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The unbeatable foe

September 18, 2007

Stubborn and determined to not let the bastards grind me down I feel, at times, like my resolve is weakening. I have spent the better part of 15 years, as those who know me may question, not talking about –well anything really, to part of my family. I married into this family and they have always been foreign to me.

I had never dated someone whose mother didn’t love me and whose father didn’t think I was funny. I even won over my BFF’s Tracyann’s parents who were so conservative and controlling of their daughter. I felt I always had this ability to make friends with people. I feel like I am easy to get to know. I think my friends, at least I hope they would feel this way, feel that I am open and friendly and I am not mysterious in how I think and feel. Sadly, I am an open book. Nothing really complicated about me. I am easily hurt, easily excited, easily engaged in whatever is at hand. Like a puppy except that I have a better long term memory. I swear I will totally remember NOT to pee on your couch or eat the last of the potato chips.

My husbands family, well a faction of it, has always proved impossible for me to crack. Just when I think I am on the brink of making it, really being friends and family with them–WA-PAH! Foiled again.

My MIL told me a few years ago, after Chica had been born, the reason she was never nice to me before was because I could just leave her son and then where would she be? She would have wasted all that time being my friend and then I would just leave. So now that we are married it is different.

Now just because I wrote that paragraph does not mean I condone or understand the logic there of. I think I have spoken about this before. It was a very telling moment for me in a haze of many years wondering exactly what I had done wrong. I concluded it must have been just the shear fact I had married D and they just didn’t like me. I guess I can’t make everyone like me and after about 9-10 years I just sort of excepted that fact and just tried my best.

When they say shitty things to me or about me I don’t argue. I don’t call them out. I involve our children in their lives, invite them to stay with us and visit and talk about them to the kids often. I don’t complain or make them feel bad when they disappoint me or the children. I don’t yell at them when they hurt my husband. I take a lot of shit from them and I don’t know why I do it? I am not a take shit kind of gal, in general.

I think they are mad at me. At us. I think they blame me for taking their son away from them and the family business so that I could go to school. I think they have always seen me as this person who berates D into doing things, even if it makes him unhappy, and therefore I am just something to be suffered and put up with for the sake of their son. My husband is like a mute-raised-by-wolves kind of guy when it comes to talking about his feelings or what he wants in life.

Gee, I wonder where that comes from?

But I digress.

I have always been the keeper of closeness. I call. I write letters and send photos of the kids. I call for the children and let them talk on the phone whenever they want. I try to plan things to do with them that the children will enjoy and they will like.

But no more. I am done. I am finished sucking up to people that have shit on me year after year after year. There have been conspirators in this war. My husband is not capable of speaking up for me or himself so much of what they do goes along and they are allowed to think whatever they think unchallenged by another opinion or idea. This has gone on for 15 years so the mold is not impossible to break.

So here I am stuck. Not as stuck as my husband though so I can’t really complain too much. Although it seems as though I am. I have always just wanted a nice and close relationship with his parents and will never get it. I get glimmers of what they think and feel but it is sparse and unpredictable.

I think about the big fight we had right before we left the Cape the first time. We were at our apartment and I really had had it. Done. Finished. I couldn’t stand not being considered an intelligent person working for his father. No respect. No support. No back up. His business was run in some ways in a manner that I was not use to. I was use to a degree of professionalism at the restaurants I worked at and I take my responsibilities very seriously. I was done. I had no life. I could only have a life that they allowed me to have in Ptown and I wanted out. My mother had died and we could live in her house. We were paying the mortgage. Donald was nervous. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want to let his parents down. It was all he ever knew. He would never stick up for me or take my side or be on my side when it came to his parents or this business that were supposed to be in together. I couldn’t take it. I was done. My mother dying was the first stone in the dam to tumble away that made it impossible for me to suck up my unhappiness and just live with it. I was leaving. That was that. I wanted him. I needed him. We had been together for 8 years and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. I told him he could stay. I wouldn’t be mad. But I was going.

He came with me and really it was the best thing. But it has been really hard for him to find another identity for himself. One that wasn’t carved out in legacy for him. I was never really welcome there so it was easy for me to leave.

I still feel guilty about that. I wonder if it would not have been better for D to stay in Ptown. We had not had children. It would have been easy to split at that point. Well, not really but less complicated.

I am grateful he stayed with me. I would literally die without him. We have been through so much together as a couple and I can look at his handsome face and still fall in love with him everytime.

I want to fix this thing with his parents. I am not sure how. I don’t know how to begin talking to them because we have never talked. Everytime I have tried to talk about my feelings, I stuck with nice ones, they always seemed shocked and uncomfortable that I was expressing how I felt about them. Lord knows what they would do if I said something unkind or unflattering. Thinking about that actually makes me feel a little sick to my stomach.

My head feels all woozy as I just paused then to think about what and how and where and when I would say all these things. I don’t ever really see it happening. If I were to say anything it would be that we expect to be held to the same standard that they expect of themselves. They come for 3 days at Christmas. I don’t hassle them about it. We say we wish you could stay longer and how much fun we have. They never come for any birthday celebrations because they travel and go on vacations for 2-3 weeks in the late winter/early spring. I don’t complain or treat them coldly for it. They live somewhere that is lovely to be and be outside. The children have friends there and we had a life there for 9 years so there is more to see and do than just them. My friends have children and my kids are friends with them. We like the beach, the forest, the trails, the outdoors. They do not. They like to sit in their living room and observe the children and read them books. Which is great. But not for 5 days straight. We don’t hassle them or make them feel bad for what they choose to do and we don’t want to be made to feel bad for what we choose.

That will never come to be. I fear that we will all live in misery and discontent over this. It is silly. It seems like a giant waste of time to me. They are the only family we have got. That is not a news flash because we have been together, D and I, for 15 years but when I said that to my MIL this summer, she burst into tears and would not tell me why. I have always wanted to do things together. They have not. I always want to be together. They do not.

I just don’t get it and I am tired of the wonder of it all hanging over my head all the time making my husband miserable. This really shouldn’t be that complicated. Is it complicated for everyone? Or just me.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. kate permalink
    September 18, 2007 10:19 pm

    Oh, Cole, my heart aches for you. The sheer throw-hands-in-air frustration! I have been so lucky with (my) D’s family in the sense that they like me and all, but they do their own fucked up things and it is SO hard to not say anything. And D’s experience with my family…way less than stellar; I vacillate between being disgusted with my folks and frustrated with D. And just in general- trying to sort through any morass of relationship bog just feels, well, impossible. I think you might understand what I mean when I say that I want everyone to be able to make their own choices but it’d be nice if they would just stop making the wrong ones! …Point is, lady, I can’t imagine that it’s not complicated for everyone.

    [Lots of love to you and D and the kids, I miss you peeps – (my) D says hi too!]

  2. murrow permalink
    September 19, 2007 5:37 pm

    I think misery and discontent are clear and it is familiar to me too. Talking and expressing feelings has not worked. Why should they? The only think that has worked for me is get straight with myself what my own expectations for them are and then laugh at myself for holding so dear any expectations about anybody. Hard truth: fairness, respect, love, attention – should we demand that it rain today?

  3. September 19, 2007 11:44 pm

    I wish I could say something wise and psychotherapeutic, but all I can think of is that some people make their own misery and expect others to read their minds and that is not humanly possible. I’ve seen people hold grudges til they were dead, for no good reason, when there would have been a lot less pain and more pleasure all around to just let the grudge go. Sometimes as people get very old, they forget what the grudge was about and become much more pleasant people to be around, more appreciative and loving. You’ve done all you can. You can only change yourself. You can’t change other people. I don’t know. That’s all the wisdom I can think of right now.

  4. September 22, 2007 9:20 pm


    They sound like the kind of people that only respond to and respect the exact attitude you describe adopting. No feelings.

    My in-laws are the no-feelings type. I love to joke around with them…Kind of in your face stuff.

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