I come from a broken home - my Dad left my Mum when I was 4 years old for another woman (many years down the line that woman took great pleasure in telling me that she had been having an affair with my Dad even before I was born!)
My Mum went on to meet a fantastic man who became all that I needed as father figure and his family took me in as the only granddaughter - they had two grandsons who were both older than me.
My Mum and step father have now been married 36 years (as has my Dad and the other woman).
I have never felt accepted by my Dad's second wife - I don't call her my step mum as she has never shown a maternal bone in her body towards me.
I have two half brothers - one of which was announced to me as a "there is a surprise waiting for you when we get home" the first time I ever went to stay with my Dad overnight after the divorce and remarriages had taken place.
I have always loved both of my brothers unconditionally and over the years even though I don't see them all very often, I feel that we are close. I am closer to my baby brother more than the middle brother but we all still have that connection.
My middle brother lives near Gatwick and so its not often we get to see each other and my baby brother lives just over an hour away from me so since he and his wife moved there we have seen a bit more of them.
My Dad announced about 3 years ago that he would be moving up to live near my baby brother when they could sell their house which I was really happy about as I have never lived this close to my Dad since he left us when I was 4.
My Dad's closet in age brother also lives near my baby brother so this was also a good idea as there are now only 2 of his 5 of his siblings alive with the other one living in Australia for the past 64 years.
For the past couple of years my Dad's wife has been off with me - I can't pin it down to a specific thing but she goes out of her way to avoid speaking to me and generally makes me feel like I am dog shit on the bottom of her shoe.
My Dad is Dad, I think he is completely oblivious to it all and I won't highlight it to him as I don't want to make any more problems - Dad is 13 years older than her and not really in the best of health any more.
They finally managed to sell their house last summer and moved up to the area about 2 weeks before Monkey's birthday in September.
Monkey and I visited the new house just before Christmas to drop off Christmas presents - no invite to come and visit before that had been offered and I made the call and said that we would be down to exchange presents one afternoon while Monkey was recovering from his head injury.
While we were there, I had a phone call I needed to take in a different room, so made my way into the lounge for some privacy and found the Christmas tree all set up with enough presents under it to be given out to a whole primary school which were for my middle brother's 2 children. They are 6 and 3 years old. I was flabbergasted at the amount of presents there. Monkey being the oldest grandchild (he's 14 now) has never had more than one present. I appreciate that he isn't her grandchild but he has always called her nanny which she was happy with up until the arrival of my brother's first child.
My middle brother then sent me a message via Facebook a few days after Christmas saying that he had our Christmas presents still as we had not visited Dad's over the holiday - I replied and told him that his mum had never invited us down so that was why we did not visit.
Things came to head on my birthday when I had a random card which could have been sent to anybody with just "love Dad and Lyn" on it. No phone call to wish me happy birthday or to say that they had a present for me the next time I visited. Now I'm not materialistic, but I do make sure that my closet family has a present from both me and hubby and one from the Monkey for birthdays and Christmas and that if we can't see them around the time of the event, then we make sure that they know that we have something. I will be honest with you - I was devastated. Now I don't cry very often, but that day - which should have been a happy day spent with my husband - the first two hours were spent sobbing. Hubby had no idea what to do with me - he understands how I have been feeling but his response is "fuck them" we are happy enough without them and if they upset me that much then I need to stay away from them. He ripped up the card and threw it out as he knew that it had upset me so much.
Dad finally rang the following day and said that he rang my work phone and even though it said on the answerphone message that I was not at work until the following week, he didn't know where to ring.
We have a cousin who lives in Australia who is visiting the UK for the first time in a few weeks. He arrives the day that I am in Leeds with my Centenary Camp friends. We have arranged for me to visit him a couple of days after his arrival (the Monday) at Dad's as he is staying there for the start of the visit. Hubby is on a day off and so the plan is for us to collect Monkey from school and travel down to arrive late afternoon.
When we got home from an afternoon out last Sunday there was a missed call from Dad. When I rang back, she answered the phone and despite me saying "hello, how are you?", she just said "I'll get your Dad."
Dad was asking if we had heard from our cousin and what we had arranged for visiting. I told him the plan and he said that was great as everyone else was going on the Sunday - both brothers and wives and children, my Uncle with his daughter and her family. I mentioned that I was in Leeds on the Sunday but could leave early, drive home, collect the boys and then come and join everyone so that we could all see each other as we haven't been together as a family for a long time. When my Dad mentioned this to her she said no as it was a full house and there would be too many people there - they have moved into a 5 bedroomed house with 3 reception rooms as well as a large kitchen diner!
So I just said yes ok when I really wanted to say no - we will come on the Sunday and just squeeze in! I want to see everybody too.
When I told hubby, he said that we just won't bother going and to be honest I agree - I don't think I can visit and feel relaxed. I know that I will miss out on meeting my cousin and his family, but I think I will just break down in tears and that's not something I want to do in front of my family.
I've decided to just step away from them all for now - if they invite us to something I will think long and hard before accepting. To be honest, I've even said that once Dad is no longer with us, at that point I will walk away and have absolutely nothing to do with any of them - I'm sure they won't miss me!!