Releasing the past in order to find myself

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Baby Steps of Learning

I had originally intended to title this post "Will I Ever Learn?".  But, upon thinking about what I wanted to write, I realized that I had learned.  A lot.

After the incident with my Dad, I really wanted to call my mom.  I wanted to commiserate and complain and I knew that she would side with me.  Well, at least that's what I had wanted.  But then I started to play out the conversation in my head.  Would she see my side?  Yes.  Would it confirm to her that my Dad can be an ass?  Yes.  Would she be supportive and sympathetic and kind to me?  Probably not.  Probably what would happen is that she would find some way to point out that my dad never goes and visits my sister.  How my sister really gets the short end of the shift.  She'd find some way to personalize my not wanting my dad to visit, find a way to shore up her point that I never let any of the grandparents visit.  That I block them from our lives if it doesn't all go "my way".   Would she make my dad the villain?  Yes.  Would she see me as a victim?  Hell no.

So, after processing and thinking about it and setting my expectations extremely low, I called.  She spent a lot of time talking about her recent vacation.  I had asked her about it.  I had wanted to hear about the trip in general.  Instead, I got a play-by-play.  What they did each and every day.  What everyone ordered at every meal.  Literally, a moment by moment recount of every fricking little thing they did (i.e.  "Then we stopped at a shop to buy a sweater.  Then we walked down the street.  Then we grabbed a taxi.)  The excruciating details were mind numbing.  Luckily, my stepdad was within ear shot so I was spared the dramatics of the family interactions (until later when he left, but fortunately I had to get of the phone then.)  It's funny how she can't speak freely about things in front of him.  She even mentioned that having him and my sister's boyfriend on the trip made it difficult to talk.  That she was "used to" having her one-on-one time and this cramped her style.   We talked a lot about the trip.  I told her a little about the kids.  She made forlorn statements about how big they must be getting, how much they must have changed (she saw them not long ago, but you'd think it was last year).

Then, I just barged in with my dad story.  She was measured in her response.  She questioned me.  A lot.  She questioned exactly what I had told him.  How the whole thing went down.  Went over points repeatedly.    Implied that it was really too bad that I couldn't just rearrange my plans with friends (because after all, they are just my friends, not family.  And family should have priority.).  Haughtily asked "where are you going?"  when she found out we might be leaving one weekend.   Then, she gave my sister credit for the reason my dad even tried to come in the first place.  She, very likely, believes this.  But I know the fact is that he called her while we were in the middle of planning everything.  I know that he has been trying to contact her for months and she won't return his phone calls.  So, once again, my sister is the "strong, take charge" one.  She is responsible for it.  I could feel it all going down hill quickly.   I stated bluntly that I don't have to deal with him.  That I did all that I could to make this work.  That I would not be bullied and strong armed.  That I had no desire to bow down to him whenever he wanted.  I could feel the ice on the other end of the phone.  She took all that I had said personally.  Which is fine.  She probably needed to hear that too.

And then I decided to end the phone call.  Nm was getting all wound up now.  She started her desperate acts of talking none stop to keep me on the phone.  Ignoring my attempts to get off.  Knowing damn well I had to go.  She starts up new conversations.  I keep saying I've got to go.  She says "I love you!"  at the end.  I ignore it and say "bye!"

Did it sting a little?  Sure.  But I didn't feel the heart wrenching ache I usually feel.  I didn't feel the hole in my heart.  I didn't feel let down.  Because I knew what would happen.  And she played her role perfectly.  Like it was a script she was reading from.   I got my "obligatory" phone call in.  I did what I felt I needed to do and called.  And hopefully, that should by me some time.  Fill up my "phone call" quota for awhile.

I did get THREE emails this morning.  Demands for lists for an upcoming birthday.   A slew of concerns over medical concerns of a relative (it could be cancer!!  -read the dramatics here), her medical ailments.  On and on.  But I didn't feel compelled to respond.  I just ignored them.  And moved on.


  1. My conversations with my mother are very similar, I think you once said that your conversations with your sister were like monologues (mine with my sister too) so guess who they learned it from...
    My sister used to describe to me what she had seen in the aisles of the supermarket, talk about mind numbing.
    I thought it was typical that she asked you where you were going, I can almost hear her tone of voice, why they're so obsessed to know where we go? I don't know about your mother but with mine the subtext is: what? you're going away and it's not to see ME? -and you can imagine the frown in their face as they try to lay a guilt trip on you. I didn't tell my mother I was going on my trip. Since I haven't been to visit them yet this year I couldn't be bothered with the drama. My "phone call" quota is disastrous at the moment, but hey, since she's not going to be happy anyway I might as well make it worth my while.
    It's hard to accept that we'll never get any support from them, and I really hate it when they start playing "Devil's Advocate" but I think you managed the phone call really well.

    1. Thanks Kara. Yes, the devils advocate thing sucks. And knowing that she partially sided with him because she feels offended that I don't want to include her in every little thing we do or that we won't drop everything for her.
      And you picked up on the subtext perfectly. That is exactly what she was saying. Where are you going and why the hell is it not to see me!?! I had mentioned we "might" try to make it that way, but then explained that the distance to her home is too much for the kids at the moment. But, I'm sure she felt slighted.
      And holy cow. The aisle of the supermarket?! My sister also likes to put me "on hold" (although she lets me still listen to everything) while she has other conversations (with the deli counter man, the gas station person, the homeless dude in the street). She never just calls me, it's always while she's doing something else (and not just like folding laundry or whatnot, something that takes her attention away a lot). It is exhausting.

  2. Yeah, your mom will just make it worse. Anything bad your dad does is just a chance for her to scream about how bad your dad and other people are so she can look like the good guy. She does not give a crap about how you feel. Which makes her a giant LIAR. Basically, no one can beat up on her daughter EXCEPT HER.
    And her on the phone is just like one of her emails in real life!

    1. Yup, complete with (...)s to hold her place in the conversation. To make sure that there is no space for me to participate.

  3. I recall shortly after I was married about a conversation I had had with my mom when she called me. I was down & sad about my less than a year into marriage husband was having to travel so much. She called while I was having a tearful moment and asked what was wrong so I told her that I missed my husband. The phone went dead silent. I stated "hello?" and she said "how do you think I feel? My husband is dead! How could you be so selfish?!" I was so startled by the comment that I vowed never to share anything deep like that again with her. A few months later, I was with my Nsis and she asked if I thought NM was getting meaner in her old age and I stated yes. I told her about the phone call a few months prior and I told her that I would never share anything "feeling" again with my NM. She agreed. Looking back, I was in my mid 30's and I think it was starting to unfold the pathway to narcissism but I didn't fully realize it till my mid-40's Also, looking way back there were other signs in my early twenties that things were just off and I wish I had a clock to turn back time but I don't. I'm thankful I realize what the issue is now but I feel for the girl that was so confused back then and how much growth I could have gained by knowing then what I know now. I can't change the past but I have my eyes wide open now. Be thankful you learned this now and aware of what you can do your best to protect your kids from.