It’s nearly 2am, so the obvious thing to do would be to start a blog post, rather than get some sleep. Some things will never change, no matter how many resolutions get made. Sometimes I wonder if my brain will ever stop whirring, or if I’m destined to always feel the urge to spill my thoughts when it’s time to wind down and shut off.
I was thinking, earlier, about my family, and how I feel so sad that they are not what I want. What I need. Nick and I have been talking about weddings in the last couple of weeks (because everyone in the entire world is getting engaged or married, not because we’re planning) and we both agreed but felt sad about the fact that when we get married, we probably won’t invite our families. I might invite my sister, but otherwise? It’s a day I want to enjoy, a special day that I want to love and look back on and think, wow, I’m marrying the person I want to spend the rest of my life with and I feel so happy to be sharing it with all these amazing people. I don’t want to experience the day as one of feeling bad because someone said something hurtful, or worry about people getting on, or behaving. My whole family is like a massive trigger at the moment so maybe it won’t always be like that but to be honest, both of our families are so bloody dysfunctional and carry so much weight that it would be nice to escape that on a day that is supposed to be about celebration and love, rather than feeling resentful. Because I do, and would, feel resentful.
I do feel sad that when I think about my wedding day, I think about a small group of close friends rather than my family. But that is my family now. When you have a dysfunctional family you either go without or you make your own, and I chose the latter. It’s not the same, of course it isn’t, and it never will be, but I’ve never felt as supported and loved by my real family as I have by my chosen family. To be honest it’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve felt like I have people that I can really be myself around, that I can open up to and rely on without the fear of rejection. No wonder I’ve always felt so lost.
I don’t want an unconventional wedding, even though I am unconventional. I want a big wedding with my family, and my dad walking me down the aisle (although the feminist in me probably wouldn’t do that anyway), and my mum helping me get ready, and feeling a part of Nick’s family too. I want that because it’s the preparation for the marriage, the merging of two people and their families. And even if I didn’t want that, I’d like the option of having it, so that it would be my choice to reject it. There is no way that will happen, though, because it doesn’t exist. Yet another thing to mourn. *hauls violin out of its case for the 9434658976th time*
All that led me to think about my mum. As I was walking towards the sink to brush my teeth before bed, my brain just splurged out of nowhere:
…I don’t have a mum
as if I were a comic book character, the words suspended in an enormous, inescapable cloud above my head, three little stepping-stone bubbles attempting to cushion the blow. My mum doesn’t feel like a mum to me, she doesn’t feel like my mum. And it made me feel so sad; not tearful, or hysterical, more deep, pit of your stomach hollowness. The sad thing is that I know that she wants to be my mum. She loves me, I know that she does, and I love her, but something is missing. The connection is faulty. She wants to give me what I need but she doesn’t know what I need because she wasn’t there to find out. And I want her to give me what I need but she can’t, and it’s not something that I can explain because I’m still trying to figure it out, but it’s something that should just be there and in this case it’s not. She says that she just wants me to be happy and that she’ll always love me, and I know she means that. But I don’t feel it. I don’t feel unconditional love and acceptance, no matter how much of it comes out of her mouth. The words are immaterial. I need to feel it. And I just don’t. I don’t know if I ever have.
She has really failed me. And she’s failed my sister, too, although I don’t know if it’s the same for her. But my mum…she can’t be a mum, not a proper one, not like my friends with their kids. I see them, I see that connection; it’s live, it’s warm. It’s there whether they’re sat on the sofa watching television or out shopping, or even arguing. My mum doesn’t know how to connect, I don’t even think she knows how to connect to herself. And I feel so sad, because that means, then, that I don’t have a mum. She doesn’t exist.
I knew this, of course, and I have done for years. It’s in every stony glance she gives me. In every icy, clipped conversation, when she doesn’t know what to say. When I overwhelm her. I make her sound cold, and she’s not. She’s warm. But only on the surface. Where I need her to be warm, inside, so that I can connect to her – that doesn’t exist. The warmth only goes so far, she can only go so far before she becomes shut off, before she shuts me out, before I’m able to realise that I can’t go any further. She is cut off from the bit that I need to reach, and so no wonder I can’t reach it. I keep on reaching, an automatic response that has diminished in recent years to intermittent, sporadic attempts. Reaching and failing to win, over and over. It’s like trying to hook a duck that’s constantly bobbing out of reach. There’s no way to get it. Maybe I wanted it so badly that I couldn’t see that I was never going to get the prize. I feel like the quintessential thirsty traveller, plodding along in the desert, thinking that the oasis must be within reach because it’s right there. The mirage fooled me.
I’ve tried for years, though. Of course I have. She’s my mum. I need her, and I’ve carried on trying, trying to see if there is some way I can make her be what I need her to be, someone I can really connect with. Of course, I mostly did that by trying to make myself someone I thought she might need me to be, as if I could provoke the change, as if I could somehow devise a strategy to finally hook the duck. I can’t, though, because she can’t give it to me. The will is there, I think, but not the capability. Although now I really think about it I don’t know if the will is there either, which adds an extra, tear-sodden square to the patchwork quilt of Rejected Child. I don’t have a mum. And I’ve said the words myself before, albeit in different guises: each time in a different hat, or with a monocle, or a wig. Now I really understand it, I really feel it. I really feel the lack of mum. The lack of mothering. The loneliness, and the loss.