Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mommy Dearest…

Most of my therapy to date has been about my relationship with my mother. I have been in therapy for excess of 3 years. We had a break through this year – I admitted that I hated my mother. Now this is a pretty big step… I will have to venture in the deep murky depths of what my mother was/is and what it all means to me.

My mother left when I was 10 years old. She ran away with the man across the road in a tacky middleclass melodrama. I was very much a mama’s boy – I will admit that – I felt closer to my mother than I did to my father. And when she left I felt completely and absolutely betrayed.

It’s very clear in my memory. I woke up one early one morning and walked in her and Dad’s bedroom, she had packed all of her clothes in her suitcases. I asked her where she was going – she said on vacation. I asked her to take me with her and said no. I went to school thinking everything was ok. I got home from school to find my father sitting on the couch absolutely devastated. Mother had left – packed up all her belongings and left her husband and her two kids to run away with a younger man from across the street. This man eventually became my stepfather. This is also the day that pretty much changed your Opa forever. He loved your grandmother, I don’t think she quite released how much. European men have great difficulties expressing or showing emotion and your grandfather was definitely one of those kind of men.

So anyway…

There’s very much a history of your grandmother and I have problems. She’s had periodic contact with me through most of my life since I was 10. I went years without contact from her or contact with her.

One point I will make and this shapes a large part of my relationship with your grandmother. I was abused (she denies it but that’s to be expected) physically and emotionally. And those scars run deep! If you ever need confirmation just ask your Uncle Eddie he’ll tell you. Now a large part of the problems that I have with your grandmother stem from this abuse. We’ll get back to this.

So anyway through most of my teenage years I didn’t really have much to do with your grandmother. I think I got back in touch with her when I was 18 or 19. I seem to remember driving out to see her and my stepfather when I had my first car. Not long after that they moved to WA. I didn’t really have much contact with them after that.

I eventually got back in contact with her. I always felt like I needed my mother. I should have realised that my mother and I really don’t have anything in common apart from a blood connection and to be honest – that’s really not enough.

At the end of 1996, I moved to Western Australia. My then partner and I had split, were having huge problems and I thought why not! This is actually the first major mistake I made with your grandmother. I should have stayed in Brisbane. I was with your grandmother and stepfather for 2 days before I was in my own apartment in Rockingham some horrific little town about 90kms south of Perth. Your grandmother and I fought – a lot! She also threatened to hit me at one stage, which was when I decided I would move back to Brisbane. In the space of 24 hours I had sold up everything and I mean everything! What I couldn’t sell I donated. I bought a bus ticket back to Brisbane and I spent the night in the grounds of the Casino in Perth.

This is probably one of my regrets and a bit of a low point. I was a bit mean to your grandmother at this stage. Her and my stepfather did buy me some furniture and had set me up in the apartment with the bond and everything else. I did resent them because I didn’t feel particularly welcome. And also I suspect your grandmother wasn’t expecting to deal with an adult – I think she wanted the 10 year old back or she was at least expecting the 10 year old. Somehow I went from being 10 to be being 24. So anyway that went badly and ended badly. My mother and I didn’t speak for a good long while.

So eventually when I was talking to your Uncle Eddie he asks if it’s ok for mother to have my email address. I think sure why not. What’s the harm? If it will make her feel better that she’s back in contact with her two sons – then why not? So mother and I communicate by email for years. It’s nothing – it’s gloss, nothing really deep or personal is ever revealed by me at least. I think mother revealed more but I didn’t really care. I found it all a bit trivial and boring to be honest.

It all kind of changed with your father. Family is very important to your Dad, so I tried to repair my relationship with my father and improve my relationship with my mother. My father unfortunately was a lost cause (I may explain that much later). My mother was thrilled – she was so excited when your father and I committed to each other. She was also very excited to find out that we were trying to start a family. The starting a family came before the commitment – if your father and I were going to have a family then I wanted a commitment between ourselves (this at times proves to be a real challenge though – I do love your father so very much but we have our problems). I was joking for a while that it was a shotgun wedding.

This is about where the story starts to turn back to the darkside…

So anyway, my mother and I are getting on ok. I’m uncomfortable and awkward talking to her on the phone. I don’t like it – I didn’t like sharing things with her it just didn’t feel right to me. It really didn’t. She was missing for so much of my life – she missed all the important things and she didn’t care. Mind you the opposite was also true I missed so much of her life and I just didn’t care – at all. I realise how horrible this sounds – but getting over the betrayal of a parent leaving you is hard (if not impossible).

I was trying.

Maybe not particularly successfully but I was trying.

So back to where I was. We found out that our surrogate had miscarried. Your father was in London and I needed someone to talk to. I rang my mother. I really, really, really, really, really, really, really shouldn’t have. It gave the signal to my mother that everything was ok between us. It wasn’t but I felt I had done the wrong thing by ringing her and I wasn’t sure how to fix that.

My mother and stepfather had planned to come visit us in May 2009 (largely to meet the original set of twins) and they stuck to that after the miscarriage. The reunion with my mother was awkward for me to say the least. By this stage mother and I hadn’t seen each other for over 12 years. She was very touchy-feely and physical and I wasn’t comfortable with that. She was also a bit too curious about things that I felt she had no right to ask questions about:

  • how much your father made
  • how much I made
  • how much the house in the city was worth
  • how much the house in the country was worth

I just felt they were really inappropriate questions to ask.

There was a couple of defining moments though. She had known your father for less than an hour and she called him a snob. That just really set my teeth on edge for some reason. I just didn’t really think it was appropriate. The other was – we were meeting your Uncle Mike for dinner – I think he was curious to know what my family was like. So we’re walking past an aboriginal art gallery in Flinders Lane in the city and she’s telling me all about the darkies & the abos in Western Australia (these are two terms you should never use when referring to aboriginals) and I found it really surprising that my mother – who’s a migrant would use these terms at all. I was also really quite surprised that she was that much of a bigot and a redneck.

So the happy reunion was a miserable failure. I was happy to see the back of them to be honest.

She wanted to come back and visit after you guys were born. This concept freaked me out – mostly because she wanted to stay with us. I have not shared a roof with your grandmother for more than 2 days since 1996 and before that it was in the early 80s. This completely and absolutely stressed me out. I managed to delay her visit until late January 2010. And as the date was creeping closer I was freaking out more and more. So I rang her. I asked her not to come. And I have no idea of what happened from that point – it became a whole series of other people’s dramas. I will never speak to your grandmother again based on her behaviour from when I asked her not to come – I asked her to understand that it was what I thought was best for my family, a concept that I will admit is completely alien to her, and I didn’t mean for her never to come (on some level I did I’ll be honest).

There is more to this story but I will leave this here. It will get mired in the pettiness otherwise and this is a situation I need to move on from. I regret that I don’t have a relationship with my mother. But I am also relieved that I don’t have a relationship with my mother (if you get the gist of the catch22).

My sincerest and deepest hope is that I will be a better parent to you both than what my mother was to me. I don't ever want you guys to go through the pain, misery, hatred and agony that your grandmother has put me through.

My final comment on this - I was walking with your grandmother down the street we used to live in Trentham and she asked me if I had any happy memories of my childhood with her. I don't. I've searched for them. I don't have any. And that saddens me...