When I contacted my father after 40 years of silence, what I found out changed absolutely everything I had been told as a child was not true, writes Corrine Barraclough.

I was three years old when my ­father left.

My brother was 18 months.

Every birthday I hoped he would send a card. Neither a card, a letter or phone call arrived.

The first word I learnt to say after ‘mummy’ was ‘why’.

When I turned ten I hoped he might send a card as I’d reached double figures. At the time it felt like an achievement.

When I did well in school tests or exams I wanted him to know. As a stroppy teenager I daydreamed about walking into his office and ­demanding answers.

When I got married I hoped he would show up to give me away.

Corrine Barraclough.
Corrine Barraclough

 


Barraclough: Sex scandal or power trip

When I got divorced I knew why. I had always known that I was so haunted by the abandonment of my father that I couldn’t possibly accept love. Self-sabotage ran through my veins.

I declared when I was very young that I would never have children. What I didn’t say out loud was that the thought of bringing another human being into the world and ever letting them down terrified me.

How could I possibly ever be sure that the man I chose to have children with wouldn’t walk away as my father had?

I couldn’t.

I didn’t see then that the real problem wasn’t him leaving; it was what was left to fester after the door closed.

I didn’t know why I fell into depression as a teenager. I didn’t know what made the world fall dark, the walls press in around me until I couldn’t breathe. When I’ve tried to end my life, I genuinely wanted to die.

I tried to numb my living agony with fierce ambition. I worked far too hard and found a magic escape in ­alcohol. For years I ran. I did not let myself feel my feelings. I was a shadow of a human being going through the motions every day.

When the waves caught up with me many years later when the Band-Aids of promotions, glittering salaries and star-studded afterparties all fell off, I crashed into a crumpled heap.

Now I’m sober, someone asked me a few years ago, “Do you know why you drank?” I did not know then — but I know now.

Corrine Barraclough learned that he father had tried to contact her but the request was never allowed. Picture: Generic image
Corrine Barraclough learned that he father had tried to contact her but the request was never allowed. Picture: Generic image

Through my whole entire life, I was allowed to believe that I was unlovable. The person who created me chose to walk away.

Please don’t get me wrong; I’m not here to judge. I’m merely ­explaining my life experience.

Whether I was picking flowers as a little girl wishing I could give them to a father who loved me …

Whether I was taking a deep breath and going up yet another gear to secure another promotion …

Or, whether I was lying in a psych ward with tearstained cheeks … my core belief was that I was unlovable. It was a maddening, sickening, churning, boiling, festering, omnipresent nausea that had bubbled at the back of my throat since I was a little girl. So, when I contacted my ­father after 40 years of silence, I just wanted to let go of that haunting ­oppression.

When he replied, I learned that he had tried to contact me.

“On many occasions I requested contact but was never allowed,” he wrote. My heart raced.

Nothing I had been told was true.

Worse, nothing I had lived 44 years believing was even based in truth.

“Over the years I have had nightmares about contacting you and what would occur. Ever since I ran away I’ve been haunted by my ­actions and thought of you constantly,” he continued.

“My parents tried on many occasions to see their grandchildren but were firmly dismissed.”

Those grandparents are now dead. Once again I find myself shaking as I try to finish this column.

Christmas is coming: there are alienated parents desperate to see their children — uncles, aunts, grandparents who would love to give their related little ones a hug and tell them they love them.

Children are not weapons.

Please re-read the decades of ­torture above that can result in children growing up believing they are unlovable.

LIFELINE 13 11 14

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