The Bane of My Existence

Night after night, sleep won’t come, or it comes then wakefulness from 3 AM on. Feelings of hate flood in towards the girl, now grown woman, who has caused so much pain over the years… my daughter-in-law. I feel mistreated and taken advantage of.

That has been the circle of feelings swirling for her since she graduated from high-school and began finding her voice. And the voice much mimicked the treatment I grew up from John, who is Tom in the book.

Never any surface talk or resolution of problems. Just an undertow of ways to take me down. I have supported her from the beginning, especially in financial ways, but in oh so many other ways. Too much perhaps because it feels like my real name is doormat..

For Shane’s graduation gift from college we gave him hundreds of dollars to return to Spain to visit his host family. She ‘borrowed’ money from Shane to go, which of course was never paid back. So she went on our dime.

She came to me in my little kitchen before their wedding proclaiming that these days the groom’s family helps pay for weddings. I shut down like a clam. I couldn’t even look at her. That disconnect and discord lasted a long time, because shoving down feelings causes that to happen.

And that is what this is about. When feeling hurt, misused, and taken advantage of, I shut down, then become cold and distant. So whatever the beginnings to the issue was, it all becomes my fault because I lack her charm in people relationships. This affects my relationship with my son as I clam up and become cold to him too, even more so.

In the ten years since their marriage, my ability to speak up has not improved, even when she keeps my newest grand-son from me because on that day I did speak up.

After seven hours of a crying baby, left with me when she returned to work, I handed him to her in tears saying, “He can’t come back until he can take a bottle.” He immediately grabbed onto her breast suckling furiously. 

She was taken aback, responding, “I know he missed me,” as if that were all it was. 

What I didn’t say was, ‘No, he was hungry! Babies at three months need rest, cuddling, warmth, and FOOD.’

She hadn’t trained him to take a bottle, and even if she did she had been unsuccessful at pumping milk. She arrived that day opening a can of formula for the first time. It was a recipe for disaster before the day began.

Speaking up to her caused two years of retaliation. He never did come back. He doesn’t know me, or anyone else. She left her job staying at home with a story about my incompetence which forced her to give up the job. So she had to keep him away me to keep her story true. 

Unexposed to others, including us, coupled with allowing him to have his own way by use of tantrums, she has created a two year old terror who bites, pinches, hits and grabs at anyone or everything he wants. He is very unpleasant to be around. And more than all that, two years of joy have been stolen from me.

Now she needs me due to a jury duty summons. I tried to care for him, but he is a little monster. After 5 hours of  tantrums and howling, her return to pick him up was a huge relief. Shane and I are at least talking about it. They are suggesting he come regularly for shorter periods once a week. But do I want to face this tyrant and do the work? Can it be turned around?

A few years back they moved to a bigger house. After our $5,000 gift for their new home to help with closing costs etc.. she immediately updated her already over-sized cell phone to one so big it barely fits in her pocket. And she bought new designer glasses after making statements around us about needing new glasses because it’s been two years.

She must believe we are a bank. If she registers a complaint, we will pay.  

This latest try at babysitting him has upset me greatly. It didn’t have to be like this. Had he been brought early on, and she’d gotten over herself, he would not be biting, slapping, and throwing himself down so hard on the floor that he hurts himself. We could have bonded. Now I wonder if it is too late. She created a monster with her petulance.

And, I should have spoken up more. Even if it didn’t bring the desired results, that of spending time with our grand-son, at least I would have made my position and feelings clear. But I did not know how. I do not know how now. 

There is something here that keeps coming back hard. My inability to speak up. And every time she manipulates a situation to her liking, I harbor resentment and pain. For years it affected my attitude and closeness with Shane.

I have worked very hard to overcome the tendency to withdraw, and becoming cold and distant. It has taken every bit of energy I possess. It also seemed with little or no success. But maybe there has been some success because we are talking. 

My tolerance of abusiveness from others keeps me awake nights, and stuck. It goes right to my core of pain, and cannot seem to be resolved. The only way to find peace is to stuff my feelings and accept my brokenness?  Because speaking up is not something that happens easily with me. It takes writing, then more writing, crying, and more crying. But eventually the words do come. Eventually some growth occurs. 


On Your Way Dear Son

photo by Patricia

Time to get your big girl pants on. Maybe you don’t need to be victim to your feelings. Maybe, to a degree, you can decide how to feel, or at least manage to concentrate on which feeling takes priority.

Cory, my youngest of two sons, left with his family back to Boston yesterday morning. In the past, Cory’s leaving caused a hole so wide it devastated me, making me want to run. The pain was too great lasting a few days.

It lessons as each year passes, and my interior world opens up with a feeling of home inside myself. I feel lucky and blessed to have such a son and his beautiful family— yet the blue feeling so familiar persisted when he left home once again.

Working at not feeling a feeling doesn’t help much. Methods used to move past the pain were many; calling a friend, emailing another friend, calling Cory on his journey home, talking to Samuel about my feelings, along with keeping very busy taking down Christmas decorations, doing dishes, laundry, vacuuming…nothing helped.

When sitting still the feeling became sharp, scraping uncomfortably on the inside of my belly and chest like little claws dragging their nails inside me. So I became a whirlwind of domesticity, but still no relief.

Feel your feelings, they will pass. You ought to be happy, Stop it, you’re being silly. None of these helped or gave the immediate relief demanded. Later in the afternoon a soft voice arose, only you can comfort yourself, no one else. There it was, the answer all along, and with it the soothing yearned for.  A hot shower streaming down washed residual pain away.

It is a good thing to reach out and talk about feelings, yet the answer lies within as it always has. You are the world possessing the ultimate ability to help yourself. You just don’t know it until you do.