Friday, November 14, 2008


So much going on right now, so many things I'd like to complain about. Unfortunately, because of the nature of this blog and some of the people I know who read it, I have to limit myself with what I am able to say. So I'm going to stick with just one topic for the moment. 

I have a very strained relationship with my mother, though she seems to be blissfully unaware of that fact. I was going to just gloss it over and spare you all the details, but fuck it, it's my blog. 

My mother had an affair while married to my father when I was 11-12 years old. They were going to get a divorce and she was even taking my sister and I to look at apartments with her. She told us that she had come home from work one morning and my dad had told her to leave. I was so angry with my father that I wouldn't speak to him for days. He asked her why his daughters were so mad at him and she explained. He told her that she needed to tell us the truth, and so after stewing about my dad for so long, my mom explained that the reason my father asked her to leave was because she had told him she didn't love him anymore. She had lied to us because she didn't want us to be angry with her. 

A few weeks after that, my sister and I were shipped off to visit an aunt for two weeks. We came back, and suddenly were told that everything was fine. We were young - we believed them, because logic still defied us back then. Call it suspension of disbelief. 

Within a matter of months, we had moved to a new house in a new neighborhood, and my mom was pregnant. She miscarried, and we were told by my father to be very nice to her and to be a couple of good girls because even though the pregnancy had been an accident my mom was very upset. So we tried to be good. 

That same year, my mom gets pregnant again. I remember my angry 12yr old self practically spitting at her in the car, "If it's such an accident, why don't you get fixed??" Somehow, even then I knew that my parents were trying to use a baby to fix their marriage, and I knew it wouldn't work. But when I was 13, my baby brother was born. The first-born son to a man who had 3 daughters, the first of whom was from a previous marriage. He was ecstatic.

Now to put this in perspective, you have to understand the household I was living in. My father did household chores, they both worked full-time doing the same job at the same workplace in two different departments. They took turns cooking dinner, were physically affectionate with one another, never fought in front of us, and took care of us equally. It was a gender-neutral household before gender-neutral households became popular and purposeful. My father seemed to be romantic with my mom, buying her gifts and doing things for her. I grew up for awhile believing that this is how things were supposed to be - an equal partnership based in love. There was a HUGE age difference between my parents - 18 years to be exact, but I never believed that would matter. 

Fast forward a little over 2 years. I am now 15, just finishing my sophomore year of high school. My parents have now been married for almost 17 years. My mother sits my sister and I down and tells us that she's moving out, moving 20 something miles away. Asks if we would like to come with her. (I know I'm not maintaining proper tense here, but bear with me.) I tell her I need to think about it, my sister says "Yeah, absolutely." She is 11 years old now. 

Of course, I don't believe that she's actually gonna leave. Shit, we've been through this before and nothing happened. Maybe all she needs is for my sister and I to go away for a little while again. 

A week later, my parents are at the neighbors house, drinking and socializing and having a grand old time, or so it seems. Around 2am, I wake up to yelling and a loud bang. I get really pissed, but I ignore it, because if I go up there I'm going to do something I will probably get punished for. Like call the cops or punch someone in the face. It stops pretty suddenly, so I go back to sleep. 

I wake up the next morning, and my dad is at work. My mom is home. I ask her in no uncertain terms, "What the fuck happened last night?" I didn't actually swear. To this day I don't swear in front of my parents, even though my mom herself is a potty mouth. She shows me a couple of bruises on her wrist that look like fingerprints and says, "Your father did this to me." When my dad gets home, I threaten to kill him, and I'm serious. He asks me if I will listen to him for a minute. I try to calm down and listen to him. He says, "Your mother has those bruises on her wrist because I was holding her arms. She was trying to punch me and pushed me into a wall. I didn't do anything except hold her back." I get pissed off at both of them, because I don't know who to believe anymore. To this day, I have no idea what happened that night. I shoulda just gone upstairs and punched someone. 

So my mom ends up leaving, taking my sister and brother with her. I stayed with my dad, partially because I didn't want to move or change schools, but mostly because he was devastated and didn't want him to be alone. They shared custody with my little brother, so he was with us for a half a week at a time until he started school. 

My mom pretty much dropped off the face of the earth for me. She rarely called, I only saw her on holidays. She always had something better to do than come and pick me up to visit, and I couldn't drive yet. I'm not going to get into all the drama that ensued in the following months, including me having a nervous breakdown and developing an irrational fear of my father, spurred on by my mom who told me I was justified without evidence. Either way, she would say anything to get me to be on her side. For staying with my dad, I became his favorite child and he ignored my sister and still does. He has no shame, and tells everyone in my family that I'm his favorite - including my sister. My half-sister is irrelevant. She's the bottom of his list. He once told me that the reason my mother left was because she didn't love "us" anymore - "us" referring to me and him. If it was in the pages of "How Not To Be A Good Parent" - my father did it. 

But I digress. My father is a condescending, self-absorbed ass, but he's always been that way and I've always known it. My mother is much more complicated. She thinks she's a great mom. I think I would have been better off without her. 

My mom married the guy that she left my father for the time that she actually LEFT. I suspected something was going on beforehand, but I let it go. I had enough to worry about at the time. For a long time, I hated his ass. I hated him so much that there was nothing I wouldn't do or say to make him know just how much I hated him. I hated my mom too, but she was my mother, and I tried to make amends with her. I spent years trying to rebuild a relationship with her, from college on. For awhile, I thought I had succeeded. 

This past June, I separated from my husband of two years, whom I had been with for almost 8. There was a lot of drama behind it, most of which no one knew about except for those closest to me. My mother was excluded from that list. 

Still, she was the first person I told that I had decided to move out. Her response? Her very first response? "You know, I'm still paying off your wedding." I knew that was what she was going to say. But I had been hoping she would say something else instead. Something supportive, maybe.

My mom's birthday was in August. I saw her two days beforehand, while she was on vacation and I came up to spend the day. I told her happy birthday, told her to enjoy it, put up with her fucked up comments about the guy I was dating at the time. I intended to bring her a birthday card, but in the commotion of preparing for the nearly 3hr drive down there, I forgot. Figured it wasn't important. She knew she wouldn't be getting a gift, seeing as I was paying extravagant rent on my own for the first time in my adult life, and she had gotten a diamond necklace from me the year before. I figured she would understand. 

A few weeks later I received an email from my stepfather (whom I now love very much), CC'd to my sister berating us for not sending my mother a card or buying her a gift. I responded politely, explaining that I had forgotten and that I would send one. I continued to forget, and it never happened. 

Just yesterday I got another email from my stepfather, (again CCd to my sister), saying that we should be ashamed of the people we have become and the priorities we have if we can't spare 10 minutes a week to speak to our parents or "forget" their birthdays. Mind you, they haven't seen my apartment though they've been invited several times, or that my mom generally doesn't call me unless I call her first, and leaves snide messages on my voicemail if I don't pick up: "I don't know WHY you're not answering your phone, but....."

I responded and explained that while I did not think it was his intention, he made me feel like an asshole. I then explained that because of issues I have with my mother, I don't think she has any right to be pissed over the lack of a birthday card, and that if she's hurt or upset by it, that I should hear it from her, and not him. I also mention the comment she made when I told her I was getting separated. 

He responded by reminding me how much money and "effort" people had put into my wedding, and that I "should have put the same or more effort into" making my marriage work. Basically, that I owed it to everyone who spent some cash on my kick-ass wedding to suck it up and deal. Though I wanted to say "Fuck you," I didn't. I continued to explain my position. No response from him yet. 

My mother is the most selfish human being on the planet. I am trying so hard not to be like her, and I feel like in order to accomplish that goal, I need to distance myself from her. I have given up trying to have a "real" relationship with her, because she lies to me and always has. I have so many issues because of the experiences I have had with her, and I so strongly resent the implication that I am selfish because I chose to separate from my husband despite the fact that other people helped pay for the wedding, or because I neglected to send a birthday card. 

Wow, this was a really long, pretty-detailed way of saying I'm fuckin' pissed right now. 


Ambivalent Academic said...

Oh ick - Sounds like you've got a lot of manipulative people in your life. So sorry you're going through all this. Still going through all this!

For what it's worth, I think that you are totally justified in being pissed and that implying that you should stick it out in a shitty relationship for the sake of someone else is bullshit.

I have some difficult peripheral relatives -- not the same as a difficult mother I'm sure -- but my policy is that if you act like a child I will treat you as such. Children who throw tantrums are not rational and there is no sense at all trying to reason with them, so I just ignore them. Adults who throw tantrums also get treated the same way until they start acting like adults again.

I wish you luck and send good thoughts. You're doing a great job with a shitty situation. Hang in there.

PhizzleDizzle said...

Oh wow....that is really heavy. I am sorry to hear about it all - the blogosphere is such a great place to rant when you're anonymous though - do you feel better for ranting? I always do.

I hope the drama dies down, but you seem to manage it well. Many would not be so gracious.

And I'm sorry to hear about the separation. That must be difficult...maybe the best solution for the drama tonight is to have some more absinthe ;).

Professor in Training said...

Wow - that sucks ... and I'm sorry to hear that things aren't going well with your husband. Hang in there. Spend some quality time this weekend with your couch and a big bag of Doritos ... oh wait, that's what I'm planning to do.

Btw - the light text on dark background is a killer on the eyes when reading your blog.

...tom... said...


What the others have already said.

You were a pawn, it sounds like; your being 'pissed' certainly seems warranted. I too hate others telling me what my social obligations are: card, gift, apologies, whatever.

Sorry for all the . . .'stuff'.


P.S. If everyone used 'light on dark' would suck. But I find the occasional page OK. Yours is that pleasant exception.

Comrade PhysioProf said...

That sounds rough, but a really nice piece of writing.

And yeah, the light on dark theme is a motherfucking nightmare!

JLK said...

Thanks, everyone. Thanks for reading through such a llllooooonnngg posting and then taking the time to comment.

As far as the black background and light text, I really, really, really don't want to change the background.

But I promise that if I keep writing really long blogs, I will change it so they're easier to read. :)

Comrade PhysioProf said...

As far as the black background and light text, I really, really, really don't want to change the background.

Why? It totally sucks shit. It is a physiological fact of human vision that light text on a dark background is much more difficult to read.

PhizzleDizzle said...

CPP, that is very interesting (the physiological fact). for some reason, most people i know that write a crapton of code use black backgrounds when coding (me included) because it's more comfortable, yet JLK's post also made my eyes swim. I can't reconcile these two phenomena. I will note, however, that my text is almost never all white: my terminal text is always green, and my coding text is highlighted all different colors to indicate type (though it is primarily white).

Now I really want to know why coding in a white background makes me want to poke my eyes out, but reading blogs in black background gives me similar feelings. Curious.

leigh said...

ah, a fellow academic from the "my family is so vastly fucked up i cannot even begin to describe it" clan. well, i can't sympathize with your exact situation, but i sure as hell can understand the fury against vicious pasts gone by... good luck in continuing to deal with it.

Anonymous said...

Take a bit of time to read up on Narcissistic Personality Disorder/NPD. Both your parents sound like they fit the bill. It may provide you a bit of relief to know what is driving them and why it has very little to do with you.

JLK said...

Thanks, anonymous. I'm pretty familiar with NPD. My dad was actually diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder when I was 11, but he's always believed it to be bullshit. I'm not sure that my mom actually fits the criteria for NPD or any other disorder, I think she's just incredibly selfish. I will definitely read up on it again though. I think I've spent so much time trying to figure out my dad that I've oversimplified my analysis of my mom.

Luckily, I feel like I know that none of their bullshit is because of me. I am more concerned about how much of that bullshit I've absorbed into myself and the way I am with people. Trying to work on figuring that out, and this blog just might help with that.

sandy shoes said...

unsolicited advice from someone who's been around that block, or at least in the neighborhood:

Should you marry again, never never never let anyone else pay for the wedding. They can hold it over you forever, and whether it's true or not, part of you will always feel like you owe them something. That's the kind of thing you really don't want clouding the issue in troubled times.

Best of luck with all of this.

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