Content note: mentions of emotional and physical abuse of a child. Mild descriptions of abusive relationships.
If you’ve been wondering where Inner Pod (or any of my other projects) has gone, this will hopefully explain why. If you want to avoid reading the details: tl;dr I cut off contact with my family)
I’ve been itching to write this out, let it all out for catharsis. This is what came out. 💜
I stopped talking to my family this year.
I cut the rope, the bungee cord that kept pulling me back to solve another problem, listen to another retelling of an argument.
My biggest conflict in my personal politics is parents in abusive relationships. I believe that you should do what you need to survive a relationship like that, that it robs you of so many things, so many choices. I’ve seen it, I know what it does to you.
But I was a child and I had no choice in the relationship. I had no choice but to look after my younger siblings while my mum cried in the bedroom, completely consumed by the abuse from my sisters’ father. I was 12, my brother 6, and he needed food. So I cooked.
No choice but to do the same for my sisters when they were born, jumping in when I could to shield them. I wasn’t perfect, I hid sometimes because I was scared and tired and so fucking angry. I was the eldest, dependable. The responsible one, the good daughter and granddaughter. The dutiful one who didn’t rebel and talk back. The one who would be her mum’s therapist, listening to how awful he’d been to her at 9am on Christmas day because she couldn’t keep it in anymore.
Standing up for myself when my sisters’ father was being awful resulted in the threat of physical violence. Mum didn’t speak up. Speaking up made it worse for everyone so I swallowed it all down.
(Now I can barely keep my opinions to myself. I refuse to be silent any more.)
Mum didn’t speak up.
(she also didn’t speak up when her previous partner, my brother’s dad hit me. She sent me with my brother to my abuser’s house when my brother visited him, of course. Interestingly this didn’t fuck me up as much as everything else. Other people tend to see it differently)
She didn’t speak up til I went to uni, until I wasn’t there to take it. She’d ring me while I was at uni, tell me how she’d stood up to him and tell me “you’d be so proud of me” and I just felt betrayed.
She left him this year. Moved to a house where I paid 4 months of rent and sent money for furniture and other stuff and when I told her that June would be the last month I’d be able to pay it, she cried.
My grandad died in April, mum rang me at 7am to tell me. She rang me about 12hrs later, the first words out of her mouth “you need to come down, because I don’t know how to organise a funeral”
Because funeral organising is a hobby of mine, natch.
These were the two incidents, the ones that really hit me: this will never change. I will never have a life that’s mine, never not have dread in my life with my mum in it.
I’d always kept the relationship open because of my siblings. I’d raised them in part, protected them, I couldn’t abandon them.
Most of their memories are of mum standing up for them. They don’t have the same relationship with mum that I do. There’s no way for me to speak to them without speaking to her.
I couldn’t do it anymore. So I didn’t. I wasn’t the most brave, choosing to ghost rather than confront. But also I’d tried to confront before. It ended in begging and tears, mum throwing herself bodily at me to hug me. I couldn’t. I stand by that decision.
I’ve had to get used to a new identity. I no longer have daughter or sister at the centre of my identity, not in the same way. I’m not sure who this new me is yet, but I think she’s alright. I think she’ll survive.
My therapist keeps me grounded, telling me that grief is odd and I will grieve this loss. The loss of my siblings, the realisation that my mum will never be able to be what I need her to be.
I didn’t get a birthday card from her this year. I’d been waiting, tense and ready for a fight. It never came. I feel mostly relieved. A little sad, but mostly proud of myself.