I didn't go. I couldn't go. And it wasn't just the travel problems. This was the very first time ever that I had the chance to spend my own daughter's birthday with her. The first time in 41 years (yes, she is an unbelievable 41 today) and I blew it. I was too swamped with feelings. I wanted her to myself. I wanted to spend time with her on her own. Not with her adoptive mum and auntie, not with her boyfriend. Just me and her. But I couldn't have it. I shall probably never have it. And so I went down with a blinding headache.
I tried explaining how I felt to Mr Grumpy, but he turned round and said, "You'll never get what you want. Her birthday has to be the way she wants, it's not about you." Well sorry, it IS about me! I was patient and yearning for 36 years. In all that time, I never knew if she was even still alive. I didn't know where she was, how she'd done at school, whether she'd gone to college, what job she was doing, if she was married, or if I had grandchildren. I didn't even know if she knew she was adopted. She might have been a druggy drop-out. She might have been dead. She might have moved abroad. I didn't know anything. It was a blank wall and I had a huge, gaping hole inside me, a vacuum that nothing else could fill.
Since I have found her, I am gradually learning how to love. Looking back, no wonder I never had a relationship that lasted longer than two years. No wonder I slept with so many men. Having severed the strongest bond, that of mother to child, I could not form any sort of attachment with anybody else. I think I am nicer now, warmer, less brittle. That closed off part of me is now open, but with it comes pain and self-searching. I need time with my grown-up daughter, just the two of us. A holiday together would be great. Is this too much to ask?
Not having seen her for two years is ridiculous. Part of it is down to Mr G's strokes, that made me not want to leave him alone for a good year or so, but then, when I booked a wonderful first class non-refundable cheapie-in-advance ticket, she cancelled me saying she had to catch up on work and I was gutted and it felt like a rejection, which I'm sure it wasn't. It made me wary of booking more train tickets, though. Not being able to drive is a complete pain. If I could, I could simply have drifted down there today or tomorrow in my own time instead of being a slave to the vagaries of public transport.
So there we have it. I am in a difficult position and every time I get put on the spot, I get ill. It's a kind of performance anxiety, maybe - come to think of it, when I was briefly a performing singer-songwriter in the 1970s, I used to get such dreadful stage fright that I had to give up in the end. And at school, when I was called on to play piano for the school assembly, I used to cut my finger with the bread knife to get out of playing, because I felt so nervous and pressurised. I have definitely got a problem. But I still don't think Mr G is right when he said it's all about my daughter and what she wants, and not about me. He doesn't know the agonies I went through all those years. He is much harder than me. He has a son he hasn't seen for years because they fell out. I don't know how he feels about it because he won't say. We are made of different stuff. Slugs and snails and puppy dog's tails? I don't think so. More like hammers and pails and six inch nails. And as for me, sugar and spice and all things nice? More like marshmallow and roses and kittens' pink noses.
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