Regret(s) (254)

I’ve got plenty of regrets. I’m not going to go into all of them, because well, that would end up being an incredibly dull and longwinded post serving nobody, not even myself.

Today my mum brought up my brother with me. Apparently somebody drove into the back of his car (yet another in a series of unfortunate car dramas of his). She made a comment along the lines of “it’s like somebody up above has shoved a huge arrow pointing at him to attract car accidents”. I think I smiled, shrugged my shoulders in a kind of well, good way. She said I thought I’d tell you that because I thought you would like it…think he deserves it.

The way she does this, randomly brings it into conversation completely freaks me out. It makes me panic and dissociate. It doesn’t feel safe. I said that he drives like a complete idiot, so he does deserve it for that, yes. She didn’t take the hint, or rather, she just ignored it, as she has a tendency to do, and then said “I don’t get it, your relationship with him is worse than ever now, youre the one that said that you had a good relationship with him now”. My panic grows, my shame grows. I say that I don’t remember saying that. She tells me that I did, the day that I told her what he’d done (and yes I did say that). It’s her narcissistic way of saying that I’m now making it all difficult when I was perfectly fine with it back then. Its the insinuation (likely in my head, but I also don’t doubt that my mum is very much thinking it), that I chose how it is now. That I didn’t want them to tell him. That they said they would do whatever I decided. And they still would.

And I could…I could tell them to tell him that they know, to have it all out there, and risk him never coming back. And they would. So as far as they are concerned, they’re doing the perfectly right thing. They’re amazing parents. It makes me want to shrivel up in shame, even now just writing it. Because as far as they are concerned, the upset that I am harbouring (that they don’t even realise I am to the extent that I am), is entirely unfair and unjustified, and all because I’m selfish and too much, and making them out to be awful when they’re not. Except they aren’t taking any of the rest of it into account. They aren’t considering that my dad said literally nothing about it to me until I said that it was making me upset. His response was to completely and utterly pretend it didn’t happen. And then, when forced to talk about it with me, it was a family meeting that felt like a very cold business meeting. I was in tears being stared at by my parents who remained sat in their chairs. I was forced to come up with a plan of what we would do. I was forced to hear over and over about how if they told him, he would never come back. It takes no account for the pressure of all of it placed on me, it takes no account for the total control that was removed from my clutches and placed into theirs. I didn’t choose to tell. My mum asked and asked and asked until I said that yes it had happened. She already knew. I told her I didn’t want my dad to know, she said that he had a right to know and that she would be telling him. I was immediately forced to say what I wanted to do about it. At which point I think I said what I did about having a good relationship with him now that we were older. That things were different. I said it because it was true, and because I needed a grasp on staying as is was for a bit. Not having the rug pulled entirely out from under my feet. She was throwing everything at me in the most terrifying situation to me. She paid no real attention to the fact that I was very much not okay, she made it all about her, made a big deal about how she had to go to bed because she felt sick.

No regard has ever been given to how traumatic that day and the days following were for me. And I’m not surprised, they have no understanding of trauma. They laugh at the idea of somebody having PTSD who hasn’t been serving their country in war. It’s a preposterous concept. But what really hurts is that they have no desire to understand. To do some reading, to think about how to help, or what I might need. All the while thinking they’re being so amazing, and that I’m being difficult and extra. Making a big deal out of nothing. I hate the shame that I carry because of it. The shame that makes me cry and makes me want to hide, just for putting it out anonymously on the internet.

My biggest regret is everything that has come since telling. The not shouting, the not putting it all out there, the not bringing my brother into the huge mess that he doesn’t know exists but that he himself created. The staying close to them, the still seeing them, the not talking about it. The getting increasingly closer to my dad again, to the point where I don’t know if I would ever be okay with leaving them, even though I think that that might be the best thing I could ever do for myself. I don’t know how exactly I would do it different, and I know that no way would ever be perfect. But I just really regret the way that I did do it, even if it was the best I knew how at the time. It feels like the biggest mess that I won’t ever be able to clean up.

Death (222)

This is a happy one. Not.

When I was little I would think a lot about people dying. My dad traveled on four different planes every single week, and as he would watch (and therefore we would all watch) shows about plane crash investigations when he was home, I became terrified that every week when he left, I would never see him again. I would cry myself to sleep, feeling all the feelings of his death, of never seeing him again. I was so incredibly attached to him, that his death would have been my whole world falling apart.

I would also imagine myself dying, getting cancer or some freak accident. What that would look like. Me in hospital saying goodbye to the few people that I loved and actually loved me.

I’d imagine both by parents dying…being adopted, or going to live with my aunt and uncle. I’d cry, I’d feel devastated, having fully convinced myself it was going to happen (as with all these fantasies), and in the case of my parents dying, even feeling a bit of relief. At the thought of being adopted, or rather just at the thought of being taken in and cared for…of being seen.

*****

When I was around 7 or 8 years old, I nearly died. I came in from outside where I had been playing on my own, and went into the living room where my mum and two brothers were watching tv. I really wasn’t feeling good. I told my mum I felt really dizzy (and I was so scared which I’m sure must have come across in my voice), but I also didn’t want to annoy her, didn’t want to make a big deal out of nothing, didn’t want to draw too much attention to myself, didn’t want to be a nuisance. So when she told me to just go upstairs to my room and lie down, I did. I ignored how terrible I was feeling, how much I wanted to cry and not be left alone, and I just went up. I remember all of this so clearly. And then I remember nothing until I woke up in hospital. But I’ve been told the rest. How my mum sent my brother up to check on me (and its only just occurred to me how crappy that is – that she couldn’t even be bothered to walk up the stairs herself to check on her sick child. Moving away from the tv was apparently too hard, or maybe I just wasn’t worth it). But then my brother shouted her, because what he had found was his paraplegic sister clinging onto the radiator trying to desperately to keep herself upright because she could no longer feel her legs, having thrown up all over the room, lips hands and feet blue, running an extremely high fever, and completely unaware of his being there. Soon to be unconscious for nearly an hour and unable to breathe by herself properly. I was already in that state and hadn’t shouted my mum, and that makes so much sense to me, because I was just a nuisance, annoying to her. Don’t make a big deal out of nothing.

Taken by helicopter to hospital because had I had to wait for the normal road ambulance I’d have been dead. Waking up in hospital completely naked, surrounded by people. At one point 8 doctors all around me trying to help me and work out what was wrong. Not nurses…doctors. 8 of them. Needles and cables and tests and MRI’s. My dad staying overnight. My mum telling people about ‘what i put her through’.

I often wonder what it would have been like for my family had I died that day. I often wish I had. I wouldn’t have felt any additional pain to what I did, I had already gotten to the point of being unconscious and my body shutting itself down.

Would it have been better for them? Probably.

*****

One of my best friends’ mums funeral was the first that I ever went to. My mum was very close to her mum too, and we spent a lot of time together. I’d often stay at their house, and as we both (and my middle brother and her brother who got along pretty well) all got picked up at the same bus stop, they would often just end up at our house for dinner as it was closer than theirs, after our mums had made us sit in the cars at the bus stop for nearly an hour while my friends mum insisted that they were going to go home, before saying sod it and having a glass of wine and dinner. She was funny and beautiful and sociable, and a great mum. My best friend completely loved her. I still remember so clearly the day that our phone rang when I was 13, and my mum shouted me, and I came out from my room and met my mum on the landing with the phone in her hand. She had this look on her face and I just knew something was wrong. She was covering the phone as she told me that it was my friend on the phone, that her mum’s cancer had come back and that she was going to die. I took the phone, and my mum went downstairs (thinking about it now she probably went and listened in on the downstairs phone), whilst I took the phone into my brothers room because that was as far as it would stretch, and paced up and down as she told me that her mum had just told her she was going to die. I was thrown in at the deep end, had no clue what to say or what would help, but somehow I fumbled my way through it, heart in my mouth, feeling sick, and so so sad for my friend. I still feel heartened, and it still brings tears to my eyes that I was the person she called, that I was the one she turned to in tears needing comfort, needing to offload. I asked how long, hoping that it would be at least a hopeful amount of time. 6 months to a year….(fuck). And she didn’t even last 3. Barely 2. I also remember her getting up in the church which was full of people, and standing there reading a poem for her mum beautifully. She didn’t tremor, most likely because she was numb, but whatever the reason she did her mum so proud, and I gave her such a big hug at the reception.

*****

My grandmother died when I was 21. It was sudden, a bleed in the brain caused by the steroids she had been taking for her arthritis. It was, all in all, a good way to go. Sudden, happening before she even realised it. She was rushed into hospital and My parents and I were there in the early hours of the morning, waiting for news and to see her. We did. She was unconscious but stable. There was plenty of family drama at the hospital when my cousins showed up, who hadn’t seen her in years (refused to and were awful to my grandparents), likely because all of a sudden there was potential inheritance. Cynical, but there you go. The next day she was awake, and fully compos mentis. My parents, aunt and uncle, their son (who did have lots to do with them), all got to see her. I didn’t and it often upset me that I missed that one last opportunity. But we were all relieved…she was okay. And she was strong, my nan. I take after her in a lot of ways, and she would never admit to not feeling great or being completely okay. She was strong because of a determination to be that way.

That night she had a second much bigger bleed and we all rushed to the hospital to say goodbye. She was already dead, but being kept alive on a ventilator. Everything happened so quick, and we didn’t have time, and I never got to kiss her goodbye, and it hurts me. Everybody was there, and I didn’t have space, and somebody called me to leave, so I did. Her body heaving noisily as her chest raised and fell, attached to the machines.

Her funeral was terrible for me. Everybody walked in and sat down. My parents with my granddad, and then my cousins, aunts and uncle, etc. I hesitated, because I was on my own, and my middle brother (who also hadn’t seen her in years) went into the pew with his girlfriend of the time who nobody had even met. And then there was no room for me. And nobody noticed. I was alone, and unsure, and left, and I needed to have people that I knew with me, but I didn’t. I was entirely alone, sitting through the service. And then we walked out and I cried and cried, and couldnt stop. My mum made comments about it, and of all the people it was my eldest brother that tried to comfort me. My nan, who I loved, who looked after me every day after school, who was there with me as I did my homework, who I helped make mince pies, who made meringues for me, who had a cup of tea and special biscuits waiting for me when I got into there house off of the bus, who taught me about plants, encouraged me with drawing, who played endless board games with me and my middle brother…was dead. And everything from the minute of the stroke to being outside of the crematorium afterwards, had been awful, and alone. Of all the people to die, I really didn’t want it to be her.

*****

My grandads stroke nearly exactly a year later was a complete contrast. A year long hospital stay and daily visits. Luckily he was in the hospital right next door to my uni, and so I’d pop in after lectures. I cared about him a lot, but we weren’t close. His funeral was okay, in the scheme of things, and I didn’t cry at all. I feel a bit guilty about that.

*****

I often wish I was dead. Best of all would be to just go to sleep and not wake up, to be done with this shitty life. I think about the relief in it. I think about the people i would hurt. I think about my funeral. I think how ashamed it would make my mum (and how that would be one last final ‘fuck you’, that I would have very few attendees. A couple of friends, and thats it. How ashamed my mum would be. Her daughter the loner.

Most of all I’m just tired. I don’t want to be dead, not really. I just want to hibernate. I want a rest. And this would be a rest…a really good one.

 

one hundred & eighty five: terminate

what a forceful word.

i was all over the place with the word, thought of everything from terminating a pregnancy to terminating a contract to arnold schwarzenegger movies.

i guess what i hope i’m doing is terminating the cycle of my parents, and my ancestors…of abuse. of violence. of silence, and suffering in isolation.

i know it is still in me, all the rot…all of the horrors of my grandparents, and their parents. i am certain that there was incest in my parents’ families of origin; there was certainly alcoholism and domestic violence and mental illness aplenty, some kept subterranean, some more flamboyant. there is a quickness to my anger that scares me, that flashes and flares with a suddenness that is overwhelming and deeply triggering. the pull of addiction is strong in my blood, and i’ve been flying my cuckoo flag high for years.

i guess we’ll find out in another decade or so, when our kid is in full-fledged therapy, as to how successful i’ve been in terminating the unsavoury parts of my lineage. it’s like a really fun, suspenseful game of roulette…will it be the things i’ve anticipated that have fucked her up, or something that flew entirely under the radar?

Greed (165)

Every now and again, not very often but occasionally, when either pc or I are not doing so good, particularly if we’re little, we’ll send virtual hugs to the other (ugh if only they could be in person), and because we know how the other isn’t doing good we’ll send a really silly big number of them.

This word makes me think of how we know the other person is little and has shame roaring in their ear (because we both do this very occasionally), when whichever of us it is responds with something along the lines of I don’t need that many, I don’t want to be greedy. Its a big give away, not just that shame is noisy, but that we’re feeling too much or undeserving.

And that instantly makes me sad/mad. Because when we’re little we’re not just accepting love like little kids normally are. We’re bracing ourselves, informing people of our flaws to let them know that we don’t deserve it. As PC always says, getting ourselves before we’re gotten.

Family Gatherings (164)

I did some sort of internal scoff/noise of indignation/ugh fuck that, this morning when I read our word of the day.

I loved family gatherings when I was little. I suppose I was less aware of any of the difficult family stuff that was going on in the background. And when I got old enough that I was aware of it, people would normally be on their best behaviour – I could relax because it was pretty unlikely that I’d have to be there making sure my dad kept his temper in check. Also, people were generally more cheerful. Back then our family was much bigger, there were less rifts and I think everyone did genuinely enjoy getting together for big dinners or lunches or parties. (Save for some family members that have been split off from the family for as long as I can remember.)

The big family stuff was always on my dads side of the family though, and once my maternal grandmother died, there never really were any more. Christmases went from 13 people for dinner, to 5. And not that I consider it a bad thing, because right now, after telling my parents about my brother and having them acting like everything is normal and still going on about how great he is, I don’t think I could stand them.

It was my birthday recently, and even though my brother wasn’t even meant to be in the country, it was just my luck that the one week he would be flying back to the UK for, it was over my birthday (not intentional, a very crap coincidence). So, my mum decided we would have a lovely family dinner, my parents and me, and he and his fiance. I could not think of anything worse – it was sending me into a total panic. So I told my dad I didn’t want to go back to my parents for my birthday, and he understood immediately why, I didn’t even have to tell him. And he was understanding and kind and said it wasn’t a problem at all, we would just tell my brother I was going out with friends for my birthday and so couldn’t go home. It was decided and I was relieved. And then my fucking mother got involved, wouldn’t take no for an answer, and hey ho, I’m spending my birthday (which I already hate) around the dinner table with my parents and brother and his fiance, pretending everything is just lovely and we’re one happy fucking family. Ugh, it just makes me want to puke.

For several years now family gatherings have involved my parents telling people about my brother and how proud they are of him and his job, how great he is, what he’s been up to, their golden boy. And I hated that enough when they didn’t know (although actually my mum always knew – but I didn’t know for definite that she did), but now that it’s very much out in the open between us, I really can’t stand hearing them still be proud of him. So actually, while I used to enjoy it generally as a kid, I’m not sad there aren’t very many of them anymore.

one hundred & thirty nine: family

today, this word is not much hurting me. but many times, it does. honestly, it’s like the new f word in my life, and more times than not, makes me want to spit and scream and cry, makes my insides all watery and sick. coz i want it. i want it so badly. so badly i wonder if one desperate day i’ll just retract all of it, like the false memory syndrome people say we all will.

nearly every time i hear this word, i feel orphaned, small, and alone. because no matter what, the truth is that i have no parents, not anymore. i don’t have a mom, or a dad. i mean yeah, they’re alive…but not in my life, they’re not. the pain of that feels like it won’t ever fade because no matter how okay or how good i am, no matter how much healing i do, no matter how much i know that it’s not my fault and no matter how much they continue to disappoint me…i still want it. not them, specifically. but i miss the idea of family, i bought into it hook, line, and sinker. that sense of history, those people who knew you back when, the people who are meant to hold you, stay with you, be yours forever, the people you see for holidays and birthdays and special occasions. i feel the absence of it all the time.

this word holds shame, as well, because i do have a family – my wife, my daughter, beloved friends (looking at you across the pond, my lovely) and even my in-laws. but my family of origin, relatives, and extended family i had growing up…are dead (either literally or figuratively), or faraway, or rendered faraway by the big gross secret i’ve been keeping.

it is a lonely, isolating experience. to have chosen this, in some sense, but having so much grief, shame, and hurt about it. i wonder all the time whether i will come out the other side.

Forgiveness (121)

I think I actually made an ‘ugh’ sound and scrunched up my nose when I read this word out today. Lost in my own world despite being in a busy classroom. Because, well, fuck this word.

I don’t agree with any bullshit notion that somebody will never move on from the things that happened to them until they forgive the perpetrator. Really, come on, that’s so fucking minimising and arseholeish to suggest. It’s not that I am vehemently against the notion of forgiveness, (and I’m most definitely not vehemently for it), it’s that I just don’t agree that I need to rise above all of it and ‘forgive in order to find peace’….don’t mind me, I’ll just be over in the corner puking.

And, maybe I would forgive them, except one thing I am extremely set on is that I will not ever forgive them, unless they actually come up to me and ask to talk about it. To face it, stop pretending, apologise, and are actually meaningfully regretful, and also, seem to actually understand the fucking colossal effects of what they did. Until then…fuck forgiveness. No fucking way.

*****

The one and only person that I do want to forgive (and maybe forgiveness actually isn’t even the right word), is myself back then. For doing what she did, for surviving how she did, for not choosing to do the things that adult me wishes she had. Maybe that’s not really about forgiveness, but about accepting the situation…but from where I stand today, feeling so hateful towards a younger me, forgiveness maybe does feel like the right word. Maybe? I don’t know.

 

Gratitude (113)

This ones a bit sticky for me. In our house gratitude was horribly interlinked with not complaining, keeping your mouth firmly shut.

“Shut up and be grateful for what you’ve got”.

And yes, we should all be grateful for the things in life that we have, nothing is a given, not a home, or a job, or safe people or loved ones. Some people currently have none of those things. And yet, as I’ve grown up, I don’t for one minute agree with this notion that talking about things we wish were different, “complaining”, expressing negative sentiments towards things, makes us ungrateful people, or ungrateful for those things that we do have.

I was extremely grateful to go to a private school (although to begin with I begged to go to the local school with all my friends, and would have done perfectly well there), and yet in our house we were continually reminded of how much sending each of us to a private school had cost them, (quite literally, we were given the figures), and everything they had missed out on in order to do so. And I am grateful, truly, for my school was in fact a bit of a safe haven for me for a few years, and yet it does not make right the pressure placed to do well and “make all the money worth it”. It also doesn’t make right the rest of the shitshow of a childhood we had at times. In order to be grateful for the sacrifices they made (and they did do it with the best of intentions), I do not need to be grateful for the rest of my childhood, or pass it off as being ‘made up for by’ that one thing, or ‘well, think about everything we gave up for to send you to that school, how much it cost’.

One right (and actually, a questionably necessary right) does not make okay other wrongs. Being grateful for one thing doesn’t automatically mean you should forget other wrongs.

I am not grateful for the sexual, physical and emotional abuse I endured growing up. Nor the neglect. I will not ignore or forgive those things simply because I “ought to be grateful” for the house we had, the food and clothes, the gifts my father bought us in the airport each week, the schools we went to, the opportunities we had, the birthday and christmas presents. I won’t allow the violation of my body to be made right by the fact that my dad bought me back a big bar of milka chocolate from Schippol Airport most weeks, and “dads home and he’s bought you a present so you have to be on your best behaviour”.

I’m absolutely positive that in my parents opinion, the rapes at the hand of a member of my own family are made okay by the fact that I never went without food or clothes, things I needed, and very often things I didn’t need. I am to keep quiet, keep the secret, no make a fuss, be grateful for all those things that I did get, not be selfish and focus on the negative, make out that it was all awful, and make life difficult for them.

And I still cannot comprehend this response of theirs. I don’t believe I am being ungrateful at all, I am grateful for the things I got.

Their disregard for all of my hurt however, has me floored.

Music (112)

Music is important to me. I like to have sound, particularly if it’s loud out, busy with people, if I just want to be in my own world, or quiet all the noise. I can’t sleep without noise, either a film, or music. Always, if I really can’t sleep, there’s one song that I turn to, and the best thing of all is that my best friend sang it for me and recorded it (along with her cat), and on nights like last night where I was sick, I put her recording on and not only did I have my favourite song, I had my best friend singing it. It is safety to me, a place to rest and be loved. I haven’t been able to sleep without music in years, and in my family, there is a lot to be said for being able to put earphones in and no longer have to hear conversations that are hurtful.

This ones very much for PC, a little truth telling – I used to, and still do occasionally when the mood takes me, listen to country music…. (Trust me people, she might unfriend me for this one, the blog could be over before we know it….)

Classical music reminds me of my paternal grandparents (both dead now). Something I adored about my grandmother is that every single day, when I arrived at their house after school, I would be greeted with the smell of the house…an old cottage, wood fire smoke in the winter, the smell of freshly baked bread or cake or dinner, the TV on in the sitting room, pot of tea keeping warm on the aga, and the sound of classical FM on the radio, a permanent presence, morning till evening.

I have also always wanted to go the BBC Proms in the Royal Albert Hall, particularly standing up in the gods. It kind of makes me sad because I absolutely love the Last Night of the Proms, and it’s always been a tradition of my dads and mine (the only ones who enjoy it) to play it loudly through the stereo system and listen and watch, eyes wide and sparkly, marking the end of summer, and the beginning (back then) of another school year. It was a connection of ours, and I just loved it. I’ve asked a few friends if they would want to go, but never really to any success… but perhaps I’ve just found my answer, PC?(though be warned, I know nothing about music, so I’ll very much be clueless if I’m there with you). If you came to the UK in the summer one year?

Crying (111)

Well I’ve been doing a fair bit of this today…

This one is kind of mixed in with all the ‘being weak’ stuff that I wrote about the other day (or started to write about)  And when I say mixed in, I mean glued together, being smooshed into each other by ten tonnes of iron either side, inside a locked safe with the key thrown away in a room 1,000ft under ground… ie really fucking together, and never not going to be. Crying is weak. That is the message that was planted into me very early on, and fed all the time. So really the first huge thing I think of when I think of me crying, is massive amounts of shame. And that’s all thanks to my family

I mean, to begin with I grew up with two older brothers, and that just in itself probably tends to result in a girl being a little tougher and less likely to cry (maybe? Maybe not. Depends on the family and the kids, but with my kind of brothers definitely so). Then you can include my hard mother, who doesn’t cry, never has been a crier. She was tough, not soft, and that was how I was to be. And then, y’know, you can add into the mix my entire childhood experiences. Violent father, abusive family, sexually abusive family, for that matter. And I was the mediator, the one required to keep her cool and keep the peace and make sure everything was okay. I was needed to be emotionless, and to a great extent I was. Different parts generally held different emotions, and I appeared to the outside world devoid of all ‘bad’ ones… Or “fine”. (that word had better not come up any time soon or I really will cry).

So, what I’m trying to say is that I didn’t cry much. I absolutely could get upset, but as I got older I started to switch my emotions off. But to do that, I absolutely did cry… late at night, all on my own. About things that were happening to me, about imagining family members dying, about characters in books and films. I had books and films that I would turn to when I felt like I needed to cry. And I would sob into my stuffed elephant, like really really cry… About fictional characters, and yet also about the feelings of things that were actually happening to me, in my very real life.

And that was almost every single night for a while. I took myself to bed and I read if I needed to, and I cried myself to sleep.

Fast forward on a few years and I felt like I must’ve cried myself out, used up all my tears, because I could no longer cry…my tactical books and films no longer worked, I was immune to them. I was noticeably hardened, to the point where people commented on it. All of it had been turned off  because it was all far too much.

Im still so ashamed of crying, of being weak, of allowing there to be a place for my hurt and of people knowing that I am hurting. But I’m so much better with it. And I do think a certain Canadian friend has helped so much with that, by being kind and gentle and reassuring and sitting with me when it happens. I’m relearning to cry, and I really hate it sometimes, but it feels much better and safer with her by my side. She uses the phrase that “it feels like you will down in the grief” or “die from the pain of it”, and it really really does sometimes. Just today it all felt like too much to bear, it felt like I would never stop crying, and yet always, always, I have.

All of this is not to say that I cry a lot, because I don’t, I’m still getting there. But it’s more. Its also only ever on my own or with safe people, which so far only includes pocketcanadian, (though my therapist is close to being added to that list I think, if she stops disappointing me enough that I actually go back to her). But it’s so much better to give it space, to feel those feelings, even when you feel like you won’t survive them.

Lastly, this makes me think of pocketcanadian and how heavy my heart feels that she let’s me be there when she’s crying, that I’m safe enough. And it makes me think about how being on the phone to her and hearing her cry, is sometimes enough to make me cry too.