Me: What are you going to do, you can’t just keep living there, not moving forward?
Mum: I don’t know what I’ll do, I’m finding it very hard, Ali.
Me: I know you are, I can see that – there’s never going to be an ideal time, it’s never going to be easy, it’s going to suck, it’s going to be hard but you can’t just keep putting your life on hold.
Mum: Can’t we just have a nice conversation about nice things? I knew this would happen if I came to see you.
Me: No because I can’t pretend with you, I can’t lie, I can’t be false.
Mum: I know, I know. (I think she believes if she says she knows, just agrees with me, I will stop.)
Me: You have to do something, we have no relationship with you, you are isolated, you never see anyone.
Mum: It’s just because I’ve been working, I’ve been busy, that’s all.
Me: He hates you.
Mum: Well, he does and he doesn’t. He can’t even take care of himself when I am there, he’ll never manage.
Me: And? Who gives a shit?
Mum:He’ll just drink himself senseless and spend all of our money.
Me: We’ll start the ball rolling, we’ll make sure that can’t happen.
Me: I think you need to see a counsellor, who’s trained to help victims of abuse.
Mum: Oh, I already know all that stuff.
Me: Mum you just gave me the “he needs me, he’d be helpless without me” speech.
Mum: I know, I’ll go and see my counsellor again.
Me: You haven’t been going?
Mum: (outraged) I’ve been working.
And so we go. I have been holding on to the hope that she would leave. I have to try and accept that she never will. The last time I saw my father was nearly a year ago. I was heavily pregnant with Grub. We had just arrived home from the UK and were planning to move into this house the next day. He was drunk, he became enraged and violent. Thank goodness the big kids were with their Dad. He wouldn’t dare touch Beefcake. We managed to get almost all of our things so that we wouldn’t have to go back. A mattress strapped to the top of the car at three in the morning. We forced her to come with us. It wasn’t the first time.
Who knows how many times she has just tried to lock herself in her room and ride it out. Who knows how many more times she will be forced to flee in the middle of the night. Who knows what he might do to her.
The thing is, when she went back after that episode, she was walking on air. When she came to tell me she was taking her things and going back to live with him, she couldn’t keep the smile off of her face. She could go and look after him. She had been bereft of purpose without all of the drama that rages in her life.
Beefcake commented to me yesterday that in the last couple of years he has come to see her as soulless. It’s true. She is all facade. She is an empty and impenetrable shell. A veneer of happy life and happy marriage to most people. I feel sick to be in the room with her now, now that I have decided I won’t tow the line and pretend along with her.
I got another drunken 3am email from my father yesterday. Patchouli! called me in the morning to let me know so that Beefcake could get rid of it before I had to see it. Her partner had deleted hers. We don’t read them. Beefcake confirmed that it was much the same as usual, stuff about how horrible my mother is, about how he wants to tell his side of the story because she has clearly poisoned us against him.
This is old ground. I have been at this place with my mother before. Back and forth we go. Only now I can feel myself coming to the point where something will break. I don’t know how long it will be before I will have to just sever all ties to her. I don’t want to do that. To be all alone in the world without a parent, even one with no nurturing to give. Despite all that she has done in the last year I have kept the lines of communication open.
I don’t want to blame her for his misconduct. She is a victim too. I know.
Self preservation though, surely that matters?