Everything was fine except that I was tired from being on my feet for hours, so I took a load off. Eena was channel surfing and happened upon a movie I hadn't seen in 30 years, so I suggested we watch t.
That was the first mistake.
We have this teeny TV sitting so far away in the corner that from the couch I can't read the graphic in the corner of the screen that tells which inning itof the ball game is being played. Also, if there's any other noise in the house, I have to turn the volume up pretty high in order to hear.
There's always noise in this house. Always
. I rarely watch TV partly because I can't see it, partly because I can't hear it, and partly because every time I do, something bad
happens -- somebody ends up getting mad at me for watching, because if I'm watching, I'm doing nothing to meet anyone's needs except my own, and we can't have that, can we?
No, we can't.
Anyway, just as the movie is getting interesting, the noise level in the house starts to escalate. I nudge up the volume. I clench my teeth and wait for the noise to pass, but it doesn't. Suddenly, Charlie is insisting on jumping into my lap. Myrtle comes in wanting someone to chat with. I increase the volume again. The Eena's are discussing what's happening in the movie, Beanpole wants to borrow my camera cable because he's lost his father's, and I hear Mr Z giving Fido commands:
Roll over!Fido, dammit, roll over!
I should know what's going on with the dog, but it doesn't register. Finally, an exasperated Mr Z shouts at me, "Could you
turn the volume
I say, using a tone
, "Sure, if everyone would be quiet
enough so that I could hear
the movie." That was my second mistake.
He spews, "Fine. I'll just get the hell out of here!"
I didn't hear him drive off -- I was still trying to figure out what was said between the time the Mozart ended and Cornelia placed her call to Dr. Lazarus. Really, I was oblvious to anything else going on in the house.
The movie ended and I started to help the Eenas get organized to return to their dad's house. Suddenly, I realized I had no car. That's when I figured out that Mr Z had stormed out in a huff.
On the return drive from my ex's house I started to think about all of those childhood Thanksgivings that were utterly spoiled because my parents never matured to the degree that they could set their baggage down for one day
and not engage in some ugly pre- or post-feast argument about how shitty or not shitty my grandparents were.My grandparents
, whom I loved, whom I should have been free
to love without considering loyalties, without ever stopping to wonder for a minute if one parent or the other was right about them. My feelings about my grandparents took a backseat to my parents' petty need to indulge their own feelings of insecurity by arguing about my grandparents.
This happens in countless families, I know, and it just pisses me off that on a holiday adults allow themselves to behave childishly at the expense of their kids.
Mr. Therapist used to say that we (most people) unwittingly recreate the emotional atmosphere of the home in which we were raised. I thought about that during my forty-five minutes in the car. When I got home from returning the girls, I apologized to Mr Z about the volume, and said that if I had realized he was trying to give the dog his injection, I would not have snapped at him, but perhaps I would have calmly suggested he take the dog into an upstairs bedroom with fewer distractions so the dog might cooperate better. Third mistake!
Perhaps it wasn't the best apology ever. Perhaps I should have saved the part about injecting the dog for a later time, when he was in a more receptive mood. I didn't, though, because I'm lame-brained and emotionally crippled and expect everyone to get over their own personal nonsense as quickly as I do.
I washed the day's dishes then joined Mr Z at the table and told him that all I want is a happy Thanksgiving, and I felt like things were already falling apart. He was quiet and clenched, giving me a look
I sat there thinking about the cheesecake his ex-wife had brought by earlier. She'd said, "I have cheesecake for you!" My immediate reaction was not gratitude, but resentment, because I've been assigned Pie Duty for Thanksgiving, and while I'm a confident pie-maker, her cheesecake is good enough to steal my thunder. Mr Z and Beanpole will both prefer her cheesecake.
She makes a fabulous chocolate cheesecake, they say. It's so delicious that whenever she sends one over, Beanpole does his best to dole out a meager slice to anyone who wants some, but then he hides the rest for himself.
She said, "Well, I made it for Beanpole, really, but I'm sure he can't possibly eat all
Because it's Thanksgiving, and they won't be together, she wanted to make her kid a cheesecake. There is nothing wrong with that -- in fact, it's very sweet of her. I smiled and thanked her and then I forgot about it until I was sittting at the table trying to figure out what bug had crawled up Mr Z's ass.
Finally, I said to Mr Z, "You know, it's not like you
to get so frustrated over injecting the dog. Was something else bothering you?" I was thinking, finally, that it might be the cheesecake. I was thinking he saw the cheesecake and was worried Beanpole's mother would end up in the hospital for Thanksgiving again, comatose, because her blood sugar was out of control. I was truly surprised when he said it was the movie -- that at one time Beanpole's mother suspected she had multiple personalities, and she had had a thing for that particular movie, and therefore the movie was freaking him out.
I feel sometimes like my life is one big booby-trap and I should not even move because whatever I do might trigger anxiety and fear left over from his previous marriage. I suggested we live in the present. He gave me a look
I've worked hard not to create the emotional atmosphere of the home in which I was raised, and for me that has meant ackowledging and forgiving the past, and living in the present. For others, it might mean going as far as cutting family ties. I feel grateful that I haven't had to do that. I wish Mr Z would get on the stick and get over the crap that happened in his first marriage.
He gave me the look
, and then went off about how awkward Thanksgiving is going to be for him because he doesn't consider my friends
to be family, even if I do. So now I've ruined his Thanksgiving. I said, "You know, BLP invited all of us, and she really likes you and she wants you to come, but if you're going to choose to be miserable, I'd just as soon you take Beanpole to Cracker Barrel for dinner."
That shut him up.
I've had so much reassuring to do over the last six or seven years: I do not
have an eating disorder, I am not
an alcholic, I do not
suffer from clinical depression, I do not
have obsessive compusive disorder, I am not
bipolar, I am not
carrying on with the handyman, and I'm sure as hell not
I am not obsessed with the movie, "Sybil," and I do not I fear I suffer from multiple pesonality disorder or paranoid schizophrenia. I was trying to watch any bloody movie at all because my feet ached and my back was tired and I'm so goddamned sick and tired of fielding everybody else's emotional bullshit!
I went to bed at midnight and he stayed up 'til God knows when. I was up at seven to start the pies and to google around trying to learn how far in advance it's okay to whip the cream. He came in around nine.
"We need to leave here by 4:30 for dinner?"
"Do you have anything planned between now and then?"
"Just going to finish the pies, clean the kitchen and take a shower, why?"
"I thought I'd go play golf. We'll met you at the party at five."
"Oh, okay. Well, I guess I'll hitch a ride with one of the kids."
So he's off playing golf and we'll arrive at the party separately.
The house is quiet.
Even the green kitchen.
Okay, after a glass of wine, the truth:
I asked him when he thought he might stop bringing his previous marital issues between us.
He said, "Oh, like you don't do the same thing?"
"What are you talking about?"
"What about those people in my basement?"
"Those people in your basement are my daughter and my grandson. I'd never thought of them as a previous marital issue."
Does anyone else ever feel like saying, "Oh, fuck