Have I REALLY been gone since December 4th?
Yes, friends - this is VERY much unlike me. Those of you who know me - know that when my mind is cluttered and my brain is busy - I write. It's how I make sense of things. To say that my mind has been clear lately would be a lie - there's SO much clutter up there - it's starting to look like Grandma's attic! (Although MY grandmother, may she rest in peace, did not have an attic - she had a basement that scared the shit out of me for most of my childhood!)
My brain has been running a mile-a-minute, but I've been effective at compartmentalizing - at least until the holidays have passed us. Rather than say, "okay, I'm going to think on this tonight and see what comes out - it'll be a good thing to blog about because I'm SURE there are others who feel this same exact way," the last few weeks have been more of a "maybe later," or a "perhaps after Christmas" or just plain, "not now."
Things with J are....fine. I don't want to say there's been improvement because with the looming holidays, stresses have indeed mounted and any left-over issues we have been having were not to be confused with the typical stress the holidays are notorious for bringing forth. It's easy for past stresses to escalate, when new ones are introduced. So rather than let this happen - I chose to just go through the motions of the holidays - and make the most of it, even though I was not feeling it this year. If you've been following this blog for a while, you know by now the result of LAST year's (2017's) Christmas - I didn't want a repeat of that, when it comes to my mother and my sisters, and that entire part of my family.
This year's wasn't as dramatic - but it was still sorely lacking.
It hasn't been terrible. Don't get me wrong. It just hasn't been spectacular. Maybe I've set the bar too high - maybe I'm just expecting too much at this point? It IS, after all, what I thought Christmas was supposed to be. Filled with love, with enjoyment, with fulfillment - instead, it's become purely obligation...my obligation to others, to make sure they have everything THEY want and need. Over the last several years, I have bent for everyone else - to the point where MOST have now began to take me and all of my efforts for granted. There is very little reciprocation - if not for my mother, my father, and J - there'd be NOTHING for me under the tree. And while I'm not a material girl at ALL, it's hard to ignore that - when I have been attempting to MOVE heaven and earth to make EVERYONE ELSE happy - never mind my own happiness and sense of holiday cheer.
Since the divorce, the wasband has been unrelenting on where the kids spend the holidays. They MUST be with him. ALL of his kids. They've got to be seated at HIS table - for Christmas, New Year's, for Thanksgiving, for Easter, for St. Patrick's Day, for Halloween, for Father's Day, (that one, I understand!) for July 4th, for Passover, for heaven's sake - and he's not even Jewish! Early on, years ago, I had asked if I can bring the kids with me to someone else's house for the holiday (or if we could alternate?) and it's been met with an "absolutely not."
This, of course, means, that, if I want to spend any of the holidays with my children, that I, too, have to be at his house, celebrating within the chaos of HIS home, with HIS wife, all HIS kids. Mind you, I don't mind any of his kids - I raised all of them, if you think about it, to include his and his wife's youngest. I am, of course, free to choose whether I want to be there for the holiday, or if I want to go celebrate with someone else. But my children would not be allowed to come with me. If, God forbid, I chose to spend a holiday with someone else, then he's the type to turn around and poison my children's minds against me - "your mother would rather be with so-and-so than you...."
Yes, friends - his abuse goes ON - even though we are no longer married, even though we no longer live together. His manipulation continues - and WILL NOT cease until he is six-feet-under. This IS painfully hard to accept - but I'm out of energy. There comes a point in time where you no longer have the desire to change things that simply cannot be changed.
So, I've sacrificed my ideas of what I'd like for Christmas to be, for the last decade. It's supposed to be give and take - this, I know and this, I've been taught in childhood. My parents aren't eligible for POTY (parents-of-the-year) but they DID teach me to have good manners, and consideration for others. They DID teach me the true meaning of the holiday - that it was to spread joy, kindness and happiness. Instead, I've learned to DREAD not only Christmas but every holiday, too! No, it's not fair - I know this, you all know this - anyone with a shred of human decency and a sense of compromise knows this - but it is what it is. He's not budging. And because he won't budge or so much as meet me halfway, I have to celebrate holidays with my family on days that aren't the actual holiday - adding MORE stress to my already full plate. And it is NOT easy to get the kids to come with me to 'family gatherings' that don't include their father - he's done enough moaning, groaning and bitching and complaining to them over the years - and if he's not invited, they're quick to refer to the 'WWDD' (What would Dad do?) way of thinking. And if Dad wouldn't want to go, neither would they. So, that's ANOTHER battle - I guess it's a good thing that my birthday is conveniently located five days post-Christmas - I can very well play the 'it's my birthday, I want my kids with me' card. This usually works.
This year, I INSISTED upon doing Christmas Eve at my house. Oompa, after some resistance (she wouldn't be Oompa without her slew of complaints!) promised to come for Christmas Eve, and then to sleep over and leave early Christmas morning so that she could spend Christmas Day with her other two daughters and the rest of her grandchildren.
Both my sisters were invited also - along with their spouses and all of their kids. Youngest sister had previous arrangements with her husband's family - so she politely declined. Okay. I understood that and didn't begrudge her at all.
Middle sister came up with every excuse in the book before saying no, too. What were her excuses? Let's see...her husband is working for the first half of the day. Oh, and he's allergic to cats! (he's not had any problem with the cats when he's come to my house in the past - my cats don't want to be around the likes of HIM, either!) Or my youngest niece is bad in the car - a 2 hour drive would be 'too much.' Yet, there are PLENTY of Facebook posts documenting their MANY family outings - some locations MORE than 2 hours away from where they live. So, yeah. Long story, short - she doesn't want to come.
So the stage was set, at this point. Oompa would be there, I'd be doing a Christmas Eve/birthday celebration for J at my house. She'd see her elder grandchildren Christmas Eve and her littler grandchildren Christmas Day. I'd be spending Christmas Day at the wasband's, of course. So now this meant that I wouldn't be seeing my nephew or nieces unless I went to THEM for my birthday - which doubled as an opportunity to give them their Christmas gifts, thus extending the holiday aggravation by a few days - I'd just like for them to be over and done when they're over and done!
Most of my shopping was done online - alone, and without much input other than the Son's sending me a link to an eBay auction for two books he'd been wanting to read. "It's a good deal, Ma....you can get it for me for Christmas!" I didn't think twice. I bought the books. Both of my kids are at the point where it's HARD to shop for them - they're getting quality over quantity, a couple expensive things and a few smaller things as 'fillers.' They are the only ones I really splurge on. I DID get for the wasband and his wife, and I did get for the REST of his children - I ensured NO one was left out - because although two are adults, one is not even his child, (it's his wife's son) I didn't have the heart to exclude anyone - there was something under that tree for EVERYONE who would be around my dinner table for Christmas Eve. No questions asked. Did they bring me anything? No. They did not. They, just as always, took me for granted - they came, ate all my food, made a mess in my house, and left with full stomachs and a trunk full of gifts they'd received - my mother got nothing from them, I got nothing from them. All we received was a sheepish "didn't realize we were exchanging!" I could hear my brain going, then...Maybe not, you ass, but common sense dictates you go to someone's house for the holiday - you BRING something! Even a freakin' dessert platter or pastries or whatever - it doesn't have to be wrapped! Because the ONLY reason I want YOUR rude, ungrateful, obnoxious ass in my house is because it means I can have my children home too!
I'm NOT going to have an easy Christmas next year, that's for sure - Oompa is flirting with the idea of taking BACK the torch she's passed down to me - and she wants to do Christmas Eve at HER house - which is far smaller than mine. She'll, of course, invite the wasband and all the kids - but knowing him, he won't budge - he wants ME to do it - apparently I 'do a good job' keeping the family together. Completely oblivious to the very sad fact that I don't feel as if I've a choice in the matter anymore. Top this off with J wanting to spend next Christmas with HER family in Massachusetts - she did tell me this BEFORE this year's festivities - but knowing that she won't be here and there is likely going to be MORE bending on my part to keep everyone appeased.
How much more bending am I capable of, before I finally SNAP?
I feel this is enough of my bitching - at least, for this year. I DO sincerely hope that YOUR Christmas/holidays went smoothly and with a minimal of drama/stress. It seems to be unavoidable to some - as some families don't understand the concept of 'simple.' Still, I do hope that everyone's had at least one smile this past Christmas - at least one gift, be it something wrapped with a pretty bow or simply the gift of kindness, friendship or a phone call...whatever it was that made us feel loved. We are ALL deserving of that joy, even if it was a small amount. I did have some of this; and for that, I'm grateful.
I am now headed over to the wasband's to watch the ball drop with my children - J will be working an overnight shift tonight and will drop me off there on her way - then I'll just drive my car back home, as the son has it sitting at his father's house for absolutely no reason at all.
The next few days, the first three days of 2019 will be filled with NO celebrations, NO festivities, no NOTHING. On the 4th, we are headed to Disney World and Universal Studios, where we will be celebrating out 10 year anniversary - of the decade we've spent together, 2018 has been the most 'bumpy' year. And yes, I admit, this past year has unnerved me to my core - but I am going to resolve to continue to better myself as a person, as a wife, a mother, and a friend. And to shed off the pounds I've re-gained whilst stress-eating all of the Christmas cookies!
Happy New Year, everybody. Will be toasting to my AS family tonight at midnight!