The Strengths of Friendship and Hurts of Family

Catching up with Lucy

Friday, 24th April 2015

Dearest Friend,
It’s been a while since I’ve seen Lucy in company!
I was delighted that we were able to catch up earlier today.
I often think about her while I’m busy at college and wonder how she’s keeping.

I don’t know what it is but when we’re together we seem to lift the mood and make everything seem much more comical than it actually is.
We make each other smile and laugh without needing to try…
We share this unique understanding of empathy, which neither of us can deny relating to.
We feel safe and weirdly at home by each other’s company, without having to explain why…
We have a diverse friendship based on realism and comedy, which brings out the perfect balance.
I can’t quite explain it, and I can’t speak on behalf of Lucy’s feelings, but what we have is so important to me.
Having Lucy’s friendship brings about wonder and delight…

To make up for the time we missed of each other, Lucy and I decided on going to the cinema, for old times’ sake…
For us going to the movies isn’t much of a treat but merrily a routine when something interesting shows up on screens. This we especially like; not just because of what’s displayed but for the humour and interaction represented throughout the acting.

You could say that Lucy and myself behave much like comedic commentators, criticizing the behavioural habits that actors tend to find themselves, and observing the technical efforts on display – whether the directors are trying to be too modern with special effects or if the “eye” aims specifically on heartfelt moments of the story-line, to give us (the audience) a feel of reality; that we might find ourselves relating to in our own life stories.

This time, Lucy and I chose to go back in time and see a family classic: The Sound of Music (1965).
We sort of did this out of random choice, not really considering how profound a vintage film might affect us personally.
It was out of luck that there were only very few of us at the seating’s, and this gave us the chance to feel carefree, discuss the movie as it performed on and even whistle and sing along like two infants giggling in mischief.

In spite of all our giddiness and efforts to flawlessly express ourselves in the likes of a grand musical, suddenly a calm feeling came over me – which was so overwhelmingly euphoric – and that was from me recognizing just how special it is to be around Lucy…

A moment of stillness befell us and our hearts were one with the colourful picture, and so without even asking I gently lay my head on Lucy’s shoulder as her eyes were transfixed to the screen from the magnificence it portrayed.
I could have easily fallen into a dreamy sleep while resting on Lucy’s shoulder, and I know she wouldn’t mind, but instead she spoke suddenly: “Do you feel loved by your family…?”

The question was a painful one for me, and I could read the pain behind the way Lucy asked me, but for a long moment, I had no words.
I had to search deep inside to give her my most truthful answer…

As I write this, I want to make some things clear.
No one would understand this, but I’ve great love for Lucy…
No, it would never be sexual and neither romanticized by the notion that we would become a couple by flimsy choice.
But actually the affection I have towards her is brotherly in a lot of ways, and I have this need to be close around her: to pick her up when she falls, to guide her as she has done with me through pitfalls in life, and to ultimately make her happy…

In the hardest times, we’ve still contemplated life and found ourselves looking towards a positive future, and I guess all that comes to mind because we’ve found that we’re not alone or weak as the world might deem us at its lowest, and the way things stand are always temporary…
We take the good moments with the bad times, in order to try and form some sort of solution.
In a way, I didn’t fully answer Lucy’s question there – but rather took in the splendour of the moment, to reflect our capacity from re-actions to the actions brought forward…

So, in some retrospect, it is by our attitudes and mindfulness that we navigate through this energy force – sailing both through the positive and negatives.

But it is up to us to choose whether we’ll sink or swim – whether we’ll take the moment as a situation to learn from and be seen as a challenge to better our human character and give us broader perspectives on individuals and how their choices lead to their present reality…or whether we’ll succumb to the pressures and discomfort and find ourselves adapting to such thinking in our own interaction with others.

You could say that it’s everyone’s own responsibility to pick themselves up and find their own path individually by experience, but sometimes we need that extra push and people who give us that optimistic reminding of a life much bigger than the walls we cave in around our thinking; from feeding more into that negative energy at will.

And so, when we get that support and change our attitudes upon situations experientially, a person’s view on the world is changed and their perceptions seeming much more clearer than before.
A human life is transformed and their positive presence will attract alike influences, both from the kindness and sincerity brought forward by their choosing…

Maybe I’m speaking out of fantasizing thoughts, but it was the era in which the movie was shot (in 1965) and how there is a huge difference in the way young people are raised, nowadays, that made me reflect with Lucy youth and parenthood…

To be quite honest, in some parts of the film I felt the portrayal was speaking to me on many levels, especially in the way character Maria responded beautifully to the Van Trapp children, and it showed me the meaning of family in a new light.

The beauty of family life is that it DOES mess up as well as strengthen in understanding, and that human beings have a way of caring in a fashion that is always so surprising.

The “traditional” ideal structure of a built family doesn’t always exist for some people, and I come to believe there is a great purpose for that – such as spiritual growth in youngsters and a new sense of awareness – nothing particularly better than the traditional views on family life, but a new way of seeing what makes a family…

And this is how I came to that conclusion: I asked Lucy, after observing a scene in the movie where Maria is sitting up in the bed with the children throughout a thunderstorm, in a perhaps inquisitive tone: “Did you ever feel you were forced to grow up and lost your innocence?”

It may seem very random for me to ask these big questions (especially ones that some people might consider pessimistic in its facing reality), but I suppose such a great movie made both of us think and feel nostalgic; such a movie evoked such deep feelings we both wanted to express…

And Lucy knocked back in a powerful way, considering she thinks she has an expressive disorder, “Erm, I think there’s a reason for that though. A reason we had to go through all this stuff… Maybe to have a stronger sense of empathy and understanding of people.”

There is no doubt in my mind that the approach Lucy and I choose to take is an holistic one – an attitude taken from philosophical and spiritual roots.
I know the world would just think we’re idiots for assuming the knowledge to gain a stronger sense of ourselves, but I feel neither egotistical nor self-indulgent, to say the least!

It is from being around Lucy that makes me express my heart and soul, and though it’s more or less due to the struggles we are both facing in our family life, it is always liberating to know she’s there and sincerely understands me emotionally…

Yours always,

Saturday night, 2nd May 2015

Dearest Friend,
Poor Lucy…
She’s found herself in a harsh situation, which isn’t always so bearable to deal with alone.

She thinks she can face it head-on by being passive and not saying much, while deep inside she is pondering over things and not seeing much direction…
I’ve often wondered if my company and positive advice is helping her at all; I’ve noticed she’s at a loss of finding enthusiasm!

I have a lot of faith in Lucy, and I see a lot of strength forming throughout this intense endurance, but this superhuman effort to seek out superiority over the problems is wailing overtime, and the truth of the matter is that it’s not in Lucy to seek competition; as she truly is a humble soul and ultimately wants to find peace of mind…

And yet, the quarrels with her mother seem to hit the surface anyhow…and I think a lot of it is due to lack of communication and a past not fully accepted.
It’s really sad to witness because, despite the bickering going on, they are a beautiful family and love each other a great deal!

The difference is that it’s not like some typical phase where families clash and rekindle their differences, but actually, it’s an unpleasant situation of a broken family due to the loss of their father/husband and a trauma incomprehensible, and only until such a heavy burden is experienced can a person relate or share understanding…

Such a painful loss affected them all so different, as it would for a mourning wife and three troubled daughters, and the fact that they didn’t continue therapy is surely a factor on the harm of their mental health…
At the time, it is said that Lucy’s mother wasn’t prepared to face the reality and had other ways of coping, but for Lucy and her sisters, it was a vital time for an outer intervention and to receive the psychological guidance they needed to apprehend their loss.

Anyway, I can’t help but empathize with her mother at the same time because I’d imagine she was acting out of grief and felt isolated in bringing up her girls on her own, especially as she looked to her husband’s strength.

Because Margo always worked to pay the bills and was busy as a nurse, she didn’t have time to bond emotionally with her girls as much as was required.

It was mostly Thomas that stayed at home and spoiled his children.
I imagine that a lot of the conflict is due to life misunderstandings and holding different perspectives on a personal level, which naturally would clash when it’s spoken out – because I imagine Margo has a lot of regrets she hasn’t come to acknowledge, deep down, and how her daughters are distant due to a motherly-and-daughter-bond that was never felt…

Still, that’s not to say it’s Margo’s fault – circumstances can be cruel and life can bring its sacrifices.
It’s understandable that Margo was lost in her job and worked hard to earn an income, that would benefit the whole household – in her own right mind she didn’t predict how horrifying fate can lead, and so an unpredictable thing happened: Thomas was diagnosed with pancreas cancer and it put the family’s situation upside down…
And worse still, in Thomas’s last hours with his family, they witnessed how he died violently (without using morphine or accepting medical care) in his bed at home.

It’s unimaginable what Lucy and her family really went through; especially she, to lose her father at such a young age, who was the closest she resembled herself out of the family circle…

Within those precious few hours when Lucy and I chat over a mug of tea, she once reminisced a time where she lived a happy and carefree childhood; being outspoken and a bit of a wild child.
All those characteristics would change after her father’s passing and swallowing a harsh load of reality…
She sees now why she has struggled emotionally all those years, but would like to think she’s standing on her own two feet at present.

I guess receiving some encouragement from home could help her believe that…

I’ve probably said it before but I truly admire Lucy’s strengths – ones she herself mightn’t fully acknowledge.
She hides it all behind modesty and self-criticism.
But throughout the years, I’ve observed the beauty and sorrow that she ponders – how her intellect goes beyond her human years and her thinking majestic in a lot of its insight!

I’ve noticed how she tries, really tries to see the bigger picture and articulate what she wants to say – how she admits her own faults and reasons in the quarrels with her mother, how she wants to prove her capability of independence, and ultimately wants to seek the most practical approach in solving the problems she is having with Margo.

I would like to think mother and daughter can settle their differences, but I have the slight inkling that Lucy’s idealizing of a “unification” isn’t going to reach the perfect outcome.

Although I don’t doubt Lucy’s intentions to be the most willing, especially as she’s leaving herself vulnerable in the process, I think Margo’s ideals are more prompted towards everyday distractions and keeping herself dutiful to remain mentally sharp.

By looking at it from an opposite point of view, you’d imagine Margo was functioning better under the circumstances. Except, whenever a delicate topic is brought up, about the past or Thomas especially, she can’t handle how her girls see the situation and would demand a change of conversation or even leave the room…
It is these sort of obstacles that bother Lucy, as well as Kelly and Adela…

I remember speaking to Margo briefly before about wanting to make contact with Adela about a documentary I was producing as part of my TV and Film course last year, and suddenly Margo became a wreck over the phone – expressing her guilt and shame, as well as her concerns about communicating with Lucy, and from the way she was venting, I couldn’t help but feel sorry for her…

In a lot of her own ways, Margo does try.
Although she avoids “deep” discussion having to do with the past, in little ways she tries desperately to bring the family forward by moving about, busying herself with day-to-day tasks and setting an example that she feels to be right.

By observing things as an outsider, I think, emotionally speaking, circumstances have made Margo cold – to always see the worse side of things, to be embarrassed by her daughters’ weaknesses; to deny them of unconditional love and closeness, to see only shame by their “disabilities” and to become overly-sensitive when either of them makes an approach to get through to her…

It’s a lot to bear for one person, I acknowledge that – but I also see that there are two sides to the story that must be taken into account, in order for a balance to be formed, and I think this is what Margo needs help with – to be emotionally capable and stronger still in her hardened state of mind…
What Lucy might find hard to accept is that this change of attitude is a choice that only Margo can make on her own!

Yours always,

Sunday, 10th May 2015

Dearest Friend,
Things have been going fairly well here.
As of today, I have the relief of nothing dismal to report.
The last few days have been very easy-going; nothing but my daily routine.

As it’s summer and there’s no signs of work, I sleep in till most afternoons, which from then on I would force myself to get out of bed and be ready for the day.

First, I would rummage through my disorderly wardrobe for clean and uncreased clothes to wear (usually it’s my ready-to-go dark trousers and sleeveless t-shirt, preferably the light blue one, and over that I would put on my black leather jacket if I decided to venture outdoors).

Then, I would grab my shower equipment, plus the clothes I’d have folded on my other arm, and race for the bathroom before the next resident of the house makes use of it.
As I’m living in a shared accommodation setting, we all make sure to separate our towels on the rack for hygiene purposes.

When it’s my time to shower I would make sure to really scrub my hair with Head & Shoulders, as I’ve dry scalp – which amounts to having a bit of dandruff.

Once my hair is properly washed and rinsed, I would make sure the rest of my body is clean in other ways.
From my own preference, I prefer my body to be smooth and shaven. Often I would trim my pubic hair as well.
I don’t find this embarrassing to discuss anymore; I’m aware we all have our own body comforts, and I find keeping mine trimmed and tidy to do just that. In terms of being sexually active, it also holds preference as being more hygienic.

Once I’ve finished showering, I would then go downstairs (preferably when the kitchen is not in use) and make some breakfast.
If I’m feeling lazy I’m bound to decide on the quick cereals, but if I’ve an appetite for more I might fry up some sausages and eggs to go with a toasted sandwich, and as always a nice cup of Barry’s or Lyon’s tea.

For an hour or two afterwards, I might retreat back to my bedroom and listen to some relaxing music or read an inspiring book.

For a change, I’d like to list off the numerous amounts of reading material I’ve been busy with during the last five months:
1. Proof of Heaven – A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Dr. Eben Alexander.
2. Unbroken (now a major motion picture!) by Laura Hillenbrand.
3. Innocence by Dean Koontz (a gift from Lucy).
4. An illustrated book called: 1000 Dreams by David Fontana (birthday gift from Carol).
5. Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding.
6. Diary of an Unsmug Married by Polly James
7. A Very Private Diary by Mary Morris – An Irish Nurse in Wartime, from Galway to D-Day, edited by Carol Acton.
8. Marley’s Ghost by David Levithan, as well as the endearing love stories for gay youth in Boy Meets Boy and Two Boys Kissing.
9. The Coming Out Trilogy from John Green.
10. I reread the Conversations with God series, as well as When God was a Rabbit and Prayers for Bobby, by Neale Donald Walsh, Sarah Winman and Leroy Aarons.
11. The Lost Child of Philomena Lee by Martin Sixsmith.
12. Annexed by Sharon Dogar.
13. Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.
14. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz.
15. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.
16. Salvaged Pages – Young Writers Diaries of The Holocaust by Alexandra Zapruder.

Reading these amazing works, and taking in all the words vividly, bring me to interesting places – where I can imagine the situations of the characters, and be taken away emotionally from all the things going on in my life.

To explain it briefly, it allows me to think of better things, and not feel so depressed under my current situation…
I seek a similar escape through music, but with delicate sounds it’s a lot more immediate than the journey you find your imagination exploring through a narrative.

With books you receive intellectual pleasures in broadening your mind to certain possibilities and from being a follower in the storytelling; it teleports you to a certain time and place with a completely different set of feelings and actions, and you can almost see yourself there watching it all unfold…time stands still!

My family aren’t avid readers themselves, and more of the attitude that they see little point in the musings of “having your nose in a book”…
They’re logical alright and intelligent in many ways…but I wouldn’t say they see importance in exploring literature or academic pursuits.
Even as this stands, I observe that they have the qualities and strengths to achieve just as much if they focused their energies in those areas.

In the past I admit that I was easily influenced by the judgments of others and had given up on opportunities that could have helped me thrive for better things, and ultimately that largely reflects my lack of faith in my abilities.

I’ve learnt now how to keep myself grounded – to remain strong and not overly sceptical of each step I take, or overly sensitive when I mess up…

It takes patience, but the only way to get anywhere in this life is to keep moving and trying – informing ourselves of all the options available, and not to lose hope!

Aside from emotional upliftment, I continue to go out cycling daily when the weather good, and in passing the park I would regularly visit Cindy and M.I. if they happen to be home.

Sometimes I would encourage Cindy to go cycling alongside me around the nearby park and back to the house, and she would borrow M.I’s funny old fashioned bike, with it’s baby-blue colour and cute basket in front with huge wheels.
Far too often, Cindy would decide to put her pet puppy in the small basket and cycle fast down the narrow hill of her street – without holding the handlebars!
Always I would lecture to Cindy about the dangers and to stop showing off, and in response to this she would either scoff or sigh, depending on the mood of day.

I was disappointed to recently discover that Cindy did very poorly in her school tests!
We were sitting on a bench overlooking the river, drinking Pepsi, when I asked about her progress on schooling.

I noticed a great change in Cindy’s reading comprehension and her being able to read aloud much longer sentences without struggle, and I loved being of help to my sister and seeing these improvements for myself in practice.
Hence it was a shock to discover her recent attitude was weak-minded, as Cindy was very quick to quit and give up challenging herself.

She said: “I knew before I started that I was gonna fail, so I flew through the questions without giving it any thought.”
“But you won’t enjoy learning thinking that way, sis,” I pestered, making Cindy see that I once felt the same.
“There’s no point worrying about it anymore… You already have the results to show where you went wrong…
Now, in future, I want you to really try your best and not be lazy with your answers…See your mistakes as a guide…

I know you can do well! You just have to study harder and believe in yourself.”

Cindy didn’t really say much to this; she just looked on into the distance and was in deep thought.
It was easy for me to tell, though, that her struggling really did bother her, as she more seemed embarrassed that she was in fact falling behind in her studies.

“Listen to me,” I tried gently.
“If you ever need help with any of your homework or studying, just let me know and I’d be glad to help…
Don’t be ashamed to ask for help!”

Cindy nodded and gave me a hug with smiles.

It began to drizzle soon after, so Cindy and I hurried on out of the rain and decided on watching an episode of EastEnders with M.I.
Not long after this I headed on home in the dark.

Yours, Jay.

Trigger warning: this entry discusses childhood sexual abuse – Please skip this one if too much.
Only purpose of sharing is to show my experience through healing and acceptance, and the reality and shame surrounding this subject for families.

Tuesday, 12th May 2015

Dearest Friend,
I’ve been catching up with family more, now that my course has finished! 🙂

There’s been no signs of my mother – which leaves as no surprise…
There’s still that awful distance between Dad and me as well…
I’d like things to be different and that ideally we could all have a heart-to heart and really “see” each other, but focusing your energies this way isn’t realistic – since it’s sort of false to come with expectations without both seeing reason for compromise…

Although this is the reality, it doesn’t bother me all that much anymore – because it’s gotten to the point where updates of this dread is dull as ditch water…
Likewise, it’s pointless to dwell on all the happenings (when it’s all so far back into the past and today we all have our own priorities to commit to), yet I still do…

I experienced another little shock the other night, which is hard to put into words.
I was visiting Granny M and we were having a general chat over television about our wanders over the weekend, when suddenly Gran became quieter and spoke almost in a whisper.
Her tone was apologetic and words spoken with great empathy, yet what was actually said to me remains a blur; something completely unexpected…

I went away to make myself another cup of tea, to digest what Gran was telling me, despite the sudden realization.
You see, Granny M usually speaks quite bluntly and nearly goes off the handle with her flippant remarks (all teasing, of course!).
But this night Gran was much softer and not sarcastic in the slightest – and her reasons are very understandable…

Cindy’s upcoming court case was brought up, and Gran made it quite clear that she did not know how serious the situation actually was.
Gran’s meaning behind this is that she didn’t consider “touching” as serious to charge as rape – especially was her thinking about me as a boy – but I clarified that the act went beyond touching, and that penetration was involved.
This left her feeling disgusted and full of disbelief from the shock, and I had no choice but to also admit being in the same room when I heard Cindy crying in pain during the act, scared and pretending to be asleep.
I expressed my guilt for not turning over and protecting Cindy from a child molester – because that’s all He was to me!
He was big and hairy enough to know better – to understand the damage this will do to Cindy’s emotional development and trust of people, and I know this because I experience it too.

A part of feels ruined for the way he “introduced” me to sex in such a convincing and confusing way; making me believe I had a choice, telling me how to act and what to do for him, and me being so young and naïve to not understand the implications of being exposed to mature behaviour – not knowing that this would destroy my innocence, not knowing what rape and consent means, and how there’s systems in place to protect us of these things – until I grew up and had to confront the truth the hard way…

If it hadn’t been for the signs: my early experimentation with oral sex and having a tendency to act out with other children as I was shown – basically behaving in the same secretive way – then I doubt my family would have intervened after the social workers showed up and explained to me the rights and wrong of touch, boundaries when it comes to body contact, and understand that this behaviour I was exhibiting brought with it concern.

At first no one questioned how I might have come to know of sexual expression; it was more treated with disgust and secrecy because of shame around the subject.
What was most horrible is that when I discovered it was a very troubling sign for those on the outside (for you have to understand as a child I thought it was normal, since as a kid I also accidentally caught Mum and Tony making love one night), so I thought it was to be expected and meant that someone really liked me.
Now that I understand that it was done to me so as to take advantage and keep me quiet, I realize it was very corrupt and a pattern that needed to be broken!

It’s hard to admit that, before I got psychological help as a teenager, I once believed I must be a sick pervert who is no different to Him.
But as I spoke more with the therapist about what happened to me and how I acted out, she explained more rationally from a clean perspective how my body was really too young to function for what happened, and that my mental state was so confused from growing up surrounded by other forms of abuse all my life.
As she movingly put it “Part of you knew, Jay, that they wouldn’t listen if you told them about what happened,” and I guess she was right…
Because, even as there were signs there, before the social workers got involved, family swept all issues under the carpet and the way they dealt with things was through beatings and silencing…
Hell, I was so clouded from fear that I didn’t even recognize these happenings as abuse!
It took me a very, very long time to come to terms with how disturbed I was as a kid, from being exposed to all that I did and behaving as I had done; to be honest with you, I must have felt like a ghost as it was all happening, because I was so numb and detached.

Only the parts dealing with acting out sexually with other young friends do I feel deeply guilty about, because I realize as an adult I had no understanding of boundaries surrounding sex or right from wrong for that matter.
Even though it felt very grown up and a mutual act of curiosity, knowing that I unintentionally might have continued the cycle by showing what He showed me (from playing with each other’s private parts), those are actions I’ll never forgive myself for – as I imagine exposing those friends to sex like that done equal harm.
That is the only reason I ever saw myself like Him.

The only difference is that I was a child myself playfully acting out – He was much older and knew it was wrong!

As I’m me, and because I’m still living on (as we humans see fears as a means of survival), I don’t think those insights from the therapist will ever be enough to diminish the anguish that stains, or the depression that overcomes me on occasion…

As I’m still in Ireland, the past is always a constant reminder – these same places and people force me to remember the broken kid that once was me without a voice…
I don’t analyze things by pushing blame on anyone, or holding grudges against my family members because of not receiving the guidance and care I so needed, but more I look to causes and try to see a healing process that’s possible for all the family…
I see that it must begin with conscious reasoning, acceptance of mistakes, and recognizing collective worth through this battle!

I know, again, that this is all but ideal thinking – and that more than likely things are never going to pan out like a spiritual enlightenment could entail…
It’s too superstitious to even dream of such…but the only hope I got is through spiritual growth!

If I were to hold onto resentment and grudges, then He’s already won the battle…
By me resisting change and holding onto these damaging memories, I am allowing Him to control my potential, and for the past to consume my mind…
There’s no denying that it has done on occasion – but more so it’s due to current bother, when family members echo their own complaints and bring me back to those nights with stifled questions and judgment.

It’s sometimes a struggle to air the truth when you’re defined by those events, in such a way that nearly your whole identity gets brought into question, leaving your self-worth beaten and confidence dead.

It’s a numbness that occurs; where you don’t know who to trust, who actually believes in you, and that constant fear of rejection.
I hate that I must describe it that way – so blunt and grave – but why should I lie to you, if it’s how I horribly feel?
It’s a feeling of oppression that always lies in the shadows.

So yes, I do find solace from spirituality, and receive great comfort when I can connect along peaceful avenues, where for awhile I can be one with the universe.
It’s from there that I come back to recognize the need for balance – recognizing those feelings of guilt and anguish aside utter fulfilment; to be like the elements of fire and water – things that must stand, but also show reason to!

By letting go and showing compassion in my attempts to forgive Him (if only spiritually so that I can progress forward), I am able to avoid those energies of weakness, and that rope that tries to grip me down…
If I project a new vibe out into the universe then hopefully I can already make a step in progress towards true healing, and to no longer yield onto these emotional hurts behind stubborn justifications.

It’s really not in my will to judge Him, but for The Powers That Be – and of course the justice system itself…
However this battle pans out, I really don’t want to disappoint God in my days of contempt!

Yours always,

P.S. Sometimes I don’t know where these words come from – they just flow through me with urgency!
I know the people around me would question the sincerity of my judgment, but it’s from my reflections that I take on the habit of questioning (or correcting) the habits and effects, and hopefully from this I can strive to do better!

All I can say is thank you for being patient with me through times of uncertainty, and not giving up on me when it got difficult…
I just hope one day we can look back and say the journey was worth it!

Helping out Lucy with her mother

Sunday, 24th May 2015

Dearest Friend,

A lot more has happened in Lucy’s uncomfortable situation with her mother…
I allowed for Lucy to stay over last night, and it was lovely to have the company and laugh ourselves silly…
All the same, the seriousness of her situation is not one to be ignored!

Earlier yesterday, Lucy and I went back to her house, and it was presumed I could stay over because her mother wasn’t expected to be there, but it turned out she was home and the awkwardness in the air became very thick between them.
Margo argued “I’d prefer if you asked first before bringing guests over this late…a bit of manners, please!”
Lucy felt this was a complete lecture about control and firmly persisted: “Oh, I have manners…!” as she walked through the front door, without giving her mother much eye contact or seeing common ground.

I could see where both sides are misplaced in communication:
For Margo, it’s a matter of courtesy as parent; For Lucy, it’s a failure of natural respect and anxiety from expecting criticism at every turn…
It’s nearly in Margo’s personality that she is outspoken of her worries and can straightforwardly get to the point without any sensitive attachments.
For Lucy, she has big expectations of her mother; to have someone that’s emotionally understanding, to humbly see her own faults from the bickering, and to have some motherly patience – so that Lucy can comfortably approach Margo without any fear in mind.
In practice, it never really does run smoothly…
Margo especially finds it frustrating when Lucy becomes emotional and “can’t see” the rational behaviour as a result from her daughter’s need to separate and become more alienated.
A lot of it is strong personalities clashing from circumstantial standpoints, due to their age and current experiences which shape their world view on events.

I apologized to Margo and reasoned I’ve no problem calling over another time.
However, the core issue was not me, but actually Margo’s problematic relationship with Lucy…
Margo assured it wasn’t me – humorously in her tone pointing out the obvious, before heading off to bed annoyed.

Lucy let out a big sigh as we headed into Adela’s bedroom, where she sought comfort from speaking to her sister.
Lucy sat at the bottom of the bed as I stood watching them; she gave Adela a sympathetic look while asking: “Would you say that sometimes you find it hard to say no to mum?
I notice how you worry of being judged and would keep quiet.”

Adela pointed out, articulately as anyone could defend their position, that in the matter she would be objective when it comes to her career goals and notices how her mother would lecture what she feels is the more practical direction, without showing any care or acknowledgement for Adela’s dreams or interests.
I could see a great point in their mother’s concern, for Nanny G herself takes the same approach towards me.
But ultimately it was more respect out of individual action that Adela longs for, and she recognizes how her mother mostly reacts negatively as a controlling mother – as she nearly lost Adela as a baby to Whooping Cough.

Despite this, Lucy searched deeper from her sister’s reasoning, trying to rationalize and form better knowledge about their mother, explaining to us that it’s not out of intentional rudeness that she doesn’t tell Margo everything about how she feels or thinks.

In the end, I thought it best I head back to C.; to get away from all the antagonism between Margo and Lucy.
There are times where I can see Margo’s attempts from a good place; the intentions are well-founded, but often I notice how she knows very little about the inner struggles of her daughter, and how Lucy (despite being defensive) longs for sincere, unconditional love from her mother…

The next day I thought up ways in which it might be most appropriate for Lucy to approach Margo; to express how a lot of it is down to her depression and inability to assert her feelings before speaking with people in the “right” terms (rooted from the Language & Speech Disorder she was diagnosed with young), and to note how it’s not entirely Margo’s fault that there this huge emotional gap between them.
I was about to suggest this idea to Lucy more clearly in a text message, when I suddenly received a phone call from Margo at that instance.

We talked for roughly ten minutes – about Margo’s hopelessness, her doubt that Lucy would be willing to open up, and the unnatural presence at home.
Each time I tried comforting and reassuring Margo to see it in everyday terms, almost like a phase between parent and coming-of-age adult.
She’s got to understand that, emotionally, Lucy is at a delicate point in her life.

Because Margo felt doubtful and because she wasn’t patient enough to hold faith in Lucy’s process, she took a step further and asked if I’d accompany her for lunch in town.
I thought about it for a moment and then corrected my focus: “Well, as long as it’s okay with Lucy…
From there, I have no problem meeting up for a chat.”
Margo budded in before I could rationalize where this was going: “It doesn’t matter what Lucy thinks.
It’s your decision… I know already that if you asked her first, she would suggest you not to go because she’s like that!”
“Actually no, Margo. I’m sorry but I disagree…
I spoke with Lucy for a long-time last night, and she was very upset.
She wants to get along, but notices how for the both of ye it won’t be easy…
I was just about to suggest Lucy writing a letter to you about what’s bothering her and where from her standpoint she’s mostly struggling to express herself and open up…
I think different avenues of reaching out might help things along the way…”
“A letter,” Margo scoffed, “Odd, that! I mean, I’m her mother…
She’s not going to succeed anything hiding up in her room crying about it!”

Even though I could already suspect the result of our afternoon lunch, I agreed after receiving brief confirmation from Lucy to go ahead first.
I held the focus that, maybe, I could help Margo see where Lucy stands, and try to explain better what she’s trying to get across behind so much anxiety – so I said yes.
I rang Lucy then and promised her that I would try my very best to help her out.
She had no feeling on the matter either way – Lucy could predict that it would end badly and didn’t appreciate how her mother was getting other people involved with their issue – but said “Okay…Good luck with that!”
As if the stage curtains were about to spread open and intense drama unfold!

The following morning (today), Margo arrived outside the house sharply on time.
Me, having hardly slept through the night, threw on a tracksuit and rushed down into the car.
The first thing Margo commented on was my sleepy face: “Did ya just fall out of the bed…? You look a threat!”
Immediately I laughed and apologized for having kept her waiting.
“It’s alright,” she calmly responded. “I needed to get out of the house anyway…
Being cooped up would drive anyone nuts!”

People that have little patience would find Margo’s wild chatter to be a little hysterical; she doesn’t hold back what she thinks and cuts straight to the point.
I find her personality to be comical, and I do come to empathize – despite how insensitive she might choose to approach situations.
What I always try to do is look beyond people’s choice of words and dive into the core of the problem: what’s causing them to react this way, and how there is a rational explanation for the behaviour behind this pain.

Lucy, unfortunately, is highly sensitive and takes much of what her mother says to heart.
Sometimes I notice when there is good reason to – after being closely criticized for norm habits, and her independence being threatened… Living under Margo’s control must get stifling at times.

But, more often, I observe that Margo jumps on the offensive when Lucy isn’t comfortable enough in sharing her daily happenings, and this big gap in communication – that awkward distance between them – is mostly why they clash to such an emotionless extent.
Because either of them, as equal adults, don’t compromise in seeing where they go wrong, it ends up being a miserable cycle.
This is one of the main reasons why I thought speaking with Margo might shed light on Lucy’s position, without having to defend or be bias in between.

So, as Margo drove in the car towards town, she went on to apologize for any misunderstanding she may have made towards me; it wasn’t her intention that I should leave that night.
She pointed out that it’s little things, like Lucy not speaking to her first, that’s the problem.
“I feel like a stranger in my own home,” Margo blurted out.
“There’s no communication… Lucy and Adela would spend nearly the whole day in their bedrooms.
And if I ask them to help out around the house, it’s almost like they expect praise every time…
It’s not right that they should expect that of their mother!”
“Well, I don’t know… I think sometimes Lucy tries to make you proud in small ways, too, but finds you’re too distracted to notice. I think it’s very healthy for young people to receive encouragement from their families – we need that, so we can see mutual respect is met…
I don’t think Lucy would approach you with materialistic expectations, but rather wants you to be more open and vulnerable about the issue as she is…
I think she’s more willing to open up with those that are level-headed, otherwise she’s more cautious in the face of opposites.”

Margo gasped and tightened her hands around the steering wheel, keeping her eyes on the road ahead.
Then she let out a false laugh before assuming her place: “But we’re family… Nobody is perfect.
The trouble with Lucy is that she’s far too emotional and thinks too deeply about these things.
It’s pointless… What does she get out of it? Nothing!
Like I said, staying in her bed and isolating herself isn’t healthy.
I keep pushing her to get out and socialize – she needs that – otherwise she’s going to go mad!”

I looked at Margo and wondered if she was being sincere about that – because I’ve observed that she equally ponders these problems and would stress every bit as much.

I think a large part of the gap in understanding are assumptions based around age difference: Margo seems to think because she’s retired and has worked all her life as a nurse that, by right, she can lock herself away in her bedroom downstairs, and that Lucy should be the more “sociable” one because she’s young.
Whereas I tend to think it doesn’t make a wit of difference how old they are, and that their equally adults to take responsibility for their actions!

So, I didn’t believe age was the factor for cause, when it’s really about two family members hit hard with trauma through the painful loss of their loved one…
If anything, trauma slowed down the progress for spiritual growth for both of them.

“I can see what you mean, Margo, but Lucy has a lot of acceptance to face before she can comfortably be more trusting of people, and before she is free from her depression…
No, I do see how she tries – she’s very sensible in her decision-making and tries to think ahead.
That in itself is progress…
She’s just very sensitive about this bickering between the two of you and needs closure.
She speaks to me about how it affects her and why she gets frustrated when you don’t try meeting her halfway…
Am I wrong in saying that losing Thomas brought about all this tension in the family?
Do you think Lucy struggled to accept that…?”

“I was working all the time, you see, so I didn’t have the time to be there for them, and it’s as if I was left alone to raise them.”
“Did you find it difficult to share that loving bond again?”
“There never was that bond, ya see, because Thomas was home a lot with them and I had to be the stern one when he died, because we had to keep moving forward… Otherwise we’d get nowhere…
I’m not going to lie – I have some days where I stay in my room and have a cry to myself, but it’s only as a release, not habit.
I would never share that with them, though, because who then would keep things under control?”

A lot of the time when Margo was speaking, you could sense the hurt behind her words and read the desperate cry out in them.
I was speechless and had no advice here, but to sincerely look her in the eye and show that I’m listening.

After a nanosecond, Margo caught on that I was lost in translation of her panic, and so she quickly returned back to her firm composure and criticizing Lucy; how she wasn’t an attractive baby after all, how she needs professional help, and how she can’t cope with her like this in the house anymore…
A thought came to mind: I think ye both need to try family therapy.

Our afternoon lunch was very intense.
Margo spoke about her marriage with Thomas, how she remembers hearing the news about his terminal illness, and the breakdown of the family after his death.

I kept thinking, if Margo had faith in a higher power – God or something – then it might bring her solace and some peace of mind.
If she could interpret all these happenings differently while inviting fresh beginnings; trust that Thomas’s spirit has transcended beyond the grave, and humbly respect her daughter’s coping mechanism in a new way as she might admit her own…

If Margo trusts that this is all transitory, and that it’s a step towards a higher love – a spiritual acceptance, then I believe true healing can begin and the magics of the universe able to invite positive forces their way, so that it all can serve them well on their way into change.

Oh, I do hope both of them can find closure – no matter what their path choices may be – because they’re equally caught up in the past, that they deserve a chance to grow and start anew!

Yours always,

Overwhelmed at family event

Tuesday, 26th May 2015

Dearest Friend,

Phew… Finally, I have some time to breathe and think things through more clearly!

Two nights ago was my uncle’s surprise birthday party, and it gave me such an odd feeling to be around everyone together after so long…

I never thought such a peculiar feeling would over overtake me and trigger back on such lonely times – but the reality is that the family separation (between my sisters and myself from Mum) brought about a lot of complications and less contact, so the awkward void felt during this appearance was inevitable!

Still, isn’t it unnatural that families with loving capacity should take such a passive approach?
I’m conscious that a lot of these intense feeling were very much my own; a deep projection built from the alienation growing up, and having achieved little-to-none close bonding with my Mother at present.

I mean, sure we smiled for the crowds and stood close in photographs – but who cares about those acts, when very little of our lives are shared emotionally and the appearances very superficial?
They see only what they prefer to face, unfortunately!

I love Mum a great deal, and I think of her well-being often – but when has she ever felt an urgency to care about me or show the slightest form of sensitivity from all we’ve gone through?
My sisters and me were cut apart from our parents’ lives (even if only living space, but it had it’s hurts), and they never really got their act together or decided to change and fight for us.

Deep down, beyond the hugs and smiles, I felt this sharp disappointment in the pit of my heart…
I try to let it go, and I want to forget – but I can’t deny my needs as a child were robbed from me, and that this horrible longing for a parent’s unconditional love persists!

Although I understand Margo’s reasons as an outsider looking in, these emotional needs are where Lucy and I relate greatly…
I know what it’s like to want a family’s guidance without expecting a push of compromise; I know what it’s like to feel needy and so dejected in my own dealings with people.
Perhaps this is why I’ve issues surrounding trust and emotional intimacy today…

Anyways, the party was executed wonderfully for my uncle.
I mean, he was surrounded by all his friends and relatives; each cheering him on and celebrating the night away with utmost joy.
Listening to him play on the guitar with my other uncles and Mum was amazing!

I arrived at the party first with Carol, as I asked if she’d tag along with me as a support, but it was easy to spot how she felt uneasy around my family’s bustle and noise, and it simply wasn’t her crowd.
Her interaction with me at the bar was so false that when she began bragging about buying a new fancy purse and looking around anxiously to see who was watching, I gently told her it was perfectly fine if she wanted to leave.
I reassured her that I would be okay and hugged goodbye.
I wouldn’t want a friend to feel like she had to be in a space that intimidated her anyhow…
It was lovely to catch up with my auntie Michelle, and to speak in person about my college plans and positive things that have happened throughout the years.

Weirdly enough, my younger cousins sort of looked up to me with utmost respect and regarded me as the first from our family to be working towards university and doing “successfully” in life.
I couldn’t take the compliments seriously, that I sipped my drink and just sort of told them they were too kind.
I thought it was funny how my family have no other way of approaching me; it’s only ever been about serious things and never the close family matters that (especially my younger cousins) find themselves caught up in, and so I just found their interaction with me to be civil at best.

I’ll never forget the moment when one of my drunk relatives said to Mum, after briefly introducing me, “Where have ya been hiding this handsome fella? Keeping quiet I see!”
Mum looked on into the distance, smoking in thought, before softly responding with: “Oh, my son’s not hiding… Jay’s doing really well for himself.”
I continued to keep holding my steel smile towards the drunk man, holding the wall behind me for support, and feeling extremely awkward…
The man looked at me for a moment and was about to say something else, but I guess he forgot his lines, and so he staggered back towards the bar for another pint.

As soon as he was out of sight, I dashed to the restroom and broke down, because my family haven’t the faintest idea about how I really feel…
Hey, they never care to ask what I’m about, or who I really am!

I’m delighted my uncle had a lovely party overall, and I’m proud of myself for at least showing my face and keeping that firm composure, but it honestly was a very awkward encounter.

I felt everyone’s eyes on me, and it was a feeling of exposure that I can’t describe like anything else…
I know what they all must have really been thinking…
And what they all certainly were feeling was shame towards me, for breaking their bubble long ago!

Yours always,

Wednesday, 27th May 2015

Dearest Friend,

I’m feeling less and less uneasy about the other night.
It wasn’t just about what I was able to describe; it was a rush of things, really…
Things I find very hard to put on paper!

Please don’t be under any illusions about my family: sometimes they can be the nicest bunch and welcome you with open arms…
Sometimes I wonder if that’s what causes me to feel so out of place around them; causes me to reflect the things that have hindered the most!

I realize that makes very little sense yet.
The truth is, there was felt a bit of shame when my sisters and me were put in Care and everything became unspeakable – everyone would distract themselves from the truth, and the tensions made me feel very guilty for having opened up about all the abuse first…
It’s wrong that families should conceal with denial and deny us young people the chance to speak out and know we’re heard and believed…
Emotionally, it can leave you very unstable if you’re denied support and validation from those who bring you up, or who choose to leave you go through it alone…
Which was the way it more or less turned out in my case.

My Mum’s side of the family had very little contact with me throughout the years I was put under Nanny G’s care – apart from Granny M – and that was fine with me at the time because it became the norm…
But it doesn’t help lately when I show up to the party, or family events in general, and I catch these unknown faces give such sympathetic looks.

Some family friends came up to me and commented on my “strength” – saying I was doing so well after all I’ve been through, and that I make them very proud…
That’s very nice and everything, but it’s hard to feel genuine gratitude when these are people you hardly know.
I know it’s anxious thinking, but I don’t think they truly care about me…

It seemed they only pitied me and looked to me as a victim, and that really tied knots in my tummy during the pleasantries…
My true feeling was this uncontrollable urge to get out of there, so I could breathe and think like myself again, not like some rat in a trap.

It’s over now anyway, but in future I’m not going to show up to a group of strangers and get embarrassed like that again.
I’ll be more at ease and feel in control!

Mum especially was too distracted in her dancing and drunkenness to notice I was in a desperate position; I felt completely thrown in the deep end, since I didn’t feel as though I belonged…

I know that wasn’t intentionally their fault, but circumstances forced that – and we didn’t really know what each other are about, and that’s overwhelming if you consider the tremendous changes taking place since before everything shifted.

Oh, I don’t know…
It seemed everyone focused more on keeping fine appearances, and see nothing else but the party mode their anticipating!

All the same, I’m glad everyone had an amazing time.
I just hate that I couldn’t truly share that same joy and connection, since so much precious time spent was taken away.

Yours always,

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