Buckle up my friends.
This post is inspired by a Facebook exchange on my sister's page. PS I'm sorry for hijacking your post CeCe.
It started innocently enough. My sister posted her plans for the day. My mom joins the conversation and says she went to the store for toilet paper. CeCe cautions her to be careful and to wash her hands.
Mom responds with "I got a big hug from a man whole (sic) at the store."
CeCe responds "why?!"
Which is a natural response given the current global pandemic.
And while I generally don't engage with my mom on Facebook (or anywhere), I too felt compelled to ask why. "For real though. Why would you hug a complete stranger during a global pandemic?"
Mom hasn't responded. But my aunt did. DEFENDING my mother. Saying it was brave of her to accept the hug and brave of the man to offer it. Because maybe she just really needed a hug physically and mentally right then.
WE ALL NEED A HUG RIGHT NOW.
I had to respond.
It wasn't brave. It was stupid and irresponsible. And I think it is stupid and irresponsible to say otherwise. And I said that. And I asked how many people could now be infected because of that hug?
But then my aunt felt compelled to go off on ME because who is my mom going to give COVID-19 to because no one visits her anyway?
I could have just let it lie right there. I could have just shook my head, ranted about it to Rob, Magan, or anyone else that would listen. But I couldn't. Maybe because I have a little too much time on my hands. Maybe because I felt personally attacked.
Maybe because I hadn't eaten yet.
But I didn't. And it IS because I felt personally attacked. While I responded with some of what is to follow, here's where I am going to go a little off book.
My mother has been playing the martyr or perpetual victim for as long as I can remember.
I know she had a rough childhood. I am not privy to all of the details but I know some things. I am not unsympathetic. And I understand that it can be hard to break the cycle. But it can be done.
Here's the thing, I know that nobody is perfect. I can forgive small parenting transgressions like I hope my boys can.
What I have a harder time forgiving is blatant cruelty.
For as long as I can remember, my mom would tell me I was fat, ugly, or stupid. On a near daily basis - particularly when I was in high school.
Who does that?
They were both outwardly supportive of my creative pursuits - when I wanted to be a model/singer/actress. But then she would also tell me I had no talent or was fat and ugly when we were at home. I always felt they "supported" me so that they could just rub it in when I failed or hit me up for money if I succeeded.
What I have a harder time forgiving is her stealing from me when I went to college.
My first semester I got a parent/student loan and they kept half of it. That loan was to help me pay for college, I am the one that paid it all back but they kept half of it. And when I threatened to tell on them, she told me then I wouldn't get any of it.
Not to mention the fact that she did not protect me when I needed it most. From my father.
I've written before about how I was sexually abused growing up even as I find it hard to use those words. But being forced to watch porn with my father every night after I was molested by a "family friend" is sexual abuse. It's wrong. And when your 11 year old daughter comes to you and tells you that it's happening, you aren't supposed to wave it off and say it isn't a big deal.
Or when your 12 year old daughter tells you it's still going on you don't just say you are blowing things out of proportion.
Or when your 13 year old daughter tells you it's still happening please make it stop. Your answer should never be "he's just trying to help you".
I honestly can't remember when I stopped telling her, asking her to make it stop. Eventually I knew she wasn't going to do anything about it. So what was the point?
PS this is also one of the reasons I so often sought refuge at Susie's or any other friends growing up. I wanted to be out of that house as often as possible.
And eventually our relationship grew acrimonious - at best. She got mad at me when I stopped kissing my dad good night (he would always lick his lips first and make me kiss him on the mouth no matter how hard I tried not to) and said if I wasn't going to kiss him good night I couldn't kiss her good night either.
But I still tried to maintain a relationship because that's what you are supposed to do.
And yes, she helped me out sometimes. And I was grateful when she offered to babysit the boys for us in our home at half the cost of daycare. Frankly because we couldn't afford daycare for 2. And I agonized over that decision. I still do sometimes. Did I put saving money ahead of the well being of my children?
And she complained all the time. She was unemployable but we gave her a job taking care of her grandkids, and all she ever did was complain. And I'm well aware taking care of two babies and then two toddlers at once is difficult but I wanted to be home with them. I couldn't. And it really hurt to listen to her complain about it every day.
I would ask her to be sensitive to my feelings about it but she didn't care.
But I still did my best to maintain a semblance of a relationship. And I still let her see the boys, even if I didn't want to see her. I did it so my kids could know their grandparents. I never said anything bad about either of them when they were young. But I definitely kept a watchful eye.
And I remember one time she wanted to let my dad watch them for a couple of hours while she did something and I said no, he's not allowed to be alone with them and why (see above) and her response was "he wouldn't do that to them".
As if that makes it ok.
At any rate, by the time Daniel and I got together I barely spoke to my mother. And when I did I would just get crazy and mad and so worked up and he was the one that said you know what, you don't need to feel obligated to have a relationship with her.
Dean saw the same things but he always encouraged me to see her because "she's your mother". SO MANY PEOPLE judge me because I do not have a relationship with her.
Daniel was right though. We all know now that we don't have to have toxic people in our lives. I didn't need the constant comparison to my sister. Or the constant reminders that I was less than. And I was able to relax and enjoy life so much more after that.
I do sometimes regret that by moving to Austin it meant my boys saw less of the extended family. We would still come up to the Dallas area and split time between our families for the big holidays but that was about it. Eventually we stopped doing that even.
And part of that was because it is exhausting always being the one to make the effort but also I wanted to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas in my own home for a change.
We didn't get a lot of visits from family. I don't know why. It's exactly the same distance from them to us as it was from us to them but we were the ones making the effort more often than not. And the worst offender was my mom.
No - I did not reach out and invite her to come and visit. But if she had ever told me she was coming and wanted to meet up for a meal, I wouldn't have said no. At least one of Peter's daughters lived in Austin - not too far from me - and they would come and visit her often. Never made an effort to see me. Or her grandkids she allegedly missed so much.
One time after we'd been in Austin for a year and before I left my job at Travis county (so sometime between 2008 and 2010) she and Peter had spent the weekend in Austin. On her way out of town, on a Monday morning, in the middle of the school year, she called and left me a message.
"We were just visiting (whatever her name is) and passed your exit and just wanted to know if anyone was home."
Spoiler alert: nobody was at home. We were all at work or school.
The only other time I remember her reaching out was when she invited us to Easter dinner the day before Easter (thanks for the reminder Facebook). Yeah. Um thanks for the afterthought but it's a little late for that.
And I know she would spin this as me being an awful daughter that wants nothing to do with her and is keeping her grandkids from her. And I know this because of how family and her friends would treat me.
Like when my dad died and everyone was shocked that I came to the funeral. Like they verbally expressed shock and gratitude for me coming. I lived 3.5 hours away. What kind of monster did she make me out to be?
Or how in spite of my best efforts, I could not get Peter's daughters to have a conversation with me. And don't tell me they were shy. I saw them speaking to everyone else. For that matter, Peter himself treated me like I didn't exist, again in spite of my best efforts.
To be clear, I found Peter fascinating and I was glad they got married and he seemed to make her happy. And I was happy for her. I had no quarrel with Peter.
Except when he rudely butted in when I was talking to my cousin at their wedding and acted like I wasn't even there.
And I am sorry she is once again a widow. But if she is lonely, it's no one's fault but her own.
My sister is a fucking saint. She has been dealing with my mom and all her assorted woes for years now because I just can't. And in spite of everything she has done for my mom, including offering to pick her up and bring her to her home to spend Christmas which she declined and then told evidently anyone who would listen how cold and heartless her own children were by making her spend Christmas alone.
You can't believe anything she says. Because no matter what the truth is, she is going to twist it and warp it until she comes out as the injured party.
So don't come at me, and don't come at my sister because we "neglect" our mom. You don't know the truth.
I'm so fed up with family telling me I need to make amends with her. I need to repair my relationship with her. Why? Why is it on me? I don't wish her ill, and as I said before I am genuinely sorry for her loss. I went to her husband's funeral.
Again, I am not a monster.
And don't tell me that I don't know what it is like to be lonely and sad just because my husband left me for a French Whore instead of dying. I'm not trying to compare the two but don't tell me my loss is less than hers.
Don't tell me I don't know what it is like to spend weeks and months crying yourself to sleep at night. My divorce felt like a death to me because I didn't see it coming. I thought we were happy and then literally the next day we weren't. It wasn't a death but it felt like one. Maybe worse. Because Peter didn't choose to leave her.
Daniel chose to leave me.
And while it's little consolation, his death was not unexpected. She had time to adjust to the idea (as much as anyone can in that situation).
They are both equally horrible and lonely and sad experiences.
And I have been alone for nearly 2 weeks now. You think I don't need a hug? Hell I was stupid and irresponsible nearly 2 weeks ago because when Rob came to see me that night in the ER, I let him give me a kiss. And the next day when he took me home from the hospital I sat with him on the couch for a few hours holding hands. And if you don't think I've been suffering guilt since then you are wrong. I am counting down the days hoping neither one of us infected the other.
Am I angry? Hell yes. All of this started out of genuine concern both my sister and I expressed for our mom hugging a random stranger.
And now I've gotten into a Facebook fight with my aunt. And I know she means well and I know it comes from a place of love but I am so tired of being the bad guy.
I'm so tired of people judging me because I made the healthy choice to remove a toxic person from my life. And all they know is her sob story side which I'm willing to bet has little basis in fact.
But I am not bitter. And I really resent being called bitter as I have literally lived my entire life trying to be anything but bitter.
And to be clear, I don't hate my mother. I don't like her. If we were not related, she would not be in my life at all. But I don't wish her pain and suffering either. I want her to be happy.
I want everyone to be happy.
Hell I don't wish pain and suffering on Daniel and his French Whore. I don't exactly wish them happiness either though.
At least not with each other.