Monday, July 09, 2018

Blood Isn't Always Thicker Than Water

I've written a couple of personal posts on here, and I'm about to come at you with another one. I don't know where to start, so I'll type whatever comes to mind first. There WILL be swearing. 

I come from a large family; 8 brothers, my parents & myself. My parents separated I'll say around 5 years ago, & divorced in October of 2017 I think. I'm 30 now, & have been living away from home since I was almost 19. Throughout my previous relationship, my mum was a rock. Always at the other end of the phone (twice a week for an hour or more - we could talk for Ireland!). She was my best friend, someone I felt I could rely on or talk to about anything. We were so close, & I felt special being the only daughter. My family were what I, & others, classed as a 'close knit family'; I think I've mentioned it on my blog too. I was proud to have a family that close. In relationship, not always distance.

I met someone on MySpace & we became close, ended up being together for 9 years & engaged. We texted all the time & he called me every night, obviously before we met in person. I was really happy, but kept myself to myself at home. One evening, my parents had friends over. I stayed up in my room talking to my boyfriend. My brother called up to me & told me to give him my phone because I was 'being rude', by not being around my parents' friends. I said no, & asked him to leave me alone. (bear in mind I was 18 & wasn't going to have my 22-year-old brother tell me what to do.) He shouted something up to me, which I think was 'bitch'. I was still on the phone to my boyfriend & he had heard it. He asked if I was okay & I told him I was fine. I assumed that was the end of it. Soon after, my mum called me down. I told my boyfriend I would call him back soon. I went downstairs, phone in hand, only to be restrained by my parents against a wall in the hallway, & my brother snatched my phone off me while I was sobbing & trying to fight them off. I was told it was 'for my own good'. I think they expected me to go in to see their friends, which obviously didn't happen. I spent the night in my room crying because of what had happened. It was scary, & I knew then that I had to leave at some stage.

Me moving out of home clearly became an issue, because of the timing. It was 2 months after my aunt passed away, and I needed to get away. I was almost 19, & left to be with my boyfriend. I left a note on my bed, but I can't remember what it said. According to my mum, I 'ran away' from home. She phoned me while I was on the way there shouting at me & telling me that my dad was disowning me. That wasn't true, & he confirmed that the same day for me. Eventually, she came around & I ended up moving in with my boyfriend. According to one (or maybe more) of my brothers, I 'took myself away, isolated myself from the family'. All this because I decided to move further afield (in the same tiny country that is Ireland). How absolutely ridiculous is that, that if you don't live in the same county, you get shit for it? 

I got shit for not being there when my parents' marriage broke down. I thought it meant something that I spoke to my mum on the phone at least twice a week, always listening & making her laugh... apparently not. I got shit for not seeing the state my mum was in when it was all happening. Why? Because I was out getting on with my own life, being the only family member who lived away from the city that all the rest of my family lived in. I visited the family home once every 8 weeks or so, for 9 years. I asked them to visit me plenty of times, only to be met with 'when you visit us, you see the whole family'. This wasn't the case. In fact, I think I saw the whole family together ONCE at Christmas at my mum's. In that 9 years, my mum visited me twice. Twice. Both times, I had to pester her to do it. The second time she visited, I was working the morning after she stayed at mine with my brother, her boyfriend & his son. She told me the following... My now-ex went into the kitchen where the guests were having a cup of tea & my mum asked if she would load up the dishwasher. My ex told her "no, Joanna will do that when she gets in from work later." She replied with "okay". Didn't stick up for me, didn't question why he couldn't/wouldn't do it. Just accepted how he treated me.

When my relationship & engagement broke down after 9 years, I was supposed to move back to the family home. I met someone else, so ended up not moving back home as we were making a go of it.  We looked at our options for us to be together. My mum offered to help, but let us down at the last minute. Her friend offered to help, while we got our feet on the ground. She also let us down at the last minute. After all that, everything went tits up. We eventually got sorted with a loan from my brother, & we both started working, so it obviously became easier to support ourselves. We even surprise visited on Christmas day. In January 2016, myself & C got a shock when we found out I was pregnant. I called my mum & she was excited. Not as excited as I'd hoped she would be, but myself & C were over the moon, & that's all that mattered. I assumed now that big things were happening for me, & as the only daughter/sister, my family would be more willing to TRAVEL (2.5 hours by car) to see me... or even want to see me. I was wrong. It was far too much to ask & 'expect'. When I was 10 weeks pregnant, we moved house as we had no hot water, the place was being taken over by rats & we lived in the middle of nowhere. It was depressing, but we had so much ahead of us to look forward to.

A few months into my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with depression. I didn't know anybody where I was living, & the severe lack of support from my family was out of this world. Some days, I was so low, I would just lay in bed & cry once C went to work. It shouldn't have been like that. My depression was put down to these facts combined, but I know I'd have been much better if family were supportive. Two brothers & my dad came to see me. I didn't have to beg my dad; he WANTED to see us so he visited. I got excuses for the rest of the family to not visit - everyone has their own lives (so did I over those 9 years I visited every 8 weeks). I was even told that the longer I wait, the more down I was going to get... by my brother's fiancée. Someone who isn't even part of my family. Apparently I can't ask for people to visit me because I 'chose to move away from home'. Hold on... aren't family 'supposed' to be there for you? That was always what I thought. You don't expect them to dessert you because you choose to move away from the family home & get on with your own life. I was told to 'hop on a bus' (where I would have to sit for 5+ hours at 5 months pregnant - um, no thanks), because people just simply couldn't be bothered to come see me. I was told to just 'be happy' (because I was pregnant), as if I could switch off my depression... Sorry, but it doesn't work like that. A lot of this was, again, from my brother's fiancée. Funny how once you move, you don't matter anymore to the people who are 'supposed' to care about you.

That led to my brother texting me the following day asking if I had ACTUALLY been diagnosed with depression, or was it something my midwife suggested. It was in this same conversation that he called me a spoilt bitch & selfish. It was at this point that I removed some family from my Facebook because I didn't feel they deserved to be part of mine or my baby's life. This led to the 'you cause drama everywhere you go' & 'you never gave a shit about us' comments. My son deserved people who wanted to make an effort to see him (& our little family), not swan in & out of his life when they wanted. While all this was going on, C was right by my side supporting my decisions & listening to me talking, crying & venting. It was an awful time, & although I loved pregnancy, it was tainted by the fact that my own family couldn't give a shit about me, or my son it seemed.

Because all of the family lived near each other & lived less than 3 hours away, they all spoke to each other, so things were said (& twisted) because I wasn't there to defend myself or say my piece. It led to another brother giving me shit for leaving home & ended with him telling me to 'try to raise a decent child'. So much of what was said was unfair & completely uncalled for. When I mentioned my upsets & all of the above to my mum, I expected her to stick up for me in some way. Did she? Hell no, she didn't. She had heard what had happened & what has been said, twisted no doubt. She said that my brothers fiancée was trying to help. She then blamed my hormones for me feeling like this. My hormones. How fucking dare she shut down my completely justified feelings like that? How much lower could I get in a time that I needed family to support me?

My mum still didn't bother to come see me as she worried she 'might get lost'. She eventually tried to arrange to see me & I told her some dates that suited. Myself & C had SO much going on, it was a super busy time trying to prepare for our little man's arrival. None of the dates were good enough because her boyfriend was working. This upset me more, but made me so angry too. By this point, we hadn't seen each other for a good 6 months, which was a first. Near the end of my pregnancy, my closest brother had arranged to come & see me. Because someone else was driving, my mum told my brother to ask me if she could come (we hadn't spoken for a months). A small part of me wanted to see her, but I said no, because THAT was her 'effort'. She only wanted to come to make herself feel better & because it was convenient for her. So as it went, my mum didn't see me at all during my pregnancy.

Many times, I stressed to her that I wanted to see effort made as it had been me doing it for so long. In fact, I cried on the phone multiple times about it, because it meant that much to me. But it never came. All that came were excuses. Not even when Leighton was born. One of my brothers tried to get C fired from his job, which would have essentially made us homeless with a newborn. It was so sad & my heart broke for our baby. I texted my youngest brother on his birthday, to wish him all the best. His reply text was simply "never speak to me again", despite me having not spoken to him since I met C, so whatever he heard was twisted at the family home. I eventually decided to try to make things a bit better with my mum when Leighton was 10 months old. I arranged, with my closest brother, a surprise visit to see my mum. We kept the secret & the day came. When my mum saw us, she cried a little... surprised, relieved, happy to see us. It was short-lived. The time spent with her was awkward, strained, far from what our relationship once was. It was tough. I blamed her then, & I still do now. I felt sick the entire time & knew she didn't deserve, or as it turned out, want to be a part of my baby's life. The following day, I was due to come home, but my dad's fiancée was busy so they couldn't drop me back. I asked my mum if she would drop me & Leighton  home. She rolled her eyes & asked "do I have a choice?". I replied with "no, not really." Funny that when I said that, she was suddenly able to drive to my house.

On that journey, she still managed to squeeze in a snide remark about me 'running away from home' 11 years ago. I then reminded her that she had made no effort with me. Her reply was "can you let that go already?" despite JUST reminding me of something that happened 11 fucking years previous. She moaned at me when my phone died so I couldn't give directions, so my brother did it on his phone. She was in a rush to leave when we got back. Anyone would think she would want to make the most of the time with me & her grandson... Not a hope. That is the only time she has seen Leighton. He's nearly 2 years old. I thought that surprise meeting would encourage her to make some effort. How fucking stupid was I?

Multiple times, I asked her why she never talked about Leighton on her Facebook account, but she constantly talked (bragged) about her other grandchildren. And her own children of course, because she has 'eight amazing sons', not one mention of me, her only daughter. She pushed it all aside & said that she didn't write about Leighton because she 'didn't know him'. I told her she should make an effort to see him to get to know him, & she told me that it was unfair of me to say that. We had that conversation many times & she always resorted to "we need to meet in person to sort this out". But STILL never bothered. When she sent me money for my birthday, I offered to send it back so she could put petrol in the car to come & see me. 'No money' was always the excuse. When I made that offer, she said no. Upsetting, but whatever.

* * *

I didn't tell her of my pregnancy this time until I was 4 months gone. After all that had happened, I wasn't sure I wanted to. She acted excited on the phone & then said "were you going to tell me?' because I left it so late to tell her. I thought that was a strange remark as I had just told her. I replied with "I wasn't sure I wanted to even tell you, given how things have been & still are". I thought it might have been a fresh start. Again, I was wrong. Just recently, I was told that she learned of my pregnancy through a cousin & aunt I don't speak to, because they were stalking my private Instagram account - they can't see any pictures, but my bio mentions that I have Leighton & another baby on the way. This meant that she was aware of my pregnancy before I had even told her, yet she didn't bother to call me & her stupid excitement on the phone was feigned. This is also how she found out the sex of the baby - through relatives spying on my social media. These relatives are the same ones who visited during my pregnancy with Leighton, & said some nasty things about my mum during that visit. But now, they are back kissing her ass. Oh, if only she knew.

A couple of months ago, my mum was on a weekend away with her boyfriend, an hour & a half from me. Practically on my doorstep. Do you think she would tell me? Nah... I saw it on Facebook. She didn't bother contacting me for over 2 months prior to her weekend away. Despite me being pregnant again, no effort came, again. In May, she uploaded a picture of a couple of baby girl headbands she bought for a 'new little lady' who would be making an entrance into their lives 'in the next few months'. Funnily enough, her boyfriend's daughter was pregnant again & I had a feeling she was expecting a girl because of the picture & the gifts were for her. I didn't see how they could possibly be for my daughter because I hadn't told her I was having a girl, & she was announcing it on Facebook. At this stage, I hadn't heard from her for over 3 months. THREE months of another pregnancy, gone without an effort from my own mother. It was sad, but I had become used to it. I didn't expect effort or anything from her anymore.

After seeing the Facebook post, I hit the roof & called her. She answered all lively as if nothing had ever happened, which pissed me off even more. I immediately asked her who was having a little girl... she went quiet & then said "you are, aren't you? it's one or the other", meaning it's either a boy or girl. I asked her why another pregnancy was going by without her bothering to make any bit of effort to be part of it. She made some stupid excuse, probably 'no money' as usual, then pointed out that I never ask how her boyfriend is. I told her I didn't care to ask how he was because she couldn't be arsed to even ask how I, her only daughter was. Her reply was simply "of course you don't care, you're a selfish bitch & you don't think about anyone but yourself". I told her she was a failure & a useless mother. She tried to come back with more shit like 'we'll see what your brothers say about that'. It ended with me telling her she can stay out of mine & my babies' lives, then I hung up the phone & blocked her number. It was a relief to have said it, but I was seething.

After the call, my poor, helpless mother played victim to my brothers. The one who had previously tried to get C fired from his job, has messaged my dad & told him "the bitch (me) is in for a slap". Ladies & gentlemen, my lovely brother (who is a daddy), who wishes to slap his pregnant sister. What a lucky girl I am.

I think that kind of where it ends, though I imagine there's a lot I have missed out in this post. At the end of the day, my babies deserve SO much better in their lives. I & their daddy will do all we can to protect them from people like that. Wherever my children's lives lead them, we will make sure we visit them, do right by them. Yes, I'm sure there will be times we fuck up, but they will always know how much we love them. Make sure they know we care about them. Make them a priority, because they're the most important people in our lives. They are our babies & they deserve the very best.

Blood isn't always thicker than water, & I know that for a fact. Family relationships are not always the strongest. Sometimes, they just don't care & will make you out to be the bad guy because they'll all side with one another. I ended up having counselling to help deal with the hurt & anger it caused, but it didn't help. I'm numb to it now.

If you've got this far, you deserve a medal!

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