My dad has been in the middle of it all. But I have never heard a single word of defence from him.
For some time, I had a lot of frustration towards my dad for his role in this all – wishing that he, as the parent and adult, would have stepped in. Slowly, we’ve managed to get back to a better place.
But it still proves incredibly difficult, and I often feel like I’m walking on eggshells.
I don’t mention her. Neither does he. We don’t talk about my step-sibling either.
Dad and I only meet outside of his home – we go for a swim together, a bite to eat, a walk, a road trip. I will never step foot inside his home if she is there, her rules.
There have been funerals we’ve all had to attend, both my stepmother and I very expertly managing to avoid one another completely. I can imagine it’s even harder for everyone around us who watches on, who have their own personal feelings about the estrangement and the complexities that surround it.
But the time when it rears its ugly head the most is at Christmas.
I used to love spending part of Christmas with my dad’s family, after spending the morning at my mum’s.
At Dad’s place, there would be cousins, uncles, and often a close family friend or two. My great aunts would also sometimes be there, which was particularly special as they’d fly in from overseas.
I still smile to myself when reflecting on those memories, most of which happened when I was a teen. Now in my mid-20s, it feels devastatingly far away, because given the Christmas occasion is spent at dad’s place, it automatically means I am below on the totem pole of priority. It’s her over me. It’s her house. She wins.