Monday I made the two hour drive down to see Eliza so that I could speak with her face to face regarding the voicemail she left. I could detect the veiled hostility in her message that she attempted to cover up by concluding with and have a blessed day. I wanted to give her a chance to talk about whatever it was that was obviously bothering her.
It was a pretty intense visit in which we talked about a lot. She was defensive (understandably so) and seriously in denial about Evan’s reason for being in residential treatment. It was primarily her parenting, life, and motives that were being examined. As I knew would happen sooner or later, events from the past surfaced. But I was okay with that and was actually looking forward to an end of the pretense that all was well. It was like a breath of fresh air to a collapsed lung.
It was weird how the conversation flowed. She jumped around from topic to topic and eventually landed in the past. She began with the scarf story. When CPS had removed the kids from her custody, we had them for a period of five weeks. One day after visiting with her for a couple of hours, Evan came home with the scarf that she used to wrap her hair up at night. She sent it to comfort him. She continued to say that Evan told her that I had thrown the scarf away proclaiming, “Nothing that belongs to your mother will ever be allowed in this house.” You’ll have to forgive me, but I started laughing at the absurdity of it all. I would never do such a thing and I actually thought it was kind of cute that she had sent it with him. I explained this to her and she burst out crying. Apparently she believed this—though I have no idea why Evan would weave such a tale. But then again, I do. Sometimes when children know that their parents want to hear certain things, they will do anything to “feed” this need and begin to fabricate stories. I’m sure she wanted to hear something “bad” about us, and because he wanted to please her, he came up with the scarf story. She heard what she wanted to hear and used that among other tales to keep the animosity burning and the rift growing.
She said that Ethan told her that I said that she would never be able to afford a house like ours. Another lie. One day Ethan asked me how much our house cost. I thought it was a rather strange question coming from the mouth of a then ten-year-old boy. I responded by saying that there are certain questions that you just don’t ask people and that the question he had just asked was one of them. I knew that she sent him fishing for this particular information.
Eliza was also holding it against us that a friend of her middle son’s father, Carl, told him that my husband and I said that we did not want the kids at our house. Carl, of course, relayed this misinformation to her. I gently pointed out to her that immediately after the incident that landed her in prison, my husband made arrangements to get them. Now mind you, Eliza is the one who did not want my husband to receive custody. Before her husband went to prison, she had him call my husband asking him if he would terminate his parental rights! Not to mention, she fainted in jail upon learning that we had Ethan and Evan.
I was a little shocked at how much she thrived on the whole “he say-she say” phenomenon. But then again, she does have that drama seeking, immature personality. It seems that she was expressing her own actual feelings through Ethan and Evan. She didn’t want to come off as totally paranoid or as if she really cared what I thought about her. These are her adult insecurities that she has bequeathed to her children.
She also said that social worker involved in the CPS case told her that she felt I was too controlling. Again, I had to laugh as I informed her that Shan, the caseworker, had told me that exact same thing about her!
Eliza attempted to badmouth my husband but I stopped her by simply saying “I am not here to defend my husband—what for? You had a past with him that I can’t speak on. Your experience with him belongs to you and him alone. I understand that he is not perfect and I’m sure that you both did things wrong that resulted in a failed marriage. But I would like to remind you that he is not the same person that you married, as I’m sure you are not the same.” She appeared to accept this.
I guess I have moved on because I didn’t once mention any of the problems that she caused for me. My entire focus was on the kids and how we could continue to work together for the good of the whole. And in case you’re wondering, Eliza did apologize twice for leaving that message.
The kids were I teach have a term that they use to describe a serious moment of conversation known as “real talk.” Yesterday, as tedious as it was, was our first “real talk.” In the end I was glad that she had the opportunity to get some concerns off her chest. Do I think there’s more? Yes. Am I ready to throw in the towel? Kind of. Am I sick of dealing with her and the whole ordeal? Absolutely! Am I going to keep talking and working through this mess? Most likely. Why? Because I know that I can’t always give up or give in when the going gets tough.