I was just thinking the other day about how nice it was that my dad hadn’t started any conversations with the phrase “your mother…” in a long time. I was thinking it was nice that he had either stopped acting as her enabling emissary or I hadn’t done anything worthy of passive-aggressive anger in a while.
Then we had Sunday.
The day had been lovely. The whole family was at the shore house for the weekend and we had spent several hours in the sand before throwing in the beach towel due to wind. As we were coming off the beach, Dad said to me, “You know, your mother…”
Oh, come on.
Apparently Mom had been nursing a grudge over something I said to my sister on Facebook about her posting a picture of herself in which her house number is visible. I didn’t remember doing it, so I looked it up. What I said was “have you gotten any messages about the visible house number?” It was a perhaps not-so-oblique reference to my mother messaging me and lecturing me about my house number in a photo. Mind you, I was not in the photo and the photo did not show what my house looked like. Unlike my sister’s post.
My father wanted to tell me that I should be more considerate of my mother’s feelings given what I went through with my stalker.
Um… I’m sorry, what?
“Let me put it this way,” he said. “Think about how you would feel if someone you loved went through something like what you went through.”
Are you serious right now?
I had zero patience for this exchange because hi. I’m the one who actually had the stalker. I’m the one who lives with that every day. I’m the one looking around every time I enter or leave my house or my car or whatever. I’m the one who is always aware. I went out of my way, in spite of my own feelings, to make sure all the ducks were in a row before I even told my mother about it so that she would worry as little as possible about my safety. I did as she asked and texted her every blessed morning for three weeks to let her know I was still alive (not kidding – she made me text her every morning so she knew I was still alive) after he had been arrested and before I could move to another place. And though it was a wake-up-and-this-is-what-I-have-to-think-about-first reminder of what I was dealing with, I understood and did it. I was very open about everything that happened so my mother would never feel that she was being left out. I didn’t love the idea of her coming to court because it would upset her, but I knew she needed to be there for herself, so fine. And I didn’t want her to come to the governor’s award luncheon because I was concerned that hearing the story and its impact again would bother her. But she pushed and pushed and I couldn’t tell her why I didn’t want her to come, so I got tickets for them. That was the day I got my job offer, and she refused to have a drink with me to celebrate. I don’t recall her so much as getting off the couch to celebrate the announcement.
So if I can get a break for five minutes from considering my mother’s feelings about my stalker, and considering what might happen at any given time as a result of any one of my actions, I’d like to enjoy that sweet freedom without my mother putting the thought of that situation back in my head. Thanks.
Nope. Apparently not.
But as I tried to explain my feelings in this regard, he cut me off and told me to meet him halfway – he understood my point about it being unfair to put her worries on me. Then he said he thought I should think more about her feelings because he’s starting to see more and more of my grandmother coming out in my mother.
At this point, my nephew came running up to hold my hand as we walked to the house and effectively ended the conversation.
My grandmother was a very fearful person. She wasn’t a bad person and she wasn’t totally crazy like my aunt, but she did have some phobias – by definition, irrational concerns. They governed her behaviors. And that’s what my dad was referring to.
Well… here’s the thing: I’m not going to enable or indulge those fears or concerns. It will not help my mother, and it will only hurt the rest of us. She knows, and Dad knows, what it was like to cope with my grandmother’s tendencies. So if she’s getting that way, then Dad, you need to get her some help.
But since he had shut me down and my nephew had clinched it, I couldn’t say that.
Yet, the next day, it was all still bothering me, and I didn’t appreciate having been silenced by an “end of discussion” admonishment. He was the one who brought it up, after all. So I emailed him, choosing my words carefully but standing firm in my feelings. I let him know that I was upset that they thought I didn’t consider her feelings, given all of the ways I had. And I told him that if he really feels that her tendencies are similar to my grandmother’s and that they’re unhealthy, then she should get help, and that though it may sound harsh, I would not enable or indulge the behavior.
Then my anxiety level ratcheted up another notch as I waited for his reply.
It came several hours later, and consisted of telling me that my mother was fine at the award luncheon and only wanted to recognize what I had accomplished, and that he would NEVER (his caps) bring up what he was seeing in similarities between my mother and grandmother again, and that when it comes to health issues, THEY will decide what to do.
And then he told me these kinds of conversations should be face-to-face. Which I would have done if he hadn’t shut me down.
I’m sorry he feels that way. I think he’s wrong to imply that his daughters shall have no say in whether our mother, who we all know has struggled with mental health issues, should get help. I think he’s wrong to try to make me feel bad about telling him what I think, since he brought it up.
And I feel like shit, because I’m the daughter and my dad is mad at me.
Thirty-six years old and I’m still here. Coming home from a beach on a day when I had gone to a gray mood in my head during Mass because of Jack, but hidden it. Disallowed to tell my father how I feel about what he’s approaching me for, and in addition, deprived of any credit for consideration of my mother’s feelings, and faulted for my own.
Turns out, one of the lessons I’ve learned from the situation with Jack will be applied to areas other than my love life. I will not be made to feel guilty for standing up for myself and my feelings.