Monday, 28 October 2013

Garden Warfare

Nettles and thistles. Growing in tiny baby sprouts. They were everywhere the eye could see; a new development, lined in streets, packed together, then a space, packed together again, like semi detached houses, conspicuous as the grass they made fun of. Even with trainers, the rubber soles and protection, I tried avoiding them - the little blighters - a shabby troop of under foot soldiers, their bayonets pointed at the sky, towards the slightest threat of naked skin.

This couldn't be described as a lawn in the strictest sense. It was a wild offshoot of the real thing - a flat-topped stretch of mowed green that swung around the back of the ivy drowned building.

Nettles and thistles. Weeds. Plain and simple. All I could focus upon. The straightforward potential of a sting or a stab to the ankle. A caustic reflection of that August afternoon's mood. Spiky. Hateful, even.

This was garden warfare.


On the table, a tray. Mugs of tea, a pyramid of jaffa cakes. I'd forgotten how many jaffas I'd eaten. Three? Four perhaps? My tea was half empty, I don't usually drink builders brew, I felt I had to there, it was a necessary distraction, to sip away the nerves. Half turned from the table, I focused on Little A playing with friends, shielded from any eye contact behind.

He won't talk to me. He won't look at me. I am treated as if I don't exist. A nameless shadow drifting behind Younger Dad and Little A. Ah yes, that dinner party, when we entered the living room and he addressed two thirds of my family. Nothing for me. I'm the limescale in the kettle or the scum on the plughole, an avoidance. Or after another party, on New Years Day, he bade the other females goodbye with a casual kiss on the cheek, but chose to aggressively ruffle his fingers through my hair, the sort of brush strokes reserved for a naughty girl, a very, very badly behaved girl indeed. And now, sat around that garden table, it was no different, two whole years of this indifference, discounted, cast outside the circle.

After shreds of conversation, thin, unconnected strips of peel, it was time to leave tea and biscuits in that prickly garden. Utter relief, like passing A'levels again and again. The crunch of gravel under foot. The car, my escape, within sight. He picked her up. In his arms. My daughter. Helped Little A into her car seat. My anger. The inner flare; a rip tide through every muscle, over my chest, scaling heavy jaw and flushed cheeks. He dared to handle her? I'm. Her. Mother.

What has merited such a reaction, such scorn directed in my face? Behaviour beyond rudeness, so utterly black and white, bordering on the realms of the pathological? The only clue I have is my post natal illness, that self absorbed bubble. I cared only for my needs and those of my daughters. Motherhood through a microscope. Of course I was selfish and overly demanding, depression has a snidey way of bestowing such qualities. But that's not a good enough reason for this public castigation, this social slicing. Ousted on the grounds of mental health.

It isn't just me. I know he's treated others like this, a supposed friend of his wife's. That was an effortlessly cruel beheading. And what of Younger Dad? This individual is a life long friend of his. A friend. Life long. The ugly position my husband finds himself in. The unspoken collusion of the behaviour of one individual among a group of very close friends, like brothers.    

This is not my issue. It's his. Still, I choose not to say anything. Not to confront. It would be pointless, he is opaque to criticism. And anyway, why should I? Apart from the unfortunate effects of illness, I have done nothing wrong, nothing outrageously offensive. Just asked for a quieter room one New Years Eve, made noisy breakfast chatter with Little A on a disastrous group holiday (he was sleeping above the kitchen). Yes, really. Did he address the issue with me? Ask me to quieten? No. How was I supposed to know? I'd always assumed the mature path as one of sorting out the problem, there and then(ish), moving on. Case closed.  
       
There's a dinner engagement coming up soon. In November. All the friends and partners and children. Safety in numbers. He will ignore me. I will ignore him, or will at least try to, I can't lie, my skin is delicate, perforated like doilies. And what if he says something? Attempts civility? I'm not sure I could respond.

Or I might plant a thistle on his chair instead...

Prose for Thought

62 comments:

  1. Beautifully written, but gosh that sounds awkward! It's such a difficult thing for people to understand isn't it PND? Several close relationships of mine changed shortly after I suffered PND (after moving house the day my daughter was born!). I no longer have any respect or time for most of these people either. I know where you are coming from. xx

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    1. Thank you, and yes, a very awkward situation indeed. I think when you go through something like PND or any other emotional/mental illness, you quickly find out who your real friends are. And I am so with you, I have reached a point in my life where I have no time for ignorant t*ats. X

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  2. What a very powerful post, beautifully written as ever. I hate situations where you have to 'keep quiet' in order to preserve the peace even thought it's utterly soul destroying.
    I do know where a stash of very poisonous and highly hallucinogenic fungi are should you want to borrow them ...

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    1. Thank you my dear... and you are so right, it's utterly soul destroying staying quiet in order to keep the peace, especially when you know you haven't done anything out of the ordinary. Where's that stash of fungi? :o)

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  3. After such a beautiful written post, it doesn't seem quite right to simply say, 'he's an idiot', but that's exactly what he sounds like. I have a personality that forces me to confront, I can't help myself but maybe I can't see how that would help you. Again, he's an idiot.

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    1. He was/is behaving like an idiot. Believe me, I've wanted to challenge his behaviour so many times, but this is Younger Dad's friend so I need to think about him too, and it makes the whole stupid thing more complex. He is an idiot.

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  4. I'm so sorry to see this - such a gentle soul you are who would be mortified to offend anybody. He's exploiting this sensitivity which feels like a form of bullying to me, exploiting the awkwardness he can bring between you and Younger Dad - to the point of bullying, I feel and it says a whole lot more about him than it does about you. Chin up. And big hugs xx

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    1. Very, very perceptive of you Anya, and I think you hit on something there in the way he's exploiting the awkwardness of the situation between Younger Dad and I. My chin is up. I'm fine. Really glad I wrote this - it's been a weight off my chest. X

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  5. Such an honest and powerful post. Shame he's within your circle but like you said, safety in numbers. Hopefully he will just stay well away.

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    1. Thank you. Yes, a shame. I think it's just best to ignore him, and stay well away.

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  6. A beautifully written depiction of a total arse. How wonderfully you write where I would have just cursed! X

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    1. I have wanted to write this post for so long, so thank you. (I have done A LOT of cursing). X.

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  7. it's absolutely His Issue, but that won't stop you going over and over the cruel things he's done. Do you plan in your head what you'd say? I do that, but usually end up holding back to keep the peace. It's hard though, hard to be yourself. Makes normal feel awkward. Recently the words poured out - wasn't planned, there was a trigger and it just happened. I did feel better, lighter, but nothing's changed xx

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    1. Indeed it is his issue, and no, unfortunately it doesn't stop me going over all the slights, gives me brain ache, especially when I know I'm going to be in his presence again soon. And yes, I have said so many things in my head but have to hold back as he's a 'friend' of Younger Dad's. But what kind of a friend treats his mate's wife like that eh? Well done you for getting your words out but I know with this idiot it won't make the iota of difference if I say anything. At least I have my blog to vent. X

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  8. Feeling sorry for you and your family about this ackward, sad situation. You depicted it to perfection. Safety in numbers sounds indeed like the best option for now. xx

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    1. Thank you.... it is very awkward, and I never wants to repeat that afternoon tea, ever. Safety in numbers makes it more bearable. X

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  9. The hair ruffling would have been the final straw for me - I think you have showed great restraint. What a difficult situation - I wouldn't be looking forward to November either if I were you. Better perhaps to just try and rise above it (hard I know). Give yourself a treat to look forward to afterwards for getting through it. x

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    1. Funnily enough the hair ruffling was the first real incident, so I didn't know what to make of it at first, I was very taken aback by the gesture though, I knew there and then it wasn't in anyway friendly #idiot. Rise above it I will, and I think your idea of an aftermath treat is an excellent one. X

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  10. This is beautifully written Sarah, it is effortless to read. But that sounds awful, and so very rude. It can be so hard, the relationships we have thrust upon us through our partners. I found many of my now husbands friends unbearable - men and women. We hardly see them now, not because I ever made a huge issue or it came to a head, just because over time life pulled us apart. That can happen. For the time being do your best to ignore his behaviour. Easier said I know, but its his issue and its certainly his massive loss xxx

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    1. Thank you very much, and yes, very, very rude. A part from this one person, I get on okay with Younger Dad's friends and respective partners, I think, but since they have all got married and had children, they all see a lot less of each other now, sometimes when we all meet up together, usually once year, it can feel a little awkward. Must have been tricky for you not feeling endeared by your husbands friends. I will be ignoring him like the plague. X

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  11. fantastically written as usual OM but yes I'm sure we could find an orifice or two for some nettles ;) I'm not one for keeping quiet but have done in the past too in my younger days, but not now & nor should you. The ruffling of your hair made me cringe, I would have whacked his hand away. Hate it when people do this sort of thing to others, is it a power thing on his part, grrrrr. I think behaviour like this is too hard to ignore and maybe time to address, depends how much he means to YD I guess XX

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    1. Thank you very much. I am wincing at the thought of nettles up the bum *snorts like daddy pig*. The hair ruffling was horrible. If I could play back time I would have reacted, said something. And I think something will get said very soon. X

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  12. Wow, this is just too much....he sounds like a real piece of work. Is it time for Younger Dad to step in and have a word with him? Perhaps there's something festering under the surface (for him) that needs to be aired. Perhaps he is an attention seeker and this is his way of getting it. If that's the case then maybe it is better to ignore him, as others have said. Beautifully written but a horrible situation for you :(

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    1. He hasn't been very pleasant to be around at all. And I think Younger Dad will have a word. I think it's both - festering and attention seeking. I will also ignore him - very happy to! Thank you :o). X

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  13. Oh OM what a horrid experience! I'm with Mummy Plum, the hair ruffle would have done for me too - power games indeed. It sounds so very trite when you are in the thick of it, but I guess you really must try to rise above it. I have had difficulties with some playground politics recently and I have embarked on my 'kill them with kindness' campaign - always smiling and saying hello, not engaging, but not stooping to their level either. Some days it's easier than others though. You write so beautifully about a total plonker - which only serves to highlight even more what a prat he is!! Sending hugs. And more biscuits xx

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    1. A very unpleasant one indeed. The hair ruffle was patronising and horrid. I will rise above it, have been doing my best this past couple of years. I think your 'kill them with kindness' campaign is a very good approach.... Hugs received, and biscuits thoroughly enjoyed. X

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  14. Bloody hell, he sounds awful. I would be very unhappy to have to spend anytime in the company of someone like this. The description in this is brilliant, the line about your skin being perforated like doilies is beautiful.

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    1. He certainly has his moments. He's one of those people who needs to project all his rubbish onto someone. I am doing my best to avoid him as much as I can.

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  15. I have such a similar situation...but I don't see him, he lives in Spain with his new wife and a child a week younger than mine. Such powerful writing, so beautifully written. Thank you for sharing with Prose for Thought x

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    1. Sorry to hear you are in a similar situation. It's very tricky isn't it? At least he's in Spain... Thank you, it was lovely to link up. X

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  16. Beautifully written and such a horrible situation.
    And yes to a very large thistle!

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    1. Thank you very much. I am going to pick an extra specially prickly one!

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  17. Aw - what a t@&t! Written words are more powerful than an army of swords - especially such beautifully crafted words as yours! :-) Hugs x

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    1. Tell me about it! It's actually really helped to write about this. Very cathartic. Thank you very much. X

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  18. No idea how you kept your cool but well done for doing so especially after the hair ruffle. Sometimes it's just not worth creating a scene however much you want to shout. A beautifully written post and creatively brilliant given the topic. A thistle on the chair most definitely - all his chairs :)

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    1. The hair ruffle was one of the first things he did, so I didn't quite know how to react at the time. But I've had lots of fantasies since then :o). Thank you very much. There are lots of thistles about at the moment! :o)

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  19. wow this is so beautifully written it gave me goosebumps reading honey xx

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  20. Wow, I really felt this post as I read it. When people take an irrational dislike to you in a situation like this there is very little you can do to sway their opinion. Everything you do or say will be wrong, because they are constantly looking for you to do something wrong, in fact desperately hoping that you will, so they can validate their dislike of you. They aren't being rational, so there's no point you trying to deal with it in a rational way. I do like the idea of the thistle on the chair though - just make sure you centre it...!! xx

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    1. Thank you, and I couldn't agree more, when someone takes an irrational dislike it's impossible to sway their opinion, so best to just walk away. And they do keep looking for anything to justify their stance. Leaving well alone is the best plan, along with a sharp thistle! X

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  21. This is so well written I feel the awkwardness and tension in your words. #prose4t

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    1. Thank you very much, and for coming over from #prose4t, I will get back to you :o)

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  22. Powerful post and so very descriptive.

    This is emotional bullying, a power struggle, plain and simple. On one hand I would be tempted to just not go, why should you continually be put in this position? But then there's Younger Dad to consider, I know. How does he feel about his friend treating you like this?
    And how dare he lift up your little A! I'd have been furious too.

    Definitely put a thistle up his a**e..... and a little something prickly in his cup or glass too! He deserves it....

    xx Jazzy

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    1. Thank you very much.

      It's been very unpleasant, and it is bullying. Younger Dad isn't happy about it at all, and then he is in a difficult position as this is his supposed friend - some friend eh? I have been very angry at the situation.

      I'll be putting thistles everywhere ;o). X

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  23. He sounds like a complete bully! Sorry that you feel forced to tolerate this soul sucker, and that is what he is. A toxic man who is drawn to your energy, an energy sucker! Avoid him like the plague! Sending you positive hugs, so beautifully written xxx

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    1. He is! I think the best plan is just to ignore him, he's just very toxic to be around. At least at that dinner, it will be safety in numbers. Thank you very much lovely. X

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  24. This post could have been written by me (if I could write as well) except in my case it would describe my relationship with my Sister in Law. I have 4 of them, so it must confuse people when I say this one day, and then have a good time with a [different] Sister in Law another day. Like tomorrow, we are going to see Santa. But oh how draining it is, when you have a weed in the room, who strangles the roses :-( and makes you feel like a non-entity. I empathise and relate so so so much.
    Liska
    xx

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    1. It's really very difficult isn't it when you have to deal with this bull sh*t? Sorry to hear that you are having to deal with someone similar, it just takes the joy out of what could be a very pleasant situation. You try to ignore it, but it's so hard not to - it's very hard to ignore the energy of being shut out. X

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  25. Oh my goodness. Beautiful, powerful writing. That hair ruffling? The only word I can think of for him is not printable. xxx

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    1. Thank you very much, and thank you for commenting on my blog :o). The hair ruffling was horrible.... so, so rude, oh how I've played that again and again in my head with much more satisfying outcomes. X

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  26. A thistle on his chair sounds like a bloody good idea. I can not imagine for a moment why anyone would choose to be cruel to you, you are beautiful. Great writing. Mich x

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    1. Doesn't it just! Thank you very much Mich, that's a lovely and very supportive thing to say. X

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  27. I have this with my in-laws. It seems like a no-win situation so it seems we have to endure it. One day I will have the last laugh, as I'm sure you will too. For now, the thistle sounds like a brilliant idea. :-)

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    1. I think that's worse, as you probably have to see them more than I have to endure this idiot. And you will have the last laugh.... thistles are always a very good plan! :o)

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  28. Powerful writing my love and I can empathise with this so much! I feel for you, it's a awful situation to be in and I must learn in the future not to take it out on my husband...I find I that'd to keep my mouth shut if that makes sense (sort of expecting him to say something). Hope you are ok and hold your head up high at that meal!!xxx

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    1. Thank you very much... it's not a very nice situation I find myself in, I'm sure it'll work itself out eventually, in the mean time I think it's best to ignore the moron. Head is held up high! X

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  29. beautifully written lovely, plant that thistle x

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    1. Thank you my dear, I think I'll plant several. X

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  30. So how's the thistle planting coming along? I hope your greenhouse is thriving! Hope you're doing alright my lovely :)

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    1. Hello! Yes, I'm doing fine.... it's next Saturday. Thistle collection is coming along nicely :o). Thank you for asking, that's very kind.

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  31. Wonderful writing Sarah, even though I'm feeling angry and sad for you. So I'm going to chuck out all my decorum and say he's a knob, plant thistles and if you can get near his undies put chilli powder in them! On a serious note though it must be tough on younger dad and I feel for him too.
    Just carry on being you, have as much noisy chatter with little A as you like and let Ebenezer McGrumpy stew in his own juices and remember it takes 42 muscles to frown, but only 4 to reach out and smack him :) xxx

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    1. Thank you very much Nichola....He's not been acting very pleasantly, that's for sure, really, really rude. The next dinner is next Saturday and I plan to simply ignore, and talk to the people I like. Loved this comment......X

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