I have written and erased and re-written this post, and left it sitting. I may take it down later but for now, what the hell. Lately, I've been going through........stuff. I know that other people go through the same stuff and they have chosen to keep it to themselves - which I can totally respect. However, if you don't talk about it, you can't support each other in those moments when you are thinking to yourself "is it just me, or is this totally not okay?" The load is much heavier to bear, and it is easy to feel alone. Worry, fear, and shame can eat you up inside. Besides, this is free therapy. Pull up a couch.
Here's to sharing the good, the bad, and the tawdry. Solidarity, man.
Another daughter might be delighted to receive an invitation to her father's birthday party.
I am, apparently, not that child.
Have I mentioned that my parents are divorced? Possibly not, it's not my story to tell and I doubt my mother will be thrilled that I am even mentioning it. But hey, I'm divorced too, and I am not ashamed. (At least, not anymore. It took a while to be okay with it.) Unfortunately, their divorce involved a third party, and as a result I have absolutely zero contact with my father's new wife.
I have spoken with her 1 2 3 4 ZERO TIMES. I managed to photograph her during a family wedding - the only time we have ever been anywhere at the same time - without communicating in any way. Not even eye contact.
Because there just wasn't anything to say.
My father left our family abruptly when I was 23 - he was gone when we woke up on Christmas morning all those years ago. I asked mom where he was and all she could say was "He left." He definitely left all of us that day - not just my mother. He was gone baby gone. Leaving on a jet plane gone. We have never had a face-to-face conversation about it. He never sat us down to explain what was going on. He didn't leave us a letter, or give us a call after the fact to try to repair the damage done. He just left.
(sidebar: all you parents out there who are thinking about leaving your family: it would be cool to give your kids the heads up. Even if they are grownups, they are also human beings. They deserve a few minutes of your time, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.)
I was disgusted by his behavior, which may explain why he has never asked me to come meet "the other woman". I was also, it must be said, disgusted by her behavior. And not just that she was sleeping with an old guy (she is younger than I am). I feel very strongly - a feeling that has only strengthened in adulthood - that I want to surround myself with kind, honest, compassionate people who live by the golden rule. In general, hanging out with someone who behaves in a way that seems dishonest or hurtful just doesn't appeal to me. Divorce doesn't bother me - but cheating on your partner sure does. In fact, I prefer a good old fashioned divorce to years of sneaking around. And I hold a hard line on sleeping with married people. Don't do it. Just don't do it.
I told my father as much in a letter I wrote. I explained that I do not have time for people who treat others as "expendable". People who ditch their friends for whoever they are dating these days. People who are married, and pretend to be monogamous while being TOTALLY NOT MONOGAMOUS. I explained these things, and we have agreed to disagree. I also explained that because I have nothing nice to say to his wife, I will say exactly that. Nothing.
So when I saw the email last week, my jaw dropped.
The sender's name, in particular, was........surprising. How the f@%& did she get my email address?
Listen. I understand - my parents have been divorced (and remarried to other people) for years, and I should really just grow up and move on. But you know what? No.
If you think an evite is a suitable olive branch, you have got another think coming. An evite is something you send out to your friends when you are having a Bunco party. It is not something you send via b.c.c. mass email to your spouse's estranged children to invite them to his 60th birthday celebration. It's too little, too late.
Especially when the kids live overseas and the party is in two weeks. But I digress.
It did get me to thinking: even if this had been handled with kid gloves, even if Miss fucking MANNERS had written the note on linen cardstock and sealed the envelope with sealing wax and had it delivered on a silver tray, I would still be pissed off.
You know why?
Because he's MY FATHER and my father chose to leave me and my brothers and my mom and our home.
I'M NOT DONE BEING MAD YET. I may never be done.
So it's been years of silence, punctuated by this evite with a cheery "No gifts please!" Trust me, I will not be sending a gift.
The photo on the invitation is of an old man I do not know.
I hope he has a nice party.
And since he clearly doesn't have any, I send my regrets. For everything.
10 hours ago