Interview with annalise: “dad was my hero.”

Annalise shares her admiration for her father and her struggle with his untimely death as well as her feelings about her mother and stepmother.

What’s your age:

37

Are both of your parents living?

No.  My father died and my mother and stepmother are living.

Marital Status of Parents:

Divorced

Number of Siblings:

Four

How often do you see your parents?

My birth mother, three times per year

What are some of the ways you spend time together?

Shopping, cooking, most of the time listening to her, supporting her through hard times.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you enjoy your mother’s company?

Birth mother-7

Stepmother—around a 6 or 7.  We are completely different people, and I’m not as accepted as her natural children, my half-siblings.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you enjoy your late father’s company?

About an 8. He had drug addiction issues. When he was sober, it was a 10, When he was high, a 4.

Did spending time with them together affect the dynamic of the visit?

I enjoyed them more one on one.

What are some of the positive aspects of your relationship with them?

Dad’s custody battle for me created a bond because we fought to be with one another.  Whatever I needed, unconditional love, wisdom, he was there for me with anything.

My birth mother is strong, even though she thinks she’s weak. She’s tried to have a stable family life, but it hasn’t worked.  She loves her family, though. She remembers everyone’s birthday and sends a card.

My stepmom is very take charge and makes things happen. She’s compassionate, but a diva.

What about the negative?

The addiction issue got in the way with Dad. When under the influence, he made horrible decisions and said hurtful things.

My stepmom was manipulative and controlling.

I am burdened for Mom constantly. I want to help, but realize that if our situation were reversed, she wouldn’t know how to help me.

Honestly, which weighs more in your mind? The positive or the negative?

With Dad, it’s positive. He was my hero.

For my natural mother, it’s positive, because I have a parent.  Someone on the earth who helped raise me and is around.  I value that she is my living biological parent.

It’s also positive for my stepmother. She’s going to get what she wants in life at any cost, and sometimes she fights that hard for her kids.

If the relationship is positive, what are one or two of the most important aspects of their parenting that contributed to a healthy relationship?

I was never embarrassed of my dad, even when he tried to be goofy.  He included me in the things he loved to do because he loved to share them with me.  Once, when I was grounded for 3 months, he decided that Saturday nights would be our time to learn to cook stir-fry.

My step-mom would drive me and my friends to roll our friends’ yards.  She brought the toilet paper, hot dogs for barking dogs, etc.  I also remember her consoling the boyfriends that I broke up with.

Mom and I cooked together and she went to everything I did: games where I cheered, dance recitals, modeling competitions.  She did the best she could.

What do you wish they had done differently?

I wish Mom had let me be me.  She enrolled me in things that weren’t my choice, such as modeling, etc.  I wanted to make more of my own choices.

I wish that Dad had forgiven his parents for the way they screwed up.  He came from a farm family, everyone worked hard, but he felt singled out.  He worked hard to be on top, but found that it was not what he thought it would be.  I wish he had forgiven them and let go and not lived his life trying to prove something to them.

How well do you relate to your siblings?

Growing up, we were super close.  I was the momma hen. Now, I don’t share the same beliefs with many of them, and family dynamics prevent us from spending a lot of time together.  Who we are makes it hard.

Do they share your same reflections?

I would assume that their perspective is very similar. I see a lot of repetition.

Can you share an example of a defining moment with your parents?

I remember Mom being forcefully held by my stepfather and yelling for me to call 911.  It made me feel like there was a weakness that couldn’t be overcome.  I wondered “What is this supposed to look like?”  Also, yelling at me using scripture in a hurtful way.

When my father was fighting for custody of me, my stepmom was away at treatment facility. She wrote me a letter telling me that it wasn’t all about me and that if I didn’t want to live with them, I could let her know and she would take down all her pictures of me.

I was engaged to my husband, and Dad didn’t like him.  We wanted to get married in college, and I got pregnant.  I was always the good girl.  I called my stepmom over and told her.  She was a great mediator and tried to talk to my dad.  I thought Dad was going to kill my fiancé.  But, he called me and said, “Well, if you are going to be a parent, you are going to have start getting up early.  Especially if it’s going to be a beautiful grandbaby of mine.”  It was grace.

Has anything happened since to change your relationship?

I’m still trying to help my mom.  She needs someone to fight for her, but I don’t believe women are weak.  I make her make the decision to help herself.

When Dad passed away, it was a dark moment in my life.  He took his life, and  just before that, I had a dream that turned out to be exactly what happened.  I’m in a good place now, though.  I know where he is.

It’s about the same with my stepmom. I had to let go of my resentment over how my father passed away.

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