Thursday, March 22, 2012


Boy wouldn't life be easier if we didn't have to deal with other peoples feelings?  I suppose the trade off for the complicated situations are the moments of peace and utter happiness that comes with loving yourself and those around you.

I was secretly pleased when I joined Jason's family only to discover that there was familial unrest and long seeded angst over issues that occurred during the childhoods of some of the cousins.  Not pleased in that I was taking joy in their inability to get along or cope as adults, but comfort in the fact that similar situations in my own family aren't as unique as I thought they were.

Since our wedding, when an unrelated crisis occurred and things came to a head, two members of the immediate cousins have stepped out of the family under the idea that it's easier not to deal with anyone else.  Having never really had the opportunity to know these folks as warm, loving people the loss is mostly the hurt my most important person has experienced.  I don't mean to suggest that he's ever sat down and wept over this situation, but I can tell that the withdrawal of friendship and the harsh things said about other members of the family are hurtful.  

For me, it is a lost opportunity to welcome the entire family into my life.   You may not believe it based upon what I share here, but I'm pretty guarded about my feelings.  (I get that from my dad.)  Now, with the inclusion of Jason and Lucy in my world I'm extremely guarded about their feelings as well.  Should the "family rift" be healed and everyone starts coming to family events again, it will be a long time before (if ever) I warm up an open myself or openly welcome these folks into our inner sphere.

I state all this because a similar situation is occurring on my side of the family and I'm considering drawing a line in the sand.  The decision is a lot more difficult because I know these folks and have grown up with them in my life.

Without getting into the gory details, one of the sisters is mad at my mom and has decided to cut off communication.  I suppose this is fine, if at the age of 60, you decide it is easier to step out of family events rather than deal with the offending sister.  However, it should be no surprise that doing that means you're opting out of all events where said sister is present.   I mean, if you're mad at me and don't want to see me, don't be shocked that Jason isn't popping by to say hi and have a glass of wine from time to time.  We are a team.  Similarly, as much as I have fond memories of time spent with this aunt and uncle, my heart lies with my parents.

Unfortunately, during Lucy's birthday weekend my failure to invite my aunt and uncle to Lucy's 1st birthday festivities became known to them in a way that was unintentionally, but none the less hurtful and my uncle called to ask about it.  I tried to cover (lie) to deflect, but as the conversation went on I fessed up that since I hadn't seen or heard from them since June, when they came to a picnic at my parents house and but didn't speak a single word to my mom, and then didn't respond to a genuine invitation to come to our home for a visit, that I thought I was following the party line and was leaving them alone per their own desires.   The phone call was uncomfortable and compounded by the fact that we had house guests who could hear my side of the conversation and were thankfully too polite to inquire.

So, here's the part that raises my blood pressure.  While my uncle was on the phone asking about what was going on and why they weren't invited, my aunt was in her car driving over to my parents house.  In the heat of her anger, she assumed that my mom was preventing me from having a relationship with her.  Her choice of names for my mother was (to be polite) unacceptable and the fact that she had to be told emphatically to get out of the house is troubling.  Be hurt, be angry, but don't forget yourself and lose control.  I live in a peaceful world, a peaceful house with people who are loving.  Sure, there are frustrations, but we do not scream and call each other names that rhyme with "sticking finch".    I don't want Lucy exposed to that within the comfort of her own family and I don't want her to think it is ever acceptable to refer to anyone in the family in those terms.  You can disagree, and even dislike members of your family, but disrespecting them in their own home is ... trashy.   Furthermore, the idea that at the age of 43, that my mom has any power whatsoever to prohibit me from having a relationship with anyone I want is preposterous.  It's laughable, I think Jason snorted milk through his nose at the idea that I could be "controlled".   I took it as a compliment that I'm a confident, self-assured woman and not a bull-headed, moose who does what I want regardless of rational thought.  Don't correct me, I like the way I'm looking at it.

My uncle asked me to reach out to my aunt to apologize for the invitation oversight and maybe suggest times we could get together (in neutral territory.)  I agreed, but that was before I knew about the drama at my parents house.  I've been mulling over a response and it isn't very "come visit!" or "let's meet for dinner".   They are 100% entitled to not like or spend time with anyone they like, but the same is true for me.  Furthermore, just as I'm not inclined to expose Lucy to the nuttiness that are the "angry cousins" I'm not inclined to give her lots of time with people who openly express anger towards her Grandmother.  (And by lots, you know I mean none....)

Life is too short to be spent being angry with each other, but if that's the path you're on, I can't stop you, but I can keep your angry energy out of my home.  Tragedy and sadness will come regardless of what I do, but our daily life can be peaceful and happy, so that when we're touched by the hard things in life we have a solid foundation to rely on.  (Is that too Zen for you?)

Anyway, I'm thinking if I respond to my aunt that an open letter to all the sisters is in order.  There's a lot of re-interpretation that happens among themselves and I'd rather be an open book than open for paraphrasing.

We'll see.  My next step is to write a letter, share it with my sane partner and then decide what to do.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nothing good has ever come of an open letter. Most often the recipient will interpret the "open" part as a suggestion that he or she can't be trusted, or that you are really wanting to curry favor with others who normally would not be party to a letter on a private topic. Plus, sending this open letter will really take the wind out of your Festivus celebrations. Ask yourself if this can't really just be left to "fester until Festivus"?

Whatever you decide to do, by all means shield the child from any exposure to any of it. Children's little brains are easily damaged by exposure to the unpleasant things in the world.