Monday, December 13, 2010

Is Paris Worth a Mass?

 I'm having a fight with Jedi's mother... (And by extension I suppose, his father.) Have I nicknamed them yet? Hmmm... Perhaps I shouldn't nickname them while I'm in foul mood. But, I mean, after all, if Jedi is Jedi... shouldn't his parents be Darth Vader and whats-her-name?  (Actually, Jedi's ringtone for his mother is the imperial death march that's the Dum Dum Dum from Star Wars...) So, I suppose it's appropriate to dub them Darth (mom) and Vader (dad). Let's go with that, huh?

It's kinda funny, because I've never had an issue with his parents before. I mean, anyone would tell you that they're the nicest people, but right now I'm just so angry with them that I just want to say to hell with it for the wedding. I just keep thinking-- do I really want to be shackled with these people for the rest of my life?  Sure, Paris is worth a mass... but is Jedi?

Ok, ok, yes, I'm being melodramatic as is my wont, and it's this same flair that got me into trouble in the first place.  So, here's a little background to catch up up quickly:

Vader reconnected with an old friend of his --we'll call him Tom-- on facebook. They hadn't seen each other in 20 years and then suddenly, within a few days of reconnecting Vader unilaterally invited them to come up and visit.  Tom then invited himself to stay overnight for 2-3 nights.

Now, when Darth related this story to me she did so laughingly but also in saying that she was annoyed that Vader had invited them without asking her, and that she found it weird and creepy that they were staying 3 days, these people were virtual strangers, etc. On top of that both this guy and his wife have been unemployed for a long time.  I told her she should stand up for herself, grow a spine etc...  (laughingly, mind you! But I stand by it!) and then made some further jokes about how they were probably grifters who were coming to live with them to take over their lives and that I better send Jedi over that weekend to make sure they were still alive. Darth laughed & agreed and we went about our merry ways.

The Monday after the weekend I happened to be at Darth's office (if you recall, we all work in the same place, which is how I met Jedi-- Blind date set up by Darth's boss Ramses.)  I decided to stay for lunch and people were talking about what they did over the weekend.  Darth mentioned her visitors and I made another joke about how they were lucky they hadn't been killed and how Tom totally looked shady in his pictures. I had his picture on my phone (through facebook) and I handed it to Ramses and I joked, "Doesn't he look like he belongs on "To Catch a Predator" or something?" (BTW readers, he TOTALLY does.  The joke may have been in poor taste (ymmv, I didn't think so) but I stand by my assertion that he would fit right in on this page. Even if perhaps I shouldn't have said so.)  Well, Darth laughed (even though she's now claiming she didn't,) and said, "You're so silly," and the conversation moved on and that was it. Or so I thought. Hell, we even went and looked at wedding invitations after that! Darth seemed totally normal and in good cheer. (***make note of this because it's where my major source of ire comes in.)

Well, several days later (because this happened on a MONDAY, mind you) Jedi is at his parents' house and his dad comes up to him and tells him that "Hypatia has really upset me/us with what she's been saying. It's totally inappropriate... she exaggerates... It's really upset Darth... You need to have a talk with her (*note source # 2 of my ire)... we're very angry... etc." Jedi got out of there pretty quickly he said because he didn't want a confrontation and also, didn't have much knowledge of what was going on in the first place.

Jedi comes home and now HE'S all upset because of what his dad said and also because his dad apparently intimated that he would withdraw his support for the wedding.

Well... fuck this. I was livid. Do I really need to itemize the reasons I'm angry? Please tell me I'm a reasonable person and that you would be angry about this too.  Why am I angry? Let me count the ways:

#1) If Darth was upset she could have simply pulled me aside and said, "Actually, what you said made me uncomfortable and I'd appreciate it if you could stop that."  Result? I would have apologized and we would have been on our merry way.

#2) Darth in no way every indicated or let on that she was *so* upset.  I'm not a fucking mind reader.

#3) Not only did she not in anyway indicate that she was upset, she acted as if everything was fine. AGAIN, I'm not a fucking mind reader.

#4) She didn't address me directly. Instead, she went roundabout and had the "menfolk" deal with it. How fucking passive aggressive.  I learned how to deal with my issues head on in 2nd grade. Apparently she missed the memo.

#5) The whole thing with Vader sure seemed a lot like he was telling Jedi, "You'd better control your woman." Darth is totally passive and submissive, but I sure as hell am not. (and PS- Jedi LIKES it that way.)

#6) Jedi is now upset and drawn into this, which was totally unnecessary.

and... #7)  This one requires a bit of background.
I made comments to Darth a few times about, "I wonder what you say about me when I'm not around."  She was pretty offended and exclaimed, "I'd never say anything bad about you." (yeah, that's the side-eye I'm giving my gentle readers through the screen.) I brought it up a couple more times... each time she was very offended.

But, um, duh. Do you think I might have a REASON to think she does so? Like, maybe the fact that she is all sweet to a co-worker she can't stand? Hell! She gives her a ride to work sometimes, she even gave her an award and talked about what a great employee she is... and yet, to me, talks all the time about how she can't stand her.  She does similar things with her mother, her best friend, acquaintances... Why the fuck would I think I'm somehow immune to that?  I didn't.

Don't get me wrong-- I don't think Darth does this maliciously-- I think she's just venting, like we all vent. THE DIFFERENCE is that Darth really is very passive.  She hates conflict and so never addresses issues head on.   It makes me roll my eyes to even write that because I cannot stand people who complain about shit yet never do anything to make it better. There's a difference between venting and trying to manipulate people into doing your own dirty work. (In this case, Vader confronting Jedi so that Jedi would confront me, so that Darth wouldn't have to confront me herself. ew.)

Frankly, this is so different from my own modus operandi I hardly know how to react to someone like this. I'm very straightforward (ok, confrontational), in-your-face, I don't mince words.  Now to most people (aka my soon to be MIL) these are not only undesirable traits but in the same way I don't know what to make of her, she doesn't know what to make of me, I think.

In my own family we're a crazy loud bunch of yellers-- which, ok, probably isn't so healthy either-- but at least you know where you stand with people. With Darth I don't feel like I know where I stand because she's fundamentally not honest about what she's feeling.  And I have a major hard time dealing with that.

Like, seriously-- how am I supposed to intuit that I've upset you? Just speak the fuck up already!

Frankly, if Darth wasn't Jedi's mother she'd probably be a friendly acquaintance at best because I feel like (while not intentional or malicious... I know it's just how she copes) I can never trust her to be honest with me.

So... anyway... Darth and I went back and forth over text and then email a few times (She tried calling me, but as I said, I come from a family of yellers and I know I could not have kept myself from yelling at her which certainly wouldn't have helped matters-- so I opted to write an email instead.)

In her email she also mentioned that she was upset that I had said that she needed to stand up for herself and get a spine. (Again, I stand by it!)... But this gets to another issue-- #8) The fact that every time we go back and forth about this it turns out there's something else that comes out that she's upset about.  And so, while this is ostensibly about this particular incident, I also think that it's about the untold number of times that I've upset her in the past year and that she hasn't felt comfortable saying something. Which, again, is fucking annoying.  And, also-- It's not my responsibility to know when you're mad.

I feel like there should be a statute of limitations to how long you can be annoyed about something that you haven't fucking had the guts to confront someone about. Why should it be that other person's problem? Especially if you're going around and acting as sweet as peaches and cream to that person! How on earth is that person supposed to know? 

In the email I basically... pretty much... laid it out for her as I did here. Including-- yes-- the part about how I don't feel I can trust her because she's not honest about how she feels and she is two-faced about other people as well.

Ok, so maybe that wasn't the most conciliatory thing to say, but at this point I don't give a flying fuck. (Have I mentioned that a few times? I think I have.)  And frankly, it's the truth.

She wrote back to say that what I wrote was very hurtful and that she wouldn't discuss this over email or the phone, but only in person.

You should be proud of me for not writing back, "The Truth Hurts."

Frankly, I don't really feel like discussing this in person. If she thought I was hurtful in person I know she just be even more hurt by my yelling.  I also feel like I said what I needed to say... but that I also know she's not going to change. I mean, she's gone 50 years sweeping things under the rug. What's another 50 more, amirite? Bleh.

I know I should just suck it up, apologize, let her sweep it under the rug and let things go back to being peaches & cream... but... I just can't.  I know I should, for Jedi's sake, but I just can't.

Because? Well, frankly, I haven't married him yet.  And I don't fancy spending the next 50 years of my life dealing with this passive aggressive bullshit.  I say lance the wound rather than letting it fester.

Getting married is important to Jedi. If we have to put off the wedding until his mom gets her shit in order? Well, it may not happen. But right now I don't fancy dealing with someone I can never be sure is being honest with me and with whom I can never be sure my words and actions won't be held against me in ways I won't know about until it blows up.

Fuck. My family has enough issues of their own. I don't want to sign up to take on these issues too. I've had enough therapy to sort out problems stemming from my family. I really can't, for my own mental health, add other people's bullshit to my own.

What say you, wise and worldly readers? 


L said...

It sounds from your description that you are being and have been judgmental, childish, self-centered and a bit of a bully.

1) You place an incredible amount of judgment upon Jedi's mother without really examining your own behavior in this issue. You have labeled her in numerous ways but take no credit for your own part. Perhaps you should consider "your jokes" because they sound as thought they are intentionally cruel.

2) You initiated the conversation via text and email. Really? Did you also change your facebook status?

3)Not once have you asked for her side of the story. For someone that claims to be such a straight shooter and to want to just hear the truth, you haven't taken any time to talk to her and then you blatantly state that you don't think that you want to continue this conversation. If you aren't willing to talk, then why should she.

4) You seem to think that you are so evolved and sure of yourself, but you aren't able to temper your behavior to the people in your life. Adjusting isn't about losing yourself but about understanding the needs of other people in your life, not just your own. Sometimes not saying what you think is a more courageous and caring thing to do than shouting your mouth off.

5) You continue to throw your "wedding" around. If you don't want to get married, don't look for excuses. If you do, then figure out how to live with Jedi and his family. Nothing is perfect.

What it sounds like to me from reading this and other entries, is that you don't like it when someone tells you that your behavior is inappropriate or wrong? You assume that they are trying to control you or they misunderstand you. Throughout this entire entry, you have made assumptions about why people behaved in the manner that they did without ever asking them. Not once did you own up to your own behavior or your role in the situation at all.

You are not blameless.

Anonymous said...

Whoa. I don't want to get in the middle of this comment situation, so I'll just say that I'm sorry you're going through this. People makes lots of jokes about the MIL relationship, especially the one between daughters- and mothers-in-law, but really, no one is honest about how complicated it is!

For the record, I remember you saying nice things about Jedi's mom all the time, so it's obvious that this is just a small part of the relationship you have with her.

She should have shut you down after the first remark that made her uncomfortable. She shouldn't have acted like it was funny. If you pretend you think something is funny, you suffer the consequences. That's why so many of us have uncomfortable moments with our great-grandmas using the world "colored" or some such thing. If you don't confront it, it becomes your problem.

I have a similar problem with my MIL, actually. In my family dynamic, if you are upset with your parent or sibling, you call that person out. You say, "You are pissing me off for X reason." There might be some yelling, but eventually it is forgotten and no one holds grudges. I tried ONCE to have the same kind of conversation with my MIL, and she holds a grudge to this day. Apparently it's okay to FEEL a certain way about a person, but you dare not actually SAY what you FEEL.

It was worse because I thought we were close enough at that time for me to be honest with her about stuff,

In my situation, I have learned to deal with what I can and vent to my husband (and, okay, my own mom) about what I can't.

If I were you, I really would try to fix this, if only because why ruin all your time off and holidays with a rocky relationship and silent dinners? Do it for yourself, is what I'm saying. And it probably really did hurt her to have her flaws laid out like that, most likely because she KNOWS that stuff about herself, and now she has to wonder how many other people besides you know it, too.

Good luck with this, Hypatia.

Hypatia said...

Oh, Perpetua, how I love you. Sometimes I feel as though I'm writing just so that you'll comment.

"It was worse because I thought we were close enough at that time for me to be honest with her about stuff,"

This is how I feel too-- And I'm sad it's not the case, apparently.