divorce, dogs, family, LDS, love, marriage, mental health, narcissists

The brave, the beautiful, and the bold…

The featured photo comes from our new lighting projector… Isn’t it pretty?

We had quite an interesting weekend. It was our first in over twenty years without a beagle in the house. I miss Arran’s presence already. His presence was a constant, because he clung to us. He wanted to be with us all the time. Now, there‚Äôs an empty space on the Zane memorial rug, and no one is waiting to help me dry off after a shower. Noyzi only visits on occasion, when he wants something or is curious about a Dodo video on YouTube. I swear, Noyzi used to be terrified of the television, but now he LOVES watching animal videos. It doesn’t matter what kind of animal it is, either. Somehow, he just knows when there’s a critter on TV, and he wants to watch it. I’ve found that turning on animal videos is one of the best ways to summon him.

We went out twice, which we used to do all the time, but had gotten out of the habit of because of COVID-19 and Arran’s cancer. We are slowly getting more acquainted with Wiesbaden, which is crazy, since we’ve now lived here longer than we’ve lived anywhere else in our marriage. But again– the craziness of the past three years has caused us to be somewhat delayed in getting to know our environs.

I notice that today is the 20th, which is also the day three years ago, when we tried to adopt a new dog and failed spectacularly. I don’t want to dwell on that memory. I almost wonder if Arran’s recent passing wasn’t a way to help us forget about that tragic incident that ended in an innocent dog’s untimely death and a lawsuit… which fortunately didn’t directly involve us.

We also talked to Bill’s younger daughter a bit. Every time we talk to her, I’m alternately stunned by how kind and bright she is about some things… and how “stunted” she is in other ways. We shared some more with her about how Bill and I got together, and my mom’s hometown, Buena Vista, Virginia, which is where Southern Virginia University is. My mom is an alum of Southern Seminary, which is what SVU was before it was taken over by LDS businessmen. I explained to younger daughter that I knew the wife of one of the businessmen who started the LDS version of my mom’s alma mater. I didn’t get too far into it, but I suppose it will eventually come out about how the invasion of Mormons kind of changed the local culture. Maybe it’s for the better, as that area used to be pretty depressed, although it was, and still is, also beautiful.

Younger daughter talked about her decision to go west for college. Ex had been vehemently against it. She brought up all sorts of “reasons” why it was a bad idea for younger daughter to go far away for college. She had wanted her to stay in New England, live at home, and commute to college.

Younger daughter said she used to think her mom was “worried” about her, but now she knows she just wanted younger daughter around to take care of her and provide income in the form of college loan money. I caught a look of bemusement on younger daughter’s face as she spoke of older daughter, who still lives with Ex and takes care of their youngest sibling, who has severe autism. Older daughter is back in school, and younger daughter said something along the lines of, “My mother doesn’t care that my sister is $100,000 in debt. It’s not her name on the loans. She just wants someone around to take care of her and relieve her of her responsibilities.”

I couldn’t help but practically explode as we were responding to younger daughter. I told younger daughter that although I barely know her, I was so proud of her for having the guts to chart her own course. What she did took a lot of courage and determination. She made decisions that led her out of years of misery and practical “slavery”, borne out of fear, obligation, and guilt. Younger daughter is stunningly astute, as she tells us about how her mother uses guilt to maintain control of her adult children.

We learned that when younger daughter had her wedding, Ex couldn’t leave her alone, even when she was on her honeymoon. She tried to get younger daughter and her husband to move back east. And while younger daughter was hours beyond taking her vows, Ex was sending her constant texts, trying to get her to go to the hotel where they were all staying and go swimming and eat pizza.

Ex complained bitterly, even when ex stepson (Ex’s eldest) and his wife temporarily moved to the east and were living just an hour away. They weren’t close enough. They didn’t come by often enough. She wanted them to live in her home with her, even though it meant NINE people under one roof… in a house that couldn’t accommodate them.

On the surface, it sounds like Ex “loves” her kids too much, but I think she just wants an army of people who will do the work for her. She wants people to control, and is constantly trying to guilt her kids into taking care of her fifth child, who will almost certainly have to move into a “home” at some point.

Then she said something that really surprised me. She said that Ex, who had been trying to discourage younger daughter from going to a LDS owned college, found her daughter with #3 “annoying”. And #3’s daughter wanted to go to a school close to home, where she could be with her friends from high school (high school was a privilege denied to Bill’s daughters– Ex made them drop out and be “homeschooled”, and didn’t allow them extracurricular activities other than going to church). Ex wanted her to go out west, and live near younger daughter. I wonder if that was because she was hoping to influence younger daughter somehow, via her younger sister. Or does she really want that distance? The whole thing is so bizarre. The kids all had such different and inconsistent upbringings. The only thing they all had in common was chaos.

Ex also made a comment about how her eldest son went to jail… It was probably just an arrest in which he spent a night in jail, due to being busted for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. She suggested that younger daughter might do the same thing! And here’s younger daughter, who is very sweet, innocent, responsible, and religious. Of course she wasn’t going to experiment with drugs! Naturally, that was just an excuse to keep her from launching and living her own life as a capable adult.

The more I hear about this stuff, the more impressed I am with younger daughter’s resilience and resolve. She is amazing. And I can see that she is determined to give her own children a better childhood than what she had. She pointedly said that she doesn’t want her children to be burdened with having to take care of their severely autistic uncle. Then, she added, “half-uncle”.

As someone who also grew up in “chaos”, albeit that of a different sort, my heart goes out to Bill’s daughter. I don’t know what it was like for her to grow up with Ex as her mom, but I do know what it’s like to have a mentally ill parent who is hyper-controlling one minute, and batshit nuts the next. And I know what it feels like to have a parent who seems to want to maintain that familial connection and control as they also do things that are extremely repellant and violate boundaries. Calling your newly married adult child while she’s on her honeymoon? What the actual fuck!!!

All I can do is shake my head…

I might be tempted to write about this on RfM, but I think after that very unpleasant exchange I had there the other day, I might have to look elsewhere for support. Or maybe I’ll just write about it here. It’s probably just as effective.

I have come to realize that I really don’t like controlling people… but I especially can’t abide overbearing, all knowing, overly helpful women. I think it’s because they remind me too much of my sister. That makes me sad, too, because I would like to have better relations with my family. I would like to be close to people, other than Bill. But I can’t seem to get there… and every time I try, it ends in disaster. So here I sit, thousands of miles away, feeling “divorced” from my own family, just as Bill divorced Ex and his kids to save his own sanity. Maybe that’s why we get along so incredibly well.

I still thank Ex every day for “dumping” Bill. He makes me very happy. I think, after we have a vacation, we’ll start looking for another dog who will hang out with me and make me feel less isolated and alone.

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