To Whom it May Concern (and you know who you are),
I’ve been watching your visits to this site over the past few months, and opted not to say anything. You chose to make a few oddly-worded, anonymous comments with a fake email address, and I decided that somehow your need for anonymity outweighed your desire for open communication and honesty. Some people can’t tolerate honesty, and as a general rule I try not to force people to experience that which they are allergic to.
When you decided to confront me at yesterday’s memorial service for Grandpa Norman – some things deserve emphasis, so let me repeat: at Grandpa Norman’s memorial service – I know that I flushed and stuttered a bit. Please don’t mistake that reaction for guilt or embarrassment. I stand by my own words, not because I believe them all to be correct or true, but because they were my words and I take full responsibility for my own actions. That reaction was, quite simply, shock and disgust that you would choose that exact moment, with my child seated next to me and numerous family members within earshot, to issue a royal command. I was appalled. I tried to remind you, twice, that now was not the time for this discussion; that I would be happy to talk about it at any later time, but that now, at Norman’s memorial, was inappropriate. You refused to acknowledge this, and pushed the issue until I chose to walk away.
It may be the case that you are willing to allow your family members to see you behaving badly. As it was, you had spent a significant amount of time earlier in the day explaining to an impressionable 16-year-old how global warming is really just a case of media spin and why Darwinism is all just stuff and nonsense, not to mention sharing an indecent and – at least, to some observers – embarrassing display of private, personal political views which failed to present you in an intelligent or humanistic light. You also thought it was appropriate party banter to ask me personal questions about my health, and then, instead of offering the slightest bit of understanding or acknowledgment, you opted to immediately one-up me about how your pain was even worse, and I could just “join the club.” You didn’t seem to be ashamed of your behavior. I was.
I, on the other hand, am not willing to hold private arguments in front of an audience. I am not willing to disrupt an important family event with over-emotional, illogical statements that resemble, but do not actually portray, the truth. I am not willing to put my personal issues on display at any random point during the day; I choose my times and circumstances for such activities, and my grandfather’s memorial gathering smack in the middle of lunch is not, and will never be, an appropriate moment, in my book. And so I walked away.
I also chose to walk because it was blatantly obvious, immediately, that you were not looking to have an intelligent, rational discussion about the issues at hand. You were, instead, looking to fire an emotive ultimatum at me. I’m truly not certain what you were hoping would result from that interaction. Did you want me to cower and beg for forgiveness? To immediately edit all former blog posts and swear on my life never to even obliquely mention you, as long as we both shall live? To fight back and cause a scene so that you could lay that upon my head, as well? I just don’t know. I do know that none of those options are within my sphere of consideration, and I suspect that, particularly when it comes to the third option, I sorely disappointed you.
So, I’ll take this moment, now, when we are not at a memorial service and I have had time to consider my words and not say things I would regret, to reply to your statements yesterday.
Your first was that you had stumbled across my blog. I have to beg to differ; running a search for our names and then spending several hours reading archived posts doesn’t qualify as “stumbling.” I have never tried to hide this site, from its earliest days to the present. You found something that was posted in the pubic domain.
Your next statement was that I had violated your privacy. I have never used false names for myself and my immediate family, it’s true, so if you have an obsessive friend who decided to research your family members’ names, they might eventually stumble across this. But I have never used identifying information that would threaten the privacy or security of anyone I might decide to mention herein. In the instances in which I choose to use someone’s full first name, even, it is always with their permission first, and otherwise I rely on initials. You might recognize yourself in some posts; that’s because I haven’t made the slightest effort to conceal identities or change crucial details. I have protected your privacy, but your actions toward me are mine to react to.
Thirdly, you were appalled that I had “taken photographs of my bedroom.” Well, yes, a shelf on your bedroom bookshelf, yes. If you had read the text underneath, it was to illustrate a point which has apparently not presented itself to you yet: if you do not share the political beliefs of another person, or even if you’re just not sure of their leanings, common courtesy dictates that you not impose your opinions on them. Particularly not at length. I opted not to get in your face about the blatant rudeness of political discussions that make some of your guests feel so uncomfortable that they had to leave the room, and instead vented my frustrations here, in my space. You can’t tolerate direct, non-aggressive, rational conflict, as demonstrated repeatedly over time, and I can’t tolerate emotional displays of knee-jerk blurted statements, and so we’re left in a situation in which it’s better not to delve into certain topics.
Fourth, the word you used to describe my blog – repeatedly – was “vile.” If I was of a more passive-aggressive vent, I would order a thesaurus and have it sent to your house. Aren’t you supposedly writing a book? I would expect a budding authoress to have a stronger command of the language. Allow me to elucidate: “vile” is child pornography. “Vile” is animal abuse. “Vile” is when a mother opts not to call her son to let him know about his grandfather’s funeral. “Vile” is not a personal blog, in which I have always been clear that these are my views and I am responsible therein. “Vile” is not a description of family events in which I have consistently and pervasively been treated with disrespect and exclusion. “Vile” is not a record of my life, even if you disagree with it. I chose to keep a journal, of sorts, online instead of in a notebook. I have reasons for this, and am comfortable with the medium.
Fifth, you demanded, repeatedly, that I refrain from ever mentioning you on my blog again. As demonstrated by this very post, I have decided not to meet that demand. Partly because I’m oppositional, and partly because I’m probably just as bitchy as you and C have portrayed me to other family members (which, did you know that they have written and called to tell us about the things you’ve said? Apparently they do value family relationships, openness and honesty over anonymity and gossip), and partly because I just don’t care about your opinion of me, because I know it is not based on independent fact but is instead formed through innuendo and lies. But, in large part, I’m opting to mention you here and now because you neglected to add an important point in your demands: “Or what?” What will you do if I disregard your demands? Will you stop calling me? Because you already don’t call, or regularly respond to my children’s attempts to reach out to you, or visit. Will you leave me out of your will? Because I’ve never been in it, and we don’t want your money (yours, either, C). Will you be angry at me? The feeling is mutual. But the difference is, I’ll have vented most of that here and will get over it, and I have a damn good life to move back to. You’ll fester and ruminate and gossip some more, and you’ll never fully move on.
I don’t know what your other points were, because I chose to remove myself from an appallingly gauche, immature, embarrassing situation.
So, to wrap up, I found your actions embarrassing, and I am proud – very proud – of how I handled your asinine behaviors. I am beyond proud of how Willem handled it; your sister, and, I suppose, your whole family, worked hard to create a misogynistic, small-minded, self-centered bastard out of Willem. He has shown an unbelievable amount of self-control and deliberation and thoughtfulness over the past ten years, and has formed himself into an honorable, careful, admirable man. You’ll be missing out on a lot, by having alienated him like this.
At his own grandfather’s memorial.
I wish you peace, because your fake email address appears to wish for it, and I wish you satisfaction in your own behaviors. We don’t need, or want, your wishes for us, because we’ve already been doing quite well without – despite – your family’s influence, and now we can move on without the pretense that your motivations are benign.