Instead of being alone at Christmas, I flew down to visit my parents, in the city where I grew up. I arrived on Sunday and came home Christmas night. I should mention that my parents are high school sweethearts, together since they were 15, and have been married nearly 52 years. They still are and always have been, madly in love.
On Christmas Eve, we planned to go to church services, at the church I grew up going to until I moved away 20+ years ago. They still attend and have many friends there. On Christmas Eve morning, we went to Ihop (a guilty pleasure of mine that I don't get to indulge very often!) After we finished eating, the following exchange took place.
Dad: Gypsybird, we need your help at church tonight.
Me: Okay, sure Dad. With what?
Dad: You know your mother has a lot of friends there, and some of them just don't know when to quit with asking questions etc... So as far as they're concerned, you're fine, okay?
I'm thinking, oh, sure... they don't want me getting all weepy, or going into the "he cheated on me" details if someone should ask. Makes sense, no problem.
Me: Okay. So I'm divorced but fine, doing good, moving on well etc. Got it.
Me: Umm..no? So I'm still married, and I'm fine?
Me: (getting upset) You don't think people will be confused when they see I'm here alone, and with no wedding ring?
Mom: You just say you wanted to see us before Christmas, but you're going home tomorrow. (presumably to my faithful and adoring husband.)
Me: (starting to cry)
Dad: (looking annoyed)
Mom: (looking baffled but concerned) What, sweetheart? Tell me about your tears.
Me: (crying)I can't believe you're asking me to do this. Because I am NOT married, and I am NOT fine, and I am not going home to ANYONE!
I got up and went to the bathroom, which was thankfully empty, and sobbed for about five minutes. When I returned to the table, they acted as if nothing had happened. Dad paid the check, and we left.
Later, when I was alone with my mother, I tried to explain to her the pain of what they were asking me to do. She simply did not understand, and did not even see it as lying. It ended with me once again in extreme tears, and telling her I would do my best to stick to their little script, but that I couldn't promise not to fall apart if one of their friends (who've known me my whole life!) come up and ask where XWH is.
In the end, it was all for nothing. My parents clearly decided since I wasn't willing/able/whatever to go along with their Plan A, they opted for Plan B, which was avoidance. We got to church early, stayed in our seats rather than mingling before the service, and the second it was over, my father whisked us out a side exit that was ever-so-conveniently about 10 feet from where we were sitting. We interacted with no one else the entire time.
I get it... I really do. They have this perfect life, the perfect beautiful home, a HUGE circle of friends, and of course their fairytale marriage. The only "black mark" they have is me, their fuck up of a daughter, who has once again married a guy who cheated, and is once again, disgracefully divorced. Rather than tell their friends the truth when they ask how I am (and I know people do ask), my parents have decided to lie. They are THAT ashamed of me. They are THAT inconvenienced by my fucked up life.
My family is very, very small. It consists of me plus four other people. My aunt, whom I am very close to. My uncle, who cheated on my aunt and is now married to his OW, and whom I have no relationship with because of that. And my parents. So out of the four people in my family, only ONE has my back. ONE.
Other than this drama, my Christmas was really pretty okay. When I got home, my parents had arranged for a surprise extra gift to be waiting for me under my tree, via my best friend who was dog-sitting for me. It made me cry, because they were so sweet to do that, because they knew I was a little apprehensive about coming home to an empty (other than the furbabies) house on Christmas night. I guess I'm having a hard time reconciling the two actions... one so thoughtful and one so hurtful.
It hurts so much that it never occurred to them to protect ME, by telling any potentially nosy friends, "Look, she is recently divorced and will be visiting alone, so if you see us at church don't ask any questions." Instead, it was MY job to protect THEM, by lying and pretending I'm "fine," still married, and living in happily-ever-after land.
This whole thing has made me feel so very, very alone. If I didn't have my aunt, and this board! - I don't know what I would do.
Thanks for listening.
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage. ~ Anais Nin
I am so sorry that they hurt you like that...You had nothing to be ashamed of and no need to lie!
That is just awful
What would have happened if you said "Dad, I am not comfortable with that. I am uncomfortable with dishonesty. Thanks for understanding." Or even said nothing back to him then if someone did ask, tell the truth?
I'm annoyed that anyone religious would ask their adult child to lie in a religious setting.
Helen, I was so blind-sided in the restaurant I couldn't even think of a response like that to give him... but when I said as much to my mom later, she kept insisting it wasn't really dishonesty, just keeping quiet about things that are no one else's business. My guess is I would have gotten a similar answer from him.
Though we didn't talk to anyone, I'm sure people saw us there, and saw that I was alone. I'm guessing my parents will be asked by someone at some point where my XWH was, why was I alone etc.
And I assume they will lie. But that's their business, I guess. It's just so sad. Blood isn't always thicker than water.
I'm so sorry. There is enough shame associated with being cheated on and divorcing without this crap. You think they could step out of their proud utopia for a moment. Pride is a funny thing though. They'll come around, in the meantime all you can do is try to get them to understand.
You are not alone.
I think people of a certain generation derive a lot of their self-esteem from their children's lives. Only today I was with a man in his seventies who told me that he had six children all of whom, "went to college and married well." So your divorce is a black mark against your parents in the fake-sounding social circle that they move in. What would happen if tomorrow they lost all their money? How many invitations would there be? How real are relationships that have to be managed and manipulated like that?
Next year, try to get selected for a Senate seat and you will be the star of the after-service coffee and donut holes. Failing that, become a dentist.
"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you."
I hate that they made you feel like you were shameful!!!
I have no problem with the answer "you're fine." Even if it is a bit of wishful thinking right now. And it works as an answer to "where is XWH?" I'm fine says clearly, this topic is not for discussion without lying or shaming.
I'm so, so, sorry to read your post. It is heartbreaking to hear of your parent's emotional abandonment...which is what they did. I've experienced it myself since childhood with my dad and it continues to this day. It is heartbreaking and one of the most painful feelings you can experience...when you realize your own parent(s) are not capable or willing to protect you, your feelings, your emotional wellbeing. It is a pure, physical hurt that goes through your body and you feel betrayed all over again.
It's not you. It's truly not. They are too wrapped up in their own self-image...at your expense. And it's wrong. Just wrong. A parent should be willing and able to protect their children. When they are not, its a reflection of them.
I'm so sorry Gypsy. I'd wrap you in a huge, huge hug right now if I could and we'd both cry together to help ease your pain. I truly do know how you feel. You are not alone; we are all here for you.
THAT IS BULLSHIT.
Your post made me so angry for you!
I should mention that my parents are high school sweethearts, together since they were 15, and have been married nearly 52 years. They still are and always have been, madly in love.
You have described my parents EXACTLY, except change the number to 51.
You know what they've done since I told them the truth? They've told all of their friends and relatives the truth. They don't go broadcasting the whole smarmy story to the gossips or the people they aren't as close to, but their close friends and relatives? They let everyone know what a first-class douche my then-husband was, and they supported me 100%.
You stick with your auntie. While we'd all love a legion of supportive relatives behind us, as long as we have that ONE person whom we can count on, that's all you need.
I'm so sorry they did that to you. I totally understand that they didn't want a church service turned into an episode of Dr. Phil, but to treat you like you've got some sort of plague, and they must protect themselves and their friends from it?
Shame on them. Shame. on. them. NOT on you!
"In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate." - Asimov
"Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you." - Ovid
I feel so bad for you and I am so sorry.
Now you know how they lasted 52 years. They'd die first before admitting there was any problem with their marriage.
Since I am a senior I can say, age doesn't always mean wisdom. Shame on them. It's the same old line - "Those who haven't been through it don't understand."