Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Very Ugly Post-Birth Saga, Episode 2

Thank you guys for all your support. It's also nice to have some pats on the back for Mr. Right. I'm so grateful to have him in my life, and he feels the same way about me. We're a couple of very lucky dogs, even more so thanks to the Bee's presence in our lives.

Soooo... Where were we? Okay, this is what N wrote in response to Mr. R's well thought missive (these next few exchanges are brief):
"Goodbye and good luck… you’re gonna need it."

[My initial thought was, "Why am I going to need luck? I don't receive any kind of support from my mother. What, precisely, am I going to miss out on? Agita?"]

Mr. R's reply:
"Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out..."

N's reply, also sent to me & my mom:
"Just thought you’d all like to read what Mr. R has to say… I think what I might do is save this little exchange and pass it along to Anna when the guard dogs aren’t present…"

What N didn't realize is that Mr. R sent his initial response to not only her and my mother, but also to me and my father. He then sent the following e-mail to everyone, including my brother:

So, here you go guys! Pass it along to Anna. And [Anna's Father]. And [Anna's Brother]. And [Anna's Mother]. and the rest of the family as well.

Here you go everybody! Enjoy! Gossip Gossip Gossip. What an evil little shit Anna's Husband is, standing up for her. I tell ya.

Hey [Anna's Brother]! How ya feelin? Isn't this fun? Let's see how badly this gets out of hand. I'm really looking for a family tussle right now...

Oh yeah everybody - don't forget to read from the bottom up... LOL

Eeeeevil Little Shit."

Oh, good Lord, he's such a wise ass. So was my brother. This all happened the same day. The day before the Bee turned one week old. The only e-mail I don't have is the last one: N sent a reply that was an apology. She realized that she had been wrong, she should absolutely not have gotten involved and she understood Mr. R's stance. She congratulated us on the birth of our son and wished us all the very best.

Mr. R brushed it off, but I chose to accept the apology. If you were going to believe and accept any of it, then you had to accept all of it. This was a woman I had grown up with whom I recalled being funny and firm, generous and kind. They were happy to let us visit and use their pool, their house in Sunny Vacation State, their computers when I needed to work on my resume after graduating from college. She cut my hair, and braided it for my high school graduation. So it really hurt to have received this scathing e-mail from her. However... I know that this is what my mother does. She pleads her case, appeals to someone and makes herself looks like a victim: "My OWN daughter won't let me come to visit my only GRANDSON!!" Oh, I can hear it now... She whips people into a frenzy until they'd gladly go to hell and back for her, not realizing they'd been cleverly manipulated. I know because I have been manipulated by her before. She's really good at it, and for years she knew just how to push my brother's buttons. He'd already be in the air before she could finish saying "Jump!" And her control and manipulation of my brother is something I have a very difficult time with, but that's another post in and of itself.

So things died down, and eventually my mother called to check in on me and the baby... and pretended none of the above ever happened. As per usual. Trying to talk to her about any of this stuff is an act of sheer folly, as she can never acknowledge that she did anything wrong - she is always the victim in any situation! So I didn't bother to bring it up. Hey, I'm no glutton for punishment...

A few months later, we brought Bee out to visit my mother and see some of her family. She had some of her aunts over, and her cousin N. People brought gifts for the Bee, which was nice. N was friendly and told Mr. R in the kitchen, "He really is just beautiful." To which Mr. R replied coldly "Thank you." She kind of shrank under his steely gaze and told my mother she really had to go.

Later that day we went to visit my brother, which was a sad visit. I had no idea he had deteriorated so. He could barely move his arms, he was on pureed food, and he could only manage a word or two as a whisper. He did get to see Bee, though, and his eyes widened. We met up with one of my cousins and her husband for dinner then stayed at a hotel. The three of us drove back to our home state the next day and enjoyed the leisurely day.

Eventually, procrastinator that I am, I wrote N a thank you note. Here is the letter I included:
"Dear N,

I hope this letter finds you well and in good spirits. I hope your family is doing fine.

I just wanted to address something that has been hanging over me for the last few months. I never liked ignoring things and pretending they never happened. I think it’s better to get it out, talk about it, resolve it and move on. Life is way too short to be angry or hold grudges. I can completely understand why you called and e-mailed after Bee was born and my mom called you. Many times I have been in the same place. When you see someone you care about so upset and hurt, sometimes you can’t help but want to rise to their cause. I’ve done it myself (for my mom) on numerous occasions. It did take me quite a while to realize that no matter how convincing one side is, there are always two sides to every story. One of the reasons my brother and I drifted apart over the past seven years was due to similar exchanges. It went like this: My mom and I would have a telephone conversation. She would misconstrue something I said, usually in passing. She would get upset and talk to my brother, hurt by the perceived insult. Will, enraged that I could possible say [fill in the blank] to our mother, would call me, harass me and threaten me (“I’ll make your life miserable, I’ll make your life a living hell, you know I have a gun and know where you live”, etc.) before I could get him to tell me what the problem was. Every time he told me, it was always something that had been said innocently, or without any hidden meaning. As an adult, I have never said anything deliberately rude or cruel to my mother. I do have a tendency to be blunt, so I can certainly see where she might take things the wrong way. What makes this odd is I would never dream of talking to my mother the way [my brother] sometimes talked to her.

After each exchange, I would call my mom and clarify the statement in question. I always asked her to call me if I said something that might have rubbed her the wrong way, or if she took offense to anything I said. She promised that she would, but she never did. I would get a call from [my brother] and have to deal with the triangulation cycle all over again. For whatever reason, that’s just the way she is, and I’ve accepted that. She doesn’t see this as a behavior that needs changing, so I’ve learned to adapt. Every family has their own little idiosyncrasies, usually to one degree of dysfunction or another.

Hindsight is 20/20. After your initial phone message, I should have called my mother. Yes, this would be continuing the whole triangulation thing, now with someone new, but this is how it goes. Even my dad suggested I call my mother directly to diffuse and clarify. Frankly, at the time I was exhausted and overwhelmed. And maybe a little hurt that my mom couldn’t understand. I didn’t want to keep triangulating. I just wanted to try to eat, sleep and learn how to take care of my son. Then your e-mail was sent to Mr. Right. He was furious that you were involving yourself, and he was overprotective of our new family and me. I read the e-mails; I was pretty shocked too. I also could imagine how upset my mother must have sounded to compel to action. I’ve heard her that way also, many times, usually about my dad. It can really light a fire in your belly to fight and defend those you love. I guess what I’m saying is that I’ve been there and I understand where you were coming from. At the time I wasn’t prepared to deal with any of it, but I thought it should be addressed. I sincerely appreciated your acknowledgement and apology.

You are such a wonderful and dear confidant to my mom; I’m so glad that she can call you friend as well as cousin. I have always admired you while growing up. I remember you laughing a lot and being a fun person. What impressed me and what I remember most about you was your kindness to me and understanding when I put the toothpicks in [your daughter’s] pillowcase. You were firm, but not over emotional. I can remember thinking, even as a young girl, that when I grew up I wanted to be that kind of an understanding mother. It made sense to me then, and it hits home even more now that I am finally a mom.

Mr. R has since calmed down, and he thanks you for your gifts for Bee as well. We will use them in good health with the best wishes. After trying so hard for so long, seeing his beautiful smiling face and hearing his laugh make the countless injections, blood draws, ultrasounds, procedures and dashed hopes all worthwhile. We’re just so grateful to have the opportunity to be parents, and I’m also grateful that I was able to experience pregnancy. We are so very blessed to be entrusted with this wonderful little boy to love and rear, and we owe it to him (and to ourselves) to do the very best we can.

On that note, I hope you and your family are all well and enjoying the summer as it draws to a close. I send my love and best wishes to you and your family; I look forward to seeing you again soon, and giving you a hug." And then I signed it.

How would holding onto this anger help me or my family? I didn't want to stay angry - it takes too much goddamn energy, and frankly I'd rather focus my energy on my husband and son.

Tomorrow I'll sum up her handwritten response to me. Thanks for being there while I work through all of this.


At 5/30/2007 2:21 PM, Blogger LeggyP said...

Just reading this is exhausting. I can imagine its been quite tiresome and overwhelming living through it. Good luck- I'm hoping N. was decent in her response, but it sounds like how you ended this, that it probably wasn't? Ugh!

At 5/30/2007 2:55 PM, Blogger Anna said...

No, it's really not bad. She was very decent. I don't have time or the typing skills to write up her letter word for word, but I'll sum it up tomorrow. Hey, just a little something to keep your mind occupied while waiting for your twins to finish baking and arrive!

At 6/02/2007 1:07 AM, Blogger Manuela said...

Erm... more tough love coming from me...

I recognize SOOOO much of my own behaviours in that BEAUTIFUL letter you wrote. However... Anna... darling Anna... do you see how you are ingratiating yourself WHEN YOU DID NOTHING WRONG??? Do you??? You are clearly a kind and loving person, but for heaven's sake, you did NOT deserve that treatment! If N has known you as well, and for as long as you say... it was completely DISGUSTING for her to treat you the way she did. Honestly. Disgusting.

I do realize I am very likely projecting some of my own anger into this situation... but since I've recently found the temerity to stand up to my own NPD mother, I'm finding myself all the more protective of YOU!

Much love, my friend.

At 6/03/2007 7:03 PM, Blogger NME said...

This is quite a muddle. And it must have been so exhausting to have had to deal with it all right after having a baby - like you don't have enough going on.
I think what you did was beautiful. Sometimes you just have to be the bigger person and put stuff behind you - for your own good. For we all make mistakes and when we do it is wonderful when we are granted forgiveness even when maybe we don't deserve it.


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