The guilt stayed with me
I am 16. I experienced the separation of my parents when I was younger and I do believe it has had an impact on the rest of my life.
My parents separated when I was 3 years old, they both moved into separate houses and eventually both married to other partners. To me, I just had two families - and I coped.
But only now as I've got older do I understand the mental damage it caused and how I was made to believe at such a young age that it was my fault. That guilt stayed with me for years.
I remember my parents each asking me questions like "do you like your mum/dad's new partner?", "who do you love more?" and "why don't you just tell her/him you want to spend all your time with me?".
I only ever saw my dad at the weekends, and because of this I never felt a part of his family, so I'd play up when I saw him, I'd be spoilt and ungrateful and I knew he'd give me whatever I wanted. I was a clever kid, I felt like he had to make up for leaving my mum through material repayment, and I live with that now. I believe that my rude and ignorant attitude was what made my dad leave me entirely.
He phoned me Christmas day, saying how he was coming to pick me up the next weekend, and he never did, he moved, changed his number and deleted all his social media sites. He left me believing I was the second option to his new family, and in many cases, that is what happens when the fathers move on, they leave their children behind.
Now I do believe that deep down my dad did love me, but believing that is just like a blow to the heart because that love wasn't strong enough to want me in his life. My dad's partner used to bully me, telling me I was jealous of the attention she gets from my dad, saying that I wasn't part of their family. They got married and I was never invited. Whenever I did see my dad he cared for me, and looked after me and I never went without, but you can't buy my love.
I did prefer it with my mum, and I still live with her to this day. She understood what it did to me to think that I wasn't good enough to be a daughter to my dad, and each milestone like birthdays, starting big school and growing up, I waited - events which he didn't deserve to see.
My mum wasn't perfect when she separated, she'd still make manipulative comments and tell me all the harmful things my dad had done to her, but she always put me first, even when she got married to her new partner, an amazing guy, who didn't force the father figure, but formed a friendship that built to become similar to a father-daughter relationship.
When my mum's new partner passed away a couple of years ago, I became very ill, mentally, and I've deveIoped a severe anxiety of being abandoned. That not only has scared me into believing that I don't deserve a dad, but also leads to lack of trust when it comes to boys. I have become so scared of attachment that I fear any relationships, and I struggle to even consider dating.
I learnt that it takes both parents to be mature enough to be aware of their children, and how their decisions are going to impact their lives.
I'm so happy that my mum got the chance to be with another man, and some part of me is happy for my dad too, but I got caught in the middle of a feud in which I wasn't even worth fighting for, or at least that's what they made me believe, and I don't believe any child should be made to feel so used in such a way.
You do have a voice, speak up before no more can be said.