Some things leave us but never stay away – the rain in London (the kind where the clouds are so thick that it’s dark in the daytime and you can’t see the other side of the road because the rain is so heavy), and the impact that my family can have on my mood. Yesterday, both returned. I wasn’t too fussed about the return of the rain, but it wasn’t the only water to have run down my cheeks by the end of the day. It also wasn’t the only water to wash things away.
I ended up staying with Auntie Godmother and family last night, which was, as usual, amazing. It was calm and relaxed and Uncle [her husband] also chatted away with me (which still weirds me out because I don’t talk to the man I call Dad). I only woke up once during the night, which is UNHEARD OF (I usually wake at least every half hour). I hugged their dog, who kept jumping up onto my lap, and it was just good. Last minute and unexpected for all of us, but good. I walked to the station with Auntie Godmother late morning (she was going that way anyway) and got the train home. Or… Almost home, because the tube network had ground to a halt due to signalling failures shutting the exact section of track that I needed in order to get home. I returned home (eventually, after getting the bus) to find my mum and little brother sat by reception in my accommodation waiting for me. And that was where it all went wrong.
It was great to see them. In the two weeks since I last saw him, my little brother is now taller than me! They had brought with them a shelving unit and built that together while I showered. But everything I did was wrong. My mum shouted and snapped every time I opened my mouth. I could do no right, and it felt like being back in their house. At first I let it run off my skin like water, until we got in the car and I made a conscious effort in the way I spoke not to upset her… and it wasn’t enough. I really, really tried, I said something simple and reasonable. And she snapped again, going off on one. I instinctively pressed myself against the car door and just looked away from her, and at my retreat she stopped. I had no idea what I’d done wrong or how it was wrong. I tried to respond and found my voice was suddenly breaking because for some pathetic reason there were tears in my eyes. I felt like the scum of the earth. I felt like a disappointment and a complete and utter dick. I felt awful. I pressed the busted bone of my foot into the floor of the car and let the pain shoot through me. I honestly just fell apart inside, and I’d been away from that feeling. I’d escaped it. She usually gets cross when I’m upset, but this time she “apologised” with the kind of apology that starts with I’m sorry and swiftly progresses to but followed by a load of attacks and (not-so-subtle) digs about how awful I am as a person basically. I considered opening the door and walking back home. I felt just like I did when I lived with them. And damn it, I’m crying even writing this. And I. Don’t. Cry.
The dust settled, and, still with attitude, she said they’d take me back to my place if I wanted. My little brother had been really looking forward to seeing him, and I knew that accepting this offer would only make things worse with my mum, so I stayed in the car and we drove for way longer than we needed to in order to get to Stratford (because there was a football game on at West Ham’s home ground – the 2012 Olympic Stadium – so there were a load of road closures). We got out of the car after eventually parking, and my mum acted like nothing had happened. She linked arms with me and tried to kiss me but I couldn’t. I wasn’t trying to be mean, my brain was just baffled and going at a million miles an hour and I just felt empty inside. I wasn’t capable of any form of affection. I just wanted to burrow inside myself and tear myself apart until there was nothing left of me to hurt the world. I pulled away, and my little brother and I walked around tangled in a hug instead.
We ate lunch, and even then I was somehow managing to screw up. (This isn’t a criticism of my mother, it’s a criticism of myself. I don’t even know how I screw up. I don’t mean to. I try so, so hard. And it isn’t enough. I am never enough and I never will be enough). My brother was all what is wrong with her?! and honestly, I think the answer is very simple, because it’s exactly the same thing that is always wrong with my “dad” – me. I was there. I was ruining their nice time out together and I didn’t even mean to. My bother said I wasn’t doing anything, my mum said maybe it was because she was hungry. But it didn’t matter, the seed had already grown roots so deep it couldn’t be pulled out, and it was ruining the structural integrity of my self esteem. The subject of Narcissist Nephew came up. My mum said he’s getting better and he will learn, but is so ignorant of the way my brother and I feel about it all and lives in a bubble of denial as she does with most big issues I try to raise with her. With me there, my brother had the confidence to sort of tell he how he felt. I prompted him to admit that he wasn’t happy. And somehow this led to me looking right at her and saying,
“That house is not my home.”
And I went on a little. I explained why. I said I didn’t feel like I fit and as usual she told me it was ridiculous, but away from her home and in my home area, I was bold enough to continue. I told her I wouldn’t go to that house again, I wouldn’t stay the night, I didn’t want to be there, and I couldn’t handle the way it made me feel. She came back at me saying that when I spoke to her on the phone my dad couldn’t even stay in the room (I’d heard him make his big dramatic show and sigh as he stomped out) and I don’t want to see him face to face. I told her his family didn’t feel like mine – I don’t share their blood and they really make me feel it. I feel like an outsider, and I do not feel like a member of their family so I want my old surname back – the one I was given when I was born, the one before my mother met and married the man whose surname I have now. The only way for me to be happy was to stop trying and stop wanting to be a part of that – to stop longing to have the kind of relationship with my “dad” that he has with his own flesh and blood, and to stop longing for his family to be with me like they are with each other. I let go. I don’t want to see any of them, because it hurts, it makes me feel so inadequate, so much… Less.
I realised that I don’t have to do that any more.
My mum said that not going “home” was immature, but I am an adult, and I am choosing not to put myself into a situation that I know will cause me a lot of distress and be extremely unpleasant. I am choosing not to bother them or burden them with my “pure evil” and protect myself. Because I don’t have to endure it. Not any more. I have a home. I have a separate life and now I have something to contrast my Kent life against I realise that I don’t want to go back to it. Never. It’s kind of sad, for family life to be over. All I want is family, all I want is to feel like I belong (and that’s why I run home to Auntie Godmother’s, and why I went there on Friday night). I let it all out and she argued but eventually I think, it hit home. She told me off for making her choose and said it wasn’t fair. I told her I wasn’t asking her to do that at all, I’d chosen for her, and that it is now very simple and very easy – that isn’t my home and I won’t be staying there, especially when my nephew is there to further make me feel like an outsider – I always felt second best behind my bother, but my dad’s family worships my nephew and I’ve never felt love like that from them. I don’t need to sit face to face at a dinner table with a living reminder of that who also happens to be rude and sarcastic and talk down at me like he’s my superior. I just don’t have to any more.
We went shopping together after a lunch where we ended up not being charged for any of our food because they messed up so badly and had to re-do our order after letting our food go cold and disgusting before it was served. I bought a load of men’s jumpers – thick, warm, oversized and baggy (not thin, fitted, fashionable and so short they reveal half of your stomach like ALL the women’s jumpers I found which fitted at least one of these categories and were clearly not designed to be practical). My taste in clothes changes a lot, but I usually live in skinny jeans (specifically my favourite black pair) and baggy hoodies or thick wool jumpers. With the level of swelling that I keep getting in my abdomen, the lack of jumpers in my wardrobe (I forgot to bring most of them as it was hot when uni started) and the fact that it is now cold enough that I’ve started wearing my coat again… I decided it was time to invest in some comfort. I swing between comfortable style, and comfort over style. I was feeling low. I was also feeling very unwell (for a very long time after I got in I felt like I was going to pass out and had an awful headache). I wanted a big warm jumper, and so I followed my brother and mum down to the men’s floor of a VERY cheap and popular high-street chain, and bought myself jumpers from the men’s section. There was a fight between a guy and some woman who had just floored his girlfriend and pulled her hair… Which was… Typical Stratford… After that we went and bought my (not so) little brother his first razor and then just got out of the chaos of that shopping centre.
My mum drove me home. She pulled over at the side of the road and told me to give her a kiss. I made up some excuse about my lips being dry or whatever (I don’t even know, there just was no feeling inside of me, and my brain was all NOPE). I waited for her to shout but she didn’t, she looked at me all disappointed and sighed and said, you’re really anti-me, aren’t you? and then something about having apologised for upsetting me, as if that took away the feelings she had triggered, as if that took away anything at all. We sort of half hugged, and I turned to say goodbye to my brother. He insisted on getting out of the car and giving me a proper hug (rare for him). I walked away, and honestly am not fussed about when a meeting like that ever happens again. I don’t have to put myself into situations where I feel like that any more, and contrary to being immature, I think that saying no and avoiding things like that is… Not only sensible, but necessary. Because I just cried for about half an hour while trying to write this down, and I usually don’t cry easily at all (hospitals/ doctors and my family are the only things that easily make me cry).
If you’ve read this blog for a while they you’ll know what I did, because you’ll know what I do. You’ll know where I end up, and when I end up there – the Thames at night. There is something about standing there watching the black water rush past that just takes all the bad away. It leaves me feeling lighter, and no matter how many times I walk along its banks and see London’s landmarks at night, they never fail to make me stop and stare. So HK Uni Friend and I got on the tube to Westminster and went for a late night wander (we crossed Westminster Bridge to get to Southbank, walked along to Golden Jubilee Bridge, crossed over and went to Trafalgar Square, where my heart decided to put a stop to our wandering).
Auntie Godmother and co. are having lunch at my parents’ house right now. My cousin messed me pleading with me to go, and then my mum called and said I had time to change my mind. I told both of them, gently, that I wouldn’t be going, which is so sad because my dog is in that house and I miss him so badly and want to see him so much… But he’s in that house. They are between me and him. I want to see him so badly but there are people in that house I just don’t need and cannot face seeing, and I know they will not miss me. I look at the way my dad looks at me and he doesn’t even need to speak. He doesn’t need to say a word any more, doesn’t need to shout (although when he does talk to me that’s all he ever does) an weirdly, him blanking me bothers me more than him shouting. I finally realised I don’t have to face that any more, and nobody can make me. I feel like such a bad dog owner… I feel like such a bad person, right now. Excuse my patheticness. Thanks for reading whatever this even was.
No way but through.