Holiday Betrayal Epiphany.

Hush now baby, baby, don’t you cry.
Mama’s gonna make all your nightmares come true.
Mama’s gonna put all her fears into you.
Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing.
She won’t let you fly, but she might let you sing.
Mama’s gonna keep baby cozy and warm.
Ooooh baby, ooooh baby, oooooh baby,
Of course mama’s gonna help build the wall.

The last blog post written by me was posted on October 15. In our world of instant gratification, that’s a long time ago. A long time. I have thought about blogging, but that’s as far as it goes. And I thought about that.

And then I thought some more. I always struggle throughout the fall, it usually starts before my birthday (September 28) and lasts until the after Christmas, like, you know, now. It’s an annual sort of thing. Holidays hold no warm and fuzzy feelings for me.

I have holiday issues, and, well, my birthday is my holiday. In the 80’s, my then-husband left me on my birthday. With a hurricane threatening, he got on an airplane to go and be with his then-girlfriend. Their story didn’t have a happy ending, and I was ok with that. It took me a while, but I was and am. It is one of the best things that ever happened to me. She was one of many along the way. I was his loss, not the other way around. A lesson learned.

Some years later, my mother sent me a birthday card in the wrong month. Really, Mom, really? If anyone should remember your birthday, it’s your mom. Right?

I could go on about the traditional holiday season; Thanksgivings and Christmases that cut to the bone. My family could be the poster child for dysfunctional families. Dad, the drunk-Irish-cop (too cliché for words!); Mom, codependent-enabler; sisters, and brother alternately following in the footsteps of one and then the other. I include myself in that equation, I have to. My oldest sister (S1) spends every holiday in the hospital – even birthdays – other people’s even. It’s the ultimate in holiday avoidance. She was the smart sister, Dad’s favorite (the crazy sister), the next sister was the pretty one, Mom’s favorite. And then there was my younger brother and me. A professional modeling career and three Masters’ degrees wasn’t going to change anything.

When I left Boston in the winter of 1986, I weighed 96 pounds. At 5’8” that’s not good. My friends took up a collection and paid for me to move to Virginia Beach. My family had no idea where I went. They say, to make your life right, you have to change people, places, and things. And so I did.

But we all buy into the myth that family matters to everyone, and that’s just not true. These people to whom I am bound by blood have betrayed me over and over, betrayed my children, grandchildren. I don’t see that that’s going to change. As recently as this Thanksgiving, a woman who has been physically and emotionally abusive to my children and Ryan had dinner at my mother’s. This woman happens to be the daughter of my ex-husband’s current amour. She had been living with S1.  My mom says that she doesn’t see why it would bother me that this woman is spending the holiday with them. Really?

But she knew it would bother me. She lied to me telling me that it had been my sister’s idea, thus creating unnecessary friction there. Then the story changed, S1 had forced this woman on them. She had invited the bitch, to my mother’s house, for Thanksgiving and my mother had no say in this.

I should know better than to be surprised by this. But it catches me off guard.  Every time. Every year, in the fall, I retreat, begin to anticipate the next betrayal, the next ugly holiday. Like Frodo’s memory of the Mordor blade, I’m haunted by past injury and betrayal. Past.

And the new year starts tomorrow; I have several teaching gigs, a surrogate family filled with my partner, children, grandchildren, and the most amazing friends on the planet…

So, taking my cue from Jimmy Buffett (substitute Weymouth for Nashville)…

On old loose-leaf paper to her mother she wrote

She said, Momma, I’m fine if you happen to wonder

I don’t have much money but I still get around

I haven’t made church in near thirty-six Sundays

So fuck all those West Nashville ballroom gowns…

And next fall, friends, redirect me to this post and remind me that phantom-wraiths from the lives we leave behind can do no damage.



7 thoughts on “Holiday Betrayal Epiphany.

  1. So, been there, done that. I could have almost written this. The fact that you’re so together now, gives me something to strive for, and I thank you. Happy New Year.

  2. There has been much pain in your life. I hope it is done but probably not, that is not the way life plays. Even my less than loving wife gets treated rotten by her family regularly.

  3. Mel, I’m not going to say I understand your family situation. I believe that family dysfunction is unique to each group. I know my dysfunction. I also know that the family I have created, chosen, crafted, is the family that nurtures me. That family includes my better half, Anne. The woman smart enough not to marry me but has shared her life with me in cohabitational bliss for over twenty years. We have a son that is a joy in my life. I have a sister that shares a problem and solution that changed our way of life. I have dear friends that illuminate my days and nourish my soul.

    Knowing yourself is vital, knowing your family is critical. Every person in my “family” has a different surname from me. Holidays take on a new meaning and a new joy is available to you once you bring your “family” into the holidays that so trouble you. Confucius said if you are looking for a way out, find a door. A new “family” may be a door.

  4. Mel I really would like to talk to you and try to catch up. I can so relate to the holiday thing. I don’t want to post my number here. My email is I think we probably have lots more in common than you may think. I really hope to hear from you.

  5. I did not know we shared the same family! Not entirely kidding unfortunately, but wow can I relate to much of this. Many of my friends do not understand the sense of peace I have since my mother died, but it’s like not having to worry about roadside bombs any more. Yeah, she always caught me off guard too. Every. single. time.

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