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So much has happened that I haven’t written about over the last month.

2son has since before half term withdrawn and not left the house for a couple of months now, having barely set foot outside the front door. He’s talking less and participating less in family life. His hair looks like he’s thrown a whole can of hairspray on it and he’s scratching it to bits. We’ve had a team meeting and basically those people there were out of ideas. Their best one was to get a GP to do a home visit and assess his physical health. They did send a consultant psychiatrist round and he refused to see her. She essentially said that if he wasn’t willing to co-operate then there was nothing they could do until he got worse enough for self-neglect to become an issue which it isn’t yet. My GP has said she’s happy to do a home visit but if he’s not going to co-operate there isn’t much point.

The only possible solution to this is that his birthday is coming up and if I get him the one game he really really wants, he has suggested to his brothers that he might be willing to see people in exchange for computer time. So we will try that. Other than that I have no clues and feel a bit despairing as there really seems nothing to look forward to as a positive with him. If anything we need him to get worse before anything else can happen which is not a nice thought.

The result of all this was that I conceded defeat and went to get anti-depressants. Having been on them for 6 weeks now I can safely say that I wished I’d taken them years ago but am trying to focus on the benefits they bring. I have more enthusiasm and energy for life, a greater willingness to get up and be physical, even though these have been the laziest holidays ever. Whether I should go to a higher dosage I’m not sure but will talk to the GP on Wednesday. I’m very lucky to have a good doctor who does listen and seems to care.

I was nervously anticipating my father’s visit before Christmas for a couple of days and wishing I had postponed it when he ended up cancelling it for the worst possible reason. Well it could have been worse, but he was diagnosed with early stages of cancer of the kidney and is going into hospital tomorrow to have it removed. His consultant is confident they’ve got it early but until they operate they won’t know for sure. Even if they get it all out, he’s still 70-something and any operation has inherent risks. Having had very short conversations with him over Christmas as he always seemed to ring when I was in the middle of something (like watching boys open presents) I did get it together to ring him today and have a proper chat. I’m not worrying unduly but anything could happen tomorrow.

I had a big of a bust up with 1sis. Before my father cancelled his visit she was on at me to treat him better when he was over and to stop making it look as if it was so much effort. I pointed out that it was a great deal of effort, emotionally at least and she reminded me of how much my parents sacrificed by trying as hard as they do with me. That made me angry as they might think they are putting a huge amount of energy into their relationship with me but I don’t see anything coming out this end. Nor did I get any sort of Christmas present from them, not even the usual token (washing up brush last year with cheque).

Then we got onto 1son’s relationship with 1sis. She tried to do a fair amount for him and eventually got too overwhelming and he told her to fuck off. Not acceptable and he did a fair bit of lying to her friends and making a complete hash of things. I didn’t quite know how much was going on at the time as he was with his father but she wants an apology from him and to feel that his dad and I are concerned by her upset feelings. The trouble is that 1son won’t go anywhere near her without me there and we haven’t been able to arrange a meeting at all and, to be frank, it hasn’t been my priority which has also upset her. They spoke for five minutes just after Christmas which was a start. She gets very emotional which he finds hard to deal with. As he admits, he has never had to deal with confrontation as whenever he really upset one of his parents, he’d just go and stay with the other for a while. We never really had big arguments. Little ones, yes but not shouting matches. And 1sis does get loud and takes it all personally. Which makes it all difficult and not yet resolved. She started throwing a wobbly on her last visit because I don’t absolutely guarantee that the 3 younger boys brush their teeth twice a day. I know 1son doesn’t. She makes it personal, saying “I don’t want them to have dental problems in their twenties.” Well neither do I but it’s not about her and quite frankly I’ve enough to deal with. I try, but not twice a day.

The good thing about all this is that we can talk, we can shout and hang up the telephone and we can make up afterwards. It’s certainly the stormiest relationship with a family member that I have but it’s also the closest. At least I know that she does care even if I sometimes wish she’d back off.

My other sister, 2sis actually sent an email in response to my father’s circulated email announcing his cancer (that way we’d all three sisters hear at once) saying that she was going to try Skype so could we give her our contact name as it would save the cost of the phone call on Christmas Day. I didn’t respond. Apart from the fact that I don’t have Skype set up, if she doesn’t want to make one phone call a year to me, especially as she’s considerably well off so the cost isn’t an issue then why would I want to bother? When she has been over in London she’s made contact and met up with 1sis, but never tried phoning me. I’ve been here 10 years and she’s never visited.

So that’s my family for you.

Three Christmasses ago my parents decided to stop spending it with me. They kept talking about all the work and I kept saying I was happy to do so until it dawned on me that they didn’t want to. They don’t really like my children being loud and boisterous and they don’t get the whole concept of presents being fun and important on Christmas Day so it was no loss. The first Christmas without them I didn’t bother cooking properly at all; the second one I did do a full meal but although 1son will enjoy it the other 3 aren’t bothered so it is a lot of effort. This Christmas I had 3 friends round, ones that 1son, 3son and 4son knew although 2son had never met and we had a jolly day, going to the pub at lunch time for the first time in years as of course my parents don’t do that sort of thing. It was nice, relaxing, full of good company and just a pleasure to do. I had another friend visit a few times and despite 2son avoiding her at first we ended up having a real proper conversation together, with the three of us which was quite amazing.

In fact the whole holiday has been relaxing. I’ve not been waking up until 10-11am most mornings and then sitting in bed for an hour or so reading or using the laptop. I feel so much better and ready for the onslaught of the coming term.