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Direct Answers – Column for the week of April 21, 2003
I hope you can talk me out of this bad feeling. I watched the Michael Jackson program where he was talking about how he was treated by his father. I had hushed the bad memories to the back of my head, but this program brought them flooding back.
I was brought up in Ireland with a mother and father. All I remember of my childhood was my mother beating me for nothing. I was beaten three or four times a week with a hurley stick, but she was so nice to everyone no one would have believed the terror we lived in.
I had to get my brothers and sisters out to school while she stayed in bed. If I did not leave the kitchen spotless before I went to school, I got a beating when I came home for lunch. We had tiled floors, and at the weekend she would hand me a box of Brillo soap pads and tell me to scrub. If I missed one tile, I got a beating.
We were never loved, kissed, or cuddled as kids, and never a nice word spoken. My father left home when I was 17, and so did I. My mother lives with my sister, and I see her Christmas. She never has anything to say to me. My sister said if she talks to my mother about the past, she says she does not remember.
Now in my fifties, I feel I wasted my life away living in a shell I built around myself. I have been with the same man for 25 years now and find it hard to talk about my feelings. I have a few close friends, but they don’t know about my childhood.
I don’t think you can help me, but just putting pen to paper helps.
Brigid, spending Christmas with your mother must be like spending Christmas with the assailant who battered you, stole your purse, and was never punished. Just laying eyes on her hurts you. You had to mother yourself and that is very difficult, but be grateful for the shell you created. It allowed you to survive.
If you tell your close friends, it will give you even more release than writing this letter. It will be hard for you to tell, and hard for them to listen. It was hard for us to hear your story, and we barely know you. But telling them is the place to begin.
Telling your friends will allow you and them to be more honest in general conversation. It will help them not to make comments which may unintentionally hurt you, or to ask what you are giving your mother for Christmas. You may, however, have to discourage them from heading to Ireland with a hurley stick.
This may seem like a silly question, but I am curious how common this scenario is. I signed a onerous and mean-spirited divorce decree without legal representation because my ex-wife said the divorce was just symbolic. It was to give closure to a bad marriage, and we were going to start over.
After the divorce was real, final, and contained things I never agreed to, I am paying more than $6000 per month in cash and prizes. Have you heard of this before?
Ramsey, at the risk of stating the obvious, divorce is the final legal disconnection of a union. It is not done to restart a relationship. You could have symbolically burned a piece of paper, gotten new wedding rings, or begun “dating” each other again. But she had another plan in mind.
Who gets involved in one-sided divorces? The good person, the trusting person, the one who wants to believe. Perhaps a good attorney can get a more equitable settlement. Perhaps not. But we have heard your story before. It is the consequence of being a trusting person.