For now I’m at ease…

As I sit here writing this, Breaking Bad playing, housework piling up – I’ve finished my cup of coffee and the floors should be well and truly dry now but I can’t find the motivation to get off my tired ass. The kids are at school. My husband is at work.

Not entirely sure why I’m writing this, thought processing I guess.

I’m in the process of having my left arm tattooed, a sleeve. It’s something I have wanted done for years and It’s made me one happy bunny. It’s not finished yet but most of the scarring is covered and I love it. I no longer feel on edge if I’m around new people with my arm uncovered. I no longer look at my arm and think ugh. I’m no longer consumed with worry about my kids and what my scarring may mean for them, the irrational thoughts that they may be excluded or bullied. No one will ask me what they are or how it happened. No more looks – well, not those looks anyway. And I will love it even more once it’s finished, I’m itching to go back and get some more done! I’ve always loved tattoos, if I had my way I’d be covered – too bloody expensive though! I try not to think about how much my arm has cost so far or how much more it’s going to cost, I’m not really used to spending money on myself, it’s not something I do very often!

But this sleeve is worth every penny – the reluctance to write that was unbelievable. But it’s been good for my mental wellbeing, however ridiculous that may sound. I don’t feel so shitty about myself. I know they’re still there but no one will notice them now and that has given my confidence a boost. The embarrassment is gone. The fear is gone.

Sure there’ll still be that conversation with my kids, there’s scars in other places that they will see and they will have questions about things that people will no doubt tell them. But I will cross that bridge if and when. For now I am at ease…

A concert

For the first time in a very long time I found myself missing you. My “wingman”, my best friend, my “sister”.

The husband will go with me but only because I don’t have anyone else, he doesn’t like concerts and doesn’t really care much for Guns n Roses.

But you, you would’ve come because you wanted to see them as much as I do and we would’ve had an absolute blast! It wouldn’t have mattered how we got there or if we were sitting, standing or bloody floating at the front, back or middle, we would’ve sung at the tops of our voices and jumped around like idiots holding hands and just being ourselves!

I’ve wanted to see them since I was about 12 (I’m now 36), ok so they’re minus Steven Adler and Izzy Stradlin but there’s still Slash, Axl and Duff. 3 out of 5 ain’t bad and it’s better late than never! They’ll still be amazing I have no doubt about that.

Sounds silly but it makes me sad.

In another life maybe.

In a life where being my “sister” meant being my sister.

Nevermind, we probably can’t afford it anyway. He says “just book it” but I can’t. It’s so much money and I know he doesn’t really want to go. I’d feel guilty and, although it would be amazing, I’d feel bad the whole time that it’s costing so much and he would be bored plus we’d have to leave the kids and the dog. It’s just not plausible.

Not in my world anyway.

Truth

My Gran has a habit of making me speak about things in a frank and honest way, things I often think of but don’t normally speak about so openly or in such detail. I don’t know why I feel I can tell her so much more than anyone else, maybe it’s because she was like a second mum to me while growing up? Maybe it’s because I look up to her and therefore, subconsciously, seek her approval/understanding more so than anyone else’s? Or maybe it’s because she wants to hear me, she wants to listen to me and understand me. She’s interested. And she loves me unconditionally and will think no less of me no matter what I tell her, no matter how stupid or weak I’ve been. She wants to know why I felt the need to hurt myself over and over, why I was so weak minded that I didn’t leave an abusive partner the first time she did something to me. Why I chose to move out of my home rather than kick out the people who were driving me out. I appreciate her genuine intrigue, she asks such blunt questions but with no judgement. They’re questions she asks because she genuinely cannot imagine letting anyone treat her that way. And she cannot, for the life of her, imagine me – her youngest granddaughter, her intelligent, head strong, independent granddaughter – letting anyone treat me like a piece of shit they’ve just scraped off their shoe, like I’m scum and not worth spitting on if I was on fire. Or why I would feel so lost and horrid that I would take a piece of glass and hack at my own skin.

It’s not so much the physical stuff that stays with me. I mean, yes she hit, kicked, even strangled me a couple of times. Threw me on the floor, elbowed me in the face, threw me against a wall and sexually assaulted me with an object to name but a few. And the slaps, oh the bloody slaps. No, taps. Yes taps on the cheeks. Constant. Sounds like the least of my worries huh? But no, they were where the physical and psychological abuse collided. Relentless tapping. I’d flinch every time. It was a form of control and, more importantly, humiliation. That played a huge part in all of that. Making me feel downright stupid. Laughing at me. A silent threat. Power.

I soon learned to keep my phone on silent, even dimming the screen and making sure it didn’t vibrate. I was cut off from everyone. I remember one time we had gone camping. She loved camping, the great outdoors, away from every other person that could possibly want to make contact with me. My phone rang, shit! I knew who it was, I’d removed his name from my phone book but recognised the number. Someone I considered to be one of my best friends who just happens to now be my husband. But it wasn’t like that then, we were mates. I answered it, pretending I didn’t know who it was and then when he told me I acted surprised and said my new phone didn’t have all the numbers. Then made an excuse to get off the phone. All the while I can feel her eyes burning into me. To cut a long story short, she left me there. No way to get home, no money, no phone. She just drove off. Oh she had no intentions of leaving me there really, it was to punish me. Back she came less than 5 minutes later. Of course I had to grovel, how could I not? She was my ticket back to civilisation.

I was often accused of sleeping around, be it past or present. My brother in law popped in to see me and that meant I was sleeping with him. A) I would never do that to my sister. B) He is like a brother to me, ew! And C) Just no no no!

“I know what you’re like” – the amount of times she said that to me when she actually had no clue what I was like. Looking back, it’s embarrassing. Humiliating. During sex, out of the blue she said to me “You need to get an aids test” I was obviously shocked, she never failed to shock me, and was automatically scared of what she was going to do so immediately fell into obedient mode. “I know what you’re like” that oh so familiar statement. “You’re disgusting, I know where you’ve been” and it went on. At first I was silently agreeing then she had me to the point of verbal concurrence. I just wanted it to stop.

She preyed on my weaknesses. One of them being water. It scares the shit out of me. Unfortunately she lived right by the water, and when I say right by I mean her back gate, a bit of grass then water. Walking along one day, there was no argument, no accusations just her digging at me for being scared of water. Next thing I know she’s dragging me by my hair, top, arms, whatever she could grab at with me struggling, dragging me towards the water. I’m pretty sure she never intended to put me in that water but in the moment I wouldn’t have put it past her, in fact I was 100% sure that’s what she was going to do. I begged, pleaded, apologised for nothing, told her I love her, etc etc etc. She just laughed and called me pathetic.

Then you have the false sense of security! That moment you find the strength to fight back, you find your voice. The moment they let you get away with it and you think “ha, take that”. A prime example of one of those moments was a time she elbowed me in the face. We happened to be laying on the floor in her living room, we were sleeping down there that night for some reason. Petty argument, I leant over her and, wham, elbow connected with face. I saw red, grabbed her top and got right right in her face “Don’t ever so that again” and pushed her down. To my surprise she backed off and said nothing. I felt fear, then confusion, fear again then power! Wow, I did it! I showed her! She even silently cuddled up to me as I laid with my back to her. I fell asleep powerful and confident. I woke up the same. That lasted all of 2 minutes… a day of paying for daring to retaliate. She showed me I was not powerful and my confidence was gone.

She would write me letters, I’m sorry letters. I didn’t mean to letters. I don’t know what came over me letters. The night she had me pinned on my back, leaning off the bed holding the radiator, trying to pull myself away from her while she assaulted me, she wrote me a letter. Curled up in a ball, eyes squeezed tight pretending to be asleep, she wrote me a letter and left. I could barely read most of it but what I did read was along the lines of “what have I done? I’m so sorry. I don’t deserve you”. I kept all the letters for years after. Not to show people. It sounds stupid but they were my proof to myself that it happened. Proof it was as bad as I remember. Is that ridiculous? I don’t know.

I did get rid of those letters eventually. But I remember them all, just like I remember everything she ever did to me. I still can’t bare anything against my throat or taps to my cheeks even in jest. I remember. I can’t forget. Letters or no letters.

Two words. Part two.

Jane sat with her stepmum, holding on to her dads hand. It was quiet, or maybe Jane couldn’t hear what was happening around her? She stared at his hand holding hers – no, her hand holding his.

Confused?

Numb?

He was gone and Jane was in shock.

‘Shit!’ Jane went to let go of his hand and couldn’t. I don’t mean that she emotionally couldn’t, I mean physically – Rigor Mortis had started and his hand was “stuck” around hers. “I can’t get him off!” She flew into panic mode. Still staring at his hand, heart pounding, her stepmum carefully removed his hand from Janes.

No one could get hold of Janes brother for a while. He deals with stuff in his own way. He finally returned to the hospital as people were leaving. Their mum stayed with him. “Come on girls, we need to get to your sister.”

Their sister – half sister, same dad. Same dead dad. 25th July. Her birthday. Her 8th birthday. Today.

‘Oh my god.’

It all blurred. Somehow they had got to their dads house. In they went, smiling.

Smiling?

“Happy Birthday! I’m so sorry I forgot your present, I’ll grab it for you later.”

The words fell out of her mouth. A quick hug, on she walked to the living room.

Smiling.

This 14 year old girl and her 17 year old sister had just watched as their dad took his last breath and now, here they were, pretending as if it was just a normal day!

That’s not normal!

Who in their right mind would expect them to do that?

But it was their younger sisters 8th birthday, it would’ve been cruel if they hadn’t.

Wouldn’t it?

Happy Birthday

68. Not old old, but not particularly young either.

20 years. Where did those years go?

I wonder what you’d look like now.

47. Too young to die.

14. Too young to grieve.

35. 12 years.

20 and 18 – still too young.

Years. Age. Numbers. Head fuck.

My dog doesn’t like my mum!!!

Our puppy loves everyone, that is except my mum! I don’t get it? Literally from the first time he met her. Take the other day for example, the door knocks and he bolted to the door and started barking as usual whenever the door knocks. When I opened the door he took one look at my mum and immediately started to back away, he lowered himself and growled then proceeded to bark while backing away. Then he scarpered and spent the whole time she was there in the garden apart from when we got the kids from school, he came in to investigate but as soon as he spotted Mum off he went again. He literally lowers his body and runs away with his tail down like he’s scared. When Mum left I called him in. It took me ages to get him to go in the living room, he clearly thought she was still there. Eventually he dared to look for himself and realised she was gone. He ran to the door and sniffed it, and the toilet door. Then when he was satisfied she had left he went back to normal.

My mum, a very awkward person (wonder where I get it from!) who can be difficult and, sometimes, downright strange! But she is kind hearted and is very much an animal person. Cats are her favourite, no doubt about that, she has always had them. But she loves animals in general, she would never do them any harm. And animals normally love her, she makes a fuss over them and uses a silly high pitched voice that they thrive on! So why does my dog not like her?

She came round the other day (I’ve taken a break since I started writing this post) and he did the usual growling and barking. But we made “progress” of sorts, he came in the living room to tell her off! So funny! He literally came in, lowered himself, looked up at her and barked several times. Then he walked back out again and went to sit in the garden and sulk.

Yes, he is most definitely a sulker! It’s kind of like having a stroppy child stamping their feet when they don’t get their own way. You know, arms folded, frowning and stomping away in a paddy. If he doesn’t get his way or he pushes the boundaries too far and gets told off he’ll sulk, it’s like he’s giving you the silent treatment. He will literally turn his face away from you if you go to him when he’s not finished sulking!

Shit, I’ve gone off course now! Haha, scatter brain!

So, why does my dog dislike my mum? I’d love to get into that head of his! Instead, I guess I’ll just have to wonder and hope it sorts itself out…

(The picture is him sulking in the garden when my mum was round!)

A punch in the gut

A little while ago I wrote about my half sister and how her losing her partner made me realise I feel for her as a human being and not as family.

Well, the 25th July saw the 20 year anniversary of our dads passing and her 28th birthday. I had just done some shopping and had loaded everything into the car when, as I started the engine, I glanced up and there she was. She had just got out of her uncle’s car, her youngest in a pushchair and her eldest by her side. Off went the engine, I stood up with one foot out of the car and found myself calling her name across the car park. Honestly, in that moment, I think it was more of a defence tactic – a case of avoiding the backlash if she had in fact seen me and I chose to drive off! Sounds horrible but, due to lots of experience in her pettiness, I have learned to pacify her where possible!

Anyway, she looked up and there it was, that look like her whole world had fallen apart in that instant. That look you get when something hits you like a punch in the gut. The tears were there, she held them back and began to walk towards me, kids in tow. I got out of the car, slowly feeling something but it didn’t click what just yet. We came face to face, I’m not even sure how long it had been – put it this way I’d never met her youngest who wasn’t far off of 2. I asked her how she was and I watched as she tried to speak while stopping herself from breaking, then the two words she mustered “I’m trying” came out and it was my turn for the punch in the gut. I put my arms around her and she broke. My big sister instincts kicked in and I realised what I was feeling. My baby sister was broken and it hurt like hell. We stood there and, for the first time in a very long time, her pain was my pain and I would’ve done anything to stop her from hurting.

I guess, when all is said and done, we are sisters and (in some circumstances) – no matter how distant we are normally or how brief the moment is – that trumps everything.

Never mind, carry on

Oh dear, it appears I may be back in that mode. Feeling too much. Feeling overwhelmed by everything and anything. Doctor Foster nearly had me bawling for pity’s sake! Ridiculous really.

I’ve stopped and sat, so much to do and not enough time to do it in but I’ve stopped and sat. Regretting that now because it’s sunk in that I’m back in crazy mode. It was becoming more and more apparent over the last few days – or has it been weeks? – but now I’ve stopped and sat it’s hit me. Here we go again.

Can’t think about that now though, I start work in less than an hour. Need to run in my dear old Grans house and pick up a wee sample to drop off at the doctors – yet another infection – then it’s off to work for a few hours before the kids finish school.

Tired.

Never mind, carry on.