The liars in my life are hurting me today.
Usually, they inspire me to seek the high road. Find a path that’s not so riddled with chaos and finger pointing. Find a path that leads to healing and happiness with no dark allies or caverns to caress.
Today, however, I’m wondering if I’ve ever been right about exactly where the high road lay.
I’m raising my three great-grandkids. My grandson and his estranged wife find them to be too much, and so I’m raising them. Today, as is often the case when they’re off having a visit with their mom or dad, I’m left with enough time to think, and to wonder if I’ve ever been right about exactly where the high road lie.
My mind wanders back to the time when my cousins were visiting. I was a young mom and my mother was at the table listening to the complaints of her niece, my cousin. Her niece, my cousin, was saying that her dad, my mother’s brother, was rough on her; judgmental, pushing her to succeed. That one time he slapped her. My mother was aghast. “A parent should never hurt a child. I would never do that.”
At first I was dumbfounded and unable to breathe. Then I burst out, “Are you kidding me?” I went on a tirade about the many times she’d kicked me and pushed me down the stairs. I landed on a time where I was only eight years old and she was slapping me from side to side over and over and over and over and over again, to the point where I got giddy with hysteria imagining my head a ping-pong ball being bounced on the table back and forth until the players were too tired to play. All because I had spent ten cents too much at the movie theater. And I’d only done that because I knew I had a dime to replace it with when I got home. Unfortunately, my little brother had stolen my dime. So I was in trouble and my head bounced around with my brain inside hurting and hurting. Just another day in the life of my childhood.
That day I had decided to choose the high road, I thought.
This would come up many times in my life with my mother and my cousins. Times when they would say to me, “Well then you need to tell everyone these truths,” and I would ask, “Why? My mom visits you guys, I don’t. My mom would lose if you hated her, and I wouldn’t gain.” And I would leave my mom’s relationship as intact as possible with her brother and her sister and her nieces and her nephews.
When my father died my mom attacked me, then lied about it. She told everyone I’d attacked her when all I’d really done is held her arms down and said, “I’m not a little child anymore. I love you mom, but you have to calm down. I love you mom, but you have to calm down. You can’t hurt me anymore.”
But I was wrong. She could hurt me all the way until she died. And even her death hurt me. And her sister and her brother and her nieces and nephews, well, they just never knew the truth. About her rage or her cruelty.
I thought I was taking the high road by not spreading the venom. But, in fact, I think it was the opposite. I was allowing her to maintain a fantasy that possibly trickled down into the lives of others. Perhaps her nieces and nephews would have operated differently with their own parents had they known it was a family trait. Perhaps what I took was actually a chicken’s way out.
The low road, where we hide and don’t want to face the consequences of shouting out the truth.
So, today I’m wondering: where is that high road?
These kids I’m raising are so beautiful. So adorable. I love every second of it, except when I’m not with them.
Their mother seldom sees them, but she makes sure to get pictures when she does. She posts on her Instagram and Facebook pages about how much she loves her kids, how much she’s always there for them, and how much she lives for them. Meanwhile, she’s really living with another guy and doesn’t even have proper beds for them when they visit her. She makes sure to get enough of the holiday events that it looks like she’s a constant presence in their lives, when really she’s barely there at all.
There’s more to say, but that’s enough.
Because of this truth, my grandson, their dad, has gotten into a bit of a competition online with her. Well, no, that’s not true. He takes the pictures, but he doesn’t really post them like that. He’s a different kind of guy than that. He’s a good dad, as far as his moments with them go. They know he loves them. He’s always warm and friendly with them. He just doesn’t have the stuff that dads are made of in him. He doesn’t know how to care more about spending time with the kids than going to a concert or buying a video game or getting a cool tattoo.
Tattoos. They’ve become a symbol of all that’s bad for me, even though I know better.
So, I’m sitting her wondering: where’s the high road?
Is the high road me letting them hang onto this false identity, so they have at least some little semblance of something with their parents? Or is the high road in telling the truth? Being loud about it. Saying, “Actually, they’re shitty parents, and they mostly hurt their children through their selfishness and I’m doing the work and I’m loving it.”
So, that’s my question.
Where is the high road?
Which choice heals, helps, or hurts?
I really don’t know.