My daughter summed it up perfectly when she rang and caught me in floods of tears. I didn’t want to answer the phone but I couldn’t reject a call from my child so I took it and tried to cover up but she wasn’t fooled. I sobbed down the phone and she said “Mummy, you’ve spoken to nan again haven’t you? Why do you do this to yourself?”
She knows that the only thing apart from a movie that makes me cry like that is a chat with my mother. She’s right, why do I do it to myself? I feel an obligation to speak to her, even though I can’t manage a physical visit. I’ve learned over time that I can cope better with a phone call, in person I lose it, usually end up storming out and then everyone assumes I’m an evil crazy b*tch.
I had the usual yesterday, how wonderfully everyone is doing how amazing all of my siblings’ kids are, reports of people in jobs I know they don’t have, promotions that haven’t happened and doing things at school that just are not true. She’s so gullible, she believes everything she’s told and this is a small town, I hear things and see things.
Oh did I say she believes everything she’s told? Make that everything she’s told except what I tell her. As usual I said “Oh well to add to the amazing things going on in the family I have some updates on how we’re doing”. I call to find out how she is and in the vain hope that one day she might actually be interested in me and mine. I proceeded to tell her about my own and my kids’ recent accomplishments, how my daughter’s moved to start a grad position and my son finished top of his year in all his subjects and how I completed my Masters (I’m the only one of her kids with a university education something she doesn’t believe I have)… she proceeded as usual to tell me that none of it was true, my daughter works in a bar, I’m unemployed and my son is a truant on the verge of expulsion from school… she knows these things because my siblings keep her informed about my life. Breathe and let it go over your head… that’s what I do and wonder why I bother even calling her or why I even bother telling her anything about any of us.
I don’t want to hear what my siblings are doing, I’m not interested but she has to tell me and I have to sit and listen to it all every time before we can have a conversation. Then I find myself pitying them, I find myself wanting to help them to be better people and that old sense of responsibility for everyone comes back, the sense of responsibility for everyone that made me a doormat for them for years and years and years. I hate that I feel responsibility, I hate it I don’t want to feel anything for those people who I happened to grow up with. I feel sometimes that I abandoned them, I was the matriarch of the family I was the one they turned to for support and advice (eventually to kick me in the teeth) but my mother’s no good at that sort of thing and my elder sister is even worse and my younger sister… oh my Lord how did I survive that family? They’re out on a limb now, become more and more dysfunctional as people. I feel like I should have just stuck around and took all their crap to just help them but it was wearing me down, it was making me unhappy and affecting my life and my health detrimentally I had to draw a line and I don’t want to feel responsible for them anymore. I just don’t want to care anymore, I know they don’t care about me or each other, I want to be like that but I find it such a struggle to switch off. It looks like I’ve managed it on the outside but inside I feel compassion I don’t want to feel.
She told me about a couple of my brothers and some issues they were having and I just knew how to advise them and what they needed to hear and I told her what to do but I know she’s incapable of it, she can’t advise, all she can do is criticise and ostracise, offend and upset, there is no constructivism in her repertoire.
There was worse to come… she told me that my elder sister had forced her to change her will… I can only imagine what to and I felt such sorrow to think that she too is easy pickings without me around to protect her from the vultures. She wasn’t sure what she had changed in her will, being privy to the writing of the original I reminded her what it had said and she said she thinks it is still the same. When the original was written we had agreed as a family that there should be two executors, she said there is only one now… it’s not sounding good but I have to not care.
But no, that wasn’t the worst, that wasn’t what left me a sobbing heaving wreck for the next couple of hours, the worst was when she told me they’d found a little gold bracelet with a charm on it under the lagging in the loft when it was replaced and that she didn’t know whose it was because the charm was the letter M and she didn’t have any children whose name began with an M… I’m Michelle in case anyone didn’t know.
I remembered the bracelet instantly, my dad bought me it, I wanted a charm bracelet and he bought me it on my fifth birthday and it disappeared the same night. I had a habit of putting the things I care most about next to my bed when I went to sleep – something I still do today. My kids laugh at me, because I often collect things as I’m heading up to bed and those things might change, if I’ve written part of an essay then my lap top is going to bed with me as I’m not losing that to a thief in the night, if I’ve done some photography my camera goes up with me… I just collect. Well I used to do this as a child too.
My favourite doll always sat on my bedside table and between her feet was my stash of ‘valuables’, my little beaded purse with my book money savings in it (I used to save pennies through the week instead of having ice cream or sweets until I had enough to buy a book), my jewellery, my marbles… whatever. Well the bracelet I was so chuffed with disappeared from my bedside the night I got it and we never saw it again and I never forgot it as my dad refused to replace it as I’d been so careless with it. I protested that I hadn’t been careless but hey, I was 5 and everyone assumed I’d lost it when I was playing… that would never have happened. As she talked I just thought, I was 5, I couldn’t get into the loft let alone hide it under the lagging… someone had obviously taken it and hid it, a 5 year old’s birthday present, my pride and joy. Something like that just doesn’t find it’s way under the loft lagging that’s been down for millions of years. I never forgot the loss of that bracelet and always wondered where it had gone and I never ever owned a charm bracelet. It’s no surprise that I had to get my daughter one which I’ve blogged about before as one of her most prized possessions.
It was similar to the ballerina jewellery box I got which I’d wanted for so long and I remember the first night I set it playing as I went to sleep watching her go around and around and in the morning I woke up and the ballerina had been snapped off and lipstick dawbed all over the inside of the box.
Or what about the watch my dad bought me for my 10th birthday with the gold strap which disappeared over night and we found 21 years later buried in the garden at the side of the house when we were digging a new drive, its face all smashed in.
The mention of the bracelet and the fact that my mother didn’t even count me as one of her children upset me but knowing finally that it too had been snaffled away by some awful person I’d had to share a house with made me so sad… it made me feel alienated and alone yet again. It reminded me of all those other prized possessions which had disappeared or been trashed next to my bed where they should have been safe. It broke my heart all over again. I recalled silly things like one of every pair of my earrings vanishing when I was 15 and finding them stuffed behind the bed in the spare room.. oh it went on for years, it happened throughout my life, anything I cared about was destroyed or stolen. My favourite doll’s teeth were pulled out and her hair cut off, my Barbies had their toes and hands cut off and permanent marker in their hair, the pound note for not snitching on my sister sneaking boyfriends in through my bedroom window at night.. that went too… it all vanished.
You see when I was a little girl, these things hurt, I knew someone, one of the people in the house had taken them but I didn’t know why and I was confused, so confused as to how anyone could do that to their sister, I didn’t want to believe it was happening to be honest, as a little girl I just struggled with the concept of anyone wanting to upset me by taking my things or by being evil to me. I was hurt but I held it in and I had solace, I would go sit in the tree or on the street and just watch the road waiting for my dad to come home and when I caught sight of him then it would all be OK and I could cope. Now when it happens it just reminds me that he’s not here anymore and the grief wells up again and that awful sense of loneliness that comes from knowing the one person who ever looked out for you, the one person who understood you, the one person who protected you from everything just by being there… has gone. Boy that hurts, it cuts like a knife afresh each time.
Oh my families are great if they work but they have a lot to answer for when they don’t.
I’m feeling good again now, my kids got me through it this time and I hate my childhood being a burden on them and that makes me feel worse at first but I just thank God I haven’t left them with such a legacy, I thank God that they love each other and that they are so close and supportive of one another, I thank God our little family unit is tight, healthy and honest and I thank God I didn’t allow the cycle of emotionally detached mothering to perpetuate. I simply cannot imagine how I would feel if I knew I left my otherwise strong, stable, content, happy, focused daughter in emotional turmoil every time I spoke to her just through my total insensitivity to everything. I wish I had a mother I could talk to, if you have one let her know how special she is because the alternative is unbearable.
Leaving this on a very positive note, I didn’t turn to food! I weathered another fall out from a conversation with mother without stuffing my face to get over it and I’m proud of myself for that. Last time it was harder to resist, this time it was easy and I wish I could take my daughter’s advice and never speak to her again but my conscience just won’t let me do that so I know there will be another time and I know I can get through it without a 10,000 calorie binge. I’m getting stronger in every way 😀