Family … (Absent)

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Family ... (Absent)

I try not to talk about family too much on this blog. I don’t really know why. I have quite a difficult time with my family, mostly because it’s complicated, confusing, and usually drama-filled. People are always falling out, and one thing I learned from a very early point is that when I say bad things about my famalam it generally ALWAYS comes around and bites me in the ass. The people that fall out make up again, and then everything I said about them mysteriously finds its way out into the open. It’s funny how that happens, especially as everyone claims they “didn’t say anything”

So yeah, just in case they ever read this (which I highly doubt) I try not to say bad things about them. I wouldn’t want them to think I mean the things I sometimes say in the heat of the moment, and they’re family … family is important. That’s what I think anyway.

But my family … I don’t really know where to start.

I don’t know my father. I’ve probably mentioned that a few times over the last five years, but he left when I was six months old. A young lad in the Royal Navy, he got my mother up the duff very early on into their relationship, and then he did a runner. They’re all from Wales – him and his side of the family. My family is from the south-east of England. The tale I’ve been told is that my father once got on board a naval ship one day and just didn’t return. Ever.

Why did he leave? No one knows. My Great-Grandmother (mum’s dad’s mum) always said it was my Nan (mum’s mum), but my Nan (mum’s mum) always said it was my absent Grandmother’s fault (real dad’s mum). Can you keep up with that? No, me neither.

Anyway.

My mother had always told me she never knew where any of my “Welsh” family were. She didn’t have any contact with them, and she hadn’t since my father left. Aged just 14, I went rootin’ through my mother’s stuff and I came across an envelope with a Welsh postal mark on it. What the fuck? It was recently dated – she’d been lying to me. I read a few of the letters I found with along with that one, and it soon became apparent that my mother not only knew where my absent Grandmother was, she had been talking to her for years.

I got in touch with my Grandmother using the address I found on my mother’s correspondence, and we were in contact for a year or so. I managed to keep my letters from her a big secret, always getting to the postman before my mother did in the morning … back in the days when your post would actually be delivered in the morning. My post this week came at 3pm. What is going on with the world?

But one day I got rumbled. The postman was late and my mother got to the post. She saw a letter addressed to me, post-marked with a Welsh stamp. She opened it, of course, just as I probably would have done in her shoes, and she realised I had betrayed her. I’d not only gone rooting through her stuff, I’d found what I was looking for, and then I’d been writing to my absent Grandmother for a year. She lost the plot. I was in BIG trouble.

Of course, she couldn’t really berate me too much. She had been lying to more than just me – she’d been lying to my step-father – my Papa Smurf. He’s been around since I was two years old. They got married when I was five. That’s when my little sister came along too. But my mother, she’d been talking to my absent Grandmother for all those years on and off – 14 years. That’s a big lie. That’s not even a little lie, that’s a really big lie.

A lot of stuff happened – there were accusations and harsh names thrown around on both sides. My absent Grandmother had sent me a phone that didn’t work, and my mother had accused her of sending me a stolen one. It was awful, and I told my absent Grandmother that I felt it was best we didn’t talk anymore. Except I was 15 years old, and I definitely didn’t say it in such nice terms. A few months later, I received a text message from my absent aunt – my real father’s sister – telling me that my absent Grandmother had died of stomach cancer weeks ago, and the funeral had already been and gone. I was horrified. All of those bad things I’d said to her … I never got the chance to apologise. I never got the chance to say goodbye. I never even got the chance to meet her. Do you know how heartbreaking that is? Maybe I should talk about this another time?

A few years later, my mother had an affair (which she still denies to this day), and moved out of our family home. My Papa Smurf and I had to pack all of my mother’s stuff when they were putting the house on the market, and at 17/18 years of age I saw things I should never have seen. I saw letters written sent from my real father to my mother, long after she’d married my Papa Smurf. He’d even sent cheques for me on a few occasions, and a dress, teddy, the kind of thing that totally makes you a father … (Sarcasm.) They’d talk about sex and sex toys, the things they’d done together, and horrifyingly, how disappointed my mother was in the bedroom with my Papa Smurf. I should never have had to see the look on the face of my step-dad when he read those letters in front of me. But neither of us could stop. I was so desperate to find out a little piece of my history – about the family and father that had been kept away from me for so many years – and he was sadistically needing to read more of what probably felt like the ultimate betrayal. You know, on top of the news that my mother had left him for another man … that she then lied about over and over again.

My mother and I have talked about my father, and that entire side of the family, a few times now I’m a “grown-up”. My absent Grandmother NEVER gave me contact details for my father, and for the year we’d been talking, she kept finding excuse after excuse for why she couldn’t. He was moving. She didn’t know where he was right now. She was going to get his address for me next week. She’d look through her address book when she found it … It just felt like excuse after excuse after excuse, and that’s what had kept my mother talking to her for all the years that she did. All those years she lied about talking to her – to me, my step-dad, and everyone else – she’d apparently been trying to get contact details for my father. She knew I’d want to get in touch with him at some point, whether or not she tried to find out for her own personal and deceitful reasons, but every time she’d asked my absent Grandmother for any contact details for him she’d get plied with excuse after excuse.

I know what you’re all thinking – why is she telling us all this if she doesn’t talk about family on her blog? Well, it’s because someone got in touch. My absent aunt – my real father’s sister. I say she got in touch, she actually sent me a friend request on Facebook. We haven’t spoken in … probably about ten years. Maybe a little less than that. We’ve never met. We fell out over what happened with my absent grandmother, although we did *sort of* get back into talking terms afterwards.

I don’t know how to process this information right now. I’ve just moved into my boyfriend’s house and I’m still surrounded by suitcases and boxes, trying to unpack. I’m too stressed to deal with this. But I need to talk about it. And seeing as we’re at 1,344 words and I’m still not finished ranting, or even discussing this, I may need to separate it into two blog posts. In fact, I sense I may have so much stuff I need to pour out, it might end up being some sort of weird mini-series. Eastenders hasn’t got shit on me, let me tell you.

But that’s where we’re at. Relationship going splendidly, it’s the rest of my life fucking up. Why has there always gotta be something?! And what am I meant to do about a long-lost aunt who decided to spring up on Facebook? In fact, hold your thoughts. There’s another blog post incoming tomorrow. You’ll want to read that first.

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