Final Straw

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.

Actively.

Excessively.

Possibly pathologically.

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.

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23 thoughts on “Final Straw

  1. Hi Selma, this reads like a true story, very well expressed, not only the facts, but the subliminal feelings you hoped would go away, then your realisation and decision. This I expected of the you I know, so I comment on the subject. You read my ‘fire extingisher’ Magpie, about my daughter Julia so you know what I think of her.
    My MIL was Spanish and so arrogant there was no way I, as an Anglo, would ever get the nod. So I relate this little story. We had been married four years, with one child, two and a half, had built the house and were pregnant again. I was 28 and Vera 23. We had the test results with the (Julia) pregnancy confirmed and rushed to tell MIL the good news. Her reaction?

    “What!” she snarled. “You’re not still doing that stupid sex business are you!”
    Might partly explain why her own husband was an alcoholic. Control freaks freak me out!

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  2. Oh that must be so hard Sel. Good on you and your husband for clearing so much debt. That is a big achievement and I’m sure the small business owners are grateful. It’s not easy to draw those lines in the sand, but they do make life easier once done. Family is hard work!

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  3. Hi STAFFORD:
    It actually is a true story. My life right there on the page, unfortunately πŸ˜€
    I know exactly what you mean about control freaks – they give us nothing but grief.

    Hi DAOINE:
    Family is so much hard work that I need a break. I am having trouble coping with all the backstabbing (and frontstabbing) that I fear I will lose it mentally if I don’t step away. It’ll be a long while before I cross that line in the sand.

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  4. You are a lovely lady, supporting your husband when a lot of people in the same situation would take Mother’s side. The number of times I’ve wanted to tell my MiL not to be so bloody rude and insensitive, for fear of upsetting my wife ….

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  5. Just for a second as I was reading this I thought you were talking about MY mother. So many parallels…when you finally draw the line in the sand, I agree it’s a mixture of sadness and relief. But ultimately, in my experience it’s better when these things come to the surface.

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  6. Your husband sounds wonderful and you have been married for such a long time – you can’t change most people so sounds like you are doing the right thing. Thinking of you and take care Selma xo

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  7. Ah yes, I recognise that feeling so well – the line in the sand. After that really your heart becomes untouchable. I have drawn those lines once or twice in my life and it has been like a ten tonne weight has been lifted from my shoulders and i’ve felt able to breathe again. And I have never regretted it. We can only take so much. And the more you put up with the more they pour on you.

    Am so glad you have shut the door on this.

    And yes, well done to your husband. A brave strong man indeed.

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  8. Hi Selma, We drew that line 12 years ago. My mil and that side of the family, for us, don’t exhist. There is only so much a person can take and the reality is, this is the way they are. We can’t change how others see us. Nor will we any longer let them demoralize us. Life’s too short. Interesting to note that last year hub’s sis got in touch with my oldest daughter trying to get her to see her gramma now that shes in her 80s and my daughter told her flat out “thanks but no thanks, I have a family, I don’t need yours.” They weren’t there for my kids and won’t allow them to do to her son what was done to her, so she feels under no obligation. I say bravo! It’s their loss but your gain to draw that line.

    It’s sad to realize that if we weren’t related they are noone we would dream of being friends with.

    Chin up girl, your mental health is more important.

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  9. This line in the sand is a good thing Selma. I really hope now that you’ve put it out there and acknowledged it out loud, you won’t have to carry it on your shoulders anymore.

    This dance between mothers and daughters is a mystery to me. It doesn’t have to be there, I hope, because I’m working hard to sustain a healthy and open relationship with my daughters. I will accept their choices and welcome those they bring into our family.

    But I have issues with my own mother and my stepmother, some fundamental issues that provoke constant digs. I too am the “treehugger, bohemian, socialist, artsy one” and I too care about many things more than I do money. For some, this makes me the family fuck-up. For me, I wear them as badges of honour.

    What your mother seems to be fighting against is a grown up daughter, with her own family and her own life and her own choices. From this angle, you and your husband seem to be doing a wonderful job. You’re loyal to him and happily married. This *should* make your mother over the moon with joy.

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  10. No wonder you are proud of your husband, that’s a wonderful accomplishment. And yes, hard-won too. Been there….in a different way but been there. It’s so sad that your mother is the way she is. How she is missing out on so much, that can never come again. Again, I understand, perfectly, in a different scenario here. I don’t know how we can mend these broken links. Is there a way beyond just extending the offer to do so? Not really. Your mother is being unfair and unreasonable, it’s her loss. But it’s everyone’s pain, isn’t it?

    Hang in there Sel, lot of good stuff on the way. Better days ahead and let them arrive soon. G

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  11. Hi Sel,

    I’m so sorry it has come to this for you, but you were right in your choice of alliance. It is amazing the clarity we arrive at when we draw that line. We wonder what took us so long, and are thankful we finally changed direction…toward peace. I find it bewildering that she has anything whatsoever negative to say about your husband, especially considering the behavior of certain others you’ve shared with us.

    xoxo

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  12. i know, the same thing happened with my brother and my mother disliking his wife. alas, she wasnt all the way wrong, my ex-sister in law had a mean streak i always tried to ignore. i just wanted peace among the troops so to speak. my brother ended up drawing the line on the other side. it wasnt meant to be. your husband sounds like a fine and good man. continued strength and confidence to you. (btw mom doesnt like his second wife much either, but she is most definitely a gem-some things really do not change)

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  13. Oh, Selma. I always feel so sad for you when I read posts about your family like this. [And I am reminded how lucky I am to have such an open-minded and all embracing family of my own. ]

    I think it’s a good thing you’ve finally reached your breaking point and now you’re done crossing that line in the sand. And, I am AMAZED with what your husband managed to accomplish! Kudos to the BOTH of you.

    And in all seriousness, your mom is the ONLY one missing out here!

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  14. Hi TRAVELRAT:
    You are a lovely person too. The way I look at it is you must always support your spouse as long as he or she is trying to do the right thing. Otherwise, what’s the point of being married? Some mother-in-laws really have the wrong approach. 😐

    Hi WENDY:
    Oh, absolutely. They’ve got to come to the surface or all sorts of problems continue to arise. In some ways my experience with my mother is a universal one – so many people tell me similar stories. Which makes me wonder why the mother-daughter relationship is such a difficult one for so many. There’s a story there.

    Hi GABRIELLE:
    Aww. Thanks for the kind thoughts. I felt a bit flat about this yesterday and this morning but now I have come to terms with it. The truth is that some people are the way they are and won’t change, so it’s best not to rage against them all the time. I feel better having come to that conclusion.

    Hi RELUCS:
    The power of that line in the sand is incredible. I wish I had considered it before. I would have saved myself a lot of grief. I really think it will allow me to move forward!

    Hi CATHY:
    WOW. Your comment has really moved me. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. All that family drama just isn’t worth it, is it? Our mental health is precious – we have to look after it. You make me feel that I have done the right thing.

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  15. Hi JENNIFER:
    I just want to hug you after reading your comment. I know what it’s like, I really do. From my perspective you seem to lead a very happy, succesful life. And you are someone who really thinks about things and notices the beauty in life. To me that is very important. As a Mum, I would be very proud of you. But you can’t please all the people all of the time, can you? It’s just the way it is. It is nice to know, however, that there are a lot of kindred spirits like yourself out there who get it. It really makes a difference πŸ˜€

    Hi GERALDINE:
    That is such an insightful point about it being everyone’s pain. For it truly is. And some links will just remain broken no matter what methods we use to try and mend them. Accepting that it is OK that they are broken is something I have never been able to do. But I am working on it right now and I feel it is getting me somewhere. Hallelujah!!!

    Hi STEPH:
    YOU’RE BACK!!!!!!! *doing happy dance just like Snoopy and Woodstock*
    That has made my day. I am so glad to see you.

    Other behaviours. Oh, yes. But you know my brother-in-law owns his house outright and has a million dollars in investments so any negative behaviour of his (like bashing my sister) can be forgiven. That way of thinking is almost too outlandish for me to get my head around but there you have it.

    However, for the moment I don’t care about that.
    YOU’RE BACK β™₯ β™‘ βœͺ β˜†β€ ✿

    Hi TIPOTA:
    That’s it entirely – I just want a bit of peace. I know it can be hard to achieve sometimes but I will still strive for it. Families are such hard work, aren’t they? Whew.

    Hi IAIN:
    She’ll just call me a socialist. There’s no point. But you are very right about that. Maybe one day she’ll change her tune. You just never know….

    Hi MELEAH:
    Your family are awesome. I want them to adopt me. I’m serious!
    I am so glad they are there for you. It gives me hope and inspires me!

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  16. I do hope you realize that all of these problems are hers, not yours. From all that I have read here, now and in the past, both you and your husband seem to be great people. Your mother should be proud to have such a wonderful daughter and son-in-law. I truly hope she realizes that someday.

    I wish I could offer some advice as I have had a troublesome relationship with my mother in the past. However, since I live 1,000 miles away from her and can therefore ignore her at any time, I don’t have any words of wisdom. I can only offer my hugs and support.

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  17. Hi HEATHER:
    And I luff you. Lots. It had to be done.

    Hi LAURI:
    It’s hard but what can I do? I would like her to be able to think differently about my situation but she obviously can’t. I can’t keep clinging to things that cause me pain. It is stopping me from leading a full life and makes me feel bad about myself. I feel better having done this. Onward and upward!

    Hi KATE:
    A thousand mile buffer sounds just what I need. Families are so complex. Everyone has an issue or two to deal with. I really appreciate your kind words, Kate. Thank you πŸ˜€

    Hi STEPH:
    One more time –
    YOU’RE BACK πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ ❗

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  18. Very sorry to read this. She should know better. I know it’s difficult when our parents behave like this but we just have to choose to ignore it and not let that ruin the rest of our lives. Easier said than done I know but we have to try.

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  19. Hi ROSHAN:
    It is a hard thing to cope with but I can’t have her slagging off my hubby every five seconds. He can’t be that bad, he puts up with me πŸ˜‰

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