Hot and Cold Stone

T-bone had two very different birthday parties last week.

One was well-planned, full of laughter, music and games.  It was a house party at Big Red’s.  There was an almost endless supply of food: appetizers, pizza, cake…  The lime sherbet and Sprite punch was an instant hit with both children and adults alike.  Conversation flowed effortlessly.  The children danced and played like it was their job.  Before we knew it, 4 hours had passed and the party was still going strong.  It was a Friday night and no one cared.  It was HOT!

The other party was a last minute affair set up more out of obligation than a desire to enjoy each others company.  Invitations were sent in the form of an impersonal mass text.  It was an ice cream party at our local Cold Stone.  The party was held late in the evening on a Tuesday (a school night) so it was a rushed affair.  No lingering when the event starts at 7 PM and bedtime is at 8 PM…  Steph chose this event to finally bring her boyfriend out of hiding.  I would say “introduce her boyfriend to me” but that was not the case.  He introduced himself and she ignored me for the first half hour of the party.  Tension was palpable among the adults.  It was COLD!

To be fair, the children (the exact same children that attended each party) had a good time at both events.  But the same could not be said for the adults.  My friend, B, Jon and I felt extremely uncomfortable at Cold Stone.

I haven’t really addressed the problems between myself and Steph here.  But it’s clear from her noticeable absence in my posts that we do not hang out anymore.  It’s an extremely complicated, drama-filled mess really.  At the heart of it is Steph’s relationship with her boyfriend.  I should call him a manfriend since he is a good 10 years older than both of her parents…  And, really, the 31-year age gap isn’t the problem.  It’s the lies surrounding their relationship that have made me see Steph in a completely different light.  I’m not sure I ever really knew her.

I’m in a tough situation because Steph is my family.  My mom is her aunt and her mom is my aunt.  They’re all- Steph, my mom and my aunt- divorced and somewhat bitter.  The women in my family are 100% in support of Steph and 100% opposed to Big Red even though there are some major, major ethical issues surrounding Steph’s relationship with the boyfriend.  Ethical issues that transcend my blind support just because she’s family.  I cannot do it.

Over time I have come to see Big Red’s side of things.  I wasn’t able to see his side for a very long time because I was so wrapped up in helping Steph.  As with any conflict, there are two sides.  I can’t tell you how bad I feel about simply believing the stuff Steph told me about Big Red and not finding out his story sooner.  But I trusted her.

Today, I am very thankful for knowing both sides of their story.  Neither party is blameless, of course, but neither is Big Red the monster that he was made out to be…  Because I am still friends with Big Red, I have become kind of an outcast from the women in my family.  They want me to fall in line with the man-hating and blind support of one another because we’re family.  That’s simply not enough for me.  I don’t get to choose my family, unfortunately, but I do get to choose who is in my life.  Because I have chosen not to play games, perpetuate lies and shun Big Red, I, in turn, have been shunned.

To be honest, it’s never felt better.

I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I don’t have toxic people surrounding me much anymore.  Life is pretty sweet out here on the fringe.  That’s what I call where I am today- the fringe.  I don’t have to deal with the emotionally draining, self-centered crap that used to take it’s toll on me.  I have chosen to be happy and things are so good right now!

I hope this helps to clarify some of the problems that have been going on in the background.  I surely cannot go into too much detail but just know that I am in a much better place now.  My husband and kids are too because I am a happier person.

If the only thing I have to deal with is the occasional awkward birthday party or holiday, I can manage.  The people I’ve chosen to surround myself with these days build me up so that I can handle pretty much anything that comes my way.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. hairyshoefairy
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 15:08:00

    That’s a tough place to be with your family but it sounds like you’re doing the best thing for you. I can see how some women become bitter after divorce but that doesn’t mean all or even most men are bad. After all, you have a great husband and sweet kids. You gave Big Red a chance to share his story and have gained an understanding from that. There’s no reason so you to just fall in line. I’m glad you’re happy with the choices you’ve made about who to include regularly in your life. Ultimately you have to do what is best for you and your family and I think you really are. ((hugs))

    Reply

    • adventuresoffour
      Mar 17, 2011 @ 17:36:43

      Thanks, HSF! Sometimes doing what is best for your immediate family means putting distance between you and other family members… Ugh. It’s tough!

      Reply

  2. bethany actually
    Mar 15, 2011 @ 21:40:29

    Oh, Amanda. I’m so sorry to hear things are sticky and messy. Even though you’re relieved in a way, there is still that sadness. I had something kind of like this happen between me and a really good friend. And I have the same feelings of relief tinged with regret for what’s been lost…but mostly relief. I am glad for Big Red’s sake that you took the time to hear his side of the story…and also for your sake, because if it means you don’t have as much drama in your life that’s a good thing! And really, in the long run, you’re doing the right thing for Steph by not going along with her lies and toxicity. I’m sure she wouldn’t see it that way, but by refusing to put up with the crap you’re actually saying, “I think you are better than this, that you can be better, and I’m not going to have you in my life when you’re acting like a 12-year-old.” Or something. 🙂

    Reply

    • adventuresoffour
      Mar 17, 2011 @ 17:35:20

      Thanks, Bethany. You’re right- I am relieved but there is a void where there used to be a friendship. It’s a tough spot to be in but I’m happier for making the choice to be free of the drama… Your understanding means a lot.

      Reply

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