Adoption, Family, gut instinct, Hugh Jackman, irony, non conversation, Parental Units, spitefully angry people, whipping girl
This post grew out of a comment I left over at RB’s blog on a semi-related topic.
My rant started as a reply to her post before veering off into my own insanity:
At least you have conversations with your parents where they ask questions about you and your life…
I briefly mentioned last Sunday in my previous post.
Hadn’t seen my nieces or sister in a few weeks, and was invited over to check out the newly renovated bathroom.
Also, eldest baby niece was moving out of the cot and into her Big Girl Bed. A seminal moment in any young girl’s life, in need of witnessing for sure.
I was warned the Parental Units would be there too, but I thought that’d be okay with me. Sort of.
You see, my parents and I still haven’t moved beyond the ill-fated three months I stayed at their place last year on returning from Thailand. It was a bad mistake. Monumentally bad.
What’s worse is that neither of them are talkers. They don’t ever want to discuss things, not unless I agree to take the starring role of Whipping Girl, where they get to list all my ill-gotten faults.
And they really don’t really go in for the whole self-reflection thing…
So. We’ve had a kind of stalemate since then. To the point that when I was drowning in depression and unemployment earlier this year I didn’t hear a word from them.
It’s especially bad with mum though. She can barely contain her resentment, she can’t even look me in the eye and talks to me in this tight, pinched voice – the one she reserves for people she can’t stand.
Dad has his own passive-aggressive tendencies, but they play out quite differently. He’s still nice-ish to me, mostly. Just horribly detached.
Woke up Sunday morning and almost rang my sister to cancel. But I wasn’t sure if it was gut instinct or laziness speaking.
Turns out it was the former.
Rode le bike to the train station, got on board, only to find out several stops along that there were ‘disruptions on the line’. Buses were replacing trains most of the way.
At that point, I did ring to cancel but apparently dad offered to ‘drive me there and back’ so I could still make it for lunch. Thought that was pretty nice of him, and quite unexpected really. I had no way of knowing then, that the return trip would not only be late-ish but that they’d drop me at a train station far far away from where I’d been picked up. Nice touch, dad.
‘Course, on the trip to my sister’s place (thank goodness my older niece was in the car too), we managed some conversation. I asked him about his imminent retirement and related plans, what he’d been up to. He managed to ask me about work.
Dad: So, how’s work?
Me: Pretty boring, just like I last told you. I’m still looking for a permanent job; don’t want to end up unemployed again come December.
Dad: Yeah that was a pretty bad time.
Me: Yes, it was! [Funny you mention that since you and mum sorta ignored me the whole time…]
Well, that kinda exhausted the topic. On to talking about my nieces and my sister. Apparently, mum is giving my sister our nan’s crystal cabinet since mum already has one.
I pretty much wanted one thing of my nan’s – a tea cup, plate and saucer set. There were three sets that my nan, sister and I used to use regularly at nan’s house for tea and biscuits. It’s just one of those irreplaceable childhood memories.
Dad: We brought down the crystal cabinet for your sister. If she doesn’t want it, then we’ll just sell it on eBay and she can have the money instead.
Me: Right… so, what happened to the tea cups?
Dad: I don’t know, you’d have to ask your mother. [He *knows* about the crystal cabinet but *not* the tea cups?!!]
Me: I didn’t want anything of value. Just something that was part of my childhood memories.
At which point the topic was changed like a TV channel.
But later when everyone was sitting around, it surfaced again.
Mum: Gee, you should have said something and put them aside. I don’t know where they are now.
Somehow, my mother conveniently forgot about the conversation we had when I was helping her sort things out (nan had been moved into nursing care). She also apparently forgot that she told me to leave the cups there for now, and we’ll sort it out later.
Dad: There’s things there that belonged to your other nan [the one I wasn’t close to].
Me: That’s not the point. I have nothing of *this* nan’s now since R [uncle] has cleared the house out.
At which point the topic was changed. Again.
Conversation shifted a few times. Then, my sister mentioned a two year old-ish boy in the same playgroup as her two year old-ish daughter. And how it was extremely clear already that he’s downright-dyed-in-the-wool camp.
Mum: Well, you know Hugh Jackman is gay. He and his wife both are.
Stunned silence. In which dimension is that an appropriate response to what my sister was saying?
Right then, I hadn’t put two and two together – mum absolutely hates anyone who’s adopted a child (her firstborn was adopted against her will in the late 60’s).
Me: You just can’t say that. You don’t know for sure unless you have first-hand eye-witness evidence.
Mum: Oh, I *know*. My friend knows someone who went to school with one of them… (mumbles into silence)
I say nothing more. Why? Because you can’t argue with crazed and spitefully angry people.
Moral of the story…
My parents don’t know much about what’s going on in my world, nor do they care to enquire. They can, on-purpose, make sure I don’t get one of my nan’s tea cups.
But my mother knows for CERTAIN that Hugh Jackman is gay.
Wouldn’t you love to be able to get inside your parents heads so you could figure out for certain how they arrive at the conclusions they do?
I’m going to crop it right there. It’s one thing for you to make comments or observations about your parents, but I doubt you have declared open season for your readers to jump in.
You’re a strong woman Svasti, but I know it still hurts.
Think about how upset Hugh Jackman will be if he finds out he’s gay and no one bothered to tell him until now. 😉
Oh man, reminds me of the Ram Dass quote, “If you think you are enlightened, visit your family.”
@tricia – I’d love to know what they think. Or perhaps I wouldn’t. I’m not sure. Either way, I think I’d still be asking myself “WHAT THE?!?!!”.
My folks are good people, they just think I’m some kind of anti-christ or something (I think). I could be wrong perhaps, of course.
In the end, I can live without the dang tea cup set but y’know, the passive agression does sting every now and then. ;P
@YogaDawg – Exactly! And I can see the road stretching out before me for miles to go yet…
Oh, Svasti, I could barely breathe when I was reading this. The lack of love can be so astonishing to me…
And how you can put them being good people together with them thinking so ill of you, I still can’t figure out.
Emotional neglect IS abuse. Period. You wouldn’t take this from people NOT related to you…
Oh, Svasti. Just last night my Sweet Man and I were discussing my own original family’s ongoing neglect of me. I’ve been so long used to this that where they’re concerned, it’s the norm. Yes, it never stops hurting … and over the years I have come to see this old familial habit as being about them, NOT about me … “Can I really be such a hellion?” I ask myself … and then I gather the evidence from my relations with chosen kin … and the answer is a loud, resounding NO!!
Ditto you. No way you are what they mistakenly think you are!
Love to you xoxoxoxoxoxo
@Blisschick – I think its possible to be both a good person and have massive flaws in the way we treat others. I mean, they have been very good to my sister, and my mother has been a good guardian for her disabled cousin over the years. But my parents have a skewed view of me, and treat me according to that view. That’s pretty much what I’ve figured out.
Its true though, I would most definitely not take this kind of treatment from non-family. Sigh.
@Jaliya – Funnily enough, they treat me with neglect and yet have an issue with me not being in touch with them. Guess they don’t see the connection. I do believe I’m no where near as bad as my parents think I am. I have good relationships with too many other people to believe that. But I also acknowledge that any rift is not just one way. I don’t know if I can fix things but I also know I’m not going to stand for the image they wish to paint of me. xo
Family occasions are just a bowl of toenails.
I think I started to heal the moment I realised that I was irredeemably the black sheep, but that given my families culture this could only be a positive thing. I hope you do find a way of challenging your families misrepresentations, but if not, be heartened that there is a good alternative – a frame of mind that no longer worries (too much) about what they think. I don’t have any clear ideas as to how you get to that place but I bet Blisschick has some sensible suggestions.
I know none of this can get that precious memento back, and I am so sorry for it.
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! This post really made me laugh. I seriously think you might be my long lost soul sister. This conversation with your parental units could have easily been a convo with my own mother! She gets the screwiest ideas in her head also–and refuses to let them go!
And of course, I have always been the black sheep of my family–but hey! We’re more interesting! 🙂
@Bird – Haha, “bowl of toenails”. That made me giggle! Those who tell me about their great family relationships… well, I believe them if they say its true but its not been my experience. You know, I will live without the teacup set. I really will. Its just a little sad.
@Melinda – Haha, glad you got a laugh out of this. That’s sorta what I was going for, in the face of everything else! I think we’re more interesting too, sister. xo
Hi Svasti, just catching up as I do…
I read this and smiled, I just wondered how many black sheep in the world there can possibly be?
Thankfully, I have made peace with my Mum and we are both better for it….but, I wonder how much of this came about since she became ill and I stopped rebelling!
I sincerely hope that something of your Nan’s finds it’s way to you somehow!
The people who cleared my Nan’s never knew that I wanted a small something to remember her by but quite a few years later I was given a hairpin, a small brooch and some beads, no value, just hers. I have been told since that I am like her in every way!
@Chrissy – Heya Chrissy! Haha, there’s probably plenty of us black sheeps, but there’s probably plenty of grey ones as well. So many that, if you put us all in the one spot, perhaps we wouldn’t feel so lonely! 😉
I don’t think I’ve done any rebelling against my parents for years now. I’m simply living my life the way that works for me.
You know, even if I never receive anything of my nan’s I will always recall those little tea parties she had with my sister and I. And in some ways I really wonder if it matters. Not having it is one less button that can be pushed, if you know what I mean.