Family Untied

I just realized it has been almost a year since I’ve spoken to my mother, face-to-face. It’s been four months since my dad has bothered to say anything to me, even in an email. The last I heard from him was when I asked for help with our move and he said no. (As you may recall, he told me in January he had “over ten grand” in his bank account.)

For months after Bea’s first birthday, Charlie took the reins and dealt with my mom while I was at work. Her hysterics were just more than I wanted to tackle, and after trying and trying to communicate with her, I admit I just gave up. She wouldn’t listen to either of us, and even accused Charlie and me of railroading and brow-beating her one afternoon last summer when we tried to convince her to help us  find homes for their cats.

Since all of this shit went down last May, Charlie and I have received no less than a dozen sobbing, 5-minute-long voice mails, fifty or more emails each, and several messages from Facebook friends and family to tell us my mom is asking them to take photos and screenshots from our pages. My mother has begged and pleaded with us to listen to her “side” and let her see Bea more often. I have listened to her story and, to be honest, it isn’t much different from what my dad told me. I explained this to her, so I guess my response was unsatisfactory. She wanted us to be shocked, horrified, disgusted, I guess. But we weren’t.

After just a few weeks with my dad as a housemate (dependent), Charlie and I agreed that we couldn’t figure out how my mom could claim she had no idea what was going on. The man is a liar, a manipulator, possibly a sociopath. If he didn’t love his cats so much, I’d think he had no conscience at all. I lost count of all the times he lied to me with a completely straight face. A few times, in the beginning, I called him out on it. “That’s not what you said yesterday, Dad, when you told me A, B, C.”
“Yes it is,” he’d respond. “I don’t know where you’re getting A, B, C. It’s X, Y, Z.”
“No, Dad. I remember it very clearly and can quote exactly what you said. It was just just a few hours ago.”
He would either laugh, saying that I was losing my mind, or throw up his hands in frustration, shouting, “Oh, okay! You know better than I do what I was saying?!”

I actually went out and bought a lock box to keep Bea’s social security card and birth certificate because there was no doubt in my mind that, given the opportunity, he would take her information and start applying for lines of credit under her name.

So one of my major frustrations with my mother is her lack of accountability in this entire situation. You can’t live with someone for almost 40 years and never have any clue that he’s completely lost his mind. I don’t know if he ever had it. I don’t know if PTSD played a factor. I don’t know if he’s got some form of mental health issue that’s only recently begun to rear its ugly head. I just know that you would have to be incredibly stupid or live in a serious state of denial to not see how nasty he can be.

But that’s only part of it. The most recent email to Charlie said, and I quote, “If you don’t let me come and visit, how will you know how I’m doing? If Courtney doesn’t talk to me, how will she know what’s going on with me?” Did I tell you this already? How will I know how she is? What about how I’m doing? The woman hasn’t asked anyone what’s going on with me in a year. She didn’t know I was graduating from college until my dad told her. She didn’t know I’d applied to graduate programs until Charlie mentioned it. And she didn’t know we were moving to Chicago because . . . well, I didn’t tell her. So, yeah. That one’s on me.

A lot of my gay and lesbian friends are big proponents of chosen family. Because they have to deal with their parents’ refusal to accept the lifestyle, they become closer with other people in their lives than their mom and dad, grandparents, aunts and uncles. I’m lucky to have developed some really great relationships with people in my family recently. My dad’s brother, his wife Vicki, and their kids. But I also have a lot of people in my life who mean a lot more to me than my bickering, nasty parents — one of whom would run me over with a car to steal my daughter, the other of which would run me over with a car so he could pawn my TV.

It just makes me all that much more determined to get the money together for an estate lawyer; to ensure that, in the worst possible scenario, neither of my parents is even considered as a guardian for Bea.

It probably sounds sad to other people, especially those who think Family is all we have in the world, that someone should not talk about their own parents this way. But I know I’m not alone. I know, through late-night Google searches, that there are tons of other people in similar, if not worse, situations than I am with the people who brought them in to this world. It merely leads me to believe that child rearing is not a right — it’s a privilege to which many people seem to give very little consideration. And it makes me very aware of how I am with Bea and how I do not want to turn out as a parent.


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