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.

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.

8 days

Another dream, this time where the past meets the present. My best friend, not even invited. Not by my side as the matron of honor. Never to see or talk to again. I had a dream she was not invited to my daughter’s wedding. How could she be when she was not invited to mine?

I felt the pain of those left behind. Before it was Shelly. She was supposed to be my matron of honor. I was the maid of honor in her wedding. But along the way life happened and screwed it all up. You see, Shelly needed a job and my brother Matt needed a teacher’s aide in his special ed classroom. Maybe that’s where things went wrong. Matt was physically violent and at the time he was a full sized adult.

Matt didn’t like school much and had the tendency to hurt someone when he didn’t want to do school work which was quite often. One day after attacking Shelly at school, the police were called. The police came to school, handcuffed my brother, put him in the back of the squad car, and took him to jail. It was something my mom always warned us about. Watch Matt carefully he is an adult now and if he hurts someone he could get locked away forever. I haven’t been able to get over my fear of the police. Every time I hear a siren my heart races.

My mom was sick with fear for Matt. He was facing assault charges which were eventually dropped because he was incompetent to stand trial. I never spoke to my childhood best friend again. My mom flippantly said, “Oh well, you were going separate ways anyways.” I was going to college and she was working with my brother. But I wanted the choice.

My plan was to go to school to become a counselor. Then I was going to fix my family. That was when I was young and dumb enough to think I could. I already felt the weight and responsibility. If I only knew Matt was going to hurt someone before he did. I could have stopped it. It’s my fault he attacked someone because I was not vigilant enough. If I believed it was my fault, I also believed I could fix it.

I felt guilty on my wedding day because I didn’t want Matt there. I didn’t want Matt to hurt someone. When I got married, Matt was going through some serious health issues and my parents thought Matt could die which intensified my guilt. They got a room for him in the hotel we had our reception at. After the ceremony, which he didn’t attend, we had the photographer come to the room to take wedding photos with Matt. We were gone so long some of the guests chided us about what took us so long as we were coming down from the hotel room.

Now it’s my dad who is not invited to the wedding. I can’t say I blame my daughter for not wanting him there, but it’s still painful. What if people ask where he is? He was pretty sick a month ago and in my mind I thought maybe he would die and free me from the shame he brought upon us. It’s a horrible thing to wish for. As if I will ever be free from the pain he caused me. My counselor said if asked I could tell people he is not well enough to go. If further asked, I could tell them I will talk to them about it later. I am good with the plan. It’s the last thing I want to talk about. It’s my mom I worry about. She has a tendency to overshare and play the victim making it all about her when the focus should be on someone else.

Call me a slow learner, but I just figured out this year I can’t fix people. In fact, I don’t have any control at all. I thought I could fix my family of origin but they are way too beyond broken to be put back together. I can’t even fix myself. I tried to fix my husband when he was drinking too much. I felt like it was my fault. I was responsible for him. It was my job to fix him. How easily it was to jump back into my old role. At times I even thought he was drinking just to hurt me. He has been seeing a counselor too which has been helpful, but I think it will be something he will always struggle with. At times I can’t blame him. If drinking took away my pain, there wouldn’t be enough I couldn’t drink.

He thought he could fix me too. He thought he could be my knight in shining armor. He thought he could bring me out of the dark spaces I hide within myself. He tried to make me happy so he could fix my depression. Why didn’t my fear and anxiety go away? Didn’t I love him? Didn’t I trust him? Wasn’t he something to live for? Couldn’t I just stop feeling that way? Couldn’t he just stop drinking??

We couldn’t fix our parents, both of us having parents with addiction/mental health issues. We couldn’t fix each other. We can’t fix our kids who all show signs of addictiveness and/or familial mental health struggles to some degree. That was a hard lesson to learn. There is nothing like having to watch someone you love hurting. I wanted to do anything I could to take the pain away from them. It’s harder as a parent, especially being the mom, because there is a huge sense of responsibility to fix your children. How often is the finger pointed at the parents when the kids struggle? (I can tell you with a daughter who has Borderline, it’s a lot even from professionals that should know better). It’s even easier to blame myself.

I guess if there is any silver lining in this, we have been waging war against these demons for a long enough time to know how to fight them in the best way possible. It wasn’t the first time someone I was close to wasn’t invited or wasn’t well enough to go to a wedding. My best friend wasn’t invited to my wedding and I never saw her again. My own grandpa didn’t go to my wedding because he wasn’t well enough. I can only control what I can control. It’s not easy, but there is some peace in knowing when to let go.

Up north upset

Why does there always have to be drama with my family??

It started already before we even got up north. I invited my kids and their significant others up north for the fourth. They all said yes. It’s been a family tradition for decades and this was the first time in a long time that all the kids could go. Paul had to work all day Friday. Originally we weren’t going to go up Friday at all, but two out of three of our kids wanted to go up then.

We weren’t going to be getting up north until late. This presented a problem with supper. I was going to be bringing up all of our food and we weren’t going to be up their until at least 8 PM. Dan and Angel and Alex and Lexi were going to be riding up together on motorcycles. They wanted to leave earlier to make sure they were up there before it got dark and had limited room to bring along food. I asked my mom if she had something they could eat when they got there. But she told me they should stop at a bar. Then she said she bought 4 bags of cheese curds for my brother Mark. I was puzzled by our conversation and thought my mom was acting strange. I was also annoyed and wished I had a parent who liked to provide food for her family.

I decided just to make supper for everyone at home last minute. By the time we got up north it was after 8 and my mom was ready to go to bed shortly thereafter. Everyone up there (my mom, my brother Mark, his wife Carla, and brother Matt) was ready for bed at 9. So we moved outside to start a fire and watch the fireworks about ready to start. Mark did not talk to me. My SIL Carla yelled at me to move the motorcycle helmets off the table. That was about it. I felt like they were avoiding us.

During the fire, I found out Mark and Carla were rude to Lexi before Paul and I got up there. My mom asked Mark and Carla if they met Lexi. After being prompted several times, Mark grouchily said yes and walked away. My kids said they did not feel welcomed and that hurt me deeply.

It all started a couple years ago when my mom sent their laptop for Dan to fix and remove pictures from. Dan and Angel found child porn on the computer and took it to the police. That night up north Dan told me he did not feel welcomed by my family. He said it was all his fault too. I gave Dan a hug and told him I was happy he was there and he is not to blame for what my dad did. But Mark and Carla apparently do not feel that way. They treat my dad like the victim and Angel and Dan like they are to blame.

I awoke very early the next morning thinking about telling Carla off. I wanted to tell her about how my dad was abusive towards us when we were kids. I wanted to tell her I couldn’t count on one hand any good memories I had with my dad. I wanted to tell her that he was never nice to my kids, quite the opposite in fact. I wanted to tell her all these things, but didn’t. Maybe things would be different if he was a loving father and grandfather who struggled with addiction.

Instead that morning, Mark, Carla, and my mom went to rummage sales. Carla whipped the car keys at my brother Mark, then yelled at him when he didn’t catch them. I can’t stand how mean she is to my brother, but I’m not sure there is anything I can do about it. Thankfully I see them only a couple times per year.

Also, that morning, my son got ice out of the freezer for his water. Apparently it was Carla’s ice. She yelled at my son saying it wasn’t community ice. My son apologized and said he would buy her some more ice. I wasn’t quite so patient. I yelled as they were going out the door that it was just fucking ice. Later that day they left to go spend time with my dad. The whole experience left me angry, anxious, and depressed for almost a whole week afterwards. I can’t stand when my kids are mistreated for something they didn’t even do wrong. My daughter is getting married in less than 3 months and I don’t even want to invite half of the family I am inviting to the wedding.

Other than that, my kids and their significant others all got along marvelously. It was close to miraculous. I wish I could just focus on that and let the bad slip away. I really have to examine how much time I want to spend with my extended family if they are going to upset me so much.

Life lately

I started having bad dreams again, nothing too terrifying. Last night it was the wild animals. I spotted a bear in the distance that wanted to get inside of my house. Then there were the dogs. They snarled and clawed outside my door if I tried to lock them out. It was horrifying to let them in, but if I did they ran through my house then were gone.

Sometimes I feel memories clawing through my mind. Memories I want to repress, but the more I do the more they nag me swirling endlessly awaiting connection. Incomplete memories, a camera, the fish tank upstairs that I don’t remember being upstairs, other things…

My therapist asked if remembering would change the way I feel about myself. I said it could go one of two ways. I could be more bitter than I already am. Or I can think I survived more than I thought I could with a certain courageousness.

My therapist asked if it would change how I felt about my parents. I said I didn’t think so. I will always view my mother as weak. She always seemed to protect the wrong people. My dad, I don’t even think all my children would even attend his funeral. He never made an impact on anyone’s life. Oh, I stand corrected. He never made a POSITIVE impact on anyone’s life. At this point, what would it matter?

I did learn something new about my dad. When my brother Luke called he told me about some things my dad did to him that I didn’t know. But the new details weren’t upsetting as much as my brother calling me to vent. You see, Luke is the strong one. Most times I think he is stronger than me. He rarely calls to vent. He said that time wasn’t healing his wounds, instead they are oozing and festering. I feel sad he can’t escape the pain anymore than I can.

Then Arabella came to visit for a few days. She lost her job. She is never to work on time and has a tendency to not get along with her managers. It is hard not to get wrapped up in my worry for her.

Then my mom came over. She didn’t sleep well the night before and emotionally was a big mess. I can’t help but feel some of it is her own fault. She has had several therapists tell her if she doesn’t like her life, she should change it. They tell her she should leave my dad, but in the end she always leaves the therapists who tell her that. My brother Luke said if my dad dies my mom will either wake up and realize she was in a bad relationship all along or she will immediately find someone else just like him.

I think about that a lot lately, my parents dying. My mom is in a really bad head space right now. It wears on me. Then I am worried about my daughter and my own aging. My doctor appointment is less than two weeks away. My therapist said I should focus more on my wisdom and insight versus the aging process. She is right. I might not have all the cards I want in my hand, but it would be smart to play my strong suit.

My therapist also said I have an extraordinary amount of stability for everything I have been through. I sometimes wonder…shouldn’t I be crazier? I found her words to be very encouraging. Yet I have to be careful. Last week I read the whole childhood portion of my book. I thought to myself, what a bit pile of shit. I got into a ferocious mood. I have to take writing and reading in small doses. I can’t do it when I am under a lot of stress. Writing has been healing for me. But it also can be the sword that cuts open my wounds if I am not careful. Having nightmares and a hard week with family is a good time to back off a bit.

I have not be happy lately. I feel as if I have been neglecting this blog. I am going to try to write more even if I don’t have anything to say.

The old normal, part 6

Before COVID, I spent a lot of time at the gym. I don’t even have a gym membership anymore. How things have changed.

Back in the day, I used to go to the gym three times a week for at least an hour. In the summer, I would run the streets. I did countless marathons, a half Iron, and a 50k. When I first started blogging I wrote about training for my first marathon after reading a marathon training book written by a blogger. At the time I thought I could run a marathon and I could write on a blog, and I did. I even have running in the title of my blog. Over time this blog has morphed into something more than that.

I always thought I would be a runner. I didn’t often see a lot of older runners competing in races, but when I did I thought to myself that will be me someday. Running helped me burn off a lot of my anxiety and stress. I worried a lot about becoming injured because I didn’t think I would be sane without running. I know I have posted before if I couldn’t run someone would need to check on me because I would not be okay.

Then the world changed. When COVID hit my gym closed and all the races I was planning on running got cancelled. Not long after that, I had a 10 day bout of colitis that knocked me off my feet. A month later it was hard for me just to put the laundry from the washer into the dryer. I thought I would never be able to run again. I was able to but I lost most of what was left of my endurance. Then I started to experience joint pain which made it all but impossible to run without being in pain.

I’m not sure what is wrong. It could be a number of things or it could be nothing at all. I have an appointment scheduled with a specialist in May. My doctor thought the joint pain could be related to colitis. I recently read stress and trauma can cause inflammation like I have. Or maybe I overused my joints by all my long distance running. I also saw it could be a symptom of perimenopause. Or maybe I’m getting arthritis like some of my other relatives did. I started noticing bumps on the knuckles of my fingers. But until I see the doctor I’m just guessing.

I started doing low impact workouts but I find them to be frustrating because it doesn’t feel as if I am doing anything. I had to take a step back because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I miss running, I really do but I don’t feel like I will not be okay without it anymore. I don’t need to beat the hell out of my body anymore. But I don’t want to do nothing either. I’ve gained some weight. But is it realistic to think I’ll always be able to keep a youthful figure as I age?

Sometimes now I run into people from my running days. I’ve been asked what race I am training for. It’s hard to admit I am much more of a walker now. For 15 years I identified as a runner. Now it’s just another area of my life I don’t know who I am anymore. But one thing I can say for sure, I can live without running. I am okay. I never thought I would be saying that. Now it’s time for something new. I’m just not sure what that is yet.

The old normal, part 5

Right before COVID we pretty much cut my dad out of our lives. I have very limited contact. Sadly, or maybe thankfully, it wasn’t a big change for us. My dad is the oldest living relative in his family line. I was very close to his parents and aunts and uncles. They were all wonderful people. I’m not really sure why my dad turned out the way he did.

My mom is also the oldest living relative in her family line. Unlike my dad, she comes from a large family. We would typically see the extended family at Christmas and the yearly family reunion.

This year I was not welcome to attend the family festivities because of my vaccination status. This was mainly spearheaded by my Aunt Jan. I felt angry and hurt. It was hard to understand. It wasn’t like I was going to be killing grandpa and grandma because they’ve been dead a long time. I do not consider my aunts and uncles to be elderly. My youngest aunt is the same age as my husband all the way up to my mom’s age of 73. Most of my aunts and uncles are in their 60’s.

Pretty much all of them do high risk activities (including my Aunt Jan) such as going out to eat at restaurants, travelling by airplane, and going to church. But I was not okay sitting across the room wearing a mask after getting tested?

It also didn’t matter that I was going through hell and probably could use the support of family. Aunt Jan knew about my dad’s crime. She was the one who told me I needed to take care of my mother. She always told me I needed to take care of my mom even when I was a child and needed someone to take care of me. Then she went on with her own life which did not include ever once taking any of us four children so my mom could get a break. She knew I spent the last couple of years dealing with my daughter’s serious mental illness.

This has been a pattern of behavior for my Aunt Jan for a long time. I just didn’t realize it until now. She acts like she cares, but is controlling and rejecting. When she was hosting showers, she invited one of my daughters but not the other. She also didn’t invite a cousin who was between the ages of my daughters. My other aunt and I were upset about this because our daughters felt hurt and left out.

My Aunt Jan also wanted my daughter Angel to sing in her son’s wedding. She said if Angel was singing then she was invited but our other children would not be. The wedding was out of town and we needed to get a hotel room. She told me my mother-in-law could watch my other children. At the time my MIL was at the end stages of lung cancer. Before that she didn’t really help with the kids that much anyway.

I can think of several other examples, but I think you get the point. Now my Aunt Jan is reaching out to me and I have been ignoring her. I really want to tell her off but now I heard she is having some health problems. To make things even more complicated, now there is a family feud and some of my aunts and uncles have vowed to never speak to each other again. With my daughter getting married, this has been one big mess.

At this time, I’ve decided to really limit contact with my extended family. One good thing that happened because I wasn’t able to go to the Christmas party was that I was able to reestablish my friendship with Lisa again. She came over the weekend I should’ve been with the extended family.

I’ve decided to let go of some relationships with friends and family because they are unhealthy for me. COVID has been a time of great reflection. I’m finally starting to realize what’s important in my life and when it’s time to let go. I’m starting to be a lot more selective about who I spend my time with. I just don’t know why I didn’t realize it sooner.

Gratitude week 113

  1. Once again the weather forecasters were wrong. Instead of getting a foot of snow, we got an inch of ice with a couple inches of snow over it. The ski trails were closed. So instead of Lisa coming here, I went up north to her house. We were able to go skiing in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. There was a beautiful cross country skiing trail around a lake that wasn’t too hilly. It was perfect.
  2. I’m grateful that I was able to make the trip to Lisa’s. A couple years back I don’t know if I would be able to do it because I had so much anxiety driving a couple hours.
  3. I had a really nice weekend with Lisa. Besides skiing, we went snowmobiling, sat in the hot tub, made Tik Toks, watched a scary movie, and did our nails. I haven’t been snowmobiling since I was a teenager. It was a lot of fun. I never made a Tik Tok before either. It’s nice to have a close friend who is adventurous and athletic. Back in the day we used to run marathons together.
  4. While we were out snowmobiling, we hiked through the snow to a waterfall and saw an otter run across the snow. I also saw deer running across the lake by Lisa’s house. Winter is a beautiful time to get out and see nature. Sometimes I forget how nice the different seasons can be.
  5. I’m grateful that Lisa and I were able to spend some girl time together. She is a lot of fun and a little bit crazy. She is my friend who has had a lot of trauma in her life and it is nice to be with someone who gets it and is also fun to hang around. We did a lot of talking. It felt like a mini vacation.
  6. I’m grateful to be able to hang out with our elderly friends again. We had a great time visiting Harv and Kate and going to a community theater show with them.
  7. I found a bridesmaid dress for my daughter’s wedding.
  8. The motor ended up going out on our industrial dehumidifier for our pool. We were able to get that fixed this past week. Thankfully they were able to find a part since the dehumidifier is 30 years old and they don’t make that model anymore.
  9. Just a couple more days before Paul and I head to the waterpark with our kids and their significant others. I am getting excited for that. I’m grateful everyone was able to take off of work to go.
  10. This summer Paul and I will be celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary. I have been researching a trip to Yellowstone. Travelling and doing new things inspires me. I am getting excited to start thinking about trips and planning again.
  11. Angel told me that Arabella is stopping by to visit and see her new house. I’m glad my daughters are getting along and hanging out together without me.
  12. February is almost over. Spring is on the way.

Honoring the dishonorable

Next week my dad will be celebrating his 75th birthday. It should be a grand celebration surrounded by his children and grandchildren. There should be a cake with candles a blazing, birthday cards, thoughtful gifts, and laughter. But there won’t be any of that.

On his birthday, Paul and I will be going to a Wisconsin Dells waterpark with our children and their significant others for an extended weekend. I planned it that way so I wouldn’t have to think about my dad’s birthday and how a relationship between a father and daughter should be. It’s painful I won’t be celebrating with him. I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll call him. I tried to find a card to avoid an awkward conversation, but all the cards talk about love, admiration, honor, and respect. My dad doesn’t bring to mind any of those things.

On a side note, I totally think there is a market out there for shitty dad’s greeting cards. Who wants the sappy love stuff when their dad is a deadbeat? Or it could be for anyone for that matter, an annoying mother-in-law. It could cover all the major holidays so an awkward phone call isn’t necessary so I can feel like a good person although the recipient is a total ass. But I digress…

I talked to my brother Luke yesterday. His daughter Eva has a swim meet near our house and he was wondering if they could stay with us the weekend of our dad’s birthday. I told them they could stay at our house even though we will be out of town. We talked about our dad’s birthday. Luke said he would be driving by our parents house on our dad’s birthday. He wondered if he should stop by, then decided not to.

Luke said our dad never taught him anything. The only time my dad and him ever spent alone together was when my dad was whipping his ass. But beyond all of that, when my daughter Angel found porn on my dad’s computer and turned it over to the police it changed things for all of us. My brother’s daughters are the same age as some of the children in the images. My brother told my dad if he ever wants to see his grandchildren again, he needed to do several things. I can’t remember what all the conditions were. One for sure is that my dad needed to seek counseling. He didn’t do anything my brother asked him to do. Should he go back on that because it’s our dad’s 75th birthday?

His daughters have not seen my dad for over two years now. He said that once he opens that door it will be hard to close it again. I totally agree. We had the same issue with our brother Matt. Matt heard voices to hurt and/or kill our children. I did not allow contact between my brother and children when they were little after he attacked my daughter. Christmas was so hard. My mom would drop off the gifts then leave. The kids would cry. We had to be very careful. That was before Matt went to a group home and was on anti-psychotic meds.

So, yeah, how lucky I’ve been to have a brother and dad we didn’t/don’t want our kids around. I told my brother to just keep driving. I told him not to tell his children it’s grandpa’s birthday. They don’t understand the situation. Because they don’t, they might think their dad is in the wrong for ignoring his dad on his birthday when their dad has been everything our dad never was. For that I am thankful.

We both feel a tremendous amount of guilt for not spending time with our dad on his birthday because we still want to honor our parents. We want a relationship that will never be. Sadly, our dad made a lot of bad choices and we have to accept that and the pain that comes with it. We have to do things in the best interests to protect our children. It’s not the way we want things to be, but that’s the way it is.

So, in recognition of our dad, my brother and I became the parent he never was. I’m going to spend his birthday celebrating that with my own family and my brother will keep on driving.

The old normal, part 3

There was another new friendship I put on hold once COVID started. Again, we had a lot of similar beliefs and shared interests. Now she wants to get together again and I’m not sure I want to.

Where we left our friendship off, my friend confided in me that her husband got really drunk one night and beat her. I don’t think it was an isolated event. She said she would take him back if he stopped drinking. He said he would stop drinking. Fast forward two years later. My friend posted some pictures from a New Year’s party. It looked like she was drinking but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

A couple weeks after that, she posted pictures of them BOTH drinking at a winery and brewery tour. He is drinking again. I JUST CAN’T. I can’t go out with them and have a few drinks knowing it might lead to violence towards her. He didn’t keep his word, and frankly neither did she. I want to be her friend but I don’t feel comfortable about their relationship knowing what I know.

My daughter has a similar friendship and it’s been very difficult for her. Last year her friend’s fiancée got drunk and beat her resulting in a broken ankle. He said he would quit drinking. But the violence still continues. Last week he choked her totally sober. Angel told her she needed to leave but she won’t. Her friend said maybe she provoked it. Plus they are getting married in a couple months. They already reserved the hall and she has her dress. Now is her chance to leave, but she won’t. It’s a lot more complicated once you are married and have children. Why doesn’t she understand that?

Ages ago, I was in an abusive relationship with someone I was engaged to. My fiancée Mac grabbed me by the neck and held me against the wall and shoved me around causing bruises. I got out of the relationship but I was tempted to go back. You see, he said he was going to change. One night we were sitting outside grilling with the neighbors at his apartment complex. When Mac left to go to the bathroom, his next door neighbor pulled me aside. He told me he heard me crying. He said I deserved much better. He told me to leave and not look back. I did and I would tell others to do the same. But what if they don’t? How can you be a friend, hear about how they are being abused, and watch them do nothing about it?

Several years before I was born, my mom left my dad. He shoved her around and bruised her ribs. She left and stayed with a friend. My dad showed up at her work with flowers. He said it would never happen again. He wore her down. Some fifty years later, she is still thinking of leaving. If only she left then, her life could’ve been a different story. It’s painful to see someone you care about in an abusive relationship that they do nothing about. Doing nothing is still a choice.

There were times I remember as a kid when my mom said she was going to leave. My brother Mark pleaded with her to not leave our dad. We jumped in the car with her as she drove around crying questioning herself out loud about what she was going to do. It was stressful and scary as a child because I didn’t have the security that my parents loved each other or were in a loving relationship. It could all unravel at any time. We were afraid of our dad and didn’t want to be alone with him because we were never sure what he was going to do to us. Mainly it was emotional abuse, but he would enjoy terrifying us. He didn’t change. The flowers were a cheap substitute for a beautiful life she could’ve had without him.

That being said, I find this friendship to be triggering and I’m not sure how good I would be pretending everything is fine. I would be open to talking to her but I can’t support her staying in an abusive relationship. I JUST CAN’T.

I believe that change is possible, but not likely. It takes a tremendous amount of work to change especially if you are dealing with other issues such as addiction. There is nothing I can do to change or fix things except directing them to clergy or professional help. Even then, they still might decide to do nothing. That makes me feel helpless, and I don’t like to feel that way towards the people I care about.