Mother figures

People always say, be yourself and the right people will like you. What they don’t say, however, is that if you’re truly yourself, some of the people who loved you before won’t anymore.

I’ve had this happen on a smaller scale with friends, but in most of those cases, it was not a big deal. But when it happened with my mother-in-law, it really hurt. It still does and it’s been well over a year.

She blocked and unfriended me without warning on Facebook. We always had wildly different views on politics but it never seemed to significantly get in the way of our relationship. But her unfriending and blocking me was almost definitely over politics.

The reason this matters so much to me is twofold. Most importantly, I always felt like she was much more involved in my life (in a good way) than my own mom was. I feel a real sense of loss. For whatever differences we may have had, I could usually count on her to be encouraging and to show an interest in what my kids were doing. Now, that’s just gone and I have no mother figure for me in that role at all anymore.

I used to feel like she loved me even despite our differences. Now I feel like she chose her right to describe all Democrats as agents of the devil over her relationship with me. And since I am a Democrat, I couldn’t just look the other way when she described all Democrats as being evil. To me, that was very personal and hurtful.

The other reason it bothered me so much is that I had only recently started to share my real thoughts on issues again–to try to regain and express my real self. Seeing how she reacted and that she was willing to throw away a valuable family relationship over politics had the effect of shutting me up. I’ve rarely been as vocal about my views again.

I know: it’s just Facebook. It used to be fun 10 years ago but now is pretty much a polarizing cesspool. But it was also the primary way my mother-in-law and I kept in touch. Now that’s just gone and it feels like the whole site is all about politics. When I showed my real views, she decided it was no longer worth talking to me, even though I used to post similar stuff years ago. My views weren’t a surprise.

My husband thinks I should just call her. But that’s not going to happen for several reasons. For one, when I called to tell her he had cancer, she was not initially happy to hear from me. The conversation was weird and uncomfortable. When I saw her in person earlier this summer, it still felt weird and uncomfortable. Also, let’s face it: I don’t like talking on the phone even if it’s not weird.

On probably a more petty note, I’m also still really hurt. I feel like she hurt me greatly and I’m not going to make the first move to try to repair a relationship that I feel like she damaged. This wasn’t a matter where we had a fight and it was mutual. I feel quite justified in believing she wronged me and therefore I have no reason to apologize.

I know that she still cares about me overall. She still sent me Christmas and birthday gifts. She sent me one of J’s grandma’s old rings after she passed away this summer. I don’t think she’s an evil person. But nonetheless, she really hurt me and I don’t think she cares that she did. I don’t expect to ever get an apology or even an explanation for why she so suddenly cut me off without warning.

This all goes back to the original issue: how safe do I really feel about expressing my true opinions in any kind of widely public forum? The truth is, not much anymore. She wanted a public forum where she could trash whole groups of people, which I tried very hard to avoid doing even if I didn’t always agree with them.

People are less black and white in their thinking than the mainstream media wants us to think. I think it’s still possible for people who disagree to find common ground. I understand that, but I don’t think she did.

And meanwhile, it just seems ironic and even cruel that I was still holding back from sharing my most passionate views and I still lost the regular relationship with her anyway.


  1. Joshua Shea says:

    You’ll probably get people telling you to take a calm, forgiving, peace-brokering approach to her. Don’t worry, I’m not one of them. You married her son, not her, and if she’s going to be an asshole, you don’t have to be in her company. You could send a letter, not defending your politics, but simply telling her that her actions have been hurtful lately and you choose not to surround yourself with people who do that to you anymore.

    I saw a report yesterday that said 43% of Trump supporters said that they would not abandon their support of Trump for any reason. This tells me that people aren’t actually supporting the guy, but supporting the ideas they believe this former life-long Democrat has. They don’t care about the personality (which was always a big deal to Republicans until they found a person more morally bankrupt than any Democrat who ever held the office). Trump supporters are a slice of the Republican Party that recognizes with the demographic changes in America coming in the next 20-30 years, they are screwed, and this is their last gasp at recapturing the world they kind of think existed in the 1950s. You can’t argue with these kinds of people — just like you can’t argue with militant “woke” liberals. All you can say is, “I look forward to cancelling out your vote on Election Day.” But it’s OK because the extreme types on both sides, the kinds who watch MSNBC and Fox News like it’s a sport — they don’t really decide anything in this country. It’s the moderates and others in the middle who are capable of listening to a debate and picking the best side regardless of political party who actually have the control in this country.

    And for the love of God, get off Facebook.


    1. Holly says:

      Thanks. She has always been kind of a difficult person to deal with, honestly. I was kind of glossing over that but in many ways, she’s a textbook narcissist (which has nothing to do with politics.) I could send a letter and may at some point. I know she’s still grieving the loss of her mom, whose declining health also could’ve contributed to her behavior, though I’m not excusing it.

      I saw a similar report about the percentage of people who would support Trump no matter what he did. I find it so hypocritical that the same people who demonized Obama (who met all the definitions of having “family values”) are now so okay with Trump’s behaviors. I think you’re right that it’s about people who want the 1950s version of America to return and that they’re scared by the changing demographics of the country.

      I’m a Sanders supporter but I honestly don’t think he’ll actually win the nomination. But I’m also not rabidly so. I’d like to see the country move in a more progressive direction but I’m also not opposed to a more centrist candidate, either. I come down to a belief that if we could all actually talk to each other, even those on the other side might not be so different from us. (Except maybe for the diehard Trump supporters…I fear they’re too irrational to truly listen.)

      And you’re absolutely right about avoiding Facebook. It has mostly turned into a giant dumpster fire.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Joshua Shea says:

        You don’t have to ever address it, but you’ll probably feel an internal peace if you let her know you’re not apologizing and are not waiting for hers, but you have some things to say. Just don’t let some excuse always let her off the hook.

        The whole “family values” card can never be played by Republicans again, and that’s what they really lost going with Trump. I couldn’t vote for him last time because of his crude comments about women and mocking of the handicapped, not to mention his innumberable lies on even the most minor of things. I could never look my kids in the eyes and explain that behavior away.

        Back when I was writing editorials for a newspaper in the early 2000s, I explained very simply what was going to have to happen for gay rights/marriage to be accepted and legalized. I said we need a bunch of old people to die. It was controversial, but it was correct and the same thing is happening here with people holding onto, and even feeling empowered, by their racism. Change happens very slow, but in the end, progressives always win. Always. No more slaves, women can vote, homosexuals can marry. Progressives always win.

        I met Sanders briefly after the last election at a book signing he did. I knew one of the ghostwriters of his book. I like him, but I think his time may have passed. Still, the Democrats could nominate a can of paint and it’s going to be hard for me to not vote for it.


      2. Holly says:

        I agree completely with everything you said! I think the issue that most needs to change now is healthcare access and affordability and I also think the older generation will have to die off before that happens. My high school junior said it’s by far his most important issue.

        I fear you may be right about Sanders’ time having already passed. I like many of his ideas, though not all. I just hope we get someone I will be excited to vote for, rather than just someone whose only appeal is that they’re not Trump. But I would also vote for a tree stump to get Trump out, so there’s that.

        Liked by 1 person

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