[The Family] Conditional Love

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Today, I woke up to a missed call from my grandmother.

I was too tired to answer at the time, so I clicked the end call button and said I would call back later.

When I did, my little sister answered the phone. It was strange because I was expecting to hear my grandmother’s voice. Then my sister told me that it had actually been her who called me earlier, so I asked her what she wanted.

“So, tell me about this engagement.”

I blinked, confused. Tell her what? My sister had been there; she knew what went down that day.

“Why…?” I asked.

“Cuz I don’t know what’s going on,” she said.

I called her out. “What are you talking about, you were there the whole time.”

“Yeah, but like, you guys said you were going to talk about it and let everyone know what you decide.”

I didn’t expect her to be this interested in it. In any case I went ahead and told her exactly what I’d been telling everyone else who had asked me the same question.

“Well, we’ve decided to just keep doing what we were planning on doing. We’re still aiming for 2018 so that gives us over two years to work on some of the things people were concerned about. I’m still applying to grad school so none of that’s changed…”

I’m supposed to be practicing reticence, not trying to tell people all of my business, and the only reason I kept talking was because its stuff I had already told her or someone else anyway. Still, I figured it would be best for me to shut up now, so I stopped talking long before I would have normally.

“Okay, so are you gonna redo it?”

Then, the alarm bells started ringing.

Jemini had never asked me about this. I didn’t even know she knew some people had been mentioning redoing my engagement. She said she was happy for us the day I came home. She told me congratulations. Needless to say, this was a very strange thing for her to ask.

I was going to tell her, no, we are NOT redoing our engagement, but I thought that, again, telling my business might not be the wisest decision in this moment. No need to give interested parties any more ammo. Instead, I asked her why she thought we would redo it.

“Cuz he didn’t ask mommy.”

Bingo! It was then that I knew, someone had put her up to this. (Or maybe not – she’s never been one for conflict – but still, I felt real suspicious about it.)

 

“And now everyone around here feels like crap, because you didn’t ask.”

I told her I couldn’t help how other people felt. Especially when it was about something that had absolutely nothing to do with them. Now I’m thinking I should’ve asked her who “everyone” was, because when they say “everyone,” they usually only mean two or three people.

 

“You need to let him ask mommy,” she continued. “At least then she’ll be happy.” And I’m like, what?! Let him?! I didn’t tell him NOT to – it’s not like he was just DYING to ask and I said, “No, you can’t!”

And there’s absolutely nothing I can do about my mother’s feelings. She’s made it clear how she felt. We’ve apologized, explained ourselves, let her have her say – and she’s still trying to get us to mold our lives around her emotions. It’s not my job to fix that, it’s hers.

Then my sister said something that made my heart curl.

“You know no one here’s gonna come to your wedding, right?”

I was too shocked to say anything. She kept going.

“If you don’t redo this and let him ask mommy, and you guys go on and get married, then at least no one from this side is going to support you. But if you redo it and ask mommy then everyone will be happy, and they will support you.”

I’ve never rushed off the phone so quickly in my life, save for the day Mother actually told me I didn’t have a “real engagement ring.” I told my sister that I was going back to bed, said thanks for calling, good night, and hung up.

You know no one here’s gonna support you, right? (Because you didn’t do things the way they wanted you to.)

If you do what they want, then you’ll make them happy and they’ll support you.

In other words, for some people in my family, their love is conditional.

I will only get their happiness, their joy, their love and support if I do things the way they think they should be done. My own happiness does not matter.

Nevermind the fact that I’m not pregnant out of wedlock. I’m not on drugs. I’m not addicted to or abusing any substances. I’m not depressed. I haven’t done a single thing to ruin my life just yet.

I’m working in Japan. I’m in graduate school. I’m supporting myself as best I can. And I decided, in addition to all of this, to make the commitment to spend the rest of my life with the man I love, who supports me unconditionally.

And that’s what makes me lose their support?

I continue to be appalled that they would insert themselves so fully into our lives to where they would claim ownership of an event that’s supposed to be special and reserved only for my fiancé and I.

And to think – if I did cave, and listen to their wishes on this, who’s to say it would ever stop???

Oh, you need to redo your wedding. It wasn’t done right. And you didn’t ask Mother if you could have those centerpieces, and now she’s angry, so… yeah.

You know, I don’t think you should’ve gotten pregnant just yet. I don’t believe you’re ready to be a mother. You should do it over again. Maybe just get an abortion? Or you could always give it up for adoption, that’s what I should’ve done after all…

What, you’re going to get a house now?? You can’t afford it! You’re not even a real adult yet. You can’t even take care of yourself. What makes you think you’re ready for this sort of responsibility? Ha!

Yeah… I can’t let this keep happening. I have had more than enough people show me happiness and love. And the sad part is that the majority of them have not been part of The Family. And that seems just a little twisted and fucked up to me.

But you know what? I feel strong.

Before – even just a few short weeks ago – I might have caved. I might have told TM that we needed to redo the engagement. And he would have buckled, and accused me of always putting my family first, and I wouldn’t have listened, because I wouldn’t have understood. And I would’ve thought that they were right after all, that obviously he’s not the kind of man I should be marrying, and I might have called off the engagement altogether.

But it’s not a few short weeks ago anymore. It’s now, and in this moment I have learned so much about The Family, Mother and myself, even in just the past seven days. More importantly, I’ve realized just how much I want to make it work with this man. And to do that, I have to be able to stand on my own.

But first, I have to make sure I can stand up to them.

I feel like I’m finally ready to stop putting up with their bullshit. And I have no fear in my heart. In fact, I WANT them to tell me no. I WANT them to give me a reason to leave. That would make all of this so much easier for me.

For now, I just have to put up with their constant attempts at wriggling into my head. And I’m sad to say that some of the comments still work. My mother’s jab that “That’s not even a real engagement ring, you know” sent me down a long spiral of doubt and second-guessing, to the point where I had to look at pictures of other people’s unique engagement rings as well as a subreddit of others talking about ways they got theirs that were super affordable. It helped me to see that my decision is my own, and that just because I wasn’t focused on getting a materialistic super-fat diamond ring, that didn’t make my engagement any less real than someone else’s.

But I fear that my family still doesn’t think it’s real. They keep asking me, well what’s your decision, what’s your decision, what are you gonna do? And I keep telling them… we’re gonna keep doing what we said we were gonna do. And they say “okay well just make sure you think about it” and then they go on, leaving me confused. And I’m starting to think that some of the people who I had believed supported me in the beginning were only doing so because they thought they could talk me out of it.

But if that’s what they think, then they’re about to have another think comin.

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