Archive for October 10th, 2011

October 10, 2011

Family

 

Alright, here goes.

Over the weekend I was perusing facebook and discovered my mother and sister had attended the bridal shower of a close family friend. So close a friend, in fact, that she’s considered family. (Her older brother and I are the same age, and have been close since we were 3. That’s 25 years, people.) I hadn’t known about the shower, but that was nothing shocking … I do live on the opposite coast and all.

The thing that hurt was that I didn’t even know she’d set a wedding date … much less one for November 2011.

So, I complained on Twitter, and then called my mother. Who proceeded to let me know everyone else had been invited (sister + fiance, brother + guest, parents, aunt + uncle, grandfather) but me. And then she added, when I explained how hurt I was, “Well, Sarah, you have a NEW family now.”

::blinks::

Can someone explain to me how getting married, and creating your own baby family, meant giving up your birth family? Can someone explain to me how my mother would get this idea in her head?

To be honest, it didn’t start when we got married. It started when I moved out of my parents house for good. College was one thing, because I came back. But once I was out, it was like I didn’t exist. My mother would mention to acquaintances how nice it was to have her “whole family” together for dinner … when I was in my own apartment 50 miles away. When my grandmother was dying I wasn’t contacted AT ALL. I drove up one night to sit with her and be with the family. My mother asked me what I was doing there.

I’m glad I stayed, even with the awkwardness. My grandmother died the next morning, and I’d been able to say goodbye.

Since moving cross-country, and getting married, it’s gotten worse. My grandfather is still holding a grudge from a nasty fight we had 3 days before the wedding. (I spent an hour and a half apologizing (for something that was as much his fault as mine) and laying it all out there, in March. His response was to say “Now it’s up to me whether I forgive you or not. We’ll see how that goes.” He hasn’t spoken to me since. He hasn’t spoken to my husband since the wedding. That’s OVER A YEAR now.) My mother continues to talk about how her whole family is around her. I’ve lived in DC for three years now, and not one member of my family has come visit us … even though they are visiting my cousins in Ohio several times a year.

I’ve thought honestly about it, to see if this is a situation I’ve created. Did I distance myself, and this is their reaction? And each time, I come back to the same answer – no. This is NOT something of my doing. I spend as much energy trying to be a part of their lives (with the exception of my grandfather … that’s just too much hurt) as I do with my father and sister … two people who DO still consider me family. I’m not doing anything differently with them than I am with anyone else.

Apparently it’s just easier to forget I exist.

During that horrid fight with my grandfather I told them all how I felt like I wasn’t a part of their family anymore. And my mother and I discussed it at length later that night. She told me I was being silly. I told her I still felt it, so it was valid. I thought it was sorted out.

I, apparently, was wrong.

This weekend, faced with another slight, I lost it. I cried and cried and cried to my husband. My poor husband … who has no real idea of the “family” I’m looking for … because his own birth family had such a different relationship. He doesn’t know how to help, or how to try and fill the hole in my life.

Is anyone else dealing with this? Have any words of advice? Anything?

 

* The photo is of my mother’s family (all those who were at the wedding, anyway), just over a year ago. Of the entire group, only 3 have talked to me in the last 6 months, of their own free will. And only 5 of them have talked to us since our wedding.

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