I got to spend half of this holiday weekend solo. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy “me time”. I was able to enjoy a long walk, a manicure, and have lunch by myself. Even though the walk killed my legs (I’ve walked so much the last few days, I’m probably going to be crawling in the morning.), it was nice to be out of the house, breathing fresh air, and enjoying pretty decent weather.
It’s 11:00 PM on a Sunday night and I’m singing at the top of my lungs, and because there’s so much wood around me, the acoustics are amazing. I am reminded that my professionally trained voice is pretty damn good. I need to sing more, because I need that creative outlet, just as I need my other creative outlets. Not singing is like cutting myself off from oxygen. It’s also a waste of talent. I hate wasting my talents, regardless of what they may be.
I definitely need to write more. I have two things I am working on, plus the novel. I also have a seven hundred page book to tackle as a reader. That’s a lot of work and a lot of words, but I love it. Tomorrow, I will write and read, and enjoy what’s left of my solo “me time”.
Exactly how did I come to be solo this weekend? My cousin Julia is getting married in Vermont. By now, she’s about four hours or so into “wedded bliss” (Yes, I just rolled my eyes. I won’t lie about it, either.). As far as I can tell, my brother & I are the only family members who were excluded from the guest list. Believe me, this did not come as a great shock. The family dynamics are such that I do not consider them family any more. I grew up with Julia and her brother, Jamie, along with three other cousins. I can honestly say I felt my cousins were forced upon me at times, but I always loved Seth, Jamie, and Julia the most. So yeah, it’s a slap in the face and the epitome of rude, but it just reaffirms why I distanced myself after my mother’s death. This behavior will remind me why I will continue to avoid them on a whole. These are the kind of people that would eagerly attend a book signing as “family”, but only so they can say they know me. They’re happy to jump on the bandwagon, but they can’t be genuine family members. Here’s a fact; they don’t me. They stopped “sort of knowing me” by age fifteen, and even then, they didn’t truly know a damn thing about me
The things that were said and done are completely unforgivable. I rarely think about it or focus on it, but this was one of those defining moment reminders that I’m “not goof enough” in their eyes to be treated with any level of respect. Family embraces you; they do not throw you to the sharks and allow you to be eaten alive.
In fairness, I would not have attended even if I had been invited, but when you have a wedding and turn it into a four-day weekend, it’s a little over the top for me. I know destination weddings are popular, but they’re also expensive for attendees. The one family member I know who is attending actually said “Thank God it’s not in Hawaii!” I know people who’ve gotten married in Hawaii and didn’t even tell people. If you want a vacation wedding, you don’t need to drag 100-500 of your closest “friends” and family along with you. If you haven’t seen or spoken to someone in the past 2-5 years, and will not see or speak to them again for the next 2-5 years, then they don’t need to attend your wedding. Those are actually a set of rules every good wedding planner will tell you about your guest list. I know this because I’ve planned a wedding that didn’t work out. My up-to-date guest list is currently at under ninety people, and approximately 50-60 won’t attend. I look at it like this; those that do attend will have one hell of a party to enjoy. My cousins, who had actually been on the list, have since been removed. My Grandmother would be appalled at the mere thought of me not sending them invitations, but I can’t abide by her every wish.
When I do get married, I want the people around me to be those who are genuine in their love and respect for me. I don’t need anyone who is full of crap attending simply because they were invited. Nor do I want gifts that have even a trace of negativity in them. BTW: If you’re getting married, register for things in reasonable price ranges and use registries from different stores, not just a few, because it’s unfair to expect people to attend an out-of-town function AND spend a fortune on a gift. My cousin’s registry was appallingly out of touch and overpriced. Buy your own damn vacuum cleaner! Don’t register for one that’s $600. Maybe get with it and DON’T register for a $900 gift from Bloomingdale’s (I’m appalled that this was actually fulfilled. I hope like hell it was his parents or hers, because that’s INSANITY.). Asking for a $2,000 gift card to Anthropologie is taking it a bit far. Am I off-base? I would cringe at the mere suggestion of asking people for such things. In fact, I’d rather people give to a charity that’s important to me. How many people use a $400 vase? Not many. Even if they’ve been married for thirty years. And honestly, I’m surprised she’s not registered at Tiffany’s considering the prices on some of these items. There’s nothing down-to-earth about any of that.
I get invited to funerals, but I don’t get invited to weddings. What does that say about my family? It says “You’re not good enough to celebrate the happy times, but come and pay your respects.” I have an answer for that; no. I did not attend my Great-Aunt or Great-Uncles’ funerals. I was not personally contacted about either passing. It’s not hard to make a fucking phone call, I made tons after my parents passed away and not once did I complain about who I had to call or how many calls I had to make. I did it all by myself.
My Great-Aunts’ funeral was seven months after I lost my Mom. I was a third-party mention. I was in the process of moving, surrounded my boxes and tons of junk. I didn’t have the ability at the time to drop everything and run three and a half hours away. I sent sympathy cards to each of them, one of which was returned to sender. But when my Great-Uncle passed away, I never would have found out if my Aunt hadn’t told me.
I take great issue with my mother’s immediate side of the family trying to use my Aunt as the go-between, and saying things about me that aren’t true. I was accused of being “hateful” and “angry” at my mother’s funeral. I was mourning TWO PARENTS who died young; how exactly did my professional courtesy toward them become an accurate portrayal of how I feel or think? They don’t know me to decipher that aspect of who I am. Not one of them said “I’m so sorry for your loss.” or “Call me if you need anything.” There was not a single kind word spoken to me or my brother. There was zero sympathy or empathy. For all I know, they might have been wasting the thirty minutes it took for them to show up and pay their respects! You can tell a lot by watching a person’s face and the three of them looked like someone had interrupted their Wednesday afternoon.
I was insulted by one cousin who, in response to the eulogy I gave, came up to me afterward and said “You’re such a great writer. You should really do something with that.” Wow! Why don’t you slap me?! The woman has zero tact and even less common sense. I have no tolerance for crap like that. It was a backhanded “compliment” and I could have let it go, but when I heard that I was “hateful” toward them at the funeral, which is untrue, I lost it. If said to my face, none of them would have faces to walk around with, so why say it behind my back? If you think there’s an issue to be resolved, grow a pair and say something to me directly.
Ultimately, the world doesn’t revolve around them, even though they believe it does. I was barely aware they’d be attending. I was dealing with a lot, and I still am. Have any of them reached out once in nine years to see how my brother or I are doing? No, but they’re more than happy to discuss me behind my back. That’s not family. They’re merely people I dealt with growing up. Family behaves like family, not when it’s convenient, but all the time. I just happen to have the unfortunate luck in being related to them, despite the fact that they’re my first cousins once removed (which to me, is basically saying they’re my second cousins. I don’t care about being genealogically correct on this one.)
I spent most of my life being compared to their children. My Great-Aunt would brag to my Grandmother (In her eyes, her Grandchildren were somehow superior to me simply by existing, My mother & Aunt also dealt with this while growing up.) and in turn, I’d have to hear “Why can’t you be more like…” How about because I’m ME. Being myself is damn good, and I’d prefer to remain me. With all due respect to my Grandmother, who was an amazingly tolerant, kind, giving, generous woman; I’m glad I’m me. She took a lot of shit from my Grandfather’s family, as well as her own, and having witnessed all that I did between her and my Mom, I won’t stand for it.
I have cousins who CHOOSE to be a part of my life. We didn’t grow up together, and at least one cousin feels robbed because of that fact, but we’re close and that’s a lovely thing. They’re smart enough to see me as I am and accept me. I can only have a relationship with people who are open to having a relationship with me. If you’re going to treat me like second-hand shit, and tell blatant lies about me, then NO, I am not going to engage with you. I have the right to pick and choose my friends, as well as my family. Simply put, I don’t need the drama, or the hassle.
I find myself content sitting here typing, with Kitten by my side being a cutie. I have thirty minutes of a movie left to watch, and I can binge-watch Pretty Little Liars on Netflix until I get sleepy. I can finish my laundry and just breathe. I am grateful for the time spent on self-care. I am grateful for the songs I’ve sung tonight, for the solitude and peace of it, and for the fact that I can pull some of that solitude back into myself Tuesday afternoon when I return from my doctor’s appointment. I missed NOTHING by not being invited, and I do not feel excluded. In fact, I feel superior.
Even more so, I am content in the fact that by being me, I’m one of the strongest people I know. I don’t have to be false or put on airs, or waste time thinking about what others think of me. Think away, providing your combined I.Q. isn’t equal to your shoe size. Life is short. I have real problems. Who gives a fuck about self-absorbed idiots? Not I.
P.S. Grandpa, I am deeply sorry that your sister’s children are not what you thought they were. I’m glad I see everyone clearly. I know you can see it, too.
copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.