Just Setting the Record Straight

Dear Mom,

Jerri shared what a nice visit she had with you and JM a few weeks ago. It’s got to be inconvenient for Dad to pick her up in High Point and get her back in time for the return train. But I also believe JM will be a stronger, healthier adult if he grows up knowing his mom loves him despite her disabilities. I’m sure that’s what you want for him as well.

Jerri said you commented recently you knew I was angry and you’d made a lot of mistakes when I was in high school. But that you and Dad had “loved me so much my freshman year that you drove to the college every weekend and brought me back home.” Every single one.

Huh. That’s not the way I remember it. What I remember is posting ads on the bulletin board in the student union, “Hey, anyone going near Winston-Salem for the weekend?” and bumming rides with total strangers so you would not HAVE to pick me up. I remember you urging me on the phone to try and find a ride “’cause it sure was a long way for you to come.” I remember spending many weekends at school because I couldn’t find a ride or I didn’t have money to share gas or I just didn’t want to beg.

And just to check my memory, I asked Stan, “do you remember my parents coming to get me every weekend from Gardner-Webb?” He said, “We bummed a lot of rides with other people. They had to pick us up from somewhere but we always got as close to Winston as we could.”

It’s interesting that you would remember “loving me so much” my freshman year. That was the year you called and asked for my house key because you’d made Jerri give up hers (after robbing you) and “it was only fair.” That’s also the year you called the school and told them to apply my work study income to my tuition. Without consulting me. I went to pick up my check and was informed of your directions. We agreed when I chose Gardner-Webb that I would pay half and I was doing so, already, through scholarships. Apparently, you felt my share should be more. On top of the fact that I saved up my money all summer, every summer, to cover my books and living expenses. You never offered to help me out financially, even when I lost down to 98 lbs and was clearly not getting enough to eat. If that’s what “loving me so much” looks like then I’d have to say, yeah, you almost loved me to death.

Just felt the need to set that record straight.




4 Comments on “Just Setting the Record Straight”

  1. Rose says:

    This entry really resonated with me. The whole idea of rewriting history to suit “their” needs has been a struggle for me lately; “their” being multiple family members, although thankfully, not all. Over time, their perceptions have really shifted and as I attempt to understand it, I realize that it isn’t me, it’s them. The healthier I become, the more I break away from the “status quo” … being the one they normally use to pick on as the outsider; their scapegoat. I now am not afraid to call a spade a spade, they know it, and they don’t like it.

    It used to be that I’d allow myself to play that scapegoat role, even though I knew the whole thing was not only wrong in and of itself, but the things they would say or do were also just false. Now, I call them on it and it’s reached a point where they’re in such denial; possibly also sitting with their own guilt and shame about what they have said and done over the years (at least a couple of them are), that they simply refuse to face me or the facts now. It would shatter the bubble they’ve now created… that’s just too painful.

    I know; I know how painful it was when my bubble shattered and I realized the role I was allowing myself to play, and that to break a very unhealthy cycle, I had to remove myself from the picture. Wow, that hurt, but at least not all family members are under the denial spell. I’m still in touch with a small handful, and that’s been very helpful.

    • Rose – you are spot-on about the bubble shattering thing. I remember all to well when my own bubble shattered. Up until that point, I’d told myself my parents were in the right and Jerri was in the wrong. That it was okay for all of us to disown her – she’d brought it on herself, hadn’t she? My parents really did love me and one day they’d be there for me. Blah, blah, blah. But then I caught my mother in that first lie, that first revision of what I knew for a fact had actually happened and that cracked open the window of “what else has she been lying about?” Jerri. Of course, she’d been lying about Jerri. And that was only the tip of the iceberg.

      It’s extremely painful when you are forced to acknowledge the people you trusted and thought you knew have been misleading you all along. For their own selfish reasons. And that people’s lives have literally been destroyed because of it. Dramatic, I know, but true.

      Like you, removing myself from the picture was the choice I made as well. And as you say, it hurts. It still hurts and I don’t know that it will ever stop hurting.

      People pick up on the hurt and counsel me to forgive. (As if that makes the pain go away.) And I am actively trying to do that. But every time I let something go, my parents do something new and I have to start all over again. They are very damaged people. The fact that Jerri continues to have contact with them – she has to because two of her kids still live with them – makes it difficult. Jerri tells them stuff about me, even though I’ve asked her repeatedly not to, and she tells me what they say back. Which inspired this particular post. It is crazy-making.

      I’m glad you still have a relationship with a few of your family members. I’m trying to do the same but that too is difficult as they still see my parents through rose-tinted glasses.

  2. dadman81415 says:

    I can sympathize with you, in a way. I had a friend who went to college about a 2 hour drive from our hometown, and father, whom she had lived with, was essentially unwilling to drive to get her so she could come home for holidays and/or special occasions, and her mother was unable. So, being the friend I was, I made more than a few trips down to get her and bring her home. Her mother would usually give me a little money to help with the gas (which really wasn’t that big if a deal at the time, you know when gas was less than a dollar a gallon), and sometimes she would find another local who needed a ride, and they would usually pay for gas too. I never really did it for any compensation, other than the satisfaction I got from helping a good friend, and spending time with her. We never did move beyond friends, and we are still friends today, even though she lives half-the-country away with a family of her own now. After her Freshman year at college she moved the few things she had at her father’s to her mother’s, and eventually to her fraternity-house apartment. She is still on good terms with her mother and step-father, because later on (senior), they were able to help her out with buying a car, so she would be able to travel “home” more freely.

    I had other people that I knew that were not as fortunate as my friend, and pretty much had to do the same things you did to get back and forth. And I knew a couple that once they left for school, they never came back because their parents wouldn’t help them with travel, so they stayed there or went with their significant-other. Most of them had issues already, but I never understood why their parents, most of them “well-to-do”, wouldn’t take the time to see their children, and bring them home for holidays, or even summer break.

    It really wasn’t a bad ride, and I wasn’t comfortable with her catching rides with strangers either.

    • Hi Dadman,

      You know, it really wasn’t a big deal at the time. I was used to having only myself to depend on by that point – my parents were focused on my sister. I felt sorry for them and I didn’t want to be any trouble. What is a big deal for me is my mother continuously revising history so that she’s Mrs. Brady instead of Mommy Dearest.

      I agree with you – it’s hard to understand well-to-do parents who are unwilling to help their kids get home for the weekend or a holiday. Sometimes I can’t figure out why some people ever had kids. Kudos to you for helping a girl out.

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