Shoved back in the archives from 2/25/07.
A friend and I were talking recently about forgiveness. Specifically, how do you forgive someone who is dead or otherwise not present or who is unwilling to work it out with you in your presence. And does it do any good. I won't tell her story, which really made me think but it isn't my story to tell. For me, the obvious example is my mother, who died three years ago. And our relationship was not all bad and tormented. And she was not a bad mother. But there were specific things that I had to forgive her for. Things like telling me when I was thirteen that no one was going to hire me to babysit because my glasses scare people. And thus making me wear contact lenses that kept me in a constant state of pain for 6 years, even hiding said scary (yet painless) glasses. Things like that.
Mostly, I forgave her for these things long ago when she was alive. Because I understood her intentions were good if not misguided. I also had to forgive myself for not so much maybe telling her straight out that I forgave her for these things. I should have done better at that. So both of our intentions were good, and our 'sins' kind of canceled each other out, I guess. When she was dying, I tried my best to make amends with her. I don't know if I did it well enough for her to understand it, but I gave it all I had and tried my best as did she and so I think we made our peace together.
Forgiving is easiest to do when someone is willing to meet you halfway. Many times, we judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their behavior. Sometimes if we just sit down and learn what each others intentions were, and why what each others behaviors were didn't portray that to the other person, it is easy to forgive and straighten out. Sometimes our intentions aren't always the best. We all have jealous, selfish or greedy moments. In these cases, sometimes you just have to fess up and say, I was an idiot and I'm sorry. If the other person has died or something, sometimes we have to assume that for them. He was an asshole, I don't know why he did the things that he did, maybe I'll never know, but I'm going to stop being angry now and be done with this. If only for our own sanity.
For the last two or so years, I have off and on been struggling to deal with my anger towards my in-laws. Specifically my mother and sister in law. I have been working hard to forgive them. It has been hard because they have chosen not to meet me halfway or any way. My mother in law had surgery yesterday. And I guess it is all going well and I was sincerely happy about that because as I understand it, a chronic problem that she has been having finally has been cured and she should feel much better. I've never wished her harm, but I'm glad that I'm glad for her. I feel like I'm just inches from forgiveness. So, I'm just going to write some stuff out and see if I can push myself all the way to the finish line. This post is categorized under cheap therapy. So read or don't read, its up to you. I don't know what it is going to say yet.
I'm kind of thinking back to what got us to 2004, where it all kind of went to hell. I generally never liked spending much time with her. This is not to say that I did not like her or that I thought she was a bad person. I thought she had brains, and a certain toughness about her. She is very capable and I respected that. She's been through some shit and I respected that she survived that, too. But we were just very different people with totally different outlooks on life.
The first time I met her, which was before I even met D, she horrified me. She first started talking about her son and how he needed to make friends as he started college just two years post spinal cord injury. Okay. Then she went off on his bowel issues. Like, in detail. It wasn't that I was shocked or grossed out, I knew people with spinal cord injuries and nothing really grosses me out much. It was just so disrespectful and invasive of his privacy. I was just thinking, you want him to make friends and this is how you help him? Geez, lady, he's going to have enough troubles without you freaking people out with bowel horror stories. It was so all about her, too. Like how hard everything was for her. I'm not saying it wasn't or that she shouldn't vent about that. It was just that every time I talked to her it felt like a counseling session. It was draining.
But we went on. She annoyed me with her MIL Swoop of our apartment every time she visited and her constant need to wear D's clothes for no reason like a high school girlfriend pissing on her boyfriend's territory, but I could handle that. Lots of MIL types do the passive-aggressive MIL Swoop. She would piss me off at times by making decisions for D as if she had talked to him, but I would find out later that she never had. (i.e. one time I came over with a movie to see if D wanted to watch it. She barred the door and went and pretended to ask D if he wanted to. She came back and told me he didn't. Later, D said he never knew I came by with a movie.) I was annoyed by her a lot, but I tried to be understanding. This was her youngest son, just leaving the nest after a serious accident. I guess she can be excused for hovering a bit. One thing I liked about her at that time was that she really tried to make you feel like you belonged. She gave me Christmas presents and invited me to her house and treated me like family.
But she ran hot and cold with me. One time, she told me, very sweetly, that D nor Q (who I was sorta dating at the time) needed to be around any women. And I needed to give them space. Okay. I was annoyed, but wasn't too upset since at that time I had met two or three or D's past girlfriends and they all told the same stories about her. They all liked D's father, but they all had the same troubles with D's mother. I chalked it up to nothing personal and didn't worry too much about it.
We went on like that for a couple of years. I was polite and tried to make the best of things and just let go some of the brush off I got sometimes. Part of it was that we just were VERY different people. I'm more radical about disability issues, womens issues, pacifism, religious freedom, etc. She is very traditional in terms of women's roles, being a military wife, Catholicism, etc. I liked to talk with the men about politics, she liked to talk with the women about Oprah and Martha Stewart. We were just different. Neither right or wrong, just different. My take was that we could get along and respect each other, but we were never going to likely be the best of friends. I don't know if they ever realized or gave me credit for the extent to which I tried to be polite. I mean...okay...they are kind of bigotted. (In that "Not that I'm racist, but..." kind of way.) I kept my mouth shut around them with more restraint than I ever thought possible from myself. I am not a keep my mouth shut kind of person. I actually remember one time when FIL said that the victim in the Kobe Bryan rape case should have just never went into his room. D actually came rolling out of his room at top speed to hold me back from jumping across the table and squishing his little patriarchic, misogynistic head to the floor. But I restrained myself enough to just shoot dagger eyes at him. I mean, they don't REALIZE the degree to which I let stuff go around them to keep the peace. No one else would ever get away with some of the crap they spewed.
I know that one of the things they sort of blame me for is influencing D. I met D when he was only 19 and had just moved away from home. He was a Church going, Catholic, republican, hoo-rah, marine wanna-be. He's a different person now. Did I influence him? Sure I did. And he influenced me. But you can only let someone influence you by your own choice. He was newly disabled; he just changed from a white male to a minority. He was going to change with me or without me. Things were bothering him already, like the Marines making him "honorary" instead of finding an appropriate place for disabled people who wanted to serve. I just gave him the words I had heard before. He took them and went with them. And other parts of him, like his interest in conspiracy theories, UFOs, out of body experiences, new age-y religion and paganism...that's all him. They can't blame that on me. If anything, that is where he has influenced me. He listens to Art Bell, not me. I just hear all about it. I think daughters in law take the brunt of the blame that mothers seem to have to dish out when they figure out that their babies are their own adult people know. God help me that I won't be that bad when my kids are adults.
Things came to a head for me once on a plane trip to Oregon. D and I (with a guide dog at the time) have to make specific arrangements for our air travel. I'm not going to go into the details of this, but D and I had called the airline ahead of time, and then when we got there we asked for what we needed both at the ticket counter and the gate. Then she would go up to the counter and just fuck it all up with unreasonable and rude demands. She changed and overrode what we had asked for, and had her own needs that were supposed to trump all of mine. She couldn't sit in a center seat because she was claustrophobic, yet she HAD to sit next to D. Lisa and Dog be damned. Other passengers be damned. The problem was that one of the bulkheads where D could sit (and was better, but not absolutely necessary for me and dog) was also an exit row. And they won't put people with disabilities in exit rows. So there was no possible way to get D in the A seat, me in the B or C seat, her not in the middle but sitting next to D. I can't remember how it went exactly now. I may have the details wrong. I can't even begin to describe to you how I was going on 5+ hours of her incessant whining and worrying and need for reassurance and ability to muck up everything D and I tried to fix. It was as if someone was driving giant screws into my ears and twisting them ever so slowly but incessantly into my brain. I mean, I can handle 15 kids with autism, behavior disorders and mental retardation. But I couldn't handle this. Let me just say this. I have traveled extensively with people with all kinds of disabilities. People on oxygen, in wheelchairs, deafblind folks, cognitively disabled folks, people who needed assistance eating, people who had very specialized medical equipment, people who needed very specific help transferring, etc., all with my own deafblind self and my guide dog. Sometimes it works out great, sometimes you have problems with the airlines. But I have NEVER had as much stress, confusion, rudeness, and chaos as I had this trip with her. I was SO MAD by the time we got on our second plane, that I felt like I would absolutely throw up in the face of one more second of it. And the thought of spending two weeks with this women filled me with so much anxiety and dread that I literally panicked. I cracked. Big time. I told D that this was a mistake, I was going back to Kansas, and I walked off the plane. I knew I'd have to pay a penalty fee, but I didn't care. I wanted to get as far away from that woman as possible.
I honestly did not know that you can't walk off a plane easily once you get on. This was way before 9/11, and I just didn't know. When I went up to the ticket counter and told them what I had done, all hell broke lose. Apparently, this was a security breach and if I didn't get back on the plane, they would have to unboard everyone, search the plane, and then re-board it. An airline guy literally yanked my arm and pulled me to the side and said, "I don't know what your problem is, little girl, but you are going to GET.BACK.ON.THAT.PLANE or I will have 300 people pissing furious and I'm not going to put up with that." Needless to say, I got back on the plane. When I got on the plane, ironically, I was sat next to MIL, who was seated in THE MIDDLE SEAT!!! and just burst into tears. She tried to comfort me and was nice then. It was really embarrassing, and definitely not one of my finer moments. D and her had some fight the next day about it all, but I wasn't there for it. Since D's brother and sister-in-law were hosting us and innocents in all this, we all sucked it up for their sake and made the best of the trip. When I got home, I sent her flowers and apologized for my plane behavior, and she never acknowledged my apology or anything, so I just let it go.
Shortly after, D and I moved to Oregon and I had very little contact with her for several years. I saw her a few times and that was nice and fine. Then they decided to move here as well and it made everyone apprehensive. It wasn't a personal thing against them moving here, everyone just worried about whether it was the right decision for them and whether his dad would be happy and the added responsibility of having them here and the time commitment, etc. Everyone kind of tried to hint that maybe a move to a town a few hours away would be good because it is more in the country that they were used to and catered to retired people. But to no avail. They wanted to move in right next to D. Almost literally. This happened near the time that I also moved in with D, so they were right up the street.
In those years, I saw them more, mainly D's father. Even though we still weren't especially best friends, I started to slowly get more used to them being here and accept them as my extended family. I still could only handle MIL in small doses, but we did have some enjoyable talks and I was resolved in the fact that we were different, and not close but were always friendly and respectful of each other.
I thought things were okay. But here is where I was wrong and should have checked in with them more. First, I was happy with the arrangement where we respected each other and were friendly to each other but knew that we had our differences. I think she felt like I never tried to be her friend. I grew up in a family that was not big on traditions, entertaining, and events. So I did not put a big priority on them. I think she got a lot of her self-esteem from her cooking and entertaining and stuff. My family is ultra efficient. I would sit there and marvel at how she would use 20 pots and 50 utensils to make a meal that I could make with two pots and one spoon. I didn't say this out loud, but I think that I was more confused by her entertaining style than impressed, and she probably got that vibe. The other thing was that I was lousy help. First, it is hard for me to help in other people's kitchens, especially when there are lots of people doing lots of things. Second, I always wanted to hang with the guys and talk about real stuff instead of what the women in the kitchen were talking about. I just wasn't interested... and kind of resented that this was what I was supposed to do. I did clear my plate and usually D's stuff, and help clear the table, but then I was done. I'm sure that this was perceived to be rude.
With her during this time, I think that was I perceived as little differences in our personalities, she perceived as a big deal. In disabled community, people's needs and abilities are so different that little social graces are really downplayed and ignored. If someone doesn't help with the dishes, you don't worry about it, you just assume they are doing the best they can to participate. If someone's verbal/social skills are a bit off, you just go with the flow and accept it. What I perceived as nothing, I think she and SIL perceived as me rejecting them or being rude. This is all stuff I've looked back and realized now. I should have realized it then. I heard how they talked about other people. They would say stuff that astonished me. Like so-and-so didn't make eye contact when they passed in the street, so that must mean that that person is totally selfish and rude. Once, they talked about how her stepson's wife was working (at a hospital in pediatric respiratory therapy) when they stopped by and she only came out and said hi for a second. This must mean that she didn't care that they were there and she didn't want to try to have a relationship with them. Um, HELLO! Some people can't stop everything (especially hospital work!) when you stop by. Take things too personally, no? Stuff like that. I should have realized that if they were that sensitive about other peoples little bitty actions that mine were probably outer limits bad to them. I mean, I never graduated from finishing school, for craps sake. I mean, we're lucky I can eat with a fork for all the attention I pay to social graces. It has nothing to do with YOU.
But here is where the big problem happened. And it happened for two years, unbeknownst to me at the time. 2002 and 2003 were really bad years for both D and I. First D had a months long life-threatening illness, and then immediately after, my mother had a ten month losing battle with cancer. Not to mention losing my job and having my own health problems. During these two years, D's father was visiting us several times a week. Often helping out with household chores, shopping, rides etc. That time was just a blur for me and I was distracted and depressed. But I should have checked in more with D's family. I was just getting by day by day, though, and I just trusted D to handle his family.
D and I either complement each other or clash due to how we were raised. D was never trusted with much responsibility, but he got lots of help. I was raised to be independent to a fault. Most of the time, I am so thankful that my mother taught me to be able to take care of myself and expected that I be responsible for myself. I can handle a lot of things that my more 'sheltered' counterparts cannot accomplish. This is because of the fierce independence that was expected of my both by my mother, and then later as an NFB trained blind person. The downfall of that is this: Sometimes you are going to need help. We are not islands. If you are so busy taking care of yourself, you don't know how to ask or accept help and you often don't have time to give it, either. As I was trying to encourage D to be more independent, he was trying to encourage me to get into the fold of his family. To accept and give help. I was trying to get better at the giving help. When MIL had brain surgery, I really tried to be there for her and do my part. I was trying to set aside time for them more. But accepting help made me reeeeaaaallly uncomfortable. I hated it. Every time D's father came in and cleaned up something I felt like crawling under a rock in shame. Why couldn't I get that done. (Well, I worked all day at two different jobs and I was up the night before helping D with a catheter emergency...but I still should have been able to clean the kitchen!) D was trying to get me to lighten up.
It was like trying to coax a wounded rabbit out from a hole. D reassured me countless times that his dad was bored. That he wanted to do this stuff for us. And it seemed the case because often he would call up and we would have nothing for him to do but he seemed bored so we found stuff for him. He would come over and bring sandwiches and groceries without our even asking. I would contemplate how to get to a doctor's appointment, and D would have already asked his dad to take me. It was hard for me to take, but D kept telling me that it was fine and I slowly started to get used to it.
And he WAS very helpful and I did appreciate it. I had never in my life had someone so willing to just almost be at my beck and call. At one point, I came back from my mother's brain surgery and the state of Oregon had passed a measure to drastically reduce attendant care. This would put both D and I in a horrible financial fix. We didn't know if we could even keep our apartment. D's father said that if the worst happened we could just all moved into his house. And although things would have to get pretty damned bad for me to get to that point...I remember just crying about it. Someone has actually got our backs. They care enough about us that we won't go homeless. That I won't go homeless. And he's actually just telling us that upfront to ease our minds. It turned out that they cut a lot of people, but not D's care, so we were OK. But the thought meant a lot to me. I began to really trust D's father.
So much so that later when I was hedging about moving into my father's house, I made a pros and cons list and shared it with FIL. One thing I put on the list was that living with my father was not as secure as living with D. My reasoning was that my father would not give me any guarantee for housing, but D's family would. I REALLY regret showing that to him now. I think it might have freaked him out. But during that time, I was really starting to see myself as a contributing member of his family and started to finally let myself depend on them a little bit to have my back. It would be a last, last, last resort, of course, but it still eased my mind. My own family was never that great at having my back or easing my mind. They are very much get your own self out of your own problems. This was something I never had before. Maybe I wasn't doing it exactly right, but I was trying.
One thing that is very different also about me and MIL is that I am extremely pragmatic and straight forward realistic. MIL is more of a projectionist. She tends to create her own reality. We laugh because she just refuses reality sometimes. Someone will say, "I smoked some pot in high school," and she will say, "no you didn't." and that is that. So I should have been warned that she was not prepared for my pregnancy. We talked about it with her several times and she just didn't hear it. D told her I was looking into IUI and she just said, "oh, she's not going to do that." Topic closed.
So because of her lack of interest and also because of the stress of IF, we didn't tell them the day-to-day nitty gritty of trying to conceive. We didn't intentionally hide it. We dropped hints, had books and brochures about IUI and donor insemination right out in the open. The subject was open for discussion by us, but denied by them. IF is funny in that people expect to know the play-by-play like they don't if you conceive naturally. No one (except maybe your closest friends) expects you to go, "I'm ovulating so we had sex last night!" But with IF, they seem to think they have the right to know every doctors appointment, every medication, every pregnancy test, everything. IF is extremely stressful. We only shared the day-by-day with each other and with the Fertile Thoughts message board friends.
Even though we had tried to talk to them about it before, I think they were pissed that we had this secret for months before we told them. I was worried about miscarriage and vanishing twin syndrome, so I waited to tell almost everybody until I was about 3 months pg. We told D's parents first, and we were really excited about it. We partly told them first because we thought they would be good examples of support for my dad when he came and I told him about it. We thought they would be the easy ones. We brought information about the donor and U/S pics and all kinds of stuff we thought they might want to see. But it was awful. I was the one that said "I'm pg! With twins!" She said, "with D's sperm?" When I said, "no" she left the room and apparently cried. D's father was much better about it. When she came back, she was better, but didn't talk much and when we asked her if she wanted to see the ultrasounds she flatly said "no." It was as if I had wanted all my life to win a gold medal in figure skating, and I finally won it, and then she spit on me during the national anthem. It was that bad. Ironically, my father, after a few minutes of deliberation, was much happier and much more supportive. So, shows what I know.
Then things got bazaar. Since I was carrying twins, I was already showing at 4 months. I saw her several times over the next several weeks. She did not mention my pregnancy hardly at all. And if she did, it was very indirectly. Here I was, in maternity clothes, meeting her other visiting family members from out of town, and NO ONE talked about my pg. Not like I needed to be the center of attention. But I was not 14 year-old high school girl that got shamefully knocked up (not that I think that, but you know what I mean, right?). I was a grown up, educated, career woman who made a responsible and well thought out and much desired decision. I mean, it was weird. They even took me out for my birthday and gave me a nice card and some cash and never once mentioned the pg. And if I mentioned it, they changed the subject like I hadn't even said anything. I don't know what to do with that. How can you take me out to dinner and then shit on me at the same time? WTF?
I told D that we needed to go talk to them because something was wrong and we needed to work it out. I mean, these were my kids' grandparents, right? This was actually a factor for me, that my kids would have local grandparents. Not that I expected free babysitting, I knew they were not healthy enough to take care of twins alone, but just...you know...support. I thought about how I would walk up with the kids in strollers to her house someday and visit and have a talk with her. If I was going to be a SAHM, maybe we would find more things in common now. So D thought that he would talk to them first, and maybe they would open up better with him.
It seemed the problem was that they were afraid they were going to have to give us a lot of support that they couldn't give. Okay, that's a legitimate thing to talk about. Lets talk it out. We reassured them that we didn't expect financial support. That we knew they couldn't babysit and that we were fine with whatever they thought they could do or not do. We wanted them in the babies lives. We all had a good talk and I felt a lot better about everything. It seemed everyone did. Whew! Over a little bump--lets move on now. The one and only thing I asked of them was that if there was a problem, or if we did something that didn't work for them, that they would come and talk to us about it right away so we could work it out and not give me the silent treatment again. This is the one thing I stressed. The only thing I wanted. And everyone agreed.
I have to be vague with what happened next. But something horrible happened. Let me put it like this: Say we were sitting in our own house minding our own business. Then, an envelope accidentally falls out of the sky and hits us in the head. We know we shouldn't open it, but then we happen to notice that on the front of the envelope it says in big letters:
PRIVATE CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION ABOUT LISA AND D AND THEIR BABIES THAT WE DON'T WANT THEM TO KNOW!!!!
So, yeah, we opened it. And unless you have a halo on your head, you would have to. What we found startled us. Again, I'm going to be vague, but in this envelope was basically what MIL really thought of me and my kids. It was really hurtful. It talked about how I had taken advantage of them all these years. How I asked for help tio much except when I didn't ask for help enough. How unhappy they were about my pg. How since I have health problems maybe I'll miscarry and they won't have to worry about it anymore. How they will be raising my babies and how she dreads their birth. How they have had to take over for what my family won't do. How I am a burden. How I am screwing up D's life. These are generalizations, the specifics were kind of worse in a way. It was the tone and language of how much disdain she had for me and for the fact that my kids were not D's biological kids. There were also lies, half-truths, and exsagerations about MIL and FIL's part in helping us. How I took FIL away from her for the last couple of years. etc. I could have taken all this and probably gotten over it if it wasn't for the date. It was well after all of our long talks where everything was supposed to be okay. I felt like the whole time I tried to talk it out with them and forgive them for their behavior and take the high road, they/she was totally playing me and lying. The wounded rabbit that D had tried so hard to coax out of the hole got tricked and was slammed in the trap.
So, still trying to take the high road and salvage things, I confessed to FIL what I did, and what I found. I told him how we found this on accident, but kept reading. And I apologized for the fact that we kept reading. But maybe it was all for the best and we could try again to talk things out. This was about the fourth weekend I had spent hashing it out with them. Not to mention the stress D and I had in-between. I was in my second trimester, D had a broken leg, we were getting ready to move, and I had spent literally hours and days working with D's parents to try and work things out. Always tactful, always apologetic for anything I had done wrong, always asking for suggestions on how to improve. MIL was out of town, but FIL and I talked for almost six hours that day.
What I found out, and tried to deal with, was their fundamental (but mostly unintentional prejudices about people with disabilities having children and being independent in general. I get it, they are old school, OK. But it was like they didn't know me at all. Like nothing I had done in the previous ten years mattered. Living on my own, traveling, getting graduate degrees, holding down jobs, dealing with D's illness and my mother's death, advocating for myself, paying my own bills, none of it mattered. They acted like I was incapable. They acted like I totally needed them to survive. Like the last two years of their help had been a total obligation on their part. It also seemed like I was just a commodity to help D. As long as I was helping D, I was OK. I was a member of the family. But anything that I did that was not directly tied to helping D, that didn't matter to them. Moreover, it was a distraction from my only real role of helping D.
And I was stuck in a catch-22. Here I had been through my two years of hell, and he had really helped me. And I appreciated it. But I would have survived without him helping me (had I ever been TOLD or been given any indication in two whole years that there was a problem.) But that seemed unappreciative to say, you know, you put this on yourself--I didn't need you anyway. But then if I said, yes, I did need you. That seemed to burden them terribly. For example, when D had broke his leg, I went with him to the ER. And it took forever like it does in ER's, so I didn't get to phone his parents until about 11pm. D and I both agreed that they didn't have to come up and that I would just take the train home. Something I had done before many times. We even contemplated not calling them till morning, but then we thought they would feel left out. So I call and tell them the deal, and say I'm going to take the train home. They got weird and insisted they come and get me and I reluctantly agreed. Then in "the secret document" it says in one place how weird it is for me to say I'm going to take the train home, and in another place, she complains about how she had to come and get me at 11pm. I can't fucking win.
So, FIL and I talk and we agree that I should just let it go and not talk to MIL about it because it would make her feel bad and she is just going to take some work, but when the babies come, she'll come around. He agrees to talk to her again about it and says it will all be okay. So things are tense but better and she even suddenly comes over one day and brings me a second-hand changing table out of the blue.Which was very nice of her and I took it like it was an indication of her coming around.
Then...I get pre-eclampsia and have surgery and go on bed rest. MIL is actually very nice during this period. She even came to the hospital and helped drive me home. I couldn't make it to thanksgiving, but she sends me food. Okay. Things are looking up.
The day after Thanksgiving, my SIL and BIL call and say they are going to bring us dinner. Wow! Things are really coming around. They've been really distant with us the whole time. Now you have to understand that SIL and MIL talk almost daily for like, five hours a day. They are very close. They almost seem like the same person in that they seem to share all the same information and ideas and opinions. So they come over, and D and I are totally ambushed. Bringing food is just a ruse for telling us how selfish we are and how MIL and FIL are going to be raising our children and how we can't handle it ourselves and what are we going to do for THE FIRST 30 DAYS!!!!!! They want to make sure we know that they will NOT be available for any help because they don't raise other people's children. They totally made us feel like crap. I mean, afterwords, D and I were speechless and just couldn't even look at each other without crying. I was huge, sick, in pain, blind, and praying to keep my kids in me just a day longer at this point and I had to sit through that crap? And the question again...MIL is being nice to us, but obviously trouble is lurking behind our backs. No one is being sincere with us except to make sure we know that there is no way we can do it alone and we aren't getting any help from them. Not even an encouraging word.
So, I've written about this elsewhere. But I have the kids. MIL comes to visit me in the hospital and is very nice. SIL surprise visits me and is very nice. Then some kind of bitching about us behind our backs ensues and BIL comes with to help take me home and is ruder than hell and resentful as shit. So much so to D that he puts both of us in tears. So more trouble lurks beneath in between spurts of kindness.
So, know you moms who have been through this know this, but if you don't--being pg is hard. It is life changing. Being pg with twins is hard and life changing. Giving birth to them is hard. C-sections are hard. Postpartum is hard. Being an awkward new mom is hard. It is also a dream come true. What you think about when you imagine being pg is baby showers, congratulations, talks about morning sickness, flowers and visits, cooing over your new baby by the grandparents SUPPORT! SUPPORT! SUPPORT! If not physical support, then at the very least KINDNESS! For nine months, I got shit from that family. I got ignored, treated rudely, then weirdly nicely, then rudely again which I can't handle. I got lied to, insulted, shamed, made to feel I was a burden, made to feel incompetent, made to feel unloved and like my children were going to be unloved. All the while when I was trying my best to be a part of the family, be sincere, take the high road, ease their worries, apologize for anything I did to offend them, make amends, include them in two precious babies lives, do everything I could to help matters. And I got the rug pulled out from under me.
And it HURT. It hurt in very real ways. I had JUST LOST MY MOTHER. It fucked me up something awful for a long while. There were late night crying sessions with D. There were hours and hours of stress and worry and what could I do to help and how could they do this after I've tried so hard to be a part of them. I respected their differences but they didn't respect mine. No matter what they felt about the pregnancy, I didn't understand how anyone could be so cruel to a pregnant woman who was trying to do her best for everyone involved. What should have been a happy time (and was still on many levels despite) was burdened with unfair and unnecessary stress and hatred towards me.
But, for the kids sake, I tried very hard to get past it. And I thought I did. I hired a nanny to help me out, D and the kids and I muddled through the first few months. I had another surgery and got some of my vision back. The kids were starting to thrive. I was working again and going back to church and other activities. And FIL did bring me a few groceries (he offered) in the first couple of weeks, but since then, I've done it all on my own. With zero help from any of them. Like I always knew I could, and like I told them I would.
But, as you know, the story doesn't end there. So then the thing with D's foot happened. And was a big hurdle for D and I in our relationship. It really was as bad as if he had had an adulterous relationship because of the lies. And as I was dealing with this new blow, one of the first things that was said to me was that D and I were too distracted with the babies and that is why he had to get his foot amputated.
I thought I was fine, but that just cut right to all that pg pain. I did everything on my own, including working for D, and D screws up and I'm STILL going to get blamed for it? I was mad, but I also was extremely frustrated and wanted a solution. So I wrote a post about D's irresponsibility and how I felt that his parents enabled this. D's family found my website (ironically by snooping through D's things) and read it and since then MIL has never spoken to me again. I found out through some harsh emails with SIL that they totally blamed me for D's foot problem. And basically that I was now forever on their shitlist.
I did apologize to FIL for hurting his feelings with the post (it was largely about him). I don't totally regret writing it. It probably could have been better written. But it did seem to shake up that problem a bit and get it on the road to a solution. So maybe it was worth it. But other than that, I was just kind of done with it all. I actually heard third and fourth hand about MIL's anger towards me, with 39 different explanations why. Maybe it was the blog. Maybe it wasn't so much the blog but what I had written. Maybe it was the foot thing. Maybe it was the donor issue. She even wanted to see the birth certificates with D's name on it, so maybe it was something to do with that. I have no idea. The thing I had asked for, that she talk to me if there was a problem, that they agreed to, was a total joke to them. I felt like I couldn't do anything else to help the situation and my efforts were being ridiculed anyway.
There was always something nagging me about MIL for years. It was the way she treated other people. I don't know why it ever occurred to me that she would treat me differently. She is very black and white and one dimensional in her thinking sometimes. She thinks her way is the right way. Very much an absolutist. People to her seem to be either all good or all bad. Once you cross her line, everything you do is scrutinized in almost paranoid fashion. Your intent is always assumed to be sinister. I saw her BIL really try to communicate with her and show her kindness. And she was very nice to him during this conversation. And then after he was gone she laughed at him and picked apart everything he said as something bad. I see how she excludes her stepson (who she basically raised) because he was a challenging kid. And by association, she excludes his grandkids. She told me once that she only has two grandkids. She actually has nine. But for various reasons, many don't count. I'd seen this for years, and I let it pass because I figured I didn't know all the facts ( and I don't.) But then it happened to me and I should have seen it coming. I was never included, I was never a member of the family. It was all projection. This time, on my part.
Someone emailed me a while back and asked me what I could do to reconcile with them. I don't know. I don't think I can do anything. I feel like I've tried everything I know how to do. Obviously I've not done things right or we'd be in a better situation. But I tried and I've always been willing to try. I feel like I've taken all the responsibility, done all the apologizing, made all the effort, and I'm not even allowed to mention out loud some of the things she's done. I'm constantly being told she can't handle it. She can't handle the consequences of her own behavior? Well, then maybe she shouldn't be doing said behavior. But I'm not going to police that. I've been willing to work on things, but if she isn't, then I have to let it go. My BIL, who is also on her shitlist, has a really good attitude about it all and I learned from him a bit how to just let it slide and let D have his relationship with her and just laugh it off. I'm getting better at that.
I hope that she might get to the point where we could be in the same room together and be polite to each other. That certainly has never been a problem for me. I can agree to disagree and be respectful without being best friends. But I don't think I could ever totally trust them again. FIL has really tried to connect with me and the kids and I appreciate that. Even with our differences, I trust him a lot more. But her, I don't think I could again. But I won't totally close the door on her. But she will have to come through it. I'm not going to drag her in.
One of the reasons I've been able to forgive her is the rule that you shouldn't project upon others the evil motives that you yourself don't have. I don't wish her any harm and I did try to have a relationship with her. Perhaps she did the same. One of the reasons I'm also staying away is because several of her family members have either implied or flat out told me that she cannot mentally cope with much. At first I thought she manipulated them to think that because she has coped with all kinds of things. She is a strong woman. But I'm just going to take it as word. They tell me she deals with depression and mental health issues. Maybe it is a rationalization on my part. I can forgive her in part by thinking maybe she is just sick or has never learned how to handle conflicts and disagreements in a healthy way. I try, but I god knows I don't all the time. I have no desire to burden her anymore with a relationship with me if it will cause her emotional harm.
The other issue about reconciliation is the kids. I don't trust reconciliation with her because she has been so insincere about it in the past. I fear that the kids would get attached to her only to have her exclude them for some arbitrary reason. Or go back and forth on it a lot. She concerns me a little with the children as well. She means well, I'm sure, but whenever I've seen her around children she seems sort of really needy for their affection and love. She will try to engage with small children who don't know her well, and if they don't respond, she seems to take it personally. She has also seemed to take out some of her frustration with her stepson on his (cognitively disabled) daughter, and this concerns me a bit as well. I mean it isn't a huge worry, like she isn't abusive in any way, its just that on top of everything else, it just adds up that it is perhaps best that the kids don't get all messed up in this. They have a lot of people to interact with, so I think they are alright.
So, yeah, extremely hard to forgive someone who you've been cut off with. But I think I'm about there. And I'm okay with the fact that she is not likely ever going to make an effort in my regard. I try not to see people in black and white. I know that what I see of her is just one aspect of her. SIL sees a different side, D sees a different side. For whatever reason, and despite my best efforts, I do not elicit kindness and acceptance from her. It could be for a hundred other reasons that have little to do with me. Is it the sperm donor issue? Is it the unwed mother issue? Is it that I'm very much the realist and am assertive about what I see and want and she grew up in a home where her assertiveness was devalued? Is it my Independence when she comes from a generation of women who didn't have the same opportunities? Is it that I'm not Catholic? Is it my politics? Is it that I took away her youngest son? Is it that she just doesn't like me and can't just live with that in a "win/win or no deal" kind of way? Is it that I'm just an insensitive clod? The hardest thing is that I will never probably know. We can't all get along and we can't all be best friends. We just have to try to respect each other and not hurt one another. It seems the best way for me to do that is to stay away. And let my anger and hurt fly away in the ether of my electronic words. And move on.
/End of Blame/