Tag Archives: Family

Chapter Two – Family

Family:
Noun
A group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.

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In short, you could say that my birth was a success. My parents wanted a baby and they received me, so I guess you could call that a success. Then again, unless my mother gave birth to a smart car and audibly wailed at the sight of my four wheels instead of human limbs, I guess their expectations were bound to be met… anyway, suffice it to say, I enjoyed being a baby as far as photographs can tell me, but then again, tiny humans lead the best lives ever and unless they’re hungry, or tired or have just defecated themselves, they pretty much live a really cool, non-stressful lifestyle, which I am sure all new mothers will attest to, quite happily. I was also a very cute baby, which I say without a degree of narcissism; I had those chunky big baby arms and legs that you can’t help but want to sink your teeth into and enormously round blue eyes that I still own now, funnily enough. The only thing, when I look back at photographs of myself as a baby, as something I really dislike is the fact that I had an absolutely enormous head. Now, I’ve been told that I have a really small head, but back then it was huge – I think I might have been born with an adult head instead of a baby head and my body has just grown round it, lest it grew further and I was bullied throughout life for not being able to fit through doors. Anyway, I was a pretty cute baby and generally not one of those babies that parents say are cute, but when you look at them and recoil in horror, guessing that this particular baby is a face only a mother could love – I was an all-round adorable winner.

In spite of all this, my parents decided to have another pop at procreation and whilst I guess it would have been fun for all involved to have a tiny human of a different gender, they lucked out and got another female human and that, my friends, is how my sister was born as far as I know. I guess because it wasn’t about me, I never took the time to ask. Other than hearing about my dad exclaiming ‘IT’S A BOY!’ only to be told by the nurses that no, sir, that’s just the umbilical cord, I don’t know anything else, and really, after that story, what else is there you need to know? We were introduced in the hospital where she was born. My grandparents led me into the room and I walked over to my mam, who was cradling the brand new, tiny human in her arms and my response was to walk away and run up and down the corridors for the remainder of the visit. I was no longer the medical marvel, or the centre of attention; there was a new adorable human in town. I think if I’d known I was going to be meeting my very first and very best life-long friend, I probably would have made more of an effort, but seriously, what do you want from me?  I was one!

My sister and I have always been close and I honestly do consider her to be one of the greatest humans who has ever graced the planet and what makes her even more amazing is the fact that she doesn’t even know. She’s a really slight, petite and thin human which makes the tall and naturally curvaceous with bits of padding here and there part of my personality want to stab her every time I see her. She has these enormous dark chocolate, almost black eyes, stupendously high cheek bones and everything about her is just perfect and small; she’s like a doll who has just stepped out of a children’s fairytale or a masterpiece of some sort. In my eyes, she’s perfect and her hair, her gloriously long, down to her waist; curly, shiny hair is the thing I most covet in life. If she wasn’t my sister I would hate her guts.

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In a pretty brilliant move, my parents nipped the ever popular concept of ‘sibling rivalry’ in the bud before it had time to grow and be nourished as our bitterness for each other grew and as a result, my friendship with my sister has been persistently rock solid for almost twenty five years. They instilled in us from a young age that when you had a sister, you always had a friend and part of me makes me think that my parents stole this from a sickly sweet sit-com they watched growing up, or they had some kind of cheesy parental handbook filled with corny one liners, but either way, it was pretty good advice, if not a bit vomit inducing for the non-saccharin amongst us. There was also another snippet of advice given from one of the parental units that has been said so many times, I can’t remember which one said it and the sentence I am about to write is paraphrased with some intense emotional intent for dramatic purposes, so just be warned, but anyway, either the man or the woman said: There is nothing in life more important than the four of us, whether you’re happy or sad, rich or poor, near or far, we will always be there for each other and there will always be a home for you with mam and dad. Which is pretty amazing advice, really. Or, depending on how you read it and if we’d decided to choose a life of crime, it could sound pretty much like a pact that is relatively tantamount to saying: If we get caught, murder suicide pact, who’s in?! But I don’t think my mother’s catholic roots would allow it. I joke, but it’s something that I genuinely wear as a badge of honour; there’s nothing more important in life than the closeness of one’s family!

Over the years we did some amazing stuff together and whilst we haven’t had a lifestyle that saw us travelling to certain places on the globe and we only really had three holidays abroad during childhood, we still managed to have an amazing life. My dad’s career took us to Holland for three years and my sister and I can speak fluent Dutch and played the national sport for our local village. I did end up getting bullied and hated my life for a while, but I try not to blame my dad for that, I tend now just to blame the entire country of Holland for a few shit kids instead! As a result, my sister and I didn’t suffer some kind of childhood traumatic event that affected us well into our adulthood, but when you’re writing about your childhood you’re supposed to write about something that could potentially be construed as poor parenting, so I guess I’ll try my best to conform:

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That’s a small me sitting on the sofa of our first family home. Don’t I look adorable drinking from my can of Stone’s lager? My mam is not a lager drinker, but my dad is, so it’s pretty clear to see that we can place the blame entirely on my dad and let him know that it’s his fault that I’m such an alcoholic now. Except that I don’t drink lager and I drink wine, but really it’s just lady beer, so he’s still in the wrong. I am sure that both of my parents would like me to tell you all that it was EMPTY when I put my face against it, but they were young and probably also liars, so I’ll just let you guys decide whether or not they inadvertently fed alcohol to their small human or not, were mortified, but not mortified enough to carry out a photo-shoot. This is what happens when you have kids in your twenties.

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One time I hurt my leg and had to wear a cast for weeks. It was an itchy, hot cast that I can’t really remember anyone asking to write on, which is pretty upsetting. It had a heel so that I didn’t walk with a limp and when the doctor said that I’d be okay to do all the things that I could do before I had my accident, like pour myself a glass of juice, I’d be fine and my parents weren’t to mollycoddle me. Which would have been fine if I’d ever poured myself a glass of juice in my life, so when I asked for one and my dad piped up with ‘Now, now, Doris, the doctor said you could pour your own drinks!’ and I spilled it all over the bench, we really have no one but him to blame there, really, do we? For shame, father. The reason I wore the cast, you ask? Well, I fell off an apparatus at school during PE, where I’d apparently told one of my classmates that I could fly and when he didn’t’ believe me, I thought I’d teach him a lesson in both listening and believing everything I said because I was superior. Turns out I couldn’t fly and was brandished a liar (probably) in the eyes of my infant school class. I think another lesson I could have probably learned here is not to lie to people and also that my parents shouldn’t have been so supportive of my creative mind or active imagination, because look what happened!

For Christmas, roughly twenty years ago, I received my very first PlayStation. I had no idea what it was. I can’t remember asking Santa Claus for it and I didn’t know what it did. Turns out that my dad knew how to work it just fine and I guess it was the ideal gift for a twenty four year old father of two, who knew?! I didn’t know how to play games such as Tomb Raider because I was six and it was scary, I mean there were WOLVES and a DINOSAUR, so my dad played on my behalf, which was really convenient and helpful. I mean, let’s forget the fact that the PlayStation turned out to be the greatest gift our family could have received, because we would all huddle around and watch my dad play games and just remember the fact that I didn’t ask for a PlayStation and also didn’t know how to play the PlayStation – that’s the most important part. Equally so, a few years later, I asked for an All Saints CD for Christmas and received a Dave Pearce remix thereof. There was only one person in our family who listened to Dave Pearce on Radio One after the chart show countdown on a Sunday and it certainly wasn’t me, my mam or my sister… the lesson that I’ve taken from these Christmas gifts is that you can’t always get what you want. In a lot of cases, you get what your dad wants and you just have to like it or lump it.

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Introduction: Confessions of a Twenty Something.

Writing about yourself is supposed to be a really difficult process, but because I am so inherently narcissistic, I found it quite easy. Also because I’m really smart.  It just goes to show that if you have a generally elevated sense of self-worth, you can accomplish pretty much anything and that it is, in fact, insecurity and a lack of faith in yourself that breeds misery and stunts any form of creative process and talents in the process… The Harlot!

In a far more realistic sense, it was actually pretty difficult and spending so much time planning pieces and not wanting to include things that would make family members disown me, it meant that I spent a long time pensively staring into the distance, wondering if I could feasibly lie throughout the whole biographical process and get away with it. Turns out that I can, which is very pleasing (not really). I had many working titles for this series of posts. One title, which I wrote about pretty much at the start of my blogging journey, when I decided that I would one day write a biographical piece that would sell millions and make me rich beyond my wildest nightmares would be: The History of Dildos: Confessions of a Wine Addict, because I thought it was a really great, historical play on words – like, some people would think that I would be discussing dildos at some point (which, let’s face it, is always a possibility) and others would think that ‘dildo’ is actually a metaphor for me as a person, which is far more correct and if you guessed that you’re probably really smart and/or went to university. I also thought about the title Be Mediocre! Because I was reading Hadley Freeman’s Be Awesome at the time and thought I was burgeoning on being a comedic genius. I finally settled on Mad About the Brain: My Journey from There to Here because it has multiple meanings (again, I’m really showing off my mad skills, here): Mostly I’m talking about the things that go on in my brain and how life has shaped me and made me the adult I am today, but, also, because my nickname for the love of my life, male human shape I adore, is Brain and it was conceived when I first met him following the little avatar he uses at work to chat to people and because, if you choose to read further (which you might not) there are certain life events that took place that, I feel, wouldn’t have made me as available, I guess, to fall in love with Brain as quickly as I did, so I guess there’s always that. I’m sickening, I know.

There will also be helpful tips and anecdotes throughout the series so that you can feel inspired by the inner workings of my mind and revere me as some kind of Geordie Goddess (move over, Cheryl!) it will, also, hopefully try to conclude in a manner that is far more successful than the current conclusion you’re reading (see, you didn’t even know, did you?) and maybe inform you all what I think that I’ve learned in my twenty six years on earth. If you’ve read my Series of Lamentations which was a half-hearted attempt before I got bored and decided to do this, then you’ll know what I’m hoping to achieve (and if you do please tell me, because I have no idea).

I hope you enjoy it, if you get through to the end, let me know and I’ll buy you a congratulatory beer. Thank you in advance. Doris xx

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A Series of Lamentations: My Granddad

Thirteen years ago today, my family and I lived in the south of Holland and had done for a while. We lived in tiny village, beautifully picturesque and small enough that you knew all the nooks and crannies. I was in my first year of comprehensive school, which was in a city to the south of us and the manner in which we got there as kids was to meet all of the other kids in the village and bike there; we were advised not to go it alone, because predators lay waiting in the bushes, so all of the other kids would meet at the dirt track road on a morning and bike there together. I never enjoyed it because I always had to ride at the back and no one talked to me, but I never expected them to simply leave me one day… but they did. Eventually, my dad had to drive me there and pick me up, because, as the kids explained when I dared to ask them why they left me, I was English and obviously a whore, thus didn’t belong in Holland.

That day was like most – boring. I was alone all of the time and when people did speak to me, it was usually to laugh at me or judge what I was wearing, or laughing at my sandwiches of choice that I’d taken that day. I remember one day some girls found a tampon that I had in my bag, after rooting through my purse, and parading it around like I was some kind of monster. They assumed because I was twelve (not quite thirteen), on my period and using tampons, that I must also be having sex, which made me an even bigger English whore than before. Fun, right? Yeah I know, buzzed off school, me. Anyway, this day was a non-day, as far as I was concerned. It was the day that I had history class, learning about the riveting history of Dutch farm life with a supply teacher. The children started bullying me; I was stupid, English and the reason that wars started and the sole reason why everyone hates the English. My mother was a whore too, because only whores gave birth to whore children like me…you know, basic bullying that builds character? Well, the supply teacher, naturally, sat down in front of my desk and joined in the bullying, which is always the way; professional and providing the duty of care that any parent would expect their child to receive. I stormed off, because I was going to leave school and never go back, but I forgot my coat and thought my mam would go insane if I came home without a coat, so had to wait like an idiot and have each of them walk past me as I tried to go back in, shouting Dutch obscenities, making me wish I had enough fists to punch them all, fighting back tears. This was also the day I found bubble gum in my locker, so I couldn’t get my key in, which added to the awesomeness of my day. At the end of the day, I waited for my dad to pull up in his car (a black Citroen Picasso, which I still miss to this day, it was like a bullet and I got to sit in the front because no one else was with him and I felt super cool in it) and he was a little later than usual. I got in the car, he didn’t speak much, but then again, neither did I and we drove home. My favourite part of the day.

When we arrived, something seemed decidedly off. I remember walking in and everything feeling cloudy; the house wasn’t as tidy as it usually was, the dogs weren’t excitable, my mam wasn’t cooking our evening meal in the kitchen. A half-eaten bowl of cereal lay on the breakfast bar… I looked into the living room and there lay my mam, still in her pyjamas and dressing gown. She looked pale, crestfallen, sad. My sister sat next to her, grinning at me, which confused matters slightly. I sat down beside her, my dad sat down beside me and she told me… she told me that my beloved granddad, her dad, had died. I instantly looked at my sister, who sat grinning like a Cheshire cat, prompting me to instantly question my mam and tell her to stop joking (turns out, when faced with tragedy or any form of emotion, my sister grins. It’s awful and we tell her to stop, mostly because we can never figure out if she’s happy or sad at certain news). My mam told me that she wasn’t joking and my sister was chastised for being insensitive and then told me that she had been contacted by a family member, either my grandma or one of her brothers, I think, to say that he’d passed away in the night. That’s it, just gone.

Today marks thirteen years since my granddad died and it still hurts just as much as it did then. In fact, that’s a lie; it hurts more now. I still miss him more than I ever have done and coming to term with his absence doesn’t get any easier. He was such a funny, amazing and brilliant man; I adored him so, so much and he adored me right back. He was my favourite person in the whole world, I idolised him. When I stayed at my grandparents, my seat of choice was either opposite him, so I could look at him at all times, or right next to him, so close that I touched him with all of my right side. He was so smart, stoic and handsome; he looked like a proper granddad and his wit, playful nature and attitude so full of joy made him an absolute pleasure to be around; he adored his children and grandchildren and we all adored him in equal amounts, if not more. His absence in our family, at Christmas time, birthdays, father’s day, is palpable; his empty seat filled by another person’s body hurts.

I’m so sad today. I’m sad because so much stuff has happened in my life that he hasn’t been able to be a part of. He loved hearing the stories that I wrote growing up, or receiving letters when I lived away (I once wrote an incredibly insightful and detailed letter telling him that I’d been suffering from diarrhoea, which he laughed at to no end, apparently!) and I think he would have enjoyed seeing me grow up, to see me as an adult and have conversations with me. My mam tells me that he would have been so proud of me, loved me so much and cracked up laughing at all my stupid jokes, that have all my other family members in fits of giggles whenever I’m with them. I’m not the success story of my family, I haven’t really done much other than become a writer with a wine habit; I’m not married, or doing a job like nursing or having babies, or going off on holidays whenever I can. I just live my life, writing away. But I think he would have liked that.

I miss him so much. It still hurts so much. I still grieve for him whenever I see his photographs on my fridge, I still remember the games we played and I just wish that I’d been able to see him before he died. Give him a cuddle and tell him I love him one more time. I can’t even remember what the last words I said to him were, presumably because they were so nonchalant, because as a child, I just assumed I’d speak to him again. I miss him. I miss how he smelled and I miss how he had an afternoon changing time, where he’d go into the kitchen and change from his morning pants to his afternoon pants. I miss the drawers in my grandma’s kitchen that were full of shirts and cardigans and trousers, because he liked to dress in the kitchen. I miss the scramble we had as kids to pick all of our toys out of the way on a Saturday morning, when he’d put off hoovering until midday and then run our toys over, laughing heartily as we shouted NO, GRANDDAD, NOT BARBIE!! I miss his smile, I can still hear his laugh and I ache, because I want to hear it again. I miss him. I love him. I wish he was here.

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A Series of Lamentations: Self-Love and Being a Woman

If you are here because you read the title and thought that I was going to embark on an intricate journey of self-discovery and ultimately, public discussion of an internalised regret at having spent the majority of my twenties attempting to perfect my masturbatory habits, then you are, unfortunately, very much mistaken. If you are here for anything that may potentially resemble masturbation, or the desire to read one girl’s tale of sexual awakening, then you should leave, right now. This is a series of lamentations and I, admittedly, have nothing to lament about regarding that particular element of self-love: I’m awesome and I get shit DONE. No, this is a little bit of an insight into the life of someone who was given all of the opportunities to become a self-involved, worshipper of one’s self, but someone who, through life experiences, hasn’t taken those steps and has suffered exponentially as a result.

There is no real method of denial for anyone to exercise when I say that, as a woman, we are not taught to love ourselves at all. From the moment we are catapulted from the warm bosom of childhood into the cruel and harsh world of puberty, with tiny lumps growing out of our previously flat chests and hair where we never thought hair would grow (which we are then immediately taught to shave, wax or make deals with the devil to keep it off, right there and then), and blood torturing our crotches on a monthly basis, all in the name of eventual reproduction, (because, there’s not even a choice in the matter, we all just have to suffer regardless of what our life choices end up being. Lesbian? I don’t care, PERIOD. Double period, because you may eventually live with a woman and you’ll have them at the same time and not only will your crotch be bleeding, but you’ll be attempting valiantly not to enter into some kind of Hunger Games style lifestyle for the entirety of your period which only lasts about seven days, but seems to last lifetimes in your pants. I mean, we never even got the opportunity to ask Mother Nature about periods, you know? Like, I would have appreciated sitting down with her and being like ‘so, here’s the situation – I’m eleven and I’m not really sure where my life is going to take me, I might not want children in the future, they are small and the idea of housing a tiny human in my uterus for nine months seems an unnecessary downfall of my gender, especially seen as how I will then have to shove it out of a hole that doesn’t look big enough to push a giant head out of and I am sure older me would agree, that I could probably not fit a giant head IN there, so where’s the logic, sister? WHERE?’), we have had no real control over our bodies or states of mind; it has all been done for us via the over-arching glue of the media – keeping women in a state of perpetual self-doubt since its inception. YAY!

Admittedly, growing up, I was given all the fodder to potentially become someone who promoted love of herself in every possible form; my parents were my perpetual cheerleaders and there wasn’t a concept of ‘no’ or ‘this isn’t possible’ within our family. My sister decided when she was little she wanted to learn origami, leaned towards my mother one lunch time and stated, “I want to learn pornography!” and kudos to my mother, she didn’t say that she couldn’t, only asked where she’d learned such a grown up word. The only time I ever really heard ‘no’ was when I decided I wanted to be a pop star and actress, but that’s something I’ve covered and generally have come to terms with (weeps). It wasn’t until we became teenagers and allowed external factors to govern our opinions of ourselves, did our family dynamic really change. Whilst we were never told that we couldn’t do something, I remember our parents’ perception of what others thought of us was greater than it had been before, which I blame entirely on the fact that my parents were raising two females of a very similar age – if my parents had sons, there wouldn’t have been any issues over what they were wearing, or who they were hanging out with. The general adage, boys will be boys would have meant that any sons of my parents wouldn’t have hit the barriers my sister and I did when we were teenagers. I guess it’s the same notion as society teaching girls how not to get sexually assaulted, rather than teaching boys not to sexually assault; my parents taught us how to adhere to gender stereotypes and behave in a manner that one would deem as ladylike, thus hoping to potentially decrease the potential of anything terrible happening to us, so I totally get it and I’m not trying to say that my parents did anything wrong at all – because they didn’t and I thank them every day for giving me the best life I could have wished for – but, their actions were only symptomatic of the society we were all born into: That women need to behave in a certain way in order to ascertain their true meanings in life… marriage and babies. And that is pushed onto us as much as it possibly can as soon as puberty rears its bitch of a head; we need to find a man and keep him in order for us to fulfil our biological duty. They were taught by society and the media on how to appropriately parent as much as we’re taught how to dress and how to truly satisfy our man in Cosmopolitan magazine.

Granted, my sister and I never bought into any of that shit. I decided that I wouldn’t rush the marriage and baby thing, because there is SO much do in life before I have to settle down and have kids and whilst there is always the tick tock of my biological clock, that the media is always telling me to listen to, it’s not something that bothers me. My sister decided straight up NO WAY I AM NOT HAVING KIDS I HATE THEM THEY ARE SO SMALL AND NEEDY I JUST DON’T WANT THEM and has only in the past year or so slightly changed her mind (as long as she never has girls) because she fell in love, but before that we all pictured her as some kind of spinster, living somewhere covered in televisions, game consoles and random Legend of Zelda merchandise. She would be the auntie to my children and they’d be the only kids she ever liked, but they’d be scared of her because she is a little foreboding. But, I was still the weaker one of the two and fell victim to a lot of aggression because of my independent nature… so much so that I entirely changed for a long period of time.

I’m not going to go into that element of my life in too much detail, but I did get to the point where I genuinely thought I was deserving of all the aggression, of all the ‘why aren’t you pregnant, what is wrong with you’ type conversations and a lifestyle that really didn’t cater to my needs or desires at all – my passion for writing was non-existent, because it wasn’t supported, I couldn’t even watch what I wanted to on television and my happiness hinged on the happiness of another woman; if she wasn’t happy, or if she decided I was in her bad books, then my boyfriend would act accordingly and it was usually to the detriment of my state of mind, my happiness and my emotional well-being. So, this is what I lament most out of all of my series of lamentations; I grieve for the woman who was given every opportunity in life; who did so well at school, college and university and could have explored the world, but instead ended up in a relationship that she wasn’t enjoying as it was happening, forced into being with someone who put her down at every opportunity, who’s opinion of women was so fucked up because he was raised by someone who kept him sucking at the teat of motherhood well into his adult life and who’s only real goal in life was to get to the pub; he was raised to be a misogynist and any woman who exercised any form of opinion that differed from mammy dearest’s, was punished. It was your typical, run of the mill, Norman Bates style relationship between mammy dearest and her little boy. In hindsight, I was clearly a mentalist and I am genuinely ashamed to have been a part of that misogynistic lifestyle that allowed me to become stuck and think that there was something wrong with me for not wanting to have his babies at the age of twenty one (or, ever, just to be clear).

I have learned some valuable lessons from this relationship, though and have since become a self-sufficient, adult woman who has learned from those mistakes and become someone who is pursuing her passions and living a life that I choose to lead. I have a boyfriend who isn’t necessarily a feminist, but someone who believes my passions and interests are just as important as his own and deserving of pursuing, so I get to write in abundance and be in a relationship where I’m not pressured to be anything other than myself. And that’s definitely something worth celebrating and definitely something I intend to keep up in my late twenties, because what is the point in a series of lamentations, without attempting to either celebrate my future, or make plans involving handsome beards?

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She.

One year ago: A pale, shivering woman sits in a barely lit room, swathed in blankets. She stares blankly in front of her at the blackness of her television screen; she doesn’t move, she barely thinks. She is scared to turn on the television, frightened to turn on another light as she’s unsure of how much electricity is left on the meter and with no money to top this up, she doesn’t want to be left in darkness; darkness terrifies her. Everything terrifies her. In her cold, shivering hand, she barely grips a bottle of tequila, a gift from a friend. The taste is acidic in her mouth, causing her to gag every time she allows a sip to slink down her throat into her empty stomach. But it keeps her warm. The gas in the house went off ages ago; the house is freezing through, a draught blows through the ancient fireplace, sweeping through the house with frosty vigour. She shivers deeply and tries to grab the bottle tighter. Her stomach rumbles, a low, incessant, deep wailing from within: She hasn’t eaten in 24 hours. She’s starving, but there is no gas to light the stove, no food in the cupboards. She wraps the blanket a bit tighter around herself, wishing that this was not such a familiar scene. I wish I was dead, she thinks.

Her phone lights up, a message from her sister:
Hi sweety, how are you? Xxxx
I’m ok thanks. How are you? Xxxx
I’m great thank you! What are you up to? Xxxx
Not much. No heating. Not much electricity. Am keeping TV off so the lights don’t go off before bed. Xxxx
Have you eaten? Xxxx
No food. Or gas. Haha xxxx
Stop being lazy, go to the shop! Xxxx
No money. I don’t have my bank card either. Xxxx
What? Where is he? Xxxx
I don’t know. He took the money dad gave me out of my purse, along with my bank card and left this morning. Xxxx
Oh, Doris, man… Do you want me to Just Eat you a pizza? Xxxx
No, no thank you.  I’ll be fine. Love you xxxx
Love you too xxxx

There is a loud knocking on the door. Her heart pounds, her entire body heaves with fear. Cautiously, she stands up, blankets slipping from her body, cold biting at her warm body. She tiptoes towards the door and peeks around the corner. The large shadow of a man casts a shadow throughout the empty hallway.

“Hello?” she asks the shape at the front door.
“Hiya, there’s a delivery for number 23?” smiling, she opens the door.
“Thank you!” She closes the door, locking it, remembering to remove the key just in case he comes home and is angry that he’s locked out. If he comes home. She smiles as her tummy rumbles loudly in anticipation, thankful of her sister’s act of kindness. She puts the pizza down on the coffee table, picks up her phone and types out a message to her sister:

Thank you for being you xxxx

Later, she makes her way to the bedroom. She sends a quick text message, asking when he will be home. There is no reply. She finds the scissors in the bathroom and begins to scrape at the long, healing scab on her thigh.

A few hours later, she hears the door slam, but doesn’t shut properly, banging even louder off the wall as it bounces. Another hole she thinks. Footsteps make their way upstairs. She wraps the duvet more tightly around herself and closes her eyes, slinking down in the bed a little bit, moving her body to the very edge of the bed, trying to act asleep. There is movement in the darkness and a figure stinking of booze and something else falls into bed beside her. A few moments pass and snores that only someone deep in a whiskey induced sleep can produce. Carefully, she slinks out of bed and makes her way downstairs to close and lock the front door. In the dark, she stumbles over a pair of shoes and falls sharply to the floor, slamming her knees off the cold wood. She feels blood trickle down her leg. She sighs.

She climbs back into bed, the booze and unfamiliar smell washing over her, causing her to turn her nose up in disgust. His phone lights up and she notices a message from the girl he works with:

Thanks for tonight 🙂 ❤ xx

She rolls over, wraps the duvet around her tightly, picks up the sharp object she keeps under her bed and begins scraping along the freshly healed scar on her wrist. Oh.

A few days later, she would spend the day with her mother and sister, trying to find some joy in the fact that it was almost Christmas, feeling nothing but emptiness; an encapsulating feeling of non-existence that only cutting into her flesh seemed to eradicate, even if only for a little while. She follows a jubilant mother and cheerful sister around shops, remembering to react to their questions, smile at their jokes, making jokes of her own; anything to appear normal. Eventually, it’s time to go home and the dread associated with going to the house she lives in envelopes her once more. Just a little while longer, she thinks, hoping for a traffic jam or the car to break down. All too soon, they pull up outside of her house. She kisses her family goodbye, noticing her mam staring a little too hard, something impenetrable behind her eyes. She knows, she thinks as she climbs the steps to her house. She turns around, waving at her sister’s disappearing car and steps into the cold, dark house.

She walks through the dark hallway to the living room, flicking on the light as she walks past. She stops in her tracks, turns around and leaves the room, remembering to turn off the switch. Too cold, she thinks. She makes her way into the kitchen, opens the fridge and sighs at its lack of content, turns around and makes her way upstairs. Bed seems like a good a place as any, she thinks, noticing the time: 7pm. As she ascends, she notices a large cupboard door ajar. Frowning, she walks over to it and peers inside. Empty. Her frown deepens as she walks into the bedroom and sees that there are drawers open. They’re all empty too. The wash basket in the corner has been emptied; only her clothes remain, littered on the floor. Hmm. She turns around and goes back downstairs, flicks on the living room light and takes stock of its contents. Computer gone. Xbox gone. On the table, she notices her bank card. Oh.

She sits on the edge of the sofa, heart pounding. She unlocks her phone and brings up her banking app, checking her balance: 43p, a lot less than before. She takes her purse out of her bag and finds a 2 pence piece in the bottom, littered amongst the old bus tickets. Oh.

She texts her sister:
I think he’s left me. Xxxx
What? What do you mean? Xxxx
Well, I got home and all of his stuff is gone, my bank card was on the table. 43p in current account. Xxxx
THAT BASTARD. I’m coming to get you. Xxxx

She didn’t feel anything. She cried, she fell to the floor and sobbed, clutching at her chest, clawing at her face, but she didn’t really feel anything. The truth is, she hadn’t felt anything in a long time; she acted, of course, she knew she was supposed to be happy, she knew that she was supposed to be grateful that there was someone out there who could put up with her: She was difficult, she was unattractive, she lived only to depress people and bring them down to her level of depraved melancholy. She should have been grateful, but she couldn’t feel anything. The only time she felt the semblance of happiness was when she drew knives or scissors or anything with a pointed edge against her skin – not fine cuts, but jagged claw like marks into her skin. She would cry, she would feel guilty and she would think of her mother and cry more. What would she think? She felt empty for a long time. Years. She knew she should cry, so she did, but she didn’t know what she was crying for. It wasn’t loss, or remorse or heartbreak. It was because she knew she had to. Society dictated that. So she cried.

Eventually, when the rubble had cleared, so to speak and when she had time to take stock of her thoughts and consider what had happened to her throughout 2013, she felt humiliated. Humiliated that she had wanted to leave, but was convinced to stay, that things would get better, that this is what relationships were, these days. She felt humiliated that she was followed around, screamed at and bullied by an ancient woman posing as a mother, wishing instead of being respectful of another person’s mother, she had punched her in her botox filled lips and thrashed her senseless for inflicting so much pain onto another human being, allowing her own son to make her the victim of domestic violence (more emotional than physical, admittedly) knowing that she too was once the victim of domestic violence. She felt humiliated that he would take her money, money that her dad gave her for bills and food and warmth; he would take that and spend it all on booze, cosying up to other women, saying vitriolic things about her to these people, laughing at her ignorance of what was going on. Poor, fat, ugly girl, doesn’t know how good she has it, I’m god’s gift… my mam says so. Eventually that humiliation turns to anger and eventually the anger dissipates into an intense lingering pity, until that pity disappears and all that is left is a desire not to have ever known him.

She gets on with her life. She meets new people. She writes again. She smiles as soon as she wakes up. She doesn’t take prescription drugs and downs them with tequila any more. She doesn’t take sharp objects to her skin. She doesn’t wish she’s dead. She comes back to life; like a flower in the spring time, reaching towards the sun. She is brighter, she is stronger. She is happier. She won.

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National Sibling Day

I didn’t realise it was National Sibling Day today. In fact, I didn’t know that it existed until today, but the internet informs me that it is, so I shall write a blog dedicated to my only, thus favourite sibling: My younger sister, who, for the sake of the blog will go by her nickname Ingrid.

From being tiny humans, my sister and I were always instilled with a mantra our mother taught us:

When you have a sister, you’re never lonely. When you have a sister, you always have a best friend.

us

My sister and I would roll our eyes and look at each other with a sense of disgust, presumably thinking, whatever, mother! When we grow up we’ll have our own lives and our own friends and only se each other on family holidays! What kind of saddo actually chooses her own family as her best friend anyway, mam? EH?! But, as she would countless times throughout our lives, our mother proved us right (let’s never speak of this to her). Even though we had our own friendship groups and gone off to do our own things in life, we’ve always gravitated towards each other and sought each other’s company when, to put it simply, no one else will do.

My sister and I are so similar, yet the complete polar opposite of one another at the same time, and, I think that’s what makes our friendship so solid. I’ve often looked at our relationship critically and thought to myself if that girl wasn’t related to me, I’d probably hate her and I know Ingrid feels the exact same way about me too. Yet, there is nothing about each other that we dislike. I suppose it’s a sibling thing, but I haven’t actually met another set of siblings as in love with one another as my sister and I are (platonically, might I add. There’s no Lannistering going on in this family… Well, at least none that include me, which would be typical. Bastards!) to ask them. Where as I am incredibly girly and I enjoy doing my hair and make up, going shopping and spending hours wandering around just looking at clothes I don’t even intend to buy, she absolutely hates it and would rather chop of her tits and fling them at me in a rage before running away sobbing, than spend five minutes in a shop without having a specific reason to be there. She is the opposite of girly; she’s more like a brother to be honest. Ingrid is also one of the most intelligent people I have ever had the privilege of knowing; she is one of those people who are just so knowledgeable about everything and so passionate about their chosen subjects. It really is awe inspiring, particularly to me, because as much as I love literature, cinema, music, comedy etc, I often feel pretty reluctant to have conversations about them because I never feel intelligent enough to be having a conversation pertaining to any of the aforementioned. Where as, Ingrid discusses her interests with no real academic knowledge, just information she’s picked up subconsciously from a book or the internet, or a documentary she watched one time about ten years ago. You’d think she’d studied it for years, the way she talks and I think it’s one of the most amazing qualities to have.

In the past two years, at least, my sister and I have gone through some really horrific times and we’ve suffered quite a bit from depression etc. My depression got quite bad last year and my sister was actually the only person in the world who supported me wholeheartedly and understood what I was going through. My parents thought I was being dramatic and my boyfriend at the time thought I was lying about it, that I was acting out and doing it because I liked to make him miserable; he made my depression all about himself and how it affected him rather than seeing I was at the lowest point in my life. I actually felt so low that I wrote my parents, my sister and my boyfriend each a note, explaining why I didn’t want to be alive any more and I told them all pretty much the same thing: That I loved them with all my heart. I put them in envelopes and left them next to my boyfriend’s Xbox controller, because I figured that’s where they’d best be seen and I left the house. I fully intended to kill myself because that year, I had been bullied and worn down so much by my boyfriend’s mother who decided she didn’t like me any more and I felt like nothing, I felt like existing was too much for me. I’d rationalised that me killing myself was actually the best thing for everyone; my parents and sister would have each other and my boyfriend wouldn’t have to break up with me to please his mother. Now, they seem like pretty stupid reasons to want to kill myself, but I don’t think anyone who goes through those thought processes ever has anything eloquent in mind other than: I want to die. As I was walking towards where I needed to be, I felt pretty numb and I wasn’t really thinking about anything, but at one point, I realised I still had my phone on me and I looked at it, to see a text I’d received before I left the house: I love you xxxxx from my sister. I stopped dead in my tracks, turned around and walked home. Later on, I rationalised that I was being selfish to make my boyfriend go through the whole ‘telling my parents’ thing, but when it came down to it, had I not received that text message, I’d not be here writing about how amazing my sister is now. I know that with one hundred percent certainty. She saved my life.

Ingrid doesn’t know any of this and I don’t think she’d be able to handle knowing, which is why she doesn’t read my blog. But, the love I have for her extends far beyond any love I think I’ll ever feel for another person in my life; that girl is everything to me. Since then, we’ve gotten even closer and I have made her my priority in life. I’ve stopped seeing a lot of my friends, because even when they knew I’d broken up with my ex, they were still pretty nonchalant and behaved as though it was nothing and I realised that all the love and care I had for them, wasn’t really reciprocated and I don’t go out as often as I should, because I choose to see her when she’s free. We spend days lounging on  her bed, playing Skyrim or watching Friends and not even talking at all, but just being near her makes me happy. Since that day, I decided I was going to try and be a better person for her and be the sister she needs me to be. I mean, I’m the eldest sister and she needs me, even if she doesn’t know it. I’m her best friend too and to ever leave her would destroy her – I couldn’t do that to her.  She needs me just as much as I need her and I think that’s what our mam meant when she recited her mantra to us throughout the years. She didn’t mean having someone to go drinking with, or someone to hang out with when your friends weren’t free – she meant that when we felt like we couldn’t breathe or didn’t want to any more, that we just needed to look towards each other for guidance and we’d find our way back to feeling normal. My baby sister is my best friend and I have, quite literally, everything to be thankful for. I am so lucky to have her in my life. Love you, little legs.

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‘Tell your dad about your sex toys’

My sister, parents and I are a pretty tight knit group. I believe that this is a result of living in a foreign country, where I was bullied and my mother forced my sister to be my best friend. I mean, in the face of loneliness and rejection from society, who better to turn to for acceptance and forced friendship than your own blood? They have to love you. If they don’t, who knows what kind of resentments could take seed in your brain in order to lay waste to everything and everyone who vexed you? Look at Hitler: His mother told him his paintings were shite and he decided to take that rage out on the Jews*. Familial rejection can cause detriment only history and movies can truly depict – which is why, as a family, we have always been close.**

I have always enjoyed the closeness of my family and now that I’m in my mid-twenties and live on my own, I much prefer going home to see my parents and have my dad buy me a box of wine, rather than going out in an awkward social situation where I am more likely to fall over. Plus, I can do all of this in my pjs, it’s a win-win situation for me. My mother and I have become particularly close; we always have been, but now I think our friendship has gone to the next level and we are actually really, more than anything, best friends. In the midst of my break up with my ex, for example, she heard me scream the words ‘fucking cunt!’ numerous times without chastising me for swearing (I was heartbroken, this social discretion can and should be ignored) and has trawled through my Facebook page looking at single males she’d quite like me to have sex with. So, obviously, I share things with her that I probably shouldn’t have, but fuck it, I don’t really have any female friends who enjoy the true brazen attitude I have towards men and sex, I mean we allude to it, but it’s not really open for discussion with the majority, like they pretended it would be in Sex and the City.. I can’t say, for example, ‘he’s really funny, I’d quite like to sit on his face’ to my best friend, but I can say it to my mother. She laughs and I think she assumes I’m kidding. I mean, to an extent I am, if I wanted to grace the face of some canny lad I knew with my vagina, I’d probably not tell him about it and ignore him for the rest of eternity instead (YAY Anxiety!).

This can be a bit of a double edged sword. I mean, I’m all for a close friendship with my mother, but she has this extreme honesty about her, which means, anything I tell her, she ultimately tells my dad. Now, my dad and I are close, I am the apple of his eye and never far from his thoughts or his affections, even when he’s lecturing me for drinking too much or being messy or a bitch, but there are certain things, regardless of how close a woman is with her father, that should never be open for discussion as part of a familial debate. NEVER. I should also add that my sister suffers from this same boundary issue and something she and my mother deems to be open for debate, usually is, regardless of my protesting.

So during one of our family nights, my sister and I were talking about various things and I let slip to her that a friend of mine decided to provide me with a single girl’s survival guide which involved various Vibrators and Love Eggs. My sister was overjoyed at this concept and decided to tell my mother, who looked at me as though I was truly the most feminist woman ever in existence. I could almost see her brain working over time, trying valiantly to communicate how proud she was to have a daughter who would proudly take her sexual satisfaction into her own hands (literally). Her beaming grin quickly dissolved into a devilish, wicked, cackle of laughter before she screamed my dad’s name and shouted ‘guess what your daughter has!’ I protested as valiantly as I could to which she replied ‘ah, give over, he’ll just be pleased your getting some’ with which I promptly fled the room, but from all the laughter I could hear downstairs, it had been established to my dad, my papa, my father, his first born baby – that I have sex with myself with the aid of toys. Now I know how Harry Potter would have felt if he never got to go to Hogwarts and was subjected to masturbating in the downstairs cupboard of his auntie and uncle’s house whilst they watched News Night, turning up the volume decibel by decibel until the crescendo of his self-love came to a knee jerking halt to the sound of Jeremy Paxman discussing muggle events.

I stood with my head pressed against the cool glass of the mirror in our bathroom, scrunching my eyes tight, dreading to go back downstairs to my family, who presumably, would be waiting with baited breath to laugh and point at me for revealing this ridiculously personal thing about myself. What an idiot I have been, to assume my mother and I were friends when really, her loyalty lay with my dad. I was so angry and humiliated that I was almost relieved that there were no social minorities in the immediate area to take out unnecessary, unbridled and fucking stupid rage out on (see what I did there? Rounding off my blog with a nod to my intro; professional). Eventually I looked up at myself in the mirror and decided to go back downstairs to face my family like the independent, sexually explorative, feminist type lady I like to pretend I am and get on with my wine drinking. I could hear the laughter had abated and normal conversation had resumed, so I strolled back into the living room and no one said anything. Thankfully, I decided, my dad had taken a more mature response to my mother’s ‘hilarious’ piece of gossip and all was well.

Until a bit later when I got up to leave the room, he made a distinct buzzing sound and said ‘so that’s why you were asking me about batteries today, eh, Doris?’

Fucking families.

*Not historically accurate.

**May or may not be the actual reason.

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