Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wife and Kid (and now Parent) Drama

As I shared in my previous post, my wife planned to bring her boyfriend of 18 months to the family Easter Brunch.  This upset my 17yo son.  "It's disrespectful dad!  She walks all over you!"

For reasons I explained to my son and in the post, I didn't have a problem with the boyfriend attending.  After a long conversation about it, my son eventually conceded my points were valid, even if he didn't entirely agree.  In the end his hostility dissipated, which was a big relief. Holidays are for happy family memories, not drama or fighting.

So how was Easter Brunch?

Excellent!  And, the boyfriend's presence was a non-event.

Because we arrived on-time (as opposed to everyone else being late), I sat in the center of the long table, next to my mother-in-law who was the host.  My wife sat on my other side and her boyfriend was next to her.  Nobody seemed to care that my wife had sandwiched herself between the two of us.

As the brunch progressed, I started to feel bad for the boyfriend because he was the newbie at the table.  The next newest in-law had already been in the family for 18 years.

I remember how it felt to be the outsider at these kinds of family events...it's not easy.  You want to fit in, but should you try to ingratiate yourself or should you politely wait for others to engage you?  Either way, it's often a bit awkward - especially when your girlfriend's husband is sitting two chairs away.

Although I didn't officially confirm it with my son, it was pretty clear to me that Easter was enjoyable for everyone, which is just the way it's supposed to be.

In somewhat related news, I'm hoping that the lack of drama at Easter will carry over to my side of the family in the coming weeks.  I've set myself a deadline of May 5th to *finally* tell my parents that Gabbie and I have split up.  It's been more than four years so it's probably time, don't you think?

I want it done several days before Mother's Day because I'll have to talk to my parents then.  I've decided to drop the bomb by email (for reasons I'll soon explain) and I want my parents to have time to process what I say before I speak to them.

As I've mentioned before, my parents are relatively young (68 and 69) but they're incredibly annoying, each in their own way.  My mother inevitably turns what should be a fifteen minute conversation into ninety minutes, and believe me, those extra 75 minutes are extremely painful.  Nothing she says is helpful or insightful.  It's like she enjoys dragging things out, just to sadistically (but oh so innocently) torture me.

My father is worse, but in a different way.  He literally says the stupidest, lamest and most inane things, one after another.  Each sentence feels like a knife cutting into my skull.  Ten sentences are the equivalent of being knifed to death.  Talking to him is brutal, it's one of the things I dread most in life.

It might seem like I'm being harsh but Gabbie and my three kids all feel the same way.  My one sibling, a younger sister, keeps her distance as well.

My parents are not bad people.  It's just that talking to them is the emotional equivalent of being attacked by a Harry Potter Dementor: they suck all the happiness right out of you and replace it with gloom.  As you might imagine, I learned a long time ago to never share anything emotionally difficult with them.  The extra pain and aggravation are so not worth being open and honest.  But in this situation, I really have no choice.  I can't keep asking Gabbie and the kids to put on a show for my benefit, even if they're totally sympathetic.

Having come to terms with the fact that I must tell my parents what's happened, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how and when.  My goal is to communicate only what's necessary, to make it clear that I don't want to discuss the details, and to move the focus of the conversation from the past and present to the future.  If I had more time to mentally prepare myself (like, several additional years), I might be able to deftly pull off that conversation in a phone call.  But since I can't do that right now, I've decided that the written word will have to suffice.  It will give me control of the conversation and it will allow me to share the exact same message with my extended family, including my sister, aunts and cousins.

I suppose sending out a mass email is a tacky thing to do, but I literally don't have the emotional strength to keep a positive attitude if I'm forced to have the same difficult conversation with a dozen people.

Also, in case you're wondering, my sexuality will not be mentioned.  I can only cross one emotional bridge at a time, and besides, at the rate I'm going, I'll never meet a man I'll need to introduce to my family anyway.

I have ten days to write this dreaded email.  I can't wait until the whole thing is over and it's the Monday after Mother's Day.
I don't know why, but seeing Ryan Reynolds' amazingly hot body always surprises me.

3 comments:

  1. Start working on the email now. It will give you plenty of time to edit, and polish and re-edit so that it says exactly what you want it to say, in the way you want to. Then on the dreaded day hit send and await for the bombs to drop. I bet except for your parents it will be a no big deal. Divorce is so common nowadays that it hardly raises an eyebrow.

    good luck! And after Mom's day? Get serious about finding you a someone special.

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  2. This is very painful and I feel for you.

    I think the email is not such a bad idea. Keep it very brief and make it clear how emotionally painful this event is for you. That might help shutdown followup questions. Blame everything on Gabbie too (just kidding). You might also consider individual emails - cut and paste the body, and just personalize the salutation.

    Some people would liken this to ripping a bandaid off a wound. Maybe a better analogy is tearing the dressing off a large surgical incision. Good luck.

    It's good that you set a close deadline -- one week from today. Get it over with is best.

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  3. Good luck my friend. I don't know how I could tell my parents. ughhhhh,,,,

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