If you’d call N’s behaviour with P slightly out of turn, then my mother’s behaviour is diabolical. I hate what this election is doing to the country, I really do. As part of the normal election process we had some canvassers round today trying to drum up support for the opposition party. As soon as I saw them outside I was hoping my mother wouldn’t answer the door to them. She hisses every time the opposition leader is on the TV – what was she going to say to them? Even I couldn’t predict how bad it would be.
This is going to be hard to write about. I love my mother dearly, anyone who knows me knows how true that is. But sometimes she does my fucking head in. What a nice English expression that is. Her behaviour is sometimes so unbearable it’s like having my skull crushed in: it breaks my heart. As soon as the canvassers knocked on the door she opened it and launched into a violent rant at them, calling them names, asking them how they dare bother her with their filthy socialist policies. How dare they do their job? How dare they try and encourage democratic debate? How dare they support a different party to her?!
I was dreading the abuse becoming racist, because that’s what seems to happen with ill informed Tory supporters these days, but fortunately (if you can call anything about the situation fortunate) she just stuck to childish playground insults like “moron!” They quickly wished her a good day and walked away, probably wishing they’d never got up this morning.
Having seen them off, mum slammed the door and got on with her day as if nothing had happened. I didn’t want to be anywhere near her for fear of what I would do, but I had to go in the kitchen to make lunch as I had been waiting for the past ten minutes while she screamed on the doorstep. “I’m sorry about that, but these people really get to me…by the way, I saw a lovely wardrobe in the shop across the road yesterday.” My wardrobe has been on its last legs for a while and we had agreed that I would need a new one soon. To bring it up now, of all the times she could have done it, made me rage. I couldn’t talk to her about wardrobes at that point, or anything, I just needed to get away from her. I quietly made my sandwich, walked back to my bedroom and closed the door, ignoring her completely. I was livid.
I wanted to ask her if she believed that Theresa May would be any better placed to solve her problems than Jeremy Corbyn. I wanted to remind her of what the Conservatives have been doing the past year, ruining the country’s prospects of getting any kind of deal with the EU so that they can feel high and mighty about themselves. I wanted to ask whether she really thinks that the multi-millionaires in the cabinet care about her and people like her. I wanted to yell in her face that thanks to her government, I will never get a mortgage, I’ll have to pay ever increasing rents for the rest of my life, I’ll probably have to work into my seventies, and I probably won’t get a state pension when I retire.
I can understand why working class people like my mother feel angry at the world, why they may feel the need to explode it all out sometimes. I can’t understand how we’ve gotten to a position where the blame is being laid at the kind of politicians who want to do something about it. The left have somehow taken the place of the right as the villains of the piece. So now it’s the left’s fault for the social care crisis, it’s the left’s fault for rising inequality, stagnant wages, inflation and declining opportunities. If I didn’t live with someone who had bought into this warped way of seeing things I wouldn’t find it so painful to think about. I probably wouldn’t be so fucking angry. But I do live with someone who will happily tell the world that they think Jeremy Corbyn is a loser. Someone who thinks it’s ok to humiliate a pair of young kids on the doorstep because they’re trying to make a difference.
I was supposed to be writing an essay today, but there was no way I could just close my bedroom door and concentrate. The only place I could think to go was to the college library, where by some miracle I managed to finish it within two hours. I wouldn’t have gone to the library today if it hadn’t been for mother’s outburst, I was planning to stay in all day until the work was done. It turns out the library is a great place for concentration, so if there’s any positive to come out of today it’s that. Not that I’m feeling positive at the moment.
When I’d finished the essay it was still the middle of the day, and I wouldn’t feel ready to go home for hours. I decided to go for one of my long London walks. The weather was nice and I ended up in Greenwich Park, taking pictures from the top of the hill where the views are spectacular. I had good music on my phone and I began to feel better.
Evening came and I’d have to go home. Many possible conversations went through my head on the train; none of them would have been worth having. I can’t change my mother. I could tell her that her behaviour was inappropriate, that part of living in a democracy involves respecting others’ views. But she would only do it again on another occasion. She used to have many irrational outbursts when I was younger, over all sorts of things I can no longer remember, it seems to be a part of her make up. I told her so many times that it had to stop, tried so often to reason with her and get her to see things from an adult perspective, but she never would. The heartbreaking thing in all of this is that she doesn’t seem to have the capacity to be reasonable, at all.
So I’ve returned to my room and closed the door, saying a quick, awkward “hello” to her in the hallway. It’s just like one of the many evenings we had when I was a teenager, after we’d had one of our fights and I’d stormed off to my room in a huff, furious with her for not understanding me. The atmosphere will stay for a day or two, and then she’ll apologise without really knowing why she’s apologising, and then we’ll be back to normal. “Normal”. Until the next time.
The outbursts aren’t frequent at all now, not like they were fifteen or twenty years ago. Thank God. That doesn’t make today’s incident any less disturbing though. I still can’t quite believe it happened. All through the day I’ve wanted to run to her and say sorry for ignoring her in the kitchen, because there’s the part of me that desperately needs to keep her love, alongside the part that wants to teach her a lesson. My inner child needs her love and approval more than anything, and in that inner child there’s incandescent rage over the fact that it has to be this way. I could never tell her how I felt as a child because there was never any point, and there still isn’t. It’s enough to make anyone want to tear their hair out.
We learned about Johari’s Window in counselling class yesterday. According to the theory we all have a known part (things that everyone knows about us), a hidden part (things that only we know), a blind part (things that others know while we don’t), and an unknown part (things about us that no one knows, not even us). Things that have been in the hidden parts of us can come to the surface and become known through disclosure and sudden insights. In counselling, the counsellor usually aims to bring things out of the hidden self. What’s in my hidden self? That anger I was talking about, for sure; and that heartache. My mother will never know that I had to get out of the flat today and go for a massive walk because I couldn’t bear to be stuck here with her, it will always be hidden. I can talk about it to friends, to my therapist; but I can never share anything with the most important person in my life. I may as well be a teenager again, hiding the important facts in my life such as my sexuality in case it upset her. A 34 year old teenager, stuck inside my room, hidden and invisible.