Posts Tagged ‘refuge’

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run(a)way.

June 9, 2010

Monday night, after one more argument with my mother over the dinner table where I should really know better than to voice an opinion contrary to that of my parents’, even if that opinion is backed up by fact and knowledge from my university studies rather than jaded cynicism and hearsay, I decided it was all too much and left home for 2 days.  My father was ambivalent during the whole row, my mother decided I had a “problem” with her and refused to listen to her (despite the fact I expressed my opinions in a calm manner, balancing positives with negatives; these opinions were talked over or dismissed at each turn); that I had suddenly “flipped out” despite the fact that she, not I, was the one raising their voice; that how could my feelings be hurt by her, if she’d had her feelings hurt by me? As if only one person can feel wounded by another at any one time.  I said that over the course of the year, I had learned that the only time I ever argued or was in a toxic atmosphere was at home with my parents, that I have the ability to make friends time and again and therefore there can’t be anything wrong with me, that I would no longer let my parents make me feel ugly.  I left to give myself some space, and I am more than grateful to Toby and Mike for providing me refuge, and to all of my friends for understanding and for saying that I was right, and not crazy.

People say that “friends are the family you can choose”. Others say that “blood is thicker than water”.  It is true that I will never not love my family: my mother and I were inseparable during my early years and we got each other through the dictatorship, misery and abuse (verbal, mental, very rarely physical) my father wreaked on our lives.  I won’t forget that.  Neither do I hate my father, although he doesn’t love me: he’s never known how to be a father, but at the age of 16 I finally realised that hating him still meant that he had some power over me.  I saw him weakened after one too many accidents on his bicycle – watching my father crippled, being wheeled in a wheelchair, having to help him go to the toilet in hospital made me realise that his power was all an illusion, and that if I didn’t submit to his subjugation, there was little he could do to truly hurt me.  Since those epiphanies, I’ve been able to forgive him for my childhood, and at times I know that his lack of attachment to me makes him almost an objective source, and occasionally a better source of advice or confidant than my fiercely feisty but heavily biased mother (if I have issues and neuroses, I most certainly learned them from her).  He’s not a bad person and I don’t think he ever meant to be, he’s just imperfect.  My mother is imperfect too, and just as I rebelled against my father, I’m now fighting a battle to establish myself as an intelligent human being against and apart from my mother, who unwittingly (unlike my father’s deliberate past sabotage) threatens my intellect and independence fairly often.  Her timing is off however: I’m 24 and after university not once but twice, and a gradually-formed but steadfast collection of true friends, I’m stronger than ever.  So I won’t take shit from either of them. I don’t need to.

I came home this afternoon with some trepidation: as much as I am strong now, I’m not invincible, and if I had been kicked out I don’t know how I would afford to live elsewhere until my job at Cirencester kicked in (my first salary payment won’t come through until mid-September, and my bursary won’t keep me going until then, especially if I’m juggling rent with driving lessons and tests, which are indispensable at this point).  Financially, I just can’t afford to be out of this house; emotionally, if they said goodbye, I’d walk out and never come back because my pride would not let me do otherwise.  I’d be shooting myself in the foot, but I’d do it with resilience in my eye.  However, I’d rather not have to shoot myself in the foot 😉 My mother is giving me the silent treatment: even though I don’t think I was in the wrong, before leaving on Monday night I apologised for “getting heated”. My mother did not, does not apologise unless hell has frozen over or unless she’s actually not done anything wrong.  My father is pretending like nothing ever happened, and is playing piggy in the middle of our fury; because there are 3 of us in our family, one of us is usually stuck in the middle / left outside alone (delete as appropriate) while the other two bait and infuriate.  Usually, I’m the third wheel to my parents’ storms.  So I can understand my father feeling relieved that he’s off the hook for a little while.  My stubbornness, identical to my mother’s (I won’t lie: we have a lot of similarities and I have had to reprogramme myself to eliminate some of her neuroses and pessimism ingrained in my psyche at a young age – they’re not all gone yet), means that our arctic silence will persist at least a week or two.  I don’t want this, I don’t want to be locked in war, and yet as a child I always surrendered to the silent treatment.  Not only am I not in the wrong, but I have apologised for my foibles in the argument.  I have nothing else to say: my mother evidently feels she is impeccable.  So what else is there to say or do, other than go on and wait for everything to subside?

Once everything is financially stabilised, I will be gone from here.  It’ll take only a few months I believe: my life is slotting into place and in my mid-20s, it’s been long overdue for me to be out of home.  Returning from my undergraduate degree, it was really difficult getting used to living under my parents again; over the past year when I’ve been going to UWE, their relationship seems to have destabilised to the point that I prefer to be alone or out than endure the atmosphere.  Perhaps it’s partly just natural for me, as an adult, to want my own independence too.  It is within reach now, I just have to bide my time a little longer and keep looking to the sky. Hopefully, when I achieve my goals, with some perspective and space my parents will be happy for me.  And if not, then that’s okay too, because I will be happy for myself and I have enough people who care about me that I feel healthy.  I can do this 🙂

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take off running.

April 4, 2010

Happy Easter everyone!  I am fast becoming a bit of a scrooge, dreading any kind of holiday because it means not that I will have to spend money (something that I have absolutely no trouble doing, as you should all know by now) but because there will be some form of family gathering. Today hasn’t been as bad as Christmas, because there are buses running and I have taken refuge in Starbucks after a quick dinner with my parents and grandmother – I’ve even accomplished some work (wonders never cease)!  But discussing my current relationship with my family yesterday with Davina and Frankie, and reminiscing over my historical experience of family gatherings with Hannah on msn earlier today, it’s not really a surprise that being in these kind of situations makes me uncomfortable.  So making a swift (but polite – I thanked my dad for a lovely Easter lunch and gave my nan an appreciative hug, promising that I would see her again soon) exit makes sense and allows me to preserve my own good mood and sanity.

When I was younger, every 27th December (roughly) we would drive up to London (or thereabouts) to see my father’s side of the family for a Christmas gathering.  The venue would rotate each year depending on who was hosting the gathering, and to be fair the food was nice enough and I don’t remember anyone being particularly nasty to me.  However, I do remember the competitive atmosphere between my father and his siblings – comparing families’ progress and ‘success’, wealth, partners and so on.  Being from Bristol, we were the “poor relations” in comparison with the other families who would pretend to be upper class right down to their accents, and my mother being Italian led to a sense of exclusion and some prodding jokes from certain members of the family (this is racism!).  Despite the fact that my father was largely absent during my childhood, and when he was there he was either drunk, argumentative and mentally / verbally abusive, or sleeping, my intelligence (which, much to their chagrin, undeniably outclassed all of my more “well-to-do” cousins – money doesn’t buy smarts, and I promise that in this case I’m not being up myself, it’s just the truth) and good traits were attributed to him rather than to my mother (who raised me more or less single-handed).  Because of this, and because of the fact that the other members of this family were largely self-absorbed to the point of being imbecilic, I didn’t really enjoy these yearly outings, because it seemed like a lot of chest-puffing and bravado for no real purpose.

My grandmother (the head of that side of the family, who seemed to portray herself as the Queen) died when I was 17. From the age of 17, we never had any more of those yearly gatherings. Nearly all of my father’s siblings’ marriages (and some of my cousins’ relationships) broke apart, one aunt declared she was a lesbian and moved her secret girlfriend in, and we never heard from them again.  In other words, all that competitiveness and fuckery had been for show, for my grandmother.  For what purpose, who knows? Interestingly, for all the dysfunction and stress in my family, we stayed together through thick and thin, and I had always got on better with my mother’s side of the family (though they are far from perfect), even though they were from another country – gasp!  But I’ve never tried to be anything I’m not, and that’s the same issue that drives me crazy now, but in a different way.

I can’t be an angel for my grandmother (the one who’s still alive, obv) – I never really was an angel, but I’ve gotten darker over the past year.  I’m 24 years old and I can’t be treated like I’m 12 by anyone – I am not on drugs, I don’t have an eating disorder or a gambling addiction and I find it frankly insulting to be accused of those things by my mother, the woman to whom I was so close during my childhood.  Shouldn’t she know me better?  Shouldn’t she credit me with more intelligence, show me more respect?  Has everything I’ve accomplished, the fact I’ve never gotten into trouble – does that all mean nothing?  It really hurts me when I have to suffer those things, even if they’re just jibes, coming from my family – the people who are supposed to be on my side more often than not feel like they are against me now, when I’m just being myself and having my own independent thoughts, opinions and life.  I refuse to compromise, I refuse to conform – I’m an adult, why should I? And shouldn’t my family be proud that I am my own man with my own mind? I don’t understand why I have to give itemised accounts of where I’ve been, what I’ve done, what I’ve eaten. That’s why these days, given the slightest opportunity, I’ll take off running out the door, because my friends (the only family I feel I have these days), my sanity, my freedom is out there.

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dream: apocalypse rob.

September 18, 2009

This dream is a masterclass in me.

The first thing that I remember is being at lunch in a fancy restaurant, ordering French pastries with Charlotte from Sex and the City.  We were discussing relationships and sex, and about whether I was a failure for not having gotten married yet.  Charlotte was as lovely and reassuring as she is on the tv programme, and I remember as I took bites out of my French cake (strawberry – which I normally don’t like), she told me that I was young and that there was plenty of time to fall in love.  We sprayed each other with the new Prada fragrance, L’eau Ambrée, and it was delicious.

I left the restaurant and Charlotte, and met up with Rob (the Romanian) and we went back to my place (I had a very white apartment) where we sat on the bed and were talking and flirting for ages.  (I am wearing my Opium Pour Homme today as I type this as a result) At one point I was so tempted to kiss him, but I couldn’t do it because he had/has a boyfriend and that would not really be ethical.  I reached out and stroked his face, and he nuzzled into it while saying “You know that I can’t do that”.  The tension mounted and I kept my hand against his cheek, but eventually the moment passed and I had to go.

The next thing I know, I was walking along the edge of a bayou (!!!) and I came to a big wooden Colonial-style house with lots of people crowded around on the veranda.  I mingled with the crowd, looking for Rob and it transpired that his family owned the house.  There was a raft on the river of the bayou, ready to “set sail”, and I tried to get Rob to go on it with me and we could go down the river together.  However, once I sat on the raft I discovered that his sister was going to use the raft with me, and she was a prostitute.  She got on the raft, along with a couple of other guys, and Rob disappeared and we started to drift upstream, towards the big white gates of the city.  The gates opened, and after some forgettable conversation, I got off the raft and left Rob’s sister and her guys to it.  I walked along the street and went back to my apartment.  The whole city looked as if it had been whitewashed, and it was ominously pristine and futuristic.

I went into my apartment block, and suddenly a siren sounded and the dean from St. Anne’s College at Oxford University, Martin Jackson, came thundering down the stairs and informed me that we were on ‘high alert’.  He told me to follow him up the stairs to a safe part of the building, and I had no choice but to do so.  He led me to an isolated part of the apartment block on the top floor, where all of the doors were sliding and gleaming white, with no handles or anything – they seemed to open and close of their own accord, as if they could see us coming.

Once I arrived on the top floor, I found out that the country / world was on ‘high alert’, because the Chinese had massive guns that they were using to shoot down all the other countries.  (Dreams are not logical.)  Although we were trying to fight back with our own guns, our guns were not as big and therefore we were almost certain to lose, and the world was due to descend into warfare and possibly the end of the world.  So that was why it was important to take refuge now, before it was too late.  In the top floor of the apartment building, there was a hallway leading off to three rooms.  I chose to enter the room on the left, which was furnished largely in red velvet with chairs set up for an audience.  At the front of the room was a massive flat-screen television, and it appeared that we were supposed to be watching something.  I have no idea what was supposed to happen in the other two rooms, but I had the impression that it was something more sinister and that I had chosen well.

Little by little, the room began to fill up with people, including my friend Hannah, and also a girl from school called Hannah Drake.  Hannah found me and we were relieved that we were both safe.  Meanwhile, the screen began to show Street Fighter games for different gaming platforms (including the Playstation and the Sega Saturn; it was some weird hybrid of Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat).  Akuma from Street Fighter actually entered the room and sat himself down, all fiery red hair and glowing eyes, and finally the film began to start.  It was very abstract and didn’t explain much.  At one point, me and Hannah looked at each other and started giggling because it made no sense, but one of the old women seated behind us hushed us and told us to pay attention to the film as it was important.  I remember lots of cityscapes and white gleaming buildings, and that was it!

Anyone willing to psychoanalyse?  Sigmund Freud?