Two weeks ago my father held a family reunion. It would see all of his children and grandchildren together for the first time in almost 7 years.
I confess that this event caused me a lot of anxiety and was something that I really didn’t want to be involved with. I was nervous about seeing my older half siblings, my younger brother and sister and my mother. I hadn’t seen my mother and the younger two since the end of February and I hadn’t spoken to any of them since the end of May.
The fear of seeing them all gradually grew as the date drew nearer. It wasn’t so much that I don’t like my family or get on with them. I do generally. But I haven’t shared my mental health issues with them and the dreaded questions about what I was up to worried me a lot. It sounds stupid, but the main thing that caused me anxiety was having to see my mother. Having not spoken to her in almost six months and not seeing her for eight or so months my inner little girl became more loud in my head.
I’ve changed a lot since my breakdown, I have explored another side of who I am finding ways of expressing myself. However, I may have changed, inside there is still the little girl seeking for my mothers approval, acceptance and understanding. The desire to be a good enough daughter. A desire which has been so important to me since I can remember.
I went along to the family reunion a bundle of nerves and full of anxiety and panic. My heart was racing, my stomach was in knots and my legs felt like jelly. There was no excitement inside at all.
The first person I hugged was my mother. It was good to see her because despite all the negative experiences I’ve had with her, I do love her very much.
I said hello next to my younger sister. She seemed to be genuinely happy to see me. Hugging me several times and complimented me on the fact that I look young! We have a very turbulent relationship mainly surrounding the relationships we have with our parents. But she is my sister and again I love her very much so it was nice to feel connected and see genuine love in her eyes.
As we had food my older sister came over to talk to me. She’s an experienced nurse and my dad had told her that I had been suffering with depression. I can’t lie so I wound up telling her the truth about my diagnosis. She’s twelve years older than me and because she didn’t live with us she saw and felt things which she has never spoken to me about before.
Remembering my childhood is filled with good memories but also failure and inadequacy. For many years my mother has insisted that these feelings are just imagined and that I need to let them go and move on with things. I have felt belittled and wondered if I have misread things and made them into more than they were. Talking to my sister at the reunion I was shocked that she should confirm to me that my recollections are not all in my head. That they are real. She said a lot more too but I’m trying to work things out in my head and need to speak with her again. A conversation which will happen in the new year when we plan on meeting up. I was really touched by her compassion and understanding. She has had her own demons to battle over the years and there was a definite empathy towards each other that I have never experienced before.
It would be wrong to say that didn’t enjoy myself. I did. It was a bit overwhelming but I loved seeing all my nieces and nephews. Talking to my brother and sisters in law and just seeing my dad so happy. That was the best part of the thing.
However, my mother barely spoke to me and when we did it was like just talking to an acquaintance. It was small talk, awkward and difficult. I was left with an incredibly empty and sad feeling. I felt rejected and that old familiar sense of not being good enough.
The Monday after I called my mother, it was really scary to phone her. I felt really nervous like I was phoning a complete stranger. We spoke for 40 minutes which were intense and difficult. It really was like I was a stranger and I felt rejected over and over again as we talked. The hurt I felt inside was phenomenal and has beaten me down. I’ve tried to let go of the hurt and all the other thoughts and feelings that have inevitably been dragged to the surface. It’s so hard to accept how things are. I should be used to it by now but her words and actions over the years have always been conflicting in some way or other and I haven’t known how to deal with it, ever. It confuses me how someone can be so loving and motherly to my siblings but not me? How can you make one child feel so distant and left out?
My children are each of them as precious as the other and I love them devotedly for their similarities and differences. They are my children and I will never allow them to feel the way I do.
I’m not a child but it cripples me and hurts so much that it’s impossible to put it all into words. I have always envied those I’ve known who are close to their mothers. She offers nothing to me or my children. She has no real relationship at all with any of us. It’s always about catching up…it’s not how I ever imagined being grown up would be. I’m left out in the cold and there’s no understanding how this impacts on me or what it means for her grandchildren.
I truly wish that this didn’t matter. That I could let it all go. But I can’t. Inside there is a little girl who craves the love and acceptance of her mother.