Thursday, January 05, 2012
Deep Breaths ...
Now into another new year, this post is obviously an exhumation - bringing something back to light that has not exactly been buried, but definitely abandoned of late. If I actually do have any readers here, my apologies are in order for this gap in communication. Despite my gaps however, I will always come back.
Certainly the unexpected arrival of my new little cavy housemate, Gertie (see second-to-last post), has thrown a metaphorical spanner in the works. I wouldn't have thought a guinea pig would be so high-maintenance, but the fact that she resides in my own apartment means constantly cleaning/picking up after her, not to mention having to launder her bedding towels and blankets every other day. There is also the endless shopping for her vegies and making sure she has an ever-present supply of hay and dry food. Since guinea pigs are social animals and I am unable to court the option of a guinea pig friend for her, I must also make the time to spend with her - making sure she is comfortable, continuously entertained and happy. It is a handful, to be sure, but when I get frustrated or impatient with her (or simply low in my own spirits), I just look at her and am immediately reminded of how adorable she is - just so completely real and joyously 'in the moment'. When she responds to my affection and gives the love back, I feel instantly rewarded and know it's all worth it. As I write this, she is reclining upstairs in her big cage, trying to stay cool in Sydney's January humidity. Her claws are so long, they resemble Nosferatu's, but I lack the confidence to attempt cutting them.
Talking about confidence, my own has once again been hammered and very much tested by my father, who (yet again) managed to ambush me with an onslaught of grievances and resentments about myself and the way in which I live my life - finding fault after fault in a bitter and hateful rant about virtually everything ever to do with me. I was in a stressed and defensive position right from the start in this hostile environment, yet anything I said in my defence, or to 'put the record straight', was rubbished and talked over. I wasn't my normal self. For three and a half hours, my life was being trashed and I was expected to just sit there and be judged.
From the outset, I knew I was walking into an environment of resentment about my lack of visiting them (even though they make it clear that they dislike my company and I don't own any personal mode of transport), so broached the topic early on, saying that I simply wanted to find a way (or a compromise) to make things work, so everyone could be happy, trying to explain to them that I'm not inclined to go away much - in fact, I've left town 3 times in over 6 years and one of those times was to their place! - but I had given Mum an open invitation to come and stay at my place, which was apparently not an option. In fact, at this early stage of our meeting, Dad leapt off his seat and spat pure bile at me about my "disgusting" home, saying ".... and you expect your mother to stay there!" Here's where I began being defensive, explaining that my home of 16 years - although perhaps not to their taste - is clean, comfortable, organised and, importantly, that it was MY HOME and that since they were inclined to come to Sydney several times a year, it might be an option, but no, not good enough. Dad would rather just sit there, abusing and sneering at me, all the while drinking beer, then wine, then beer again. Of course, the accusations were completely untrue and unfair - just his negative slant on my motivations and actions and all the while, I'm sitting there, being pushed into a desperate, ranting mode of defensiveness - desperate to clarify things, inform them of what I do creatively, how I live my life, what I love and value - while all the while being talked over and scoffed at. At times, he just walked out of the room while I was in mid-sentence. As he insulted me, I kept saying "You have no right to talk to me like that!". At one point, I felt so hurt and angry, I followed him out of the room and beat his chest weak-fistedly, devastated by his coldness towards me. Overwhelmed with emotion, I pushed my face into his shoulder and demanded that he put his arms around me and show me love. He gripped me tightly for a while, but couldn't look at me. I was so relieved, I sobbed and said "thank you" over and over, but as soon as the hug was released, the curtain came back down again and the hostility and bullying escalated. I could never satisfy them anyway, because they only value work that is paid and money and/or status in general and I've been unemployed for over a year now. It's hard to find a new job, especially with no contacts. A little bit of encouragement or support would certainly have been more useful than these bullying accusations of "Job Snob!" Also, I do not criticise their values or their homes, even though they are alienating to me (their own home and my sister and her partner's, where we sat that day, are minimal and airily comfortable in the way that corporate office or art gallery foyers are - ie sterile, bland and with none of the clutter of life [or love] in them), but the life I have lived/am living must be summed up as a series of mistakes, irresponsibilities, pretensions and excuses, apparently.
His final insult to me was "Your problem is that you think you're bigger than you are" and I immediately realised that he saw it as his job to cut me down to size. Great. Father of the year, eh? Taking it as his duty to knock his daughter's self-confidence. That was it for me. I said "I'm leaving" and Dad cackled at me as I gathered my belongings. "Typical", he snarled arrogantly, to which I answered - in all fairness - "You're an asshole!"