Let me just start out by saying that this was by far the most challenging one to write. It was also the most challenging number on the list to do. Most people would think nothing of picking up a phone and calling their mom. I used to be able to do it quite freely despite my hatred of talking on phones. So why was it so hard now? I didn’t go to a wedding. I didn’t go to an out of state wedding 5 hours away. I didn’t go to a wedding!! Who cares why? I didn’t go to a wedding and it affected my relationship with my mom. Let that sink in. It wasn’t HER wedding in case that’s what you’re thinking. I RSVP’d no. I had been doing work on setting boundaries. Things like that “no” was a complete sentence. Learning about how we are not obligated to do things if we don’t want to especially if we feel unsafe or if it would be damaging to us in some way. I can’t say much because I don’t own my story. I can share a couple of things to paint the picture so that this makes sense. One Thanksgiving, Rob said, “Let’s get our food first and sit at the “big table” and see what happens.” So we did. Alone. Until my mom came to sit and looked around confusedly and asked where everyone was.
We just shrugged our shoulders and watched the scenario unfold. A more recent member of the family came and sat because apparently he didn’t get the memo. His wife had to join us or else explain to my mom why they were getting up to eat elsewhere. That “elsewhere” was the tiny island in the kitchen where everyone else was standing around eating. The 5 of us had this huge table to ourselves. It was quite nice. We should have done it years ago. Driving home after dinner, Rob said, “Mark my words. Next time there will be assigned seating.” Yep. Christmas there were placecards and a square card table set up with 4 names on it…Rob’s and mine and two other family members. I wanted so badly to ask if they watch Survivor because they were just shown that they’re at the bottom of the alliance.
Why would we go to an out of town wedding where we are unwelcome and unwanted? We’d have to stay overnight. It would be multiple events. There is no part of that I could survive. We said no. We could have listed other reasons not the least of which was financial, but the reasons aren’t important. We said no. It’s our choice. Except apparently it wasn’t. For months my parent’s tried every tactic to get me to change my mind. I used my tools. I held my ground. I quoted the books I was reading and the class I was taking on boundaries. It didn’t take. I caved and said we’d go but only for the wedding ceremony. We would drive 5 hours for a 15 minute ceremony and then turn around and drive home for 5 more hours? I couldn’t take the pressure so this is what I agreed to. Then there was this incident with a family member who was in town. This person was going to drive my parents to their doctor appointments. Molly and I were going over to my parent’s house so this person called me and said that there was construction being done and that I would have to park further away than normal. No problem. Thank you for letting me know. So far so good. Then my mom calls and says, “We’ll be gone. Just park in our spot. We won’t be home until later and you’ll be gone by then. No problem. Sounds good, right?
So I’m sitting on my parent’s couch minding my own business when I get a call from this out of town person and they say to me in a very angry, accusatory tone, “Get out here and move your car!” Ok. “I told you not to park there!” Yeah, but then mom called me and told me to. No she didn’t. Oh yes she did. I was fricking tired of the lifetime of gaslighting and just over it, but I remained calm and kept stating facts as this person yelled at me. Did I mention that both of my parents were in this person’s car and silent the whole time? Well, they were.
While I’m getting screamed at for something my mom told me to do. I repeated “mom called me and told me that the plan had changed and that I should just park in their space. It’s what I did.” To which this person replied, “You don’t listen to HER you listen to ME!!!” Ummm…hell no. I’m a grown ass adult. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Not only the disrespect to me, but to our parent’s sitting right there. And then for them not to say anything to defend my mom or me? Nope. That was the last straw. I went to move the car still calmly, but shaking with anger. I moved the car and called Rob and told him what happened after I beat the hell out of the steering wheel and yelled my head off in rage. I was done. Really fricking done. I went to my boundaries class and my small group did an intervention. I replied back to the bride that we wouldn’t be coming to the wedding, after all. My mom sent me an email and ended it with, “Dad and I still love you, but you make it hard.” Wow. Have I been disrespectful? Have I been unkind? Have I not dropped everything to help over the years? I’m hard to love? Because I’m only lovable when I’m doing what you want? Saying no told me everything I needed to know. My father died less than a year later and the wake and funeral solidified for me that this was not where I belonged. These were not my people. Sometimes we are born into a family but not meant to stay. I was not meant to stay. So I left. I knew as we buried him that I would be leaving them all there, as well. I got in the car and drove away knowing there was no one to say goodbye to.
So here I am two years later holding the phone trying to call my mom. I had stayed in contact with her, but it was sporadic and strained. I struggled with her alluding to the fact that she believed that my not going to the wedding is what killed him. He had cancer. It was a wedding. I’m not owning that shit. So I’m holding the phone and I dial and panic and let it shut off before hitting send. I’m listening to a song by Martha Wainright called, “Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole.”
I called and didn’t hit send and watched it shut off at least 50 times. The song lyrics washed over me…
“Poetry has no place for a heart that’s a whore
And I’m young and I’m strong
But I feel old and tired
And I’ve been poked and stoked
It’s all smoke, there’s no more fire
For you, whoever you are
For you, whoever you are
You may say my time here has been some sort of joke
That I’ve been messing around
Some sort of incubating period
For when I really come around
I’m cracking up
And you have no idea
No idea how it feels to be on your own
In your own home
With the fucking phone
And the mother of gloom
In your bedroom
Standing over your head
With her hand in your head
With her hand in your head
I will not pretend
I will not put on a smile
I will not say I’m all right for you
When all I wanted was to be good
To do everything in truth
To do everything in truth”
I knew that if I called I wouldn’t be able to go back to pretending. I would have to tell the truth. I have never been so scared in my life. I finally hit send. She told me she wanted Molly and I to come to her house and talk. I cried as I told her that I was scared to go back. I cried as I told her that I didn’t know if I could do it. She sat silently. The last time I was there my father laid there dead. I knew what the next item on my list was going to be.
Sometimes bravery is facing your truth.
If you enjoyed this chapter and want to dig deeper into each story, my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page. We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective. Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour.
I also share different content across my social media channels and at my blog on the website.
Podcast: Broken to Brave on Libsyn