Please Keep Me In Mind/20-Feb Taibas Jones Glorious

Last night, well. Is it a good idea to make an appointment to tell someone something terrible? I don’t know. I have a lot to say.

I had thought that I was solely clean up crew, in the wake of SeaFed being unhelpful regarding my mother, but that’s never really how it works. Of course my sister was trying to clean things up too.

My sister and I sat at my table at the appointed hour, watching her cell ring on speaker phone, leaning over it–CALLING: MOM. My sister said later that I looked queasy, which I believe, but I actually felt pretty calm. My mother picked up and my sister did her best, explaining that she thought that SeaFed had gotten off the point in his conversation with my mother earlier that week.

In a patented SeaFed move, he sent Morgan an email assuring her that he told our mother that Morgan had a problem with her and her drinking right now, which Morgan had asked to be left out of and did not want to interfere with or pass judgment on. She told him several times that she was speaking to him on my behalf with regards to my concerns about Franny spending time with her, and her relationship wasn’t the issue.

“I don’t need HIM to talk to my mother for me about how I feel about anything,” she said earlier in the week. No kidding. Good gravy. The thought of SeaFed as mediator, healer, peacekeeper, FAMILY UNITER, makes my special vein in my forehead come out to say hello to everyone.

Then it was my turn. I decided to get right to it, since there were no pleasantries to exchange.

“We’ve decided that going forward, visits with Franny will be supervised.”

This was apparently new information; SeaFed had told me that he would be discussing this when he spoke to my mother, since he is the one who maintains contact with her. I could hear anger and indignation oozing out of her voice. I don’t blame her really. I wouldn’t want to be sneak attacked with…me.

She asked where this came from and I told her I had compelling evidence that things were out of control regarding her drinking. That kind of confrontation, accusation, that one really blows the doors off things.

“WHAT? Who is telling you this? You don’t KNOW me anymore, you haven’t for years,” she said. “You don’t know what I do.”

I reminded her that Morgan is in my life, that things were the same when I was a kid, that Franny was a witness to her drinking.

“What have I DONE to hurt Franny?” she said. I stuck to my point. I was not going to argue with her, to tell her I was right and she was wrong and bad. It was just about a parental decision, and that decision was not open for her to debate. I did not say, but I had hoped, that SeaFed could carry this one message to her without my involvement, but here we were. I picture Lucy Ricardo running around in the switchboard inside his head, frantically pulling lines out of holes and shoving them into others willy-nilly.

“Fine, if this is all this is about, I will stop drinking right now. I quit as of this moment,” she said. In a way I cannot really explain, it hurt me to hear the conviction and sincerity in her voice.

“Okay,” I said. “We can revisit things when you are serious about sobriety. Perhaps a year in.”

“How will you even KNOW, SJ? How will you KNOW what I do? You won’t know what I do when you’re not around.” My sister and I glanced at each other–whiplash.

“You’re right. I don’t know what you do when I’m not around. I made the choice to be away from you for myself and my kids.” I can only operate on the information I have, I thought, which doesn’t sound starkly different than the way things were when I was growing up.

“This is about YOU,” she spat. “You’re SO bitter. You’re such a bitter person. This is about how I gave your kitten away when you were five. You hold grudges for years, don’t you?”

“This call is to tell you that SeaFed and I have decided that visits with Franny will be supervised now.”

“Well, you’re showing me. You FINALLY found an opening to punish me with. You took away my grandchildren and now this. Who’s going to supervise these visits, anyway? How are you going to enforce this?”

“This isn’t about punishing you, this is about me doing what’s best for Franny. When we agreed on this, SeaFed said he was willing to do it. There can be breakfasts or other meals together without alcohol. I’m sure you’d be welcome to go out where they live, too.”

“Ha! SeaFed said this was ALL YOU. That is was ALL COMING FROM YOU and he had nothing to do with this.” If this is at all true it might explain why she sounded surprised when I had stated my purpose at the outset–maybe? A few things she said seemed like half-truths–they just felt off.

“Okay, if that’s the case, then I will supervise the visits.” I slipped then. She riled me. “I’m sure we have a lot of catching up to do. It will be so much fun.” I’m not proud of that, at all.

There was really nothing else for me to say after that. I thought it was fair that she asked why and was willing to answer. I forgot how manipulative she can be, how mercurial. I listened to her heap abuse on my sister for what amounts to telling my mother’s secrets.

One thing that I hate about an emotional abuse situation is when the the person with the problem explodes if the abused person tries to take ownership of their own experiences and relate them to other people, rather than keeping it a secret. It was obviously a massive betrayal that Morgan had told me about my mother’s behavior around Christmas, which was scary and hurtful. There was no personal responsibility, only us attacking and betraying her.

After it was over, Morgan and I compared notes and we caught her in a couple of lies, so I’m not really sure what’s been said elsewhere. I’m willing to white knuckle through this weekend and give SeaFed a pass until I talk to him today or tomorrow. I did not slag on him during the call and presented a united front, which to my knowledge, it is. I’m going to present me dealing with my mother from here forward as a good thing and something I am taking off his hands, and thank you so much for dealing with the hassle of the commute for this long.

Most of the things my mother said to me did not really bother or surprise me. I spent a lot of time crying over the past in the past, and I am content with my decision. The only things that really bothered me was the implication that I was happy about causing this “havoc,” about turning the table over like this. I feel like if she could at all see straight right now, she would know that my ideal situation is everyone in my family fucking skipping together and holding hands with matching bows in our hair or beards.

There was also the implicit threat in a few of her statements that I don’t have control, that I don’t really know what’s going on, I felt it hovering over me. “I will take advantage of the chaos in your life” because I don’t have a reliable co-parent in SeaFed. I have let go of a lot of my control over things anyway, so I wouldn’t say I’m even approaching panic.

If there’s one thing being divorced has taught me, if you keep your head down and keep plodding and being the best parent you’re able to be, things may change, as in, you may be given the gift of your ex-husband leaving a voicemail message to say he is moving away the next week. And in the meantime, while you are hoping that things will get better, you look up and remember that you are doing all the best parenting you can and that your kid loves you and feels safe.

“It’s corny,” I said to Morgan, near the end of the night and the end of our energy. “But you know what we’re doing here? We’re breaking the cycle, for you, for me, for the girls, for if you have kids. We can do better.”


I dreamt I was crossing the street. It was my old house, the cul-de-sac I had grown up on. To my surprise Nietzsche came exploding out of the neighbor’s bushes. There must have been some mistake; I got new cats when my cat was actually right here. She was so glossy and young-looking, and looked up at me expectantly like she always did to be petted. She was never a leg-swirler or meower.

The neighbor came towards me from her yard.

“She looks so good!” I said, petting her smooth coat and feeling her healthy flesh underneath.

“Yeah, it turns out you just weren’t taking care of her right,” she said.


“This is for the best,” she said, and turned away as I started crying.

13 thoughts on “Please Keep Me In Mind/20-Feb Taibas Jones Glorious

  1. I slipped then. She riled me. “I’m sure we have a lot of catching up to do. It will be so much fun.” I’m not proud of that, at all.

    Oh man. You should be! That was perfectly balanced.

  2. Maybe I’m missing something, but if she’s so emotionally abusive and an alcoholic, why stress about keeping her in your/your kids’ lives? Is this something you can fix? You say you’re breaking the pattern, but F’s witnessing her drinking. What’s she doing/saying to your girls when you aren’t around?

  3. I’m not stressing about keeping her in. I cut her out five years ago and my ex immediately started using her for babysitting on his time. I am trying to manage things so we don’t all slide back into that pattern of him dumping the kid on grandma on his weekends so she can take F. to school on Mondays. I have NO IDEA what she is doing and saying to Franny when I’m not there, because it’s not my time. Strudel doesn’t see her. I am trying to fix it. If I go all apeshit lockdown mode, people will decide they need to work around me to get F. to her grandma, since I am mean and unreasonable, and family trumps all. Her dad has a history of shuttling her to people who I have deemed unfit. IT SUCKS.

  4. The tactics you relate your mum using are fascinating. Secrecy is such a key part of addiction. In my experience when the accusation is so clearly wrong about me, it has often been apt for the accuser: does you mum enjoy creating havoc? So good that her daughters are not keeping those things secret anymore.

  5. I am so sorry. My sister has a similar situation with dealing with her husband’s parents (his father’s anger problems and his mother’s inability to stand up to him) and her sons. Fortunately for her, though, her husband agrees with her, and they have agreed that his mother can only come over to babysit. They won’t drop their kids off over there, for fear of his father losing it at/around one of their sons while his mother does absolutely nothing to protect them.

  6. My father’s aunt was just a wicked bitch. Still we all stayed in contact with her, and I went to do a dutiful week or two at her house every summer, where she railed at me about my every failing. I didn’t tell because I was afraid to tell, because I was sure she was right, and either everybody knew and was being nice or I’d be calling my shamefulness to their attention. For years and years. And it turns out she did this to everyone, that we were all floating along in our little shame boats in the fog she made. Awful. I still sometimes ponder what adults were doing, leaving a child with her for weeks when none of them could stand more than dinner with her. But these feelings are hard secrets to tell, I know. I am glad you are protecting Franny as well as you can, and that you and Morgan are talking openly to each other is the best damn modeling you can possibly do, so good good good for you and for the sisters you’re bringing up, so well. And I love that special vein in your forehead because it shows you care.

  7. “I felt it hovering over me. “I will take advantage of the chaos in your life” because I don’t have a reliable co-parent in SeaFed. ”

    No worries, she just honed in on your weakness to make you insecure. It doesn’t matter if she is lying or not, the bottom line is the bottom line and you did what you needed to do mami. You did the right thing.

    Alchoholism is one of the most selfish addiction, unlike the other hard core ones, it festers for year, manipulating anyone who dares care for the addict.

  8. Can you take sea-fed to court for ditching Franny with Alkie Granny instead of, you know, spending time with his kid? What a jackass.

    Poor Franny, too. I had a hateful awful drunk Nana, and she was as rotten to me as she was to everybody else–all in secret. See Anne’s comment about floating around in shame boats. Even seeing what my Nana did to my mom, even when they thought I didn’t understand, or I didn’t know, or that I didn’t see or hear… Oh, I knew. I saw. I heard. And Franny’s a smart kid. It sucks that she’s gotta go through this, too. It’s bullshit. I hope one day she can tell her dad he’s acting like a jackass.

    When my drunk nana finally died (I like to think that she exploded like The Ultimate Evil in Time Bandits, just blew up into a million smoldering hunks of charred coal), we were all so relieved. My mom cried for exactly five minutes—and she admits now that it wasn’t from sorrow, it was in relief of finally being rid of someone who’d caused her a lifetime of hurt. As Larkin said, “They fuck you up, your mum and dad.”

  9. Oh god, what a crummy situation to be put into. Dealing with alcoholic family in denial is so crazy-making and messy, and it’s so much worse when other family members who should have your back are more concerned with keeping up appearances than doing what’s right. You sounded a lot more firm and reasonable than I would’ve managed in your situation. I’m sorry SeaFed is such a crappy parent, but I’m glad Franny and your sister have such a strong and forthright advocate/defender in you.

  10. Firstly, addicts are manipulative. They wrote the book on manipulative. They can twist reality so that you don’t know which way is up if you listen to them too long. Maybe your ex has been sucked in to your mom’s version of reality, but he needs to find this out for himself.

    Secondly, there are support groups for adult children of alcoholics, you need to get yourself to one of those. You are not required to deal with this on your own.


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