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Monday, 11 October 2010

More rambly whining – on the family front

Currently I have family drama which, as said, pretty much has added to my general angsting state to create Sparky the emotional basket case on the edge of losing it and Beloved the Extremely Worried.

My mother’s eldest brother and I have never had a good relationship. He’s a Tory through and through, I’m not. He is contemptuous of anything remotely smacking of social justice, largely turning victim blaming to a high art, he loathes welfare, the NHS and progressive taxation, venerates the church and charity despite being involved in neither and generally believes that I will come to my senses and see how very right he is one day *eye roll.* He also hates the fact that his oh-so-Tory son is, in his eyes, failing compared to me (i.e. I earn more. Yes, in his eyes this is what a person is worth) and has repeatedly expressed his vehement disagreement with my legal specialties, believing I should have gone it the more lucrative (and infinitely more boring) business law. And my pro-bono work is “unbelievable” a comment that, frankly defies explanation.

As can be guessed, we cannot have any kind of conversation without a strained argument at best.

He never really makes an effort to hide his distaste for me, which, heh fine, because I’m not expending the same effort back. But he also makes zero effort to hide his distaste for my sexuality either – which is considerably less fine.

And another cut to avoid reams of my endless angst


This is usually displayed with numerous comments I am urged to “just ignore” by the rest of the family. He doesn’t acknowledge Beloved, ever. Refuses to accept he exists and if pressed will act like he “forgot” him and will, when polite, refer to him as my “friend” and when not polite “that fool you’re wasting your life with.” Which pretty much sums up his opinion – I am being “childish” by being gay, am wasting my life “playing” with another man and should “grow up” and find a woman already

As I said, we don’t get on.

I’ve wasted no small amount of time playing nice with him for far too damn long, but after my grandmother’s big birthday party (the first and last family party he ever organised) I wrote him off and decided to be polite if forced into his company (because the family will settle for no less) but would do everything in my power never to have his company inflicted on me (which is harder than it seems given his habit of hunting me down).

There’s still a lot of debate in the family as to why he even organised that party in the first place – it wasn’t a milestone birthday for grandma and he has shown zero interest in organising the obligatory family gathers before (though he loves to lord over them). Personally I think it’s because he and mum had had a huge bust up about him dishing out orders about people looking after grandma but he visited her so seldom that she probably couldn’t remember what he looked like.

So they were organising a party. Now parties are not unusual in our family. Any excuse for a booze up and we gather and snipe and bicker and drink and bicker and dance and bicker and eat ’til we’re stuffed and then bicker some more. Followed by more bickering. If there isn’t some kind of gathering at least once every 2 months of at least 2 dozen family members, it’s a weird one

But my uncle? No, not really a party organiser, though he attends his share. So we watched with curiosity to see how utterly, badly wrong it would be.

And many things did go wrong, but that’s a tale for another time. But his first main mistake was he sent out invitations

Invitations, to a family party. He even sent his siblings formal invites – invites to their own mother’s birthday party! Now, for this the whole family kind of goes “whut?” I mean You don’t invite our family. You open up a keg, yell FREE BOOOZE then try to fend them off with sticks. Throw in free food and you may need to get those high pressure hoses they use to quel rioters. If you’re organising a party you don’t have to invite – we assume we’re invited. It’s a family party, we’re family ergo we’re invited. To invite suggests there’s a possible circumstance when we’re not welcome. And we’re family, therefore always welcome. It is known.

And if you do feel the need to invite us, you pick up the damn phone. I mean, sending letters? Through the post? On paper? Collectively we boggle at the waste of money

Of course, part of this is my dear aunt’s incredible snobbiness. Because apparently the invitations were on super-duper-embossed-linen paper. Which is apparently expensive and impressive (oh dear auntie, the clan is from Yorkshire. If you spend obscene amounts of money on fancy paper all you’ll get is a lot of contempt and people letting you know where you can get perfectly serviceable paper much cheaper, you silly fool). People were not impressed. In fact, many relatives had them framed and will put them on display when they know she’s visiting to the backdrop of much snickering.

So having received this ridiculously expensive linen paper invitation (and how do we know it’s ridiculously expensive embossed linen paper pressed together between the thighs of buddhist monks who live entirely on a diet of honey and HP printer ink? Why because she told us, frequently. And at length) I examined it and see it was an invitation for me. Me and only me.

So I called him ready to have an argument, but got the dear aunty instead. Aunty is as much a homophobe as uncle, but knows that One does not be a bigot to the face of the person one is hating, one should wait until their back is turned like a proper lady or gentleman. One should probably stick one’s little finger out as well. She claimed it wasn’t an oversight but it was necessary for them to cut down the guest list by asking people to leave their partners at home – blood relatives only.

And, y’know, it was faintly plausible albeit unprecedented in the family. Our family IS bloody huge, previous generations clearly needed to find a hobby rather than rutting like rabbits on aphrodisiacs. There are hundreds of us, all ready to eat ourselves greasy and drink ourselves paralytic (and bicker, don’t forget bicker) at the slightest excuse. And, y’know it’s so THEM. Wanting to impress everyone by splashing their money around to show they’re richer (and, therefore in their eyes, better) than everyone else, while at the same time being so tight that if he ever did get that rod removed from his arse, industrial pliers would probably be necessary.

And, of course, she was lying. At the party I saw all the people who should not have been invited. I even checked their invites using the excuse of mocking the Sainted Paper of Snobbery and discussing framing options (after all, it’s possible that everyone had just ignored the invites and brought whoever the hell they wanted because we’re like that :) ) And yes, they were invited and some even had a “+1” when aunty was unaware of the names.

And that was my “stick a fork in me, I’m done” moment. I’ve frozen him out as much as possible, I don’t need to have such a person in my life, blood relative or not. I started doing the same with all the relatives who repeatedly made me grit my teeth and wish for sharp objects for some fun stabbing.

Unfortunately, people do Not Take The Hint. Because it was my birthday he had a familial duty to contact me (in my family? Answer machines are essential for the week around a birthday. Though call screening is ONLY practised by EVIL SATANISTS YOU WICKED WICKED CHILD!) To wish me well… and get a dig in. Namely enquiring whether, being nearly 30, was I ready to grow up and find a girl or was I going to waste another decade of my life.

… yessss. Didn’t need that, not last week, oh no I did not. I told him to STFU. I told him that if he insisted on acting like a pig he could stay in his sty and keep his stink away from me. I told him that grandma was a lovely woman who raised 3 wonderful children so clearly she learned from her mistakes with her eldest. Then I stopped being polite.

It was… not my most diplomatic of moments. And though I took great pleasure in it (oh yes I did) I have to admit some regret – because of what is happening now.

For what is happening now is no small number of outraged relatives who are Shocked and Appalled and demanding I apologise, grovel and genuflect to the old toad (though his daughter did ring me and ask whether she could be my cheerleader and lament that we don’t have a recording). This is not going to happen. No way. I quite simply could not live with myself if I apologised to the toxic troll. I have to draw the line somewhere, family or no family.

So, now I am on the outs with a lot of kin and even those who claim to understand are tutting at me. I really do not need this, no I do not.

And this post? Yes more whining. I dunno, putting things down in writing always helps me think through it – in this case it’s an especial strengthening of resolve – because it would shut everyone up and give me some much needed peace if I did mouth some empty apology. But ye gods, no I am not. I do not owe an apology here and I’m not giving him – or his fellow trolls – a pass on their constant attacks by claiming the fault here.

And part of it is some kind of perverse need to justify myself. I post saying that I’m basically falling apart messily so I need to point out as many of the reasons for it as possible to excuse myself, to feel less weak and foolish and pathetic.

Still ashamed of being mentally fragile at times? Sadly, so it seems… ugh, I know better than that.