Tuesday, April 22, 2014

"We really should stop"

I'm struggling right now on how much to reveal on this subject.  I don't like putting stuff like this out there so that some opinionated person who has not gone through my situation or feelings, can sum up what they think I should have done or how I should have handled the situation  in one sweeping generalization.  Here's the long version.



My parents divorced when I was 8.  My dad's side of the family were all nice enough.  I loved my aunts and uncles and the eventual cousins that came along.  I have many good memories of working the garden with my grandma when I was little, playing with little copper pots she had on these horrible 70's stove lamps, watching the Wizard of Oz with her in bed as well as the TLC show Operation (she was a nurse) before it became something other than The Learning Channel.  There were also aspects of her that could grate a little. She could be dismissive when she didn't want to hear what you had to say with a "whateeeeeever."  She originated the phrase, not the kids of the 90's.  But all in all, I felt loved by her.  My grandpa?  Well...he was a very gruff man, stood for NO crap and the more he knew, the more stubbornly he knew it.  Whatever he believed, even if wrong, there was no telling him that.  (The sky is blue...he says it's pink and you're gonna like it.)  My dad idolized him.  He succeeded in being a lot like him by emulating some of his less than tolerable traits but attempted to balance with select humor and rarely but more so than grandpa...the ability to see reason when presented with facts.  When my parents divorced...I felt almost immediately abandoned by my aunts and uncles.  I don't think it was as quick as my memory makes it out to be but I know that within the two years after, I was not considered much of a part of the family any more where they were concerned.  I wasn't invited to cousin's birthday parties, I was only invited to be with the family on Christmas Eve but it was like the rest of the year, I didn't exist.  It continued to get worse as the years went by and we basically didn't talk.  It wasn't for my occasional lack of trying but they all had no problem painting themselves as the victim to my selfishness.  Apparently from 8 years old on, I was expected to upkeep the relationship with 20 people.  I was expected to do the phone calls, ask to be invited to events and swing by on my own.  I don't know many children who put an adult effort into that many relationships.  I was painted as some evil, selfish witch when THEY dropped the ball early on and gave me no reason to pick it up and run with it later in life.  They liked to tell anyone that would listen that they were the victims while I deserted all of them.  Wow...perception really is reality, isn't it people?  You just assume they're your family and they will always be there.  Well, some of us aren't that lucky.

After a disastrous Christmas Eve spent by the Mr and I where we were basically ignored, I decided I was done taking on the blame for them abandoning me after the divorce.  My dad and I even got in a heated argument twice over my grandparents lack of involvement in my life.  He blamed me and I set him straight and called him out on all of his and their crap.  He made vows to try and failed.  As unlikely as it sounds, I forgave him for that.  I know some people just aren't meant to be parents (raising hand) and while it would've been awesome to have George Banks (Steve Martin) as a father or any father that was more involved, that wasn't the lottery I was meant to hit.  It took many years but I'm okay with that now.  I'm not going to drink the mental poison and expect him to suffer.  Over the past 10 years, I would have this dream where one or both of my grandparents died.  As we entered the funeral home to pay our respects, all of the family would give me dirty looks and some would say "oh NOW you decide to see them."  It would get to me not because they were gone (unfortunately, they've felt long gone for many decades now) it was that people were judging me based on bull crap they ingested as facts.

 I told you that, to tell you this.

The past few years, their health hasn't been the greatest and whenever we pass their house on my way to my aunt's (mom's side)  for our holiday gatherings, I would think of stopping.  I would think of the look on her face and I figured he'd probably make some smart ass comment that made me sorry I stopped.  I'd think of the times she'd say "you never call us" and I would laugh and say "I don't hear your voice on my machine either!"  Not in a disrespectful tone but to let her know, the line goes both ways and you don't call or make an effort with me either.  Matter of fact, I went out of my way a few times to get together with them and got so many excuses that I gave up.  My heart could no longer take the rejection.  It was beginning to hurt and do more damage than I was willing to take on anymore.  After those emotions came flooding back in nanoseconds, I'd lose nerve and we'd drive by.  The past two years I've said "we really need to stop" but then be silent driving past.  My heart is always so torn. But I knew that when that call came that she was gone, I would regret I didn't make the stop.

We stayed late at my aunt's on Easter and when we drove by my grandparents house, I looked over like I always do but this time, Grandma was standing at the open door.  I said "oh my God, Grandma was at the door!"  The Mr asked if I wanted to stop and I hesitated then said yes.  As the Mr turned around I said no, we shouldn't because we still had to work out and I had a horrid headache.  I don't know if he ignored me or didn't hear me but he pulled into her driveway.  The front door was still open and I opened my car door.  When I looked down on the ground, there were burrs everywhere but no burr bushes.  I knew this was a sign from my great grandma (my grandpa's mom).  We lived with them for a year after my grandpa passed and I came back from an adventure in a field covered in burrs and her European temper went medieval on my little muddy, burr covered ass!  I took it as a sign she was happy I was there and I marched up to the front door with the Mr in tow.  I knocked on the door and about 30 seconds later, my grandma hobbled over to the door.  Her blue eyes blinked a few times like she couldn't believe what she was seeing and stood there in disbelief.  Thus began a visit that would bring out many emotions in me when it was over.

Swing by tomorrow to find out how it went because if I typed it now, I would probably win a world's longest blog post award.  (If I haven't already)

====================
Like this post? Don't miss another one...subscribe via email or RSS feed. (Or you can follow me on Facebook )

26 comments:

  1. I can't wait for tomorrow's post! OK well, I already know the outcome but I can't wait for others to see it because as hard as it is to think about sometimes, you really did need to get this out and I am proud of you for sharing it. I have a feeling there are more people out there in similar situations than we realize and I bet this will help them out too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We'll see. I just thank you for going through it with me.

      Delete
  2. I'm proud of you for your bravery. That was a hard thing to do, and you did it so no matter the outcome, good for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I think it was a decision I needed to make spur of the moment or I would've made more excuses. I don't want to be that person anymore.

      Delete
  3. YAY! I am so glad the MR didn't hear you and pulled into that drive way! I'm so proud you took that step and now no longer have to live with that regret. Can't wait to hear the rest of it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh he heard me, he just ignored me. ;-) It'll be an interesting read.

      Delete
  4. This is a very interesting story, I can't wait to see how the visit went. I hope Grandpa wasn't too rude, and I hope you gave him some leeway and weren't too offended, knowing that is how he always was, and I'm sure he hasn't gotten any better since he has gotten older. You are very fortunate to have grandparents still living, I know you have lost your other Grandma to Alzheimers, but I lost all my grandparents over 40 years ago, when I was not even out of my teens. We spent Easter with Du's dad and his wife (he remarried a year after Du's mom died of cancer, back in 1999), and although we are not overly fond of the wife, we both realize how precious his Dad is in our lives. He has been generous financially over the years, sharing the money he and Du's mother inherited when her parents died, and very loving. We do notice he has taken on some of his wife's judgmental qualities, which are not very endearing, but at 85, he is healthy, and I cannot fault him for adjusting to the loss of his wife, by remarrying quickly to fill that void. I'm glad you reconnected with your grandparents and I hope the visit went well, so it will pave the road to more visits. I wonder if you would have been so brave if you hadn't lost over 200 lbs. I know when I was morbidly obese, I hesitated to put myself out there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's good you guys have a good relationship with his dad. Lots of us don't have that no matter how much we want it. As far as the grandparents, I lost them 30 years years ago. Unfortunately, there doesn't have to be a death to lose people in your life. Leeway I can give...you'll just have to see how much. ;-)

      Delete
    2. I'm glad you for you that you stopped in regardless of the outcome. Can't wait to see!

      Delete
  5. I can't wait for tomorrow. This string a cord in my soul, my parents never divorced but we were blacked sheeped from my dads side of the family. All the thoughts you had about your grandparents passing is exactly how I feel. We drive past my grandparents on the way to my parents house and I feel the same way, I should stop but then all the bad feelings come flooding back and its just so much pain. Love that you opened up and shared this story- you rock!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sorry that you can relate. It's a horrible feeling to not feel good enough, to wonder what it is about you that makes you not worth the time. It'd be different if you knew you could have a rational conversation about the topic but cutting out a whole branch of a family with no real reason/event to relate to it is far from rational. :-\

      Delete
  6. Thank you for sharing - I really want to know what happens next!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ooh! You are such a story telling tease! I'm going to be sitting at my computer at 9:01 to hear the rest.

    My heart aches to hear about how your Dad's family cut you out. That's hard to take at any age but 8?!? I've been fortunate enough to be in a family that takes all comers and turns no one away. But I know too well that not all families are like that and I've seen how hurt people can be by the careless actions of adults.

    Thanks for sharing so bravely and I look forward to the conclusion of your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, I know but there's no way any would've read it as all one post.

      Yeah, I think it really sucks when there is a divorce and the kid not only loses contact with one parent but an entire side of the family. I mean, that's crazy. It's something that's driven my mom's side nuts all of these years. I can forgive my dad for the lack of involvement to a certain degree but an entire side of the family?? Come on man!

      Delete
  8. I just wanted to let you know that you're not the only one with a messed up family. I feel like I have no one beyond my parents. My grandparents have all passed now, but I feel like the aunts, uncles, and cousins are gone as well. With both sides, our problems have begun with the death of a grandparent. The issues involved my parents, not us kids. Now I feel like because of my parents, I have no extended family, especially on my mother's side.
    Anyway, you are not alone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Chris. It is horrible when kids get caught in the crossfire no matter what age. Family is supposed to be forever and you're kind of taught from a young age that "friends come and go but family is forever*"

      *=or until a whole side disowns you for no good reason.

      Delete
  9. I am dying of curiosity. When my parents divorced, dad's family stopped inviting us over. Since they were always a bit standoffish and I was just barely a teenager, I didn't really realize what was going on. They did attend my wedding and when my grandfather was dying, we went to visit him. It was only after he passed that my mother told us how he commanded that my grandmother and aunt & uncle (who lived with them) not have anything to do with my mother or her children. Once he was gone, we were again invited over. My mother holds a grudge to this day, but knowing how he was, I forgave the rest of them and I am glad I did.

    Now I am having some issues with other family members - me reaching out and them making excuses. I just told a friend I am trying to decide whether to make one more effort or just say the heck with it. Very interested to hear how your visit turned out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh, this seems to be more common than I realized. I do remember hearing that about a year after the divorce when my grandma was still in her game club with my mom, my aunt (dad's brothers wife) said "why do you still go to club when SHE'S there!?" Uhhh, perhaps you didn't hear but SHE was the one who got cheated on, why is SHE being made out to be the villain here???? It just amazes me the crap that people spew. I found out about it about 5 years after the fact, was a lippy teen and was two seconds from telling her the next time I babysat her kids that "it was really nice that your husband and dad's other brother knew about the affair and didn't say anything. I think I'd be questioning what kind of man I was married to that would keep that kind of secret." But of course she was the popular one in high school so she always had her nose in the air anyway. I lost a lot of respect for her after that. People sometimes just suck.

      Delete
  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just so ya know, I saw what you said. I can SO relate. You're not alone. It stinks when your efforts are poo'd all over.

      Delete
  11. I have a similar story in that my parents divorced when I was 7 and I lived two weeks with mom, two weeks with him (never unpacked my suitcase), back and forth, back and forth. The invites became less and less and then non-existent with the excuse that I was living with my mom that weekend, etc. I was very much the outcast and it got even worse when I finally got up the nerve to leave my father's house after years of every kind of abuse you can imagine. They REALLY hated me then because I should have "kept family business private" instead of going to a counselor. My mom's side was the same way and because I wasn't my sister, I had no value and there was no point in being there. My husband has said that we are like a couple of orphans in many ways. And considering what my mom is going through, it feels even more like that is true. I remember I found out once an aunt of mine had passed away that she never liked me because I didn't send Christmas cards or thank you cards when she bought my SISTER a Christmas gift. I was 7, she was 11. My father forbade me to send anything because he said no one liked me anyway. That was the kind of standard I was held to while my sister was the sweetest innocent flower. I ended up in the hospital for 3 months when I was 15 because of my father and that same aunt (and uncle) said I was just looking for attention and I had no right to tell the counselors what went on behind closed doors. Yeah, stunning, isn't it? My nickname from my father (and carried on with the rest of them) was "Half Measure". Now that's a character builder for a 7 year old, eh? It carried with me for decades (and still does in many ways). I'll look for part 2 tomorrow night. The decision you made came from the heart, so it was the right decision for that reason alone--no matter the outcome. You did this for YOU and there's healing in that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, I am speechless. So many wrongs in one paragraph. If I could hug you right now, I would. I'm sorry you had to go through all of that and that you got the shaft on the family front as well. :-\

      Delete
    2. Sending you a big hug. What horrible people!

      Delete
  12. Wow, I got Goosebumps. This is such an amazing story, and I feel so privileged to be able to hear it. Thank you for sharing and I can't wait to hear what happens. We all have our family dynamics, some better than others, mine are very much like yours, it seems. Thank God we both have amazing men by our sides to give value to the word family... even if mine is being a huge asshole right now ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Chetney. I'm sorry you can relate. Family should always be there for you and always be willing to compromise for each other to have people to lean on. It seems more and more common that people just want what they want and if someone doesn't like it, screw off. That's really sad. Tell the hubs to stop being a poop! :-P

      Delete

Thanks for taking the time to comment! I appreciate thoughtful readers like you! If your comment doesn't show up right away, check back in a few minutes. I promise it'll get posted. The system can get a little glitchy. (Rude or spammy comments will be deleted. Fair warning.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...