Husband #3 (my dad was #2) was a firefighter.
Mom: (Sister and Brother's) dad. And then after we divorced your dad signed up for the marines
Me: Oh, I didn't know that.
Mom: We could have been a military family
Me: You said his parents were crazy right?
Mom: Baby you have no idea what they were really like since you were so little. I have no reason to lie to you. I have a ton of police reports. Call me sometime and I will tell you why they have no contact with you, as much as I never wanted to remind you and I'm afraid that if I tell you it will damage you in some way.
Me: I know you're lying...
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After this she called me, and immediately demand to know what I meant. I kept saying "Mom, you know what did." But she wanted to explicitly hear it and when I told her, she immediately started shouting "IT WASN'T HIS PLACE TO TELL YOU," "I TOLD HIM NOT TO SAY ANYTHING TO YOU," "YOU WEREN'T READY."
Then she changed the subject to something else, and I gradually expressed interest in meeting my dad. I said "So you wouldn't be upset if I met my dad?" And she surprisingly said "No, I just want you to be careful with them."
I told her I thought I'd be fine, because I had already met him and my grandparents. She went silent for awhile and said "Well, this is a shock." I was genuinely surprised she didn't yell or have a freak out. She asked how I did it, and when we met, and when I told her back in February she turned it around on me and said "You could have told me. I don't know why you thought you couldn't tell me" and when I told her I'm just like Dad and he's awesome, she goes "Well, that really warms my heart."
This is how I know for sure everything was a lie. No mother would tell her child that she's happy she's met her abuser, let alone that it warms her heart! "It really warms my heart you met the person that sexually abused you as a child" would never leave a respectable mother's mouth.
Mom's birthday is at the end of May, so boyfriend and I drove a few hours to our hometown for the weekend. He took my car to his mom's and Mom and I went to a birthday dinner. She wanted to see pictures of us, and asked where they lived. I played dumb because she doesn't need to know that. Then she starts with "I just don't want you to hate me because of things they'll say about me." I tried to tell her they didn't even want to talk about her, which is true, but anything they say I formulate my own opinion on. She gets a little upset and says "Well who are you going to believe? Me, or THEM? You don't even know them," and again I told her I listen to both sides and form my own conclusion. I changed the subject to friendly dinner conversation and the rest of the night was fine. I was actually happy we weren't fighting.
We haven't spoken much since, but I'm still really proud of myself for being able to stand up to her guilt tripping. I didn't take a single drop of her bull, and ignored her when she made passive aggressive comments instead of engaging her.
I feel like I finally have a normal family, and am so excited to start this new chapter.
Thumbnail Phot Credit: Max kegfire / Shutterstock.com