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I knew when i started this that likely my beef with brother bennie would leak in sometime. because if i am the copy of our father with my laid-back, bitingly sarcastic, book-wormy ways, then Bennie resembles our mother. not only in failing to remember the truths of past events, but in the amazing ability they share in saying truly horrible things about a person and then making it seem as if they’re the ones being attacked.

Now my issue with bennie is new, in the relativity of our lives together, and seperate from anything about mom. we hated each other as kids, as siblings do, and turned into the best of friends as adults. it’s been more than six months since i have heard a civil word from him and it kills me every god damn day.

what happened there doesn’t matter. a tale for another day, or maybe for another blog. where it ties into my mom-thing is in her complete refusal to talk to me about it. we have already had to plan three get-togethers where i have said, “Do not invite Bennie, we are not speaking.” and yet, not a word.

It’s not that i need to rehash it; i’ve done that enough with my dad, my best friend, my anti-mom. it’s the fact that not talking to my brother hurts me so much and on an endless eternity kind of scale. i still cry some days over the things he said to me and the fact that i have one fewer brother than i want/used to/deserve. i feel sick with sadness at all times in not having him in my life and it’s not like it’s a secret. i blather on about it on facebook all the damn time. yet my mom staunchly refuses to acknowledge that pain i can’t seem to escape or forget. she won’t commiserate with me in any way.

The next part? All conjecture.

Mom is super close buddy-buddy with Bennie, his girlfriend and her daughter. she visits them all the time. i can’t help thinking that as much as they are all together that she has heard his side of the story and in hearing his and refusing to hear mine she has take his side completely. That she thinks i am in the wrong.

Perhaps that’s not true, though. perhaps she really has stayed completely out of it, but i just can’t believe that. no single part of me believes that, not with Bennie’s girlfriend’s somewhat mean-spirited gossipy ‘tude (okay, that was a little harsh, but i do blame her, in part, for what has happened between me and him. but again, another day, another blog). Can’t believe it; not with the fact that they have both used the exact same phrase to describe me–walking on eggshells with everything they say to me.

Now, when my mom, the second person to use that phrase, hit me with it i paused and took a good look at myself. Just like i did, a few months earlier, when Bennie told me that of the Givers and Takers of the world i belong to the latter group. I stepped back and took a good hard look into the very essence of my being to see if i had been missing (or ignoring) these fundamentally destructive faults in my personality make-up.

I didn’t have to look too terribly long. i know for a fact, from past experiences and even the idea of a friend or loved one being in some sort of need, that i will do most anything in my power to help them. Perhaps not monetarily (the main factor in the original accusation) but with favors, sending much-needed coupons, spare diapers, toys to other mothers, donations of things i don’t need, being chauffeur to help in getting a job…my time, my ear, my understanding. to my very core, i am a Giver.

And the egg shells? just as laughingly inaccurate. i’m not easy to offend. Dirty jokes? Love ’em. Hateful words? tooth-gritting tolerance for the poor sap who spoke them. Insults? Usually laughed off or congratulated for their orginiality. Hell, i’m still making jokes about how much of a Taker i am in all things. it’s Hi-Larious.

In fact, the only thing i can think of that has offended me are things that my mother has said or done. that’s probably actually a symptom of that deep, dark thing that i have yet to name and am questing to understand.

I seem to have meandered off course but really, the ways aren’t marked here. I am without a map and alone and i don’t even know where this quest ends or even what country i’m in. i don’t know whether the outcome will be reconciliation or the cutting off of all ties. I can’t know until i get there and when i do it will be with relief and a lighter heart.

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I’m not ready, i don’t think. in fact, i don’t know where i am, even.

I have a standing explanation that even if i’m logged into facebook i may be nowhere near the computer; i’ve got a kid to take care of and a house to keep clean. Or, since i work from home on the computer i may have my work stuff up and Facebook is only one of half a dozen tabs i’m running on the internet and i don’t have time for chatting.

It gives me an out when convesations are started that i don’t want to join.

mom messaged me the other day and i answered first off, but then i drifted away. when i came back a few minutes later she had added a comment about being lonely and wanting to talk to her greeting.

I just couldn’t. I can’t even explain the feeling i had. I didn’t want to talk to her, i didn’t want to try to make her feel better. i’m not ready for that yet.

I mean, i clearly see that this is selfish of me. That i have wanted similar things from her and never gotten them. and yes, i feel guilty for withholding something like that from her.

But guilty or not…knowing at that very moment that felt guilty and i was being childish, i couldn’t change it. I’m still in the middle of all of this, finally trying to sort it out and understand what i feel and why. making her feel better isn’t on my to-do list right now.

I mentioned in my first post the word hate.

It’s not a word i should’ve used because it is not an emotion that i actually feel. jealousy or envy are also emotions that were left out of the Book of Sahara. genuine fear also seems to be missing i realize as i think back on that time the pizza place i was managing got robbed by a very large man with a very large knife. mild annoyance; that’s what i felt that day.

I preach peace, acceptance, consideration, compromise, love whenever possible. negative emotions seem to have no place in me. And not even in the way of the Vulcans who feel emotions so strongly, so vividly that they must weed them out and supress them before they themselves are destroyed by the strength of feeling. Nope, they’re just not here inside me.

I can’t hold a grudge to save my life and who would want to? who wants to stew in that much hate all day long? even when i am so angry that i can’t speak and my hands are shaking…that passes and i’m still me, writing down everything that hurts to get it out and try to forget it. just me trying to get everyone around me to settle down and listen to each other. just god damn cooperate.

So no, i don’t hate my mother.

But what is it that i feel?

Guilt, i know. sadness, yes. Pity? sure. Anger, not much.

Hope?

I don’t know. if i didn’t have hope why would i be doing this?

If i did have hope would i need to do this at all?

The baby is a source of contention too. not just the real live, tooth-gnashing, dimpled crocodile that lives in my house right now, but also the emphemeral idea of Baby which dates back years beyond even meeting my husband. but let’s start somewhere nearer, because ancient history is so thick.

Yes, she was 19 and unmarried when she got pregnant and she didn’t want that for me. i get that and i appreciate it, but it doesn’t excuse the way she’s behaved.

It does not excuse the way that when i called her, at 26 years old, to tell her that i was going to marry the man that i’d been dating, living with, laughing at, loving for six years her first words were:

“Are you pregnant!?”

Punch in the gut. i could have cried. i didn’t even have words or breath to speak with for several seconds and i managed to hold back my angry retort once i did.

It does not excuse the way that, two months later, she responded to a facebook post where a friend jokingly told me “have a baby” when i spoke of having no model for the baby bibs i’d just made to sell. This i laughed at because only moments before the first pangs of morning sickness had passed–i didn’t know yet, not for sure, but i *knew*. and this wasn’t an accident, this pregnancy two months into our engagement. we’d been trying for months. six of them according to my calendar of counted days and color coded remarks.

“You better not, i’m not ready to be a grandma yet.”

Since when is this about you?

I did cry that time. and i revealed all to my aunt. my not-mom. my anti-mom. she was the first person i said the words “out loud” to; not even my fiance yet knew of my suspicions. I had to tell because i couldn’t keep all that hurt inside me where it would poison that bright, shining thing i had begun to craft out of bits of him and huge chunks of me (a clone of mama, the little crocodile is. Jango and Boba Fett we are).

It’s no wonder i told her last. i told her in a letter so i wouldn’t have to risk hearing that pause of disappointment over the phone.

I’ve tried to tell her about these hurts but it always comes back to the things i’ve already said; fights about the past. “Get over it.”

There’s one part i haven’t mentioned to her. that i’ve kept hidden safe, deep inside me now that the croc is out and it can only hurt me.

The day of the crocodile’s birth.

I had already decided and informed everyone that i wanted no visitors in the hospital. i realized later, once the time was upon us, that really i wanted no visitors waiting around in the waiting room while i was in labor. And after 37 hours i think i was perfectly justified in not wanting to entertain guests or share this little clone of myself with anyone but my husband. at least not until i’d gotten some sleep.

She was born at 3:26 in the afternoon the day after my due date; the day i’d been scheduled for an induction but she came on her own. Everyone knew where i was and what i was up to, just waiting for the stats.

I called my dad. I texted my anti-mom who’d once again been the first to know as i sat on the toilet at 2 in the morning too stunned by the water-breaking event to properly freak the fuck out (my husband did that for me, the dear).

And my mother? unreachable.

For that afternoon. for the entirety of the next day.

It wasn’t until the following day, the second full day of her only daughter’s first child’s life that my phone rang as we walked through the door to our apartment and our brand new life.

Her excuse, something about a no-charge battery and being out of town, was a glancing blow. i hardly had time to notice and it wasn’t as if i didn’t expect some subtle slight from her.

But that irk has festered. it’s rolled around in my subconsious hiding in dark places and cluttered corners growing quite fearsome.

The excuse did not excuse and the only way to expel the beast is with words on a page she will never see becasue she refuses to be open to the emotion turmoil her reckless words have caused within her daughter.

I’ve been fuming for days. or is it weeks? Years.

It’s such an insult when you say “Gotta walk on eggshells when yo’ure talking to Sahara” because really, that’s how i feel about you.

you claim you want to have a better relationship with me but how can you do that not knowing ANYTHING about me? And so i try to inform you. and not just superficial. what’s my favorite color? Do i like knitting or crocheting better? What am i doing this weekend. No, i want to share real, emotional things.

And here is where the eggshells come in. because i try to tell you how you’ve hurt me. how if you want to have a real relationship with me you have to stop insulting me all the time. if i were to tell my father, my husband, my best friend that they had hurt my feelings they would say “I’m sorry.”

You say, “Get over it.”

And so it is I who walks on eggshells, scared shitless of saying what i really feel for fear of being dragged down into a battle of nonsense over the past when i am only interested in the present. the current insult, whatever it was, is what i want to talk about.

And the current insult? the refusal to understand this very concept right here. that getting to know me means i’m not going to just share the sentimental stuff, the superficial stuff, but also the painful stuff. Maybe you bailed before you realized that those three things, and more, occur when you have kids. maybe your mom baild on you before she could teach you that. I’ve only been Mom for a year, but honestly, i learned about all the facets of having relationships with people long before i had a crocodile daughter of my own.

I’m stepping out of the line of succession, breaking the chain of abandonment (even if you refuse to admit to that word). I’m staying around. i’m listening to the good and the bad as well as the inconsequential. and i will not base my hopes and disappointments on teh imaginary children i want to have, but instead on the flesh and blood children who actually find their way into the world from the place where i formed them, not as part of me, but as part of themselves.

and those who matter don’t mind.

That was the saying on the facebook image i shared… that she then shared too, not realizing when i posted it i was thinking of her… how she’s one of the former, not the latter.

I’m not the girl that grew up planning her wedding. i had a barbie but she never married ken (or gi joe or the ninja turtles either, for that matter). she didn’t have a wedding gown. my favorite of her party dresses was black and shiny silver.

I told the husband when he was still the boyfriend that i would never be married in a church, that i would never wear a wedding gown or a diamond ring. that i would not get married in front of people for what i feel is actually something that is very private. Hell, i said, let’s just not get married at all! The paper has no bearing on the love.

But after six years we started to hear the demands and thinking of the money we could save to combine insurance and file taxes differently we thought “eh, what the hell?” (romantic, no? Neither of us has every claimed to be) I repeated my restrictions and he was right behind me. Save the money for the house we’re planning to buy. Keep it small.

So we had a miniscule ceremony; me and him and the judge and two witnesses in the just recently cleared-of-protestors state capital building. We had considered strangers for witnesses but felt that to be too much unpredictability. so we settled for a friend of mine and a friend of his who would leave work for a few hours on a cold, raining, wednesday afternoon in March. There was a chorus on the level below us and they sang songs from Disney’s Little Mermaid as we were getting married. Afterwards the four of us went out for BBQ and then they went their way and the newlyweds went on theirs really no different than they’d been.

not even in name. i like mine. i kept it fiercly and protecively, not something to just sling away like you could ever be “done” with it.

We went on a tour of a nearby cave. we had a Dairy Queen ice cream cake i ordered with a ball and chain on top (romantic? no, remember? Hilarious? You betcha!!) we played some video games, watched a movie and got my pregnant ass to bed at a reasonable hour (a pregnancy brought on by the engagement, not the other way around which carries an Irki-itude of a whole other sort).

No family; and not an elopement. this was not a surprise, we planned it this way from the start. Did we have fun? Yes. Did we miss out on anything? Not. A. Jot. we had two parties later with the whole family and we don’t regret not spending even half as much money as we could have.

But then there is this one single voice that says the same thing over and over no matter how many times i relate how much it hurts me. who reiterates the same hurtful words when i tell how much those specific words hurt me. this voice telling me about the disappointment of not getting to be there, of not getting to help me plan a wedding, of picking out a wedding gown.

A voice apparently without desire to take in and understand that the disappointment is not my fault in the least. because that daughter who was fantasized about trying on dresses, planning, standing before everyone she knew on that particular day? That’s not me. That has never been me and it never will be me. that is a fantasy daughter created out of thin air and make-believe and i will never stop being myself in order to be her instead.

And every time i am told of the disappointment that she feels in the way i planned my wedding what i’m actually hearing is that unless i live up to the standards set out for me by the invisible fantasy daughter then i am a disappointment.

of course that’s how i’ve always felt. there has to be that disconnect, though, between the truths and fictions between far-off relatives. But does that make it hurt less? Not a jot.

but if i can’t even express my emotions to the one who has abraded them then why express anything at all?