Closing the Door

I made the decision to follow through on the letter to my father and I wrote it exactly as planned. It was fairly short, simple, to the point. No wiggle room left for him to squeeze back into my life. I have to hope that when my nephew is older he will reach out to me or that I can reach him through his father. I will hold out hope that he will understand what happened and why I couldn’t fight harder for him. I hope more than anything that he can forgive me and let me be a part of his life someday.

It feels very odd knowing that I will never see or speak to my father again. It’s as if he has passed but with no memorial. It may always be that way. I suspect my sister may not notify me when he does pass. This is how it has to be though and I need to find a way to accept it and let go.

Two Weeks

It’s been two weeks since I’ve written. I’ve been stressed out over a situation with my family that has simply consumed me. My father, who I had not spoken to for 7 months, called my husband and wanted to meet for lunch on his way through town over Thanksgiving. He was supposed to be bringing my nephew to his other grandparents. I can’t fix things with my father or my sister but after speaking with my therapist I had decided that I could try to manage a cordial relationship in order to have my nephew in my life and be a part of his. Apparently my father planned all of this behind my sister’s back though. He had sent me a birthday/Christmas wishlist from my nephew but I could afford almost none of the items on it. I emailed my sister some ideas looking for help. This is what I received in return: I would appreciate you not contacting me again. I do not want you involved in xxxxx’s life on any level. He will not be seeing you at Thanksgiving or Christmas and anything sent to the house will be returned to sender.

It doesn’t matter that last time we spoke and fought I was doing her a favor. It doesn’t matter that she’s the one who assaulted me that day. It doesn’t matter that she sent me two casual messages on Facebook after that as if nothing had happened. Now she has decided that I’m evil I guess. It’s always been about control for her. She controls the situation regardless of the circumstances. She controls my access to my nephew. I’m keeping that email in hopes that someday my nephew will understand I didn’t choose not to be in his life.

As devastated as I have been after receiving the email, I’m also extremely angry. I’m angry at my father for setting both me and my nephew up to get hurt again. I feel almost as if he used my nephew to manipulate me into speaking to him. I’m angry at my sister for being batsh*t crazy. I’m angry at my parents for making her this way. I’m angry at myself for not filing assault charges back in March.

I know it’s too soon and I’m too emotional to make a final decision on how to handle this. My gut reaction was to find a way to retaliate. To drive down there and file the assault charges, to call child protective services (I have before, completely warranted at the time but not now), to find a way to hurt her. The problem is, I know it won’t help. It won’t change anything. And I’m the type of person who would just feel guilty later and try to repent to her and start this vicious cycle all over again. I have to resist retaliation because I will only hurt myself in the end.

I do need to get this out of my life though. The one thing I am considering at this point is to mail my father a letter (they all live together). What I want is to include a copy of her email, an explanation of what happened and why I’m doing what I’m doing. I want to include my email address and ask him to give it to my nephew for when he gets older (he will be 10 in a month). I’m afraid once my father passes that my nephew would not have a way to find me. I know if my sister were to move that I would have no way of finding him. And I want to ask my father to cease calling my husband. All his calls have done is upset me every time, stir up drama, and allow him to know I’m okay. I don’t feel he has any right to know about my life anymore. And, yes, part of me wants him to feel even a tenth of the pain he has caused me.

Lost

It’s been nearly a week since I wrote here because I’ve just had too much swirling around in my head to make sense of any of it. Last week my father called my husband again and left another voicemail. This time it was to say that he was bringing my nephew up to his other grandparents for Thanksgiving (they live 2 hours from me and he has to pass through on the way there). He wanted to know if we could meet for lunch “so my nephew could see me”. I was immediately torn. It’s been over 6 months. Other issues came up for me. On one hand, I think he’s somewhat of a fool to ask when he has shown no sign of missing me, being sorry, or willingness to change. On the other, I almost want the opportunity to give him a piece of my mind in person. I was having a lot of trouble with this and I asked my husband to call and find out if his return trip was an option (because he had suggested a day we both have to work and I definitely need my husband there if I do this) and what my nephew wanted for his birthday. They played phone tag and it became apparent that my father is hiding the calls from my sister. I’m not sure how to explain how much or why that hurts. Except that the fight in March that led to this involved him choosing my sister. He watched her physically and verbally hurt me and stood there refusing to speak up though I begged him to. I feel like that’s the way my whole life has gone. I’ve always had to fight for the smallest bit of attention and it just hurts too much to feel like I was never wanted and it hurts now to think about being somewhere I’m not wanted. I’ve developed a defensive mechanism – I need people to come to me, I can’t reach out because I can’t handle more rejection. It’s destroying all kinds of relationships in my life. Anyway, my father finally called at a normal time of day and wasn’t able to give my husband any details about his travel plans other than a sob story about having to stay in a motel over Thanksgiving because he couldn’t make the drive up and back and up and back again so close. The truth is, he should have given up driving a while back and it scares me for him to be driving my nephew around every day. The truth is, my sister should be taking care of her own child. And yet one sob story that’s left on the voicemail every time is that “neither daughter is speaking to me”. What can I say? My sister has walked all over everyone her entire life and he refuses to stand up to her or to make her stand on her own two feet. They live together and he pays all the bills and provides all of the child care while she verbally abuses him day in and day out. I finally accepted that I can’t make either of them change a long time ago. I guess I had harbored some hope that walking out of my father’s live might be a tiny wake up call but I was wrong.

Combined with the stress the whole situation with my father brings, my husband and I were struggling too. He can be inconsiderate sometimes but there is one disagreement we have that never seems to stop. He cannot help around the house and he cannot pick up after himself. I wake up every day to a dirty house and it stresses me out. I know that I’m sensitive to it and I’ve tried explaining it to him. He always promises to do better but he never follows through for more than a day. He can’t seem to grasp that it makes me feel like he doesn’t care about me because he clearly doesn’t care about something that is important to me.

On Sunday things were starting to boil over. My husband asked me what was wrong and I told him I didn’t want to talk about it. I said this because I knew my bad mood was not all his fault and I was trying to move past it. He insisted on pushing me over and over again until it devolved into a fight. He just couldn’t give me a moment’s space and I ended up saying I didn’t want to go out with him that evening because I didn’t want to be around him. Later in the afternoon I asked him what he wanted to do and he blew me off. Normally I would have apologized and kissed his a$$ and made everything better but he’s been so irritable lately and he never apologizes, he never makes the first move to resolve a fight and I was frustrated and tired of feeling like I was the only one who wanted to fix things. So we stayed home. Later as we started bickering again he made it clear that he had really wanted to go and he was really mad about not going. I felt/feel horrible. I feel like I ruin everything for us. I fought off tears for hours before going to bed. This morning I woke up depressed. All I wanted was to reach out for him, to find some comfort, but I didn’t because I know he’s still mad. And I’m still fighting the tears.

Between the situation with my father, the situation with my husband, the ending of a long term friendship last week, and a stressful period at work, I just feel lost. I don’t know where I am or where I’m going. Unfortunately when the depression comes barreling in like this, I don’t necessarily care. I feel like staying lost.

Temper Tantrums

My father called and left a voice mail on my husband’s phone last week and it has been bugging me ever since. All it said was “everything’s okay here, hope you guys are doing okay.” Pretty benign, right? I haven’t spoken to him since March 24th. I sent him a letter explaining why I had to walk away and the events of that day being the last straw for me and I received a couple of short letters from him. Never once has he said he was sorry or that he missed me or that anything could possibly be different. There is no willingness on his part whatsoever to fix things. I’m angry and I’m hurt. I think it’s obvious why I’m hurt by my father acting this way and I’ve talked about it several times here. But I didn’t realize I was so angry. Why doesn’t he care about me or how much he’s hurt me? Why doesn’t he miss me? I feel like I’m throwing a big temper tantrum but there’s no one listening. I don’t know how to let go of this so that I can move on.

Remembering

The day my mother died was sunny. I know it was cold and windy, and even though it was early January, I remember feeling the warmth from the sun that Saturday.

I was in the car with my soon-to-be-ex-husband. We were working through some of our issues and I was driving. My father called and asked me to meet him at the hospital because my mother was having chest pain. I took my ex back to his car and then headed to the hospital. I remember not being ready for my family to know that he and I were on friendly terms. I don’t remember if my sister was already at the hospital when I got there.

My dad told me that they had a fight that morning. He told my mom that “one of them would have to croak or they would have to get divorced”. She had been in her bedroom and had decided to get up and take the dog for a walk. He saw her from the master bathroom window. She came back inside and told him her chest was hurting, especially in her back. He called an ambulance.

She had flirted with the paramedics. My sister wandered in and out of the waiting room. She was talking to her boyfriend on the phone for most of the time. My dad was getting hysterical and had to go sit in the waiting room. It was just me and my mom and I was holding her hand. I got to tell her I loved her. She told me she knew she wasn’t going home. She was afraid. I told her she was wrong.

She squeezed my hand tight when the pain came. I don’t remember letting go. I just know I was moved aside by the nurses when she coded. I was standing outside the curtain crying when the nurse said she was sorry and walked out to the waiting room with me.

My dad broke down immediately. He saw my face and he knew. They took us to a small room and various people came in to talk to us. I don’t remember saying much of anything to them. The organ donor coordinator came in and I didn’t argue when my sister said that my mom wanted to be an organ donor. I still don’t know if I believe her. Some of my mom’s closest friends stopped by. My sister had started calling them immediately. I was in shock at the time but now I don’t understand doing that. It seems better to spend time with family first, to let it sink in. I don’t remember the rest of the day, any of it.

I know in the following days I spent a lot of time at my parent’s house. It seemed there was nearly always a house full of people. I remember sitting on the kitchen counter in the corner. A guy I had just started casually dating came to the house and he was very supportive in those days. He met my parents for the first time the night before my mom died. He spent time with my father but my mom had gone out to dinner with a friend. She said hello to him when she came home but said she was tired and went up to bed right away.

It was my almost-ex-husband that came to the funeral with me. He was family. Afterwards there wasn’t room in the family car for me for the 3-hour drive to the burial. It was my dad’s niece who rode with him, my sister and her boyfriend. So my husband made the drive with me. On the return trip we weren’t invited when they stopped for lunch at a german restaurant.

It’s ironic, the past couple weeks of my life I have realized the hurt my mother caused me and started to deal with it. I have always acutely felt the pain from my sister and often from my father. But I am only now realizing how much of an over-arching theme this has been in my life. I know that I need to forgive in order to heal but I haven’t reached the point yet where I’ve figured out how to do that. Maybe it will come naturally as I work through this process.

Last week I felt like the grieving finally started. I’ve learned that I have to accept my mom for who she was rather than pretending she was perfect. I’ve identified why I hurt so much. I’ve written her a letter I can’t send. But I didn’t know how to grieve. I’ve spent my time wondering how to make that happen so that I have a chance of moving forward. Maybe you can’t make it happen. Maybe you just have to open yourself up to feeling everything you’ve been denying.

Last week I got in bed and I was holding the teddy bear my husband gave me and I thought about how I always get my stuffed Frosty the Snowman out when I’m sad about my mom and especially through the holiday season. I left him on the shelf but it made me start thinking about my mom and my grandmother. And for the first time last night I could remember how it felt to hold both their hands. I cried hard for an hour.

I feel like I’m grieving for the first time. And I don’t like being this sad person but I know I need to let it be for awhile. I need to give it time to sink in. She’s never coming back and I can’t change the past. But I can forgive the past in due time. Maybe that will come naturally when I’m ready the same way grief has come.

Forgiveness and Rejection

I got stuck mid-week. I was at a point where I had processed my feelings about my mom but I didn’t know where to go from there. Is forgiveness the next step on the road to healing? I’m not sure it’s necessary as I don’t harbor ill will towards her. I don’t really know how to forgive. Maybe I already have without a conscious effort. Forgiveness is a problem for me regardless of whether it’s necessary in this instance. There are a lot of other things in my life that I need to forgive because I’m holding on tightly to the hurt.

I had a therapy appointment yesterday afternoon. We talked about the progress I’ve made with this issue and how it relates to so much of my life. Many people have hurt me in much the same way, it’s kind of a theme. And I don’t trust because of it. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. My therapist classifies it as a fear of abandonment. I’m not sure I feel that abandonment is the right word, maybe rejection is more accurate, but our time was up. She asked me to think about how I deal with this fear and how I should deal with it.

I know that I deal with it by typically leaving people before they can leave me. In more recent years, I simply don’t let people get close to begin with. I have a constant fear that my expectations will never be met, that people will always let me down. And so often, that’s exactly what happens.

It’s finally becoming clear that most of the problems in my marriage are mine. I fought to leave my husband for the first three years but I didn’t really have anywhere to go and he held on tight. I’m so grateful that he did. I still have my problems, and I still start a lot of fights, but it’s the only relationship in my life with any security. And yet, I fear if I was 100% honest with him, that he would leave. And I would deserve it.

Being Brave

It was 2005 and I was on FMLA and attending the half-day program at the psychiatric hospital the first time a therapist told me to write a letter to my mother. Every therapist I’ve seen since then has suggested the same thing but I could never do it. Finally, on Friday, I wrote that letter. It was hard, really hard. But I realized that I had such a mental block that the reason I couldn’t write before is because I had no idea how I really felt. My mother was safely on her pedestal in my mind and a negative thought was not allowed. I felt guilty, I think, over how I had treated her for a few years and I didn’t understand why I had been that way. I chose to only remember the time when we had a good relationship which was, unfortunately, only the last 6 months of her life. Now, I realize I rebelled and treated her badly because it was the only way I could get her attention and I so desperately wanted her attention that I preferred to be punished than ignored. The truth is she was a wonderful woman, strong and beautiful. But she was human and she had her faults like the rest of us. She did the best she could. And now I can forgive her.