A Teensy Bit of Progress in the Friendship Department

The job’s been going very well. Yes, it’s a front desk job and I have to run for the phone, I don’t take any breaks, can barely get to the toilet twice a day, but the job is extremely varied and I like knowing all that’s happening in the place. I like working with law enforcement and DHS and board members. I’m beginning to feel I’m the beating heart of the place.

There’s really only one job I have in my mind that I’d like to do (other than have my own business) and that is to find a way to go to schools to talk to kids (and their parents separately) about e-safety. Even so-called “good” kids are getting caught up making horrible mistakes with people they meet online. Mistakes that will haunt them the rest of their lives. Every single day I deal with young kids and teens who are flattered when someone asks them for naked pics and soon became hooked on the flattery. Then they get blackmailed to keep sending more or they’ll share the pics with the entire school.

Their very weak self esteem makes them think if he says she’s pretty or sexy that it must mean that he likes her. Some of these boys aren’t even boys at all, but grown men posing as boys. And it escalates very quickly to meeting boys / men and doing stuff physically. And what makes me furious is these boys are watching so much porn that they think making a girl gag or pulling her hair is normal sexual behavior. I really feel for parents of younger kids in these times.

But every time the police go to schools to talk about safety with kids and they explain that no means no, one or two girls come up to them afterwards and tell them that it happened to them, only they didn’t know it was wrong until now or they were too frightened to act. And the cops don’t have the resources to get out there and warn and inform kids often enough and I really want to do some research and come up with a presentation and see if I can create that job for myself.

You never know. If someone can find the funding, it could be done.

But here’s some interesting news.

Because my brother, his wife, and young son are coming to visit starting on Thursday, my mother has had my dad working like a fiend cleaning house. This is what she does whenever they come: become obsessive about her house and plan every meal and every move. Her lists are long and they grow and grow and grow. He hosed down the entire house and the screens. He washed the windows. He had one honey-do project after another. Then last night at dinner he says to me, “I felt horrible yesterday. I was exhausted and my jaw hurt and I couldn’t even nap.” I said, “Dad, your jaw hurting can be a sign of an impending heart attack.”

Let me remind you he’s 81, has COPD, and uses a walker.

And I just felt so fucking furious that my mom will let my dad literally kill himself getting the house ready to impress my brother (who couldn’t give a shit) and his wife (who doesn’t care). I made it clear to her that I wanted him to stop all the extra activity. I demanded that he go to the doctor today. And then I had a rather awesome experience.

I felt so helpless. I was looking online at MerryMaids and places like that knowing full well it would be hard to find someone who could come so quickly. So I sent a text message to a woman I work with in the kitchen at church and asked her if she knew a cleaning person. Then I went to Facebook and messaged an older woman, a victim advocate at my work, and asked her if she knew of a cleaning person. Finally I wrote to my boss and asked her in a text.

They all responded with caring and with ideas. They were all willing to do more. One of them, the advocate from my work even said she would come over and do it herself. I was utterly blown away.

It made me realize that even though it is early stages, I am forming relationships and friendships. It’s taking a long time, but I knew they didn’t mind being asked by me and that they were willing to try to do more. That is friendship, right? I felt so happy that I could see the proof of it right before my eyes.

In the end, when I told my folks I was arranging someone to come finish the cleaning they utterly rejected the notion. They said they were almost done and dad would pace himself and it was a waste of money. And the truth is the only thing left to be done are the floors and washing the dogs. And the other truth is I should have done more myself. I dusted the whole house on Sunday and on Monday I cleaned the shower, which I do every week. I spent some time cleaning stuff out of the fridge, but other than that I didn’t really do much.

Well, it looks as though we’ll make it until Thursday when they arrive and I pray it’s a good visit. I’m very excited to see my sweet young nephew, but just as excited to see my own daughter who will be here on Sunday with her boyfriend to meet them.

I’m grateful for those rare moments when you can see that your efforts are paying off. It gives me hope for the future.

Thanks for reading.



6 responses to “A Teensy Bit of Progress in the Friendship Department

  1. As cl says- you can only change you. Your dad should also say no. Your mom should know. If the worst happens, it will not, ever ever in any way have been your fault. We have choice. They are both making the choice to endanger him. You tried to help, you have come up with ideas. But they are your family, not your full on responsibility. Also- I absolutely think your willingness to speak about the risks is a cool idea. Talk to them about it. Finding funding is less hard with a good plan. It’s a grant here or there, but a determined program person is a great start. You could reach out to women advocacy groups for additional people. Depending on what you want to do- you could train volunteers and you could hit 3 area schools each- no huge commitment, and whammy, that’s more schools and more education and still barely a hit on the agencies resources, because it’s a PowerPoint and some volunteer time… Not losing their lifeblood receptionist! (Because that’s a good person to have around) I think you need to see it… Even bigger!

  2. Yeah, Alex. My dad can be a real martyr. That’s why he can only take so much and then he blows up. It’s a system that doesn’t work well for them at all. He’d say he’s learned that it’s not worth saying no because she’d attempt to do it herself, injuring herself, or not speak to him for days. In my view he’s taught her how to behave this way. They’ve done this for 60 years.

    Thanks for your feedback about talking to kids about e-safety. I found out yesterday it is part of their mission to educate. They’re just trying fo figure out, with the funds available if it should be to talk to parents, teachers, and or the kids themselves. In a perfect world they’d do all three.

    On the whole, I really do like my job.

    Thanks very much for your feedback. Sorry if this is disjointed. I just woke up and can hardly focus yet!


  3. ML,
    I hope your visit with family is going well. Have you met your daughter’s boyfriend before? I know you have commented on them in the past.
    Your poor dad… but yes, this is a sick sad game that both of your parents have played for so long. I am hoping that your dad’s health is OK and he is well enough to enjoy your brother et al.
    I have been missing for what feels like a long time from my on line support. I have been thinking of you and sending positive energy that the dental work was painless in both a somatic and financial way.
    Your job sounds like things are going well and you are happy. I agree though, I want to work for myself as well. Alex had some really good ideas on getting the ball rolling.
    That was so sweet that people offered to help you getting the house finished for “the visit”. I don’t think you realize how much of a lovey and valued person you truly are… of course people want to be your friend. Part of what you need to focus on now is letting the right people close to you. It is VERY hard, I know, the betrayal from my marriage follows me and constantly gives me pause.
    In my cyber absence, I think I have done some personal growth myself. I have gone to some MeetUps and actually had interactions with people who did not make my skin crawl. We are doing it, just keep on showing up every day and slowly but surely, things change. I can see that you are relaxing into this new life you are forging little by little.
    Thanks as always for sharing your personal story with us. It is so inspiring, the change YOU have affected and how you are able to feel more hopeful about the future.

    • ENM, perhaps you and I are in more or less the same place as far as needing the CL website very much at this point. I still go there and I still comment, but not nearly as much, and I find myself feeling that I just don’t want to hear about pain and betrayal any longer. Also I do realize I’m thinking of him less. So in my own way I’m having some slight cyber absence myself.

      I know you went to the art journal meet up. Was there another one you enjoyed. Frankly I like the sound of what your community has to offer more than mine. I look forward to hearing about them.

      I finally got to see my brother, sister in law, and their 1.5 year old today after work. It was heaven! We’ll spend Sat. and Sun. together and they fly home on Monday. I love my brother very much. He’s been a huge influence in my life and often the only good thing about my childhood. His wife is impossible not to like and their sweet son is loving and adorable. It makes me wish I had a grandson or daughter.

      I love what you said about “just showing up” and I truly feel that is the key to recovery and finding the new us. I don’t have an old life to return to because I’ve never been independent and never known what I wanted. That’s why everything is new now. So just showing up is how it all falls into place, I believe. I’m really glad to hear excitement in your voice.

      Tonight my mom isn’t speaking to my dad (now that my bro and his family have returned to their hotel). She does not like her one granddaughter who lives closely. She invited her and her boyfriend tonight, and then found out that her brother (a grandchild she loves) is coming Sunday after all, so she’s horribly upset that she feels she must invite the hated granddaughter back on Sunday. I’m so ashamed of the horrible things she says about her. She told me the other day she “feels terrible that she feels this way about her.” I thought to myself, no you don’t. If you did you’d be on your knees asking God to help you love your granddaughter who has done nothing bad to you. It’s the most disgraceful things she’s ever done and that’s saying a lot. My mom finds a way to be sulking in the middle of this visit from her favorite child. She simply can’t enjoy a day.

      I’m glad I’m not her.

      I miss you and hope we chat on the phone soon.

  4. ML,
    I am so glad you are having family time.
    Your mom sounds like she needs her own page in the DSM! I am assuming the grand daughter she does not like is your daughter. How hurtful? I am so sorry. This is nothing you or the grand daughter did. Totally her stuff. This made me think about my X… in 2008 when I had thought about leaving and divorcing him. Then I thought how could I do that to another human? I remember every day making a conscious effort to focus on only the good about my then husband (spackle anyone?). I did find myself back in love with him. On the contrary my x wasband shortly there after decided to focus on ONLY the things I did wrong, he made me into a monster in his head. So in regards to your mom, that is intentional behavior and there is a healthy balance between acknowledging what is wrong and what is good. I really feel so philosophical lately.
    I think my absence in our support group is just because my car is finally fixed and I am attending to neglected things outside of the home. I am tired and overwhelmed when I sit, so it has been hard to concentrate on reading Tracy’s helpful posts and following the stories of other Chumps. I can look on FB but for more involved reading and following, I am a little scorched. I will get back to it in a bit, because I want to pay back all of the love and support given to me that was life saving. Just like you, I am thinking less of the x wasband. When I do think of him, it is about his actions and how WRONG and unloving they were, I get really angry and then return to my daily life. The bothersome aspect of married life reflection is when I remember something nice (and there was so much of that material) and then I feel like some one punched me in the gut and sad. Luckily it does not last long but there are way too many geographic triggers to good times had in the area where I live… I am determined to move eventually because exposure therapy is overwhelming and I just want new scenery, even if I am alone. All in all though, I think I am doing so much better and learning new and healthier ways to interact with humanity. Self love and boundaries! I would not be where I am had I not found CL and you. Thank you!
    I just came home from a “Happiness” MeetUp (I will tell you more when we chat) and it was so nice. I felt validated in my current direction and that I am a nice person and not the monster the wasband wanted me to internalize.
    I am going next Saturday to the CL get together in Massachusetts and I am so excited. When we part, I am taking off to Maine. I will be staying on my old boyfriend’s land and camping. I have not seen him in more than 20 years (I have set up boundaries that anything more than a platonic visit could wind him up in a body bag). I am going to visit with his 90 year old mother and be at his little brother’s 50th birthday. I also have my college friend’s parents vacation property 20 minutes away in case things get uncomfortable. SO I have places to stay in Maine until the end of the month and I need a break from FOO! I will be sure to text and send pics or call you with updates. It really is God’s land where I am going.
    One other really positive thing is I have decided to attend the MassArt Alumni retreat at Haystack in Maine the end of September. I am going alone and certain I will have a blast.
    Seriously, I am so happy about my life filling up with happy things that I am crying!
    Sorry I went on so long…
    Things are getting better for the both of us!
    Peace and Love,

  5. ENM, so glad YOURE having quality family time. I’m really glad you’re getting away from the FOO for a bit. I’ve enjoyed seeing my brother and his family so much, but have to go to work tomorrow so I had to say goodbye to them tonight. I thanked them for coming because I’m so, so grateful that they do take the time, trouble, and money to come up here every nine months or so, so that the little one can meet his grandparents and me. It’s been a great visit although mom, dad, and I are pretty tuckered out from chasing a 21 month old.

    The grandchild my mom does not like is not my daughter. My daughter is really the only female child/grandchild she likes. They got very close when my daughter was young and they have a deep bond. My mom’s feelings toward this other granddaughter, one of my sister’s five kids, is shameful.

    Anyway I’m too tired to recap anything tonight. I’m just really glad that you were able to get out of town — you deserved the break!


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