I finally spoke to my mom about this "inviting bio-mom to the wedding" fiasco. It took a bit of time. My dad's passive aggressive, ("How important is it for you to have her at the wedding?") phone call came the week before I was leaving on a 10-day trip, during which they were watching my dogs. And I just didn't want to deal with the bullshit. I wanted to go on my vacation, enjoy it, come back, get caught up on school work, pretend to be "normal" (whatever that is) for a week, and then deal with it. So, my time was up. I sucked it up, closed my office door this afternoon, ignored the pressure in my chest and shortness of breath and made the call. My first thoughts:
Wow, I'm really nervous. Is there a doctor in the house? CRAP! Chapman doesn't have an MD program. Maybe I should have waited to call. A Ph.D. in Accounting is the wrong kinda doctor - he can't help me with an anxiety attack! Too late. She answered.
C - Hi mom, it's me.I remembered that I was calling from my office phone. She doesn't have that number programmed into her cell. I can't help but wonder if she would have answered if she knew it was me. 60% of me thinks yes, she would have answered my call. Maybe that makes me a bad person for not giving her more credit. But oh well. You see them from my point of view... walk a mile in my shoes and then we'll have a good discussion about it.
M - HIIIIIIGH! What number is this you're calling from?
Anyway, right off the bat I'm a little saddened. She copes with things so poorly. She did stay on the phone with me, didn't try to change the subject, and we came to a resolution. I'm happy about that. But there was some small talk at first (she's not dumb, she knew what was coming). And she was giving me such a phony voice. It was her, "I'm going to pretend like everything's hunkie doorie and I don't have a care in the world" persona melded with this Avon-lady, phony pleasantness... the pitch of her voice was WAY too high. Now, don't get me wrong here. I appreciate that she's trying to be pleasant even though she anticipates an unpleasant discussion coming on. I imagine it's for a few reasons - it's just her habit, she doesn't like to be up-front and face things head on, plus she is trying to be pleasant FOR ME. But the thing is, I feel bad FOR HER! I don't want her to feel like she needs to put up some phony front. That's just so exhausting. And honestly, it makes me feel like I'm some random person on the street that she needs to try to create an image for rather than her daughter who knows her relatively well.
So, I chat with this phony cheerful voice on my receiver for a few minutes. Small talk. She asks how wedding planning is coming. Blah blah blah. My dad is in the car with her. They are running errands. Then I just say it:
C - We also need to talk about the issue of [bio-mom] at the wedding.I'm not going to defend my choice to invite her. I'm just not. I feel like it should be obvious why I want her there. It makes me feel isolated and stupid that they can't think of 1 reason why I would want to invite her. Even if they were to think of a reason and it's not the right one, at least they would be trying! I just want to cry out, "Why can't you understand my point of view? I have worked very hard to understand yours! Why can't you give me that same courtesy?" (I feel the same way about political conservatives... but that's a different blog.) Not to mention that I don't want to seem overly defensive of bio-mom. She is not on some list: "10 People Who Must be at My Wedding or I Will Not Walk Down the Aisle." She is not some shining beacon of guiding light in my life. I just want her there for the same reason I want other friends there. And I don't think I need to defend it. So, I won't. If they have a specific question about it, I will answer it.
M - [silence]
C - I spoke with dad and he asked how bad I want [bio-mom] there. It's not that I want her there SO badly. But I already told you that I did want to invite her and her daughter. And I feel that dad's question was his way of saying, "We don't want her there." So, if that's it, just tell me and then we can talk about that.
So my mom responds to what I said:
M - [crying] Christina, it's just very hard for me. Whenever I think about her being there, it really upsets me. That day is for us [don't know if she just meant her and my dad or "us" meaning Andrew, me and parents... it's not important].What I really wanted to say was, "WHAT? YOU are still mad at HER? Dad had a phone conversation with an emotional, 16-year old, pregnant girl, telling her "It's okay. Give us your child. We'll tell her about you when the time is right." And that's all that the teary-eyed teenager had to cling to over the years. Oh, but wait. You don't know about that. Because Dad spoke to her behind your back so as not to cause you any stress. You guys have created your own mess. Now fucking deal with it! Not to mention that you yourself have admitted, 'Yes, Christina - I knew you would want to know about her and meet her.' That clearly indicates that you knew what I wanted and you still did the exact opposite of that. And not just when I was little. Not just when I was a wild, crazy teenager. For 11 years when I was a stable adult too! How does that play into the 'What's best for you' argument? I have never been an emotional wreck of a person. I don't have a life that teeters on the edge of some dark path. There was NO logical reason to not tell me I was adopted. There were only the emotional ones. You say, 'We did what was best for you,' but it just so happens that what you felt was best for me, was also best for you. Admit it! I know you love me but you were selfish too! And I completely forgive you for that! Do you not value that at all? Are my efforts completely unnoticed? You're really mad at bio-mom for telling me something that I would have wanted to know? Yeah, maybe she was a bit selfish in reaching out to me as well. But you want to be upset at her for atrocities that you will easily dismiss when it's you who commits them? You will stand with your, 'Don't judge me' button on your lapel while sitting in judgment of her? This is NUTS!
C - Which part is upsetting? Just her being there? Her being in my life at all? Because I hope you know, I don't think of her as a mom. I want to be able to address any issues you have and hear what you're thinking.
M - I know you can't think of her as a mom. I had all those years, she didn't and she can't ever get those back. It's just facing her. I'm still upset that she contacted you the way she did. I feel like she broke a promise to me. I'm upset [or maybe she said "mad"] at her for that. I took care of you and loved you and then she broke a promise to me by contacting you. I feel she went about it the wrong way.
C - Well Mom, she did write you guys a letter when I was a teenager and she could have interrupted our lives when I was little and she didn't.
M - I know.
C - I don't like the way I found out either. But it could be said that you guys did things the wrong way too by not telling me.
M - That's true.
C - You guys did what you did and you had your reasons. It's over, I can't change it now - I can let it go. So why can't we just say the same for her? I don't know how you felt over the years. And we [saying "we" to keep it in the 'I'm on your side' tone] don't know how she felt over the years. We can just chalk it up to that. If I can not be mad at you guys, then you can not be mad at her.
I don't say this stuff. Because I don't want to be emotional and thoughtless. And what good would it do anyway? But I think I did an okay job of being clear about where I stood. I was proud of myself for being calm. I wasn't pacing in my office. I wasn't on the verge of tears. I wasn't feeling like my heart was going to pound out of my chest. I'm getting better. And to answer the question, "Why are you so stressed out when you talk to her about this?" It's because I'm so afraid of upsetting her. I've been conditioned to not upset her at all by my father. Plus it's a lot of work not getting emotional - saying what I want to say, but doing so calmly and not using harsh language like, "fuck off" can be tough. Or not bringing up crap from the past and saying something like, "Well, you lied about x, y & z over the years so how can I trust you now?" That stuff does little to promote real dialogue and I don't want to go there.
This is how the conversation ended:
M - I just can't face her. Not yet. I'm too upset over it still.So basically, what I did here was say, "Alright mom. You like sticking your head in the sand. Who am I to demand you pull it out? Let's just call it what it is and go with it." And that's that. So, I'll talk to bio-mom tonight on the phone and let her know about the situation. I'm sure it will make her feel a bit uncomfortable. Like me, she doesn't like ignoring the pink elephant in the room. She feels it's best to talk about it and get it over with. But my mom likes to play the pretend game. Whatever. I'm a little frustrated that I'm going to have to play this game with my mom for the rest of my life. What happens when Andrew & I have children? They will know bio-mom and they will know who she is to me. But will I have to tell them, "Now, let's not tell grandma that you know about bio-grandma because it will hurt her feelings"?? I cringe at the thought. I guess I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it.
C - That's fine. I won't blame you for that. But if it's just sitting with her and meeting her that's difficult for you, what about this.... there's going to be plenty of people at the wedding you don't know. What if I just invite her and her daughter anyway and maybe they'll come. They will blend in with the rest of the crowd and you don't have to even acknowledge it. There won't be any difference in the course events whether she is there or not so you'll never know the difference. What about that?
M - [short pause] I think that could be fine.