Being back in my hometown, I’m somewhat on alert whilst strolling down the high street. I look out for faces I recognise – from primary school, secondary school, old jobs – but mostly I’m wary to bump into my grandparents.
You may know that I don’t have any contact with my dad’s side of the family (including my dad). My dad was a constant source of negativity during childhood and it seemed that he only got worse as time went on. When my mum finally divorced him when I was 17 (because things had reached a whole new low), he treated my mum terribly – trying to take her retirement money, sending emails to her family claiming that my mum was unfaithful to him, etc. He also demanded to see his children every other Saturday, which is fairly common for divorced parents I guess.
Anyway, these Saturdays were painfully awkward. I didn’t go to many – at 17 I decided I had the right to choose whether I wanted to spend time with my dad or not. After not a long time at all, I called my dad and told him I didn’t want to see him anymore, crying on the phone as I did so, listening to insults he threw at me.
After this, my nan and granddad decided they didn’t like me either. My nan came to the door once to drop something off, and gave me the coldest shoulder I’ve ever had from a grown woman. I had always loved my nan especially – she was our babysitter throughout our childhood when my mum went to work. Of course, back then I didn’t know that she actually charged my mum more than a regular babysitter’s salary to look after us.
Since those post-divorce days, I’ve barely been in contact with my dad, blocking him whenever a social media profile of his tries to add me or follow me. His behaviour over the last eight years has been unbalanced to say the least – he came out of the closet, then became a born-again Christian who was no longer gay, and now preaches Christian messages whilst sharing racist jpegs on Facebook and Twitter. My nan and granddad have tried to be in contact too, but I try to stay away as much as possible – hopefully you can see why.
So, why am I wary to bump into my grandparents? Well not only would an encounter with them be incredibly awkward, but they share everything with my dad (my nan is the best pot-stirrer I’ve ever known – she likes to gossip and be the first to know something about someone). The thing I most desperately do not want them sharing with him is the fact that I am pregnant.
My baby bump is quite a bump now (seeing as I am 5 months in) and would be harder to hide. I came close to running into them last week – we were both in the local Marks & Spencer within half an hour of each other (I know this because that’s where my mum works). I told my SO that if I had bumped into them I would have said that the round belly was either massive bloating from a gluten attack or just weight gain (my nan loves to bitch about people gaining weight – to her a size 12 is too big).
I sometimes worry that my dad or grandparents will find out and will want to be a part of my daughter’s life. Of course, I wouldn’t give them any time with her – but the potential drama of it all is enough to make me worry about seeing them on the street.
It may seem sad or unfair that I’m depriving my unborn baby of a grandparent and great-grandparents, but I think she’ll do a whole lot better without their negative impact or constant drama in her life. So you can bet that I’ll be sure to duck into the nearest shop or crouch down behind a clothes rack if I do happen to spot them.
Sometimes we just have to cut out those people that do more harm than good, even if they are blood relatives. If you can imagine a better life without them, then it’s time to cut them loose, however hard that may be.