Being Supportive Does Not Always Make You A Good Person

I’ve had to do far too much supporting of others lately, and it has taken a toll on me. Keeping my mouth shut and my opinions to myself has pent up so much anger and frustration within me that I literally want to scream the truth in people’s faces sometimes – am I the only one that sees what is really going on here?

Yet still, I hold it in.

It started about 9 months ago when my brother in law and his wife announced that they were having a baby. At our BBQ. (Because our BBQ was totally all about them.)

Since then it’s been one family event after another that I’ve had to be supportive at. Living only 5 miles from my husband’s family (yes, we basically live in Everybody Loves Raymond) this has been weekly. At some points in the last 9 months, it’s even been daily.

All the while, I just wanted to scream in everyone’s faces the truth – that they were just separated a year and a half ago. That I have vivid memories still of my husband’s brother seeming practically unable to go on with life because his then-ex-now-again-and-pregnant-a-few-months-in wife had left him.

And, more importantly, that not everyone decides to have a baby and POOF is just pregnant. That some people struggle for years only to be unsuccessful at it, and that knowing this is going on with more than one family member, yet still flaunting it around ad nauseum, is at a certain point really shitty of them.

Am I the only one that sees what is really going on here? Hold that in, Heather.

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I could go on and on and on about all the things about this situation my husband and I don’t support, but I won’t. We’ve kept our mouths shut, with the exception of one occasion when we tried to have a reasonable and private conversation about it with his mother. We were told we should be more supportive. Since then, we’ve gone out of our way to be overly supportive of them, because we knew it was what his family wanted. (For that we’ve gotten it shoved up our assholes every way possible.)

Still yet, hold it in.

It has been way more than just that, though. It’s been the expectation to continue supporting my husband’s career even though it is very certainly, and undramatically, destroying our lives.

Hold that in, Heather. Don’t talk about the fact that we’ve got no employer-sponsored dependent health insurance, no retirement, and no raises in years at the Christmas party! That would be unsupportive of your man!

It’s been the measles outbreak – which we were actually exposed to, living in Southern California in a county that has one of the highest numbers of confirmed cases paired with some of the lowest pockets of vaccination rates. We sat there with my mother’s family last month, while friends and family talked about their wariness to vaccinate, as though we are all just supposed to stand by and watch irresponsible parenting run amok in society as a whole, in the name of supporting people’s personal choices as parents.

That was the same day we saw photos of my cousin’s wedding that we never received an invitation to, until a week before the wedding. She texted me and said she forgot to invite me. We were invited, but there were no kids welcome. In the photos, there were 12 kids present at the wedding we did not attend.

Hold it in. Hold it in.

As I have sat here for 9 months brooding and deleting my comments and biting my tongue so hard I need a pint of blood to cover the damages, I quietly – in my head – added again and again to the laundry list of all the times that something should have been said to stop this madness once and for all.

Then, a few weeks ago in a public forum I went nuts on anti-vaxxers. Not emotionally, not illogically. But nuts. Scientifically and morally, yet insane.

I cannot begin to describe how much better I felt.

Now, in the aftermath of that, as weeks have gone on and I’ve been more and more honest, and less concerned about what people think of me and how unsupportive I may come across, I just have to say it. Maybe it will be the thing to end the madness:

Being supportive does not always make you a good person.

Somewhere down the line being truthful and honest became pejorative qualities. Sound advice became negativity, and a sensitivity and attention to the realities of the world, no matter how insignificant any one of them may seem, made you a hater. Instead we should all just hold hands and sing Kumbaya and be supportive of each others’ decisions and endeavors, all the while lying about what is universally true and right and real.

So this morning I logged onto Facebook, because naturally that’s where I get my news. As I scrolled through the feed I saw articles, updates, baby photos, and eventually news from fellow writers.

And then I saw an update about a blogging anthology, which shall remain unnamed, that is going to be published. It’s a sequel, and to be quite frank I didn’t like most of the first one. The update was lamenting not being included, more a statement on that own person’s insecurities and hopes to make it in the blogging world. I didn’t really get that feeling at the news, but I’m a writer, not a blogger.

So me being tired of always supporting supporting supporting when I know that someone should cry BULLSHIT ON THIS NOISE, and feeling more and more comfortable over the past few weeks doing so again, inspired me to just post my own comment on how I was glad to not be included because I didn’t like the first book and prefer to not be included in that kind of book.

As a side, I know a lot of really gifted writers that cannot even sell 10 copies of the self-published books, while cliche and mediocre stuff is peddled and makes it to the best seller lists – there is nothing right or good about that at all. All I said, though, was that I’d rather not be included, as other talented writers should take that as support that there are other, much better, projects out there.

Now, I know it sounded rude the way I said it, though, and I quickly realized that a few of the essays in the first book were written by friends that I did enjoy. So I deleted my comment within a couple seconds. I did not want to hurt anyone’s feelings at the expense of me feeling better about being more open and honest.

Of course I did not delete it before the organizer of the anthology saw my comment and, apparently, was insulted – perhaps as insulted as I am by her writing, in particular how much of a bully she is to people she doesn’t like.

But that is all neither here nor there to the central point.

After deleting my comment and moving on with my day, I realized that maybe I shouldn’t have deleted it; and not deleted it because of my own feelings of being insulted. Maybe I should have said the entire truth all along, with everything. As much as other people have a right to be insulted by my lack of support, I have a right to be insulted by their flagrantly terrible behavior to begin with. With the opportunistic anthologies; with the BIL and SIL’s baby; with my husband’s job – with all of it.

Keeping silent about what I know to be universally true and right and real feels so much worse than the backlash of speaking up. And in the end, al that is sacrificed by staying silent is me. So speaking up makes me a hater. I’d rather be an honest hater than a loved liar.

In the end, who is really the good person?

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Oh Mama

My mother and I pictured right

This will neither be the first, nor the last, time that I blog about my mother.  It’s no secret:  my mother lives an interesting lifestyle (and by interesting I, of course, mean insane).  In twenty-nine years she has given me one bizarre scenario after another:  from crazy boyfriends that claim they’re going on tour with Madonna, to setting me up on a date with a bartender when I was only sixteen.  Today’s phone call did not fail to meet the bar she has set up until this point.

Around 12:30 this afternoon, as I was rushing out the door, I received a phone call from her wherein she announced that this morning her boyfriend and she went down to the courthouse near his trailer in New Mexico and got married.

There are a myriad of reasons why this is a problem.  To start, she’s known the guy for roughly nine months, although every time I have mentioned that to her she reminds me that they both grew up in the same area so “essentially have known each other all along.”  Of that nine months, my mother has spent roughly six actual weeks with him, physically (the remainder of the relationship being over the telephone).  He told me six months ago that he was going to visit his daughter at school in Texas, only for him to reveal to everyone last week that he really had not communicated with any of his four daughters in over twelve years.  But it gets worse.  Since he and my mother met, he has “intended” on selling his home in New Mexico, but one debacle after another comes up, including a scene where the real estate agent reportedly punched out the guy at the bank of a prospective buyer; right now the story is that the real estate agent is in jail for an unrelated offense.  The crowning glory of the lies this guy has told was when he announced to everyone in my mother’s family that he was diagnosed with malignant cancer.  When I questioned a few things he said (mainly that his doctor supposedly said it would be alright to continue smoking two packs of cigarettes a day), three hours later he “miraculously” received a phone call with the news that his biopsy had incorrectly shown a malignant cancer, and it was really just a bacterial infection that a five-day course of Zithromax would clear up.  The line between fact and fiction with this guy is beyond blurry, so quite obviously my response to the whole situation of them getting married earlier today can be summed up in something I said to a friend in response:  I don’t know if I should be sending her a card or staging an intervention.  

So that’s the update on my mother, now to the relevance of it all.  In previous times that I have blogged about my mother, people have given me mixed responses.  Some have said that the candid humility I share my life’s story with is humbling.  This I consider a compliment:  my experiences with my mother and the characters she involves herself with are truly dysfunctional; to hide them would be to do nothing more than contribute to that very dysfunction.  For every time my mother has done something nice for me, she has followed that up with ten steps of hurt.  From abandoning me when I was ten, to exposing me to sex way earlier than any kid should be exposed; from stealing money and things from me, to spreading lies within her family about me and my contribution to her hardships – my mother has run me and my family through the gamut.  Talking about things that have happened is by far the healthiest thing a person can do in a situation like this.  And, anyway, beyond finding solace in honesty, if my mother didn’t want people to be talking about the things she does, well faithful blog followers, then she shouldn’t have done them.

But there has been another type of response to the blogs I have written about my mother, specifically more negative ones.  Some have said that I have gone against the very essence of a family’s value; that in a family these things happen and you just deal because it’s family.  Others have said that I owe my mother life and for that she can lie, cheat, steal, scandalize, abuse, use, and abandon me and my family all she wants.  On the day of my mother’s wedding, when she has ignored the advise of others and yet still expected them to come to her aid, I think now is the time to address these more negative responses.

One person said that I “should be ashamed to spread the business” of my mother around “like she’s anyone other than the person that gave me life.”  In response to that I simply reiterate that I carry myself with the utmost level of honesty that I can, so to lie about it would be against the very fabric of who I am.  To further that, I would have to argue that financially, physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually, I have repaid my mother for the life she gave me about fifty times over.

Another person responded that “one day” I will “regret such hostility towards her,” to which I question exactly where anyone finds hostility in honesty?  Here is where the real lesson comes in:  somewhere, somehow, our society morphed into this family-values-loving culture that defines everything by what is right for the family, rather than what is right for the betterment of our souls.  There are so many dysfunctional situations out there, in so many families, that are simply glossed over or turned a blind eye to merely for the sake of preserving the family.  And while it’s true that the reason why I continue to tolerate my mother’s shenanigans, time and time again, is because she is family, at some point I most certainly will say that enough is enough.  I will not regret it, either; in fact, no one should regret making the decision to be honest and true to themselves and their happiness.  There’s an old saying:  “some of the worst people I know are members of my family.”  I think this applies to a lot of familial situations and to stand by and let it go on is one of the most morally reprehensible things a person can do.

There are a lot of things in this world that are wrong and it is only in our refusal to confront those things head-on that they continue to persevere.  It’s time for everyone to stand up to the bad mothers, the emotionally distant fathers, the dysfunctional cousins, the rumor-mongering siblings, and every other injustice that they see happening on a daily basis in their every-day lives.  Blog about it, write about it, Tweet about it – whatever it is you need to do to prevent yourself from becoming no better than them.  That is the real lesson to be learned here, faithful blog followers:  in truth and what is right, rather than in lies and what is proper, is where we find our salvation.