I need to get this off my chest.
About 6 weeks ago, my mother and sister cut me out of their lives. A little back story: I grew up in a "nasty" household. My family enjoys the sport of being mean, either to each other or to outsiders. We cannot go 6 months without some kind of blow-up that is either started by my mother or my sister, and it usually leaves my father, brother and I, and our pouses, to pick up the pieces. As a kid, if my mother came home in a "nasty" mood, it was surely going to be hell for one or more of us. My mother would verbally abuse us, and I remember her rants that would last hours at a time. She was also very out of control when she was "nasty", and you could never know what to expect when she ranted. Most times, it was stuff you had shared with her in confidence about a friend that she would use to twist around and hurt you with. And more than once she attacked my father physically - once with a knife. My father, to his credit, never raised his hand, even in defense.
Fast Forward to 6 weeks ago - My family are all on Facebook. My mother and sister decide they are going to get nasty with an old family friend about an innocuous comment she made about my brother. Not only do they publically lay into this woman, they were sending private e-mails to my brother, my wife and me about it, and egging us on to join in.
Now, to share a bit more, my life since I've married has been so wonderful. My wife is the sweetest of people, as is her family. More importantly, we have had the great pleasure of raising a beautiful boy with special needs who was born to us 6 years ago. Although it has been a great struggle, he is the greatest blessing to us.
We have also recognized that unless we take great care of our marriage, most marriages of parents who are raising a child with a disability end in divorce. This has led us to a very simple rule: My wife and I have decided to keep any unnecessary negative energy out of the core of our relationship, and instead strive be a very positive and loving couple for each other and those around us. Do we succeed? Nah. We are very realistic with each other, whether we are having a bad day or so on. But because we try, it makes all the difference.
Back to the Facebook incident - I sent my family, everyone, a note asking them to "Please leave us out of this conversation. We are not involved and do not wish to be." My family knows our position due to a recent blowout before Christmas where we said the same thing, and for the reasons I mentioned above. Yet, my mother and sister decided they would instead choose to retaliate against me, my wife, my brother and his son. We were all dropped as "friends" on their Facebook page.
Now, my first reaction was, "Well, this is just childish and petty". It is. And if the story stopped here, I wouldn't have cared to even write this story. But it gets worse. I decided, after a few days, that I would call my mother to clear the air. I knew I was in trouble by her very flipant tone on the phone. Whn I asked why she not only cut me, but my wife, from her Facebook friend list, she responded simply, "I felt like being nasty."
I was very hurt by these comments because first, I meant no disrespect with a simple request not to be involved, and second, my wife didn't deserve to be involved. I explained that, because we deal with much raising our son, we simply choose not to get involved in negative confrontations that do not involve us. I tell her that she may not fully understand our position, but I would ask that she and the rest of the family please respect it.
Seems like a reasonable request, except now my mother claims I am wrong to assume she doesn't know what it's like raising a child with disabilities. Now, mind you, she has never raised such a child, and I point this out to her, nonetheless, she claims to more than understand because she's taught in the puiblic schools.
As I begin to point out to my mother she's a bit off-base regarding her position (and quite arrogant I was thinking), my mom got very upset, and began accusing us, out of the blue, of playing favorites with my wife's family. Yes, the Facebook incident was just the catalyst to much deeper anger and resentments my mom was holding. And it was a bit of a sting, because my wife and I try our best to share time equally between the families. I even point out that she and my dad get the chance to stay at our house for weeks at a time during the year because they are retired, while my wife's family hadn't seen us at all between Christmas and Easter. My mother took the "poor me, I'm always wrong" position, to which I responded in frustration, "I'm sorry, mom. I'm not going to allow you to be martyr about this. You are indeed wrong."
And my mother, feeling nasty and most likely hurt at this point, responded, "Well aren't you being a hypocrite? I mean, aren't you acting like a martyr yourselves with all your talk about 'raising a child with a disability'."
I was dumbstruck. I couldn't believe what I had just heard, and still cannot really fathom it. I quietly sat for a moment, then said very quietly, more to myself than to my mother, "Is that what you believe of us? I... I need to get off the phone. Goodbye... goodbye." I hung up the phone and put it down. I picked up the next closest object, the TV remote. I stood up, turned, and flung it against the wall, smashing it into a million pieces.
I haven't talked to either my mother or my sister since. I did talk with my brother, and I shared my story with him. Growing up in the same household, my brother could empathize. I told him, for the time being, I believe it would be best that I stay away without any contact. I feel I gave my mother the honor she is required based on my personal religious beliefs, but it is honor I do not think personally she deserved.