The biggest event of my staycation a couple of weeks ago was our daughter’s commencement ceremony and the family get-together at our place that afternoon. (For those following along, she’s received three full time teaching offers and will accept one today!)
For a rabid introvert like me, sitting in a gymnasium full to bursting with families of 100 grads (thank goodness each college in our daughter’s university has its own separate ceremony) is a total nightmare. Surrounded by people – ugh! I felt like I was sitting on a bed of nails while bathing in a pool of rubbing alcohol.
But that nightmare was Cloud Nine compared to the family party later in the day.
I’m not comfortable with a houseful of guests at the best of times. And this was not the best of times. Because this little gathering came with a shitload of family baggage, in the human form of my own personal Wicked Stepmother.
I’ve never been a huge fan of my dad’s wife. But until last fall we put on happy faces and played nice. Right up until she started sending me drunken, hateful phone calls, voicemails, FB messages, and emails (an encore performance of the kind of booze hag scenes she used to put on when I was young and frequently a captive audience). When that stuff went down last fall I drew the line, explained to my dad I refused to let myself in for that kind of crap ever again, and severed ties with her once and for all.
But I knew an event like our daughter’s grad party would be fraught. I wanted my dad to be there – he’s a doting grandfather, and our daughter cares for him. But I absolutely did not want his wife in my home. I quite literally had bad dreams about that eventuality. I knew there was a good chance he’d bring her to the party – either due to his lifelong genius for absolute denial, and/or due to his slipping memory, and/or due to his choosing to placate his drunken, abusive wife instead of caring about my well-being. (Enable much?)
The Husband gallantly tried to come to my rescue. He volunteered to call my dad, inviting him to the party while making it clear the invitation was for him alone. It was worth a try, and I was thankful he made the call for me.
And then, at the appointed time on the big day, while I happened to be in the front yard, guess who appeared in our driveway? Yup. My dad, with the W.S. in tow.
Furious, hurt, and in minor shock, I made a beeline for the house and dashed upstairs to collect myself for a moment. I did not slam any doors. Didn’t scream in rage. Didn’t even cry – my usual reaction to any event so over-the-top emotional.
Of course, the W.S. behaved herself in front of company. That’s always been the trick up her sleeve. And I was eventually able to come downstairs and be civil. Bottom line, this was our daughter’s celebration and I didn’t want my drama to ruin it for her.
But boy, did my my blood pressure take a beating.
I’ll have to consider serving poisoned apples at our next family gathering.