I read an awful lot these days. Books about family, about communication, emails from certain relatives that serve to highlight my woeful inability to communication effectively, and their responses to my feeble and lamentable attempts to desperately reach out despite my wretched imperfection. If I would only see a counsellor (which I am doing already)…if only I would do or say something different than what I am currently doing. I am charged with being “dramatic, pathetic, yadda yadda..the list is endless. Like some broken record from years ago, the list of “if only”s grows like moss on a northern exposure. My biggest mistake seems to be trying to be honest and open about my feelings. Unfortunately, my honesty tends to make certain people very uncomfortable. Honesty is not always “nice”, and for some- who wish to avoid stressful subjects at any cost- my search for honest dialogue only muddies the waters of their understanding, rather than bring the clarity that was intended from the beginning. One of the issues as I see it, is that person “A” does not wish to acknowledge the consequences of their actions, desiring instead that person “B” be quick to forgive and forget. When person “B” still struggles with the fallout of wounds suffered as a result of the actions or choices of person “A”, person “B” is told that their struggles are irrelevant, not person “A”s problem, or that person “B” is being difficult. Person “B” is left holding the bag, and feeling like there is no place to go, to share the pain, to receive comfort. The bandaid solution – “leave it in the hands of God”, “get over it”, and similar platitudes ring very hollow in the ears of the one dying inside from a spiritual or emotion hemorrhage. Or alternatively, I get “well, what do you want ME to do about it? It’s not my problem”. Funny how something is not your problem until you happen to be the one picking up the pieces of your own devastation, while those who have cut you down with words walk away on the clouds of their own professed piety and self-righteousness. Funny how a person can destroy another person, insisting on the “rightness” of their own position, because- after all- they are holy and virtuous, and you are the heretic. It all seems to boil down to “it is never good enough”.
The myth of the close knit, happy, utterly cohesive family, is so deeply ingrained into the fabric of our society, that our media- literary, theatre, cinema, and otherwise, all conspire to separate and demonize the dysfunctional entities (‘evil mothers-in-law’) from the poor well meaning and misunderstood members who must by virtue consist of canonized saints who could never do anything wrong. Perish the thought. It is always the mother’s (or mother-in-law’s) fault.
The ecstacy of grandchildren at this point in time is far overshadowed by the agony of estrangement from my son. Not that my son has ever respected me at the best of times. I should be used to his attitude of exasperation, impatience with what he sees as ‘recalcitrance’ on my part. I do not agree with him, but at least I listen to what he has to say. There is a great schism between what my husband sees, and what my older son sees. My husband loves me, supports me, says that I am a good mother, and that my intuitions are to be trusted. My son thinks that I am psychiatrically utterly screwed. He blames me for his problems- he was deprived, he should have had the newest gadgets, running shoes, all the bells and whistles that his contemporaries had. I wonder how much of this is being fed to him by his wife. I wonder how much she is privy to any conversations that I have had with my son. And I wonder how this will come home to roost when her son grows up and wants to emancipate to have a wife of his own.
I could say here that my heart is broken, and it would seem irreparable at this stage in time- but that would be dismissed in as cavalier a fashion as my feelings have always been dismissed by him. Why bother? It is easier not to care anymore.To give in and just smile, lie, and say that everything is rosy, because in the long run, as long as it is rosy for him, that is all that really
matters. Grin and bear it.
Only one problem. I still won’t see my little grandson. The keys of access are jealously guarded by his mother. Joshua will grow up knowing only one set of grandparents.