Monday, March 30, 2009

Further close encounters of the ex-family kind

This is one of those posts that I don't know if I should push the "publish" button on. Part of me wants to put it out there, and another part wants me to write about it and then lay it away somewhere safe. I don't want to write anything I'll one day regret. We'll see.

Remember my chance encounter? Well, we all came face to face this past weekend. Just writing this puts butterflies in my stomach. I won't go into the details of why this situation is the way it is, or how the people involved are related to me, but know that I was once in daily contact with these people. We were supposed to be family. My kids spent a lot of time at their house. I called them when I had a dumb cooking questions. She once bid on a breast pump for me over ebay. You know, special things.

That being said, we all ended up together at a church this past weekend. Someone in the family had gotten married, so Shane and I and my dear mother-in-law Vonnay went to the reception. All was fine and good when we arrived; we couldn't see any cars that looked familiar, and we didn't see anyone when we walked into the reception itself. The bride was beautiful (because they always are) and I took a few pictures for Vonnay. I thought about cake and punch and nut cups.

I could almost feel Harry and Sally (not their real names) (one of my favorite movies, by the way) when they came into the room. Jane, another person who came with Harry and Sally, walked up to me and Shane and hugged us. I was so grateful for Jane and for her integrity, for her willingness to still talk to us despite the estrangement that has overshadowed the relationship with Harry and Sally. My heart started to beat a little faster, and the butterflies began rolling. I figured that I could stay on my side of the room, but a few minutes later I found myself talking to Jane and Vonnay with only a few few feetseparating me from Harry and Sally.

That is when I knew I had to try. Seriously, I could almost hear "Choose the Right" playing somewhere in my head (darn those primary songs). I was supposed to go and talk to them, despite the 3 years that had passed, despite the things that had been said, despite the fact that I ran from them at Sam's Club and wondered if they wanted to run me over. So, my heart beating so hard and fast I thought everyone would see it through my shirt, I walked over and said hello to both of them (I called them "you two." I couldn't even bring myself to say their names.)

I wish I could have heard what they were thinking in their minds. Harry looked a tiny bit receptive, but Sally did not. I told Sally that her hair was cute. Her response, "Thanks. It's been like this for a LONG TIME." She said this with such a surety, such a confidence that I didn't belong in their life, and hadn't, and probably wouldn't, that it almost made me want to run.

To this awesomely receptive comment, I said (while trying to remain calm and friendly and 500,000% more confident than I really was): "Well, it's been a LONG TIME. Anyway....Byeee!!"

And I ran out of the church.

It sounds pretty pathetic as it is. Who cares that I told a family member I liked her hair? But for me, it was a little triumph. It was as close to passing them the peace pipe as I could muster (especially in a church.) I knew I wouldn't be able to make everything all better. I knew I was probably wasting my time and energy and precious heart beats. But I had to do it.

After it was over, I felt like I could have run a marathon. I didn't scurry away from them. I didn't stand in the middle of the road and wait for them to decide if they were going to run me over or not. I got to decide a part of the nature of our relationship and how I would react to their silence. I decided.

And now I'll publish. Please say I won't have to regret this one day.


Thomas Family said...

I don't think you will regret this, I think you said it great! You have told me the story and I think you did the right thing by going and saying hello.. You were the bigger person, and just look now, you know who is just a little person who doesn't want to admit to being like that.. I am sorry that they shrugged you off like that, but I am proud of you for trying! That is all you can do!!
Some people just really don't care and obviously they don't.. Let them be little..
Don't regret anything!!
I love you!

Anonymous said...

Well, I have no idea what the preface to this story is, but I think you did a good thing. Good job being the brave one!

Ginger said...

Good job putting the ball in their court. At least you will always know in your heart you tried and in all of the bitter feelings you have toward them, at least guilt will not be one of them. :)

Apryl said...

Don't you love feeling like you're taking control of your life? Way to go, brave Becky! Now you can move forward, wherever that is. Or at least ride this wave of good-will for a while.
My mom is a self-help-book junkie & the best one she ever forced on me was "The Success Principles". The whole first chapter is about taking responsibility for things that are wrong in your life. And you totally did! Whatever the issue is between you & Harry & Sally, at least you showed them love & your strength.

Jeanette said...

I'm so proud of you! You took a step in the right direction. But don't get complacent and assume that the ball is in her court now, you are still sharing the ball.

Next time you see her, say hello, smile, and walk away. Don't let her make this YOUR burden.

You rock! Have I told you that lately?