Sunday, 18 August 2013

Getting some perspective?

Sorry I haven't blogged of late. I'm trying to remember why I haven't been my usual blogging self... Life was busy and also I felt a bit down - and no one wants to read some endless tirade of sadness. I hate self-pity and yet was revelling in my own. My head was spinning, and every day I had this anxiety about... all sorts. The over riding feeling was that I had absolutely nothing in my life that was just for me. Bar this blog. That I used to do all these exciting and fun things and now all I do is work - at one job or another. The grind wore me down; that, and the endless fretting about career stagnation as a direct result of motherhood - and my inability to work out how to successfully juggle both...

But it's all about perspective - as a friend reminded me the last week. So instead of thinking I've stagnated, she said I should remind myself that I've managed to work and raise two small kids. That is one of the joys of coming to Ireland - (which we did a week ago) catching up with friends who have known me forever. I'm currently on vacation. Of sorts. The vacation bit was abruptly brought to an end due to the interminable Irish rain.

Coming to Northern Ireland always makes me conflicted. Its like I'm transported back in time - I always reach down expecting to be carrying my A-level art folder and am surprised to be holding a kid's hand instead. I pass my school and my heart swells with sadness - that I'm not walking up that hill, seeing my old mates day in day out. For it was within those gates that I made the best friends of my life. In a heartbeat I'd chuck on my blazer and be back in that sixth form centre, dreaming of the exciting life I'd be leading, once I could get the hell out of dreary Belfast and all it's tedious politics.

But the Belfast I knew, isn't here. I don't recognise most of the buildings, the new streets, quarters, bars and cafes. I'm practically a tourist. It no longer feels like home.

Plus, I'm having all these family issues - issues I've been able to avoid living in England. But now on Irish soil, they confront me - like uninvited guests, forcing me to deal with them, even when I'd rather shut the door in their faces. The story? Two years ago, my Father rang me, to ask me my middle name. Yes, you read that right, my Father wasn't sure of my name. I told him, then he asked my married surname - how to spell it... This is how aware of my life my Dad is. He doesn't even know how to spell my married name. Anyway, I wondered why he needed such details. Turns out he was changing his will. A will that had favoured me, now wasn't going to. I was to share everything with my two step sisters - who are from my step mother's first marriage. My Dad first met them when they were 21 and 23. He's never lived with them. They are now in their 50s, and one has children with a millionaire property developer. Anyway, this news, it didn't bother me so much. I genuinely don't give a fuck about money and what I could/should inherit.

What stuck in my gullet, was the fact my Father had made my two step-sisters the executors of his will. Why? Because they live in Ireland and I live in London. He made it sound like I lived on the fucking moon, rather than a bloody hours flight away. I knew my Dad wasn't capable of making this kind of decision - things like this wouldn't have occurred to him. It had obviously been instigated by my Step-Mother. Suddenly all the things that I had brushed aside for years - all the things that had niggled but I had let go, came floating with a vengeance to the surface.

Things like - the fact my step Mother had made sure she and my Dad visited her younger daughter when she lived in London for 2 years. I have lived in England since 1991 - 22 years, and they have never visited me. This didn't bother me so much either - until I had my children. I watched for years as My Father became a cricket coach and a football coach for my step sister's sons, but has never even seen my son kick a ball in his 7 year old life. I remembered how on a holiday in 1999, my step sister brought a friend along, because my Step-mother liked her - but refused to afford me the same courtesy. My best friend simply wasn't welcome. One rule for her daughters, one rule for me.

Photos of me in their house were relegated to musty old spare bedrooms, while her two grandson's photos stared out from every available surface in her lounge. There was the Christmas when they all decided to have a hot holiday - My Dad, Step Mum, her daughters, their partners and the two boys. I wasn't even invited. I'm not ashamed to admit I felt gloriously smug when they came home bitching about what a dreadful time they all had.

Another Xmas, I asked to join them all for Christmas dinner and my Step-Mother mentioned 'we won't have room at the table.' My Father, for once, grew some balls and insisted. Anyway, after the 'What's your middle name?' call I wrote My Father a letter and told him all of this. And more. My anger that he phoned me a week before my wedding and told me he wouldn't be making a speech if I invited my Mum's ex boyfriend (the man who raised me every weekend of my teenage life) to it. The fact my Dad refused to fly over to watch me graduate. All the hurt and disappointment of 39 years spilled out...

We didn't speak for 3 months. Then my best friend got MS and I thought life is too short. I picked up the phone. For the past two years I have only spoken to my Dad. Not his wife. She has felt the snub and commented on it to him - but would never have the backbone to call me and ask why... So for 2 years we have muddled by like this - I only phone my Father on his mobile, I no longer send her Mother's day cards. It has been easy to just pretend she doesn't exist.

But now I am here, in Ireland - what do I do? Part of me worries that if she fell ill, or worse, I would be mortified and feel guilt for my behaviour. I like her daughters immensely and am worried this will damage my relationship with them. When I say relationship, I mean we talk on the phone say twice a year and usually catch up for a drink when I'm back. The other part of me feels - yes, I am making a stand, because you have barely included me in your family and therefore - why should I make the effort? If I leave here on Thursday, having NOT seen her - then, will I ever see her again? Will this ever resolve? Why does it make me feel so wretched? I don't know how we can get past this? Maybe it is better I DO avoid her and just see my Dad on his own. Why make his life easier? When he does so little for me and my family?

I don't know what to do.

Conflict, conflict. I'm so brilliant at it, when it is something to do with work, or sending back an over cooked steak... But family stuff? I just want stick my head in the sand and hope it'll all go away... I'm looking forward to going home, back to my life, everything familiar and safe. When all these inane politics can be swept under the carpet once more and normal life can resume.


Liz said...

So what did you do? I love reading about this stuff, btw.

Crummy Mummy said...

Liz, bless you. I managed to avoid seeing my step-Mum, as thankfully they were moving house. So I just faked my son being ill one day when we were meant to pop round, and then the next few days, my Dad called at my Mum's house - and my step Mum was too busy with the house move. So I never saw her. Problem totally averted. For now.....