Monday, March 28, 2011

Grin and Bear It

I got so tired of hurting and being uncomfortable that all I could think of was the placard on the wall of my elementary school gymnasium: "As you think, so you become."

Seeing my mom hurting hurt me; it sometimes exasperated me. Consequently my lack of patience with her grief, even as I was in the thick of it myself, shamed me. Seeing my dad's girlfriend-now-wife was even worse. The discomfort was profound. But I have performance in my lineage. We put on a brave face professionally. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay. I'm okay.

I guess I must be good at it, because I swear to God I blinked, just blinked, just for a second when my dad left, and when I opened my eyes there was the woman he cheated with, hugging me and telling me that she loved me. There she was, crying on my shoulder. There we were, serving the dinner we'd made in my mother's kitchen, on my mother's dishes, sitting at my mother's table. I'm okay. I'm okay. I just want to get along. 

When my dad told me he was going to propose to her a couple of weeks before the divorce finalized, all I could say was that it was obvious that she's crazy about him. He probably sought my blessing. I probably said, "Sure, fine." Let's just get this all over and behind us, right? New normal?

What a delusion.

In the weeks leading up to the wedding my dad took my sister on an Alaskan cruise, and I wrestled with that in so many ways. I resented that he cared enough to carve out a quality time to reconnect with her before he got married, but not with me. And on the flip side, my dad's now-wife's father was in a long, slow decline over the course of the next year, and she was so anxious over it that summer (and probably also insecure about my dad leaving with his daughter right before the wedding) that she kept calling my dad and sister on their trip. It's very confusing to feel jealous of someone and defensive on their behalf at the same time. A real doozy.

I'm okay.


Within 24 hours of their homecoming, my face could lie but my body couldn't. I have deliberately chosen to have two babies without any drugs, and found it to be hard work, but not really painful. But that day after they got back from Alaska, I had to be driven, sobbing, to the Emergency Room for stomach pain. I have never felt anything like it in my life.

That was the truth, whether I liked it or not: I was not okay. It took several GI specialists a year to get a diagnosis, meanwhile I was having stretches of 3-4-5 days of pain at least once a month. The only thing that relieved it was not eating. I have always been right at 110 pounds; I'm just petite, we all are. There isn't much room to quit eating, but that's what I did because the alternative was absolutely unbearable. I couldn't function in that kind of pain, and forget about taking care of two small children. Finally I hit on a "safe food" list that lessened the intensity of the attacks: meat, cooked veggies, and simple starches. So that's was most of what I ate that next year - no whole grains, dairy, fruit, sugar or beans. It was pretty torturous. And when I finally got the diagnosis my insurance wouldn't cover the treatment, and it was way out of our financial reach. Of course.

I'll have to talk about how I came to be estranged from my dad in another post, but the point of all this is to tell you something I wish I'd learned another way:

When I stopped having contact with my dad, I stopped having GI attacks. And the couple of times that he's disregarded my wishes that he stay away from me and my family, I've promptly gotten sick again within 24 hours.

You don't have to be okay with your parents and their divorces and remarriages.

Be okay with you.


  1. Amazing entry & message!! I think I'll include a link to this post in a future blog entry :)

  2. Just posted a link to this post on my blog: