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In Which I write a screenplay for the Cannes Film Festival and get shockingly attacked in the process… theft and dishonesty in “the movie biz”

Jess Anderson & Christine-marie liwag dixon

So… I wrote a screenplay as a favor to a former admirer’s 50 yr old actress wife. I find out later that she was supposed to actually write it herself for Cannes, but she was too busy with her 27 yr old Dutch trailer park lover and his drugs/baby mama probs to write it.

Oh, and I was instructed to not let anyone know she’d been born in 1968, instead of 1970, as her IMBD indicates. Growing old is a blessing, but I digress…

By “admirer”, y’all know what I mean. He had been a good friend, as well. I must’ve had an impact on him, he named his children the names I chose 20 yrs ago-I had no idea he’d been saddled with such a scary problem until much, much later…

She’d been talking to me off and on for a few years, I had no idea she even knew who I was. We followed each other on IG. I was simply friendly and interested in keeping with the niceties. Well, one day she discloses that she knows WHO I am and basically pukes out all her marital and personal problems to me.

I feel SO SORRY for the poor thing and she asks me to write a script for the 2018 Cannes Film Festival because ‘she can’t deal’ with the drama in her life and convinces me that her husband has heinously abused her/never loved her, which is the reason why he allows her to philander.

She tells me ‘they are basically separated, but the hubs is her only source of income’- plus, he CANNOT KNOW I wrote this for her (did I mention it was just days before the Film Festival? MADNESS) and gushes about this director who will be filming it- at the same time, dissing him for lack of as many padded IMDB credits as she has.

Oh, so the ‘actress’ suggests the topic of this screenplay- it is largely a vanity piece. She plays the victim of a cruel husband (which I believed at first) in a loveless marriage- and says the only stipulation she has is that I write a great f*ck scene for her with a sweet, young thang (male)- and it be under 10 pages #shortfilm

She gushes that I am a GREAT writer, she is a super brown noser- but, lemme tell ya, this AIN’T my best writing. It’s what you get in 3 days before Cannes… but I try to deliver, because I have two things I later discover she doesn’t have: #integrity and #workethic

As I write this screenplay, I started out feeling very sad and sympathetic towards her, but as I get to talk to her more, I realize “Damn, this chick is wacky”. The real picture becomes glaringly clear when she tells me that she f*cked her young lover in her marital bed one day and that her hubs discovered a used condom- she then accused the hubs of planting the condom.

I knew her hubs, he is NOT nasty like that. She’s admitted to drug use and to her lover being a junkie. She is smoking cigs, she says, for the first time in her 50 yrs- a pack a day- who DOES THIS?! IDK anyone who suddenly acquires a nicotine addiction at HER age. EVERY story she tells me in the wee hours, typed out in FB msgr, keeps getting weirder and weirder…

I enlist the help of another professional writer to do the love scene. I had a basic idea of how I wanted her to be ‘handled’, but the idea of having this crazy lady nekkid in my mind’s eye after the cray stuff she spewed turned my stomach- the writer did a fantastic job blocking and creating the sex scene-

So, other writer and I happily work on this fluff, gratis, btw- for an IMBD writing credit and because it sounded like a light, fun thing to do- and the phone calls and bizarre msgs from this actress continue to arrive in my inbox.

She sends me photos of some 20-something bikini clad baby mama of her boyfriend’s – she is scattered and won’t work on the writing with me- and all she talks about is her very messed up extracurricular love life.


They also set up the casting call BEFORE WE EVEN FINISHED WRITING THE SCRIPT.

Cannes day arrives and she shows up, after giving up a yachting party, to the filming, per eye witnesses ‘strung out of her mind and wasted’- plus A GOOD 10-15 YRS OLDER than her IG and other pics, due to her recent sudden weight loss. She seriously reminded one of a “Faces of Meth” article- so much so, that I was immediately informed by those doing the shoot- who were also in shock.

Apparently, she didn’t look like that the year prior at Cannes-

I hear from her and the director that they had tentatively cast the roles with working actors- but after arriving in Canne she suddenly decides TO WALK THE STREETS LOOKING TO REPLACE THEM WITH NEW CO STARS, because she didn’t like who the director originally had suggested. WTF?! Everything was based on who she found, drunkenly, sexually attractive- per her disjointed texts to me.  

Fast forward to the end, it is shot in a record 7 HOURS, at which point she bombards IG and FB with excerpts from this ‘incredible epic film’… and she spends the rest of the film festival complaining  to me on fb messenger, when I’d check in to see if she was still alive- that her husband didn’t give her more than 250 euros for the trip, she had only 60 euros left, and couldn’t afford to eat- but was living off the free champagne and begging male friends (including the co stars ‘discovered’ on the streets) for lodgings.

At this point, things get blurry. The filmmaker (who doesn’t speak French) asks me to translate what the French husband was saying in the opening scene on the telephone- the dude was speaking gibberish, nothing salvageable for the film… he wanted to salvage it by either a voiceover (I felt like doing this would turn out like a bad 1960’s Godzilla dub) or a musical score to ‘set the tone’, since the male ‘actors’ were not actually professional actors at all.

The actress continues with her weirdness once she is back home in Belgium. She sends me msgs from ‘friends’ of hers who are accusing her of stealing their work. She is obviously strung out and not all there. She gets super paranoid. Once she finds out that I was assisting the filmmaker with post-production, she lost her MIND.

She keeps offering “if we don’t like it” to remove us from the writing credits, even though I told her again and again that we want our credits no matter how it turned out.  We send the script, as is, to the lawyers for copyright and published the Kindle version immediately. She was not pleased.

She twisted everything with the director, telling him WE WANTED to wrest control of this silly thing from them. She whined and gaslighted and manipulated. She would flatter, then cajole, then threaten me. That type of thing might work with other people, but Mama doesn’t play that.

Emotional terrorism is not cool.

I am currently going through a cancer health scare- and my sister currently has cancer as well.

A family member in CA was in a catastrophic motorcycle accident in December- I had been caring for them all winter in San Diego and am only back home in the midwest for my own health issues.

This writing project was supposed to simply be a nice little distraction, a way to create something positive and fun.

I did it for FREE. I DON’T need the money.

She had the nerve to infer that I was using my health issues as a way to take the spotlight from her and gain sympathy. I was shocked.

When I wrote today, in a group chat, that I forgave her for her transgressions and that an apology would be nice, or even that she should just come out and say what bugged her instead of twisting and turning people against each other, she flipped out.

She FINALLY OUTDID HERSELF TODAY:

S: “What’s your phone number?”

Me: “xxx-xxx-xxxx”

A screaming and slurring drunken French- speaking woman calls, not even the actress. She threatens me. I turn on the speaker phone so that the people in the room with me can hear as well.

CRAZY FRENCH CHICK (I believe her name is Marie- and she spoke in French accented English: “I am REEECH AND ‘AVE MONEEEY AND I WILL COME TO AMEREECA AND BEEEAT YOU UPPP, leave S alone”

Me (calmly and in French):Parle en français, madame- il y a un enfant ici et tu parles comme TRAILER TRASH”

(Translation:Speak English, madame, there is a child here and you sound like trailer trash)- I had a three year old in the room and these harpies couldn’t even do more than screech and hang up- it wasn’t even the actress, she used her friend to attack.

I tell the group chat with director and other writer what just transpired, and THEY CALL AGAIN, this time, I am able to video witnesses to this.

I tell the woman in French again to speak in French and they hang up when I do speak her language.

WHAT KIND OF CRAZY DOES THIS SH*T?!  

I tell the group again what transpired, the actress leaves the chat in a huff and blocks me.

END SCENE.

(Thank goodness)

Later, I discovered that a long time friend of hers also received the same shabby treatment. She had, apparently, a reputation for promising film credits for her little vanity films and would steal the material for herself.

No, what we wanted is fair treatment. You don’t steal from those who are there to help you. Karma is a b*tch. Play nice, especially to your writers. Don’t be a grabby, greedy, thirsty passive-aggressive little c*nt. THIS is why you have no real friends. This is why ugly from the soul is showing on your face.

If people didn’t do as she asked (or implied), she’d play a victim.

If you push back, she attacks.

I feel badly for her husband and kids and the other innocents she’s hurt.

I don’t feel badly for writing this.

Someone has to stand up to this anti-feminist, disempowered, passive-aggressive, drug addled pseudo-bully.

I told her once: “You are the polar opposite of Me”– and I am ok with that.

She must hurt a lot in her skin to hurt others like this.

I say this because I have been blessed with ways of dealing with MY aggressions.

I am a healthier person in my ‘old age’

Also, my non-white self is NOT SCARED OF YOU or your little friends, who can’t be THAT rich if they can’t even lend you money for a hotel in Cannes.

I can’t even imagine a world where I’d have to beg or have sex written into a scene in order to get a man to want to do me. That alone left me gobsmacked.

End rant.

Btw, here is the actual kindle link to the screenplay- I would not buy it, personally. Not our best work.

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I haven’t been able to write or update about my mom, but here are some photos from today…

It is heartbreaking. I have no words. My son and I visited this afternoon.

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A Funny and A Sad Blurb From My Mom…

Went to visit my mom today at the mental health facility.

Her dementia is far more evident now that her bipolar and aggression are under control, and it is sad to realize how much she’s losing. She clutches a piece of paper with my number and my dad’s in her hand all day long.

She was happy to see us- Maisie gave her hugs and kisses. Maisie was allowed in as long as a nurse was there to supervise.

My mom’s odd, frontal temporal lobe, filter lacking sense of humor shone through when I filled her in about the dodgy assisted living home owner guy. I mentioned to her that he’d been insistent that she needed to divorce my dad.

Mom: “What did he say?!”

Me: “He said you needed to divorce dad, he was insisting and asking when this would happen”

Mom: “I don’t remember spending time with him, did I give him a blowjob or something? Why is he asking this??! I don’t remember giving him a blowjob…”

She laughed and then said “Get me out of there, I don’t like that”

A few minutes later, with a straight face, she said:

“You need to tell your dad I want a divorce”… and she was back in her sad dementia loop again.

We could only visit for an hour, as visitation is 7:30-8:30 pm only.

When I got home, she called crying, saying we left too early. She read the sign, then saw the clock and realized we left at the right time.

She was both funny and heartbreaking tonight.

I have a sick pit in my stomach.

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Court or No Court? Consent or No Consent? Panic Attack or No Panic Attack? PLUS UPDATE and VLOG

Trying not to have a panic attack right now… woke up to a call from the social worker at the psych ward my mother is currently in. Apparently, she can’t tell me much, due to some confusion as to whether or not my mother has given consent to release information.

HIPAA law is an asshole, in my opinion, at this very moment.

I am her POA (Power of Attorney). I’ve been having her ‘flag down’ a nurse every time I talk to her to give VERBAL CONSENT on the telephone since she’s been in this facility.

We did not have this type of runaround at Pine Rest, so it is very frustrating.

Things my mom’s current social worker DID/was able to tell me:

1. No, my parents aren’t compelled to divorce as per the group home owner’s questioning.

2. She is compiling a list of ‘safer’ homes that would be (in their mind) a better fit. AFC homes aren’t locked facilities. The doctor recommends a locked facility right now, as she is not stable on meds.

3. When I asked about the paper I received last night re: the mental health court hearing on the 6th, I was told that I should contact the court house- specifically a person in the probate court that the hospital itself deals with.

Apparently, there may not even BE a court hearing that day, as she was given 3 options and one was to waive the hearing- which would mean she would be agreeing to treatment.

UPDATE:

Left a message with the guy the social worker directed me to and received a call back. He confirmed that my mother had indeed met with her court-appointed lawyer the other day and signed a waiver agreeing to comply with medical treatment… when I asked if this means I should still pursue the guardianship or not, I was told to absolutely do so.

Now I have to go to visitation tonight and have her sign a written consent form to allow these people to talk to me.

I am really anxious about this, all of it.

Pursuing guardianship is a lot of work and a lot of responsibility. I do already make almost all of the health decisions and do the legwork for my parents, but not in any official sort of capacity. My sisters don’t want the responsibility- they live far away and are very ill themselves.

Leaving guardianship up to a stranger would be unhumane and irresponsible, in my opinion.

I am going to vlog the rest. This is too much too type for me this early in the morning.

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Guilt and Waking Up at 3 am

Tonight I didn’t answer the phone when my mother called repeatedly from the psych ward at Lakeland.
 
I wanted to have one night this week where we could pretend life was ‘normal’ and not falling down around our heads- so that we could all enjoy Halloween and not spend it crying.
 
She left a ton of messages on my voicemail, each wondering if I knew she was in the hospital.
 
I woke up abruptly from sleep,with this huge sense of dread and guilt weighing heavily upon me. I wouldn’t even call it guilt- it was remorse. Stomach churning, benign neglect of another human being. I have been doing this a lot lately- just to try to save my own sanity- and it makes me ill inside.
 
I could tell that she didn’t remember her previous calls and it scared me. I could clearly hear the panic and confusion in her voice, the not remembering part… and it was heartbreaking.
 
What a difference it was from our visit with R’s 93 year old grandmother tonight! She lives alone and is only a bit forgetful, but otherwise sharp as a tack. It almost served as a painful foil, a bittersweet contrast.
 
My mother is 20 years younger than Nana. This monster that has consumed her entire life, seems to be now eating away at her brain, like pac man.
 
It is hard to distinguish the bipolar, the mental illness, from the dementia- she is so clever and sad and angry and anxious and lonely. She is still HER inside of her core and it is going away bit by bit.
 
Tomorrow, I finally head to the courthouse to apply for guardianship. We had been ill (and I’ve been depressed) since the previous week, so it hasn’t been done yet.
 
If you ask me how I feel, I’d say so sad. I feel as if this is my lot to bear, not because I truly love or respect or even feel like she was or is my parent- but because she is my parent, I have to do this. I don’t know if this makes any sense to anyone else.
 
I would never want my children to feel the same apathy that I do about my parents. All of this, including Maisie being born so recently, has given me a second chance to re-examine my relationships with my family, myself, and those around me.
 
Unfortunately, I come up lacking in so many regards, but I know I can fix ME. I can’t fix her or my dad or my siblings.
 
I wish I could make them love me or me them, really.
 
I wish I had a magic wand to fix this for everyone.
 
My only solace is giving my 2 youngest kids the magical childhood- as much as I can- and love that I wish I would have had myself.
 
I thought I felt better today… and I do… but I am kind of upset to have woken up crying at 3 am, sad all over again and typing.
 
The people who know me in real life know that I am not prone to being this weepy mess- so it is really bothering me to feel this raw and exposed.
 
So, like any brave Aquarian would- I’m going to go with it and try to learn to love me and be authentic.
 
If anyone else is going through similar, I want you to know you’re not alone.
 
xo
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Dementia is Hell: Update on my mom

The group home guy also called, wondering if he was getting his rent.

The rent is the least of my worries. I was curt with him, because frankly, I don’t have patience for much more.

In addition to this, discovered A HOLE IN THE PEAK OF THE ROOF (had huge storms here all month) and been frantically calling roofers- and yesterday I burnt my forearm badly with hot oil while cooking, so this hasn’t been my week (or anyone else’s around me)

More explanations below in vlog:

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I am have been gone for quite a while-

My sister still has cancer, my mom is in a facility getting her bipolar/dementia meds leveled out, I am going through serious family problems and experiencing long term ptsd as a result of past child abuse.

Maisie is doing wonderfully! She is in Montessori school and is three now. She also does ballet/tap and adores it.

I have been on a ketogenic diet this year since July 10, 2017 per my cardiologist’s suggestion. I have also been using/wearing a fitbit charge 2, which has absolutely changed me from sedentary to active and I love it!

I am starting a vlog to chronicle my keto journey and just to be able to vent… xo

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Updates on my week: memories of others, more drama, back pain and procedures…

** am unable/unwilling to edit this properly, as the pain and meds I am on am making it impossible at the moment, so apologies in advance **

I am hoping things get a wee bit better here on out.

After the last post re ‘avalanche of crap’ the other day, I simply did not feel like posting again. My back pain was pretty high and I was feeling down from the drama.

My son and I ended up fighting/discussing/hashing it out until 4 am that night. The man has some issues, which breaks my heart. He says he doesn’t even remember me hugging or kissing him as a child- which is shocking. His father was there and was just as shocked as I was- anyone who knows me, KNOWS that I am pretty demonstrative with my kids and that boy never lacked for love and kisses. He said what he DID remember, when I DID show him affection, it felt ‘fake’ to him somehow.

I mentioned this to other family members and they were just as shocked as we were. We have no idea how he’d come to this conclusion. It was telling, though, when his younger brother tried to hug him and calm him down after the fight on the porch- he pushed C away twice. He eventually apologized to C, but we just simply don’t understand how/why he feels the way he does… and I am heartbroken, still.

He has come back from his time in Chicago a very changed person- a bit neurotic, more so than before. He started pushing us away as a teen, but we assumed it was a normal teenager phase and just due to the kids he ran around with. He went from being a rather shy, but close to his family type kid to acting ashamed of us and feeling jealous of me.

He said he saw me more as a sister than a mother at some point and that he did some of the things he did to me as a teen (lied to his friends and mine about me, so that I was alienated from my own friends) when he started doing theater out of jealousy and didn’t really know why he did/said the things he did back then. It was difficult for me to hear from my adult friends back then all the things my son said to them which weren’t true at all… and he apologized for what he did.

I don’t understand the jealousy part at all. I always have been silly in how supportive and proud I’ve been about my kids and their achievements. I always loved to support them and give them encouragement and just felt joy when they accomplished things. I guess he didn’t feel the same way.

To explain some of it: I’ve always been semi-in the public eye with my work and hobbies. I had no idea and am also baffled as to why my oldest son would be jealous about that. I always assumed (and been vocal) about how proud I was of him. I am very uncomfortable knowing this and my heart hurts over it.

I feel sad for him. I feel sad for us. The rest of us (brother, dad, yadda) can’t really comprehend his side of it. It’s like his perception of how life was is totally at odds with ours. Granted, we had some emotional issues when the boys were growing up. I was gone a lot abroad working. I’d come back to a house that was beyond horrific and get upset over it. My mother and middle son were going through their bipolar. It was not all roses and ice cream… but no family ever is.

At one point during the ‘discussion’, I simply removed myself from the house and went outside on the porch be alone and have a cry. I sobbed for a while, which isn’t like me. I needed the alone time, I felt overwhelmed.

He came outside after a while and demanded to know why I was doing this.

HIM: “What’s this?”

Me: “What’s what?!”

HIM: “WHY are you doing this? Crying?!”

ME: “WTF?! Why do you THINK?”

HIM: “I don’t know”

I am wondering, honestly, if he is not on the autism spectrum sometimes. He doesn’t seem to understand subtle nuances in emotion and can be extremely literal and has a lack of empathy. My youngest son, who IS on the autism spectrum, is very empathetic and ‘gets’ emotional things more-so than any person I know, tried to explain things to him- tried to diffuse the original situation- but could not get through to his brother.

I was on the verge that night of having him move out, honestly, I was. I can’t take much drama like this- not on a constant basis. It’s unhealthy. It’s not good for the baby to see people screaming and crying all the time. It upsets the rest of us and we’ve been pretty much used to a quiet, peaceful, rational calm these last 5 yrs since the 2 big boys have been grown and on their own.

He also told his father about my blog and for a moment there, they attempted to stop me from continuing this. FUCK THAT SHIT. I am blogging. It’s the only thing I have that’s mine alone and the only thing saving my sanity. I won’t hide behind secrets and pretend crap away. I can’t live like that anymore. If they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. Period.

The next day, my oldest seemed better. Maybe the drama and discussion provided him some sort of catharsis. He actually came with me to a 1 yr old’s birthday party and played with Maisie on the playground and helped watch her. He said he had a good time. I was very grateful that he helped with Maisie so much and seems to adore her as much as he does. I think he’s warmest to her than any of the rest of us and it makes me feel good to see this.

C, on the other hand, was in a hurry to get home.

C: I need to get home, Mom, I have to mow my lawn before the city gives us a citation.

The statement above kind of illustrates the differences between the two boys. Not that it’s bad, but C is probably more mature than all of us combined in the household. He likes to keep on schedule and get stuff done. I really respect that and wish I were more like that myself.

C also came to me the night of the ‘big discussion’ and said he had to go to his room to decompress, it was way too much for him emotionally that day. I could totally concur.

It just worries me that my oldest must have been used to such emotional drama during his time living with his ex. His father keeps reminding me that he must be simply projecting the relationship stuff he had learned/lived in Chicago on me, since I am the only adult female in the house. After the exchange I had with his ex via the text, I am starting to think his dad must be right. This girl is estranged from her family for many years and apparently it wasn’t a great situation to begin with. Her mother was never supportive, nor did she care about her achievements. My son has mentioned her upbringing at great length in the past and it saddened me to hear about it. I was and am still shocked by all of this bullshit this week.

I am wondering how many of my son’s ‘memories’ are simply things he absorbed from HER.

Freaks me out a little bit, to tell you the truth.

I look and feel like shit here… but that’s to be expected lol

I had my back procedure yesterday- lasted longer than I thought it would. It was an epidural with injections to my lumbar region done under live x-ray at a hospital 40 minutes away from my home. I didn’t expect it to be as painful as it was- I am now in more pain today than I had been prior. The side effects (nausea, dizziness, sweating, lethargy, fever, pain) have been BRUTAL. I am hoping it all works- doctor said it may or may not. The tailbone procedure I had last week only worked on half of my tailbone and pain. The doctor says he hopes this procedure that I had yesterday will resolve all of it. From what I’ve read on the Internet, after looking up the side effects i was having, there’s a 50 percent chance that it won’t.

Seems like a lot of work and odds for such shitty odds that it may not work.

I also DETEST these narcotics and my need for pain relief.

I have never experienced chronic pain in my life- nor the need to take these types of medicines on a regular basis- and I am freaked out by how they make me feel emotionally.

I want to wean myself off these things. I want the pain to subside. I want my sons to feel better. I want to rid myself of this sudden depression I have been drowning in.

We also had Maisie’s 1 yr photo shoot 2 days ago, but will save that for another post.

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MORE VENTING/RAMBLING/BITCHING- and I have to say, after 6 yrs of witnessing R’s family, I appreciate my family (aunts, cousins, parents) MORE.

I don’t know if it’s the pain meds or family issues or what- but I have been extra angry lately…and weepy and emotional, you name it.

My tail bone procedure that was done a few days ago seems to be kicking in, kinda… as long as I take the pain meds with it. I am not happy with it yet, so I will discuss it with my doc on Monday if it doesn’t change. I really don’t want to be taking medications for pain for the rest of my life.

My lower back procedure is happening on Monday. I am very excited about it. I can’t wait to be able to work out again and do yoga and move and lift baby without screaming in pain or landing in the hospital.

They put me on a muscle relaxer and a narcotic pain reliever- which I detest. I am not a big user of prescription (or any) meds. I am one of those ‘hippie-dippie supplement/vitamin’ people. I don’t even smoke marijuana (and it’s legal where I live)- I am actually one of the 5% of humans that is ALLERGIC to it. I turn into Linda Blair from the Exorcist, projectile vomiting and all (TMI).
However, I have been taking the meds as prescribed because of the discomfort post-procedure. I really don’t like how emotional it is making me- or how sleepy.

I noticed, also, that the Baclofen (sp?) that they gave me for muscle spasms has been giving me EXTRA VIVID dreams. I actually dreamt that I was in Alaska the other day and it was so realistic! One of my sisters was there, too, and in my dream I ended up beating up this skanky woman who was harassing her. Earlier in the dream, I’d been to a shabby, but very clean and nicely decorated house (decorated in white) of a Native American woman who played an old wooden piano. She was wearing a beautiful beaded white deerskin dress. They weren’t nightmares- just so REAL.

Earlier in the week, I was felled by a lupus flare, due to stress. The tail bone procedure followed that. We also dealt with R’s family (parents, only sibling’s family) deciding to skip out on Maisie’s birthday (even though we HAD to attend HER KID’S 1st bday 2 months prior).

Another thing upset me this week: I helped out someone in need financially- I am not a lender, I just give. However, I was very upset (whether out of genuine hurt or just the fucking meds clouding my brain cells) because they didn’t even give so much as a ‘thank you’ after. Only a few days later, when someone mentioned to them that I was a bit miffed, did they send a long letter to me. I didn’t give it for the thanks- let’s get that straight now- but I guess I was raised differently. If I had been in the same position, I would have at least shot off a quickie ‘thank you’ text. Nothing more, nothing less. I guess it just made me feel a little used or like I’d been had, I don’t know.

People sometimes confuse me… although none as much as R’s family.

We woke up this morning to his mom and sister sending texts while en route to Vegas “Happy Birthday, MAYA”- keep in mind, Maisie is her nickname and I’ve asked that they call her that- this is another pet peeve and they know it. Hell, they call THEIR OWN SON AND THEIR UNFORTUNATELY NAMED GRANDSON BY *THEIR* NICKNAMES.

Just irks me, the entire thing- they refuse to treat their own son and grandchild like human beings and they continue to passive-aggressively (because they’d never come out and say shit to our faces, the cowards) throw these asshole barbs.

Poor R didn’t hear from anyone else in his own family- except for his WONDERFUL Italian Grandmother in Philadelphia. This woman is the ONLY human being in his immediate family that seems ‘normal’ and also seems to actually CARE about him and this child. Of course, his mother treats her almost as badly as she treats us (it’s HER mom). His Grandmom sent a lovely letter (she’s 82 and does so weekly, health allowing) and we called her. I send her photos of Maisie and videos and long letters all the time. I just love hearing from her. She commiserates with us as well, she doesn’t understand why R’s family acts like this, either. I feel so badly for her. No woman at her age should be so alone and isolated from her family. It’s not freaking natural. I understand her- she was raised by immigrants, as I was by my mom. I simply DO NOT COMPREHEND the level of cold and disconnected and passive-aggressive we witness in his folks.

My mom, who is Filipino, always got on well with Italians, too. I think they share a similarity in mindset to a great degree. Both cultures are super family oriented and clannish and opinionated. I can dig that.

Cold, quiet, reptilian communication styles don’t work with me. Hiding everything under a facade of utter BULLSHIT isn’t my thing, either.

So, yeah, this morning I felt like going postal until the party rolled around. The letter and the lovely phone call with Grandmom was also a salve to the soul.

I spent a good 3 or 4 hours talking to R and Jeff on the back porch. Jeff will be here an additional week because I need help with the baby after the procedures- then he’s back to Texas. We discussed the different ‘family styles’ we each grew up in.

In Jeff’s family- and they’re there are a ton of them- are close knit and from North Dakota. They drink together, hunt together, spend all their time together and get along well… all of them are big talkers. If someone in the family pisses off another, they will all chime in and ‘call bullshit’ to the one that’s at fault. No one really holds grudges or stays mad- they just discuss, argue, laugh, cry, and move on.

In R’s family, they never yell. They don’t discuss. His parents and sister’s family all live far away from the rest of their families back East. Things are whispered, told to be kept secret. When I met R, when he would talk to either of his parents, they would PRETEND HE WASN’T TALKING or in the room and just tune him out like he was invisible and talk to each other. It could be ANYTHING he was saying- like if he mentioned he’d done something that day or anything pedestrian like that. It was bizarre and I called them on it once in the car:

Me: “Um, hey, he was actually saying something to you and you guys did that weird thing again like he isn’t here”

Them: UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE

If he- or anyone- tries to discuss things with them, they simply hide/stop talking/ignore… or his dad will say “I did that first” to him or something equally strange.

That is, unless they’re drinking, then they’re much more social.

R has no memory of his childhood prior to age 12 when he moved to Michigan. When I had him see a therapist about it, his family became uncomfortable with this and he stopped going.

They are somewhat affluent, can afford nice vacations every month or so. They buy him cars and control his insurance, make sure all his mail and bills come to their house, and his mother does his taxes. They call him when they need him to work on something (like their houses) or fix things or dog sit. These people live 3 blocks away and are completely different with their oldest daughter and her family. They bought two houses next door to each other (and across the alley from their ‘original’ house) when she fell pregnant and fenced both yards in. They spend every day with her and do everything with her and for her and her kid.

R doesn’t say anything to them mostly, as Jeff puts it “they have him by the balls”. His mom is passive-aggressive enough that if he rocked the boat his mail would be lost, his insurance bill would rise, etc. I personally feel like he is too old to let Mommy control his finances, especially since he lives in MY HOUSE and is a grown man.

After Maisie was born, they asked for a copy of her birth certificate. I refused. They told him that they needed it to make a college fund. I called bullshit. Needless to say, they did not get a copy of my child’s birth certificate.

His mother has mentioned that she wanted to abort R when she became pregnant (and said this in the same pleasant, flat tone she always uses), but kept him because ‘her husband likes babies’… they have NO PROBLEMS saying this in front of him, either.

R says he doesn’t make a fuss because he knows it would do no good and he accepts their gifts because he knows that is all he will get from them, as far as love and attention. I cannot imagine how hurtful it is to grow up and live like a non-entity, a second class citizen in your own family- especially one so freaking small.

The mother and daughter don’t like making the other baby (who is 2 months older than Maisie) jealous. If the grandfather holds Maisie, he is told to put her down because the other baby is getting upset. That is no way to raise a child- but the perfect way to mindfuck one. The rest of the gory details can be found here.

When we went to visit his family 5 yrs ago in Philadelphia, we found that his mother’s mom was delightful and ‘normal’ and loving. His father’s family is much more “Yankee”. The aunt that the parents and sister are closest to is very regimented. The uncles and aunt they are not as close to seem much more ‘normal’, but he was told to stop communicating with them basically when we came home, as they didn’t like it. Incidentally, those siblings of his father are the ones they have the most problems with. The weird thing is that his parents don’t always COME OUT AND SAY things directly, they have this weird almost non-verbal way of making him do things and making him understand that shit should not be done for whatever reason… it is so subtle, so Vulcan mind-meld crap-pish.

We have never met his mother’s brothers, by the way- just the grandmother on her side.

My family is the POLAR OPPOSITE (yet, just as dysfunctional- well, maybe not so much, IDK) of R’s.
We’re social, gregarious, we love everyone. We fight within our clan. My mom can be a violent, scary, crazy bitch- but she’s not truly considered part of the whole clan, which has always been a problem for her. We all love her and have feared and loathed her at the same time. Her bipolar has really done a number on us… but her good side is amazingly good. Her dementia now is somewhat of a blessing, as she is less violent nowadays, thank god.

I am not going to lie. When we were growing up she physically abused us above and beyond anything normal and legal. In this day and age, she would be put in jail and the kids would have been taken away- but it didn’t happen. Of course, in this day and age there are meds for her condition that might have made a huge difference- but it’s too late to speculate and all water under the bridge now. Back in the day, her condition and behavior were things to hush up and hide. Nowadays, people have meds for this. Sometimes I think we were born too early. She would have been a perfect candidate for those new medications- she didn’t self-medicate with drugs nor alcohol and always trusted the pills the doctors gave her.

My father’s family is made up of brilliant, beautiful, intelligent, and strong willed artistic women… and kind of depressive, more laid back males, who also are very charming, good looking, and self-effacing. There’s a lot of enabling going on in my family, but we love and hate to be together. We party together well, but if ONE PERSON (always a female) loses her shit on another family member- that member is ostracized. It used to be my mom- or one of my aunts- and nowadays, me, coz I can’t/don’t know how to shut the eff up. We all love each other and are super self-centered (at least us females). We keep the peace (well, not me. I’m the one who just says- fuck all of you, and goes and cries in the corner- and I’m a wussie because my ‘fuck all of you’ is usually only done by typing blogs) by AVOIDANCE. Avoidance and pretending shit away… unless it’s not a ‘family’ matter, then we can psycho-analyze the fuck out of OTHER PEOPLE (as I am doing now ha!)

I have another faction of my family- my maternal grandmother’s family. They’ve taken me in where my own immediate aunts and uncles have rather shunned me (which I don’t mind anymore about my aunts, I love them- but all of us together, when someone is pissed- are a high strung lot- or, I am high strung and also exhausted at the same time). It’s kinda like the Amish shunning, except with more glitz, no religion, and it’s Rumspringa all the time.

My grandmother’s family is wonderful. Unashamedly hillbilly, outspoken, down to earth/salt of the earth people. If you piss them off, someone will call you on your shit ASAP. They are more accepting, more stubborn than any of the above families at the same freaking time. I am comfortable with them. I get their humor. I love their generosity, I love how they fight, I love their bitchery, too. It’s like they’re a mix of my mother’s crazy but with a gentler and more forthright kindness that reminds me of Jeff’s clan. R loves them, too- even though he’s been pissing them off lately (and he’s pissed me off, too, so I get it). He just has no idea how to show it at all. I think HONEST is the word that comes to mind mostly when I think of them- honest- warts and all.

I love that.

Now, here’s the thing: I APPRECIATE and LOVE my family (all of them- mother/dad’s side/grandmother’s side more now that I’ve experienced R’s family dynamic.

Holy SHIT, we ALL bitch and moan about our fights and ‘who did what to whom’ and I can admit to violent behavior both done TO me and BY me/others- but damn, none of it seems as heart wrenching as R’s upbringing.

The one core thing my family(families) have is a deep and demonstrative kiss you on yer mouth type LOVE.

I don’t care how much lying we do to ourselves. I don’t care how much ostracizing and bitching that happens- we’ve NEVER HAD THIS COLD, EMOTIONLESS wasteland that he’s endured.

Not so in his family- which irks me, scares me for my own child, and makes me weep for R.

For this reason, I think I’ve been kind of obsessed about the little hurts I witness coming from his side.

For this reason, I am more ADAMANT about sticking to my guns and protecting my child and him from more of this shit.

I wish I would have been a better mother to my sons. I wish I would have been a better daughter/niece/aunt/cousin/wife to the rest of my family. I wasn’t.

But ONE thing I know: NEVER in my life have I ever done the things to my kids or others that have been done to R.

I also want a better life, a better family, a better chance at decent mental health for Maisie.

I do not believe I can do that by exposing her to his side of the family. I don’t care if they have thousands of dollars (they say) put into a college fund. I don’t care if they buy her a zillion gifts. NONE OF THIS MEANS ANYTHING without love and compassion and normalcy and stability. None of this means anything without consistency.

I will gladly welcome his Grandmom into our lives- she reciprocates and genuinely cares- and is 82 and has not many years left, unfortunately.

I won’t FORCE my child on them, I won’t run after them- nor will I let R use Maisie as a way of somehow gaining their love. It won’t work and my kid is not a pawn.

I also appreciate the friends and strangers on my Facebook (and blog/twitter/instagram) who are kind and showed so much love to my daughter on her birthday… and any day.

You people- most of you haven’t even MET HER- have been kinder to my child than her own flesh and blood.

That is not something I will soon forget.

Thank you for listening, for reading, for replying, for being an ear… xxoo