As a personal blog, I guess it’s time to get a bit personal. With an upcoming trip to visit my partners family, all the feelings and memories of past experiences with the in-laws. I know it’s cliché to have a rocky relationship with your other halves family, and I certainly hate clichés. But nether-the-less here we are. They have a certain way of bringing the crazy out in me, my deepest insecurities and anxieties flood back whenever I visit one of their homes. It is fortunate for me that they live on the other side of the country but for a brief period we lived with his father in a small Victorian country town.
Ten and a half years ago I boarded a plane from Perth where I’d been sick for two weeks with a terrible flu. I had been visiting my parents for Christmas and was then jetting off to meet my partners family in Victoria. At the time I didn’t know that that flu was the trigger my brain needed to switch to a full blown eating disorder, or that I wouldn’t graduate from my degree because of it. I was sick, I put on my favourite skirt and tried my best to get a seat where I could lie down. We’d been dating for 6 months and he was supposed to be leaving Townsville to further his education and career. He had just made the decision to return and spend another year there with me. It was the most serious relationship either of us had been in.
D* is one of five kids. He has three older sisters and a younger brother. They were raised by their Dad with their mother out of the picture. At first glance I thought they were a close family, D* was always on the phone with one or another sister. But after a few run through of the dynamics I realised the they were complicated with old feuds and nuanced relationships.
By mid-year my Eating disorder and depression were taking over my life and I would soon pull out of my degree, I knew D* had mentioned it to his sisters and they had urged him to leave me. At the end of the year we had to choose where to live next. With my Uni time up, my job prospects in Townsville low and our housing less than ideal, we made the choice to move into his Fathers. His father had been ill and with my parents overseas it seemed like the better choice.
Alas my time in that small Victorian town was the darkest time of my life to date. Remembering that period I just see darkness, clouds and greyness. I had no more luck getting a job, I knew nobody in town and not being able to drive yet, I was stuck on the outskirts of town. His family was less than welcoming. For the most part they treated me as if I wasn’t even there, ghosting me. I was barred from using the computer, my only contact to the outside world and the online forums that made me feel less alone. Things I left out were dumped carelessly in my room, sometimes broken. My depression and Eating disorder got worse naturally, which only alienated me more. I was seeing a therapist, but I was in too deep for it to be helpful. I cried a lot and when D* and I fought about his families treatment of me, I didn’t try to keep my voice down.
We took a break from his family and went to Adelaide for a few days to visit his sisters. They had seemed fun and cool when I first met them, so I had hoped they’d be easier on me. They weren’t. They didn’t ignore me outright, but I definitely didn’t feel welcome. I asked D* to talk to his sisters about it and when he came back he said they thought I was weak, irrational and not good enough for their brother. People should ‘get over their issues’ and I clearly just indulged mine. I’m not proud of what happened next. I ran out of the house and sobbed loudly on their front lawn, arguing loudly with D*. The epitome of a crazy person.
His family had broken me. I left for Perth the following month, unsure if D* would even follow me. Our relationship was stretched to its limits. Luckily he followed a few months later. I found a therapist and worked towards recovery properly. I had a job and my family to help me feel appreciated.
The next few times I saw the family were awkward but tolerable. We reached a polite understanding. His family house will always make me feel awful. The smells and sounds made the memories come back and trigger, but I can cope mostly. I was gaining ground again.
However his brothers wedding changed that for me again. I held it together rather well until between the ceremony and reception. The family photos had just been taken and I was not in them – neither was another partner to be fair. But for me it felt so personal, here was another girl getting welcomed into the family like I never would. His sisters adored their new sister in law and I felt more excluded than ever. Once my eyes started leaking I couldn’t make them stop. Anyone prone to crying will tell you the flood gates cannot be closed easily. Throughout the whole reception I had to constantly duck away to have a small cry and come back. I blamed my contacts but I don’t think I fooled anyone.
Since then one of his sisters has blocked me online over a small misunderstanding – she thought she knew her brother better than I did. His father visited us in Perth, which I think put us on a better plain. I was in an environment that was happy and comfortable for me. I was less anxious, I could just be me. All around us was the evidence that I had got my shit together, and that D* and I had created a life for ourselves.
So how will I go this time? I am quite anxious about this trip. I am closer to that sick girl from 10 years ago than I was the last time I visited. My business is finished and I am unemployed. I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been and while it shouldn’t matter it does. I dislike answering questions about my business, and my life from people I do like let alone people who I fear will judge me at every turn. I’ve managed to line up alternate accommodation in Adelaide so I don’t have to stay with his family, instead I go to my cousins who will never judge me. In Victoria I now have a friend living in D*s home town so will use that as an escape. But I still feel sad that they will probably never truly accept me as I am and my relationship with their brother.