“i don’t pay attention to the
it has ended for me
and began again in the morning” – Nayyirah Waheed
It is amazing that you can go to sleep one night broken, and wake up considerably more whole the next morning (emotionally I mean, because I am
trying to ignore at all costs … refusing point blank to acknowledge because suddenly I just can’t… being a complete idiot about… shutting out before they shut me down… trying to give myself a break from the things that can’t be fixed). Emotionally this morning, I was shaky, I was just about dealing, I was fragile. I hoped there would be no fireworks because I couldn’t handle the heat, not today. Today I knew I wouldn’t snap, because I could never lose my temper with them like they do at me, but I didn’t want to break.
Other than narrowing down the list of t-shirt selling platforms I am considering using, my actions today were not constructive, but defensive, submissive, focussed on preserving the parts of me left holding everything else together and avoiding any more outbursts. Who cares that I’m 20, this is their house, I’ll do what they ask when they ask it. I will slip back into the role of a child because I don’t have the energy to fight my way out of it. I will still screw up at various points, but it will be easier.
I spent a significant portion of the day sorting my room. The room that was mine? Is mine. Because this is their home (that’s how she says it, with emphasis on the OUR), and until recently I was not welcome here for an entire three months because how would the world go on? (How will the world go on?) My mother has made it perfectly clear that she wants to redecorate it and use it as a guest room. We already have a guest room, but my 16 year old nephew who currently lives in Dubai with my sister and her husband, decided that he wants to go to sixth form back home in England, so he’s moving in with them and the guest room will become his own. I say ‘them’ because it no longer feels like ‘us’. I don’t belong. And it’s ok, because I figured that out around this time last summer too.
My nephew (who has grown into an extremely polite, pretty damn good looking young man) will be welcomed into this home more than I probably ever will be again. He will settle, I hope, in ways that I never could here again. It stings a little, to know there is one more person to fight for anybody’s attention, that I will be one rung lower on the ladder of preferences. But I love him, and I just hope he is happy here. He’s so close in age that most of the time he’s more like a best mate or a brother than my nephew, and I genuinely can’t wait to have him a train ride away and let him escape to my flat in London when he needs a bit of space (I always used to get the train to my other sister’s house in Bournemouth when home or school or both got too much – often in the middle of the week with less than a day’s notice, but she’s awesome enough not to make me feel like a bother about it).
In a helpful addition, my stepdad is back to being pretty annoyed with me today as well because I don’t do enough around the house… Dude, please. I do as much as I can, more than I should. You just WON’T – not don’t – understand.
“Where are you (my name)?” My mum just called as I wrote that last paragraph (hence why it was cut short). Instantly, without a split second of thought (other than what have I done now? but not in a sarcastic way, in a completely done with it all way), my heart sank and I fought back tears and tried to keep the sound of my emotion from my voice as I replied,
“Have I done something? I’m sorry-” I tried to diffuse everything before I even knew what I’d done wrong; I felt genuinely bad, awful for inconveniencing them yet again with the things I do (mostly leaving stuff laying around for a little while – a book or my laptop or a used plate, all of which I put away after a little while)
“I was just asking where you were!”She seemed slightly annoyed, but I had just overheard my stepdad moaning yet again about “she” (which is always me) so it wasn’t stupid to guess that she would be annoyed too.
The fact that this reaction was my instinctive response shocked me a little (and also gave me somewhere to go with this blogpost so… silver linings and all that). It made me glad that I phoned my grandparents earlier. They are already coming here on Friday to take me to a ‘thing that shall not be named’, but I called initially just to ask them if they could pick up a couple of storage boxes I ordered (there’s a story of ridiculous levels of denial and a near breakdown behind this purchase, but I will tell you that
when I stop refusing to acknowledge reality some other time). Right at the end of the conversation, I said the words that I knew would drive my mother mad, because she doesn’t like me talking to anyone about our private stuff (and I’ve told the entire internet… oops) especially not going to her mother: “Would you mind if- I mean would it be possible- can I please come and stay with you?”
The words came out in a tangle, and my grandma has this way (usually after my mum speaks to her) of occasionally guilt tripping me and telling me that when I hurt my mum I hurt her, acting like I’m some sort of monster who isn’t aware of my family’s emotions (as if I have no idea that my mum is falling apart because of my “things that can’t be fixed”)… But she understands that this house isn’t the best place for me, and has been encouraging me to stay with her and Grandad instead of here for a while (and also said she’d help me fund a medical alert dog, which my mum told her under no circumstances to do when she found out they had offered). I knew I would be welcome, and I could hear how happy she got when I asked her if I could stay. My mum questioned my going to stay with them and pointed out that I usually don’t really want to. I told her that we all needed a break from me being in this house. I got an “Oh for goodness sake” in response, which proves she has no idea what this place is doing to me.
My grandparents acknowledge me as an adult, they treat me like one. They don’t make me hate myself (apart from the occasional guilt trip, but she’s just looking out for her own daughter by dealing with the thing tearing her child apart, as I hope any mother would). They don’t treat me like a child and tell me when to go to bed and what to do and when to do it. I don’t ever have to remind myself that they don’t hate me because I never have reason to think they could. They don’t get exasperated by the things that can’t be fixed, they seem to admire me for them, seem to think I’m strong and inspirational and they say I make them proud with the way I carry on with it all (which makes me cringe and hide away inside myself because those words and my name don’t belong in the same sentence). There will be no stress when I am with them, no walking on egg shells, no falling short of every reasonable expectation that I should totally be able to live up to at the age of 20 and being pressured into overdoing things and frustration from others when I then pay the price.
Until I literally run (well, am driven an hour away) from this house and the toxic thoughts it is once again starting to generate, I’m just going to have to keep hiding from the things that can’t be fixed, keep plastering on a smile and hope that it spreads to my thoughts as well. Although surprisingly, this time, I’m just about staying afloat.
I do my best. But it is far from good enough.
(This is all just feelings, they are based on the facts that generated them, but they are not facts. My family are amazing and they put up with so much rubbish. I am the catalyst that warps my parents’ personalities and shortens their tempers, and that is not fair on them at all. They are wonderful people. It is me who is not. I have many things that can’t be fixed, and they make me fall short of expectations in ways my family do not expect or comprehend. Like I just said, I do my best, but it is far from good enough.)