This was a long time coming.
When I told my family about the pregnancy last Father’s Day, everyone stood up and congratulated me. Except my grandmother, who slumped back in her chair and stared at me like I had just told her I shit myself.
My girlfriend noticed it as well. She’s afraid of my grandmother, intimidated by her. My girlfriend actually used the word “evil” to describe the stare she received that day from my grandmother.
I joked and told her my grandmother was angry that we didn’t ask for her permission before getting pregnant. It turns out I was right.
According to my grandmother she’s had questions ever since that day, but my mother and grandfather had kept telling her to mind her own business. So last week she asked me to come over to her retirement home to help her with “things” — she wouldn’t tell anyone what help she needed.
So, yesterday, when we were finally alone, she told me to sit on my grandfather’s plush mechanical chair, took a seat on the couch herself, put on her glasses, picked up her notebook and asked me her first round of questions…
“How could you not use condoms?” she asked angrily. “Who made the decision not to have an abortion? Why would your doctor advise you to go ahead with the pregnancy? Where was ‘she’ getting her advice from? How could they advise you it was a good idea to have a baby?”
This was just the warm-up.
I told her the details surrounding the conception of my baby were none of her business. She replied “I’ve gotten that a lot lately, everyone keeps telling me this is none of my business. But I know what this is, I went through it with your mother.”
My mother has always been convinced she was conceived out of wedlock, and that her parents were forced to get married because of it… so, if it was needed, this would be confirmation.
My grandmother was confused as to the role my psychiatrist plays in my life, she thought he was giving me yes / no advice on things like the pregnancy. So, right after being asked why I hadn’t demanded to have my son aborted, I had to try and explain psychiatry to her.
My grandmother has the mind of a lawyer — she asks little questions so she can tear you apart on the bigger questions later on. Also, much like a lawyer, she’s only interested in the parts of the answers which give her an opportunity to ask another question. When I told her both my girlfriend and I decided to have the child, and raise him together, she looked at me and asked “oh, really?”.
As I was trying to find a response to that, she hit me with: “Is the baby even yours?”.
This is where things got very, very dangerous. I asked “…what?”, and she started off on a short rant about DNA tests, and how I didn’t know my girlfriend.
I told her to change the topic.
Which she did, by asking why I had never had a vasectomy. “How dare you,” she said, pointing at me, “bring a child into a situation where it’ll have what you have. It’s hereditary you know.” She meant the manic depression. She made it very clear she believes my son is going to have a horrible life because I let him be born.
So now — on the edge of my grandfather’s chair, trying to process my grandmother questioning my child’s parentage — I’m trying to gather myself to come up with an explanation about the unlikelihood of someone being born with the needed genetics, and then the unlikelihood of someone then going on to exhibit the behaviours.
And she asked me about the cost…
“The cost of what?”, I asked. “The cost of the pregnancy,” she replied, “do you know what it cost?”
She demanded that I find out what it cost Canadian taxpayers to go full term with my girlfriend’s pregnancy, as a lesson to us both on how wrong we were to have my son.
And this, or very soon after, is when I told my grandmother to get f**ked.
And this is when she asked me the question that nearly got her hurt.
She claims someone in my hometown had heard me say I wouldn’t have to do anything with the baby, that “the grandmothers” would look after him, and I’d never have to work to support my son because all I had to do was wait for my grandfather to die and I’d have the inheritance.
I had no idea how to respond. So I just started swearing at her, saying “f**k you” over and over again. In my head, briefly, I saw myself smearing her across the wall. As I was swearing at her, telling her how f**king miserable she was, I put on my jacket and walked to the door.
…and she said “oh, come on, don’t be weak, get back here.”
I turned around, told her “go f**k yourself”, and left.
A few minutes later, as I was waiting for the elevator, she came into the hallway… she begged me to come back into the apartment. Because she needed my help.
My grandmother is 87-years old, she has COPD and the meds she takes make it almost impossible for her to write. She wants to hire me to write letters for her.
She knows she doesn’t have much time left, and there are things she wants to put into writing. The first thing she wants is to write a letter to the owners of the retirement home, because she has some concerns about the state of the building, and the property.
She wants to pay me for the work. She told me I was “a brilliant writer, your cousins think so as well”. I just kept my head down and took notes… about both conversations.
…maybe it’s the guilt associated from being abused by this woman for decades, but I’m still not sure if I’ll help her or not.
I knew walking into her apartment earlier that she wanted to talk about something. I wanted to film our exchange, but my batteries died right after I took her photo.
The baby is healthy, mental illness is not in the DNA. If it IS in the DNA then everyone, everyone is mentally ill.
Canada needs to import people from other countries due to our low birth rate, having a healthy baby is good.
Canada can’t make one in a factory.
oh FFS Gabe. That’s f**king horrid. How dare she? HOW DARE SHE!
I could have people accuse me of the same thing-how dare I breed with a predisposition to mental illness on both sides. How dare I bring a child in…but sweet f**k, your own FAMILY?!
Sigh. Evil doesn’t begin to describe it. Drop the guilt, and walk away. This is toxic toxic toxic, and she doesn’t deserve your help.
God tried to get rid of mental illness in the great biblical flood of 40 days and nights, but its inherit in the human animal.
What an unbelievably vile woman! You can’t even argue with someone that far gone.
But I have to say it Gabriel, that’s the best blog post title EVER.
…one thing I forgot to mention was, while I was walking out I wasn’t just telling her to “f**k off”, I was demanding to know who had said those things about me — specifically about my waiting for my grandfather to die. She refused, and said “I’ll never tell, I’ll never tell, I’ll take it to the grave.”
Which means either she made it up, or it’s coming from another family member.
Wow. Suddenly my family seems sane and lovely. I kinda wanna kick her!
I would walk away. I would be worried about ongoing abuse while writing the letters – and that’s not worth any pay cheque.
Good for you telling her to GFY. I wouldn’t do the writing thing for her after that, WTF, she’ll probably have you write her will and it will state you’re cut out of it! Vindictive, and living with her own skeletons in the closet.
Victor is a beautiful human being representing hope for the future.
I’m sorry you had to endure that.
F**king Unbelievable!!! Don’t write a goddamn thing for her Gabriel.
She’s a nasty old woman who doesn’t like herself or her own life so she is trying to make everyone else as miserable as she is.
Oh my gosh, this post made me laugh out loud. Sounds like she could use a good F. Might make her a little more pleasant. I love the part about seeing yourself smearing her across the wall. Been there.
Also, my family told me the same thing about my son when he was born (well, more when I was pregnant) because of his dad and all of his struggles and the issue of genetics, etc. And I can tell you now that I would not trade my son for anything. We are very close and he is the most awesome kid on earth to me and Victor is, and will be, to you too. Only you and Victor dictate and define the relationship you have between you.
It doesn’t surprise me, that this is how she chose to come at you, doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. A bitter old woman, left alone, with nothing remaining but hate and misery, her remaining life, counted in months, not years.
The mind of a lawyer, yes, but any part of the brain that dealt in compassion and sanity is long, long dead.
There is, of course, nothing you can do, except love your new family unit, and continue to share Victor, with Victor, because if anyone is happier to be a great-grandfather, I can’t think of him.
Personally, I’m happy you told her where to go. You stuck up for your unit. Good for you. The hard part is next, because you can’t focus even one inch of effort on dwelling on this, because that’s what she wants. You have no responsibility towards her.
Thanks little brother… I needed that.
I need to say-Your brother is teh awesome.
Wow, I was behind in my blog reading but…. WOW. That’s just wrong. What an awful woman.
You’re obviously an amazing dad and a great person all around. It’s too bad that she wants you to think otherwise. Ignore that shit.
My grandmother has been calling people in the family, trying to gauge who knows and who doesn’t — trying to figure out if I’ve told anyone. She was at my son’s baptism, and then at the cake and sandwich thing at my parents afterwards. She made a couple of awkward attempts to engage me in conversation — she asked me twice if we were “okay”, then told me I “better be changing those dirty diapers”.
She called my home yesterday, and left a message asking if I, or my girlfriend, needed a set of dishes.
I told my mom on Friday night what happened, and she cried. She basically reiterated what my brother wrote in his comment above. And told me to “rise above it” which, I think, means remain diplomatic — ignore the insanity, nod at the jokes, and never make an effort to be in the same room with her.
Thanks for writing what you wrote Hella.
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Thanks for having the courage to share your pain with the world. That photo of her says it all.
I know what it’s like to have toxic family members. Siblings.
It’s much harder when it’s someone older than you, who you naturally trust when you are younger because that’s just the way humans are wired. You don’t know until later, when you are older, how asinine, controlling, arrogant and devaluing their behaviours are.
Then you can hopefully take steps to protect yourself as an adult, from them.
They will never change. I go through similar bullshit with my older siblings. I have 5 older siblings, and have had dealing with all of them. One was a real jackass when we were younger (he’s 7 years older), but has mellowed somewhat (he’s now 50), but I’ll never forget those early years.
2 others, a brother (11 years older) and a sister (8 years older), should know better by now, seeing they are also in their 50’s, but they are obviously too arrogant and small-thinking to ever consider taking responsibility for their behaviours.
The 11-years-older brother has been the worst, and I finally told him to f**k off yesterday, after 30+ years of putting up with his small-minded, arrogant bullshit.
Celebrate with me! Yay! Let’s dance in the streets!