Candid Conversations: Family, sorry seems to be the hardest word

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When I first started this blog I decided that therapy was getting me nowhere and that maybe I would be better of chronicling my thoughts and feelings in a diary. Then I decided to make my diary a little more public in hopes that I could find a likeminded individual that I could perhaps share the daily struggles with. I figured maybe we could both counsel each other during our times of need.

I also decided that I wanted to be as brave as I could be, I would use my blog as a way of gaining confidence in myself, this meant I had, to be honest, and not side-step issues that I wanted to discuss. I wanted my blog to be a safe space for me to be the real me, to say what I really think, and how I really feel.

So why am I being so hesitant in my blog post now? I’m not really sure, I guess it’s because the topic of family dysfunctions is always a sore topic to talk about. Why do I want to write about this then? Well because I just wanted to try to make sense of the situation, and what better way than write a long rambling rant.

After all, there may be someone out there who is feeling the same way and experiencing the same thing and once again my blogs purpose will have been met, maybe you and I could figure out what makes our families so fucked up?

I love my family more than anything in this world. I would die over and over for any one of them and I don’t even expect them to do the same for me. I take every opportunity to go back home whenever I can and all the other times I can’t I am homesick and miss my family. I am such a family person that I’d pretty much give everything up just to be with them.

I’ve always looked highly at my family. Despite us not having a lot of money, my parents were hard workers and my sisters were good kids. I was always the black sheep of the family but even so, my sisters and parents loved me. We were by no means perfect but I loved how close we were. I’ve previously mentioned I also have two half siblings, a half-brother, and a half-sister. I never really considered them family.

I want to take a quick side step…I’ve been umming and aahing about how much I’m actually going to say but I decided to just limit myself to some truths, some facts that put me in a very bad light. Again the reason for discussing my reasoning behind starting a blog was never to gain sympathy, in fact, I never wanted sympathy, I just wanted someone to listen, perhaps be inspired, maybe one day someone will read something I’ve written and know that they are not alone. In saying that I want to make it clear that some of these bitter truths are going to be difficult to write, but I want to say them because I want, to be honest. Again this story is not fully mine to tell, mainly because I only know one side of it.

Without completely re-writing the blog post, I’ll just link it below, I’ll recap what my family structure is like. Basically, my Dad was previously married, and in that marriage, he had a daughter and a son. His marriage had fallen apart and ended, he wanted to find someone to help look after his kids so he hired a nanny. The nanny shared a special and close bond with the kids and one day my Dad fell in love with her. That nanny was my Mum. My Mum got pregnant with my older sister and went back to the Philippines. Facts are a little hazy from there so I don’t really know what happened in between those few years until I popped out. I remember we lived in the Philippines, my Mum, my sister and I, we were surrounded by my Mums family and there was never any shortage of love. We didn’t really have a typical relationship with my Dad but we knew he existed. The truth was he still lived in Hong Kong and was still raising his kids.

Again I don’t know much information on what was going on but I do know that we knew about our older brother and older sister living abroad. Back then I didn’t really understand that living abroad would mean being away from my Mums family so I always envied my older siblings. By the time my youngest sister was born we were pretty much being prepped to move our little family to England.

Throughout these formative years, I pictured a life with a full house and a happy family. I wondered what my big brother would teach me and whether my older sister would let me hang out with her friends. I had this fantasy that when we all met we would just love each other like we were suppose to. I never imagined that we would all actually hate each other and that I would then hate my very existence as a result.

Instead of family dinners, there was fighting and crying, instead of happy memories, I was scarred and traumatized by the war the raged in my house. There were some truly terrible things that happened and basically this automatic bond I believed I would have with my siblings was severed before we could actually have a relationship.

Many years on, I would learn that despite us knowing about our older siblings, they did not actually know about us. So instead of being prepared for a new family, they were forcibly welcoming strangers into their home. We were the other family, the secret family and part of the shame of that stayed with me. I felt like we were hidden because my Dad was ashamed of us and even though somewhere somehow I learned to forget that, I can’t help think about it sometimes.

I never really had much going on with my older half sister; she was barely in my life but from what I remember, life wasn’t easy when she was around. There were a lot of fights and screaming, she always made her anger vocal and then one day she was gone. My older half brother was a little more subdued. He was often quiet and kept to himself a lot, despite this, he made his disdain for us quite clear.

My relationship with him was a little more difficult. Unfortunately, I only made things worse. You see I went through a phase, a bad phase, a phase where I would steal anything and everything. To this day I try to evaluate that phase of my life, I’m not sure why I did it but I do remember the euphoria I felt whenever I stole something. I’m not trying to excuse what I did because I know now that it was very wrong. But at the time, it made me happy, like it made me feel alive. So despite our strained relationship, I stole from him. It frustrated him and he would try to retaliate at me. I figured, at least I got some kind of reaction from him instead of the ordinary ignoring I was used to. I wish I had apologized, I wish I could apologise for the actions of the stupid young me, but I think time has passed and the apology would be worthless at this point.

You see my family are great at a lot of things but we suck at apologizing. It’s like we’re incapable of saying ‘I’m Sorry’.

Over time, we all matured a little more, we learned how to be civil around each other. I continued to pray that we would someday be a happy family, but the chance of that happening lowered every year that passed. Anger, resentment built up and still the divide was very evident.

My boyfriend had a slightly similar family dynamic, his older brother and sister were only his half siblings and despite this, his family lived together harmoniously and in a very loving environment. I envied how easy it seemed for them. They accepted my boyfriend as their full brother, they loved and cherished him, don’t get me wrong they argued too like siblings do but it’s clear they care for him deeply. I wished that our family could be the same.

My older half sister eventually went on to find the love of her life and together they had a very beautiful little baby. Despite my anger towards my older half sister, I could not resist wanting to be an aunt to her daughter. I loved her baby truly like she was a full niece to me. In fact, I forgot about being halves. It was all love.

I could see how everyone seemed to get along and genuinely enjoyed being in each others company. For the first time in a very long time, I felt genuine love for my older half sister, and maybe she hadn’t accepted me yet but I knew that on my side, there was nothing but love for her and her new family.

My older half brother even got along with my sisters. Because of our history, we still didn’t get along. I hated him being around but there was not much I could do about that.

Whenever I came home to visit he seemed to be around. I would loudly sigh whenever he was around or purposefully walk out of the room so that I didn’t have to be around him. I had felt disrespected enough by him and felt offended that my parents thought I could just easily play happy families with him.

Then my boyfriend forged a seemingly genuine friendship with him. They would share jokes with each other and hang around as if they were friends. At the time it made me angry but secretly I was just hurt that my brother would get along and accept everyone but me. I also felt relief that finally my Mum was also being accepted because for so long I was upset that she was being treated like an outsider when she was such a wonderful person.

One day as we were packing to go back home, my older brother approached me and in a semi-joking tone said ‘you both should come home more often’. I was shocked he made such a comment when only months ago we both did everything we could to avoid each other. I started thinking about what he said, finally, I admitted to my partner that all I wanted was for him to accept me as his sister, that I wish he could just be civil to me and maybe include me in a conversation rather than feeling like I was always being left out. My boyfriend suggested that next time I should try to talk to him instead of going about trying to ignore him.

I actually got excited at the prospect of finally having some kind of relationship with my distant brother. There I went thinking that no apologies were needed, all we needed was time and maturity to finally have the family that my Dad had dreamed for us.

So a few weeks later we made our way back to Devon for my Grandma’s birthday. We were going to have a big family reunion and it was supposed to be a good night. We all got dressed up and got ready to go to the venue. We sat in the taxi and shared a few jokes, my older brother even showed me pictures of his new house and I offered to help him with renovations. The atmosphere was nice, we were all excited, there was just so much to look forward to. I remember looking at my older sister and we were silent for a moment, it was almost like we both knew, at last, our family was coming together. Even though it had taken almost 20 years, it was finally happening, and for the first time, I felt glad I was home, home with my family.

The party was a mixture of great and awkward. It was typical family mingling, drinking and taking a lot of photos. My boyfriend was doing shots with my half brother and Dad, people were having fun, and my grandma was dancing. I laughed so much that night that my face hurt and my belly ached. I felt genuine happiness and I was glad I got to share that moment with so many people I loved. We celebrated my grandma’s 90th and I could tell how special it was for the family to be together.

Then just like that, the atmosphere changed and a fight broke out. A lot of shouting and screaming filled the air, my normally reserved older sister stood her ground and she made me so proud that she spoke out instead of letting things wash over her like she usually did. Pretty soon arguing broke out between my family. Some hurtful things were said and it was like I was 6 years old again. Cupping my ears trying to drown out the fighting, trying to pretend I wasn’t in the room.

All of the past hurts came back out like they were never solved like no time had passed and we were all hurting about the same things again. My older half brother finally got to say the things that he had been holding on to since childhood, his true colours finally showed. He loved watching my Dad shout at us, he egged him on and every time it looked like he was going to calm down, my older half brother would just throw another bone out to get my Dad angry again. The car ride home was the worst thing I ever experienced, I wanted to just die at how bad it was.

I remember crying thinking about how I was lulled into believing that finally, our family was going to come together. That divide between siblings just opened right up and once again I felt my heart go out to my Mum.

Through our protests for my Dad to stop screaming, my brother would scream back telling us that we needed to hear the harsh truth and that he was glad the truth was finally coming out, that he was glad this was happening. My boyfriend trying to be supportive said he agreed with my brother and in anger, I said ‘If you agree with him then you agree that we should never have been born, you’re rejecting us too like he is.’ And for the first time, I finally got to say what I wanted to.

I figured if everyone’s fighting then I may as well share my own home truths. I was angry, my Mum, Dad, Sisters and brother were angry. The anger had built up so much that it was like a volcano ready to erupt beneath the surface.

The trouble is, that fight lead to a lot of harsh realities coming to light, and a lot of what was said can never be taken back. No amount of apologies can ever make this okay.

That night my Mum, boyfriend and I slept in the same bedroom. My Mum and I cried ourselves to sleep. I was still in some kind of disbelief that this could happen after having a good family reunion.

I wondered whether any of it was genuine.

The truth was my half brother never accepted us, he never actually cared about us, and he hated my mother and it made me wonder whether my Dad felt the same. Whether he felt like moving us to England was a big mistake. My whole illusion at a family was shattered and I no longer felt safe emotionally in my childhood home. The worst part was, my Mum once again felt like an outsider when all she ever needed was to be accepted and loved.

The next day was pretty much like this haze, my sisters and I were supportive of my Mum, we went out to breakfast to evaluate life and cried, hugged and vented the way we needed to.

Again apologies were not present.

My heart literally felt like it was breaking, I suffered anxiety attacks as I tried to figure out what the fuck had happened in my family.

We would later find out that that evening, once we had all locked ourselves in our rooms, my half brother and Dad stayed up to talk. It was then that the truth finally came out like my half brother had been begging to happen. He finally got hear the truth only it wasn’t what he thought it would be. All these years he truly believed my mother had broken up his parent’s marriage.

He was young when it all happened; I guess it wasn’t hard to imagine how he could have thought that. But the truth, the truth he wanted to come out was not what he knew to be the truth. In actual fact, his parent’s marriage had ended much earlier on than he knew my Mum had only come into the picture when my Dad was in desperate need of help. So all these years of anger and resentment my half brother had had for my Mother were unjustified, how can you take back years of hostility after you find out that this evil person you pictured all of your life was actually just an unfortunate pawn in a messy divorce?

Again there were no apologies given.

We left my childhood home that day, ignoring my half brother despite him wishing us a safe drive.

I needed some time out from my family to evaluate my own life. I felt like the night before was a long time coming but never did I imagine it happening the way it did.

The only positive thing I could take from it was that there was a chance that that big mess happened in order to give our family the chance to actually, truly heal, now all the truths were told.

Either that or we were just never made to have a happily ever after ending as a family.

And you thought your family was messy and dysfunctional. Call yourself lucky, but still, despite our inability to apologise, I can now say that I know when times get tough my sisters, my Mum and my Dad will come through for our family. Maybe our little family was all we ever needed.

Would you call me naïve if I said that even though we’ve had bad wars with each other, I would still like to hold the door open, just in case my half brother and half sister ever want to make our family whole?

Only time will tell.

Maybe sorry is the hardest word for my family, but I do know that ‘I love you’ is a frequent phrase of ours and we will continue to work at our dysfunctional family, maybe one day we’ll get our happily ever after.

The truth is families can be completely messy but doesn’t that make it that much more interesting? We’re all still growing, and figuring things out, we’re still trying to coordinate ourselves over these obstacles, there’s plenty of love for any member that wants to join, the important thing is we stick at it until we bring everyone to a place where we can all feel safe and loved.

Do something to make your parents proud today, your kid’s proud someday, and you proud every day!

 

Peace and Love,

 

Jessy x

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