I kind of suck. My sister and her kids (who live in Bournemouth) video called with Dad to wish him a happy father’s day. Then the iPad was passed to me and I was told to talk to the two little girls (for those of you who are aware of my current hatred of humanity, you will appreciate why I mildly freaked out at the thought of trying to feign any sort of social skills with my two little nieces who I ADORE and who adore me right back. I could not be the grumpy aunt, and it was not their fault I was grumpy). They were more interested in the TV than in talking, so my sister and I just ended up having a chat.
My youngest big sister (well actually, both of them, but hey) is awesome. I’m probably closer to my sisters than most other people in my family. Strictly speaking we aren’t related, and that is at times hard to handle, but water makes glue and glue is stronger than blood. Anyway, younger big sis has had her fair share of crap thrown at her during her life. She was dealt a health sucker punch that changed her life forever, and I will say no more of it than that. She’s always been totally chilled out, and is great at the difficult conversations I don’t want to have. During sixth form, when home and school got too much, I would message her late at night and go to stay with her for a few days the next day. I know she won’t tell anyone other than her husband, who has the same birthday as me and is also awesome. When we were on holiday last year, we sat up together talking until the early hours of the morning, and we ended up just sat there hugging and crying on each other (hers were tears of FINALLY YOU LET THIS OUT I’M SO PROUD OF YOU, mine were tears of I just had to relive that all over again I didn’t mean to tell you that). There’s stuff I would never tell even her, but she’s almost at the level of uni parents in terms of how much I will share, when I can overcome my guilt enough to confide in her.
My family have kind of been off-limits in discussing my health hiccups and stuff, because my parents usually decide to whom and when information about that is shared. This usually means that these burning issues stay locked within the tiny bubble of this house, where nobody knows how to talk about it, and all the frustration it generates is directed at me. Therefore, I just don’t let it out. I keep as much of it as I can in, and occasionally test the water, only to get burned.
We had a normal conversation and within a minute or so I knew I was going to bring it all up somehow, because suddenly I just had to let it out. It was just my sister and I. And somehow conversation fed into the health stuff, and she didn’t react (often I think that she thinks I am pathetic and ridiculous and just overdramatic because she’s had it so much worse, which is part of the reason why I also avoid letting it out). We talked about stuff, and about the future and the concerns about how much of one there may be… She encouraged me to talk to my parents, when I was ready; and I pointed out why that was a conversation I wasn’t even ready to attempt with them (we can’t even really talk about the basic things to do with it without frustration brewing among… All of us, I now think). She asked if I was scared, and I said that oddly I wasn’t now. I said I felt that I had no right to be scared as it could be so much worse, and I have friends who are going through worse and even some who have recently died. She nodded along. Said it made sense. She told me I need people, and that friends are meant to go through the hardest times with you, and hurt with you, and that I shouldn’t feel guilty at all for asking them to be there (I totally do, and I totally won’t ask).
At the end of the conversation I looked at her, and her face had changed. Maybe it was the video, maybe it wasn’t, but it looked like that sad sort of smile she does when she’s trying not to cry. The tone of her voice was all different and I was reminded of what really stops me having these conversations… Guilt. Guilt at watching reactions like that. At coming face to face with the emotion I induce (to be fair the reaction may not even have been there, I may have misread the entire situation defensively, inserting my worst fear because it was the only outcome my brain could associate with that conversation… Even though it took me by surprise). I missed the emotional detachment of my uni parents then (really need to get over that already. I’m an idiot). But also there was an immense relief. I’d had a conversation I hadn’t realised I was ready to hold. You selfish idiot, you suck. I thought to myself. How could I do that to her? She’s so strong, and I hate myself so much, that I struggle to comprehend how much she cares about me sometimes. I think she definitely cares.
I said sorry at the end. She said, “Not at all… You know where I am, yeah?” I thanked her, still trying to read her face as my nieces demanded breakfast (they are making Daddy some pancakes), thinking please don’t go away and cry now, I didn’t mean to do that I really am so sorry but thank you so much. SO. Much. Maybe I’m flattering myself too much in thinking she might cry over that conversation.
I always cry on fathers day as pictures of the childhood versions of people I know (in the arms of their doting fathers) flood social media (even my old consultant and his kids, the man ruined my life and almost killed me, but loves his grown up kids a lot). I don’t have pictures like that, apart from this one I found of baby me in my uncle’s arms a couple of years ago (I cried for half an hour at the sight of it, and then framed it and put it on my bedside table, where it still sits today. I didn’t realise my uncle loved me… I seem to have an issue with accepting that anybody can, actually. I sent him a picture of the picture on his birthday, and it made him kinda happy, which made me cry all over again because it confirmed that yes, he cared about me all the way from Hong Kong). I used to look for father figures everywhere, I used to try very hard to impress the one who gave me my little brother and big sisters, but to whom I mostly feel I will never be able to make happy with my existence (this is a long, painful, private and sensitive story which I can’t share here, and not only because my mother would kill me if she ever found out I’d shared my feelings on it all). I kind of gave up on fatherhood. I realised its importance, but didn’t think I deserved it, or so it felt. So on father’s day, I kind of grieve. It hurts more than any other day of the year. But life begins again the morning after.
I’m really quite ridiculous.
Humanity was never the problem, I think it was always me.
23qwa (my dog just put his face on my laptop and typed that, clearly he is trying to communicate with you all. He is insisting on a hug, so I must go).