Monday, 23 February 2009


I'm not going to go into great detail here, but here's a thing.

My daughter hates me.

The reasons for this are long and complicated and maybe even irrational -- there's a professional opinion or two that suggests she has paranoid schizophrenia or some other personality disorder, whatever that easy phrase may mean -- but I no longer have any option but to avoid all possibility of any sort of direct contact for fear of what she might accuse me of next time.

Recently, she's started sending me text messages. It's nearly her birthday, she reminds me, and she's prepared to be "civil" if I am.

Odd word, that. Mostly, nobody uses it except as a word to describe somebody who isn't it. Or somebody who is, but only just, perhaps through a desire not to spill blood in public or through some misguided view of the concept of "duty."

It's a word used by someone who's spoiling for a fight. It's not a word used by someone who's looking for forgiveness for past wrongs, it's just too unemotional to contain the stuff that'd be associated with the resumption of a relationship that went where she took ours. It's a word that restarts something; not a relationship but a confrontation.

She's trying to achieve something here, of course. She's performing, perhaps, for her friends (here's me, showing forgiveness and the b^!^*%$* won't give me the time of day) or she's scared all her sources of never-to-be-repaid loans away and she doesn't know where her next packet of fags are coming from so she's wondering if the father she tried very hard to destroy might have forgotten some of the things she said and did. Her subtlety doesn't extend very far, though. She's after a birthday present and if she's also working an audience, it's a bonus for her.

Civility, even in its dictionary form, isn't a word that comes to mind, in this context. Nor, sadly, is forgiveness. For what she did to me; to her brother; to the son of her mother's friend; to her mother's ex-boyfriend; or to her mother; forgiveness is very, very hard to consider, even as an intellectual exercise.

The few friends she has left, by all accounts, are known as "emo" people. A flavour, perhaps, of the goths whose beginnings were rooted in the musical subculture that surrounded me, half my life ago but while I liked the music, I didn't live it!

I can't speak with any authority on this subject, but according to the boy she bullied all his life, they invent dreadful stories of how appalling their lives are then cut themselves in search of the twisted emotional release that pain brings.

There is much here I don't understand, I admit. But I completely understand the potential consequences of resuming contact with this damaged person; while she needs events that fuel the manufacture of the ersatz sympathy that feeds her disorder, it is completely unreasonable to enter that whirlpool myself.

So no, I won't be "civil."

She's in Coventry for good reason; she can't leave and I won't visit.

For her birthday, she can have the day she has made for herself. I hope she will one day be able to understand what she has done.

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