When Talking Is Just Too Hard
I’m writing this letter because I don’t know how else to talk to you. Over the years I’ve tried talking, and it’s never worked. So, today, I’m trying a new route, a route that will allow me to say what I need to say.
The point of this letter is simple, I’m hurting. And while nothing may change, I need to at least explain why. If for no other reason than I deserve to try to find peace and acceptance in what our relationship is.
A few years ago, while we were actively going through our third miscarriage, I told you I was disappointed with our relationship. Disappointed that you’d drive past our house on the way to see a sibling and did not stop by. Disappointed that it feels like you make no effort to be part of our lives, when we want you and your wife to be in our lives. However when you tried to talk about it more I responded that today is not the day for that conversation, we simply don’t have the emotional capacity as we are currently waiting for our child to die. We said nothing more about it because we were focused on telling you about our current medical situation and our struggle to conceive a healthy child. You respected my request, and now a few years later we have never discussed it.
Right after that conversation you made an attempt. Sometimes you called me. Your wife even called a few times. You stopped by on your way to visit the other sibling. We continued to visit for family events even though our dog isn’t welcome in your home and it meant we had to drive 6 hours both way in one day because of our dog. The odd time we even paid for a dog sitter and spent the night.
But, old patterns die hard. Now, you stopped visiting and you rarely call. I cannot even remember the last time your wife phone me. Heck, you both missed my birthday last year. And so, we’ve slowly stopped coming to as many family events. We’re tired of the driving 6 hours in one day. And, as our adoption costs are going to be well over $80,000 USD, in part to a falling Canadian dollar, things like dog sitting bills and huge fuel bills are expenses we can do without.
However, I still desperately want to be at family events. We may not be the perfect family, but I love our family. So, I keep trying. Like a few weeks before thanksgiving I called and told you our schedule, because I really wanted to be there. And you proceeded to tell me in no uncertain terms that the date has been set and if we want to be there we’ll change our plans.
But, all of this aside, what motivated me to write you today is your email about Christmas. You sent an email to the 4 kids. In that email you explained that you spoke with A, B, and C and they are available on December 24th and you are hosting dinner. If that doesn’t work for everyone then the kids need to find another date. But it’s actually what you didn’t say that spoke louder. No-where in your note did you mention me, because you chose not to ask me or mention that we don’t travel at Christmas and haven’t for 5 years now so we need to look for a date that works to include us. It’s frustrating that you try to work with everyone’s schedule but do not even acknowledge ours.
I respect that you don’t like our long standing decision not to travel on Christmas, you’ve made that clear on more then one occasion. However, your decision in regards to how to deal with this in front of all my siblings indicates a lack of respect towards me, my husband and our family unit. This is both troubling and hurtful.
I suspect, you chose to avoid talking to me because you hate disagreements and confrontations just as much as I do. And you chose to send the email right before you were leaving for a few week vacation so that we couldn’t talk about it. But, by avoiding talking to me and maybe even directly inquiring about the possibility of us travelling on the 24th and writing the email as you did, just put me on the spot with all my siblings. I’m very disappointed that you decided to state that the 24th works for you, A, B and C, but if it doesn’t work for everyone then we kids need to find an alternate date. This sets up a situation of A, B and C vs. me. A situation I am not looking forward to and clearly leaves me on the outside. Again, by what you didn’t say, you clearly said that the we are the problem.
I’m struggling with the fact that I spent part of thanksgiving crying about not being with my family because they wouldn’t even try to include us. And now I’m struggling with how Christmas is likely to be a repeat. I’m already anticipating countless tears because either we compromise ourselves to attend or we disappoint by not attending.
But, you know what, beyond just this Christmas email and thanksgiving, the issues between us are bigger. I’m struggling with feeling like the 4th class member of our family. I’m struggling with the recurrent theme which is you and your wife not making an effort to including us and accommodate our needs.
I’m also deeply struggling with just our tarnished and broken our relationship feels. The fact that you won’t even speak to me about Christmas plans, be respectful towards my family and our decisions just goes to show how distant we’ve become. And, I acknowledge I am part of the problem, I’m choosing to write a letter rather then just pick up the phone. I’ve joked for years that if we don’t speak for weeks at a time it means things are good between us, but honestly the silence is deafening and my jokes is just a sad attempt to mask the pain I’ve been experiencing for years.
Since I’m laying it all out, I need to add that I’m fed up with the fact that I’m spending my life trying to deal with lose and grief that has been my entire life. First, know that I do not and have never blamed you for the accident. But, after mom and my sister died, within months I lost my Dad too. That was your decision, and unfortunately our ways of grieving did not coincide – you went outwards to your new family when I needed to hold onto what I had left. And so, today I am still grieving that our relationship is nothing like my childhood memories. I am still hurting. The layers of grief I’m dealing with are complex and immense as I’m also grieving the loss of our children and learning to live with all this reality on a daily basis. And at the same time my husband and I are working to build our own family, working harder than most people ever have to. This struggle, which you know about and never ask about, has afforded us the opportunity to have countless hours to ponder family and parenthood in a way very few people do. This has reinforced how much I miss the father I once had, because that’s the relationship I hope to cultivate with my own children. I want nothing more to be just like the parents I remember you and Mom were.
I’m honestly just tired of trying to accept our relationship for what it is, and feeling like I’m getting no-where. It’s a constant internal battle for me. I just want to be part of your life; in-fact, I desperately want to be a meaningful part of your life probably more then almost anything in the world.
And yet, at this point in my life and in large part due to hours of counselling, I also realize I need to respect my personal needs. And, right now I need to put myself and my growing family first.
So, will we join you on December 24th to celebrate Christmas as a family? As much as it pains me to say it, probably not. We made a promise to ourselves years ago that we would not travel over Christmas due to the stress it put on us trying to please both of our families. It got so bad that we began to hate Christmas, and that’s just not a way to spend the holidays. And, so we are committed to our decision to have a quiet Christmas at home with our small growing family. I’m sorry this decision is something you don’t seem to understand, support and/or respect.
All this said, please know that I do love you. I love you from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul. I’m sorry that I don’t have the magical answer to fix our relationship. The hurt I feel rests deep within my soul and I suspect you have your own complicated emotions too. Maybe one day we’ll be able to talk about this in a civilized manner. I hope for that day, as I want nothing more than to be the daddies little girl I once was.
* I did not and do not plan to send this letter. Maybe one day I will, but right now, I just cannot bear the thought of the potential fallout. I’m deeply afraid that the consequences of pushing send will be worse than the hurt I experience today. By writing this, my hope is that I will at least be able to let go of some of the hurt and accept what is.
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