A couple days ago, my father-in-law came over, we’ll call him F, to sit and chat with husband, H. At some point in time, F brings up the fact that mother-in-law, M, is hopping mad at H. H asks why? And this leads us down a rabbit-hole-discussion of disaster. F brings up a couple points I see as valid, a couple that I do not.
One of the things I see as not valid, is that M is mad that *we* are not having Easter dinner at *our* house this year. So, first off, we don’t have holidays at our house. M is the hostess-extraordinaire. She loves throwing parties and having people over. By default, we assume that all holiday meals will be at their house. Secondly, part of the reason I said no what I was either misinformed, misunderstood, or H was misinformed about the reasons why M wanted us to host dinner. What H repeated to me made it seem like F & M were not getting along well with one of their mutual friends, who is always invited over for holidays, and wanted an excuse to not invite mutual friend over. I said, that’s dumb, why would *we* not invite mutual friend over as well? I dunno what’s going on with them, but I’m not going to help them play some petty / passive-aggressive game. Fuck that. However, it seems that maybe the reason is that they’re having various parts of the house painted, so things are all in confusion, and cooking in their kitchen is not possible. Ok… well… if I’d know THAT a week ago, I might’ve said “yeah sure whatever we can have dinner here.”
This lead into a discussion about “traditions” and F asking why H & I don’t seem to care about them. So H went on to explain that their traditions are not things that are particularly enjoyable for either of us. I don’t HATE them, don’t get me wrong. I do like the idea of getting together on holidays, but it doesn’t need to be this long, involved, all-day thing. But his point is more… It’s a day like any other day, to us. Most holidays are religious, so for both of us, there’s no meaning to them. Easter Sunday = Zombie Jesus Day. Christmas = Saturnalia. Thanksgiving = Try Not To Burn The House Down Day. We’re both atheists, so literally any religious holiday I couldn’t care less about, other than hey it’s a free day off of work!
So then F goes on to say that it isn’t so much about the holiday itself, but rather about the sense of family, community, and belonging that is associated with holidays. Ok, maybe some people are ok with pretending to like family members on special occasions because it is “expected” of them, but that shit doesn’t fly for me. Especially not when others don’t even make an attempt to engage me in conversation, leading me to believe that they wouldn’t even notice if I wasn’t there. That’s not community, that’s not belonging. That’s tolerating other people because it is the socially accepted thing to do, and how DARE you break that boundary. So again, fuck that shit. I’m not going to tolerate shitty people because “society” thinks I should. I’m not going to put my own mental health in danger and stress myself out by being in a situation that I don’t like simply to please somebody whose opinion I don’t care about anyway.
And unfortunately, it took me so long to write this on Saturday, that it extended into Sunday and now I have a sort of off-shoot of this conversation to dwell on. M decided to take to fb to rant about our opinions on holidays and “family time”. You know, without mentioning any names, being totally passive-aggressive about it. Yeah, I get it, this post in and of itself is a bit passive-aggressive, but look, my therapy appointment isn’t until Thursday and I gotta figure out how to not be pissed off for the rest of the week. Anyway. So up goes this post complaining about how “younger folks” don’t seem to value “family time” anymore and how “did we lose the importance of just being together on a special day?” Oh, and let’s not forget the complaint about how communication just SHOULDN’T be done by text message, but someone else never calls either, and that “family time” should be spent “catching up”, but then when we finally all get together, as soon as there is 2 seconds of silence, somebody has to pipe in with a sarcastic “woo hoo the excitement!”
So let’s go in order.
- Younger folks – Frikkin’ ageism pisses me off to no end.
- Family time – I try to reach out to you, you don’t ever seem to want to get back in touch with me. I dunno what you want.
- Special day – It’s Easter. That’s a dumb religious holiday. I’m not religious, therefore it is not special. So we get together the day before, or next weekend. It’s not like we NEVER see you. So, what’s the big deal?
- Texting – Half the time when I call, you either don’t answer the phone, or are running errands and can’t take time out to talk. So, I text, because I know you’ll read it and get back to me at your convenience. But, if I ask you to call me, and then you don’t, well…
- Catching up – Since we live in a very connected time with social media and cell phones, catching up isn’t quite what it used to be. And, you all are much chattier than my family ever was, so it’s not like there’s tons of stuff that happens in the few days we don’t talk, versus a whole month that it would be when I was growing up.
- Woo hoo, excitement! – Look, you bitch we never talk or get together, and then when we DO finally get together and there’s a lull in the conversation, you try to get a jab in that we aren’t interesting enough for you? The fuck??
I don’t get it. ALL OF THIS ASIDE. I tried to be above this, and I sent a “happy easter” text message (despite this going against the verboten texting clause) because I knew she was going to be at the buffet / casino, and probably wouldn’t hear her phone. I also included a “hey let’s all try to get together for dinner next weekend” because ok, she wants to spend time together, let’s try to spend time together.
And I get nothing.
Not a word.
Not even an acknowledgement when they stopped in for a few minutes to say hi that she received my text.
How. How do I deal with someone that states, to others, that she wants a relationship with me, but whenever I try, I get nothing. And when I don’t try, I get passive-aggressive shit on fb. (Or, she complains to other people like H or F, and then I sometimes hear about that.)
I’m not sorry I’m not some little cookie cutter individual that conforms to whatever your twisted ideal of a daughter is. I’m not sorry for who I am, what I say, or what I believe (or don’t believe). I’m not sorry I’m not stuck in the past, upholding traditions simply for the sake of “we’ve always done it this way.”
I REFUSE to feel bad about how I feel.