"No! It's OK. I'm alright, really"
"I'm coming to see you, I'm not taking no for an answer"
This was the moment I had been dreading for months.
He'd never met my parents, or any of my family, for that matter.
I felt the panic rising up inside my chest. My heart raced, my breathing became uneven, shallow and quick.
I felt dizzy, faint. My mind ran through scenarios - none of them good.
The meeting, thankfully short, but not without huge embarrassment and plenty of childish ridicule.
I spent the next few weeks apologising.
Luckily he stayed. Not deterred by the family from hell.
Ten years later and I am still apologising, not just for that initial meeting, but for every thing and every day since.
I feel ashamed. Totally ashamed.
I know what you're thinking.. "Everyone has someone in their family who is an embarrassment"
What I'm saying is, that that statement is true, but it's not just 1 family member it's pretty much the entire bunch!
They are not just embarrassing, they are a group of deceitful, rude, selfish, nasty, money-grabbing, two-faced, lazy, cheating, immoral, horrendous human beings.
Sounds harsh? They're my family. I don't want to feel like this about them, yet they give me little choice.
I've given them 28 years of chances. Every single day of my life, I try my hardest to make good choices, to put others first (even them) to raise my family in the complete opposite way of which I was raised.
I don't ever want my children growing up to feel the way I do about my family. I will not let that happen.
Out of the 23 people in the family, there are very few of whom I feel proud of. In fact there's just four.
I am one of those four. I've risen above, removed myself.
I am not perfect. Far, far from it. I make mistakes (this could be one of them) but I learn from them. I grow. I love, I nurture.
I am a good person and it's taken a very long time for me to realise that.
My father was an alcoholic with a heavy fist. He died choking on his own Scotch infused vomit.
My mother is a weak, attention seeking, selfish woman who is not deserving of the chances and opportunities she has had in her life.
My step father, who took on this woman and her four children was heavy handed, but to his credit has grown in recent years to become an almost respectable human being, but panders to my mothers every whim, despite presumably better judgement.
My eldest sister, now in her 30's is more of less my mothers clone.
A mother of three herself, she disappoints me the most. Although 5 years my senior, we were close growing up. She fell pregnant at the age of 15 with her 25 year old partner. They married a year later in Gretna Green. To this day I don't think either of them has ever really loved the other.
Parenting wise, she could do a lot better, yet most of this was a learnt behaviour, she has never tried to improve.
Terrible, unforgivable lies, which devastate me. She, my once 'favourite' sister has destroyed all of the faith, love and hope I once had in her. I am deeply hurt by her behaviour and mortified by her actions.
My brother, 2 years my junior is just like our father.
He's an aggressive, abusive, lying, cheating boy who has never grown up, despite the fact he has 3 children.
He drinks, smokes, takes drugs and is in and out of jobs more times than seems possible.
He is in the midst of a divorce, mainly due to the fact that he cheated on his wife and mother of his 2 eldest children with a desperate young 'lady' who by her own admissions was "looking for someone to give her a baby" and low and behold, a baby she got!
CSA are heavily involved with both woman as he rarely bothers seeing or paying for any of his children.
He is currently shacked up with a woman nearer our mother's age than his, who has a son herself only a year younger than him!
Another 'Mummy Clone' is my youngest sister.
She's married with a son. She cheated her way (as did the rest of my siblings) into a council house, which is always unclean.
She begs, steals and borrows from anyone she can.
She rarely plays with her son, favouring the TV as a replacement mum, while she smokes and chats on web cams.
She relies on her mother in law to provide clothes for her son, and food for her family as she claims to only ever have £10 for the weekly shop. She and her husband both earn money, but choose to spend it on DVD's , console games, fags and takeaways for themselves.
I am obviously not going to target any of the children in the family or my half sisters, as they are too young, but needless to say, some of their actions over the past couple of years have already shown me that they are nearing the side of their peers, despite all of my efforts.
Are you beginning to see my point? Or maybe you still think that this is pretty standard family crap?!
Maybe this will convince you..
I was born with dark hair and olive skin, which I love now, yet when I was growing up, I used to pray to God that I could win the lottery or something so that I could copy Michael Jackson and have my skin bleached... Seriously!
Even at the age of 4, the torment was so strong, that things like this would enter my head.
It wasn't an attention thing or a cry for help. I never once uttered a single word to any family or friends.
It was simply a plea to stop the bullying. I didn't realise it was bulling back then of course, but my mother knew better.
Instead of consoling her upset, sobbing child, she'd join in with the 'fun'.
This 'joke' carried on for years, in fact I can't remember a time when this wasn't a factor, and even now after all these years they still tease menacingly, trying to get a reaction.
"You're different because you're black. You were adopted, you're not really meant to be here.."
Physical and mental abuse was always present in my childhood.
Being hit across the lower back and the tops of my thighs with thick leather belts and their metal buckles seemed to be the preferred method of attack, with a few well placed wallops with the heel of a heavy shoe or boot across the knee caps saved for special occasions.
They've accused me of being 'better' than them, and of me thinking that I'm 'posh' because I followed a different path. I got out. I made something of myself, despite the shit they tried to hold me back with.
I found a great partner and together we are raising 4 well behaved, balanced, beautiful, intelligent children who are looked after and are loved with everything we have.
I am not 'posh' You read my blog, my tweets.. I'm a long way off posh!
I am better than them though.
The pure fact that I do not bully or try to injure my children makes me better than them.
I work hard everyday of my life to not get drawn in by all of their shit, but it's difficult. Sometimes they win.
Sometimes I'm tired of fighting.
Sometimes I'm that 4 year old child with no voice.
Even now, even after all these years they can still hurt me. I don't know how to stop that.
It's the little things. They get me.
They can always be relied on for their magnificent manipulation skills.
If it weren't for my half sisters, contact would be birthday and Christmas cards only.
I wish I were stronger. The kind of person that could just walk away.
But.. They're my family. No matter how much I want to disappear and start over just me and my family.
A tie is a tie, and I'm just not that strong.
Not just yet.