Ohana | crookedman's Blog
This week has been one of those weeks.
It started with a bit of a breakdown in the mother of my child so’s I heard some rough insults last weekend, (some of them fair but harshly expressed and relating to years ago, and some of it the total fabrication of a wine addled mind), and had to stand between the mum and my child in a proper fist fight (as much as that can exist between a middle age woman and 10 year old girl). The days have involved citalopram, cat related stress, much cleaning and coercion. I had to enforce a little separation between the combatants and discuss the Marquis of Queensbury rules in some depth. Things have been better though it meant a week of disorganisation and little routine for my girl.
My eldest girl, my step-daughter, has kept at a distance from it because she’s angry at her mum; and because she’s been through all this before and it reminds her, and messes with her head, because she wants to have some sympathy for her mum (despite everything), but mostly because she hates to see her little sister going through it, and a little because she thinks I should step in and take my girl away from it. It’s been hard for her because her mother and I didn’t marry therefore she’s the one who can make things happen with the doctors, and I can’t, so she’s dreading one day having to call the ambulance and sit with her mum at the hospital when she’s got a 2 year old to look after. However, in recent weeks we’ve discussed the situation at some length, so she has been involved.
After the cleaning I had to have a long talk to their mother whilst she lay in bed shaking from the DTs, and occasionally retching up stomach acids that she would spit into a bowl. She was scared, knew it had all got out of hand, and agreed to take her antidepressants. I know she was fearful because she didn’t get angry with me at all. Normally, getting her to a point where she accepts something needs to be done, involves a screaming match, two hours of it all being my fault, before exhaustion and desperation settles in, and we can talk (if I’ve refused to leave when she’s told me to). Yes, we had a bad life, I wasn’t the most attentive man, and in the end I just blasé-ed through what was left of our relationship, working and doing my thing. She punished me by fellating a neighbour, taking the kids, and leaving me with no furniture and all her credit card debts. So there’s plenty that usually gets said.
On Friday I took the two girls and my grandson on an adventure to celebrate getting through a hard week. We had a good day and when we returned I took the youngest home to a decently clean house and a mum that was up, cooking, and relatively sober. Apparently they played Monopoly and everything was fine. I went round to read a bit of 'Magyk' and all was well.
Then, to thank the eldest girl for helping me with the day, I went to meet her at the pub she works in, and bought her a couple of drinks after she’d finished her shift. I made a promise that we wouldn’t talk about her mum, and I made a point of asking her how her life was going these days.
An hour and a half later she’d basically told me that her life was terrible. Her boyfriend disrespects her, they have no life together. He’s a child emotionally, and she’s often scared because there’s been domestic violence between them already. He spends all their money on gadgets for him and expensive toys and clothes for my grandson, but moans that my girl doesn’t keep the house spotless or contribute enough to the bills. I’ll spare you the full litany of horrors because I got a one-sided version that was blood boiling and, therefore, I’m not going to pretend to have a well-balanced view. We talked. She did the telling, I just looked sadder and sadder, shaking my head a lot as the rum and coke hit my empty stomach, and, after it had all come out, I walked her home, gave her a hug, and said Hello to her man, before getting on my bike and cycling home. I was thinking, (to stave off the cold wind), that she’d feel better after getting it all off her chest, that they’d have a heart to heart, a bit of a shag, and that I had, once again, demonstrated that I am the Perfect Dad.
I got a text from her this morning telling me they’d ‘split up’ and he’d be living with his Mum and Dad for a while, but she didn’t want to discuss it, and that I mustn’t tell her mum. I picked her up later and we all loitered outside watching the fireworks, but she didn’t want to talk in front of her sister and child, and lots of strangers, so I still don’t know the entire circumstances. I watched my grandson and thought to myself, how’s this going to work for you, my boy? She made me stop so’s she could get ice-cream on the way home. She said it was a choice between that and a bottle of wine. I didn’t know what to say, really.
It seems that everything is starting to unravel, again. It’s difficult to explain but the whole thing is going into a repetitive pattern. The two girls and their mother. The eldest girl: her life falling apart, doesn’t want her Mum to know because it would show failure and because her Mum won’t be sympathetic, she’ll use it to ‘act out’ and turn it into her own pain. The younger girl is already caught in the same trap, knowing that her feelings aren’t her own; they too get sucked into the vortex. She won’t discuss what she wants for her birthday because she knows it upsets her mum too much because of the guilt. Their Mum? She repeats the pattern of her own life with her mother; having been left to care for her whilst she drank herself to death, racked with guilt about not being able to do enough, and self-loathing because... What little girl can understand their mother wanting to leave them alone? Unless they’re a terrible daughter.
And of course there’s Me: The Ex, The Step-Dad, and The Dad. Needless to say I’m less certain of my own patterns and role in it all! I want to make it okay, to soothe and rescue. I want my children to be happy. I even want my ex to be happy. If needs be, it seems, I do what I can to be a good man. This seems to have surprised them all so I’m guessing I don’t give that impression. Strange.
I worry that my input, my attention, my love will be required, and that this is it for my life now. Everything from now on will require my watchfulness and care; and that I won’t be up to it. To put this into some kind of metaphor, tomorrow I will have to talk to my eldest and offer her a roof over her head, despite the fact that having a mother with a two year old will require hot water, a thing I haven’t got. But she must have an exit strategy, to give her hope, even if it’s chilly and it’ll ruin my swinging lifestyle. The womanising will have to stop.
Life is just about to get a little bit more complicated than it already is.
It’s at times like these that I Thank God for Disney; always the greatest inspiration. I found myself thinking of ‘Lilo and Stitch’, and the Hawaiian concept of family - ‘Ohana’: ‘No one gets left behind’.
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