Upcoming Jitters

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by Gapaya, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. Gapaya

    Gapaya New Member

    I'm going through something that has occupied my mind and zapped my emotional energies to no end for the past two weeks.

    I have a son who, since age 15, has been estranged from my side of the family ever since my divorce from the ex, his father, for the past 25 years. At the time of my separation, I never would have thought that things would turn out the way they did when I finally decided to leave the ex but, there it is, many things happened and it's in the past. My daughter, who eventually lived permanently with me nineteen months later, had occasionally tried to contact her brother over the years but that has always been more her decision than his. He can take it or leave it but I'm willing to bet he just goes along.

    My own brother, who I only see once in a while during the summer; he lives in Arizona during winter months, got wind of the fact, about five years ago, that my son was living in an area not too far from where he has his acreage here. Without even asking about how I felt about them contacting my son and his new wife because, let's face it, they don't comprehend the unease of estrangement, they took it upon themselves to get to know them. My son and his wife really like my brother and sister in law; however, the same can't be said about feelings and behaviour towards me. I always have the feeling I'm not up to snuff in their eyes and just get bad vibes when I'm around them. Because I felt I should be co-operative and accommodating with the few visits that have transpired since this 'blessed reunion,' I have participated in children's parties and Christmas visits both at my brother's and my son's places. Needless to say, my son's attitude is usually frosty even though we do exchange some pleasantries regarding his kids but rarely does it go beyond that. When my brother has a big family BBQ I feel ignored and left out of conversations when they are around yet they are outwardly super-duper with everyone else.

    Anyway, I'd been willing to go along with this charade because I think since the get-togethers don't occur very often I should just put up and shut up and not rock the boat. Plus their little boys are sweet so I had taken some comfort in that. But it all came to a head for me a couple of weeks ago when my three grandchildren from both my kids were being feted for their birthdays all in one party because we thought it would be easier that way and we could gift them all at the same time. Thing is, in hindsight, I should have left while I was ahead because my daughter in law got feeling pretty good from wine towards the end of the night and started telling me things that I didn't think, even if she felt them in her mind, she would blurt out so as not to cause friction but, invariably, she did.

    So now, since that has happened, I made the decision to stay away from their home from now on because the tension I felt getting there and being there is now not worth trying to please my primary family or daughter over. But to quell my bad habit of not wanting to upset the apple cart means I have to be strong about not playing this fraudulent happy game and deciding not to participate in this toxic situation any longer. My siblings, especially my brother and his wife, think that the son and daughter-in-law are the greatest so there's that hurdle to overcome. I haven't divulged my feelings and concerns to my primary family because, of course, I don't know what the outcome would be and not sure I want to repeat my daughter in law's comments about me to them or to tell them about my son's dismissive attitude towards me in case my sister-in-law starts getting on the phone as a go-between or to gossip. I feel she should concentrate on her own daughter who never comes to these obligatory BBQ sessions, but that's another story.

    We have a big do coming up, July 4th, which will include closely-related family from south and west of the country and 'I should' see them because, a: they want to see everyone and b: there are many years between visits with respect to some of those relatives. I want to, at the least, make a showing and make them feel like they had a nice trip with the time they spent here. They are combining a wedding for a niece with this visit at our end of the region. Of course my son and daughter in law are included in this but I'm not thrilled to see them this close to that last incident so I have to avoid them while trying not to be self-conscious since it was my character and likability that she called out during the wine-drinking episode. My daughter in law's family is invited too but I want to keep my distance from all of them even though they CAN be nice (who knows who to trust anymore).

    I know I might be overreacting because of the toll this has taken on my emotional well-being but I'm upset and indecisive about what to do about this upcoming week-end. No one can be expected to understand unless I go into a long and nuanced narrative about how this has affected me and the ramifications of having it gossiped about to the very people I don't want to offend or have to confront about at a time like this. Remember, to anyone else, it's not a big deal the way it is with me.

    I'm writing on this forum I recently discovered because there's no one to turn to, including my daughter, who I'm distanced from, and vice versa, because she has an issue about where my apartment is located. Even my grandson, who I had been involved with pretty extensively since his birth, is not allowed to visit me at my place although I do babysit him one day a week at his place. Visiting his dad's relatives; however, is all very fine and good though. Actually, my daughter in law threw by daughter under the bus that night as well although my daughter doesn't know that and telling her right now would take some nerves of steel on my part because I'm too vulnerable and don't know how she would take it.

    I know I need help and therapy to deal with this but having enough funds for my rent and food is also high on my priority list and having to take care of those needs is tough enough time and energy wise. My resources for things like public transportation are nil and trying to at least pick up some work requires having to get there on my own dime which I don't have. I suffer from depression and anxiety and trying to hold it together because sometimes I'm afraid of losing it a little. Everybody else is getting on with their lives and their own concerns and I sit and stew because I can't go anywhere.

    While some people want to see their adult children, I'm the opposite because I know some of this angst I'm having is the result of their treatment and I just want to be left alone and not have to put up with ignorance about not being in the right neighbourhoods and so on when, in fact, the neighbourhood is perfectly fine. The only one who visits from my family is my sister.

    I'm trying to join some meet and greets and get involved in community activities but one can feel pretty low when you're not a part of the work force and spending all your time deciding about career, feeling worthy of a decent job because of all the lay-offs happening and dealing with government programs to help tide you over. Having been recently diagnosed as anemic is just another hurdle to overcome and the side effects from the medication are a never-ending struggle.

    So, to recap, I'm going to take this burden this week and try to resolve it by making excuses and maybe making a showing at BBQ later on in the evening when son and daughter in law have or are almost gone home. The thing about this is the constant struggle not to feel the guilt that society imposes on someone like me who should not be the selfish mother that I seem to be to some people. I was hurt by everything that happened 25 years ago including my kids' unwillingness to see me and not being able to share custody because of my ex's influence and had learned to move on but the stigma continues. Also, there is no bond that exists on both our parts (son and me) that people just don't get I guess. I was warned of that then but going back to a manipulative husband was not an option so those risks taken then are reverberating now and probably always will. There is also a socio-economic divide between I and the rest of the family (with some exceptions) that makes it easier for the 'middles' to relate and associate rather than someone like me who has had to struggle on my own because I'm single. Time to start dating and meeting people!

    Sorry I was long but thanks for the venting if only to put pen to paper as I feel good that I took the time to write to a community of people going through similar situations. I hope my sig registers.

    I've been reading a lot of cognitive behavior theories this week that espouse putting oneself and one's feelings above everybody else's and not worrying about their opinions of you. I know, I know, very difficult with an upbringing like mine coupled with societal values.

    Good-bye and take care everyone!
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    You may want to join three of us from this forum on Watercooler in our "Family of Origin thread" which is quite long (we use FOO for Family of Origin). At least you can read some of it and see what we are doing to cope with difficult families.

    I can only imagine your discomfort. I prefer to stay away from drama, but that's me. Once my kids are adults, I don't feel I have to "be a good mother" anymore...we are all adults making decisions. But that again is my way of handling things. I don't have a large family that gets together a lot either...that would have made my journey much worse and more complicated.

    At this time in my life, I tend to stay away from drama, wherever it is.

    Only you know what you can handle. There is no right or wrong way to behave. You are perfectly entitled to take care of YOUR needs first. You raised your kids and you are a fully grown adult who doesn't need her family's across-the-board approval anymore.

    You left out a lot of details so all I sense from your post is the discomfort. I would be one to support you in lessening your discomfort by either not going or going later on so you don't see your son and wife. Also, remember, you can not control anything another person does. You have no control over anybody except yourself. We all have this dilemma. Therefore, whether you approve or don't approvae of family reaching out to your estranged son and wife without including you, they are free to do as they want and we are free to decide to really get mad and have it affect our lives or to accept it and let it go. I learned from a long, long trek that being angry about something doesn't help or change anything a nd I also believe that hanging around with family, yes even family, that you are uncomfortable around is a choice, not a mandate.

    I hope you can find some peace :) Welcome to the forum :)
  3. Gapaya

    Gapaya New Member

    Thank you Somewhere. Love the dogs by the way...awwww! I like the article on detachment and plan to download it as an occasional point of reference.

    Like people who will say, "I'm too old for this," I'm beginning to be one of those because of the neuroses it's causing. I'll be relieved when this week-end is over. Peace.