People often ask me, “What was your upbringing like for you to choose this person?” Admittedly, I wonder the same thing when I hear stories like mine.
I struggle with the answer. Not because I am ashamed of my childhood but because I cringe when people blame their childhood for the problems in their life. I didn’t have a fabulous childhood. That is a fact. I choose to take ownership for the decisions that I make as an adult.
Here is a snapshot into my life:
I was born to teenage parents– my mom was 16 when she became pregnant with me and my dad was 18. Basically, my mom had problems that I didn’t understand. We found out after her passing that she had been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder years before. Everything after that made sense and I was able to let go of the anger that I had towards her. Learning about the disease helped me to understand my mother.
My Mom was awarded custody of me as a teenager– that seems to be the norm in the 70’s. The fact is, she shouldn’t have been in charge of a child. My mother’s parents (my grandparents) removed me from my mother’s care and my father became my sole legal and physical guardian when I was about six months old. That was probably the best thing that could have ever happened to me as a child.
My mother chose to self-medicate with drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with her disease. She spent time in mental institutions and the drugs and alcohol caused her to be very unreliable and abusive. I have very few memories with my mother and the ones that I do remember aren’t positive. My mom made many poor choices and she attempted suicide many times. She said hurtful things and she wasn’t a mother– at all.
My mom ended her life on November 28, 2001 at the age of 44 years old. I feel that she is at peace for the first time ever.
Essentially, my dad and I grew up together. Being a single parent myself, I can now understand how difficult it must have been for my dad. I have the utmost respect for my dad as most men would have walked away when faced with the challenge of raising a baby girl on their own. My dad didn’t walk away– he stayed and he loved me. We’ve been through a lot together and he has always been there when I need him– to this very day.
My dad re-married when I was two years old and while they are divorced now, I still maintain a relationship with my ex-stepmother. I thank her for being my mom for the nine years that they were married. We’ve had our ups and downs over the years but I think that is pretty normal with the dynamics of a step-family.
A therapist once told me that they were amazed at how “healthy” I was (gotta love that coming from a therapist!), given my background and upbringing. He asked if there was anyone in my life that was a stable, constant voice of reason and support during my life. There was– that person is my Aunt Bev. My Aunt Bev is my rock– and has been for as long as I can remember. As she recently said to me, “everyone needs a person in their life who tells them how it is– versus what they want to hear”. Thank you for being that person, Aunt Bev.
One Mom’s Battle is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Our mission at One Mom’s Battle is to increase awareness of Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder) and their impact upon shared parenting and the Family Court System which includes Judges, CPS workers, Guardian ad Litems (GAL), Parenting Coordinators (PC), therapists and attorneys. Education on Cluster B disorders will allow these professionals to truly act in the best interest of the children. Please consider a donation to help with our efforts.
History of One Mom’s Battle: In 2011, One Mom’s Battle began with one mother (Tina Swithin) navigating the choppy waters of a high-conflict divorce in the Family Court System. Since then, it has turned into a grassroots movement reaching the far corners of the Earth with over 100-chapters in five different countries. In 2014, One Mom’s Battle achieved non-profit status which will allow the group to take their mission to the next level.
Tina Swithin offers annual retreats, coaching services and more at www.tinaswithin.com