Releasing the past in order to find myself

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


I hate going to the mailbox anymore.  The last two days there have been packages and it makes my heart skip a beat.

Yesterday, it was nothing.  My father had told me that my sister had been talking about my son's birthday and was sending him a gift (whether she'd bought it already was not clear).  I've had her do this before, say she's sending something that doesn't show up.  I'm sure, in this case, that she said this to look good to my father.  And that she had NO intention of sending anything.  But still, my heart leaps to see the key for the "package drawer" at my mail box. 

It was from NM.  She had sent a (belated) anniversary card.  I was actually surprised that she hadn't sent a card.  She usually does with some cash.  And she sends cards to my kids for damn near everything else.  I had imagined that this was some sort of retribution for our latest dust up: no anniversary card for the ungrateful daughter.  Yet, she did send it.  I am sure it being late was not a coincidence though.

Then she sent a small package with miscellaneous photos.  Many years ago, she gave me the family photos for "safe keeping".  I'm thinking she just wanted them out of her house.  But kind of in a baby-out-with-the bath water, I think in her hurry to get rid of photos of my father, she pushed out all of the baby photos of me and my sister.  I always wondered why she wouldn't want photos of me and my sister as kids anymore.  We were only in our 20s at the time.  And this is a woman who values photos.

Anyway,  this box contained a mishmash of random photos.  Some of me and my husband when we first were dating.  Some of me as a kid (where had these been?  Why did she still have these? Why weren't they with the family photos?).  Some of my great grandmother whom I really didn't know.  Some old letters from my great grandmother to my mother (really inconsequential letters).  A lot of photos of me I'd never seen before.  Some of me, my mother, and my father at my graduation.  They had divorced by then and were very much not getting along.  I wondered why she would have those. 

She said she had been cleaning things out and wanted to send me them (I know this to be true.  She is cleaning things out.)  I wonder why she wouldn't want ANY of them any more though.  She told me to throw out what I didn't want.  So, is she just making me make the decision to trash family mementos?  She sent a few photos of my sister (and just my sister).  I'm wondering if she sent photos of me (and just me) to my sister (oh, in the letter,  she said she sent half to my sister.) I'm wondering why she's suddenly cleaning out things from 20 years ago. 

At first, I looked at had a moment of "I'm wrong.  Look at that happy little girl.  Look at her smile.  Look at her posing for pictures with her mom."  There were pictures of me and my sister on a trip my mom arranged as a "girls' trip" when we were in our 20s.  NSIS and I look close.  We kind of were close.   At that moment, to deal with NM, we had clung desperately to each other on those trips.  But I also remember sobbing hysterically (as did NSIS) on those trips.  I remember anger and fighting and vowing to NEVER, EVER go anywhere alone with them again.  It's odd to me that photos can so mask what really was going on.  How easy it is to look at photos and argue that things were better than we remember them being.  Snapshots of happiness is all they were.  Or snapshots of feigned happiness. 

When I finished looking at them I felt sad.  I felt so sad for the little girl in the photos.  Who didn't know any better.  Who thought she was loved and cared for and had a great family.  Who loved her family SO much that she hardly took the time to make her own friends or have her own interests.  Who always wanted to be with her family and desperately feared (even as a child) loosing them. 

I looked prettier in the photos than I remember being.  Than I feel now.  I looked very much in love with my husband.  I remember the beginning of our relationship, as we broke away from our FOOs being hard.  Very hard at times.  But we looked in love.  Still are.  I don't remember much else about the photos.  I don't remember the moments or occasions.  I do remember that life that revolved around those photos.  And that those pictures do not capture THAT at all.  I do see the pained, forced expressions as I hit my teenage years.  I look sad.  And hopeless.  But smiling.  The childhood of an ACoN.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


The phone rang tonight in the middle of preparing dinner.  Things are busy, the kids re underfoot and I'm working to get dinner done.  My father and his wife come for a visit tomorrow, so I'm thinking about the million things I need to still get done.  It's clearly the dinner "hour".  Anyone who knows me would know this particular time of night is really busy for me.

When it rang, I expect my dad.  He was canceling, I thought.  He has just returned from moving his mother out of the home she's lived in (and he grew up in) for about 60 years.  It must've been hard.  He seemed...rather...OK with it all.  I found that odd.  I suspected him.

Or my mother.  She's been writing me all weekend how "upsetting" my grandmother - her ex-MIL, who doesn't particularly like her and she's had no contact with in 20 years - moving was for her.  I'm sure that was it.

I didn't expect NSIS.  (For those who are interested, see my recent post "Crying Wolf" for a history).  My stomach dropped instantly.  I can't say I was totally surprised.  She called (and emailed) shortly before my last visit with him to warn me to "no talk about" her with him.  To not ruin their now-blooming, "new" relationship.  OK.  Sure. 

She sent a package full of gifts for my younger son, and we exchanged a few texts.  We haven't talked since (and not on the phone for over a year).  She completely ignored my older son's very recent birthday.  I had half expected that she would call me after my confrontation with my mother.

So, she's calling for one of a few reasons:

1)  To chew me out for "hurting" my mother or whatever she decides to label me telling my mom, honestly and calmly, how I feel.  She's often called to take my mother's side against me.  Or, NM spilled something and she's calling to confront me on that.

2) Or, she's calling to damage control.  To make sure I don't spill secrets to my dad.  To make sure I don't fuck things up for her.

3)  To tell me, I'm a rotten human being.

4)  To cry and whine about the relationship we used to have

5)  To act normal, in an attempt to pretend everything's OK (still, right before my father's visit, so obviously this has an ulterior motive). 

I'm upset and anxious.  I was already anxious about dad arriving.  Things went well last time, but you never know.  Things have been not good.  And he is a little high strung.  He can get tense- and make everyone around him tense- in quick order.

I'm angry she called tonight.  I'm angry she didn't leave a message.  I mean, the fact that she didn't say what in the hell she was calling about is SO passive-aggressive.  We haven't talked in a year, but you DON'T LEAVE A MESSAGE AS TO WHAT THE HELL YOU WANT. 

In any event, she's fucking with me.  The timing is too coincidental.  Right after (days after) ignoring my son on his birthday.  She's not been told she can't send him anything.  Not that I wanted her to.  But it clearly speaks to her motives.  And the DAY before my father is to come.  She was just complaining on FB (to a very random person, who happens to be a mutual friend) about my dad not coming to see her and being wishy washy about making plans.  NM got angry with me for my father not visiting my sister enough.  I'm not sure how I have any control over that (or really should care, it's not my place). 

DH sort of laughed it off.  I'm sure it's ridiculous to him.  I'm guessing he doesn't really know what to say.  But he didn't seem to get how painful this really is for me.  How I HATE that I'm agonizing, again, over them...and she's the one I'm basically "NC" with.  How does that work?

She knows she is supposed to email me.  I've told her I'm uninterested in phone calls at this point.  She has CLEARLY ignored this several times now.  I can't ignore that.

I'm just twisted.  Sorry this is so disjointed and random.  I'm just so twisted.  It was the last thing I wanted to deal with tonight.  Fuck her.