Wednesday, February 15, 2012
In any case, we ended up talking about my husband's family. These people are crazy. The kind of crazy that looks, at first glance, like normal. As in, "I can't believe how nice your family is. They're so...sane." That's what I said to my husband the first time I had dinner with his family. Compared to my family of alcoholics and artists (often the same thing), his family seemed like the Brady Bunch. The kind of people who could wrap up any dilemma in a half-hour, including commercials. Admittedly I wasn't exactly great at recognizing "sane" having never seen it up close in my entire life. I was, however, an optimist. And completely unversed in dysfunction that wasn't readily apparent. Alcoholics at least offer up the advantage that they're clearly crazy. Drinking vodka at 8 a.m. out of a coffee mug is hard to ignore.
But then I got to know my husband's family. And it slowly (I mean s-l-o-w-l-y...over years and years) became clear that these people were dangerously crazy. For years, I thought it was me. Growing up with alcoholics made me something of an expert in accepting blame for pretty much anything that has been/is/might go wrong. So I took the blame...something my husband was happy to facilitate. I was too sensitive. I tried too hard. Expected too much. Didn't have a sense of humor. Couldn't just accept people. I worried too much. And on and on.
So I spent a decade trying to dance on broken glass while juggling plates over my head and trying not to get hurt. And I failed miserably every single time.
And then came the day when I learned of my husband's affair. I curled into a ball and shut out as much of the world as I could. I had noticed how much his affair partner (the one I knew about at that time) was like his mother: cold, critical, cruel. Fat. (Immature of me, I know. But she was!) And yet, like with his mother, he couldn't seem to extricate himself from her though he could barely stand to be in the same room as her.
All Freudian analysis aside, it was a bizarre situation that ultimately gave me the freedom to distance myself from my husband's mother. I allowed myself to lick my wounds, free from her criticism and cruelty. (I had said to my husband that, given my fragile emotional state, he took his chances putting the two of us in the same room. His desire to keep her ignorant of his adultery overshadowed his desire to be the dutiful son with the dutiful wife.) And though much of my life sucked at that time, the fact that she was only marginally in it was a bright spot.
Fast forward to today:
My husband, having since confessed a sex addiction that he and a band of supporting psychologists/psychiatrists agree is rooted in his mother's cruelty, criticism and ultimately non-existent nurturing, wants me to spend "Family Day" (a fabricated Canadian holiday that most families seem to spend trying to find childcare for their children) with his mother.
Wha??? I want to scream. This isn't, of course, the first time he's asked me to bury the hatchet...and not in her back, though that's an invitation I might accept.
My incredulity comes from the fact that, in my estimation, he allowed her to bully and badger me for years, has asked me to accept her poor mothering as the catalyst for an addiction that brought me to my knees, and now just wants us all to get along. And by "get along" he means allowing her to behave like a petulant toddler while the rest of us sigh and chalk it up to, "well...that's just mom."
As I'm forever writing on this blog, I know I'm in charge of my own emotions...and expecting him to change simply because I don't like this part of him is an exercise in futility. The relationship between a child and his/her mother is a complex one, frequently more complex the deeper the dysfunction.
Unfortunately though, this feels like yet another abandonment by him in a relationship marked by abandonment. Yeah, yeah...the past is the past. I know. But when the past keeps on sneaking up on me and biting me in the ass, then it quickly becomes the present. And I would prefer a present in which my husband stops sacrificing me on the alter of his mother.
I've been sacrificed quite enough, thank-you.