Ok, so I've been working on this post for over a month. It just has to come out as is, no point in procrastinating anymore... It's kind of neither here nor there, some fairly personal stuff, but it's time to release it, I can't hold onto it any longer.
For a little background on this story: BR turns out to be a very sensitive kid. She is fairly easily startled, and she definitely has a big issue with angry yelling. The last time she was exposed to it, she started having nightmares, issues with clinginess and started being scared of any kind of noise. We're just starting to get over it now. She hasn't had nightmares in a while, and she's on her way to sleeping through the night again (knock on wood). This was a little surprising to me, really, since I'm not the quietest or the gentlest person around, so it's not like she's been raised in a sensory deprivation environment or anything. But the kid does not like screaming...
Unfortunately, shouting matches seem to be par for the course in my parents' culture. Especially when it comes to the men. And specifically, my step-father has a tendency to escalate things into yelling, sometimes out of the blue. Which I can more or less handle, after 20 odd years of exposure. But I cannot subject BR to it in clear conscience. So in general we've tried to avoid getting into situations where we might get entangled with his angry outbursts.
But here's the rub: Christmas time. Our family always spends the holidays together, usually at our house. It's bigger than my folks' place, it's nice and quiet in the wintertime, we can ski in the backyard etc... It's kind of tradition for my whole clan (parents + sisters) to gather at our house and celebrate. And the pattern is usually lots of great fun and cheer, punctuated with sporadic outbursts of anger.
So this year I had to be proactive. I called my Mum to let her know that for BRs sake we cannot tolerate yelling and screaming at our house over the holidays. She was quite taken aback (not surprisingly, since I've barely ever stood up to her). Her immediate reaction was to say that she cannot guarantee calmness, and that even thinking about it would be way too stressful, she couldn't handle it, and in that case she would rather travel over the holidays. In fact, this would be a perfect opportunity to take that trip to Peru she has always dreamed about. I have to admit I was quite surprise, as I hadn't anticipated such a turn of events. But I felt like I was the one who brought up the whole mess, so I should just accommodate her decision. I mean, it will be tough to not see my clan for the holidays here, but if that's her choice, I just have to deal with it.
Little did I know, I committed a major faux pas. I am still not sure what really happened, or how I should have acted/reacted to this whole thing. Mum seems to have gotten very mad, and I get the distinct impression that she's expecting me to make amends somehow, though I am not sure how. To add to the mess of confusion, there's been lots of unpleasant and stressful stuff going on in her life, which caused her to flat out shut me out, refusing to talk to me (causing me to stress out not being able to be there/support her in times of crisis). We're back on talking terms, but there's still lots of resentment and frustration right below the surface.
So that's where we're at right now. I would really like to get this situation resolved, for the benefit of everyone involved. I mean it's not good for BR nor for my Mum to have such a strained relationship. BR will only be this small once, and Mum is missing many of her firsts. I don't think anything can be resolved over the phone (a phone conversation started this whole mess after all). It's also hard to figure out a way to get some face to face time with my Mum, what with BR and the rest of the family and logistics. She doesn't seem to want to see me these days...
I'm trying very hard to avoid putting blame on anyone for the situation, and to understand that there's a lot more to the whole situation than what I can see. But I feel very strongly that I have to stand up for BR, as I have been entrusted with her safety and well-being. I don't want to hurt or upset my own Mum of course, but if I have to choose, BR will be my choice every time. I just wish it didn't feel so crappy. What it comes down to, is that I wish I didn't have to choose.
So there you have it. Stuck between a rock and a hard place. And as if that wasn't enough conflict for me, we were recently informed by one of our friends that a mutual acquaintance has made it known that she does not want to attend any events with me, asking people to either invite her or me. Our friend was wondering what this feud was all about. Well, the whole thing was complete news to me, since I'd talked to the girl on the phone the week before, and she was coming over to our house on the weekend. So there's apparently another feud I'm involved in, though mostly blissfully unaware.
Am I really that aggravating??? You gotta wonder...