Part 2 of a rather long update regarding family problems (CW: Abuse).
Well, this has got a lot longer and more personal than I was expecting. Still, for all that my Empire friends witnessed of this sorry saga, there was a lot more that happened once we left the campsite.
See what hurts me the most is you won’t admit you was wrong…
~ Cleanin’ out my closet by Eminem
Mum was so desperate to leave in the end that we ordered a taxi – from Warwickshire all the way back to Leeds. I spent the journey gazing out of the window, quietly stewing as my mind’s eye played over the inevitable conversation. Every now and then she attempted to broach the subject, thinking that this was the only reason I was angry and trying to beg forgiveness. In the back of a taxi, with the driver overhearing every word. I was not having any more of other people having to listen to our disagreements, and told her the talk would wait until we got back home.
By the time we arrived, I couldn’t even bear to be near her. We ordered takeaway and ate for a while in silence, until she once more raised the topic. This time I was quick to tell her that this was only the latest in a long string of offences. Everything I’d read since – the articles I’d read on emotional abuse that had opened my eyes in the first place – it all served to give me valid counter-arguments for a change. I was now armed and ready against any tactic she tried – and there were quite a few – not only calling her out on them, but pointing out that I wasn’t going to fall for them anymore. I’d had enough, I said; I tried for a trial separation before, but this time it’s happening for good.
She mentioned the confrontation I had with Dad about his own behaviour, asking how I could forgive him, but not her. The simple answer I had for that was, the talk with him went surprisingly well; he sat and listened, didn’t try to make excuses, accepted how he’d been – I don’t remember a formal apology being given, but it didn’t matter. Point was, he was no longer repeating his past mistakes – and this was all from one conversation. With Mum, there had been several attempts to tell her that her actions were hurtful. Every time it ended up in a circular argument – she was depressed, she feared for her state of mind, I was to make allowances for, and show compassion towards her, claiming I was hurting her and painting her out to be the bad person, after everything she’d done… etc etc. Never mind how I was feeling, hers were more important. It’s been like that for as long as I can remember, and as I pointed out – why should I expect things to change now?
The closest she got to accepting responsibility was by talking about how her own father had belittled her while growing up – the abused had become the abuser. Yet in the next breath, she’d steered the conversation back to herself again. She could claim she was listening until she was blue in the face, but she clearly wasn’t. At one point she even said “If you have any kind of decency…” Wow. Just… wow.
Things came to a head the next morning, when my brother came with Dad to pick her up. I made drinks in the kitchen while filling in Dad with a hushed voice, telling him about the talk last night, how uncompromising she’d been, adding that “You don’t get to trample on someone’s feelings for so long, try to burden them with your own when they’re still broken, then expect them to be compassionate towards you.” I explained to him what I’d explained to Ferrero and a DelToro friend the day before – my patience with her had been exhausted a long time ago, and after this I have nothing more to give. Being around her was like being around a vampire – after a while I’d feel drained. There was really no other option for me at this point – and he understood that.
Having the same conversation as a group was a different story. My brother responded by providing a laundry list of all the ways I’d been throughout the years – and he was basing this purely on my demeanour around Mum. No amount of pointing out to him the damage I’d suffered that might influence my actions would sink in – no, it was all my fault. I asked him outright at one point, if he was saying my feelings were invalid. His answer? Yes. My response? “Well, f**k you!”
I had to retreat to my room, Mum’s remark at “how I was such an angry young man” echoing in my ears as I left. Slumped on my bed and visibly shaking, I just added another person to my no-contact list. They’re either both deliberately ignorant, genuinely clueless or maybe both.
Dad came to join me – the only family presence welcome at this point – and remarked how he didn’t expect my brother to be so biased. I just looked at him and told him this is what I’ve had to put up with for so long. We chatted for a little while before said brother came into my room, proceeding to once more lay out how I was the problem. I managed to protest once that he was judging me just on my manner around Mum, that I wasn’t usually like that around people, but after he continued on his rant, I just tuned him out. He was doing exactly what Mum had done during my childhood years.
I heaved a sigh of relief when we finally left. By this point, it was coming up to lunchtime, and it took a couple of hours to get back to site. My brother at least offered me a lift to the station, and Dad had given me some cash to help my return. After everything that had happened though, stepping out of the car and into the station was like a breath of fresh air.
Back to the game
I had an open ticket, so I knew I would be purchasing a single to get back to Redditch. Problem was, even with a railcard (yay, student 😀 ), the single cost almost as much as the return ticket I’d bought originally. Then there was the extra £10 to get from the station to site, because I had no one to share with this time, and my bank balance was looking a little grim already. To make matters worse, I’d got off at the wrong entrance to the field, so after asking directions back to where my tent was still pitched, I had to march through the in-character area with my index finger held high in the air (I’m not here, you can’t see me, go about your business). On my way there, I passed the DelToro auction that I would have been helping with.
The weather was actually quite good on this day – too good when you’ve been hastily walking through the field. Once in the tent, I peeled off my damp top and mopped up the sweat as much as possible, hoping the barrier spray would help the Mehron paint stick better. I’d planned on adding false eyelashes and lip foils to make Emiliana look a little better, but obviously that wasn’t going to happen now.
Once dressed enough, I grabbed the glittery hot pink head scarf I’d recently bought, got my other stuff together and made briskly for the DelToro camp, where I could wrap my tagelmust at my leisure. I arrived to one “strict instruction” from my IC cousin – “cushion, sit, chill!” It was the first time in a couple of days that I was able to truly relax.
It soon transpired that, predictably, I’d missed all the important plot-related things that I was looking forward to playing. By then it was a disappointment, but with all my energy expended on real world problems, it was probably just as well. I took a wander around Wintermark in the hope of tracking down a costume that I was meant to be picking up, but apart from that it was reasonably quiet. Em was already covered IC for why she’d only just arrived at Anvil, so those characters hoping to see me for whatever reason were able to make other arrangements… one of whom I bumped into while on my way with some family members to take part in a ritual.
Ferrero and Em had engaged in a lot of banter last event, but on seeing me this time, I could hear his relieved sigh from yards away. We managed a bit of catch-up despite how busy he usually is, and I was aware of a change in dynamic from last time. It was certainly the wrong time to engage in banter.
The rest of the weekend was fairly uneventful – not to mention wet on the Sunday. Despite that, though, I was glad to be able to get back to site and enjoy what I could of the weekend – given all that had happened leading up to E11, I badly needed the break.
Photo credits: Ann Sundqvist