Friday, Oct. 19, 2018 - 4:41 pm.
I'm feeling down. Disheartened. Maybe a little exhausted. For a lot of small reasons or maybe for no reason at all. Let me put my thoughts in order:
1. My dad. I never thought I'd call him an authoritarian asshole, but he is. Long story short, early this week he sent a long letter to his five children, explaining he won't be attending my mom's birthday party in her hometown in December. He's had horrible rows with my aunt, my mom's sister, so basically his reasons for not going were his resentment toward my aunt.
What a fucking self-involved jerk, I thought. At some point in my life I used to wish my parents got divorced because my dad was nasty to my mom. Then I'd feel guilty: He's not hitting her. He's not insulting her. He's not yelling at her. Over time I've agreed with my younger self, because the ways my dad has suppressed my mom as a person are horribly subtle. He took away her agency little by little, to the point that she doesn't drive, she doesn't go anywhere by herself, she doesn't see her family in her hometown because my dad always kept her from going. Same way he kept me from going out, probably: inducing fear and guilt. And who knows what else.
Brothers #1 and #2 responded to my dad's letter; they're both doctors, male, and live abroad...they were better equipped than us remaining three siblings to confront my dad. B1's response was blunt, B2's was diplomatic but firm. That very much describes each of these two of my brothers. In a nutshell, they were both saying what I thought: my mom has always been there for you, she has gone everywhere with you, and you don't want to go to her birthday party because how you feel about one of her relatives is more important than celebrating her life with her.
My dad replied playing the victim; he *did* say "in this society, the victims never matter". He thanked B2 for his tactful response, he scolded B1 for his words, and lamented being on the receiving end of a "unilateral" view of his decision of not attending my mom's birthday party, something that they had both agreed to (I can see my mom just being resigned to his drama). He said, that's what he got for involving us in the inner workings of him and my mom as a couple.
I just thought, OK, asshole. Quite frankly, good riddance. I've seen my mom spending parties sitting down, bored and frustrated because my dad doesn't dance, and I've seen him fuming when she actually goes on her own to have a good time. Last time I was there for that, she'd been through cancer already, and his excuse was that "she wasn't taking her health seriously" and could get hurt dancing. OK, asshole.
I believed that was the end of it, until this morning I find yet another extensive letter from my dad, to the five of us. He gets all solemn and grandiloquent to say one damn thing. He reminded us that he said he had a "plan B" for attending my mom's party (frankly, I just skimmed his first letter), and that was...him going alone! Like, traveling to my mom's hometown for the party on his own, and not with my mom and her sister. I think my cousin, my aunt's son, is coming along with him, though. Bless this cousin.
Super solution, father! Poor you, feeling the pressure of your nosey children to be there for your wife, you'll take on the dangerous (not being sarcastic) hours-long route to my mom's town by yourself. He'll probably spend the party frowning, as is his custom. My mom will be concerned about him, possibly feeling guilty, caught in the middle of the two most important people in her life who can't stand each other. Her birthday party is shaping up to be all about my dad and his feelings.
AND THE KICKER: in his letter, he mentions again the "unilateral" judgement coming from his children, and closes addressing us with a "do not comment on this issue anymore". A punch in the gut for me. His tone on the whole letter, but these two points in particular, is some dictatorial bullshit from someone who spends his days parroting to whoever listens (or doesn't) about tyranny and democracy and The People. I have no words. Fuck that man.
He is fucking authoritarian. He's done some good shit in his life for which I'm grateful as her child, but he's painfully narcissistic and authoritarian, particularly when someone doesn't agree with the grand/victimized view he has of himself. Just a few days before this epistolar shitshow, I was thinking of how much I do not miss my parents. Or rather, my dad. See! I've even referred to "parents" when most of the time it's my dad. I want to see my mom. A part of me hurts for my dad, and hurts for saying this, but I'm not in a hurry to spend time with him.
Ugh, maybe this was what was bringing me down today. I really didn't want to give it much thought. I can't do anything about it, nor am I equipped to even dare to confront him. Please. I'm the youngest child, a woman to boot. I have realized the resentment I carry towards him, precisely because of those subtle ways in which he robs you of your agency, but there is nothing I can do about this.
May my mom get the wonderful birthday party she deserves to celebrate her life.
Yikes. Quick run through the other points pestering my mind:
2. I went out with my friend I. last Friday night. It was fun! We went to a crowded pub, which sucked, but then we found a restaurant where we sat outside and finished a bottle of wine. Lastly, we went to a bar and we also sat outside to avoid the crowds. The weather was nice, the conversation was great, and I got to see the nightlife of the city without actually partaking in it. She got me an Uber home, she didn't have to. It was a cool night.
Then, of course, me being me, I started feeling like a failure. After much soul-searching, I realized it was because I didn't consider myself charming enough: "Why didn't she fall for me?", which is an ABSURD thing to complain about. And I know why: (a) she's straight, no matter how many times she says to me "we're all a bit bisexual" (*insert skull emoji*); and (b) here it comes again: I am not charming enough to make her fall for me. This is stupid, I know. My mild crush on her evaporated over the weekend, the natural process of cementing a friendship.
Which leads me to point three:
3. I feel so fucking plain and inadequate all the time.
Which relates to number four:
4. I lost the short story competition. I checked the website of the author group holding the event on Tuesday, one day before the competition, and their post said they had chosen the shortlisted stories days ago and their authors were notified. It felt like a building collapsing over me. Of course I never got an email.
I ended up not going to the competition event on Wednesday, for fear of getting my ego even more bruised. Wise decision. I checked the Twitter account of the author group the day after the event, and I read the descriptions of the winner stories...oh, no, darling, I did not stand a chance. "A vivid description of X Place That Is Central To The City". "A juxtaposition between life in a refugee camp and life in This City".
I don't feel I belong here, so probably I didn't embrace the city enough in my story. So I'll give myself credit and say that the story was good, it just didn't meet the requirements. I'm bad at writing based on prompts. Andrew was a sweetheart and comforted me when I learned I wasn't on the shortlist, and he continued comforting me until I stopped caring some 24 hours later.
Still, it's a bit of a blow. I'm consistently reminded that I'm not good enough to get published (And when's that fucking publishing house getting back to me about my AF manuscript?! Please! Take me or let me go, but let me know already!). I'll continue writing because I enjoy it, but it hurts a bit, and thus here, too, I feel massively inadequate. I'm working on another story to submit to a magazine, but just last night I realized how alarmingly disjointed it was, so I need a miracle this weekend.
I guess I'm also tired of writing my thesis and feeling I'm not making significant progress. Most people argue that I still have time, but I'm still concerned about finishing within the temporal boundaries of my scholarship. Also, I'm exhausted and I don't want to think, hence I spent my Friday night writing this entry instead of working on my thesis drafts.
Well, I finish this entry as disheartened as I started it. It may help my mood if I go do some exercise (I've been in a regime for 12 weeks now and my body shows it!). Also, tomorrow we're having a party at our house. Really!
Andrew and I were getting together just with A., but then we started telling other people for no reason, and now we've invited all our friends from the department. Which aren't that many, about 12? And some plus ones. Not everyone will show up, but it's still a big number for Andrew and I. It should be fun.