I must’ve made a silent vow to myself as I was growing up that I would be nothing like my mother who was:
1. Silver-haired before she was 35 and refused to acknowledge colourants.
2. Snappy to her kids and chirpy in company (esp. when that company involved Gin).
3. Constantly fighting a battle with her weight (in photos she’s the same shape as me).
4. Angry with everything
5. Blameful of everything
6. Handy with a camera
7. Miserable with her ‘lot’ in life and a devout martyr.
I also remember growing up that I used to give my mother so many excuses for the way she was; the weather, the dog, the housework, the state of the country, the menopause, the fact she relied on others for transport and so was effectively trapped in the house unless she walked somewhere –endless excuses for the way she acted, reacted; was. But the only real reason I ever believed was the one where the finger pointed squarely at me. It was all my fault she was the way she was. And she’d said so, so many times that it must have been true.
Of course these days I know that only a person themselves can allow the feelings they ultimately feel. We can chose whether to feel angry, guilty or resentful – I know that now (I still can’t put it into practice but I ‘get’ the reasoning behind it) I am allowed to ‘chose’ how to react to something. But back then, growing up? I had no idea. None of us did. We live in much enlightened times these days but I grew up being the reason my mum was unhappy.
SO back to the list. How well did I get on?
1. I probably was silver-haired before I was 35 but I CHOSE colourants – and the fact that I chose a colour identical to my natural hair colour meant that nobody has ever been the wiser (apart from my dear hubby who does my roots for me).
2. I’ve only ever snapped at The Girl twice in her life. The first time she was about 18 months (I can even tell you what she was wearing) and she’d been taking chips off my dinner plate even though she’d already eaten. I was trying to watch the News at 6.00pm and even though I’d said once, said twice, said harshly, tapped her hand away and then finally grabbed her by the arm and told her off, I can still feel the horrible heaviness that assaulted my insides when she toddled away out of the room and turned back to me; her eyes huge with tears and her face filled with a terrible sadness. That look to me said ‘I made mummy unhappy’ and I hated myself for making her feel the way I used to.
The other time was in Primark when she was 12 and wanted 4 pairs of jeans to go on a camping trip and just as I was about to let her have all 4 (because I never did) when I had a moment of clarity and realised that I actually couldn’t afford it and it was about time she knew this. I hate remembering that scene as well.
3. Like a lot of other women, I look back at photos from the past and realise I was never actually ‘fat’ at all; I just thought I was. But because I always thought I was and I had skinner friends and every attractive girl in the public eye was skinnier than me, I must’ve been overweight. Therefore I’ve tried every diet going (so did mother) and exercise fad until I’m now sick to death of it all. Currently I’m on the Chocolate diet; I won’t lose weight but I’ll die happy.
4. Things that make me angry:
The cat. Getting up. The paid job. The husband. The writing (rejections). The FB. The weather. The state of the country. Drivers. Dust. Telly. Books. Cooking. Housework. Ageing.
I know that anger is a negative emotion and I try very hard to see positives in things but I can’t. For instance: when the cat doesn’t make me angry it’s because he’s sleeping. He’s sleeping because I fed him and he’s got what he wanted. Therefore I’m just a useful means to an end in his life and that’s pretty much how I feel about everything else in the list that makes me angry. I am a pawn. A tool. A means to an end.
5. Blame still lies squarely on my own shoulders. If something or someone upsets me, I can be upset, disappointed, cross etc. but at the end of justifying any of these, Blame still falls at my feet. After all if I didn’t exist, then it wouldn’t have happened.
6. I do love me a good picture. Although I do remember how mortifying some of mother’s point-and-shoots became. Even more mortifying are the memories of boy/friend’s reactions to their lives becoming a page on our album of life.
But since The Girl studied photography at school and is going on to study creative (therefore visual) practise at Uni this year, I have learnt to embrace photography. After all, every scene I write I can visual in my head and so we must just be a very visual family. I do get very sad at a lot of the images I see on FB, though, that isn’t art or photography it’s just another way of broadcasting Mememe to the world whether the world wants it or not. The point-and-pout-culture.
7. Miserable with my Lot? I suppose so, but I’m also enlightened enough to know that my Lot is My Problem and if I had the strength of character to change my Lot then I could. Maybe I really AM just that lazy, selfish miserable bitch I was always told I was. How’s that for a bit of belief.