I had just settled in the knowledge that my ex-housemate is in prison. In prison, for a crime that, this time last year, as we adopted a cat, I could not have imagined him committing. Courts and police raids and threats assigned to the past, housing re-determined, myself returned more peaceful from Taizé, I was learning to manage without his support.
I was pacing through research, beginning to accept that I don’t have paid employment; at least not for now. And earlier last week, there was a tangible sign of progress: of real impact taking place. I was feeling steadier; less often overwhelmed. Living a day at a time was do-able.
And then. Then comes a repeat of a conversation I had with my mother five years ago. Replace “I’m leaving your father” with “He asked me to marry him” and you’ve just about got it, spot-on. She is 66 going on 16 again, running off to get married. Literally. I don’t know her partner’s family, neither they me, so for us to be there would be embarrassing for everyone. Plus, I don’t like weddings anyway, and why does my brother feel similarly cut out?
Before I’ve drawn breath, please could I help her with the preparations? What is she going to wear? FFS. Weddings are not easy for me. They highlight rejection in so many ways; from not having a partner, to not being able to find a place not ‘already taken’ at the table. To not being invited to the table. But compare turning up, to face those things, or not, if the wedding is well-organised, to helping someone else get ready to get married, then to wave good bye to them, because they don’t want you there, that feels worse. Add that this is someone who has done it before, as a farce, on a false promise. Add that this is your mother. I exist because of a false promise.
I cannot. And her words show that she does not understand in the slightest why I don’t like weddings. But, nevertheless, I should be happy for her, and I should understand the arrangement as best for everyone. I should be happy.
It is not best for everyone, it is easiest on her. And there is a big difference between those things. And no, life won’t go on the same afterwards, as she says, because she will not share my name anymore, and I will forever associate her birthday date as her anniversary; the expectation for normal wedding type celebration cards, for normal in every sense but the ceremony, already weighing heavy.
Living a day at a time is not do-able, because some days are really, really hard. And when I think I’ve got some things together, something else will fall spectacularly apart under me. And, as I was before speaking to a brother at Taizé, I am childish and selfish, and small, and living in fear of what that next thing will be. It could be that the next piece of unwanted news lands with me today.