Written for the Sunday Writing Prompt from Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie, October 6, 2019. The prompt is Ugly Words, and it is described as a time to scream, a chance to be speak and be heard on something you have chosen to remain silent on, even though it hurts you. This is my take.
I am susceptible to other people’s comments on my behavior. I can be made to feel shame and guilt too easily for someone who has lived nearly seven decades. This week, it was my late son’s ex-wife accusing me of being selfish in my decision after my son died to leave my family and work out of the state.
The reason for her assessment of my personality is the self-exile of her oldest daughter, who is not allowing anyone in her family, including me, to know where she lives. I can only communicate with her through Messenger on Facebook.
Her mother has chosen not to take any responsibility for her daughter not having anything to do with her, not even allowing her to know the name of her last child. Instead, she decided that it’s all my fault. And I accepted her evaluation of me for about two hours, crying and feeling such mental pain that I could be so self-centered and cause someone I loved so much suffering.
But, after much reflection, I realized that it was not selfishness that drove me to leave the state, but the need to find work as a 54-year-old newly minted PhD recipient who couldn’t find a professorship in Atlanta, due to my age. I needed to work and earn money towards retirement, especially a traveling retirement, so I went where I was offered jobs, in Illinois and California.
I kept in contact with my granddaughters, even offering to take them in the summers, to give their mother a break. But, they didn’t want to come, mainly because they saw me as a strict disciplinarian and a cleaning fanatic.
They were living with me, actually, when their father died, because he had sole custody of them at the time. And yes, I expected everyone to help with cleaning and to follow the rules of the house, even the ones they disliked. Their mother took custody, which included Social Security checks for the girls.
I sent money for all of their needs for all of the years I was away, and I visited with them when I was in Atlanta. I even planned to take the oldest one to Europe when she graduated high school, to introduce her to the joys of traveling. We spoke of it nearly ever time I talked with her, even allowing her to choose where to go. As far as I know, she still doesn’t have a passport.
In this life, people like to pass the buck, not taking responsibility for their actions. They find it easier to blame others. And if you are like me, too often you are willing to be the scapegoat, someone who takes the sin of others on themselves and pays the penalty instead of the true guilty party. Remember the good you have done or tried to do, and then refuse to accept someone’s assessment of you as truth.
I don’t know why she has made this decision, but I worry about her safety. Her husband’s family seems not to know where they are, either. Having survived domestic violence, I know that isolating a woman from her family can be a sign of domestic abuse. I have no proof she is in danger. I just want to find her!