Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Hell aka No Good Deed...

Ok, gotta get this off my chest. Hopefully you guys will throw me a bone and share a holiday from hell story from your past or present so I don't feel so crappy. LOL

My ex-father-in-law is a narcissistic control freak. I've talked about him before and about my issues with him. Both of his children have fled the state and want nothing to do with him. My ex-hubby's inability to deal with him played a part in my decision to divorce.

As the mother of his two oldest grandchildren, I've basically inherited the irascible bastard. After my divorce from his son and over the years, we've hammered out a civil relationship based on---"you follow my rules or you don't get to spend time with my kids".

It's not malice on my part. I recognize the need for my kids to having loving familial relationships. But I also know why Ex-FIL's kids want nothing to do with him. He was an autocratic, abusive bully.

Having f*cked up with his own children, I have to admit that "R", as I'll call him, has worked hard to stay on my good side and has worked hard to be a good grandfather over the years. We've come to have a mutual and tentative respect for each other and our roles in the boys' lives.

Now he is in his 70's, lives alone in an assisted living place, where he scares the crap out of the other residents by bullying them into joining him in his self-styled regimen of diet and exercise. LOL He gets around ok, it's just that he's had some financial and medical setbacks over the past few years.

And he's starting to lose what mind he has left. You know what I mean---some older people get to a point where they just don't care about good manners or they revert back to being the same asshole they were before they started "mellowing".

This year for the first time, he's started trying to march Hubby and I around like we were his actual children, not people who put up with him for the sake of the grandchildren.

Against everybody else's better judgement, I invited R for Christmas dinner. I mean the guy has NOBODY. He's chased his own kids away, and has few friends. I just knew that I couldn't stand the guilt I'd feel thinking that he would be alone for the holidays. And hey---it's good for the kids to spend a little time with him, as tough as it can be (R is the kind of person who has to be the center of attention and monopolizes every conversation to make it revolve around himself, his life, his opinions).

I said, "We'll have dinner and festivities from 2 to 4, so that will give you time to drive home while it's still light" (it's about an hour and a half drive).

Christmas Day dawned early and bright. Got up early, put the stockings under the tree, made breakfast. All the kids (including Kitty) were here, as well as a friend who has been staying as a houseguest. Had a lovely time opening gifts.

Then it hit me. I hurt. I hurt everywhere. From my scalp (which felt like it was on fire) down to my toes. My back ached, my hips ached, my legs ached. I was exhausted and could barely move.

I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia a few years ago. It's been very mild so far and treatable with aspirin or advil. I guess this was my first big "attack". I was down for the count.

Went to bed and woke up a couple of hours later. If possible, I felt worse. My friend said, "You know things are bad when even your eyelashes hurt". Luckily I had prepared the entire Christmas dinner in advance and all it needed was to be heated in the oven. Hubby to the rescue!

As usual, Ex-FIL called to say he would be late, never taking into account that he would upset plans other people made for the rest of the day. Hubby tried to head him off at the pass, saying that I was ill and that we should get together another time. But no, that would be too easy. R was "on his way" and nothing would stop him.

I woke up long enough to chat with him (and apologize for my state) for about 15 or 20 minutes before collapsing back into bed. The kids were kind of freaking out---mom sick? Oh no! The world is ending!

Slept through most of the rest of it, so it was relayed to me by the survivors.

After the meal and visiting, he Just Wouldn't Leave. Even though the Aspiring Adult had plans with his friends and Kitty and Big Kid had to go see her parents, R's car was blocking them in the driveway and he Just Wouldn't Leave. Finally, after ignoring hints and their obvious desperation, Hubby asked him to move his car (it was around 5pm at this time). He moved his car, parked it back in the driveway and parked his ass back on the couch.

Some time later he mentioned that since he was already down here, he thought he'd spend the night and go see some of his friends in the morning. Sorry Dude, no room at the inn. I mean really, where did he think we would put him? Our houseguest is sleeping in Little Guy's room, and Little Guy, Big Kid and Kitty were bunked out in sleeping bags up in the loft.

So he "instructed" my hubby to find him a motel in the area. He was willing to pay $35 a night.

Was he freaking serious? Really? On Christmas? Up here in a mountain town? Even in the off-season, you can't get a room up here for $35 a night.

Hubby, with infinite patience I might add, called up the locals. No go. So R called down to the city (about a half an hour away) and found himself a room. Told them to expect him around 8 or 9pm. Oy.

Around 7, I stumbled out of our room. I heard R's voice and thought I was hallucinating. I turned around and went back to bed.

A little later, just after Hubby had packed up the remains of Christmas dinner and cleaned the kitchen, R says to him. "Since all of the restaurants are probably closed, how about making me a meal to take with me?"

As it turned out, Hubby and Houseguest spent hours entertaining my ex-FIL long after the kids had bailed and left the reservation. Of course that meant listening to the incessant monologue about his life, his interests, his political opinions. He even went out to his car and brought in a bag of jewelry (that was his hobby before he retired) to show our houseguest every piece "because she was so interested" (she wasn't). And then tried to sell her some because he's hard up for cash.

I've apologized over and over for abandoning them to what is essentially, a problem person that I have inherited. They've been very kind about it, but it was a very stressful day. I slept for a day and a night, and felt 100% better afterwards.

The worst part is that next year I'll feel all guilty because he's alone and invite him again, because I always forget THERE'S A REASON HE'S ALL ALONE!!



Jennifer Leeland said...

OH NO!!! I'm so sorry for your family!
I do have a story. One of my youngest son's friends (nine at the time) was being evicted. His mom (OMG total meth freak though we didn't know it) was talking about living in a van. A Christmas.
We moved them in.
Talk about None Too Bright. Well, you've read the results on my blog. Six months later I finally got them out of there and spent four days and six Hefty bags full of garbage to clean up after them.
I'm still glad we did it, but that was probably one of the worst holidays.
Topped only by the Christmas we spent at my sister's when her husband's family proceeded to tell my husband he was so fat he was going to die and how could he let himself get that way.
Ahhhhh that warm holiday feeling.....
We've had some awesome ones, including this year's so the occasional pissers are tolerable.

Formerly known as Frau said...

First of all you are a saint for thinking of him and second your hubby is a keeper for dealing with him all night. Glad you are feeling better nothing worse than being sick on Xmas !

Jeanie said...

First, I'm sorry your were sick, and second, I'm very impressed that you had Christmas dinner already prepared, and third, I'm also impressed with how well your husband handled everything. I don't have a horrible Christmas story, but my ex-fil, now deceased, was often very critical-he told me I was fat when I weighted 119 lbs. The funny thing is that no matter how much he critisized me I think he really liked me.
And yes, I'm sure you will invite your ex-fil again next year.

litzi said...

As you plan for 2012, keep this in mind: Simplifying is letting go of all the junk, both internal and external, so that we can move on towards what truly matters. Leave all the junk of 2011 behind; let 2012 be a clean slate. Don’t let the past steal the future. Move on…

Anonymous said...

ah, no good deed goes unpunished, does it! you have a very good family to all be so kind to R - but no need to allow him a repeat next year! Talk to Hubby now and make a pact for next year - have R visit earlier in December, or you go see him and do Christmas on New Year's day, or some other 'tradition' that you can start in 2012! it's the spirit of the holiday but you can definitely spread it out over the season. or maybe just let the universe provide for R - it's amazing how effectively folks like him can find someone to latch onto when they want something, and you surely have done your share of giving to him. hope you are feeling better, Attila.

Ami said...

I add my wishes to the get well side of the scales... and agree with Anonymous up there that you need to start a new holiday tradition, one that does not involve bringing crazy and worse than high maintenance to your home and your life during the holidaze.

And I'm really grateful once again that although there is a TON of crazy in our respective families, none of it was here in our home at Christmas.

Webster said...

You were a saint for inviting him over this year, and your family and guests joined you in your hospitality toward him. But you said it: There's a reason he is alone. He is not to be pitied. This is his time in life to learn from his mistakes.

Maybe you won't have to do it next year; after all, the Mayan calendar ends on the Winter Solstice of 2012. Then all of our worries will be over.

And if that doesn't work out, just send him a card. You can learn from mistakes too. I'm sorry you were sick, but it almost sounds like a blessing.

Star said...

You know you did the right thing. Even if you slept through most of it ! :). . Sorry you missed most of Christmas. Here is to a Happy New Year!

Willoughby said...

Sorry to hear that you were sick on Christmas!

It was wonderful of you to invite this man to spend Christmas with you. Too bad he doesn't know when he has worn out his welcome.

Kirby Dunton Carespodi said...

No good deed goes unpunished!
Glad you're feeling better. Chronic pain is a ...well, it's a pain.

Rootietoot said...

Uh Boy...I am so sorry you were sick! You're a saint. that's all there is to it.

jwg said...

Why don't you set up a birthday reminder (fake) somewhere on line that tells you it's his birthday around Thanksgiving. That will jog your memory so you don't make the same mistake twice.! Hope you are feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Cannot help you with a worse story - you win, hands down!

For the guilt you anticipate will cause you to invite him again - I think there is therapy for that. Get some.

No doubt in my mind, he will not be alone next year but will seek out someone to impose himself on. Dear Abby used to write - no one can take advantage of you unless you let them.

On to 2012! Best wishes!


Stinkypaw said...

There's a reason why we love you, you're nice, too nice actually! BTW, funny thing, as I was reading your post, when you mentioned "R" it was right by the box of "Spread the word to end the word" - I thought it was a very funny coincidence!

All the best for 2012, take care of yourself xox

Chris H said...

HAPPY NEW YEAR chick, may this new year bring you happiness and health.

Kim Ayres said...

Happy New Year, Attila!
Here's hoping 2012 is a big improvement on last year for you :)

Joanna Jenkins said...

And THAT my friend is why I GO VISIT the crazy side of my family-- so I can make a quick getaway. That way they're "no alone on Christmas" and I'm not suck with them all day long. OMG! I'd have lost my friggin mind with your ex FIL.

I am so sorry to hear you have figromyalgia. I do too and t can really suck sometimes. Glad your flare was a short one and I truly hope it's your last one.

My holiday from hell... It included a blizzard and being snowed in at Chicago O'Hare Airport with a bunch of angry, stinky, cranky strangers. Oy.

Feel good and sending happy and healthy hugs for 2012.

xo jj

Houseguest said...

HEY! I have been there and done that on pain days where I don't leave the bed! He was not "that" bad...but yes...I DID buy a ring....ok...maybe I too am too nice also.

And don't worry about next year...I will be SURE to remind you why you do NOT want to extend that invitation ;)

Maddy said...

Heck. I have nothing useful to offer but I sympathize with the eyelashes hurting!

It's so difficult to do the right thing. I can easily see myself falling into the exact same trap, just as you say, the memory will mellow over the year and then December will come around again.

Valerie Marie said...

Poor you! Poor you all! I'm glad that you feel better now. I'm sure that you'll invite him next year...
Love & hugs for everybody

Ben said...

Hello, old friend. I’m going to start blogging again and wanted to let you know (providing you even remember me, I used to come here a lot). Apparently, went out of business, so once I figure out how to start a blog roll again you’ll be on it. Hope all is well!

Ben (daydreamed)

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