Friday, April 2, 2010

Conflicting Emotions

My sister called me the other day to talk about randomness. We chatted for about an hour while she did her chores. Then I heard Mom calling her from the other room. She yelled for my sister in miserable desperation, a sound that broke my heart and made me feel like a complete douchebag for thinking and writing all these things about her.

My sister ran to her and helped her with what she needed, all the while I heard Mom crying out in pain and frustration. I had a sudden strong urge to hop on a plane and fly home so I could help her.

How is it that these two very strong and very conflicting feelings about one person can exist within myself? One minute I'm ripped apart by near hatred. The next I feel overwhelming love and sympathy. How can that even be?

I told The Asshole about the cries for help and the way I felt like a douchebag. He told me that it was okay to feel what I felt. He told me I hadn't been lying when I said those things about her. Just because she's in a lot of pain and she's completely miserable right now it doesn't change the fact that those things really happened, he said.

He suggested I send her flowers. "She won't expect them and it might cheer her up a little," he said.

I had some flowers delivered today. All day I've been anxiously waiting for the phone call.

As fucked up as this sounds, I'm waiting for her to call and ask me how dare I even think about doing something nice after all I've put her through. If she doesn't already know about the communication with my biological mom she soon will. I think she'll take that as a slap in the face and I wonder if she'll pretend I don't exist after she finds out about that. It wouldn't be the first time I did something "horribly wrong" to piss her off and make her not speak to me.

But why do I care?

Throughout all the consecutive months I went through of the stupid, childish silent treatment all I could think about was how to make her stop being mad at me. Back then it wasn't like I was 2,000 miles away, either. I lived with her and saw her everyday. And everyday I would say hi when she walked through the door only to have her greet my sister who was sitting right next to me, even when my sister hadn't said a word to her. Then occasionally she'd "snap out of it" and ask me why the fuck I was ignoring her and hadn't even bothered to say so much as a hello.

And now, thinking about it, I'm wondering if sending the flowers was a bad idea. It might remind her that I'm a decent person and she's a bitch for hating me. Or it might remind her how much she hates me just because I'm me.

This makes no sense, does it?

I just wish I could switch off that little button that controls my feelings. As much as I hate her sometimes, all I can think about is what I can do to make her love me, to make her proud of me.

I didn't send the flowers because I expected a thank you. I know I won't get one. I sent them because I wanted to cheer her up. But who am I to try to cheer her up?

And here I go saying all this stuff, assuming that's how she'll react. Her favorite saying is "Don't assume". As my husband always says, "If every time I saw you I punched you in the face, would you flinch whenever I walked into a room because you assumed I was going to punch you again? Then there's nothing wrong with assuming she'll react a certain way if every time you have encountered that situation before she reacted that certain way."

I don't know. It just sucks. I never know how to feel. I don't know if I'm wrong to hate her, if I'm wrong to love her. I just plain don't know.

I missed a call on my cell phone earlier. It said "Mom" so I held my breath and called back. It was my sister. She was walking the dog and just wanted to talk.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Farmville Buddies

My biological mother and I are Facebook friends. She writes on my Wall... I delete her posts off my Wall so my sisters won't read it and realize she's my real mother because they aren't supposed to officially know that I'm their half sister ... It's a fun cycle.

We reconnected in November. I haven't seen her since I was three or four years old. I found her on an old newspaper guestbook. She was looking for my dad. I e-mailed her. We've e-mailed a bit since then. I sent her a Christmas card. She talked about sending me a Christmas card. She talked about calling me someday. She told me she'd send me a souvenir from her trip to California, I told her not to bother. She didn't. You know. Like that.

But whatever. She's not ready for a relationship of any sort, except the kind where she occasionally feels guilty and sends me an e-mail and I send her one back and wait for her response a month later. Or where I post a picture of my new haircut on Facebook and she tells me it's pretty. But that's okay. One mother was emotionally unavailable. The other was physically unavailable. Same difference, really.

I got an e-mail from her yesterday. I had posted on my Facebook wall that we finally had a diagnosis for The Asshole. She e-mailed me to ask what it was and to tell me that she's been oh so very busy with life and she felt super duper guilty for not writing sooner. When we first started talking she told me that going to the post office was the highlight of her day because she didn't have a job and there was absolutely nothing to do in the town with a population of 400. But whatever. She got a part-time job, so I imagine it's just way too much running around for her to handle. I understand.

So I told her. Gave her the rundown. Gave her some random tidbits of life.

I'm expecting our next contact to be in about a month when she sends me a Farmville neighbor request on Facebook.

You know, I understand that losing a child will screw a person up for life. But you would think that losing one would make you not want to lose the other. And you would also think that the fact that you walked away from one would make you keep your legs shut the next time around. Instead, she popped out another one and dropped her off at Grandma and Grandpa's house. My sister's going to be just as screwed up as me, if not even more so, because she remembers our mother kicking her out of the house when she was eight and she remembers our mother being an all-around douchebag whereas I have no recollection of the things that transpired before the age of four.

You would think that a certain point she would be able to stop making excuses. I have days where I whine and cry and bemoan the horridness of my life, but I don't spend all day long feeling sorry for myself and the things I had to go through. She had a tough life. I get it. So did I. I'm doing okay. I'm not going to abandon two of my children. I'm not going to talk to them only when it's convenient for me. I'm not going to sit around and feel sorry for myself because my youngest daughter hates my guts.

I don't know. You would think that in this situation there would come a point when she realizes she's a worthless mother and realizes that she can do something about it, at least for the one that's still a child.

But that's not going to happen is it? No more than my stepmother realizing she's a horrible mother and she's permanently disabling the three children that are unfortunate enough to remain in her home.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Putting the Puzzle Together Part 2

When I was eight years old, Dad cheated on Mom. My eighth birthday, in fact, was spent at the other woman's home.

I don't really remember things being bad at home until after that incident.

One particularly bad time, I was sitting in school crying because (1) I was an attention whore and just wanted someone to pay attention to me, and (2) because Mom had pushed me around the night before. It was third grade and we had a substitute teacher. She pulled me out of class and asked me why I was crying. I ended up in the counselor’s office showing her the bruises on my arm.

I got my ass chewed that night. “What the hell were you doing talking to people about what goes on in this house? I could go to jail for that shit and you could get taken away and put in foster care. Is that what you want? To grow up without parents? I don’t fucking abuse you!” Then she showed me what abuse was like.

Money was tight on my eighth birthday. The day of my birthday, Mom told me that she didn’t have any money to buy me presents. Could I be a big girl and wait until Wednesday when she got paid? I said okay, then started crying. I shouldn’t have cried, I mean, it wasn’t a big deal in the large scheme of things, but I did. I was a kid. And to a kid, birthdays are a big deal. To this day, I still feel bad about crying. I know that must have broken her heart.

Dad shot Mom a look, Mom yelled at me for crying and making her feel bad, then Dad took me and left. We went to the gas station where my aunt worked. My other aunt was there, too. They gave me presents. Then Dad took me to HER house where SHE gave me a Hawaiian Barbie. I thought that was pretty freaking awesome. Barbies were my favorite things, and Hawaiian Barbie was the most coveted Barbie at the time. All my friends had her and finally now I did, too. She came complete with a grass skirt and bikini top. I played with my new Barbie in the living room while Dad and HER talked in the kitchen.

I had to pee really bad, but didn’t know where the bathroom was so I went in the kitchen. SHE was sitting on the counter and Dad was kissing HER. I cleared my throat and asked where the bathroom was. I remember sitting there on the toilet, my legs dangling a foot off the ground, thinking about the situation and wondering what I should do. Should I run away? I should have said, “Where’s the door?” and run away. Why is Dad doing that? What about Mom?

I don’t remember the circumstances surrounding that event. I don’t remember before the affair. I don’t know why or how it happened. I just know that from the appearance of it at that moment, that it was wasn’t the first time they’d kissed. After I finished in the bathroom, I went back into the living room. Later Dad put me in HER bed and shut the door. I laid there in my uncomfortable high-waisted jeans and T-shirt, listening to the creaking of the house, the people banging on the floor in the apartment above, and the sounds of my dad kissing someone who was not my mom.

“I’m just trying to kiss you,” I heard HER say.

I laid there for a long time, trying not to hear the smacking of their lips and fall asleep. I watched hours pass as the glowing red numbers on the alarm clock slowly changed.

I wish I could remember how things happened. Why did Dad cheat? How did they meet? There’s no excuse for cheating, but did Mom drive him to it? That’s what he said, anyway. I believe there is no excuse for cheating, personally.

I later overheard Mom recounting the confrontation over the phone. “I walked in there and there they were. She said, ‘Oh my God!’ and I said, ‘No, God had nothing to do with this.’” I don’t remember how Mom found out. I can’t remember if I said something. I do remember that she was very angry with me for not saying anything to her after my birthday. I was eight years old! What was I supposed to say? I should have said something, yes, but I didn’t know how. I told a girl at school the next day. Why couldn’t I have told Mom?

Part of me thinks that she holds that against me, that I didn't tell. Not too long after that they separated for a while. Mom told me that me and my fucking father could just go to hell. And for some reason, that memory, the one where she told me to go to hell, is one of the most vivid memories I have. Well, that and the other time when she told me that she never says anything unless she means it. Mom tells me that the only reason she went back to Dad was because of me. When I was a kid, I went through times where I believed it and times where I didn't.

Now let's jump forward to 2005. One day I wrote in my journal the alarm I expressed at the fact that my dad came home in the middle of the day, took a shower, shaved, then headed back out. He told me he had to go see about a job. I found the whole thing suspicious, but didn't even dare to voice my real suspicion in my journal.

I flipped through the journal a few pages. A week later, that was when I found the dating site in the computer's internet history. It was one of those hot, local singles type of websites. My dad is not and never has been a computer savvy guy. In my journal I wrote that he typed the URL directly into the search box instead of searching for generic porn terms such as titties and ass.

I panicked. The reason I checked the history was because I had been blogging back then and didn't want Mom to discover my blog, so I always deleted the history and the cookies. What was I supposed to do with that information? And by that time, going from what I read in my journal, I had already forgotten about the shower/shave incident.

I ended up deleting his trail. But a week or so later I told Mom. I don't know if I did the right thing. I don't know if I did the wrong thing. I just remember that it was a thing that totally sucked and I wished I hadn't been confronted with.

Looking back now, I see the completed puzzle. I had the suspicions. I had the pieces. But living there everyday made me blind to the bigger picture. Now I see it, and it certainly isn't a pretty one.

Putting the Puzzle Together

This afternoon I opened my Box O' Journals in search of material. And boy did I find material.

I'm really glad that I chose to record my thoughts and my life the past almost 15 years. Some of my thoughts are stupid and trivial. Some parts of my life that I chose to record are laughable - the crush I never thought I could get over, the overwhelming anger towards my sister for trashing my bedroom, the logs of trips to Wal-Mart with a complete list of my purchases. Some memories are happy and funny. Some are sad and depressing. Some of it I read now and am able to see the bigger picture those tiny daily puzzle pieces created.

You know how sometimes things happen and you don't fully understand why, but then suddenly one day you have a moment of realization? Like the time I hung out with my teenage friend when I was I was nine years old. I wanted to go swimming, but she said she couldn't. She couldn't swim? No, she said, that wasn't it. She didn't want to? No, she said. It was going to rain? No, she said. She didn't have a bathing suit? No, she said. She just couldn't. I didn't understand. For weeks I puzzled over it. Why couldn't she? I found out when I was 12. It made perfect sense. The pieces of the puzzle fit together to create a complete picture I wouldn't have been able to understand at age 9.

Today I journeyed back to 2005. I was 22. I lived with my parents and "helped out around the house", as they called it. I paid rent - officially it was $100 per month; unofficially it was two-thirds of my weekly paychecks if you counted the don't tell your father and the don't tell your mother "loans".

2005 spelled the end of my most toxic relationship. This wasn't a boy-girl relationship. It was a girl-girl relationship. A relationship where my best friend played holier-than-thou, innocent preacher's kid and I played like I was I gave a shit about organized religion. She had already ended the friendship once because, in short, I wasn't good enough for her. She did it through a comment on my LiveJournal. After a while we became friends again until I received an e-mail from her telling me that she loved me but it just wasn't going to work. She told me she could no longer be a hypocrite. I had already left the church by that point, so I was an outspoken heathen by then. In her e-mail she told me she was giving up smoking (which she started doing before she even found out that I did -- just sayin'), giving up listening to the devilish Christian rock I had got her hooked on (Tobymac and Nicole C. Mullen are the devil, I guess), and she was giving up me.

Whatever. I grieved, but I didn't grieve as much as the first time. I cried, but I didn't cry as much as the first time. I wrote her a nasty letter that I never gave her and moved on.

The funniest part about that story is that she's a missionary now. For a while she dated one of my good friends, then broke his heart the day after Christmas, through e-mail. He took her to the airport so she could head back to the mission field (before the break-up). On the way he stopped to get gas. While he was getting gas, she went inside and came out with three packs of Marlboros. From what I've heard, she's also a huge fan of this special jungle juice they make on the island. Supposedly, it's more potent than bourbon.

As I read through my 2005 journals today, I read about days where I defended Mom vehemently. I called my dad an asshole, I said she was too good for him, I called so-and-so and who-and-who assholes and said they should stop calling my mom a hypocrite. I defended her even while she was treating me like shit.

I read some of these entries to TAIM and he said, "Sounds like your BFF was the first relationship you sought out that was just like the relationship with your mom."

And then the pieces came together.

The men I dated before I met TAIM were more like my father. They were the type of men I could have easily had complete control over had I desired to. With that knowledge, I figured I was safe as far as subconsciously seeking out toxic relationships like the one Mom and I had. But, no. My best friend, she was Mom. She made me feel like dirty, rotten garbage and I was nothing but nice to her. One time I called her out on something and she pouted for weeks. I ended up apologizing to her to make everything right, just like I did with Mom. In that relationship I was the constant reconciler. I was the one making the effort while she was making the demands.

It's funny (not in a ha-ha sort of way) how we really do seek out relationships just like the ones we had with our parents.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Trying To Fit In

TAIM grew up in a poor family. He wore hand-me-downs and glasses. His mother invented her own style of haircuts. The Pineapple, her personal favorite and her children's least favorite, involved buzzing off all the hair except for the bangs which hung over the eyes. The poorness, the sweat pants - these were all enough for the bullies of high school to relentlessly attack TAIM and his siblings. To make matters even worse, his family was also the one who went door-to-door with copies of The Watchtower. And, TAIM was the fat kid.

His junior year in high school TAIM took drama. He discovered he had a real talent for creating plays and acting in them. He and his brother won an award for creating an original humorous remake of a Shakespearean play. That's when he noticed that he had a talent for humor. He could make people laugh. And if he could make people laugh, they didn't pay as much attention to the poverty, the fatness and the religion. All he wanted was to fit in, to at least not stand out. Humor, through drama class, was his in.

One day at drama class, the teacher had to leave for a couple hours to attend to a family emergency. A girl he had been friends with for ages invited TAIM and his brother to her house to hang out with her and her brother. The kids went to the girl's house and hung out in her bedroom, laughing, talking, having a grand old time until it was time to return to drama class. TAIM knew that if his mother found out he had talked to a girl and been in a girl's bedroom there would be hell to pay, even if he had been with other boys. Even if their time together consisted of good, clean fun. But surely his mother would never find out.

The next day as class let out, TAIM heard the voice of a crazy woman and instantly cringed. He saw his mother running down the halls toward him, yelling his and his brother's names. "How could you do this to me?" she yelled when she finally saw them.

TAIM tried to shrink himself. He wished he had a special Alice in Wonderland potion that would make him two inches tall, because that's exactly how tall he felt. He wished he grew into the Hulk when provoked because then he'd show her. He wished he could sling webs out of his wrists and jump to the ceiling and crawl away.

"You went over to a girl's house! And you were in her bedroom! How could you do this to me?! What the fuck were you thinking?" his mother continued screaming.

The world stopped. Everyone in the hall froze in place and fixed their eyes on the crazy lady and her two mortified sons.

TAIM thought about defending himself. He thought about telling his mother to mind her own fucking business. He thought about punching her in the face right there in the middle of the hallway. He thought about taking off, just running away and never going back. He opened his mouth to speak, to explain why they did it, what they did, and how it wasn't bad, why they didn't first ask for permission. He closed his mouth, knowing it would do no good. Once she started, nothing could stop her. Rationalizations and explanations meant nothing to an irrational person.

"Did you make out?! Did you kiss her?! Did you have SEX?! How could you fucking do this to me?! After all I've done for you, this is the thanks I get? You sneak off to have fun while I'm at home worrying about you. Thinking that I could fucking trust you to be where you said you were."

A locker slammed somewhere down the hall, the only sound in the long hallway as TAIM's mom stood on her tiptoes with one finger in the face of her oldest son.

"It's your fault! You're the oldest. You should fucking know better!" she screamed at TAIM. "Dragging your poor brother along into your little fucking world of SIN!"

TAIM and his brother backed down the hallway and opened the double doors that would free them from the eyes of their classmates as their mother followed, still screaming. She mixed the Lord's name with eff words and ess words, dee words and aaa words. She called her children sinful. She called them ungrateful. She called them Satanic. Right there in front of the whole school - the kids he had tried so hard to convince that he may not be cool, but he could be funny and he was even an all right sort of guy, the teachers who had read his essays and shook their heads in disbelief. At that point they all believed. Belief - that wasn't what TAIM wanted. He wanted acceptance. He wanted a semblance of normalcy. Those things could never be, not after that day.

He returned to school the next day. Some kids looked away as he and his brother walked past. Some kids stared with open jaws and whispered amongst each other, not caring if TAIM and his brother saw people talking about them. Some kids grabbed them by the underwear and continued the cycle of bullying - the cycle their own mother had started.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Much Ado About Weddings, part 2

The weekend after my wedding I went to my parents' house to visit my siblings. Mom was outside on the porch spray-painting some branches white.

"Whatcha doing?" I asked.

"Oh, I'm making a money tree for my piano teacher's wedding," she said. "I'll put some little clips on here and guests can attach money to the tree. Isn't that such a cute idea?"

I nodded.

We walked inside where she arranged the twigs in a large vase. "When is she getting married?" I asked.

"Next Saturday. The reception is going to be at work, so I'm gonna have to go in Friday night and get everything all set up. We're doing up the banquet hall in all white. I'm making centerpieces for the tables and ..."

That was when I zoned her out.

And this is why it's hard for me to get over the fact that my family didn't come to my wedding.

Later that day I showed Mom the pictures from our wedding. My sister had asked me to bring them because she wanted to see how I looked in my dress. Mom flipped through the book, flipping past the pictures that included TAIM as if they were pictures of a horrendous massacre.

My sister called me the day after the piano teacher's wedding to tell me how beautiful it was. I know she didn't do it to be malicious, but it still hurt. My sister was 10 years old at the time. Just a few months before, the night after The Proposal to the Parents, our parents went to the casino as they usually did on the weekends. After they left, my littlest sibling looked up at me with excited eyes and said, "I bet they're going to surprise you by getting you a wedding dress!" It took everything in me to sound excited for the piano teacher I'd met only twice, but I did because I couldn't corrupt my sister's sweet innocence.

My bridal shower was the following Saturday. My friends from work threw it for me and told me to make a list of everyone to invite. I invited my friends from work, family members I kind of knew, and friends. I also invited Mom and my sisters. Dad dropped my sisters off. Mom couldn't come because she had to work, I was told. My sisters gave me precious handmade gifts - cards and banners, taffies wrapped in tissue paper, scrapbook pages and paintings. Around Christmastime last year Mom quit telling me, "One of these days, when I can afford it, I'm going to get you a wedding present."

A few months later she made bouquets for a girl my sister used to be in 4-H with. "Her mom is all stressed out because they decided to get married two weeks sooner than they planned. She asked me to make the centerpieces and I offered to make the bouquets, too. I just have to go buy some carnations. They aren't too expensive, though, and it's a good thing since I'm paying for them. Then, I have to be there early to help decorate and stay late to clean up."

The next summer Mom took my siblings to another wedding - the marriage of her boss' son to a co-worker. Another money tree. Another phone call from my sister telling me what a beautiful wedding it was.

Last summer my husband and I spent $1500 of our tax return to go home for a week. I hadn't been home in about six months. We watched my sisters compete in the fair. He spent most of his time in the hotel because he said I should spend time with my family by myself. I'm sure the real reason was because it was incredibly awkward.

Speaking of awkward, as I stood next to Mom and talked about my sister's great barrel-racing technique, the piano teacher walked up. We said hi to each other, then her and Mom gabbed as if I wasn't there at all. Then another woman walked up, a friend of Mom's from work, a lady I had never met. I stood there awkwardly twiddling my thumbs as Mom introduced her friend to her piano teacher. She hugged the piano teacher and said, "She just got married - what was it? a year ago? Such a nice guy. And she's such a sweet girl." Then she hugged her piano teacher and grinned like a proud mother.

Why is it that the little things like that grate on me the most?

As I think about that day at the fair, I think about the nearly two years that I've lived 2,000 miles from home and how many times I've talked to Mom since I've moved. It's probably been about five or six times that I've talked to her. Each of those times were because I called her. Most of the time I called her she was busy/sleeping/eating/too stressed out/tired/didn't feel like talking.

If I never called her, would she ever call me? I don't think so. So should I even bother? I feel as if I'm wasting my time by trying to reconcile with her.

Much Ado About Weddings

The reason I brought up The Wedding yesterday is because The Wedding is one of my sorest spots. The day that was supposed to be the happiest of my life ended up being one of the biggest emotional rollercoasters I’d ever ridden. I was happy to be marrying the man of my dreams, my knight without the shining armor, my soulmate, my best friend. At the same time I was sad because both my family and his family, each with their own stupid reasons that I suppose made sense to them but absolutely none to us, refused to be a part. With the sadness came anger, bitterness and resentment. These are feelings I still haven’t been able to kick to the curb, even after two years have gone by.

I’ll have to tell you about the proposal sometime. His proposal to me was wonderful, romantic and dream-like. Our proposal to our parents… well, there was no wonderful anything – at least not the good kind of wonder. We were only full of wondering if we would survive the five hours in hell on my parents’ couch and the 15 minutes of pseudo-happy sighs and hand clapping from his crazy mother who had herself convinced that she was a much better mother than mine because she gave us $100 to "help out".

The week before the date, Mom stormed into my bedroom (I was a good little virgin Baptist who lived at home until I married) and asked me just when the fuck I planned to get my shit out. I started immediately. I called work and told them I’d be late, then spent the afternoon throwing my shit into trash bags, loading it into my teensy little sedan and carrying it up to the second floor studio apartment I would soon share with my husband. I had hoped that maybe my dad would help me move out since he had a big ass truck and since he is a rather strong fellow. That's why I waited, I guess.

When Dad got home and saw me furiously throwing all my worldly trash and treasures into bags, he gave me an almost sympathetic look then went outside to fix his truck for the bazillionth time that horrible week.

I went outside and I announced my plan. “I’m going to stay at the Holiday Inn until we get married. I can’t take this anymore.”

“Don’t do that,” he said as he kicked the tires of his truck and avoided eye contact. “You know how she gets--”

“I can’t take it anymore.”

“It’s just a week. It’d be stupid to drain your savings. You might need that money later.”

“Fine. I'll stay.” I got in my car and headed to the apartment with another load.

I kept one set of sheets and one blanket in my bedroom. Every morning I dug the day's outfit out of a backpack and stuffed the dirty clothes in a grocery sack to wash at the laundromat after the wedding.

Since we had to leave super late/early in the morning to head to Tennessee on Friday/Saturday, I hugged my dad and siblings and left my parents’ house for good on Friday morning. I hung out at the apartment crying and unpacking my stuff while my fiancĂ© worked.

At about 2 p.m. that afternoon, my cell phone rang. My heart dropped when I saw it was Mom. The speech I had been planning on giving her, the one I had been rehearsing out loud in the apartment all day, disappeared from my mind as I slunk down against the wall in the bathroom, the only area large enough for a person to sit in the entire apartment since my stuff had invaded the tiny space.

She was in the big city with my siblings, pulled over on the side of the road, waiting out a tornado watch, she said. I could hear the wind wailing in the background, but no sound came from the mouths of my siblings – which if you have kids or much younger siblings, you know that is highly unusual.

“I’m sorry that we can’t come,” she said.

“I have money,” I offered for the bazillionth time. “I can run it over to Dad. It’s enough for gas, food and a hotel for a couple nights.”

“I can’t take your money. You need that to start out your marriage. I just wish that you had given us more notice. Or got married in town.”

I almost started to feel bad. Actually, I did feel bad. Even though I knew that even if we had held the ceremony in their back yard she would have found a reason not to attend – just like she found a reason to not be home the day she was supposed to meet my boyfriend. We chose Gatlinburg because it was lovely, it was romantic, it was cheap – honeymoon included. We chose it because we knew we couldn’t afford a huge reception and because even if we did have a huge reception no one would have come except for my aunt and a handful of friends. And three months' notice certainly wasn't much.

But that phone call, that one where she almost kind of said she was sorry, made me incredibly remorseful. I did everything wrong. I should have involved my parents in our relationship. I should have tried harder to talk to them about the relationship I was in. I should have been a better daughter. I should have asked Mom if she wanted to go dress shopping with me (even after she told me she wanted nothing to do with it).

“It just really hurt that you didn’t want to involve me in any of it,” she said. “Do you know how terrible that is to know that you can’t help your daughter pick out her wedding dress? Do you know what that feels like?”

Well, actually, no, but I can imagine. I know what it feels like to know that my mom doesn’t want to be involved in my wedding or my life at all.

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the day crying and feeling bad about getting married. So many times throughout that day I was tempted to just give in like I had with everything else in my life. I could just give in, go home and be a good daughter, doing what she wanted me to do, for the rest of my life. Cats are nice companions.

“I’m sorry that it had to be like this,” she said in closing.

But it didn’t have to be like that, did it?