My parents divorced when I was six years old. That in itself was not traumatic, as they managed to do it in a rather clean way. Later on came the difficulties, in the form of financial matters and stepparents. I had a range of stepfathers at my mother’s place and one of them stayed for a very, very long time. I remember this image of him – when he started dating my mother – coming over the hill of our garden like Julius Caesar. He was a very dominant character. From when I was nine till I was eighteen years old, this man was a colossal obstacle in my life. He tried to control me, he wanted to control everything. As the years passed, he became angry, bitter and resentful – in plain words a mean person. We had an argument once and he became aggressive towards my sister and me. I wanted for me and my sister to leave the house, for safety reasons but my sister refused to leave our mother behind. So I left, for two months. The reality is that for us as children, that experience became a defining period in our lives, though in a very negative way. 

I constantly asked myself : how do I define myself despite this experience with him? However now, I don’t want to think too much about him.

I simply don’t want to be like this man: someone aggressive who bullies others.  On the contrary, I want to use my energy like that of a windmill and channel it towards positive things. This wasn’t easy but I spent most of my twenties doing this : processing every bit of anger and resentment that I had in me. The funny bit is that two years ago, I started a relationship with a man who is ten years older than me, divorced with three children from a previous marriage and this all means that now I am the stepparent. It’s …interesting. To be fair I love it; it’s a very human experience especially with his children being teenagers : three boys, who are living and walking things and they ask a lot of deep questions. They even push back on stuff! It’s an interesting experience because the tables have turned now.

(Marian is Director of Development at the Democratic society, NGO working on European democracy)

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