Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Ha. I think.

So, I'm sitting in my exam today, having just finished the first question. One of the invigilators (neutral supervisors that make sure you don't cheat, escort people to the toilets, collect papers etc) was coming along my row silently collecting peoples' attendance cards and checking their IDs.

When she got to mine, she looked at my student card, went "Christine! Good luck" and moved on. I looked at her, looked at her name badge, looked back at her, and suddenly realised that she was my Dad's ex-girlfriend, Karen.

Those of you who know a bit of my history will know who - and what - I mean when I say 'Karen'. For those who don’t: the woman was a loony. I used to call her manic-depressive, and although she might not have been, medically speaking, it was certainly the way she behaved. She was also an alcoholic manipulative bitch, and she put my family through hell in the year after Mum left. She would make Dad come and stay with her (with my brother and I in tow, I was 13 and Steven was 10/11) and then fight with him and kick us all out in the middle of the night. Or she would break into our house when we weren’t there, and we’d come home to find her smoking on our verandah or getting drunk on our living room floor.

Dad needs to be needed, and Karen needed him big time – they got involved after she rolled her car while under the influence, with her son as a passenger (her son was a schoolmate of Steven’s), and was told that she had to find someone to take her son for a few nights because she was being temporarily relieved of custody of him. Dad was the person she called, and from that point on things just got worse. Dad wasn’t able to balance up his responsibility to Steven and I with his need for Karen, and neglected us quite a bit (not to the point where we went hungry or didn’t have new clothes or anything, but he would leave us alone in the middle of the night to go visit her, even when we were sick, and he was constantly dragging us to and from her house, regardless of homework or tests or whatever). Eventually he decided that we had to go live with Mum, because he couldn’t handle having custody of us while Karen was so needy. You can imagine how that felt.

About 6 months after I went to live with Mum, Karen decided that all of her problems in the on-again-off-again relationship with Dad were Mum’s fault. Mum, by this time, was married to James and had a baby on the way, and barely had any contact with Dad at all. Go figure. Anyway, she started phoning us up late at night and early in the morning to harangue us. We tried whistling down the phone to get her to stop, and eventually took out a restraining order (which, when she breached it, the police refused to prosecute . . . *sigh*).

The last I heard from Karen was when I was about 17 and living with Dad for a while (who was by that time also remarried, to someone else). He still had occasional contact with Karen because she owed him a lot of money, and at that point she was still trying to convince me that she really did like me and had never meant any harm and didn’t know why I hated her so much. Blech. Pathetic and evil.

I lost a good 5 minutes of my exam time to simply being bewildered at the sudden manifestation of Karen, at my university, in my exam, in MY SPACE. But thankfully, she seemed almost meek, and when I saw her afterwards on the walkway she didn’t even try to talk to me. Perhaps it’s because Dad got the money back a few years ago with a court order, so she knows she’s really got no avenue into our lives any more; or perhaps she’s actually grown up and moved on.

Either way, it was a weird and surreal experience, and I sincerely hope she’s not in any more of my exams. I don’t want her to get over the surprise of seeing me and decide to talk! Apologies are meaningless at this point, and attempts at justification are both tiresome and sickening. I don’t want to talk to her, and I’m fiercely glad that she didn’t talk to me.

It’s a weird world. And a small city!


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