Sunday, November 19, 2006

That Horrible Woman

We went to dinner with my in-laws tonight. I debuted the idea of us considering maybe opening my business in New Orleans after my husband graduates if their economy is ready for a marketing/design startup (the plan is to begin research now, look into grants, etc). It was not received warmly, but I don't think anyone gave it much credence. That's probably okay.

Overall, though, dinner was not offensive. It was on the drive home, the hour long drive home, with my husband's grandma yammering on in the back seat while A slept. She talked and talked and talked the whole way.

It was awkward, yes, but then, only minutes from home, she said the thing that I can't get out of my mind: She started talking about her son's first wife, "that horrible woman".

"I was so glad when she got that marriage annulled, even though it took him years to get over it." She paused, took a deep breath, and said, "She didn't want to have children, that horrible woman."

I wish I believed that there were other reasons that she called her "that horrible woman", that the main reason she said she was horrible was because she broke her son's heart and this was just icing. I wish I was imagining the disdain in her voice, that I had a recording to combat all the people who think I heard it that way because I'm a drama queen and reading too much into things. I wish I could convey how my stomach sank through the floor of the car and splattered all over the road, and I felt about two inches tall and wanted to just cry, the words stung so much. "That horrible woman."

It matters to me what she thinks, even though I know it makes her mean and intolerant and narrowminded and Catholic. It doesn't make the words sting any less. My best friend thinks she might have been trying to bait me, that she heard rumours from the stepsisters whom I've hinted to that we weren't interested in kids and wanted to see my reaction. Who knows.

I have to wonder how she feels about the fact that they chose not to adopt after his second wife's inability to complete a pregnancy, after, from what I've heard, stillbirths out of horror movies and countless miscarriages. I wonder if that makes them horrible in their eyes, if she thinks less of them for making that choice, even after all they went through.

I know I'm not horrible, but the words still hurt.


~ said...

Wow! I just read some of your past posts and I am really surprised at how much pressure you are getting. I thought my hubby's family was bad, but they are nothing compared to what you've got! My situation is much easier, I think. My mom is totally supportive since we are so much alike. We're both fanatical about school, so she "gets" it. My hubby's family, on the other hand, is... what's the nice way to put it?... Well, they're hillbillies. I get the constant questions at holidays, but I have been very open about my choice. They just look at me as if I were speaking another language. We are the ONLY ones in his family without kids (and these people are breeders). His brother, for example, had his first at 17. (*He* didn't, but you know what I mean.) As a side note, my husband is 32 and I'm 29.
I feel your pain, though. It doesn't really matter how many online people say "Don't let it get to you" or "Be strong". It still feels as if you are the lighthouse in the middle of the storm when you've got all those old fogies bristling at you.
As far as handling it, I find that I probably become a little too defensive when I get the "You'll change your mind" comment. For me, it really depends on who is asking/telling. For strangers, I don't spare feelings. I shut them down quickly and don't engage. (My husband says I can be mean sometimes). For family, I try to explain why. The only one who's been nasty is my sister. I don't know why, but I don't really bother trying to make her understand.
Just know that you really aren't alone. We're like a super secret club... only without a really cool handshake. :)

Teri said...

Tiara Lyn - This post is excellent! How many childfree will be in this position while attending social gatherings this holiday season?

May I republish it verbatim with a link to your CF Me site on Purple Women & Friends? I would like to feature you as a Guest Contributor.

Please correspond with me via email on details or in reply!