The day I buried my husband was the day I knew my relationship with my family was over. It took 2 sentences to convince me what I and Ryan had seen coming for years. They were~
We are leaving now because everyone here is for Ryan. We are here if you need anything-just call.
Yes those words were uttered to me as I stood in the corner of my kitchen with a house and a yard filled with people who were here because of one person. I remember watching them and the rest of my family all gather their things and leave. That was the last time I saw most of my family. I saw my parents for about 6 months following Ryan’s death and then with the help of my therapist I came to terms with the fact that I needed to cut all ties with them for myself and my children. There was no way to keep them in my life without damaging myself even more and then it affecting my children.
Without going into too much detail (I am not that type of person) my relationship with my parents, particularly my mom, had always been strained. I would always try to be the good daughter and do everything she wanted and more. I was always trying to prove myself to her. I was always trying to get her approval. This affected me in all areas of my life….friendships, my marriage, my career, and it was starting to affect my parenting. My insecurities took over. On the outside I appeared very confident but on the inside I was full of self-doubt and always felt I was never good enough for anyone or at anything. I never spoke up for myself. I allowed people to walk all over me rather than take a stand when I knew what was happening was not right.
Ryan helped me to start seeing myself in a whole new light. He always encouraged me rather than discouraged me from taking chances. He encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone in my career. If it wasn’t for his support and his belief that I could do it, I would have probably never gotten my special education degree or left my position at a Catholic School in the middle of a school year for a part-time position in a public school district. He was my biggest cheerleader and advocate. This is one thing I miss terribly.
Once I became a mom, I knew I wanted to be at home to take of my children. Fortunately, Ryan and I got married later in life, had our careers established so this was able to happen. I remember several times comments being made about my parenting by my mom. But it was always said in a passive aggressive manner. It was hard to stand up and say I didn’t like her telling me I was “too picky” with the clothes my kids wore, or I was “too protective”, etc. The funny thing was….I was the total opposite. But in my mom’s eyes I was doing things the way I wanted and she didn’t agree. To her shopping at Children’s Place or Target meant I had “high standards” and was “snobby” with what my kids wore. She didn’t like to shop period. But if she did it wasn’t at those stores because at the time they were not close. Being “too protective” in her eyes was that I had a schedule that I stuck to and if there was something in the middle of nap time I wouldn’t come until afterwards. When you have a child who was up at 5:00 am, nap time was your sanity. But if it affected her, I was too strict.
These comments as well as how structured my mom was (always was even growing up) would affect me to the point that my whole demeanor would change. I would wake up every Sunday agitated. Why Sunday? Because that was “her day” to see my kids. Not because we set that date but because that was her routine just like every Friday she went grocery shopping and every Saturday out to dinner. It was who she was and I am not bashing her for that at. We all have our little quirks. It was mostly how I was treated during the visit or if I had to cancel a visit. It was extremely hard for Ryan at times to be around when they would come to visit. He had to stand back and watch me take abuse and because I wanted to keep the peace, he respected that and would go fishing or run an errand for part of the visit.
When my world fell apart, I thought things would change. But even during the days after and leading up to Ryan’s funeral she was putting me down to his family and my friends. Nothing I did was ever good enough. So when those words and a lot more were said, I knew it was up to me now to stand up for me. I didn’t want my children to grow up hearing or seeing any of this. Most importantly I knew how it affected me and it wouldn’t be fair to them. I stood up and I spoke my peace. I didn’t do it in a respectful way. I will own that but I did it because enough was enough. The blame again was and I believe still is put on me. The only blame I will put on myself was the manner in which it happened and how disrespectful I was to her. That is not who I am but emotions took over. Emotions from years and years of always feeling I was not good enough.
My children know I can no longer have a relationship with their grandparents. I have never uttered one mean word about my parents to my children. I have never refused them to see my children or my children to see them. My children know all they have to do is say the word and I will make it happen. We are going on 3+ years since they have seen their grandparents. Am I sorry I stood up to them and chose to break all ties? No. I feel sorry for them because they are missing out on 3 amazing individuals. And I feel sorry for other family members who knew how all of this was and instead of speaking up, chose to remain quiet and chose to not find out my side.
All I know is that I AM GOOD ENOUGH. It might have taken me years to finally believe it myself but I finally do believe I am.