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I come from what people call a ‘broken home’. My parents divorced when I was too young to understand or even remember, but I have a warm and loving family despite the bumpy road. In fact I have come to appreciate my rollercoaster childhood. Of course when I was young I was stubborn and bratty and thought that the sun was shinning on everyone else’s house and not mine, but now I am a strong and independent woman and I have come to understand how the tough times helped to shape the person I am today. Dealing with your parents divorce is not an easy process, and it feels like torture when you’re in the middle of it, but soon you learn that your parents are human just like yourself, and we all make mistakes and fight and fall in and out of love.

My parents were both guilty for the failure of their marriage; my father was having an affair with work, while my mother was having an affair with a man at work. My mother remarried soon after the divorce, I was still very young, so I grew up with my step-father and found it easy to accept him, although I still didn’t really understand why I had two Dads and all my friends had one, but I was happy, and quite unaffected by the divorce.

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It was only when my father decided to remarry that it hit me. At first I liked her, she was nice, she bought us gifts and took us out to fun places, of course it was all very superficial. She had two daughters about my age, which was fun at first but it was highly evident that we were nothing alike and the novelty of having two new siblings to play with quickly wore off and turned to bullying.

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One night my father took my brother and I out to Spur alone. I found it suspicious that the three witches hadn’t joined us but I thought maybe he had seen the light. Instead, as my brother and I were furiously colouring in and joining the dots on the activity page, he announced he was engaged to marry this troll. Now I have always been a Daddy’s girl, he is my pillar of strength and go-to guy during tough times, when he told me he was getting married, my heart broke. For the first time I felt alienated and abandoned, and I felt like the story of Cinderella would become my story.

During their time of engagement the she-devil made our lives hell. When my father was not around she abused my brother and I mentally and physically and then would deny it and accuse us of trying to sabotage their relationship. We were often punished for things her daughters did and we were forced to compete with them in sports and grades.

Of course my efforts to tell my father and mother were cast aside because I was just being a brat and lashing out. They kept telling me that they were not going to get back together, but I didn’t want that, I just wasn’t about to let these nasty strangers snatch our father from us. I of course had no choice or say, so it was all about grinning and baring it, especially since I was made a bridesmaid and had to wear the most hideous thing I had ever seen. My brother and I soon grew too old to be abused by Helga the fire-breathing dragon and learned how to stand up for ourselves.

We fought for years and years, and it eventually got to the point that the court got involved and we were not to see each other. If I wanted to see my father we would arrange to go for lunch or see a movie, I didn’t step a foot in his house as long as she was around. When I was nearing the end of high school and looking at options for University I chose the one farthest away from home. Not only because I needed to get away from my step-mother but also because my family had always had such a huge impact on who I was, and what kind of person I was growing up to be, that I needed to make my own decisions for a change.

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It wasn’t easy moving away from home and all my family, but it was the best decision I could have made for my sanity and my future. I soon made friends with a girl who had been on the same rollercoaster, as I had. We would compare stories and monstrosities about our step-mothers, and cried over bottles of wine and tried to understand how our fathers could love these women. The two of us were a step-mother fighting and hating machine!

One morning I read an email from my father announcing his divorce, I of course was overwhelmed with joy and spent the evening with my friend, celebrating my father’s and my freedom. Of course I felt horrible for him at the time but I knew that he would have a better life without her. It suddenly felt like someone had removed all the bad in the world and I could get on with making my dreams come true.

I no longer had her voice in my ear telling me that I’m not good enough. It was that day that I realised that she was right, my whole life was consumed by my anger and hate for just one person that I had lost track of who I was, and in essence allowed her to control me. It was time to move on, to stop hating and fearing.

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Years later I returned to my father’s home only to find my ex step sisters there. They too had been abused by their mother, they too were angry and had no self esteem, and when my father and their mother divorced she left them with nowhere to go. The moment I saw them I was taken back to when I was the bullied little freak they used to gang up on, but they were nothing but welcoming and glad to see me. I made a pact with myself to embrace the situation with an open heart, after all, I had my father as a perfect example, his door and heart are always open.

Today my ex step-sisters and I are closer than ever, I feel blessed to have them in my life. We have such a deep bond and understanding that I see them as my real sisters. I am no longer angry, or hating, I only regret that we hadn’t embraced each other earlier in our lives. We travelled a mighty long road, but I am happy to say that after all we have been through, we are now one big happy non-blood related family and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

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