I’ve known it in my heart for the longest time but have lodged the reality of it right at the back of my mind so I didn’t have to face it. It became apparent on the weekend, however, that I must face it.
It’s usually the way of things, isn’t it?
The things we keep hidden can’t stay hidden forever.
My mother dislikes my husband.
I have struggled with my relationship with my mother for many, many years.
It is one of those things that often happens in families where two people, even though they are of the same bloodline, are ideologically opposed.
In every sense of the word.
It is fine to be different. I am all for it.
But when those differences, beliefs, morals, day-to-day considerations are constantly criticised by one person who sees difference as a weakness rather than as a strength, it becomes a problem.
My mother flings these words around when describing me as if they are expletives – treehugger, bohemian, socialist, writer. I have also at times been irreligious, non-conformist and too much of a free spirit (with an emphasis on the too much).
Some of those things are true about me although if I were to characterise myself I wouldn’t necessarily put my hand up as a socialist at all nor would I shout out HERE if someone appeared with a clipboard saying: Any treehuggers in the room?
My mother thinks I have a very lax, casual, possibly lackadaisical attitude to money.
You have such a good brain, she often says, that if you applied yourself you could be incredibly rich.
And therein lies our bone of contention.
I am not comfortable with a picture of myself as incredibly rich. It gets stuck in my craw like a piece of gristle.
Yes, I would like to have more income than I presently have (who wouldn’t?) but I cannot ever imagine me and incredible riches in the same room.
We would pace around one another like two martial arts experts waiting for the other to fling the first spinning back kick.
But what my mother thinks about me is nothing compared to what she thinks about my husband.
It is obvious she despises him.
It was her birthday on the weekend and we spent Sunday at a barbecue at my sister’s house.
My mother spent the entire day throwing out ill-concealed digs at my husband.
It’s the same old song that she sings.
It doesn’t matter that he has cut down a business debt of over two hundred thousand dollars to under fifty thousand in just three years. He could have followed the lead of Goldman Sachs et al and let all his creditors sit and spin but he didn’t. He believes in ethics in business.
For those of you who have ever paid off a significant business debt you will know how all-consuming it can be. It you really want to wipe out the debt you have to live very frugally. That means no new clothes, no new car, no holidays. No concerts. No eating out. Until the debt is gone. Staring down the face of it at the start was very daunting but it is amazing what you can do when you have to.
I am glad my husband chose to trade out of the debt. I am proud of him. Some of his creditors are small business owners too and who wants the bad karma of adding to their financial misery?
Rather than offering support for what has at times been a stressful financial situation my mother can’t help but go on about how we don’t have our own house, we drive an old car, our clothes are starting to look shabby – blah, blah, blah.
It is a tirade I am no longer prepared to put up with.
You might think the final straw is a really dramatic moment, full of emotion and fireworks. It isn’t. The final straw comes when you realise things are never going to change. Never.
On a Sunday a line was drawn in the sand. I see it now. I didn’t see it before.
I see it there and everything it means and everything it stands for and I know I won’t cross it again.
The pain of crosssing that line is too much for me now. The hurt that needn’t be there.
A little door has closed in my heart and I have thrown away the key.
The line in the sand is a kind of goodbye.
There is sadness, a feeling of being lost in a forest.
But also relief of sorts.
That dogged line of sand.
Turning me back the other way like the cold brush of night.