Friday, 28 August 2015

Emailing my brother

I was going to email you. I was going to email you. I knew the words I would use, the carefully selected phrases. I was going to email you, and tell you that Dad was ill.

I was going to email you. I was going to tell you that although you and I would never have a relationship again, that I no longer cared about you, and what you felt about me, that Dad was ill. I was going to tell you that dad is ill, it's scary, and I don't know how much longer he has left.

I was going to email you and ask you something. I was going to ask you to please, just see him again. In a neutral setting, perhaps with others around, perhaps just the two of you. I was going to email you and say please, it's breaking his heart. Dad, who has given us three so much over the years. It breaks his heart daily, knowing that his son won't see him, won't talk to him, seemingly has no interest in him. We know what Dad's like. Argumentative, competitive, but also the softest hearted fool going.

I was going to email you. I was going to say to you that, I'm not asking you to do this for me, Mum, our sister, our children, or anyone else, but for you an him I was going to say that I would do nothing to stop this meeting from taking place. That I don't hold any resentment towards family members who want to maintain a relationship with you, that my feelings towards you have nothing to do with anyone else. That it would no cause no nastiness, no recriminations, nothing, if you were to see our father again. I would be glad, for his sake. I was going to ask you how you would feel if you and your son became estranged, and he refused to contact you when you were ill.

I was going to email you to say all of that.

But then, instead, you met our sister. And you hurled bile, invective, hatred, her way. She didn't deserve that, any of it. She, of all three of us, is the best and brightest of us all. The kindest, gentlest, warmest one. The one who was brave and strong enough to extend a hand to you. And you slapped her down.

I was going to email this to you. But I know now how you would take it. You would say I'm playing the victim, that I play people off against one another, that you don't give a shit. You would repeat what you said to our sister. That you hate Dad. That Dad's cunt. Dad's a psychopath.

You'd say again that you hope Dad dies soon.

You hope that Dad dies soon.

So, instead of emailing and keeping this between us two siblings, I'm blogging it instead. You won't listen to me, our sister, or Dad. But I'm blogging this because I want people to know what an evil, malignant, self centred cunt you are. And one day, maybe, you'll look back on this and wonder how you ever thought it was ok to behave the way you do. I doubt it will ever happen, you're too twisted and fucked up. But I still hold out hope for you, despite every shred of evidence.

You wish Dad would die soon. I wish, considering all the harm and damage you cause, that you had never been born.

I was going to email you. But there really was never any point in hoping to appeal to your better side. You don't have one.

Thursday, 27 August 2015


He's so ill. He's so ill that he can't talk, can't walk, doesn't eat.

He can barely breathe. I watch him. I watch him, when he thinks no one's looking. I see how he pauses, as he turns the kettle on. How twisting a tap causes him to gasp, and then lean against the counter. It takes him over half an hour to shower.

And he grimaces, and makes a joke out of how useless he is.

And I remember my dad. The dad I grew up with. Who played squash twice a week, tennis for two hours on Sunday afternoons. The dad who took me swimming every Sunday morning, who encouraged me to swim 104 laps, to say I'd swum a mile when I was ten years old.

He told me to argue, to question, to be a pain in the arse.

And now he can't even breathe enough to tell me to stop being a twatty blogger.
And I can't stop crying.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Through the looking glass

     Let me get something out of the way. It'll sound like I'm bigging myself up, that I think I'm mighty fine. But it's a fact. I'm good at understanding people. It's just one of those innate things, skills, talents, whatever. I'm not athletic, I can't play a musical instrument. My attempts at anything arty or crafty are... insert the expletive of your choice. I'm inept, ungainly, have no talent for anything practical, and I'm never going to win any prizes. I wouldn't even get an honourable mention in The Annual Ceremony For Failure To Win Prizes. But I do 'get' people. Not always immediately. Some people it takes me a while to understand. But generally, I can see what lies beneath.

     Aaaand sometimes I wish I couldn't. Because it means that I'm fairly good at giving advice. I can see a difficult situation and know what's really going on. I can see what's happening on the surface, but it's as though I have the subtitles switched on. People fascinate me, but more for what they don't say or do, rather than what they think they reveal to the world. When I see someone lash out, I can understand why. I may not agree, or approve, or even like that person very much, but I can see why they're behaving in that way (and yes, there is a part of me that longs to tell them 'Stop being a twat. You're hurt. But you're making the situation worse').

     I've always understood people, although realising it has been a relatively new discovery. Understanding myself... hmm. Very different story. The best way I can describe it was that I was a pane of glass, subject to intense pressure over a long period of time. And when the pressure finally became too much, I shattered, in every possible direction. Tiny broken fragments of glass, splinters of me, scattered over a wide, wide area.

     When you've lost all that holds you together, when every component part of what makes you you, the debris covers such a wide area that you'll never recover all of it. The larger shards are the easiest to find. They don't fly off into the distance, but lie where they fell, and can be more straightforwardly put back together. Daughter, mother, significant other. But those are more labels, not who I am, or was. I picked up more fragments, more pieces, as time past and joined them back together to what I'd already reclaimed, what I knew. But so much was missing. And then I had six months of proper, serious, full on counselling with the incomparable warm, intelligent and encouraging nurse Therapist Zoe.

     And she found pieces I didn't know I'd lost. Pieces I didn't even know had even been part of the glass that had fractured so spectacularly. But she didn't force them back together in a frame. Instead, she handed over each piece to me, each infinitely tiny little glass piece and made me look at it, turning it over, examining it from every angle, observe the reflections. It hurt. Of course it fucking hurt. Drag broken glass over your skin and although it might not always cut you to the bone, it will leave a mark.

     But it gave me insight, granted me understanding. As distorted as the image had been, still was, always will be, I could join up the cracks and see why certain things hurt and upset me. Why I followed certain patterns of behaviour, even as I know it won't end well. Why I behave the way I do. I don't always follow my own advice, or welcome logical, rational thought. I am overemotional, demanding, spontaneous, selfish and a fucking nightmare. But these same qualities give me empathy, enlightenment, consideration, and mean that I laugh loudly, often, easily, and inappropriately. I'm passionate, gobby, and sweary, and simultaneously a quiet, shy, diffident introvert.

     I understand myself, only too well. I don't always like myself. But I will always admit my mistakes, I am honest, I expect honesty fro others, and when I fuck up, I say so. Mainly because I am a fuck up, just like pretty much everyone else. A beautiful, damaged, precious, and destructive fuck up. The liberation I feel from knowing this was worth the pain of going through that process. What I see now is not a broken pane of glass, but a restored mirror. I went through the looking glass, and now I can see myself, with clarity.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Dear delicate Benjamina

     Sometimes, I worry.

     The Blondies know I have this blog. They know I write. They know I write about them, and for the moment, they’re proud of that. I’ve told them that I will never name them, or use recognisable photos of them. I write this under a different name. They can google our names, mine and theirs, and know that nothing will connect them as they appear here to them as they are.

     And yet… One day they will find this. My thoughts, my words on whatever happens to occur to me, the way I use writing as a means of ridding myself of what's occupying my brain. That I confess things on here that I would never allow myself to say aloud. The things that trouble, entertain, fascinate and amuse me. From books to love to graffiti to holidays. It’s all here. But the things I probably write about most are The Blondies.

     My beautiful, wonderful, strange and individual children. I can’t lay claim to any credit for them being as they are. They both arrived, personalities full formed, as distinct and different as they are, as much as they share.  And of the two of them, the one I return to again and again as my muse is The Boy.

     He’s odd. He’s quiet, an introvert who won’t ever stop talking. A Star Wars obsessive whose greatest joy in life at present is My Little Pony. A lazy bugger who drives me insane at times. A night owl. Kind, thoughtful, sensitive. I worry about him. A lot.

     And those worries lead to a new worry. The Girl. How will she feel when she’s old enough to seek out these posts and read them? When she sees how much I write about her brother, but never so much about her? And so, I address these next words to you, my Benjamina. My beautiful, funny, intelligent and roaring girl.

     You are my delight. You are the distillation of spirit that lives in both your mother and grandmother. You face the world and are always undaunted. The light that shines from you brightens every day I spend with you. I am hard, too hard, on you, I know I am. I let your brother get away with murder in comparison. The difference, my tiny dancer, is that I have no fears for your future. You are sharp, clever, quick. You dance like an absolute dream. You bring joy into the lives of everyone who knows you. You are strong, brave, utterly unafraid of anything. No one and nothing will ever dent you, because you know that your presence is a gift.

     I joke sometimes that you were misnamed, the name we chose for you meaning ‘delicate’. But the more you grow, the more you become yourself, facing up to the world, chest raised out, chin up, that defiant look upon your face… I realise that, my wonderful, precious girl, it’s such a simple thing, your confidence, resilience and determination. But it runs through you like an inner core of steel. A thin lightning rod that will always deflect people who don’t understand you. You are you, and the first few moments of your life that nearly wasn’t are always with me. You taught me just how delicate a few moments can be, how delicate life is. And from those first few moments, to watch you shine, in every possible light is a privilege.

     Never, ever change. Keep that fiery temper, your angry batface, your full throttle passion. We, you and I, will fight, and clash, and wind one another up in the years to come, just as we do now. But know that I love you. I trust you and the choices you will make. And if ever you are hurt by little I write about you compared to your Blondie sibling, then know this. You are, and always have been your own person. You don’t need me, or anyone else to guide you. I will watch over you, protect you, love you. But you are the leader of your life. Always have been. Always will be. You dance to your own tune. I will always be with you, here if you need me. But mostly I shall just be watching on, proud, loving, and full of admiration. I have complete faith in you.

     *All the fucking time, about everything, ever.