Monday, 26 November 2007

They F*** You Up, Your Mum and Dad....


I can't believe I ate the whole thing. Anyone remember that Alka Seltzer commercial? I didn't do too badly though because I still lost a pound this week.

Thanksgiving marks the beginning of six weeks of family agony for me. Many years ago when I was almost 21, after being put in my place very rudely by my stepmother's father one Thanksgiving, I decided life was too short to spend holidays with my family. And except for a couple of rather disastrous ones, I haven't since. That doesn't mean I don't think about them and don't want them to think about me, though. A phone call or even an email is always welcome. This year I got neither. My sister seems to be suffering from memory loss. That is, she claims she can't remember my email address. She DID remember it up until the crisis with my mother last summer. She never calls me, and I stopped calling her because she would spend an hour talking about herself and her family. It goes without saying that my brother doesn't keep in touch. My dad and stepmom, after many, many years of being so self-involved they'd forget to call me, were doing pretty well but not this year. My mother did call yesterday.

So why don't I call or email them? Because I'm tired of the one-way system of our relationship. They have no idea what goes on in my life because they don't ask. I haven't told them about Hubby's job going in January. I haven't told them about Son's cross-country success. I haven't told them anything about Daughter. My mother hasn't visited me in 8 years and I doubt she will again. My sister and brother came for my wedding (I cashed in my 401K and paid their way). My dad and stepmom are having financial difficulties apparently (though they seem to have money to do up their house) so I won't be seeing them over here anytime soon either.

These are people who would call me at 11 p.m. on Christmas Day, my first Christmas after I split from my first husband when I was all alone, and say "Oh, we forgot all about you." That was my stepmother, never a sensitive person. And they used to have a system of pulling names out of a hat for Christmas presents. That year I got nothing because my brother, who pulled out my name, decided not to give me anything. Or they would call on Jan. 9, the day after my birthday, and sing "Happy Birthday" and wonder why I wasn't thrilled to hear it (my dad and stepmother). Or actually bother to come see me on Christmas, then pull a martyr act (my mother). And back to that Thanksgiving: My stepmother's father was an ignorant oaf who delighted in putting people down. Do you think my father stood up for me? Did he hell!

I MIGHT send them an email, but I'm just a bit too pissed off at the moment.

I have been inviting my in-laws for Christmas for the past few years. However, I haven't done so this year. Last year I was held hostage in my own kitchen by my mother-in-law, who has verbal diarrhea (I can't spell this the UK way), while everyone else drifted in and out and did their own thing. I'm using the dog as an excuse. The kids are a bit upset, but frankly it's their own fault. They should have been spending time with their grandparents instead of leaving it all to me. And Hubby didn't want to invite them in the first place, he said.

At the back of my mind I wonder if my kids will feel this way about me when they and I get older. Of course, I would never have my head up my ass so far I'd forget to call them at Christmas or Thanksgiving or their birthdays. I remember my stepmother telling me one year, "I finally figured out that it matters to you to be remembered on your birthday." Well, yeah.

Am I any different from any other human being?

20 comments:

Flowerpot said...

No certainly you arent any different - we all want to be loved and cherished. I can't think of the appropriate words right now but give you a huge cyber hug. God, families. You really don't deserve yours. What was the saying? You can choose your friends but not your family. I am so sad for you. Take care.

Exmoorjane said...

Oh God, and I thought my family were weird and bizarre?! I am appalled, really am. They all deserve a big smack.
However regarding your comment on my blog, in this one regard you are lucky - at least when giving the facts of life in the car, they don't get to see your vermilion face - it's the searching eye to eye bit I find most unsettling! jxx

debio said...

If it's any consolation - and why should it be? - I received the first email from my mother this week; the first, that is, since my visit to UK in August. Nothing to check that we arrived home safely and that all was OK.

Haven't seen hide nor hair of brother for probably five years and when I phone sister I end up paying for the call and being an unpaid lifestyle counsellor.

Ho hum - families, eh?

Pleased you had a great Thanksgiving.

laurie said...

families know how to hurt us better than anyone else in the world. why they should want to do so is something i still don't get.

you're not alone in this--my family is very large, and it seems to cycle through shunning people. for a few years it's this person, then it moves on to that person..

you are breaking that cycle, though. and your kids will not fall into it.

(my mother... oh don't get me started on my mother. but let's just say i'm your soul mate in that regard.)

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

flowerpot: Sometimes, though, I've chosen friends who treat me exactly like my family. Go figure.

exmoorjane: I asked my daughter last night if she'd kissed a boy yet. There was a long, uncomfortable silence.

debio: Wow, and I thought my dad was bad. At least you've got your husband and daughter, as I have my family. Onward to Christmas.

laurie: Who said happy families are all the same, but all unhappy families are different? I have lots and lots of issues with mine, as you do with yours too. That's one reason I moved away a long time ago.

J said...

Some of those same things could have (and actually have) happened in my family.

What I want to know is, in spite of all the years and the distance and the therapy and understanding that it's their issues, not mine, and my efforts to break the cycle and all that, why does it still hurt so damn much?

The Rotten Correspondent said...

No, you aren't different at all. I have entire branches of my family that I barely speak to. Some people it's always been that way, but some branches the breach is new and still really painful.

I think the holidays bring it all to the forefront because the idea is that we're supposed to be happy and content with all our relatives.

Not in this lifetime.

lady macleod said...

You poor dear. I will say, good for you, for being able to recognize your life is happier without your old family at the holiday. We have no choice as to the family we come into but we do have a choice as to how we live our lives. There are terrible parents, and horrible families in the world and I see no reason if anyone is stuck in one that they should not get out, and stay out. You have to protect the happiness of YOUR family, and I think they will want you around in years to come - especially if you put them first. But that's just me - in all the films and television, the plot always wants to reconcile the parents and adult children no matter how horrible the parents. I don't agree.

jenny said...

I'm sorry that you had to put up with such shit from your family over the years, and it's good that you can decide now to spend time with the people who you care for and not suffer through any more miserable get togethers.

My family is quite large, and I often find myself caught in the middle between aunts and uncles. One uncle interfered with another aunt and uncle and when I was asked to step in and help, the first uncle insulted me and then later wonders why I don't hear his side of the story?

My sister listens to her husband and has cut mom out of her life and then her hubby had the nerve to ask me not to show pictures or tell mom what was going on with them. I refused to promise that and said I will tell whom I please and that includes mom. I feel terrible for mom not being able to see or talk to her own daughter and 2 grandchildren.

Everyone dreams of the perfect family, but the plain fact is: there is no such thing. Even the most perfect looking families from the outside, are all rotten and spoiled on the inside.

Let's hope we all have a happy christmas! :o)

marymaryquitecontrary said...

I am sorry to read that you are so upset. The family who cares for you is your husband and your children,and in the future hopefully grandchildren. They are the ones who matter. Always keep them close,no matter what.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

j: I can go long periods feeling OK about them all, then something happens to remind me of all the bad stuff. I think the best and maybe only recourse is to try not to think about them. I do wonder what will happen when my parents die.

RC: I've had the same with some family members too: An aunt, my in-laws. It's all be at their instigation too. I may bitch but I don't stop speaking to them altogether.

Lady M: Thank you for those encouraging words. Would you care to be part of my family?

jenny: I'm so sorry to hear about your sister's rift with your mother. I've had difficult times with my parents, but I don't think I could ever cut either of them out of my life completely, no matter how they hurt me.
You were right to stand up to your mother's husband. Perhaps you could help bring them together again.

marymary: I will always try to keep them close, no matter how hard my children try to push me away right now.

Crystal Jigsaw said...

Not sure what I'd do to be honest. I have a close net family so I'm not really qualified to comment. However, (you knew I would) I always say life is too short and if you have at least done your bit then you can move on to your next life with dignity. More than they will be able to do.

Love and best wishes, Crystal xx

Vi vi vi vooom!!!!!!!! said...

I'm sure your children will not forget you like that. You are bringing them up better than that.

travelling, but not in love said...

I gave up calling my brother a while ago, when I started to realise that the calls were all one way.

I don't miss speaking to him on the telephone and he obviously doesn't miss speaking to me (otherwise he'd call...surely?)

Since moving overseas I've taken the same approach to friends. You'd be amazed how different it is - if I don't call them for a while, there's a call or email saying 'don;t lose touch'.

I'm not sure if this is the difference between friends and family, or just that my brother is crap? I'm not sure, but I know where I'd put my money....

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

Oh good grief....and I thought my family saga was bad enough. I don't think anything hurts as much as being "forgotten". Deliberately ignored I could almost deal with, but "forgotten"? That's sheer selfish self-centredness.

Oh...and hello!! *waves*

Pixie said...

What an appalling shower!
It makes me want to break out in swearing about their selfishness.
They certainly don't deserve you bothering with them.
Which is fine whilst you can stay cross, and horribly sad when you just want to know that they care.
For what it's worth have a massive cyber hug from me.
(((((((((((wakeup))))))))))))
pxx

Sparx said...

Good Lord... no wonder you want to have a Christmas without the lot of them. It always amazes me what families do to each other. Sounds like you're much better off, I hope that's how you feel!

Swearing Mother said...

Know just what you mean, it's so easy to think "to hell with them" if they don't bother with you, then when you see other people's families arriving for the holidays, etc., it makes you wish you had yours around you.

But some families just don't function that way, and who's to know why? ~All I know is that everything always seems to be my fault, apparently! Aaaargh.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

CJ: I'm so glad you have a close family, and I sort of live through you vicariously when you write about them. It's nice to know there are normal, caring families out there.

VI: Not so sure I am sometimes, the way they behave. But I keep telling myself it's just a phase. It is, isn't it?

travelling...: Welcome to my blog. I'm guessing you're a woman because men are so much worse at communicating. I'm always the one telling my husband to call his family. My brother never contacts me either. He always seems happy to see me though.

aoj: Hi and welcome. You don't know the half of my family saga. I never need to watch soap operas because my family IS one.

Pixie: Thank you for the hug. I really need it. I'm so sorry I can't make it this weekend, but something may be looking up for hubby. Will tell more when there's more to say.

sparx: Welcome to my blog. The best Christmases I've had have been without my family. Sad but true.

swearing mother: It's not your fault. You can tell them I said so.

Anna-Maria said...

I'm struggling alot with my mum and dad at the moment. They were never too great either.

Arranged a birthday party when i was 10 once and they were supposed collect me from the gates at school, after an hour of waiting i called them up at the office in london and they said they were busy at work and i'd have to cancel my birthday. Birthdays were never great in general. They always nipped out on the morning of my birthday to get me card quickly only cause i'd get a few in the post say from my grandma, other times they never bothered at all.

I had an accident on a school trip quite a fatal one as i could have died, the teachers rang from the hosptial and spoke to dad who had a car, he said he was in meetings all that day and couldn't come - it was in sussex somewhere. To give my mum credit, she did get on a train the next day.

I got married 4 years ago to a really great guy, the wedding arrangements with parents were horrible, they weren't interested. At one point my dad told me to stop ringing about it all as he was bored with it. Mum threatened not to come. I did alot on my mine, my mum didnt even so my wedding dress till the wedding day. She kept saying she'd come over to help me but she never did. It hurt alot as my husbands family are like the walton family, lovely and caring and very irish. He had lots of support. Mum and dad did finally did come and they stayed in the same hotel with me, they were going to stay in another one but changed their mind when i was so upset and said i needed my family with me the night before the wedding. I couldn't sleep and I knocked on their door at 6am. They were angry and told me to go back to bed, that i was interrupting their sleep. I said i was so excited and nervous about the big day and crawled into their bed to try and snuggle between them. Dad got up and was really annoyed and said i was selfish.

After the wedding I got depression. Lost a very good job at the university. Had a really bad time with the girls I worked for, they didn't really care or really understand. I hated myself, I found it really hard to be around people. There was nothing i liked about me. I felt worthless. I lost my job at the university and tried to pick up the pieces. I went to trauma group where I got talk with a group of people how i felt and alot of issues about mum and dad came out. When I wanted to talk to them about it they said that I should get over it and stop bothering them about the past.

Anyway career wise...i set up my own company two years ago. It expanded...it was working with music festival abroad. I felt so much better about myself and wasn't scared anymore about people. I was always worried about returning back to work.

Mum and dad in the meantime had moved to the town where i live (and now live in a caraven down the road - lost alot of money through business ventures gone wrong) and a month ago I found out that they were setting up a similar company working with the same music festival behind my back. I found out by accident. Thats the latest news and I'm absolutely devasted. I not only have them living in my town but in my work life aswell.

I don't really know what to do. I've explained to them that what they are doing is wrong, that they are in competion with me. They say they need the money and I don't own the festival and they can do what they want.

Husband is so stressed at work and now really stressed out by it all and I don't really know what to do.

I didn't mean to write as much as i have but hope theres someone there that can shed a bit of light. Also i wanted to make the person who wrote this blog to feel a little better that there are other rubbish parents about.

Anna-maria