*Mammograms, Bad Family and Fear! Oh my!

The following post comes to us from one of our readers. She has taken the opportunity to Tell Her Side. Take a look and let us know if your own life parallels hers. What kind of comfort can you offer her? Do you have some sound advice? 

“My maternal grandmother had breast cancer and a double mastectomy. I don’t speak to my mother any more, but I heard she had one too. This isn’t really about them.

Since I already knew about Grandma, I went in and asked for a mammogram at the age of 35. It was uncomfortable, but worth the peace of mind. Then I went in and had another when I was 40, and was then told I had to have one yearly so I got one the next year.

That year was a bad year. I was fresh off a 20 year marriage, my parents had betrayed me, sided with my ex for custody. I lost primary custody, I lost my trust in them, my home, and a lame husband but I was still taking care of myself so I went in. After the mammogram I got a notice in the mail that said the test was “inconclusive” and to please reschedule ASAP. That second mammogram is not pleasant. They don’t let you go home afterward. They tell you the results the same day instead of mailing them.
I was feeling alone and scared during the mammogram. Afterward, I sat in a dimly lit room alone and cold in one of those string-tied smock things. I couldn’t decide which side was the front. The only other thing in the room that was there for me was a box of tissues. I looked at that box. It looked at me. I was determined to hold it together. After a few minutes I started to think about if I had cancer and how I could horrify my parents with the news, and still never see them. I wondered who would be there when I died. I began to sniffle. I got a tissue and dabbed. There was actually some sad satisfaction in those thoughts, but it was sad, nevertheless. I love my kids too much.

They left me in that room for 20 minutes and I’d thoroughly used 8 or 9 tissues by the time someone came in to tell the results. I was very nervous and shaking a little. The mammogram was negative. Apparently I have “dense tissue.” OK, great. I went home and sobbed.

About 2 years ago I found a lump. It felt like the size of a small pea. It was sore and I’d heard cancer didn’t hurt but I was still scared. I had my boyfriend see if he could feel it and it was big enough that he could. I didn’t like that. I went in and a sonogram determined that it was a cyst. They had to scrape that damn thing over my nipple repeatedly. It was a cold, gloppy, embarrassing, and uncomfortable process. I was really glad I didn’t have cancer.

I mentioned my “exmother” had a double mastectomy. That was about 4 years ago. I didn’t go check on her. They’ve never called to see if I was OK since they betrayed me, not once in 6 years.

They are on their own.

I remember reading the statements my parents wrote against me. My exdad said, ” I hope she doesn’t poison our grandchildren’s minds against us. I wouldn’t be surprised if she never speaks to us again.”

I didn’t understand why they did it. They pulled the rug right out. I was in such a state of shock I cried for 3 days and actually stopped salivating for a couple months. I had to drink copious amounts of water to get food down.
My children love me. I never beat them. I am not a crack ho. I am not alcoholic; my only alcohol problem is that if I mix a drink I’ll take a sip, walk off and forget it. Later, when I find the drink I don’t usually want it any more. I don’t smoke anything, have never been addicted to anything but solitaire and FB. I’m not bipolar or schizophrenic and have never been suicidal. I don’t know what happened. It is frustrating.

One of the unhappy results of what they did is that it is hard to meet new people and tell them about myself. There’s a stigma to losing custody for women. I hate them for that. Before this happened I thought I’d never have the inclination or need to hate anybody. Now I realize I just do. I hate them. I hate them for losing me time with my children to make them breakfast and pack lunches and style their hair and touch them, to check to see if they brushed their teeth well enough… all of it, everything, but I also hate them for making it a burden to tell people who I am and for having to hide so much. They will never see me again. I don’t often post an actual picture of myself on my profile because I don’t want them to see even an image of me. They don’t deserve to and it makes me feel protected. I don’t need anybody telling me, as some have, that if they could see how good I look… blah blah. No. they have no right to see how I am in any way, no matter what. Period. They lost all rights. They took the most important parts of my life from me and gave them to someone else.

I remember a coworker actually saying to me, “Be glad for what you still have.” I said, “What? My life? Limited visitation with my kids? I lost a house. I may never be able to get a house again, a home of my own. You still have yours. I lost my parents. I lost my brother.” She said, “Oh, you’re right.”
What she did say that I hold onto is “Your parents don’t have any idea who you are, do they?” No, they don’t.

I didn’t engineer it. They did. They ripped me off and abandoned me. They had done other strange things before this, but this was the topper. It was still unexpected.

I feel for anyone who can’t trust their own blood. I know how much it hurts. It’s deep. It’s hard during the holidays. They are 2 hours away. I’ve had nightmares where I was in my last rental, a real shithole, btw, made of cinder blocks and with a tin roof. It had moisture problems and rats in the ceiling. I dreamt that they came down my driveway and I hid behind the couch and yelled, “Go away!” I wanted to shoot them.

I don’t have a gun, but during the dream, if I’d had a fire hose…my brother’s wife featured in that dream would have gotten blasted. She was involved in my fucking over.

My ex, near the end, told me he was taking the boys camping. When I got home from work, I called him to find out where they were because you should always let someone know. He said, “They are safe.”
“What? Where are you?”
“I’m at work.”
“Where are the boys?”
“They are somewhere safe.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
He had taken them to my brother’s house and was hiding them from me. I believe if was his aim to derail me and make me more vulnerable during court. It really upset me. I called my exbrother’s house and asked to speak to my kids. His wife said they weren’t there. She lied. I called my parents. My exdad said they didn’t have them and I just hung up.

I don’t trust any of them. I will forever hate them for this. I think this was unspeakably cruel and sick. I don’t understand how they could.

I. Don’t. Understand.”

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About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in Memories good and bad and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to *Mammograms, Bad Family and Fear! Oh my!

  1. madelinelaughs says:

    I can relate to your pain here. Family that betrays has to be one of the worst crimes against nature. We can not choose the family we’re born into, and so this makes for an unwritten law. The law of “no matter what”. We count on our family for unconditional love and support through the roughest of times. When they let us down there is no amount of comfort or understanding that can dull the ache. I send you love and light and the hope that you are busy living a life with a family of your own choosing now. For that is the kind of family that shall carry you through all your days on Earth.

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  2. Spread Information says:

    I am so sorry. It’s heartbreaking to hear this story, but I am glad that you told it. Family of origin turning against you is devastating, but like you many have survived. You have every right to reject them, and you don’t have to explain why. The pain of being separated from your children is unbearable, it is a physical pain, like a tearing of the soul. You all have that hole in you now, your parents, you and your children too. Maybe your children will be able to break that cycle and find a way forward that is new and different from the old patterns of your family history. Despite your pain and in the face of all opposition you must stand for them having that opportunity.

    You may be the only person in their lives who holds the perspective that it is possible to live without these feuds and fights. Even if you only see them briefly, even if it’s only when they say you can, the kids live for those moments. Fill them with dreams. Show them how to be the kind of person you value, they will understand. Your power to influence the minds and hearts of those kids remains equal regardless of discrepancies in facetime. You are their mother, no one can ever take that away from you.

    No one would fault you if you chose to never speak to your family of origin again. It would be great to have information about your health and your history, to be able to know how they are and share your life, but whether you choose to have contact or not it changes nothing. They did what they did. You are moving forward as you can. All you can do is the best you can, for yourself, to honor your own feelings and your truth, and for your children. If living well truly is the best revenge only you can decide what that means to you.

    For me people take up more space in my head if I cut them off completely then they do when I maintain semi-annual polite check-ins. One short conversation and I have done what I can do to maintain a managed relationship. No conversation and then I have to deal with periodically feeling bad, like I wish I had a better relationship with blah blah blah but we don’t, and I see other people who have good relationships and get sad, see them, they are so close. Of course I just saw them walking by, they may hate each other for all I know, but they look like they have what I want. Takes up too much space in my head.

    If I just have the limited relationship I have with whoever it is then at least I feel like I have what it is, I’m realistic about what it is, I accept what it is even though I don’t like it. Even though I don’t get what I need from it. Even though it’s not what I want it to be. It’s what it can be, and somehow for me that is better. Only you can say what’s going to work for you in the long run.

    I wish you the best with the ongoing booby smashing/dense tissue thing. I have that too. And thanks again for sharing your side, I know it’s not easy to talk about things that aren’t fun and cute, and I applaud your bravery.

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  3. Telling My Side says:

    I get to see my kids. I just don’t have primary custody. My oldest is 23 now and my youngest will be 18 in about a year and a half. My oldest doesn’t like going to his father’s house. He remarried 3 months after the divorce was final. I don’t care to comment on that, except to say I don’t think it was very respectful of my children’s feelings because she moved in a month before the divorce was final and he tried to make them keep it a secret. I shake my head.

    I would have to be a complete doormat to go see the people who screwed me over. I can’t imagine a meal with them. I have a policy not to eat with people who have it in for me, as should you. I am none of their business.

    I can see how checking in with merely irritating people might keep things clear in a semi-working relationship. However, this relationship is over. Over is different. I lived 40 relatively normal years as their daughter and a sister, at least they were bearable. I wasn’t molested. I was spanked. I wasn’t encouraged as much as some, but more than others. They broke trust at such a level of magnitude, it’s complete. You don’t eat with your rapist. You don’t call and see if he’s OK. This was not a rape, but it was a complete violation of what I consider to be natural laws of family. It goes against nature.

    I am happy for people who have working relationships. It gives me hope for the planet, but not myself. I am grateful for my dear friends who have been supportive and kind. But, like in all the Hallmark Xmas movies, holidays are for family. In them, people “make up” and begin to get along again. They forgive each other for silly things. What happened to me wasn’t a silly misunderstanding or simple disapproval. You can fix that. The sad thing is, nobody replaces family. Nobody really wants to replace their mom and I’ve had people offer me their moms because their moms don’t suck like mine. I can’t go “home” for holiday meals to the mom I used to have. There is no comfort for the loss; it’s just something I have to live with.

    I say “mom” because my dad wasn’t really available that much. He worked odd shifts and was busy building the house we were living in from when I was 4. He still hasn’t finished the damn thing and I’m 46 now. The circular staircase has no handrail. He never figured out how to make one. He’s too proud to say it didn’t work. He’s also too proud to ever say he did me wrong. I don’t matter enough to either of them. I was disposable. That realization hurts so I don’t dwell on it.

    My children adore me and I adore them. I am proud of my kids. They are amazing. We aren’t broken, but I am broken off from whence I came. That’s gone. When your parents are out of your life, they are supposed to be dead. It’s not supposed to be a choice they make still alive unless you are a massively dangerous screw-up.

    I am not a danger to society or my children. I am not a criminal but have been treated as such. I am not legally supposed to say certain things to my children about their father and I don’t. I don’t talk to them about this painful subject and spoil all our time together. My freedom of speech is not the same as yours. That makes me angry, just on principle. I was made to seek counseling to prove I wasn’t going to emotionally harm my children before I was allowed visitation based on lies my family told. I was not allowed overnights for 6 months because they had the power to meddle and took it. Then I had a probationary period while they assessed my children’s mental health and attitudes toward me to make sure I wasn’t scarring them. I didn’t get weekends for that long. My youngest was 10 at the time. Meddling grandparents are so damaging. I had to keep how this made me feel from my children. “I know, I know honey. It wasn’t a long visit. It’s the court’s fault. I’m sorry, baby.”

    Both of my children say they sleep better at my house, even the really cheesy one I used to live in. I like waking up with my babies at home, it’s just never enough.

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  4. Spread Information says:

    Wow. I just can’t imagine, I can’t really conceive of what you’ve been through. But I feel for you, and I completely honor your choice to cut ties. When the level of dysfunction is unworkable and it’s not healthy to have contact disengaging is definitely part of the healing process.

    And I hear you about family of choice, the people we surround ourselves with can be like family and we can have some very fulfilling and dear relationships but it’s not the same as the feeling of returning to your family of origin. The holidays are the worst for that kind of loss, it brings up so many memories.

    You sound strong and vital, it makes me happy to hear the fight in you. I don’t feel we are in conflict, but I feel your intensity and it sounds like someone who is alive and awake and engaged. The holidays often leave me feeling whupped, I never seem to be able to effortlessly generate the festive holiday atmosphere I think I am supposed to be spouting forth, and in the end I am a tad deflated. You sound like you are ready to take the new year head on. I think I’m still working on it!

    I am so glad to hear that you get to see your kids, and that they are growing up strong and fine. They say the examined life is the one worth living, and it’s always reminded me that I don’t want to just do the opposite of the stupid things I’ve seen and experienced, I want to find my own way. And to do that I have to spend some time figuring out how I really feel, and it’s complicated. You can’t just reject the whole thing, you have to pick through it and find what is yours and discard what is trash and what was picked up along the way from others, and then make something out of what is left that is beautiful to you, that is both satisfying to make and also peaceful to perceive and it takes time. It takes time to do it right. Sounds like that is what you are doing.

    I’m not really sure what it is that I’m trying to say, but I’m glad we are having the conversation. I guess that’s what’s important here, the dialog. I am certainly no expert, just a concerned cit’zen who cares, and if sharing my experience helps at all it is something I can give without having any less. I don’t pretend to have some magic wand, or special wisdom, but I wish I did. If there was some way to make these things understandable I would go find it for you. I think sometimes things just plain old don’t make sense, and they suck. But we can still talk about it, and find some comfort there together.

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