I think when you come down to it, truth is, everyone wants to be loved.
Though at some time, with some people, we must face the facts that attempts for being loved, let alone being accepted, are futile.
Oh sure, I’d love to be like those that claim they do not care. Seemingly untroubled by who calls them what, the stories that have been told, or the judgments made. Maybe such people really do exist. I am not one of them.
So it was with that hope in mind, that of simply being loved, and then reduced to liked, and then reduced to accepted… by my in-laws, that I write today.
Oh, not all of them. In fact, only a few. There are a lot of them around here in the summer. Some have been fine. Some have been great. But that very unpleasant, difficult few have made a big impression. Not a pretty one, either.
Why? Go figure. We’ve learned we’ll never really know. I’ve heard all kinds of theories. The typical, “She must be a hussy.” Or thinking I was no more than the hired help. Or that I married Bob for his money (no offense, sweetheart, but I can hear the chuckles). Or fear. Fear of me taking their little boy away. Fear of losing control. Fear of change.
For their world was perfect before I came. Right. Wrong. Frighteningly so. But I don’t know if anyone every spoke about it, you know, as in “admitted it” before I was here to open up the closet and let the skeletons spill out. Hush-hush, brush it under the carpet, don’t tell a sole, and just pretend we get along. Good lord, but you HATE each other! Who are you fooling?
An ugly picture in a beautiful world.
When you put the pieces of the puzzle together, there before you is one ugly picture. But it’s just one, spread out on my kitchen table, a twisted mix of facts and lies, and I know I have the ability to brush it off, toss it away, clean the slate and begin my day, my life, in a beautiful way. Even here.
Pieces of the puzzle. It’s a long story. I’ll probably only get to a part of it today. Bear with me as this might not be the lovely lighter side of life you like to listen to. But it’s real and raw and revealing. And I suppose there is something to be said for that. Like letting it all hang out so you can lighten your load and learn to laugh again.
And I’m gonna have the last laugh after all. Because although legend has it when we were married my husband’s brother and mother vowed to chase me off in five years, I’ve spent the last four chuckling, just knowing my presence alone causes them misery. And now, with our return, with our commitment to the land, it’s easy to see how we’ll still be here, enjoying a new group of neighbors, long after they leave. And yes, I confess, I do I take pleasure in that.
So where do I begin?
An ugly picture.
Most of the details I chose to forget. There were many. Ugly, ugly images. Memories more like nightmares. I learned to say this family is not mine. No family is perfect, I know, but this was a bit much.
So why am I rehashing all this crap? Because I can, the brother used to say. He never gave us a better reason for treating us as he did. So maybe just this time, I’ll say the same. Because I can. And because part of healing is forgiving. Letting go. And I’m still holding on. I’m still hurt. Having people hate you, hate everything you do or did or built or made, finding fault in you and your life and your dreams and your hard work hurts. Period. The scars are deep. But they are healing.
This story will help clarify the picture for me, ugly as it may be. Only then can I brush it aside… and laugh.
I might add that this post is not endorsed by my husband, and may be the first one which he will read and won’t say, “It’s nice.” I guarantee. This will make him cringe. Why stir the waters, he will ask me? I will tell him that the mud is thick and deep, and taints the clear waters that calmly lies on top. It doesn’t go away on its own. At some point we must drain the pond and begin anew. Let sleeping dogs lie, he’ll tell me. But my dog sleeps restlessly, and wakes up barking.
Life isn’t always peaches and cream. Maybe it’s because of the bitter apple and sour milk that fine wine seems so sweet. It’s a package deal. The good and bad. An ugly picture in a beautiful world. So, I’ll tell my story finally. Forget the silence of the lambs. It due time I climb to the top of the mountain and let loose my feral wail.
It isn’t going to make me any friends. But truth is, it’s already cost me plenty. That was their intention. Stories from my mother- and brother-in-law. I’m better off not knowing the half of them.
I would like to claim innocence but that would not be fair. I could have/should have seen the signs, and probably did, but love is blind. The sweet little old lady who had already had about twenty five years perfecting the act. Oh, she could tell a story so well! A historian, she called herself. Though I cringe to think of how many stories were told for the sheer impact and effect on intrigued tourists. I too was enamored by her once, and so looked forward to having her… love me.
Why she couldn’t run me off like she succeeded in doing for others before me, I do not know. But for that I am grateful. Though the battle to win and keep her son left deep scars within me. They are worth it. He is worth it.
An ugly picture. You built your own hell. Alas, it’s fading. It’s lost its control. The rein of critiques and criticism from the plastic throne is withering away. The powers she appointed to replace her are not even worthy of mention.
There is more, so much more. I need not remember it all. I need to learn to let go. For myself, my son, my husband. For them, I push open the shutters and pull up the shade and let go of the past and let new light flood into the room.
As one friend writes, “The old me would have…” But the new one won’t put up with crap. OK, well, so maybe I never did.
So what is the solution? Learning to let go. Learning not to care. Learning not to be affected by the words and actions and stories spread by others. Well, one thing is for sure. I’ll never run for public office. I’ll never be a politician. For I never will care enough about what others think of me to act falsely or to put up with injustice and sit around silently. And still, I find I care too much.
So, where does that leave me? I guess exactly where I am.
We have not spoken in years. A big fence divides us, and I have learned no fence is big enough to hold back hatred. I’ve stopped listening to them, to their stories, though I still hear them from time to time. I think only a few still listen, though only a few ever did. They still spend their idle time here, coming and going in the summer. Just more fair weather tourists who like to think about how many years they have been coming here, as if that enables one a greater hierarchical ranking.
And I will watch them leave, and breathe again.
And in the meanwhile, I will learn to accept that not everyone is going to love you. Some, in fact, will hate you. Not because of who you are or what you’ve done, but because of themselves. Let them keep their misery. They build it well. Some people choose to paint their own ugly pictures, then spend a lifetime looking at that, rather than the beautiful view before them.
I don’t want to be that person. I want to see that beautiful view, be out in it, be a part of it, and should I lift my paintbrush to add to the picture before me, may I only craft it to be a more beautiful one.
If ever that were possible in such a picture perfect world.