So I get back from my wonderful, relaxing vacation in the great state of Texas (by the way, definitely where you want to be when the government forcibly passes their healthcare reform....um why do you think we were out there shooting anyway. Andy and his buddy Stotts said it was for the "Zombie Apocolypse", but I have a feeling it was to sharpen our overthrowing skills should they be needed). Anyhoo, I get back from my carefree and fun vacay and what is sitting in my inbox? Drama with a capital D that's what! I just don't want to even deal with it. Seriously? Do I have to deal with this? I didn't really think my e-mail needed a response, other than maybe "I understand". The more she writes back the more it starts to feel like she is pushing and picking at me until she gets what she want. And I could clearly see from her e-mail what she wants. Exactly what I don't want. She is off daydreaming about braiding my hair and telling each other secrets as we frolic through the meadow and pick flowers. Honestly I don't really want to delve too deep into this new piece of the drama puzzle. I wrote her back, it took a couple of revisions to make it as neutral and even-toned as I wanted it to be. Evil Natalie definitely wanted to bust in there and just fill in her e-mail with my own comments. Since my blog is my outlet for Evil Natalie I think I will do that here. Don't worry I will tell you what I actually wrote back at the end, Good Natalie usually wins out.
Well, I’m glad you will attend. It is difficult to hear you are not sure you “want” to be there, but I’ll go ahead and make reservations for Friday and Sat. night. We wanted to honor your schedule.
I’m also glad for you to confirm we are “in a good place”. I’ve thought things are “O.K.” too. For example, Steamboat was fun and seemed authentic. We all seemed to find a happy time together. But I wanted to ask again, as I’ve thought things were good before, and they were not. It seems completely understandable that some mixed feelings come up now and will continue to. Perhaps this is inherent in all relationships really, to one extent or another, and it’s what we do with feelings that shapes the future. (I have no snide comments about this first paragraph.....if only she had stopped here)
I appreciate your willingness towards honesty. I had some anxiety last night as I had left work before receiving your email. This morning I woke up in the middle of a dream. You were throwing a lovely dinner party with china and everything. I was excited to be there, feeling the warmth of family love and belonging. Nathan, Tom and Andy were already seated at the table - and then I realized there wasn’t a place for me. I looked at you and it seemed clear I wasn’t included. Tom, oblivious, said, “here you can squeeze in by me!” Dreams don’t always reflect reality, but they can prompt insight to it. (Actually that seems pretty on par with reality to me, dad is usually oblivious and he would react exactly like this. And if I could have things my way, there wouldn't be a place at the table for you....have you seen Titus? You would be in the pie....maybe you should listen to your dreams).
It does hurt to hear what sounds like “drawing a line”. Words like “resigned” and that you feel you will MOST LIKELY be unable to “let me in”, does make me sad. What I read below is a sense that you feel “stuck” with me in Tom’s life (Yes), and you accept that (Not sure accept is the right word here.....). Those words indicate that a cloud is still there (Just over you, it is sunny over here. Makes me not want to come over there). The pain I felt in the dream I had this morning is reflection of pain I will always have without forgiveness and the ability for you to love me. It will always make me sad. It is disappointing. You say you sense my acceptance. What choice do I have? Of course I accept it. But it is not without distress and disappointment. I have hoped for more.
So I’ll ask you to consider again….”What is standing in the way of forgiveness and healing?” I’ve been concerned that after all the work that was done, there really is not resolution… which I knew we all sought as the goal. You have been unable to say that you forgive me. Psychologist say this is huge. When there has been damage, there will be a perpetual cloud, unless we are able to REALLY forgive, and step into a new future. (Um first, should you really be talking about what psychologists say? I mean you are probably the must unbalanced person I have ever met, considering how you thought the affair was making both your and dad's marriages better at the time, plus you seem to have a considerable amount of crazy going on....second, the only person who will feel better with my forgiveness is you. I feel great and content, it isn't causing me any distress to not forgive you. Tell me again why I should do you a favor here?)
Do you remember Miranda in the Sex in the City movie? (Oh no you didn't! I have a feeling you're about to prove my point about the unbalanced craziness) I thought of you, Tom and myself, when I saw that on DVD several months ago. For her husband and her to heal the hurt in the relationship, they had to explore all feelings, seeking to understand. Then they each had to step away from each other and decide, make a choice, if they wanted a healthy future together or not. Then they agreed that if they each showed up on a certain day, it was a new beginning, a choice to forgive and live forward, leaving the past behind. (Okay let's just assume that it is viable to take advice from a movie and let's look past the fact that in my opinion you have no rights to SITC, first we're nothing like this situation. Miranda and Steve were in LOVE at one point in their lives and were married. How is this like us? They came back together as a decision that their love was more important than holding on to the hurt they had caused each other. I have never, nor see myself ever loving you. And again, I don't need to "come together" with you in forgiveness. I am just dumbfounded.....)
I would like a better future together someday, without a cloud. I hope to have a place in your life where we bring good things to each other. For example, if you ever do become a mother, I hope to be included and valued as a source of something good, loving and supportive in your life. Life will bring its share of challenges and troubles. I hope to be there for you. I’ve said this before and it will be true always. (Ah HA! Exactly as I predicted! She wants that coveted "mommy" spot and she just realized that it isn't up for grabs).
You may not understand the difficult and even impossible place it is to be the one under the cloud. (Nope I get it, you feel incredibly guilty and without my forgiveness you are constantly reminded of your actions that caused me pain. This does strike a chord with me. I get you're in pain, however I am not going to lie and say I forgive you when I don't at this time) It means interacting from a position of continual trying, but never able to arrive. Being at arm’s length makes it impossible to have a healthy, equal, give and take relationship.(Wait who decided we were going to have this type of relationship? Ooooo this is the type of relationship YOU want) Please realize your feelings will inhibit some of what I can do and give to. It is an unhealthy position to continually try to “make up” for the past…it would be impossible. I’m perpetually set up to fail without your forgiveness. Does that make sense? (I didn't ask you to try in the first place, but yes it makes sense)
And part of accepting your response below, means I would back away. It means I would wait for you to invite, more than do the “inviting”. I would stay away more often and encourage Tom to spend time without me there. (Wait is this supposed to be some sort of threat.....because it isn't....it's almost exactly what I wanted in the first place) I would accept our relationship as “polite”, but guarded. I would not try to “water” or grow something you indicate is not possible (Best to save water we're always in a drought). I would “observe” your life with distance, and not reach out to be involved. (Awesome!) This would be the natural response to what you are saying is reality. You would need to accept my response to this, and not hold any natural distance created, against me. We would both accept it as “the way things are”. We talked about this being a possibility.
Perhaps time can bring change. But we did work to get to the “crossroads”, and I hear your direction. If and when you feel differently Natalie, a time when you are able to fully forgive, I’ll await that time. This is completely in your court, as there feels little more I can do. Trying to, without your forgiveness, would only add pain for both of us. I’m always willing to talk further, try to explore what is in the way, even go to counseling all together, if helpful. (Hahahah um no) Or anything that’s possible.
Please let me know anytime if there is anything different you feel or want.
Okay that was just for funsies, all joking aside. Obviously I would never actually respond this way to her. And I get that what she is actually saying is she is being forced to accept what I want, but it still felt like this big campaign to push me into forgiving her. Do you feel that way? Anyhoo. After rolling this over a few times I decided to go with this response:
I read and understand what you have written. I can see what you are asking of me and I can see what you are hoping to achieve, but unfortunately I am going to stay where I am at for now. I feel like I have worked on myself enough this past year regarding our relationship and as I have said, I am happy. Unfortunately I cannot tell you that I have forgiven you or Dad and I am not sure that I will be able to. I guess I should clarify, I have forgiven you both for the hurt that you caused me, the uncertainty that the affair caused in my own life, but I am not sure I will ever be able to forgive you for the pain that you both caused my mother. I just can't do it nor do I feel like I have to. I am not eliminating the idea from my future, but currently, I don't see forgiveness. I can see that you want it. That you somehow need this from me, but you must understand that I don't feel like I need to forgive you, nor can I at this time. So rather than lie and say "you're forgiven" I am just trying to express how I feel. I am no longer tormented by the past or by being around you or by seeing you with Dad. And the only thing that is important to me is that I am happy in my life.
I know that this may sound very selfish, but I am okay with being selfish when it comes to this situation. I am not trying to punish you or make you "work" for my affection. Your e-mail suggests that you are exuding a great deal of effort in order to enhance our relationship. I would ask you to stop trying so hard because as I am saying this is where I am now. I am enjoying getting to know more about you Shelly and I do like you otherwise I would not spend time with you. But liking you and spending time with you are very different to me then letting you into my life more. I am telling you this is what I can agree to give you of myself.
Are you familiar with the Greek myth about Sisyphus? Basically he was a very deceitful man during his life so when he died he was cursed for eternity to push a stone up a hill. Whenever he would get near the top it would roll back down again, no matter how hard he tried it always rolled back down. He was tormented by the stone and trying to get it to the top of the hill. Reading this story I always wondered "why didn't he just leave the stone be?". When I read your e-mail Sisyphus popped into my head. I think of this story often when I face something in my own life that I am having trouble overcoming. Right now it appears you are Sisyphus and I am the stone, and in my opinion the only way for you to not be tormented by this situation is just to stop trying to push me up the hill. I appreciate that you are eager and willing to be an integral part of my life and family. But when we agreed to begin this healing process you agreed to give me as much space and time as I needed. This is my limit right now.
I tried to take a lot of the meanness out of it. Obviously it is still pretty harsh. I tried to just say what I mean and reinforce what I need, or rather don't need, right now. So far she hasn't responded. I am not sure if she will, but I guess I wouldn't be surprised if she doesn't. I know you all have mixed reactions to this situation and I do appreciate all your input and advice. I know I seem incredibly stubborn and maybe a bit cruel when it comes to handling this. After reading Katie's response below I realized I should illiterate a little more about something. As she said, the reason I agreed to open up at all was because the most important thing to me was to continue to have my dad in my life. And it isn't as if I am shutting her down completely. When we are all together I tell her about all the stuff going on with work and I take interest in her. I don't ask my dad that she not come to any of our family events and I expect that she will be there. I hug her hello and goodbye and we make plans to go skiing or to go see movies and shows coming up. But also as Katie suggested, I would never have chosen this person to be part of my life assuming the affair never happened. I am a pretty firm believer in filling your life with people who you truly love and cherish. I know I am somewhat young, but what I have found is that it is easy to maintain happiness in my life when I limit the drainage from certain relationships. This might come off sounding really wrong. But do you know people where it is physically draining to try to be a part of their life? I have several acquaintances like this and I don't eliminate them from my life by any means. I don't stop caring about their lives or taking an interest, but I do limit the amount of my life I share with them.
In this particular situation, this is how I move past everything. All the anger, the hurt, etc. I appreciate the fact that she is so eager and willing to delve deep into my life and it is really sweet of her to want to be a "mother" to me. But I don't need her to mother me. I have an amazing Mother-in-law, ex-step-mother-in-law, and Step-mother-in-law. I was really blessed to acquire this family when I married Andy. On the outside it might seem like a huge dramatic mess, but I really feel like my mom kind of hand-picked these women out for me. Obviously that would be a little impossible considering she was alive when I met MIL and ESMIL. But these three women are so amazing and having them in my life makes that hole in my heart smaller. They supplement what I maintain from memories of my mother if that makes sense. Add to this my amazing friends, a great hubby, and a big butter who all mean the world to me and my life is almost completely full. It is so full of happiness that the majority of the time, I forget that losing my mom was so traumatic. This community that I have partially chosen and that was partially gifted to me, makes the hurt go away.
For the sake of my dad and my desire for a relationship with him, I found a way to include E.T. (I guess you all know her name so I can just call her Shelly....oops so much for confidentiality) into my life somewhat. But as I have discussed, the thought of her being a bigger part of my life makes that hole open up and the pain gets worse. Maybe in time this will change and I won't feel like she is moving in on "sacred" territory. But for now this is how I feel and I had to express it. She wondered why I wasn't jumping up and down about the wedding or wanting to be more involved in it. Even though I don't intentionally wish to cause her pain, I am not going to pretend to be in a place where I am not. As unpleasant as my comments are to her, I feel it would be unfair to her to pretend. Thanks again to you all for helping me through this dark spot in my life. I really believe I have found my way through to the light.