Thursday, November 24, 2011

A thanksgiving miracle

Last night I was super sad about the fact that I'm not invited to my parents for thanksgiving. For years thanksgiving was always the one holiday I spent with my parents every year, since its the only holiday we both celebrate. When I was in grad school I went home every thanksgiving until I moved in with my husband in 2008 and felt I couldn't go to holidays at my parents if he wasn't invited. Since then we've been going to my in laws instead.

So today I called my dad and we ended up talking about that email exchange, which I ended up never writing back to. I told him it wasn't that the e-mail itself was hurtful, but that it was a reminder that we weren't invited for thanksgiving which was hurtful ( the email exchange was about my cousins wedding, which was last night. Since we wouldn't have had anywhere to go for turkey day, we went to my in laws and couldn't go to the wedding). He said If thats what was bothering me i should call my mom cause she is the reason were not invited. I was all "but she said if I married B. I should never call her again so I dont want to call her if she won't take my call." And he said that she said that because she was angry I got engaged but that sometimes people don't mean what they say when they are angry and I should call her if I felt up to it.

Anyway long story short I called my mom for the first time since 2008, and we ended
up talking for like an hour- not about religion or anything but just catching up, and I talked about my husband and gardening and school and about going to a grateful dead cover show with my provost, and it was just normal. It's a thanksgiving miracle! Oh and they might possibly visit us at the end of december if it works out with their travel plans! Trying not to get my hopes up too much for a visit in less than a month, but its a huge step forward.

I also called my grandmother and talked to her for a bit.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Hi Abandoning Eden,

Perhaps we had a misunderstanding. I sent the info about the wedding because you two are part of the family, not to make you feel bad. Just the opposite.

Thanks for the invitation.


I don't even know what to do with this response. On the one hand, yay he just said B is part of his family!!!! That's the first time that ever happened!

On the other hand, well, I still have only talked to my mom once in the last year. And my dad is married to my mom and all. So I feel like this response is just a way of avoiding talking about our issues in the hopes they will go away. Which they clearly arn't.

Maybe I should be emailing my mom, not my dad. But I don't know. I feel like emailing her would be like begging to be let back in the family. The last time we had a *real* conversation was in November 2008, when she told me if I wanted to talk to her I can never mention B and I told her if that's the case than I can't call her anymore. That was the last time I called her. Then she sent me that nasty email in early 2009 about how if I marry B I can't have a relationship with her and I responded with an equally nasty email which she told my dad she thought was an "overreaction" (what's the appropriate reaction to your mom telling you if you get married to someone you love you can never talk to her again?). Since then we've only spoken 5 times- twice at family weddings (both times very awkwardly and not very much) once at my graduation (they came for the ceremony and left immediately afterward so I didn't talk to her much then since most of the ceremony I was busy ceremonizing), once when my grandfather died last year and I called my dad and she picked up the phone, and once this past April when I called my dad back from his twice-a-year phone call on erev pesach (and she got off the phone within two minutes).

So anyway, with all that, I feel like emailing her would be like I am "apologizing" for getting married. Which I most definitely am not. And I don't want to beg to be let into the family.

Plus, there's this other thing- I always end up feeling bad about myself when I talk to my mom. Or at least I did in the past (it's been so long I can hardly remember, ha!). When my mom disowned me, I didn't make a big deal about trying to change her mind and was more like "WELL FUCK YOU TOO" (in not so many words). And that was partially because for years we had a contentious relationship- pretty much ever since I decided to go to grad school in college.

And in 3 years of not talking to her, I feel great! It's like my self confidence has improved 1000%. And I think some of that is..well, when I did talk to her she was always talking about my weight and how I should diet more, and always completely in denial about me not being religious and saying things like "where are you going for shabbas?" And she never wanted to talk about anything other than religion or how well I was doing at school. Even before B- for instance before I moved down south to a musical wasteland, I used to go to concerts almost every weekend. And she never wanted to hear about that because she disapproved of me going to concerts (since it's not a torah lifestyle type thing). And having someone a) always talking about how I need to go on a diet b) acts like my life choices don't even exist, and is so disapproving of my lifestyle she pretends like I'm living a different one she would approve of and c) making me feel like I must not talk about any aspect of my life other than school/going to the gym..well all these things is not good for ye olde self esteem.

So I don't know if I'm ready to reach out to my mom and start having a relationship with her again. I do miss having a mom. But as someone said in a comment in my last post- I don't miss my parents as THEY are, I miss having parents I wish I could have. My mom was at one point one of those parents- we were very close until I became openly not religious. But based on evidence thus far, she's not going to be that mom that I want, ever again. Then again, we basically haven't talked in 3 years, so maybe she's changed? Probably not though.

Meanwhile, things ARE still awkward with my dad, or at least that's how it seems to me. He never visits, he sort of giggles whenever he says anything about B, and he's only met B once- at my graduation- for about an hour. That's not normal, right?

And while he's thanking me for the invitation, he's not taking me up on it either.

So what do I do, do I write back and say basically what I just said here minus the part about my feelings about my mom (and also that it's not about the wedding invitation in particular, it's about the general awkwardness of everything always and I want to get past that), do I just count this as a victory and leave it at that and move on with my life pretending to have a normal relationship with my dad while continuing to not openly speak about this underlying awkwardness and oh, the fact that I never talk to my mom? Do I email my mom and attempt to "make up" with her, perhaps while simultaneously addressing some other long standing issues (like that this won't work if she continues being in complete denial about me and my life- but in a nicer way of saying it)?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Reaching out

It's been years since the last time I tried, so why not?

Got this email from my dad a few days ago about my second cousin's wedding:
Hi Abandoning Eden,

How's it going?

I wanted to keep you in the loop. D_, Cousin S_'s son, has planned a wedding to A_ the night before Thanksgiving day. The invitation sent to us was to Mom and me "and family." (I'm not sure if that includes you or not.) My sister, Aunt T, is writing me that she is planning to fly in from Israel to attend this wedding. She will be staying for 2 weeks.

All the best,

Just sent this reply:
Hi Abba,

I'm sure when S_ sent an invite to you and "family" she included me. Because I AM part of your family! And so is B, whether you want to admit it or not. :) (if your daughter and son in law aren't included in "and family" then who is your family?). S_ and D_ probably know about me being married, since we're facebook friends and all.

But unfortunately we already have plans to visit my in-laws for Thanksgiving. Plus what would we do for Thanksgiving the next day? Unless you're inviting B and I over for Thanksgiving. :)

Speaking of which, when are we going to get over all this awkwardness about B already? Yeah I get it, you didn't condone my decision to marry B, but it's done, we're married, so what, now we're just going to talk like twice a year for the rest of our lives and never see each other again? And mom's never going to talk to me again? What's the point of that exactly? I mean I'm just as stubborn as you and mom are, and I'm sure we can both keep up this stand-off indefinitely, but it seems kind of silly. I'm never going to convince you that religion is wrong and you're never going to convince me that religion is right, and we can't travel back in time so that you come to my wedding, so why don't we just accept that we made different choices in life and that's ok? Can't we get along and have a normal relationship despite our different religious beliefs, so that you won't have to wonder whether your daughter is part of your family or not?

You should come visit us sometime, you and mom have an open invitation.

-Abandoning Eden

I predict my dad will reply with some sort of lecture about how important their religion is and they can't condone my decisions blah blah blah. But maybe he'll surprise me.