Saturday, August 17, 2013

Letting Go of Your Past for the Sake of Your Children's Future

Hello friends.



This is a blog I have been wanting to write for a while, I just haven't been quite sure how to put it down on paper, so to speak. Many people know my history and the severely dysfunctional family I come from, but to put it out there in such a public forum has been a little daunting.

You know from my posts on my page that I am pretty passionate about my views on different topics. A lot of those views differ greatly from how I was brought up. But I thought you guys deserved to know where I am coming from most of the time, and so many of you have been so supportive and encouraging that I decided it was time to share.

I grew up in a small affluent community in the midwest, very white bread, everyone belonged to the country club and everyone went to the same church. Funny, since I was baptized in an Episcopalian church not too far away, but this church was Baptist. Must not have mattered, since it was closer to home. We had a golf cart, mom and dad played golf every weekend, they played in golf tournaments, went to parties, were very social, and all of that jazz. It was actually a nice place to live and grow up.

When I was 9 years old, all of that fell apart. My parents informed my two brothers and me that they were divorcing. My mother packed the three of us kids up and moved us back to Texas to be near my grandparents (NOT the go fishing, cookie baking, hugs and kisses type, trust me). This was the summer before I started 6th grade. With regards to the divorce, it was just nasty and so completely inappropriate with regards to what we were told. For years, my brothers and I were fed so much poison against my father from everyone from grandparents to aunts, uncles, and cousins.......everything was his fault, he was a terrible person, how could he have treated my mother that way, and so on and so on. I felt the need to grow up really fast, because I felt that I needed to take care of my mother and be strong for her. My older brother and younger brother stayed pretty clueless, and my older brother held onto such hatred for my father (and has to this day) that he was never much help. The few times I saw my father after the divorce, there was such animosity anytime he would try to pick us up or come into contact with any other family member that it just got really uncomfortable. At one point he came over to pick up my younger brother and me at my grandparent's house, and my grandfather walked out onto the driveway with a shotgun. Yeah. I was sitting in the car. Over the years my father and I had an on again/off again relationship, more because of me than him. I had so much negativity built up from all of the crap I had been brainwashed with about him, and I had a lot of growing up to do before I could really let go of it.

So fast forward a bit, and my mom remarried when I was 13. At that time, she was working for my grandparents who had their own business. My stepfather brought nothing to the marriage, but they managed to keep running the business, although not well enough for my grandparents to continue living in their house (they ended up moving to another town into a pretty crappy neighborhood). For years I watched my mom and my stepfather struggle, neither of them able to manage money worth a crap. They morphed the business into something a little different, but it was never very successful. I also watched my mother completely enable both of my brothers for years and even to this day, and they are both in their forties. My mother and stepfather were miserable. They weren't happy at home, they weren't happy at work, they made each other's lives hell for over 25 years. My stepfather left three years ago. He had been lied to for years, and while he was no saint (the first Thanksgiving I brought my then future husband home for dinner, he threw his fork across the table and screamed and left the table because he didn't want to say what he was thankful for), I really don't blame him. Watching them all those years made me realize exactly what I DIDN'T want in my life as far as a relationship was concerned.

My first realization that my parents were racist? My best friend in 6th grade was black. We are still friends, mostly through Facebook, and she is just gorgeous inside and out. But in 6th grade I was never allowed to go to her house, she was never allowed at mine, no sleepovers, nothing. These were the rules of my mother and stepfather. I never really got an explanation, and at one point I actually said to my mother that she was racist. My stepfather was so racist that to the day he left he would get angry that the black server at the coffee shop he went to wouldn't call him "Captain" (I am not kidding). My mother was NOT very happy with my comment. But she was then, and she is now. She is racist, intolerant, homophobic and ignorant on so many topics, and that infuriates the crap out of me.

I graduated high school in the top 7% of my class (there were like 450 of us, so not bad - class of '89, baby!), worked full time in child care to put myself through college, since there was never any illusion that anyone else was going to pay for it, and then had a very successful teaching career in public school. When I couldn't make ends meet living in an apartment on my own on a teacher's salary, I got a second job in retail. What a concept! I never asked anyone for money. (I am the only one in the family with a college degree.)

So I met my then future husband, we started dating, and married in 2003. I had our first daughter in late spring 2005 (with complications and a stay in the NICU), and I stopped working then. I am thankful every day that he has such a great career that I was able to stay home with her, and then continue to stay home when we had our second daughter in 2010. In 2006, we ended up moving to the Northeast for a little over 6 years, moving back to Texas about a year ago. Those 6+ years of living thousands of miles away really gave me a new perspective on so many things. I saw so many situations differently and I also saw how toxic a lot of them were, and how sucked into them I would get. I had the chance to become my own person, to build a life in a brand new town with new friends, new experiences, and new challenges, with people who didn't know me at all. It was actually really great.

Ok, so here's where it gets interesting. If you're still reading, you are my hero!!

When we moved back to Texas we moved back to where my brothers and my mother live. This was a huge point of discussion between my husband and me when we were deciding whether or not to move back. My older brother and his wife are just not nice people. They have done some really horrible things to me and my family, and though I have forgiven my brother, he is just not someone I can have in my life, much less around my children. My sister-in-law? She brings out the absolute worst in my brother. It's actually very sad. These are people that scream, yell, and cuss at their children. My brother has called his daughter an idiot, his son a "little shit", and other such colorful monikers. His wife is no better. That woman is just malevolent. I do not want, nor do I need, people like that around me. Oh but wait! They go to church! My mom loves to tell me how they go to church every Sunday and how involved they are. Too bad it doesn't seem to be sinking in at all. And the enabling? I could go on for ages. My mother has always been all about my older brother. I don't get it, but there it is. This is not jealousy talking, honestly. It's just a fact.

My younger brother is a former (I hope) drug addict. He says he has quit, but I just don't trust him. The fact that he ever even did drugs in the first place just floors me. He was a star football player in high school, a U.S. Marine, and I was so proud of him. His girlfriend is someone who has cussed my mother up one side and down the other, has thrown chairs at my mother, has lied to just about everyone, and loves to stab people in the back. Sounds like a winner, huh? Although I would love to have a relationship with him, since we were always close, I will NOT have her around my children. So it is what it is.

In the year we have been back, none of them have made any attempt to see us or communicate at all. I have always been the family mediator, the referee, and I am just not doing it anymore. My mother does not deal with this well. On one hand, I don't blame her, but on the other, she has enabled both of them so much their entire lives and she still does. My older brother and his wife owe her thousands of dollars that they refuse to acknowledge, and my younger brother basically tanked her business, her only source of income. She lost her house (long story, but it was her own doing), and she now has an apartment. She wants to live the life of a retired wealthy widow, but she never, ever planned for that kind of a life. I hate her situation, I hate that she let it happen, I hate that she is unhappy, but it's not up to me nor is it my responsibility to fix it. It has taken me a LONG TIME to come to that realization and be okay with it.

However, the jealousy and resentment towards me and my family is so palpable that it's hard to even have my mother over to my house. There are constant insinuations about what we can afford and how much things cost, and there are also constant requests for money. And this is someone who continually posts status updates about bible passages and other nonsense in between the absolutely hateful posts directed at Obama. My older brother will post something on his wall (or so I get told) about some wonderful thing that happened at church and then the next day he will post a status update laced with foul language berating some sports team, or Obama, or anything else he doesn't agree with. Such hypocrites. But you know what? I refuse to apologize for having a good life. I refuse to apologize for having a good marriage. My husband is amazing, he loves and respects me, he takes very good care of me and his daughters, and he works hard to do so. He does NOT work to support my mother, who is in a situation made of her own doing.

There is SOOOOOOO much more history here and so much more to the story, but I didn't want this to be a million miles long. Suffice it to say that I don't take the removal of people from my life lightly. But it is what is best for me, for my marriage, and for my children.

I do now have a relationship with my dad. It took a long time, but I have finally decided that the past is the past and there's nothing he can do to change what happened, but we can try to move forward. I want my kids to know their grandpa. And you know what? It's been amazing. We have fun together, we laugh, and my dad and my husband actually argue about who's going to pick up the check if we go out to dinner. You have no idea what a novel experience that is around here. The first time we spent time with him and my stepmom, my husband said, "Ohhhh! So THAT'S where you come from !" Ha! We can talk and debate without someone resorting to insults and swearing, and my dad actually has had some really good advice and encouragement for me when I share with him some of my frustrations about all the crap going on. I also now know a bit more of the story behind their divorce, things that make so much sense knowing my mother. Things I wish I had known a long time ago. I am thankful for him.

Ok so religion? A large part of my family consists of Baptist ministers and missionaries. I grew up in the bible belt. Some of these people are amazing, kind, generous people. But others are amazing and kind one minute, and hateful and judgmental the next. I have seen too many so called "Christians" behave in the most un-Christianlike ways possible, and it seems to be getting worse. I have no tolerance for that. I do not begrudge anyone their faith. Honestly, I envy those with a strong sense of faith. But what I do have a problem with is people who think their faith belongs in schools, in government, in public buildings. It does NOT. We should have respect for all. America was NOT founded on Christianity, people. In my opinion, agree with me or not, the bible is a work of fiction, changed so many times over the years that no one has any idea what the original work even said. It contradicts itself over and over, makes no sense a lot of the time, and was written by men who thought the world was flat. I'm sorry, but how is that any different from the Scientologists who follow a book by L. Ron Hubbard? Why couldn't I just take all seven Harry Potter books and from a new religion based on them? Voldemort as the evil one, Harry Potter as the savior? Why not? I believe in science and facts. I do have questions, I do have doubts, and that is why I would say I am agnostic more than atheist. I could go on, but I really don't want to offend any more people than I already have. And besides, I have covered this in prior blog posts.

Guns......oh boy. I honestly cannot get over the paranoia going on right now in the American Taliban (that would be the Tea Party and any other right wing nut stupid enough to believe the government is trying to repeal the second amendment). Gun restrictions have actually loosened during Obama's term. Again, all reasonable people want is for weapons capable of firing multiple rounds per minute to NOT fall into the hands of people who would use them to harm innocent people. I cannot figure out why that is so hard to understand. When the founding fathers presented the second amendment, they had absolutely NO IDEA that we would progress to the level of weaponry available today. They had muskets, revolvers, pistols, and bayonets. Cannons that took 5 or 6 men to move. I couldn't care less if you own a handgun. You have the right to protect your home and family. But no one needs to own a semi-automatic rifle, or a machine gun, or a gun capable of firing rapid, multiple rounds. No one.

Obama? I don't think he's done all that great a job, but he is the President of the United States, and I will give him the respect he deserves as such. I will NOT talk badly about him in front of my children, and his skin color has absolutely nothing to do with anything, much less his job performance. To me, it's kind of like your relatives. You can talk badly about them all you want, but if someone outside the family does it, there's hell to pay. It should be the same thing. My husband and I talk a lot about what's going on in our country, but we get really upset when people from other countries talk badly about our President and NO ONE says anything or steps up and says it's not okay. Because it's NOT okay. I think it makes us look really bad to the rest of the world.

Ok I'm gonna stop here. Partly because it's almost 3 a.m. and partly because this is already way long and those of you still reading are just freakin' saints. Seriously.

I hope this gives you a bit more insight into who I am and where I come from. If you still want to know more or you have a question, please don't hesitate to ask!

XOXOXOX

One Blunt Mom












3 comments:

  1. Wonderful post. I love the honesty. My upbringing wasn't exactly like yours, but it wasn't pleasant either. So that means I totally understand where you're coming from. I no longer speak to my mother or my brothers, and my sister is the only one I talk to anymore. Sharing this because more people need to see!

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  2. Hi, and thanks so much for commenting! So many people will say, "But they're your family!" Drives me nuts. Just because we're related doesn't mean I have to spend time with them. I have put up with too much for too long. It's not something I ever wanted, it's not something that makes me happy, but it is what is best for me and my family. I appreciate the share!

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