So Mum was recovering from major surgery, our loving pet Gig was gone and then there was everything else.
I want to talk for a moment about my family…
About the way we work and what we’ve been through. Most families have it, that unspoken dynamic . You know each family member inside and out. You know the things that piss each other off and you know how to bring comfort to them in their pain.
My brother has been the one who has got underneath my skin the most, we have a 7 year age gap that seems like the grand canyon between us most of the time. I struggle to relate to him, being a boy, being 15, growing up the youngest and raised a different way to me and my sister. There is no doubt I absolutely love him so dearly, of course I do… He is my baby brother. I watched my mum give birth to him and I’ve always felt like I needed to protect him from that moment onward. There have been seasons in which I felt my brother and sister would purposely isolate me, leave me out of there inside jokes, play together and that I wasn’t welcome in their club. More recently I have felt a change in our relationship, a closeness and a real bond that is forming for the first time. I know he respects my advice and my experiences and I really enjoy the times when he comes to me for it.
My sister and I have been close since she was born. She is more to me than a sister, she encompasses all that a best friend does. We fought like cats and dogs while growing up, but as soon as we hit the later teenage years we became inseparable. I’ve been able to lean on her in some of my toughest moments, and often she is the one who has acted like the big sister rather than me. I get separation anxiety when we haven’t seen each other in more than a week, and though I’m 22 years old, I need her. I’m so proud to have her as the God Mother to Danny when he is born, a decision that came easy when I thought who would raise my son on the same core values that I would, should anything ever happen to Matt or myself. I talk about her a lot here on this blog, because she plays such an integral part in my day to day life.
As I explained in the previous post, Mum is my rock. I know… soooo cliché right? It’s true. She gave me life, and without her I wouldn’t have survived all these 22 years. The thing is, she is more than just my rock, every member of my family relies on her, and needs her. She keeps us all in line and gives us all we need, not just physically but emotionally. It’s through the way she raised me that I have become who I am today. She gives so much of herself unselfishly to so many people, but mostly to us her family. She is the house keeper, the counselor, the cook, the organizer, the host, the friend, the teacher, the guide, the protector, the mediator. Her unique roles in all of our lives are limitless and that is why she is so irreplaceable.
My Dad and I have had probably the most tumultuous relationship out of everyone. I put it down to the fact that we are so alike. I definitely inherited many of his traits, which at times have caused us to really clash; but other times it’s given me an understanding that no one else has, for why he may say or do things a certain way. During my teenage years I made a lot of mistakes, I hurt my dad in some places he held dear and I became the reason we didn’t have a very good relationship. I’ve always had a resentment for his absence in my childhood years though now I’m older I respect why he was so unavailable to me… He did after all, only work so hard to provide a good life for us. We have worked hard over the years to overcome our discord but deep down I know the things I’ve done to try make him proud will never outweigh the things I’ve done to disappoint him. After all, there is only so much forgiveness you can give someone… Even if that someone, is your daughter.
Though every relationship within our family is different, it is strong. We deal with things together. If there is an issue, we tackle it as a team and it’s something I think we are all very very proud of. Me and my sister live in the city but still go out to the farm often when we crave our catch ups with everyone. Since we were kids, our parents have never been afraid to establish an open line of communication; often saying they’d just rather know whats going on, than us keep secrets. This has followed both of us into adulthood and we are lucky to have real friendships with our parents because of this. From the outside looking in, things look pretty perfect. There is so much love, respect and openness in our ranks. We didn’t achieve that without going through our hard times, and our challenges as most families do.
Recently there has been a shift in our family though. Something happened on the day of my Mum’s surgery between my siblings, me and my Dad. Though it would be completely inappropriate to say exactly what happened because it not only concerns me but all of us, I still think its something that not only I should talk about, but I need to. It’s been a month since it happened, but I’m only now beginning to understand the real toll it’s taken on my brother and sister and me.
As I explained before, it’s always been me who has made the mistakes when it comes to me and dad. Never him. He has always been the one who has had to hold me accountable for my actions, to reprimand me when I’ve done something wrong as most parents do. It felt strange to be in a position where I was not only disappointed with my dad, but shocked by something he had done. How do you navigate that? The emotions were so jumbled, I actually felt guilty for being mad at him.
My priorities were my mum (who was waking up from her surgery) and protecting my little brother and my little sister. I knew it was my role to be the step in “mum” to hold us together in a time of complete disarray. I didn’t think I could do it, considering I am pregnant, I don’t have Matt to lean of since he is still away in Canada and my own emotions at what had happened.
Us siblings decided not to tell mum what had happened, we knew it would likely cause her suffering as she is a deeply emotional person and her main objective had to be getting better, not holding us together. It felt so wrong to keep something so big from her but we knew it was for the best. For 3 weeks we would go to the farm and act like nothing had happened, putting on a fake comfort for her. Usually she would pick up on something but because of her surgery, my aunties presence and the loss of Gig, I think we mostly got away with our facade. It was especially difficult for me and my sister to feel like we were lying to her, when she is the one we both can confide anything to. Every car ride out there had our heart racing. Our anxiety levels were at the highest they’ve ever been in our lives. Every time we went out there we would plan how we would make it through the visit without giving it away. How we would cope with seeing Dad.
There were times I had to walk to the toilet and shut myself in, just to silently cry…
I noticed my sister remove herself often too. We grit our teeth every time, for our mum, for each other. Also for Dad too. Something had happened but that didn’t mean we didn’t love him. If anything, the only reason I felt so hurt by what had happened was because I loved him. Only shortly before it happened we had talked about how things were going so well with Dad lately. How we felt real progress had been made in our relationship in the past couple years. And in the midst of a tragedy that crumbled down.
At the start, I felt so angry. Like I said before, I wanted to protect my little siblings. I thought I had to be angry on behalf of them, to stand up for them, to protect them. Mum couldn’t, so I had to. Looking back maybe I didn’t need to be as angry as I was, but I also have to be mindful I was 7 months pregnant and I cannot be too harsh on myself for being over-emotional at a time as trying as this was. I was angry at how this could happen at a time we needed each other the most. I was angry that someone who’s role is to look after us could so quickly make us feel the opposite of looked after.
I said earlier that I felt guilt for being angry at Dad. It’s entirely true. I hated having to step into the position of being disappointed in him. Generally that was his role, not mine. I felt like what had happened was unacceptable but at the end of the day, he is my father… Who am I to tell him when he’s fucked up, after all I have done to him? The thing is, forgiveness is not a currency in our family. We give it away for free. We love, we talk, we fight and we forgive. I want all to be forgiven and to move on.
Moving forward we sat down and talked as a family once mum was finally told what happened. Emotions were high, and for the most part I was really unhappy at how the conversation went. I feel like he has not understood the toll it’s had on not only me and my siblings relationship with him, but our entire family as a whole. I feel like he has tried to downplay the severity of everything. I think that’s why I’m still so upset. I desperately wanted him to own it so we could just move on but after the confrontation things seemed in my eyes, worse than before.
I’m about to have a baby of my own and I need my Dad, I want more than ever to be close with him as I embark on the challenge of raising my own family. I want him to be a very present part of my sons childhood, more so than what he was in mine. I want Dad to be the amazing grandfather I know he is capable of being to him, and the great dad he has been to me. I want to feel proud of the relationship we have, despite our clashing personalities and our toe-to-toe moments in the past. I need him to own what happened and move forward so that it never happens again. I need him.
All 3 of us kids have dealt with this event in our own way. We have all processed it at different paces. Being the oldest I’ve found it especially challenging to become “Okay” with it all, and though I have been to the farm since this has happened, I go with the same anxiety every time.
I’m not writing this to portray my Dad as a villain. He simply isn’t. He is one of the most hard-working, honest and lovable people out there. I love him so much. That is why this has been so devastating to me. I want things to be okay, It’s just I feel that the first move is on his shoulders this time.
Dealing with this while being pregnant has been really, really difficult. Throw in Mum recovering from a major surgery, losing a loved pet, my partner being in Canada and that makes the recipe for a breakdown.
Which I can assure you….