Sunday, 23 January 2011
Emotions Run High.
Jenni Pascoe’s anniversary party speech
Jenni’s painful story of missing out on a relationship with her father had a very powerful effect on her audience at the anniversary party. .
“Hello, my name is Jenni and I have only recently found Families Need Fathers, although I have been passionate about this cause my whole life, due to my
own personal experience. When I was almost 3 years old my mother and father decided to divorce. This proved to be the most important decision ever made in my life. I was too young at first to know what was really going on. After the divorce, my dad was denied any access to me at all for five weeks, and then was allowed supervised access for about a year, until one day when he brought me home early feeling ill. My mum decided he would no longer be allowed to see me. That day would be the last time I had any contact with my father, or his side of my family, until I was 18 years old. I was confused. I only really knew him as this man who I saw on a Sunday, and suddenly he was gone.
I only realised the significance of this about a year later, when I was at school, and other children were preparing for Father’s Day. Who was my father? He was that man I used to see, but where had he gone?
I knew my mum was going to court a lot, but the details were always hidden from me. I couldn’t talk about him at home, and if I tried, I was just told I didn’t need him. My mum never referred to him as my ‘Dad’. It was always some derogatory name. There were no photos of him. They’d all been destroyed. I suppose she hoped I would just forget about him. Every day, I longed to know him, knowing I was missing someone vital, but not knowing who he was.
My mum and dad were regularly in and out of court. My dad was repeatedly granted access, only to be turned away, never getting to see me or even speak to me. Eventually, after four years of getting nowhere, he reluctantly gave up trying. My mum tried to hide it from me, and all my questions went unanswered. It was grown-ups’ business. She thought she was protecting me, and doing the right thing for me, but her judgement was clouded by her own feelings towards my father.
I was very fortunate, my gran and granddad were there. My mum, with a lot of help from her parents gave me a fantastic upbringing. I was well cared for, in a house full of love, and I will be eternally grateful for the way I was looked after, but there was still a space they couldn’t fill; the space where my father should have been. I loved my home and my family. I just wanted him to be a part of my life as well .
I thought about him every day, always wondering what he was like or if I was like him, but never being able to talk about it. Had I done something wrong? Why was I not allowed a dad? At the age of about eight, I met with a social worker. She asked me if I wanted to see my father, and though I desperately wanted to meet him, I adamantly said that I never wanted to see him again, under the instruction of my mum, who had told me I could be taken away if
I said I wanted to see him. I suppose she was scared she might lose me, but I was scared too. I was terrified that what I’d said would mean I’d never see my dad again for the rest of my life. My heart was torn, and I didn’t understand why this had to happen. Why couldn’t I see them both? Every day, hoping I’d bump into him, looking out for him, without knowing what he looked like. Checking the post and jumping at the sound of the phone, for a split second thinking this could be ‘him’. I could never tell mum how I really felt, she wouldn’t understand. She hated my dad, and thought I should automatically feel the same. To her face, I would agree with her to gain her approval, subduing my own feelings to protect hers, but feeling so guilty every time I spoke a bad word about him, knowing I was betraying him. In my heart I believed he was a good man, and I knew how hard he’d fought for me, and I longed so much for him to be in my life.
When I was almost 18, my dad wrote to me, asking if I’d like to meet. My heart leapt! This was my dream come true. I suppose I almost thought I would get my childhood with him back again, but obviously this wasn’t the case. Those years had been lost forever. To this day, my mum has never known that I replied to that letter ,or that I met my dad and got to know him. I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. All I ever wanted was to know my dad, but now I finally did, I felt like I was betraying my mum.
It was quite difficult for my dad and I to build a relationship after so long apart, we both had our own lives, and our own problems going on, and there was so much we didn’t know about one another. Now I’m 30, and good friends with both my mum and my dad and I love them both, but I still have the scars. Emotionally, I am still very immature; I struggle with relationships and no-one is allowed too close, in case I lose them too. I am still angry at the system that allowed this to happen. My mother’s biased emotions were allowed to dictate the rest of our lives, whereas the feelings of myself and my father counted for nothing. She was allowed to freely ignore the decision of the court as she wished, without penalty, and without good reason, and without any idea of the effect it would have on my future. My story is all too common.
I cannot believe, that 25 years down the line, this is still allowed to happen. That others are made to live through this unnecessary pain, and little has changed. This is why I speak to you today, in the hope that we can put an end to this injustice. What more can I say? Families Need Fathers.”
McKenzie No 87.