I’ve been estranged from my immediate family, mainly my so-called mother and my so-called sister, for 10 years or more. In April, there was a family reunion, from my so-called mother’s side of the family, in Reno. I was originally planning to go and see my cousins, and most especially my Grandpa (my last remaining grandparent) until I heard that my so-called mother and older brother and his wife were planning to attend. She never goes to anything, so it was quite a surprise that she was actually planning to attend the family reunion. I immediately erased all plans of attending from my mind. In the meantime, I had to dodge so many queries from other relatives as to why I would not be in attendance.
This evening I had drinks with one of my first cousins, Joe; we haven’t seen each other since around 1980. He attended the family reunion, although none of his siblings did. He mentioned to me that he’d seen my so-called mother and asked her why I wasn’t in attendance. She told him that we no longer speak, but apparently gave him some BS story as to why that is. He said that she seemed completely emotional about possibly never seeing her sister again, but didn’t seem concerned about me in the least.
That is why I’m going to go there, even though most of you are complete strangers. Let me set the record straight. My so-called mother (who is Filipino-Chinese) married my so-called stepfather (who is white) and had my older half-brother. At the time, my so-called stepfather was in the Navy. He went AWOL and left my so-called mother without any means to support herself, or so I’ve been told. During the long period that he was AWOL, she met another sailor, a Filipino man, who is my birth father. After she became pregnant with me, my so-called stepfather came back into the picture and they got back together and went on to have 3 more kids (not including me). Of course, I was to be given up for adoption as soon as I was born. In the meantime, while she was pregnant with me, he used to beat her, or at least try to. Supposedly, my uncle (her brother) used to protect her. Once I was born, I wasn’t given up for adoption, simply because I was a girl. I always hated my so-called stepfather and used to wonder what it was like to NOT be partially white. Around the time I was 14 or 15, my Filipino grandmother told me the entire story, gave me my birth father’s name and address, and told me that he was aware of me. My uncle, on a separate occasion, had told me the same story. It was a relief to know that my so-called stepfather was NOT my real father; it was also a relief to know that I’m not partially white. My half brothers and half sister don’t look like me, anyway; all of them are much taller than me, and 3 out of 4 of them are much lighter in skin tone than me. My so-called mother didn’t know for several years that I knew the story. She only realized it one afternoon when, as usual, she was snooping through my things. I saw her, with my own eyes, going through my address book; she paused on the page that had the name and address of my birth father. She never spoke to me about it, however.
When I was a little kid, she woke me up in the middle of the night and told me to get out of the house. Unfortunately for her, my so-called stepfather woke up and prevented her from banishing me from the house. She used to slap me all the time and call me “La Princessa,” simply for sleeping late. She was never affectionate to me in any way. On the other hand, my younger sister was her pride and joy; she couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful my sister was. When I was young, she and her husband had a fight on Easter Sunday (must have been about me). I remember her throwing an ashtray at me, then storming out of the house. When I was in college, one of my college roommates went home with me one weekend. She said that what she remembered is how badly they treated me.
The turning point came when my niece came to visit me in San Francisco. My niece was maybe 14 or 15 at the time and it was her first flight. After a week with my ex-husband and me, she was going home. I’d called my sister to make sure that someone would be picking up my niece at the airport. When my sister wasn’t home, I knew that she’d be at my so-called mother’s house. When I called my so-called mother’s number (to make sure my sister would be picking up her daughter), the first thing my so-called mother said to me was “Oh, it’s you. I don’t have time to speak to you right now.” That’s when I decided that she’s not worth my time or my effort. That’s the last time I ever spoke to her.
My ex-husband, who’s French, told me that his mother was never close to her mother, either. He said that her mother always treated her badly so, when her mother passed away, she didn’t care that much. He said that’s why his mother understood me, loved me and could relate to me. Honestly, the only women who were like mothers to me were the mother of my ex-husband (who’s French) and the mother of an ex-boyfriend (who’s Thai). I always wondered what it was like for other girls to be raised in loving families with real mothers.
Then again, I have at least 2 friends, maybe more, who have similar situations as mine. They’re not close to their mothers, either, and barely have relationships with them.
As for me, there’s more I could say, but I’ll leave it at this. I don’t cry over it; it’s made me a stronger person. At the same time, I try never to treat anyone the way she’s treated me. So don’t feel sorry for me. I know who I am, and I know what my life is about.
When she dies, I won’t shed a tear. Nor will I have any regrets about the path I’ve chosen. Karma comes first to those who fear it the most. I await mine with open arms.