Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sorry. I Am Obsessed With This

For J and I, one of the hardest things about being married is just understanding where the other one is coming from.

If you tried you probably could not come up with two more disparate upbringings. My parents are pretty Ozzie and Harriet, very middle class, with mostly Midwestern values. It is tempting to call my childhood "normal" but as an adult I am well aware of how many kids are not lucky enough to live that way. I would say that I would be thrilled if I could give my daughter a childhood like I had. And I believe that J would be too--to him I grew up like kids on fiftie's sitcoms. Something he didn't believe was real.

This doesn't mean that my parents are/were perfect, just that I was never afraid or insecure. I never went hungry or worried about my family's financial position. I had opportunities to go to good schools and have extras like camp and sports. I went to college. This is how I want my daughter to feel and what I want her to have.

J's life was different. And I hesitate to get too detailed because he has his right to privacy (heh sort of) but it's the total eightie's package. With divorce and other family problems. The financial and emotional things that come with that, plus some other kind of scary things thrown in (vague enough?). I know he would do anything to prevent that from happening to our family.

But it means his sense of what is normal is just WEIRD to me. And with his mom here they get into these cycles of remembering things that freak me out. They try to one up each other remembering more violent or fucked up episodes from their past. They have a kind of pride in them. I don't think that they should be ashamed or anything but it is a strange situation for me.

You can see how we interact with our respective parents would be different. And what is polite, where our personal boundaries, even manners are different. And it is hard. When we were first together it made me crazy about how he is always late, and never apologizes for it. He thinks that because he doesn't care when others are late that no one minds. Even when some one clearly does. He thinks I am too formal with friends, waiting for invitations before showing up at their homes (and never inviting myself along). Eventually, we have reached a sort of truce point about most things--compromises so that we both feel as comfortable as possible.

But we haven't had much interaction with his family in all of this time (and we are talking nine years). So they are strangers to me, even though I know some people would consider them "family". He has expectations about how I should behave and feel about his family that I just cannot live up to. He thinks that intimacies that feel so creepy to me are normal because "she wants to help." It's hard to explain, but to me it is as if he met some one on the street and brought her home. And expects me to treat her the same (or actually in some cases more familiarly) than my own mother.

And the two of them are stressing me out so much I can barely breathe. I try, I really do. I try to make small talk (which no one in their family seems capable of--they just share anything which I suppose is fine except it really does make me uncomfortable). I try to help her find jobs and housing. I stick to impersonal topics and just hope that over time we become friends. But they don't want me to do anything. I am not allowed to do ANYTHING in my house. In her eagerness to help (which is sincere I know) I am now imprisoned in my damn bedroom all day. Because if I even try to make myself a snack she tries to stop me to help.

I would like to clarify to everyone that I am having a baby. I am not actually a baby.

I do appreciate that no one wants me to overdo. I really do. And I appreciate the sentiment of wanting to help. But honestly, if I want to clean my bathroom (which was necessary because J wasn't going to do it and I cannot ask her to do it maybe that is dumb but I can't, especially in light of how spoiled and rich she thinks I am), then I can clean my damn bathroom. What is the worst that could happen? I could go into labor? ISN'T THAT WHAT EVERYONE WANTS? I mean y'all only talk to me about contractions and people just stare at me if I leave my room (another reason I don't leave it) so wouldn't it make everyone happier if I just had the baby?

I just want some privacy and some space. I have a lot of shit going on right now and being pushed into a close relationship with some one who doesn't like me (but sure is now changing her tune since I am having her grandchild) and makes me so uncomfortable is making this worse. I will not keep her from the baby (though if that cough doesn't go away she'll have to wear a mask because DAMN) but please just let me figure this stuff out without complicating it. And having to sort out an in-law relationship that most people would have figured out many years ago is complicating things.

I don't really get his perspective here. Maybe he is trying to force me to accept his mother? But I really resent that somehow, once again, any rejection I have of his point of view means that I am an unfair classist asshole but no one has to try to see things from my side.

Wow. Biggest, and yet vague, brain dump on the internet EVER. At least for me. Sorry y'all.

1 comment:

Sandra said...

That sucks. It isn't fair that you are being forced into a relationship with someone who is basicly a stranger. But it does sound like she is getting her own place? Maybe things will get better when the baby arrives, hopefully.