It's Christmastime, which means drama with my mother.
My mother keeps begging for forgiveness, for me (and my wife) to forgive everything and just act like things were never bad and to move on.
It's very hard for me to do. My wife has said point-blank that if my mother ever sets foot in our house, she's leaving me that day, as in we're separated, and that she will never forgive my mother and that she is lucky she doesn't sue my mother for some of the things she did to her over the years.
Now, for the backstory here.
Ever see that British Comedy "Keeping up Appearances"? Imagine if Hyacinth Bucket was a real person and not a sitcom character. My mother was that obsessed with social climbing and appearing wealthier and more affluent than she was. She was born to a farming/lower-middle-class family in the 1950's in the Southern US, and she married my father when he was a highway worker. However, by the late 1970's he ended up becoming an Army officer & pilot, and she ended up as a buyer for a department store.
Then I came along, and my mother quit her job at the department store to be a stay-at-home mom. She was obsessed with me growing up to be a wealthy politician. From the time I was in grade school I had the story of what was supposed to be my life narrated to me: that I would go to an Ivy League college, go to a top-tier law school, fall in love with a girl from a major political family (she was obsessed with the Kennedys), marry into that family, be a successful lawyer and become a JAG Officer in the National Guard or reserves, and have a political career culminating in being a US Senator or President.
Well, the fact I was well above average in intelligence and very well spoken meant that as a kid, that was at least plausible that I could become an attorney, so the pressure never let up. Growing up the son of a military officer, I indeed was interested in joining up later, so the whole JAG Officer thing wasn't something I would fight.
Well, then I went to college. I couldn't get into the Ivy League (I applied for every Ivy League school, plus MIT, but didn't get in to any of those), I ended up going to a state university. Just as well, my mother's idea of saving for college lasted less than one year, and she forged my name on promissory notes for student loans, thinking I could just declare bankruptcy on them fresh out of college (and not reading the statements that they were not subject to bankruptcy). When my college said I had to attend a counseling session for taking Student Loans, she lied to me and said "everyone has to go to those". I signed up for ROTC, but my mother pressured me into dropping out of it, saying it was too dangerous, so I needed to be a JAG Officer and nothing else.
After a couple of years, I decided against becoming a lawyer. I wanted a job with more honesty, without the moral ambiguity of the practice of law. Also, I knew there was a huge glut of attorneys.
I had no luck with the ladies for years. It didn't help that I was painfully socially inept from being so socially shielded by my mother, who saw everyone in the tiny town we grew up in as "beneath us". So, when I went to college I had the social skills of a small child.
My mother was also so obsessed with appearing wealthy she played elaborate financial shell games to buy various luxury items and appear much richer than they were. That included taking out multiple credit cards in my name as soon as I turned 18, putting her PO Box (which I didn't know about and thus never could see) down as the mailing address and putting her phone number down. She maxed out the cards, then ignored them, figuring I could just declare bankruptcy on them at the same time I declare on my student loans right after graduation (groan).
Oh, and when I was a teenager, she opened a bank account in my name, and payed the various family bills with checks in my name (she'd drive me to school, handing me the checkbook and saying "sign X checks" and fill them out later. If I ever asked what those checks were for, I would be in so much trouble.). It turned out she'd bounced so many checks that most places in town wouldn't take checks from her or my father, and she'd barely avoided bad check warrants a few times, so she figured if the checks were in my name, if a warrant went out then it would fall under juvenile justice system and be swept under the rug.
I found out about the credit cards when I tried to get a bank account so I could get a debit card to order a present online for her, and it flagged all over the place when my name was put in the system. I couldn't even get a bank account thanks to all the various shenanigans she'd done in my name.
Also, while at college I made many friends who were very accepting of my gender issues and that I came out to about my feminine side. I got to the point that some of the girls in our social circle basically considered me "one of the girls" and as long as I was looking and acting like a girl, they would treat me as one. I tried to come out to my mother about my gender issues, but it went very, VERY poorly. She basically thought crossdressing meant you were gay, and that anybody like that would be an instant social pariah who would never have any friends, ever, and would never have any girl interested in them, and would likely get me thrown in a mental hospital if I ever told anyone about it.
Well, I eventually met the girl I would later marry. She immediately disapproved of my girlfriend. She had several strikes against her.
1. She wasn't a wealthy college girl from a rich and politically powerful family. She was a working-class girl who I was introduced to through a mutual friend. She was from a small rural town, just like me. She wasn't the scion of some political family she'd been reading about her entire life, not an heiress to a business fortune or related to anyone famous. She was told by her mother that girls didn't go to college, and she wouldn't support her going, that she was expected to marry a man and raise a family. So, she married her high school sweetheart as soon as she turned 18, and was in a loveless shell of a marriage for 3 years before starting divorce proceedings (about the time I met her).
2. She already had an infant child. My mother wanted me to marry a virgin and basically spent every night for the first few months of our relationship screaming at me on the phone about how much I would hate being around little kids and how a kid would ruin my life and tear up my books and break everything in my apartment. The only reason she hadn't left her husband earlier was that she found out she was pregnant right before she was going to leave him, and she decided she didn't want to be a single mother.
3. She wasn't a petite little trophy-wife type. She was plus-sized and while I think she is very beautiful and love her very much, she's not a model. My mother had this mental image of who I should marry as a petite, skinny blonde "sorority girl" type, that would be very photogenic and look great on Christmas Cards (or campaign ads).
Well, she spent the first two years we were together trying to break us up. She'd call me at all hours and tell me how she didn't really love me, how she was just trying to "use me for my money" (at the time I was an college dropout with a minimum wage job). She'd scream at me on the phone about how all she really wanted was to get pregnant by me, dump me, and collect child support from me for the next 18 years. When I'd ask her for the evidence behind her claims, she'd say it was "life experience" and that she sees it all the time that "trailer trash seduce rich kids to get their money." I'd have her on speakerphone while she was doing this, letting my girlfriend hear these rants. She basically tried, repeatedly, to order me to dump my girlfriend so I could find that rich, politically powerful girl she insisted I marry.
My mother actually tried to get child protective services to come in while I was dating my fiancee and have her child taken away. Her logic? That by dating me and divorcing her husband she was being negligent since she should be with her child 24/7 and any time she was courting me was child abuse and that divorcing her husband was proof of neglect since she was leaving the person who was providing for her offspring. CPS basically laughed in her face at that one, they came by to take a look since there was a complaint, but quickly told us there was nothing wrong.
My father also got fed up with her around this time, and finally divorced her after around 35 years of marriage. Remember me saying my father was a career Army pilot? Well, he was in the National Guard, and was called up for Iraq around this time. With his rank and seniority, he made around $140,000, tax free, the year he was gone, well more than double his pay at his civilian job. My father made it clear that his intentions were for my Mother to pay off any debts, such as their car, buy me a car (I'd been relying on public transportation for years), and set aside the rest as investments and retirement money. What happened? Well, my mother kept calling me begging for money, saying he wasn't transferring any of it home and that she was going hungry because of him. Meanwhile, he was sending it all home, and we still don't know where it went, but we suspect drug use. He came home to find the rent on the apartment 11 months past due, the car on the edge of being repossessed, their finances on the brink of bankruptcy, and me deeper in debt than ever because I was maxing out my credit cards to give her money and buy her things she was begging for. Well, he divorced her and they had a long and ugly divorce where she tried to professionally ruin him, and made all kinds of false allegations of domestic abuse (which she actually confessed to me they were fake and she was just doing it to ruin him during the divorce, me recording all that in this one-party-recording state is what helped get the case against my father thrown out).
After a suicide attempt during the divorce period, where she downed an entire bottle of xanax, she ended up in a hospital. I wasn't supposed to see it, but I saw the tox screen, and it lit up for marijuana, cocaine, opiates AND benzodiazapenes (i.e., Xanax). We suspect she has a drug habit she indulged while he was gone and blew through around $100,000 on various drugs over a year.
At our wedding, the nicest thing my mother could say about our union, while HEAVILY drunk at the reception was: "Well. . .at least she's white."
Out of politeness, because I am not a cruel man, I still call her about once or twice a month and exchange pleasantries, and a few times a year we meet for lunch. However, my mother has made it clear in a call on Christmas Eve that she is very, VERY tired of not being a central part of my life anymore. She is now talking about how much she likes kids and wants to be around the family, about how much she supports and loves my wife and wants to help her, and is begging, pleading for it all to be forgotten and for us to be one big, happy family.
Given how much rage and resentment I feel towards her (and what I've put here is a heavily edited and summarized version of everything she's done), I just can't bring myself to do it. It also doesn't help that she's never sincerely apologized, she's made simple "I'm sorry for what I did" statements a few times, but she's never actually owned up to the things she's done or tried to make amends. She always claims she doesn't remember ANYTHING she's done that was bad and thus she shouldn't be blamed for it, but she's sorry it happened so that should be enough.
She acts like that because she's my mother, I should always forgive her, no matter what, and doing anything else means I'm a bad son.