Sunday, 9 February 2014

More about the fecking book

I was going to reply to comments but thought it might be easier to do a post on the whole book debacle.

To try and put this in context, it's probably worth giving a bit more detail on my Mother's "quest for the truth". I wasn't involved in any decision making over this, and it's obviously from the book that she didn't keep me entirely informed (things like my brother's friends writing to the family to offer condolences - I didn't see any of that). But then I'd come back from school and - for example - find my brother's autopsy report on the kitchen table.

I also remember a particularly miserable family holiday in which I had to accompany Mum and Dad to see the lawyers they'd hired, amongst other things, and the whole thing was discussed endlessly.

Mum could also something end up in a horrible competitive grieving mode. Once, after a few drinks at a family gathering, several months after my brother died, she started talking about all her work to uncover what had happened, which somehow ended up with her telling everyone that no-one cared about my brother dying apart from her. It was hideous and resulted in a massive row.

I know that sounds really awful and clearly the whole thing was very traumatic for her, but it was also horrible for everyone else. Everyone grieves differently but my mother's method was very difficult to live with. For the most part I just let her get on with it, as I had no choice.

I did become irrationally convinced I was going to die too, and began drinking quite heavily and did a lot of other stupid things because of this, and fell out badly with my old friends. I mean, some of this would have happened anyway - I was 15 - but I don't think I'd have been so nihilstic if I wasn't trying to cope with what was going on at home.

Anyway, I moved out and moved on. Our relationship got better, although she knows I don't like discussing my brother's death.

So, the book...

My mother has been writing this book for years. I read the start of an earlier draft about five years ago, but then got myself into her bad books by pointing out it was never going to be published unless she sorted out the spelling and grammatical errors. The earlier draft also made even less sense than the current version as she'd used a flashback device that made it virtually impossible to follow.

She did send it off to a publisher but this didn't worry me as, to be frank, it was absolutely no surprise when it got rejected.

A couple of years ago, when I was doing IVF, she said she'd rewritten it, and tried to get me to read the document. I just couldn't face her dragging it all up again so didn't touch the the folder it was in, which sat in our living room for a couple of weeks until she asked me if I'd read it. I said I han't had time and she looked annoyed but took it away.

She seems to have redrafted it again recently after going to a writing group. Since my Dad has been ill she has had a bee in her bonnet about being about to die (my granny had this also, for about the last 20 years of her life!). Then she discovered a cousin had been self publishing books on Kindle and that seems to have spurred her into action. Some of this is definitely about her wanting to be an author rather than it simply being about publicising my brother's death.

She told me the book was about her childhood before I read it, as presumably she knew if she'd said it was about my brother dying I'd have told her straight out I thought it was a bad idea. And that she's publishing it when she gets back, in about a fortnight.

I am actually quite upset I've been more or less forced to read it (I seemed to have a choice between ignoring her and it going online or reading it and being able to object, and reading it seemed the least bad option). Apart from dragging up a whole load of bad memories, which I don't want to relive, her book also implies there was some sort of foul play with my brother's death. There wasn't, but she just seems determined to blame someone, and I find that disturbing.

Anyway,  I don't want her to publish it because:

  • I think having details published of how my sisters and I found out our brother had died is massively intrusive. I wouldn't even be happy for my mum to show this to her writing group or for relatives to see it.
  • Ditto for my brother's partner, although the poor woman doesn't even know what Mum is planning. She might be ok with it, although I suspect she'd also find it upsetting
  • My sister has mental health problems (which I think are related to my brother's death). She's deleted the book without reading it but the nature of putting it online is that it will be out there, presumably forever, and I think she's highly likely to find out eventually, or read it after it is published
  • The book has elements of my Mum's competitive grieving; it says there can never be any closure for her, and she's written all this and made us read it because she loves my brother so much (the fact that her actions have damaged her relationships with her surviving children seems not to have occurred to her)
  • The conspiracy theory stuff is really awful
  • In other bits of the book she sounds borderline rascist and it just makes me cringe
  • It's really morbid; people and animals dying all over the shop
  • When I'm mentioned in the book outwith the context of my brother dying, which I am two or three times, it is as the subject of incredibly lame attempts at humour. This is fairly small beer in the grand scheme of things, but again, it makes my toes curl
Thank you all for your suggestions on the last post about where to go next.

I think there RE two problems. One is the immediate need to stop her publishing it. The less immediate, but in some ways more important issue, is to tackle why she thinks this is an appropriate way to behave.

I have considered letting myself into my parents' house and attempting to find and destroy all electronic and paper copies. However, I think this would make me a bad person, and anyway she has been working on it for years and I think I'd be unlikely to wipe out everything.

I will raise the points about legalities, stalking and putting too much identifying information online.

She has asked with help with formatting before, which I've said I can't do. While it is tempting to sabotage the project, it would make her think that I'm okay with the book and encourage her to carry on like this.

I think I will speak to my father and my sister (not the ill one, we've agreed not to mention any of this to her in case it makes her worse). I know if I speak to my mother directly she will be unreasonable, so I think either getting my Dad to speak to her or sending her a written communication may have a better chance of stopping publication.

Which kind of brings me to the issue of her behaviour generally. I've been greatly upset by this carry on; I haven't been sleeping, have had nightmares and just really feel I've been dragged back into a phase of my life I thought I'd escaped.

I really think that, given the way she acted during my teens, that she shouldn't be asking any more of me. I can understand her finding it therapeutic to write it but having to read it has the opposite effect on me. I think she does understand that it is upsetting for everyone else and must have realised none of her kids were very keen on her writings, but she seems determined to go ahead with it anyway. Either she genuinely can't grasp that it is upsetting or she thinks the gain she'll get from publishing trumps everyone elses feelings.

Anyway, I am not replying to her texts, and I just really can't face talking to her at the moment. She is bound to realise something is up in the next few days.

 I think she should either go to a counsellor or do something positive in my brother's memory (set up a memorial fund or similar), but I think we need to sort out the book thing first.

I had actually been wondering if she was developing or had some sort of age-related illness, both because of the otter business and because this book thing is such a staggeringly weird thing to do (I mean, this isn't normal, right?). But then, my granny didn't have any particular illness like Alzheimers but just got more stubborn and difficult as she got older; although she'd have been appalled about the book too.

Sorry this is such a long post and thanks for bearing with me, and for everyone's comments. It is really helping to try and pick my way through this.

It is quite therapeutic to write this out so maybe I should share it with my Mum (only joking!).

1 comment:

  1. I'm shaking my head. I kind of wish you could say these things to your mother. But she doesn't sound as if she's in the right mind (or has ever been) to hear it. So I'm sorry for you there.

    I really have no words of advice, and so can only offer you support.