Almost daily diary!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The word "Family"

It's been a tricky month. It all started with a planned family photo...

Last year, for Christmas, I bought Mum a family photo shoot as a present and we booked to have it taken at the beginning of this month. When I bought it, in my head, I envisaged the children, Mum and myself taking part. However she had other ideas. She wanted her husband to be in it, my step-father. If you've read this blog for a long time then you will know we have an awkward relationship that goes back to my teenage years. More recently it has become easier but all of a sudden, the thought of being in a family photo with him filled me with horror.  It was a strange feeling, something deep and buried; one that wise people, who have commented on the situation before, have told me I must resolve. They are right, under the surface everything is still raw but mostly I don't notice on a day to day basis.

The problem was that Mum didn't communicate to me about her wishes until very close to the time the photo was booked. And without going into massive detail, she was miffed about my response, so miffed in fact that she was fairly unreasonable.

The storm broke when she emailed me saying I had lead a charmed life as a teenager. I saw red. I was so angry I shook. She had no idea, she had forgotten? I knew she had never believed me. All those emotions flew around my head.

So, in a step that I thought I would never take, I wrote to her telling her how things had really been, things which I always imagined she would die without knowing, things she would have been better not knowing. But I was angry and I realised that the anger was all to do with her never doing anything about the situation.

Though I wrote in anger I did not send until I was calm and had read it through many times. Her response was that she thought she had solved the situation by never leaving me alone at night with him! I reassured her that it wasn't always the night that was the danger.

She believes me now, she said she did before - which made things worse in a way because, despite knowing what he did she stayed living with him, always has lived with him. How could she? I know she is too old to leave now but, how can she live with a man like that? Unhappily I suppose, as she has over many years. She's not as strong as me, she tells me, 'I couldn't leave him' she states. Whilst all I can think is ' if someone I lived with laid one finger on either of my children they'd never cross the threshold ever again' but that is the difference between us I suppose, the difference that makes me free and her a prisoner in her own life.

Was this all cathartic? May be. The photo was cancelled to be rebooked under different circumstances perhaps. At least she has acknowledged that my dream childhood was not that at all. For her though, I know I should have kept it to myself, what can it all have done to her?

She's currently not really talking to my step-father, for what good that will do. She thinks it punishes him but I know he is just lying low until the dust settles.

Seeing her again will be difficult. Yet we can both put on a great act...The whole episode made me think about the notion of family and the massive web of emotions and feelings that the simple word contains.


Irene said...

You were right about coming out and telling your mother about how it had really been. Why should you have spared her feelings about something so serious. She is a grown up woman, after all, and it is even worse that she knew about it all along. That makes her an accomplice. There is no excuse for her behavior or that of your stepfather's. I can understand that you have serious doubts about what it means to be in close contact with what is considered your "family."

Rob-bear said...

Family. So loaded with images and expectations. Of joy, and support, and jolliness. And yet. . . .

Going all through that friction with your mom — what a terrible price!

Blessings and Bear hugs as you keep trying to sort out what family means for you.

Maggie May said...

I don't blame you for cancelling the photo shoot. I would have done the same.

I think you were wise to bring things out into the open. Probably your mum couldn't accept what you told her at the time because she didn't want to believe it. I'm sure she didn't disbelieve you. It was too horrible for her to believe and by burying her head in the sand, it didn't exist.
That must have been awful for you.

Have you ever confronted *him* and told him just how it made you feel? Maybe that is the next step.
Hope you all reach some compromise.
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Steve said...

It's better that that she knows how deeply it has effected you and how far reaching the effects have been - better for her, but mostly better for you. The truth causes the most damage when it is hidden and obscured. Seeing it in the open hurts only for a moment but then we can begin to heal.

Elizabeth said...

Gosh, Suburbia!
I do come to visit at emotional moments.
Yes, having read your blog for years, I was aware of the VERY BAD STUFF about your step father.
I know you love your mother even though sometimes things are difficult.

I CERTAINLY would not want to see him in a 'family' photo.

Poor old you.
However I do admire you for setting your own life in order.

ps yes, I'm so glad my blogs came back!

Anonymous said...

The family photo is becoming a bit of a modern nightmare now we all seem to have such fractured families. I wouldn't blame you for not wanting Stepdad in it. - well done.

Jennysmith said...

I've only ever found family group photos stressful anyway. Something so profoundly Victorian about them. Mum's not helping by being insensitive about this. No, why should you have your stepfather in it?

However, I hope things get resolved, as you need one another.


Looking for Blue Sky said...

That would hurt, a lot. But I hope you can make it up with your Mum xx

Liz Hinds said...

Telling her was right: she knew anyway but needed reminding. Knowing and doing nothing is unforgivable - no, it has to be forgiveable: she's your mum after all, but he is unforgivable.

nick said...

You were right to object to your stepfather being in the photo shoot. And you were right to be frank with your mum about your teenage years. I suppose wives were more submissive in the past, but even so she has been remarkably passive about the situation.

Saz said...

the only question I have, has it helped you feel better for it..because it is YOU that matters here...

and it is done....and I believe in what happens happens for a reason, and that on this day you wrote the letter...and so it is done..
hopefully your end it is for the best, others have to make their own choices and live with consequences..

he should NOT be in a family my opinion...that would be a lie....

stand by your gut, it never lies to you I believe, as your head and heart may sometimes do Sub...

If we'd listen to out gut, you and I ten years ago...we would have had a few better years..but I believe the outcome would be the same, our now..
lots of love and hugs...x x x

Carol said...

I couldn't agree more with what Saz has said! This isn't about your Mum...this is about you and your need to be honest. Your Mum is a grown woman, she made decisions and she has to take responsibility for them and live with the consequences. You were not give any don't have to, and shouldn't have to, hide have nothing to be ashamed of!! I hope that, if not now, then later this will help you comes to terms with it all.

Love and hugs

C xxx