As many of you already know, I spend a good portion of every day just thinking. You could call it self-meditation I guess, but without the breathing exercises as most of my current thoughts do not warrant 'calming' breaths. I just find myself sitting silently, staring into space, and just zoning. This past week has been one of those weeks where a lot of thinking and reflection has been done. I am now finding that I'm feeling uncertain about some things - if not uncertain, then just plain confused. I'm probably confusing all of you right now, as a matter of fact, so I'll not beat around the bush any longer.
There is one thing that has been on my mind for the last several days.
I have shared this privately with some of you but haven't mentioned it here, yet. My parents and J threw a surprise 40th birthday party for me this past weekend. I've known about it for months, though - I am NOT an easy person to surprise, although there were a few surprises within the (non) surprise that I WAS pleased with.
Back in August, my mother planted the 'bug' in my ear that she was planning a 65th birthday celebration and that I should keep November 3rd open. I knew that this would also be the year I turn 40, and that SOMETHING was coming - it was just a matter of WHEN - so this mention of the date was the first 'hint.'
This was another - we were on our way home from the wasband's - I want to say it was my goddaughter's birthday and we were there for dinner. I expressed a desire to have a Halloween party this year. Halloween fell on a Wednesday this year, and that's a workday/school day for most, so the idea was immediately met with, "well, why don't you do it the weekend before or the weekend after?" The wasband then (perhaps too) QUICKLY corrected himself and said, "On second thought, do it the weekend before." (The weekend after would be November 3rd.) He is NOT one to give any thought to family gatherings, and he's sat the last several out. Go figure - he makes a big deal when he's not invited and when he IS, he doesn't go.
Anyway, on the way home, I turned to J and asked her what was really happening on November 3rd. She asked why I was asking. I told her my suspicion that this was not a party for my mother, and that she was trying to throw me off the scent of my own party.
J admitted to it, then - and made me promise that I would not let on that I knew. But she also said she was glad I'd figured it out because SHE wanted my input on things so that she could ensure that things were exactly as I'd like for them to be - my mother is a manipulative, controlling woman above all of her good qualities and tends to attempt to control EVERYTHING she puts her hands on, everything she gets involved with. She tries to take over, she tries to top everything, she tries to take credit for it all. The thought of her being in charge of everything was...ugh. No. My mother does know how to have a good time, she's good with food choices, she's good at baking cookies and cakes, she's good at tracking down guests and harassing them for RSVPs, (I know this for a fact....she was bugging ME to RSVP to my niece's 1st birthday before I even received the freakin' invitation in the mail!) and so on.
But Oompa's interests are NOT the same as mine. NOT at ALL. Before expressing my concerns to J about it, I'd been dreading the thought of her being the primary showrunner - and given how I'm feeling toward my mother in general, (other stuff that I'm trying to deal with internally) I didn't even think I WANTED this party. I also found out then that she was not planning it on her own - my father and J were splitting the plans three ways - so it did make me feel a bit better about the party. I would be behind-the-scenes, I would be able to provide J with answers to those questions that would likely come up. Plus, I could help give her ideas on who to include on the Facebook invitations - she set up an event page and I supplied about three dozen names. Knowing they wouldn't all show up, it was still a way for me to make sure that those important to me were included and invited. My mother doesn't know who most of these people are and I knew she'd only invite the people SHE knew.
There were also times my mother would drive my J absolutely insane. When the subject of seating arrangements came up - J let her know we didn't need them. It was better to let people show up and sit wherever they wanted - perhaps a table could be reserved for the immediate family but everyone else should be free to sit wherever or with whomever they 'gravitated' and it wouldn't be a major issue. You would think that would be enough, but no. She kept right on singing the 'I don't know how to plan a party without seating arrangements' song - eventually I told J to let her know that she was free to seat the family as she saw fit but to allow the guests she didn't know the privilege of finding their own seat. Seemed like a fair compromise for the time being.
So, anyway, this past Saturday was the 'big day.' At this point, BOTH J and I were ready for it to be over with. She has vowed never to be on a planning committee with my mother again and was looking forward to not having to argue about seating arrangements or however the napkins were folded. I was getting tired of pretending not to notice all the whispering, the winks, the 'does she know yet?' looks. Oh and practicing my 'surprised' face. I had to make sure it wasn't the 'I knew all about this' face when I walked in, so I do admit to practicing my 'surprised entrance face' on my five cats for the past several weeks. (Yes, I did.)
I'll mention that ANY announcement to my kids that we're going to a 'family gathering' is usually met by moaning, groaning, eye-rolling, stomping of the feet, whining, irrational excuses and just about ANYTHING negative...I did not receive such protest from neither of my children when I mentioned to them that "Grandma" was having a party for her 65th birthday. The Son even tried to 'play dumb' and said, 'so, why's she celebrating her birthday late?' To that, I simply supplied the reason my mother had given me, there are simply too many October birthdays, so she wanted to break away from that cluster.
On the morning of, both kids got dressed without complaining about THAT, too - (they are DEFINITELY my kids - most comfortable in sweat pants/leggings and tee shirts!) They both cleaned up as nicely as they could while remaining comfortable - him in a polo shirt and khakis, she wore a lace sleeved black shirt and black pants with heels. By then, the cat's been out of the bag for a while but I wasn't about to let these two know that I already knew what I'd be walking into. Nah, I was gonna milk it.
Under the guise that she was 'working,' J had gone early in the morning to help with the party set-up. So I arrived with the kids a half-hour later than they had asked everyone else to show up. J met me outside, she was the 'go get her' person while I assume my mother turned all the lights off inside and was ordering everyone into position.
When I walked in, of course, everyone yelled out, "surprise!" (And damn it, my cats were not there for me to respond in the manner that I had practiced!)
I looked at my kids, who walked in behind me. They were smiling, they had their phones out and were probably recording/taking pictures.
"You two knew all about this, eh?" I said to them. Then, the lights were flicked back on and one by one, the guests began to greet/hug me. In a way, this was good because I didn't have to put on so much of a show. Of course, EVERY SINGLE ONE asked me if I was surprised. I'm a terrible, TERRIBLE liar (you can ask J - there's apparently a 'tell' - I giggle/blush when lying) so I said I had a suspicion, but yes, I was indeed surprised. I just didn't tell them WHAT I found surprising.
I WAS pleasantly surprised to see that my closest and dearest cousin, (whom I haven't seen since 2011) flew up from Florida. He came by himself, he has a wife and kids that I've not yet met (but will in January) - but this was likely one of the better surprises that came from that day. His mother came - this is the aunt who is the at the root of my ED/weight issues but she was pleasant and said NOTHING other than how good I looked. So that was another 'nice' surprise.
I was also surprised in a way that almost makes me feel ashamed to admit. Ungrateful, even. Because those who have gotten to know me know that I am not a hard person to please. The little things make my heart happy. I'm laid back, I'm extremely low maintenance. I don't require extravagance, just things as simple as love, loyalty and honesty from the people I care about. So to write this blog entry makes me feel, for the moment, the exact opposite of thankful - and I do NOT wear this feeling well. I hate myself for feeling even the slightest bit unappreciative of this party that my fiancee put in a great deal of effort (and worked together with my parents and managed to refrain from killing my mother) to pull off. I love her with ALL of my heart and it KILLS me to feel anything less than beholden.
You see, I quickly spotted that out of the three dozen 'other' people I'd insisted on J inviting through Facebook, maybe two or three were standing in that room.
Don't get me wrong, this was not an 'empty' party by any means. About 40 to 50 people were there. My immediate family was present. My parents, step parents, my sisters, their husbands and their husband's parents, my two beautiful nieces and my handsome nephew. An aunt and uncle from both my mother's side and my father's. My cousin and aunt from Florida, along with another local cousin, his wife and kids were there. The wasband, his wife, and three of the four other children were there. My four bowling friends from where I live now were there - they carpooled and came. J's parents drove in from Massachusetts. Originally more of her family was SUPPOSED to come but in the end, it was just her parents. Then there were a couple of my mother's friends, people I've known for at least two or three decades. And a few others I'll mention below.
My best friend, someone that I've known since 1996, was not there. (I think this is truly the one no-show that stung the most.)
My high school BFF and her family - who had been sent a paper invitation because she was not on Facebook - was not there.
Another friend I've known since CHILDHOOD, who coincidentally LIVES near where the party was held - was not there.
The members of my softball team from where I used to live? They were all invited. NONE of them came.
About twenty of my bowling friends from the league back in New York were invited. TWO showed up. (They were a husband and wife.)
Then there were random people that I watched J invite - people that although I don't see them often and most correspondence nowadays is through Facebook, were still adored enough for me to want them included within the celebration.
None of them came, either. And some were people I considered to be family, I'd known them THAT long, probably since I was in diapers. And it's not because they lived too far away - some of them lived far closer to where the party was than I do.
I had one FB friend come - and she isn't even someone I've ever really been close to. I have known her for twenty years, but there was a very long gap in between then and when we reconnected about three years ago. But regardless of the gap in communication, SHE came. So while that was a nice surprise, I was also gobsmacked at just how many DIDN'T.
I mean, yeah - life happens. But it just chafes me that ALL of these people had over a months' notice to make sure they didn't have to work or they didn't make any alternative plans for that day. Yet most of them waited until the absolute last minute - some even the morning of the party, to say they weren't coming. Some said they had other plans, but I don't buy it - if you knew you had plans, why didn't you say something sooner?
So while I truly appreciate my parents' and J's efforts to throw me a party, I cannot help that feeling of disappointment that started at the moment I walked in. Maybe it wasn't complete disappointment because to say that would be an insult to the people who DID make the effort to come. I am thinking that maybe the correct word is 'sadness.'
Yes. That's it.
It is a very deep sadness/hurt that I don't know how to suppress, as I fill out the thank-you cards to the people who did come - while I truly AM appreciative that THESE people chose to make the occasion more special by being there and I sincerely enjoyed their presence, I cannot shake the nagging feeling that most of them likely came out of familial obligation. It does NOT make me feel good about the person I've become in the eyes of those who were absent, regardless of the excuses supplied. When you love and care about someone, your ass is there for them - you make it happen. You DON'T wait until the fucking day before or the morning of the party to send a text or Facebook RSVP - that's just plain LOW.
It feels like, to them, I've become expendable.
I want so much for that to be an exaggeration, but it certainly doesn't feel that way. And for some of these no-show friends - this was the final straw. Some of these are people I've opened up to, for fuck's sake, because I trusted them with the version of myself that not everyone knows.
If I wasn't done with them before, (because I had hopes of them coming around eventually) I certainly am, now.
Have I disconnected myself from others to the point where they think it doesn't hurt if they choose not to show up for me?
Is this my fault??? Is this something I've done to myself?
Am I being childish about this? I feel like I am and that I should just be thankful for how nicely (it truly was - my J did a fantastic job!) this party turned out, despite these no-shows - but there IS that soft, almost muted, little voice in the back of my head, saying that I'm indeed not being immature about it. It's also saying that I have a right to be sad.
Thoughts on this, guys? And I'm not asking for pity - just a little validation that what I'm feeling isn't unwarranted.
....few hugs wouldn't hurt, either.