Posts Tagged ‘silent treatment’

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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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gift.

October 10, 2009

So my birthday is coming up, and literally just now my mother asked me whether I still wanted a flat screen TV.  Originally, I was after one so that I could better see the graphics (and actually be able to read the on-screen instructions!!!) when I’m playing my Playstation 3.  But I was going to move my current TV into my ‘office’ area (where I have my printer and filing set up for uni) and according to plans my mother has to put a wardrobe in there, I don’t think it’s gonna fit.  And I don’t really play PS3 enough for it to be worth just buying a new TV.  So I’m gonna nix the gift, and now I have to think of something else!

And it’s hard but I almost got a little bit tearful for a moment there because if I could choose another gift at this moment, I just wish that my parents would stop fighting.  This last couple of weeks, it’s been really really bad, alternating between silent treatments and raging rows.  I’ve just tried to get out of their company as soon as I can after dinner, and work by myself in my bedroom / the spare bedroom / the hallway, because it’s just traumatic.  I remember when I was 8 years old, and I used to listen to them fighting upstairs and just cry and wish for it all to stop – well, I react differently now (I go and have a shower to drown out their voices; I contemplate going downstairs and telling them to grow up) but I still feel like I’m 8 years old again and a little child listening to the world falling apart.  I don’t know what to do.

Maybe this is why my little crush at uni isn’t really a crush.  I just want somebody to protect me and hold me tight and for everything to be ok.  I try and maintain the façade of having everything together as much as possible, because I don’t want anyone to know that I am actually feeling quite vulnerable, but I think I’ve let a couple of things slip that maybe betray the fact I’m quite upset about it.  When I daydream (or night-dream), it’s not really a sexual thing but more a protective thing, that somebody will hold me and not leave.  I have made my friend Mike promise that as soon as he has a decent flat available and my bursary comes through, I am going to move out because I’ve just had enough, and also I really need my own space where I can just be at ease and have my own privacy and invite people round and come and go as I please.  I don’t get on badly with my parents (after all, they’re not shouting at / being silent with me) but maybe it’s just being 23, nearly 24 and still living at home is a little constraining.

So I now have to deal with the conundrum of what to ask for as a birthday gift from my mum. (I haven’t asked if this is going to be on behalf of both of my parents, as my dad usually remembers my birthday – he didn’t buy me a birthday present once and a Christmas present another time, but that happened in the past so I don’t know if he would still forget these days.) Although I want a Gucci necklace, I don’t think I am going to mention it.  I may have a window shop today and see if I find anything that tickles my fancy, but other than someone scooping me up and telling me everything is gonna be alright, or a place to call my own (both things I can’t exactly ask for!), I really don’t know what I want.

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balance of power.

July 28, 2009

Growing up with my parents and their perennially “stormy” relationship (that is one of the most accurate and yet most polite adjectives to describe it), I have always been acutely aware of the balance of power that exists in relationships, friendships and even day-to-day interactions.  For example, many a time have I apologised to my mother after doing something wrong.  But I can count on one hand the amount of times my mother has ever apologised to me after upsetting me.  The reasons for this are simple: although generally, being man enough to apologise when you have done something wrong makes you “the bigger person”, it also means that you cede a massive amount of ground in the balance of power that exists between you and that other person.  Acknowledging your fault equates to acknowledging their lack of fault and thus their superiority (obviously not in reality, but in power-struggle talks, this is fairly accurate).  That is why “sorry seems to be the hardest word” – because it involves swallowing your pride and giving away a small part of it to your opponent.  And when you have to apologise just to clear the air, because you don’t want to fight anymore but you don’t feel you are to blame… well, I don’t bother with that anymore, because I have done enough of that already in my short 23 years of life, and another thing that my mother has taught me is how to hold onto anger.  The silent treatment is a fantastic invention for testing the balance of power, and me and my mother have gone 4 weeks without speaking.  Of course, I am not recommending not apologising, or refusing to speak to somebody for weeks on end, because it is childish and it’s better just to get on with your life.  I am merely explaining the logic that exists in my family of how important it is to maintain a position of strength in the balance of power that exists between you and everyone else.  The moment you are seen as weak or a pushover, that’s the end of you (until you find a devious way to turn the tables.  But no ground lost = no scheming necessary).

So I move onto the situation I have been experiencing recently.  My father has become pathetically obsessed with this online game called Evony (if you want to look it up, more fool you, but you can find info on it on youtube and all the usual places) where you build your own medieval town and then defend it from other people’s armies while trying to make your town more powerful and take over other towns.  And when I say obsessed, I mean it – he spends every waking moment of his time at home on his laptop playing the game, which doesn’t seem to consist of much more than staring at the screen and occasionally clicking on a little house, while reading inane commentary between other users in a chat box in the corner.  He is back at work now (he was off for 3 weeks on holiday) and still stays up until midnight playing the stupid game, despite having to get up at 5:45am the following morning. He drinks cider and shovels crisps in his mouth and does not allow me to sit on the sofa nor watch the tv.  And I am 30 years his junior, so I am DAMNED if I am going to go to bed before him without enjoying even 5 minutes of peace and quiet downstairs in the lounge, watching what I want on tv (the only chance I get to watch what I want is when my parents are not present, which is usually once they have gone to bed) and having a cigarette outside on the patio and listening to my music undisturbed.

This is where the balance of power comes into play.  I don’t know if my father has decided on purpose to stay up until stupidly late to try and annoy me, but it certainly does the trick.  I of course refuse to go to bed, and my advantage is that I do not have to get up stupidly early for work the next day (though I am, as of today, employed again!!! The hospital came through, yayyyy 😀 😀 😀 )… Whether this is, in his view, a struggle for power and supremacy by despatching me from the lounge or whether he is just single-mindedly playing his pathetic little game, I now view it as a competition for control of the television at least 1% of the day, and establishing myself as more than just another piece of furniture around the house who disappears without causing any trouble.  I will not be ousted from my own house by my own father who is 30 years older than me and playing an idiotic little game.  I will not be sent to my room before I am ready to go, and I will not cede control of my bedtime nor of my right to enjoy myself in my home.  I will stay up until he goes to work if necessary… I don’t care.  This is a battle of wills now, and I promise you one thing: Like Rocawear, I will not lose.