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Slightly Broken: Family, you got to love them, right?

It’s not that I don’t – love them I mean. I only have a few; divorced parents with their respective partners, a brother and a sister (with their other halves – a brother-in-law, with niece and a soon-to-be sister-in-law) and an uncle. Oh, and cousins and aunt overseas, but I hardly ever count them in. But few enough that you’d think I could manage to maintain some degree of sensible relationship. And yet I struggle.

I do enjoy being with them, I just find it extremely difficult to get round to getting in touch and arranging anything. I’m not really sure why. For example – it’s my Mum’s birthday this Sunday and I haven’t arranged to do anything. I pretty much forgot anyway, till my other half reminded me of its imminence. I genuinely believed her birthday was later in the month. I am not a good son. So I texted to say hi… And i’ve made and sent a good birthday card. But i’ve done nothing else. And how does that make me feel? Well, I do have that lagging sense that I ought to have tried to sort out at least a visit I guess. But I haven’t. I’ll make more effort to see my Dad. And that’s a bit mean I suppose, but I have a much stronger relationship with my Dad and I feel a greater need to see him, to re-connect and be together than I do with my Mum. Of course, none of that is my Mum’s fault and yet from a certain slant it’s not my fault either. In fact, is there even any fault going? Isn’t it just the way it is?

Many years ago, after my Mum left my Dad when I was ten and me and my siblings’ lives were bizarrely and stressfully split between two homes for literally half a week and alternate weekends, and Mum met some guy, who was a prick, with four daughters and we kind of all lived together… Sigh. It’s potentially a long and confusing story. Suffice to say divorce is upsetting, even as the eldest child, but I had no desire for a step-father or four step-sisters.

Well, we fell out. It was a complex spatial and social environment. We fell out over freedoms I guess, in my case the traditional dromedary’s spine was cracked by an insistence I eat the despised Brussel sprouts. So, so trivial.

But it followed a week at Dad’s which I was loathe to end with the space, attitude and freedom I so adored and replace with a busy household of people I didn’t want to know, (but a tiny cat I was besotted with) and a mother whose needs and situation I neither understood nor wished to. Still, it feels trivial – and worse in the telling. But I declared my independence / tearfully and defiantly packed those few things I needed (when Mum first moved out I remember painstakingly halving the sets of all things I owned, to equitably distribute the things I loved between those I loved. Obviously this made most things unplayable and the toys I wanted most were always elsewhere. The absurd finale of this was taking half of the Chronicles of Narnia to Mum’s; the rest remained at Dad’s) and stormed out. I recall Mum equally defiantly trying to force me to take some object which i’d given her as a display of filial love. I don’t recall what it was, but I know I left it – not out of spite, but because I loved her and although I was terribly angry, had no wish to revoke that love.

We didn’t speak or see each other for nearly a year. I even spent Christmas abroad since my Dad had already made plans and had not anticipated the full-time return of his son. He did however welcome me with open arms, I guess partly for my rebellion and because he missed us all dreadfully. And so I lived with Dad from when I was thirteen (a guess – my sense of chronology is awful). And that did seem to balance a rage and upset for me. I’d made a choice, or had it forced upon me – depending on how I think about it.

I’ve never really talked to Mum about that – she’s onto a second husband since that twat showed all of his colours (to no one’s surprise), but we made up to an extent a few years later and i’d visit weekly. But it’s never been the same. I have a dim recollection that it was Mum who I was really close to as a young child and I think the whole divorce flipped all of our relationships around. I suppose it’s hard, if not impossible, to overcome that sense of being abandoned, which I then later repeated on Mum. Our relationship now is an adult one of conversation and friendship, but it’s never reached an emotional closeness again. I feel sometimes that i’d like to have that, but also recognise that there are too many gaps, too much concealed – and I don’t know if I can recover that sort of relationship to the way I have with Dad. Or that I want to. It’s almost like i’ve chosen to invest in Dad… And more than that feels.. Excessive? That sounds pretty messed up.

And yet the strain I feel, the reluctance to make contact, to use up my time to see my Mum, my siblings and sometimes even Dad. Well, it worries me I suppose – it feels almost unnatural, but I don’t feel drawn to see them. I enjoy it when someone else, usually my sister or Dad, draws us together for some occasion. But otherwise, I can go for days even weeks without thinking of them or wondering what they’re up to.

I do wonder if i’m a good person and what on Earth they must think of me.

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