This uncertainty, part 3

This week Will found out who his dad is.

Whereas my son’s girlfriend has a similar life story to mine my daughter’s boyfriend has a similar life story to Paul’s. A couple years back, we figured out who Paul’s dad was after doing an Ancestry DNA test. From what I gathered, his bio dad fathered 6 kids with 4 different baby mommas. Pretty much a kid per decade, the oldest being Paul and the youngest still a teenager younger than our kids. By the time we found out who he was, he was already dead. I have no idea how he died. The scary part is that he died just a couple years older than my husband is now. Paul hasn’t reached out to any of his siblings, although something tells me none of them would be surprised.

Will was also raised by a single teen high school dropout mom with mental health issues. When Will was in his middle childhood years his mom got married, had a couple more kids, then gave up Will for his grandma to raise out of state. My husband was raised by his mom and grandma in a household with no rules. It sounds like Will’s grandma was really strict. When he did something wrong, he was forced to read the Bible for hours. It doesn’t sound like it worked out too well since now he hates everything that has to do with God. But I give a lot of credit to single parents (and grandparents) who parent the best they can more than I give a coward who walks away from their own kids.

I feel bad for both men for the abandonment they have had to live with. Neither men really having a good male role model in their lives. Then this week Will found out who his dad is. He asked his mom who told him. Will and Arabella found him on social media. He is married with two children. From all outward appearances, he looks like a world class family man. He also looks a lot like Will. Will is planning on reaching out to his dad.

We also found out Will’s dad was paying child support for him. So his dad knew about him all along and never once bothered to reach out to get to know his own son. I wish him the best but I don’t think this is going to end well for Will. I’m afraid he is going to get hurt all over again. Especially since his dad has another family, one he never bothered to include his other son in. It’s too bad because he is missing out on a great son. Paul’s dad missed out too. Despite their upbringing, they are admirable men.

We have tried to include Will into our family as much as we can. I know it doesn’t make up for not having a dad. For almost a year, Will has worked at an adult arcade. We have been telling him forever we were going to visit him sometime while he was at work. We never did. Tonight we are going to stop by and surprise him. I know it’s not much but hopefully he knows we care.

The hidden

Do we ever think about the hidden secrets beyond our knowledge after all the horrible things we already found out? This question has been haunting me since Lexi asked me this yesterday. What don’t I know about my family?

My son’s girlfriend has been opening up to me about her life. Alex and Lexi have been together almost a year and a half now. Sometimes she will come over just to talk. It’s strange because I see many parallels between her life and mine. I won’t share with you the details because it’s not my story to tell. But I can say she experienced a tremendous amount of suffering in childhood.

Sometimes I see myself in her. It was hard finding friends who could relate. I remember being the girl not fitting in with others entering adulthood with fresh memories of a carefree childhood. I never had those stories to tell. I felt like I just exited a war zone when I entered adulthood. Childhood was a time of worry, fear, and stress that left me careworn with a lifetime of fighting anxiety, depression, and PTSD. I could never get that time back and change it into something I wanted. It’s hard to explain that weight to someone who didn’t carry it.

I understood when Lexi said she didn’t want to totally cut her family out of her life. She said there are so many layers to it. How can you walk away when you are conditioned to be a lifeguard trying to save the family from drowning while they are always pulling you under? I told her it is okay to limit her contact with them although that is something I still struggle with doing myself.

Sometimes Lexi will talk to me about her relationship with my son. She talks more in a relational way instead of a complaining way. But sometimes I’m not sure what to say or do. My son still has not met her family. He has no intentions of meeting them because they are not good people. But how is that going to work if they get married or have children? They both do not want him to meet her family. I don’t understand. I usually wanted significant others to meet my family early because that could be the make it or break it point. How else do you really get to know somebody?

I’m not really sure what to do. Maybe I should just keep listening as someone who kind of understands instead of trying to fix things. Maybe this is what having a daughter-in-law is like. My son rarely sits down and has little talks with me. I’m glad she is opening up to me and we get along well. What more could I ask for?

Although she really did make me think when she asked me what I thought remains hidden that we just don’t know after all the horrible things were revealed. For the longest time I didn’t know the truth but it was still there. There is probably still a lot I don’t know. I never really thought about it before and that’s a scary thing to overthink about. Dealing with what I know is already hard enough.

This uncertainty, part 1

Lately I’ve been struggling a lot with indecision and uncertainty. Where do I even begin?

I’m not certain how I feel about my mom right now ever since she sent a picture to my daughter of her ex-boyfriend on her wedding day. Last week I talked to my therapist about it. She asked me how I don’t hate my mom. I don’t really…hate my mom. I just need space.

I just don’t understand how she could do something like that. Was it intentional? She had to dig back pretty far into her photos to find that one. Was she jealous my daughter asked me to be a bridesmaid? She is always making comments…must be nice…but it doesn’t sound nice. She was the one blemish on an otherwise perfect wedding day. My therapist said it doesn’t matter whether it was intentional or not. The issue is that my mom is always being the drama queen.

If it’s not one thing it’s another to try to get my attention. My mom has been to urgent care twice in the last week or so. Neither time for anything serious. The last time it was for a fever of 100. She has been calling and texting about how sick she is.

I’ve only seen her twice since the wedding a month ago. It’s been nice. I think twice a month is enough for me. But I know if I push back she is going to smother me. I just don’t know if it’s worth the fight.

I have to start planning Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s another thing, my mom never once hosted those holidays. I started taking it on after my grandma no longer could when I was in my 20’s. Seems kind of young looking back now. I think I feel a lot of resentment towards my mom for that. Sometimes my brother Luke would take it on and he’s younger than me.

This year everyone is invited to the big extended family Christmas party regardless of vaccination status. Last year we were not invited because my household is of a mixed status. Now we are invited but I don’t really want to go. I probably will anyway because the aunts and uncles that are currently not in the family feud went out of their way to be great towards my daughter on her wedding day. Better than my mom was. Actions speak louder than my mom’s words. She sometimes exaggerates things to stir up drama and I can’t overlook that.

I’m not really sure what to do about my mom and my relationship with her. So far I’ve opted to do nothing and be noncommittal which is the opposite of how I try to live my life. I don’t know seems to be my answer for a lot of things these days and I don’t really like it. I’m the type of person who always has to have a plan.

My letter from the bride and groom

Mom,

Thank you for standing up in our wedding. You and I have always had such a close bond. I cherish our many memories we have made together. Some of my favorite memories include running with you in the mornings, going on the train ride at Disney, and the many community theater shows we were in together. I remember sitting down while you attempted to put makeup on my twitchy eyes. You will always be my best friend and person I turn to during hard times. You are strong, hard working, and patient. The love I have for you can’t be put into words. You are the best mom a girl could ask for. Thank you for the time you put into raising me and the investment in giving Dan and I our dream wedding. You always have my back and I love and appreciate you so much.

Love, Angel

Alissa,

Thank you for all of your contributions to our wedding, and for raising such a wonderful daughter. I feel very fortunate to have you for a mother-in-law and future grandmother to our children. I look forward to becoming a member of your family.

Love, Dan

Angel gave me this note right before the wedding ceremony. It was hard to keep a dry eye and this was a very special touch. I am so excited for them as they start the next chapter of their life together. I know my daughter married the right man. I can’t even describe how joyous their day was to me. It was one of the happiest moments of my life.

Wedding wild cards

I was feeling a lot of anxiety before the wedding because of the wedding wild cards, the several difficult people who would be there.

A few days before the wedding I expressed to my mom how I wished I had a dad who could be at the wedding celebrating with us. My mom took it to mean I wanted my dad at the wedding and went on to say Angel needs to forgive my dad in order for God to give her forgiveness. I decided to let that conversation go. Even if everyone forgave my dad, it still wouldn’t give us the kind of relationship we wanted with him.

My mom invited herself to the rehearsal dinner which wasn’t a big deal. But while there she got upset about the seating arrangement. She was upset she wasn’t facing the head table and told Angel how disappointed she was in her. My mom didn’t seem to understand it wasn’t about her.

Later that evening, my mom said Matt wanted to attend the wedding ceremony. My mom expects everyone to cater to Matt. Angel told my mom Matt was welcome to come to the reception but she didn’t want him at the ceremony. Matt acts socially inappropriately. He often grunts, farts, burps, makes gagging noises, and stands up to kick his legs. If he has to go to the bathroom he wouldn’t have any qualms about pushing his way up the aisle oblivious to who was coming down. No one wants to worry about that on their wedding day.

I understand my mom wanted my dad and Matt to go to the wedding but because of their behaviors they were not able to. In a perfect world, I wanted them there too. I could only wish.

I really wasn’t expecting what happened next. While Dan and Angel were having wedding photos of just the two of them at the park, the rest of the wedding party waited at the limo. My mom sent a picture to my kids and I of one of Matt’s birthday parties Angel’s ex-boyfriend attended. MY MOM SENT A PICTURE OF MY DAUGHTER WITH HER EX-BOYFRIEND TO HER ON HER WEDDING DAY!!! I was pissed. Do you understand why I was worried about the wild cards now??

Angel left her phone in the limo. I tried really hard to crack her code to get into her phone and failed. I was worried she might get locked out of her phone. One of her bridesmaids decided to take the phone to Angel to get the code under the guise of us wanting to use it to take pictures then deleted the photo. None the wiser. It was really stressful and I was embarrassed in front of the wedding party about how dysfunctional my family is. I texted my mom and asked her what she was thinking. She texted back, guess I wasn’t thinking.

Everything was going great up until that point, then my mood just crashed. Inside of me my blood was boiling. On the outside I was trying to pretend everything was fine. Of course my daughter Angel can read me like a book. She asked me what was wrong, I replied nothing. She was getting really anxious so I ended up telling her. Your grandma sent a picture to you of you and your ex-boyfriend on your wedding day.

It was the last thing I was expecting. I was thinking maybe Alex would be late for something, but Alex and Lexi were on time and very involved the whole weekend. Everything went great with Arabella too. She could tell I was stressed so Will and her came back to clean up between the ceremony and wedding. Will accidentally put dish soap in the dishwasher which created a big bubbly mess. The dishwasher was running when we got home, when I went to bed, and the next morning when I got up. It wouldn’t shut off with the bubbles so high. But how could I be upset with good intentions?

But why did my mom send us a picture of Angel and her ex on her wedding day?? What was that? I had an amazing time at the wedding but I was pissed. Then my mom went up to randomly give a speech after the best man and maid of honor saying how she gained a grandson.

I decided I was going to confront my mom. She hurt my daughter and son-in-law on their special day. I was just so angry. I want a peaceful life, but sometimes you have to confront people especially apparently in my family. I was ready to chew my mom out, but she came over apologetic and crying hysterically. Will I forgive her? She will never be able to forgive herself until the day she dies. I found myself comforting her instead of confronting her. I had to be the mature one. I just fell back into the same old pattern. Then my mom went over to apologize to my daughter and her husband.

I asked her why she did it and she said she didn’t know. I am so confused. Then she called me later in the evening and said that I was the only one who was really upset about it as if something was wrong with me. She had my dad on speaker phone and he was asking me how Alex was doing. I just need a break from my parents. I feel so upset and sorrowful over the hurtful things my parents do. I don’t want to let it bother me but it seems like it always does.

I am still feeling angry and sorrowful over this and have been crabby and moping around. My husband said my expectations are too high by thinking my parents are going to be functional people. I guess he is right about that.

My daughter’s wedding

I awoke early after a restless night of sleep. Once the day started it went by fast, although I felt like I was moving in slow motion. Although tired, I was feeling pretty good. All the bridesmaids showed up around 10 AM. Afterwards there was a flurry of activity. My friend Lisa showed up to do my daughter’s hair and we ended up going to the store to buy ingredients for mimosas. I also opened an expensive bottle of champagne sent from our foreign exchange student from France. I was just waiting for a special day. It wasn’t long after we got back that the photographer arrived for pictures.

It was a gorgeous autumn morning. Angel bought us robes to get ready in that said bridesmaids on it. I got ready here and there. Angel didn’t sleep much the night before and her stomach was too upset to eat or sip champagne that morning or even the evening before. There were a couple little problems like the light burning out in the bathroom everyone was getting ready in. Arabella found they never removed the big plastic tag from her dress at the store and left in a hurry leaving her dress shoes behind to get the tag removed. I set out snacks for everyone. Just like that it was time to leave and I left the house a mess. Angel was getting very anxious about leaving on time and everyone else started getting anxious too. Angel lost her phone and we couldn’t find it anywhere. She was ready to leave without it, but it was found at the last minute.

Angel was a big mess at the church. She put her dress on and started crying. She gave everyone little notes to read. I will share mine at a later date. It was hard not to cry as well. The ceremony itself was excellent. They rented a wedding chapel and minister. I was really pleased with how everything turned out. After the ceremony was over, I felt immensely relieved. We took a couple family pictures outside. Paul’s step-dad asked me where my dad was. I guess we never told him and probably never will. I told him my dad was not well enough to be there. Darryl sighed and rolled his eyes. No one mentioned my dad again the rest of the day.

After a few pictures, the limo was ready for us. We stopped at several places to take pictures. For a picture, the guys pulled out some cigars. I said the girls needed cigar pictures too, so we did. We cracked open all the leftover bottles of champagne from earlier that morning. We even had a picture in the park where Dan shook a bottle of champagne and it sprayed everywhere. I can’t wait to see the pictures because I really didn’t take many even though I was supposed to.

It was really a lot of fun to spend the day with Angel and Dan. They were so happy. After pictures, we still had some time left in the limo so we stopped at a bar where the best man bought everyone a round of Fireball shots. Then it was off to the reception hall for the grand march and dinner. I ordered a Long Island Iced Tea. Go big or go home. Paul did an amazing job with his prayer. I was so impressed. The maid of honor also had an amazing speech.

I probably had a little too much to drink. I wasn’t the only one. But it was a great night and we all had a lot of fun. I tried to make the rounds and talk to everyone. Most of the night, though, you could find me on the dance floor. The music was great. I was hugging everyone which is pretty out of character for me. When I wasn’t on the dance floor I was outside with the smokers cracking jokes, giving unsolicited advice, and telling people to stop smoking (even complete strangers). Then I came right back to the dance floor dancing and sampling random people’s drinks. Everyone had a great time, especially the bride and groom. Everyone clapped and cheered for them. The atmosphere was that of festive celebration because everyone was happy for them because they are great together. It was the best wedding I’ve ever attended. My daughter did a great job with planning and picking the right guy.

1 day

I can’t believe by this time tomorrow my daughter will be changing her name. It seems surreal to me right now. They are getting really excited for the big day tomorrow.

My husband will be saying the dinner prayer and he is really nervous about it. I told him no one is going to remember it unless he accidentally says the f word or something. My son is going to be an usher and he is nervous about that. I don’t feel any different than any other day really. And that is the joy of struggling with anxiety. I’m used to feeling this way. There has to be some perks.

I’ve spent the last couple of days just getting ready. Mom and I went and got our nails done. I made the beds for guests tonight. Angel will be staying over with a bridesmaid. Arabella and Will will be staying too just to make sure they are up and ready in time. Angel is getting ready here with her bridesmaids so I bought some easy lunch foods. I expect somewhere around a dozen people being in and out of the house tomorrow morning. Then we may or may not have overnight guests the night of the wedding.

In a couple hours will be the rehearsal and dinner afterwards. I expect it will really hit me and I will be nervous then. Hopefully we will be able to sleep tonight!

Tomorrow Dan and Angel will begin their married life together. I can’t believe my daughter is getting married tomorrow. I am so happy and excited for them. I hope they will be blessed with many wonderful years together. One more day…

Gratitude week 127

  1. I was able to visit with Angel and Dan after not seeing them for a couple weeks.
  2. Opening the cabin up north for the season.
  3. Last minute my brother Luke came up north with his daughters. It was the first time I saw them this year. We played games, went for a hike, and sat by the campfire. It was too cold to swim yet.
  4. One thing that has taken some adjustment, my husband is gone a lot with our seasonal business. I do most of my work out of the house. That being said, I find myself alone a lot for the first time since all the kids moved out. The first night I spent at the cabin by myself. It was different. I was feeling this melancholy nostalgia. I missed my husband, the kids when they were younger, and my dog who went there with us year after year until this year since his passing. I started to feel sorry for myself. Then the next day, my brother came up with his kids and dog. The next door neighbors had kids and a dog. Kids were fighting, the dogs were always trying to get away, not to mention the noise and commotion. It was in that moment I became grateful for the stage of life I’m in. I don’t think I have the energy anymore to be chasing after kids and dogs that get away. I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone and I kind of like it.
  5. I’m grateful for the time to discover what I like to do. I really like going thrifting and to rummage sales. I did both this past week but no huge finds.
  6. Angel and Dan checked out some local city wide rummage sales and asked if there was anything I was looking for they could find, and they did! I have been looking for a motorcycle helmet for Alex’s girlfriend. He only has one and he has been taking his off to give to his girlfriend when she rides with him. Angel found a pink motorcycle helmet for Lexi, her favorite color. Her birthday is next month and I have the perfect gift. Win, win, win.
  7. My mom and autistic brother Matt went up north this weekend too. Matt is more on the severe end of the autism spectrum and is not very socially aware. Two things happened this weekend that are worth mentioning. Matt asked me if Paul was coming up north too. He didn’t ask about my kids. This tells me he somehow knows Paul and I are linked together but that the kids are grown up. I was impressed by his awareness when most of the time he is oblivious to relationships.
  8. The other thing that happened is this…We were sitting around a campfire. My mom asked my 12 year old niece Gracie to move out of grandma’s chair so she could sit there. A few minutes later my brother Matt wanted the chair, so my mom moved out of the chair to an empty chair so Matt could sit there. I called my mom out on it. My mom said she is just a really good mom to Matt. She always gives him special treatment which I am not keen of. Later, Matt wanted my chair and moved all my stuff off of it while I was tending to the fire. I told him I was sitting there and it was rude of him to take my chair when I got up to do work especially when other chairs were available. But he did it anyway and I was pissed. My mom did nothing. A few minutes later Matt came over and apologized to me. I was floored. I never in a million years thought he was going to do that. I actually thought he was coming over to me to steal the other chair I was sitting on.
  9. Matt has been involved in a day program for the last several years for autistic children and adults. It’s made a big difference in his life. I know they have been working with him a lot on social skills and how to interact with people. Matt noticed I was up north alone. But the big thing was he noticed I was irritated at him for his behavior and he apologized. My parents didn’t teach him that. My mom always wanted us to give him special treatment like she does without giving him the opportunity to learn what appropriate behavior is. I’m grateful for this program and that even though he is in his 40’s, he is learning how to interact with others in a way that is also healthy for him.
  10. I’m grateful for warm spring days and cool nights. No need for the heat or the A/C.

Timshel

I first heard of the concept Timshel in the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It means thou mayest in Hebrew. Timshel is saying we have a choice between good and evil. You can choose the path you take. Will others rejoice upon our passing or will there be great sadness based upon the choices we made in how we love one another. I know I am not giving the 600 page book justice with my mere 600 words.

I wouldn’t consider the book to be a happy story. But it was a feel good book because of its realistic perspective. Some of the big themes dealt with relationships between siblings, sibling rivalry, and the parent/child relationship. One of the things that really hit home for me was the struggle the characters experienced within. If my parent chooses evil, what does that make me? The book brings up the thought that although your parent may choose evil doesn’t mean that you are destined for the same choices. They have a choice just like you do.

I won’t lie to you, I sometimes struggle with this. I try hard to be a good person, but plenty of times I fall short. My dad did a lot of evil things. Does that make me evil even though I did not make the same choices he did? Sometimes I see him in myself. I hate to be reminded of him when I look in the mirror, how I talk, or how I walk. But it’s there. I have to wonder if that is the only thing there. Maybe he passed his evil down to me.

Logically, I know it’s crazy to think that, yet sometimes I do. The weight of his decisions has brought many people down. My mom is really struggling with her mental health over it. My brother Luke will not have his kids around my dad. I rarely see my brother and haven’t seen him, his wife, or my nieces yet this year. My dad is not invited to holidays. He is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. We always wonder if and when the police will be back to my parent’s house. But those are all just the external things which make life difficult and complicated.

I think the internal pain is worse. The anxiety that somewhere deep inside I might be guilty just for being his daughter like choosing evil is an inheritable trait. Sometimes I have to keep telling myself I am not responsible for my parents. I am not responsible for my adult children. I am responsible for me and my choices alone.

I don’t have a dad I can be proud of. He has brought nothing but shame to the family name. I wish I could say his choices affected only himself. If the evil choices other people make cannot be attributed to us then neither can the good. Having a child who chooses good does not equate to having good parents any more than having a child who chooses evil equate to having bad parents. Why is this so hard to understand? Why do we need something or someone to blame for the bad choices others make? It’s true some people have more obstacles than others. But is that really a good excuse? Maybe they just made a bad decision because that is what they wanted to do.

My grandparents were wonderful people. My dad, not so much.

Timshel. Everyone has a choice.

Again, I would highly recommend reading East of Eden. It’s very well written and thought provoking. It had a lot of interesting twists and turns in the classic drama by John Steinbeck. I’ve read several other books by the same author decades ago, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath were among my favorites. I hope to read more of his books in the near future. They always have a way of making me think about things differently.

Gratitude week 115

  1. This week I planned a trip out west for my husband and I for our 25th wedding anniversary. We will be staying a couple days in Idaho and Montana, two more states to check off my bucket list. I thought it would be funny to visit Yellowstone and see Old Faithful on our anniversary. Funny story, when Paul and I were in New Orleans we met a lady on a tour who was from Idaho. I told her I would like to visit her state and asked her what the best thing to do was. She said don’t, go back to New Orleans instead. My daughter told me to bring back some potatoes for her. I know it doesn’t sound like an exciting 25th anniversary trip, but I believe there are good things to see and experience in every part of the world. If you are looking for it, you will find it.
  2. Since Paul and I cancelled our trip to Puerto Rico in January because non-essential travel was not recommended due to COVID wrecking havoc and running rampant, Expedia gave us an airline credit. The extra protection travel insurance was total crap. They wouldn’t refund anything even though travel was disrupted and not advisable. So, I booked the above trip using the credit which was an absolute nightmare. What should have taken me a couple hours to plan literally took me all day. I didn’t get anything else done, like write on this blog. But anyway, I was unable to apply the credit when I tried to book it myself. But to talk to an actual live person through Expedia and the airline itself was a two to three hour wait. I tried chatting through the airline and got nowhere. I almost gave up on being able to use the credit, but finally tried Expedia’s chat. The person I worked with was absolutely amazing and was able to book the trip for me using my credits over chat. I’m grateful they also gave us credits for the cancelled trip since the insurance company refused to cover any of our costs although it was advertised as being refundable for any reason.
  3. My husband learned how to play Mahjong and taught me how to play. The game was a Christmas gift a couple years back from Paul but we never learned how to play until this past week. It is rather time consuming and intimidating to learn. We ended up having Angel and Dan over for homemade pizza and Mahjong this week and it was fun.
  4. I had a dentist appointment this week for a cleaning. No problems!
  5. Last night we set the clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Savings Time. Spring is coming, even though we woke up to a couple inches of snow. But at least it will be light later.
  6. Yesterday we had some friends and family over for a board game day. It was nice to do something fun and get our mind off of things. We played several new games.
  7. It’s been hard with Arabella in the hospital. Paul and I have been having a difficult last couple of days and haven’t been getting along well. I thought we would get used to it over time but it doesn’t seem to be going that way. It’s stressful and doesn’t bring out the best in us. However, our relationship is going better now.
  8. I’m grateful that Arabella is talking to me now and we are getting along a lot better than we did before. It’s easier to help her through her depression this way.