I mentioned in my last post that my dad’s partner had treated me badly during the family holiday to Florida. He and my dad had apparently fought constantly while we were on holiday, presumably due to the strain of trying to hide their relationship from us. I think this is one reason why he had such a disproportionate reaction to something I said. It’s going to sound absolutely ridiculous. Hell, it WAS absolutely ridiculous. And I wish that I was joking. This was one big, final family holiday that my family had been saving for, for many years. We had all really looked forward to it, but unfortunately, it was in large part a miserable experience for me (and presumably for my dad’s partner too).
It started over a pair of sunglasses. My whole family (except my stepdad, who is terrified of rollercoasters) and I were waiting in line for one of the rollercoasters at Universal Studios. It was everyone’s first ride of the day. We were all getting on well enough, chatting while we waited, and looking forward to a day at yet another massive theme park. There were signs alongside the queue telling us to remove any loose items, such as sunglasses, hats, or loose change in pockets. I noticed that my brother and my dad’s partner were still wearing their sunglasses on top of their heads as we were about to go through the security gates, so I said to them both “Remember to take your sunglasses off”. I didn’t want the sunglasses to fall off and injure either of them, or anyone else, while we were on the ride, as the rollercoaster was above a busy walkway. I’m not used to wearing sunglasses (as you might imagine, living in Scotland!), so I would probably forget I even had them on my head if they weren’t over my eyes, and I thought perhaps they were both the same.
Upon hearing me say this, my dad’s partner went absolutely berserk – kind of ironic, given that we were waiting in line for the Incredible Hulk coaster. He shouted at me “I’m not going to let a 21-year-old little girl tell me what to do!” (He got my age wrong by 2 years, which sums what he knows about me/ my life, really). I replied that I was neither 21 nor a little girl. He was absolutely furious as he was shouting at me. I was trying to get a word in edgeways, trying to explain that I was just looking out for him and that there was no malice behind what I’d said. Then I tried to apologise, but he wouldn’t even let me talk. I didn’t understand what I could have done to cause offence because I was just trying to be helpful. Yet he was acting as if I’d just mortally offended him. Any time I even started to speak, to try to explain things, he just said that he wasn’t going to listen to me because I was being disrespectful. I was completely dumbfounded by his response and was wondering what on earth I could possibly have done for him to react like that that. I kept calming trying to reason with him, and to tell him that I didn’t mean to offend him. I was saying to him “<Dad’s partner>, can you please listen to me?”, and he was shouting, practically spitting at me, “No! I’m not going to listen! Why don’t you listen to me?!” I said “Okay, I’ll listen to you. I don’t understand why you’re acting like this. What is it that’s the problem?” Perhaps I’m just very lucky, but I had never seen a grown adult act like that in my life. He was like a 2-year-old throwing a temper tantrum. Eventually, he angrily said “Maybe we should have a conversation about this when we get back to the house”. I had realised that I wasn’t getting anywhere at this point so I just agreed.
Immediately after he’d finished shouting at me, I got very upset and was crying because I just didn’t understand what I’d done wrong and why he was so angry and upset. I thought I must be a truly horrible, disgusting person for someone to have reacted like that to something I’d said. (Everyone else in my family later said the same – they had no idea why he’d gone off on one all of a sudden. It was explosive anger). And I couldn’t even walk away because we’d been in the queue for 20 minutes, and had another 40 or so minutes still to wait in line. So I would have had to climb over several railings and try to squeeze past everyone to leave the ride, irritating lots of people and creating an even bigger scene. So I just stood with my family in line, but as far away from my dad’s partner as possible, crying in front of everyone and feeling awful about myself.
We didn’t speak to each other at all for 2 days afterwards. This made things extremely awkward for everyone. None of my other family members wanted to be seen as taking sides, for fear of making things even worse between my dad’s partner and I. It was 2 days of absolute misery. I felt so alone as no one else from my family even wanted to talk about what had happened. On one of those days, while we were out, I just had to get away from everyone and I face-timed my boyfriend, crying. It maybe sounds ridiculous but this was the first time in years that I’d seriously felt like hurting myself. I just wanted to be back in Scotland, with my boyfriend – the only person who was truly there to support me through all of this. I felt like the one who always causes trouble for everyone else, thinking back to all the times my dad and I had fought. It was ME that was the problem, and my whole family would have been better off if I’d never been born. I was always the black sheep. And no matter how hard I tried, there was something fundamentally wrong and unlikeable about me as a person. It felt to me like I was the most horrible, hateful person in existence.
Two days after my dad’s partner exploding at me, all of us visited the Kennedy Space Centre. It took us over an hour or more to get there on the bus. We were all sat near each other. I was sat beside my brother, in the aisle seat, and my dad and his partner were sat in a row in front of us, on the opposite side of the bus, my dad’s partner in the aisle seat. I was just resting my eyes as I hadn’t slept much as was a bit tired. I think my dad’s partner thought I was asleep because he was just mouthing off about me to my dad, saying that he couldn’t stand me, and that I was a horrible person. He mentioned lots of little things about me that he just didn’t like. This went on for 10 minutes or more. I just kept pretending to be asleep, with tears rolling down my cheeks, hiding my face.