Rebecca's Story Part 2

How do I look at the little girls in the photograph and not want to cry for them? I wonder why a photo' was taken the day we went to court to be denied by our father. I wonder why we are dressed alike and I really wonder why he denied us. From that day onwards he was never my 'father' again. He was simply 'him'. I never even use a capital letter for him in my head... because he ceased to be a person that day.

He accepted that he was the father of my elder sister but denied myself and my little sister. We became, in that moment wards of the state, without family, without our heritage and culture, without our identity.

As I look into the eyes of the little girl that was me, I see her confusion. No-one explained things to children in those days. Things were secrets and shame was bred in the silences. Children were moved around and expected to fit where they were. Our Italian heritage was lost in the swirl of new home, new school, new family, new rules. I lost my words as I struggled to make some sense of this strange new world.

In the early 1970's counselling for children was very limited. I remember people asking me questions but I never really felt that this helped me to work out what was actually going on in my head; and in my heart. It was a time where emotions were not discussed and even if they were; I did not have words to explain the tumult inside me. So I probably just said I was fine, and they probably just believed me. How could I have been 'fine'? What could I do in this nightmare that would not end? No one had answers because no one asked the questions.

My little sister and I had a beautiful family chose to love us. We grew up knowing love and care. But we grew up with a burden of fear and shame that grew so heavy before our adult selves could work out ways to carry the burden effectively. It does not get lighter and it never, ever goes away, we just learnt ways to lift it and walk with it; not allowing it to bury us under its terrible weight.

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Kate Bricknell