Wednesday, April 2, 2008

'The Man' Tales - One Straw Too Many

Click on the pic to enlarge!

The first picture shows the store with the temporary sign still up. Eventually a lovely sign was painted onto that feathered front. When the store closed, one of those beautiful chandeliers ended up in my dining room. I cherish it as my parents bought it in Montreal for their very first store. And Yes - that is D at the temporary counter before the beautiful oak counter was installed. The needlepoint you see is one my mother did. I taught her how to do needlepoint on this project, helped her buy every single skein of wool and pick out the frame. Where it ended up is another story.

Before we began this massive renovation, D and I took a holiday with my best friend from Guelph and her two small children. When they got off the plane in Calgary, we bundled them into my two door sporty car and headed off to one of the most westerly parts of Canada – Tofino, British Columbia. This meant fitting five people into a two-door vehicle. Grant it, two of them were small – ages four and five…but one was tall with long legs.

My friend had never approved of my dating a younger man, and she seemed to resent this new person in our friendship. I knew she had always hoped I would stay single so when her turn came, I would be waiting with open arms for her to join me on the front porch with our rocking chairs.

This caused a rift between her and D. In fact, the rift was so large that I was caught between the two and was constantly trying to keep each of them happy. My girlfriend refused to listen to anything that D had to say. As the holiday continued, it got to the point that if D spoke – she acted like nothing had been said. As she stated ‘she wasn’t going to listen to anyone 21 years younger than her’.

Now I have been friends with this person for over twenty years, and I felt obligated to make her holiday a happy one and to also keep our friendship intact. On the other hand, I had a new love in my life and I thought she should be happy for me. And I thought the new love in my life should also like my girlfriend. Or at least I hoped he would.

But when silences prevailed throughout the car and I was the one who had to keep the peace, it became difficult. She never once offered D the front seat and got angry when D begged that we pull over so he could stretch his legs. She never even offered to pull the seat forward so he would have more room, instead he could barely walk each time he got out of the car.

The word Fiasco sums that holiday up nicely. By the time I put her and her children back on the plane 10 days later, I thought that pressure valve was going to blow. Instead, we turned around and started on this renovating project. A silence of a number of years settled over the friendship from the East and it upset me incredibly. We eventually worked it out. However, to go from talking every couple of days to nothing is hard to do and to get use to. However, I had other things on my mind in the beginning that only added to my stress.

Those six weeks of renovating did not get me out of my duties at the store that was still open and operating. I spent many days running back and forth when I was called on to settle problems that arose in the first location. There wasn’t a phone yet in the new location and invariably someone would pound on the locked doors and ask me to come and help. I would stride through the mall, covered in plaster and paint in my raggedy work jeans and then try not to get anything dirty as I eased my way into the backroom. Many of the problems involved the building of the new store; problems that my mother could not have solved on her own. However, the payroll was still my job and still had to be done and many other functions that had always been under my control.

When the new store finally opened, new problems came with it and they mostly fell on my shoulders. I could understand my mother not being able to carry it all especially since Dad was no longer alive and she couldn’t ask him. When the winter stock arrived, it only added to the pressure. To facilitate a larger showroom, we of course had to have a smaller workroom. When the new stock arrived, boxes and boxes of it, it was a race to get it out of the workroom so we could breathe. I spent more 18-hour days trying to get it all tagged and into the system.

At the end of my last 18-hour day, I drove home to a patiently waiting D and fell into my bed and rose later than usual the next morning. In a panic, I raced to the store and arrived at 11am. My mother took one look at me and said “It must be nice to be able to wander in here whenever you please.” I looked at all the neatly tagged coats hanging on the racks and the missing boxes. I stood there with my head hanging with exhaustion – and something inside me snapped. Picking up my coat that I had just removed, I put it back on and walked out the back door.

Getting in my car I started to cry and I cried all the way home. And then I couldn’t stop. I cried for days – without stopping. When my mother came to the door three days later, D wouldn’t let her in. While I sobbed hysterically in the dining room, he told her that her presence wouldn’t be the best thing for me at the moment. She informed him she would never forget this and left. I continued to sob hysterically. Eventually D called my friend ‘N’ and the two of them took me for a little drive to the big hospital in the big city. The saying ‘better late than never’ fits very well here.


John-Michael said...

Life graciously allows our determined efforts to self-destruct ... but is faithful to provide an impenetrable wall that demand our reevaluation of all things important. Mine was my son's diagnosis with cerebral palsy ... it seems that we have reached yours.

I love you even more.

softinthehead said...

OMG Aims, I wasn't expecting this.

dND said...

Oh aims!

It's not surprising really having read the crazy amount of work you were doing, then in addition to that the strain of the holiday and the stress built up from all those years before. I so feel for you. Reading it I can feel all the triggers that went with my breakdown, even though the actual causes were different.

I do so hope this marks the start of the new beginning for you.

Mima said...

I went through something similar when I called off my wedding and then lost my job a couple of months later. It is a terrible time, and thank goodness for D being there to look after you. Family things can be so difficult, rifts are not always easy to sort as people have such fixed ideas, but I really hope that you and your Mum will come back to talking.

Lane said...

Your mother ...? What can one say?

The presure was been building Aims - you were bound to buckle under it. I'm amazed you kept going for that long.

Lane said...

Also meant to say, lovely to see photos of the store - and to have a glimpse of D:-)

Breezy said...

Good on D to block your mother mature beyond his years there

John-Michael said...

Aims, I went where you asked me to go. My comments are there. You are even more lovable and precious to me.


lisa marie said...

Your mama is something else! D sounds like an angel.

CrazyCath said...

Aims - I am not surprised. I have been waiting for this post. But then, everyone else (including ourselves with hindsight) can see it coming when we can't.
I hope you got the rest and recuperation you so clearly needed. The whole experience must have been exhausting, traumatising, frightening, bewildering.

D sounds like a very level headed guy. Your mother sets impossible goals. I think her standards must have been very high, and everyone else had to live up to them.

Thank you for the photos. The store looked great. As does the needlepoint.
Awaiting with baited breath...

Sweet Irene said...

My heart goes out to you here. I feel how brave you were. I feel your tears and how much at the end off your rope you were. Is it any wonder?

Though I know this lies behind you now, I am wishing you all the luck going through it in your memories.

dawn said...

What a terrible time. I had one day like that, and it was enough for me. I can't imagine going through what you did before hand to get you to that point.

Living the Dream said...

I can't believe the time you have had and the way your mother treated you. I feel very lucky. Good to see photos and now we wait to see how you progress

I Beatrice said...

I had hoped you were going to start shouting at her, Aims! I half expected to hear that you had let rip at last with an account of every blow she had ever dealt you. But I guess that was not your way - and perhaps the gentler D way will turn out to have been better in the end?

I seldom let rip myself - but when I do, I'm told it can be pretty scary.

Alas, I couldn't see the photos in enough detail (on my little laptop) to identify D, or the needlepoint, or the chandelier. I'll try again on the bigger computer up in the house...

I used to do lots of needlepoint myself in the days before my fingers gave out on me. I spent hundreds of hours over a beautiful Florentine design in silk, for my mother's 80th birthday. I even worked her name, and mine, and the date - and that piece from St Paul about what love is and isn't. All in stitches so tiny you could hardly see where they began and ended. Then I flew out to NZ with it for her birthday. But she was in the first stages of Alzheimers by then, and scarcely gave it a second glance - so I brought it home again with me, had it framed. and hung it in our hallway. My grand-daughter admires it - so I have told her that when I die it is to be hers... So do things sometimes turn full circle in unexpected ways, in life.

Back to your blog though - I sense there is worse to come. Perhaps just a very little bit more? Before it finally starts to get better?

dND said...

Having got over the shock of the post, even though it was inevitable it now leaves me wondering if someone as young as D could weather the strain of what comes next. Only time will tell

There is also the little matter of the letter that D read on the train, I feel that will have a part to play in a future post.

It's a gripping story and so sad that it is a true one.


menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

Dear God sweet woman what a shock. I'd like to think that someone so bitter and coercive gets her cumuppance in time. Your story jumps right out of the page at me. I only just came by to catch up and had four posts to read but they were captivating.

Some people should never be parents because of the deep psychological trauma they inflict upon their children. I hope you are fiding a peace within from telling your life story now. Bless you sweetie.

aims said...

JM - Sometimes life does indeed become too much to bear - but then a ray of sunshine can bring about a revelation - and we continue on.
Thank you for your wonderful words dear friend.

SITH - I know you weren't...sorry.

Dnd - Those triggers are scary are they not? Hopefully reading this won't be too hard for you to bear- but I am hoping that my story will help others somehow.

Mima - I might get into a ton of trouble here - but I think 'family' is overrated. More on this subject later.

Lane - I didn't know that something had to give and that that something had to be me....

Breezy - It was indeed a mature - and a brave thing for him to do.

JM - Thank you again my friend.

Lisa Marie - I don't know what made her like that - I'm not sure she did either. Maybe if I had started this out by talking about my grandmother??

Crazycath - Ahh - I'm sure you recognized the signs in my words with your experience. I don't know if it could have been stopped earlier or not. I don't think so.

Sweet Irene - And you have hit the nail on the head here. The reliving is very hard to do. I spend some of my days in tears and shaking, afraid - thank you for your kind words.

Dawn - It was a terribly hard experience and not anything I wish on anyone.

Hazel - Aren't some other people's lives truly shocking? I know there are much much worse out there compared to mine. Some of the stories I have heard since I've started this would curl your toes!

Dearest B - I'm truly sorry about your mother. That must have been terribly hard for you to bear. At least your granddaughter will love and appreciate it - and maybe that was how it was suppose to be.

As for letting it rip. Well - I had times when I lost it and told her to f*** off...but those times made me terribly ashamed of myself...but the words were out of my mouth before I could stop them and they didn't give me any glory and they didn't make me feel any better.

Sadly, at this time, all the fight had been fought out of me and I was beaten and trampled and had nothing more to offer the world.

Dnd - Yes - only time will tell. You should know me by now! :0) And I have not forgotten the letter - it is still to come.

MOB - I had chosen not to be a parent before I had to have a hysterectomy. I knew I had so much rage built up inside that I too would have beaten the innocent...and I refused to carry it forward. It was a relief really when I eventually couldn't bear children - and I was thankful it happened to me in my late 20's.

Popkins said...

You know, Pook, I don't know how I would have reacted to your Mother. You worked so hard...and also...regarding S, which we have discussed....not being happy for you with D.....I'm amazed you kept your cool as long as you did....but that's you, ain't it...

Potty Mummy said...

That sounds really hard Aims - but you had the courage to say 'stop', and I think that's what defines a person; the ability to say 'enough is enough'.

A Mother's Place is in the Wrong said...

What a blessed relief Aims, that it finally came to a head and that D was there to protect you. It had to happen sometime! M xx

Maggie May said...

Impossible to please, your mother.

Biddie said...

I had a friend much like yours. She was never happy with anyone that got close to me.. When Shawn and I started dating, she was awful to him. Horrible.
We had been friends for many years...15+..I don't speak to her, but Shawn and I are still together.
I had a rest at a hospital, too. I really don't know how you managed to do the 18 days as long as you did. I hope that your mom eventually realized what you did for her.

Retiredandcrazy said...

A lovely friend of mine used to say that we should learn to release pressure by saying what we feel before getting to the stage where it dominates our lives. She said it's like putting pressure on a tube of toothpaste. If you don't take the top off it will explode. It's a wonderful word picture that has helped me through the years. I guess what I am saying is what you already know, you should learn to say no!

aims said...

Popkins - Yes that is mean - always trying to keep everyone happy...

Potty Mum - I just couldn't do it anymore and felt like I had been beaten...I don't know if that is courage or not my friend.

Margot - In the end it was a relief. And D was the ultimate warrior! Afterwards he admitted that he was really scared when he stood at the door and wouldn't let her in. She was a force to be reckoned with...

Maggie May - You said it!

Biddie - Why are people like that do you think? It has made me reevaluate what friendship really is and I've still got a lot of questions about it.

Retiredandcrazy - A wise friend indeed! I like the image very much!

Joy T. said...

Crying is good for the soul sometimes. Unless the crying doesn't stop :o( Yea D! Our hero :o)

sexy said...