Tonight was the aforementioned Girl's Night Out get together at my house. I have been working solidly the last few days and the last few weeks, trying to get my various home improvements accomplished. We have been putting up picture frames that have been inhabiting the darker corners in the closets of my house, cleaning, organizing and giving our home the extra TLC it so desperately needs. It's been a success, not amazing, but we have progress. Yeah for me!
I have not been blessed with the gift of home fashion know-how. This specialized skill is generally not taught when you are raised by a Grandfather. I struggle in that area, but I just do my best.
Moreover, I am not the best housekeeper. It is difficult when there are 5 very energetic young bodies in the home, all with different agendas. But, hey, I do my best. That's all I can do!
So, with all the efforts I have made the last few days, I was very disappointed at the turnout tonight. People who had previously committed, didn't show.
My whole goal for tonight was an opportunity to reach out and visit with people. Yes, I had the BEAD IT! class and I had my Pampered Chef available, but purchase was not required. In fact, half of my friends who showed up didn't purchase a thing. They stopped by to visit and eat. I was so happy and grateful to those that came. It made my day. THANK YOU!!
I sent out over 100+ Evites. I received a RSVP of 6 people attending (that includes the 2 women who do BEAD IT!), 1 maybe, and 16 declines. I'm ok people not being able to attend, thank you for your honesty.
I have a huge problem with indifference. I think it is rude to ignore someone who is reaching out. I know that I take it more personally, but I am very sensitive to the act of being rejected. The stats listed above do not include the people who verbally committed to attend, and blew me off. This was just the Evites.
Tonight's lack of response blends right in and cements my feelings of being overlooked and judged (I'll get into that later). I am not your typical LDS woman and mother. I grew up outside the LDS church, I grew up in an environment of HORRIBLE abuse, and to top that off, I think you could call it the death blow- is the fact that I have children with special needs. These needs cannot be treated with a pill and BAM you get better. My children's needs will take a lifetime of attention and medication in order for them to grow into healthy, functional adults.
With all this activity going on, it is understandable that we really don't entertain. We have hosted a dinner when a child gets baptized, and I have offered up the use of our swimming pool for our Primary children to use during the summer, but I don't really entertain. It is difficult.
It is difficult to stay on top of my housework, it is difficult to find ways to beautify my home especially when I have 2 children who take great delight in the destruction of objects that I cherish. I have stopped buying nice things. I am trying to make do with what we have. I am trying to wait out the early years and hope that things will improve as my boys mature. I can only pray! I can barely stay on top of the day to day chores because my children require so much more of my energy and attention. I'm ok with that. That's life. But, don't judge me.
Now to add a layer of complexity-
I have increasingly felt over the last few years like an onlooker. Like a person peering through a window seeing the fun people are having on the inside but finding the entrance door locked. We have lived in our house 10 years now. And I feel we are regarded as a family that is unreliable and unstable.
We are very active in our church. We are LDS. There is almost a closed culture among LDS church members, maybe it is a misperception on my part. But, my family is largely ignored and tolerated. I am one of those strong, silent workers. I am always volunteering to help out in any way for service where I am able.
But, I'll tell you this. We are NOT one of those favored families among our fellow LDS church members. Some would deny this occurence. But, it is true. Just ask those of us on the outside, those who do not hold the higher social status. There are many on the outside. They are silent. They long for approval, attention, and fellowship.
I don't want to tolerate this hypocrisy anymore. This is where the title, "Love me, hate me, but spare me your indifference!" comes in. I am tired of mealy mouthed platitudes and feigned friendship. I am frustrated with how certain church members put up with the existence of other church members in the name of tolerance and love, while truly not fully loving. There are certain families I have made efforts to reach out to where I have been flatly rejected, I have witnessed looks of outright contempt and disapproval. But, when it comes to associating with the other more highly thought of families that are deemed to be of a higher social status, the mothers of those formerly disapproving families pay all kinds of attention to them. Mothers of certain disapproving families offer to hold and love the children of the families that enjoy a higher status. But do you know what? Those same mothers ignore our family and have NEVER ONCE offered to hold the 3 children I have born while in this ward. I have often asked my husband if we have a disease that they fear is contagious. Of course it isn't true. But it feels that way. It hurts.
I am fed up with this. If we were in a better financial situation, we would move! I would love to move. Because if we were able to move, we could leave behind the judgements and have a fresh, clean slate.
Recently, I was at church in a relaxed social situation. There was a group of us women sitting in a circle. Some men came in and pointed out the 'troublemakers', 2 younger sisters that enjoy a higher social status. Then the men pointed out the older sisters as the righteous and then the men asked what we were where a friend and I were sitting. One of the ladies pointed to us and said we were the group trying to stay on the path, trying to be righteous. I have no response. I had my game face on, and was trying to visit in the group, be social, be positive. But that comment, albeit unintentional, really says it all! It may have been a joke, but there is always an element of truth in a joke. Always. That is the judgement and the indifferent dismissal I have been fighting against the last 10 years.
A few years ago, my husband had a major surgery to help with his sleep apnea. I had 5 kids at that point. My youngest was under the age of 1. My son Ethan's disability was just beginning to emerge. And, I needed help. My husband was in the ICU for 2 or 3 days. My grandfather was not in a position to be of help. And, my husband's family live in Utah, and were unable to help. So, we rely on ourselves. I had always, up until that point, lived with the knowledge that if all else failed our ward family would be of help. Boy was I proved wrong!
It is difficult to ask for help. In my past, I have asked for help, only to have my hand slapped away in rejection and outright refusal. Because of this, I am very tentative in my requests for help. Things have to be pretty bad for me to ask.
So, whether it was due to an inability of me to communicate my needs on my part, or something else that was going on, a very unfortunate situation happened with my visiting teachers. I felt like they not only were hesitant to help but did it begrudgingly or unhappily. I am sure this isn't quite true. I am not sure what was going on. I just picked up on some weird vibes and didn't understand the events that transpired. And, because I had hired this sister to help me out with childcare in the past, I felt duty bound to pay her. This sister's visiting teaching companion that had come over to help her. So, as soon as I got there to pick up my son, the companion sped off as if the hounds of Hell were at her heels. To this day, I don't know what happened or why.
Because of the events of that day, I felt completely rejected. I lost it. I couldn't even ask for the full measure of help that I needed. Earlier, when I went to the ICU, I took my infant in his backpack. I felt like I didn't want to inconvenience my visiting teacher, I didn't want to overburden her. ICU didn't want to let me in. Children are not allowed in the ICU. But, they let me in, seeing that my baby was in a backpack and couldn't touch anything. I visited with my husband for maybe 5 minutes and had to leave. My husband's surgery was scary. He could barely breathe, let alone talk or swallow. It was hard on him and me. During this time, no meals were offered to my family. Instead of other sisters in our church offering help, a number of young women's families were asked if they could help. Some of those families were hesitant to allow their daughters to help because of their daughter's young age. So, I was left on my own. All the previous expectations I had had came crashing down. It was an event that devestated my faith and trust in my 'ward family.' I wanted to walk away from the church. I felt it was hypocritical that our church who proclaimed themselves to be a ward family would leave us in the lurch like that. I knew that I couldn't walk away from my faith. I have a testimony. But, it shattered my complete trust in it. It has never been the same since.
My friend was so concerned with how upset I was, she had her husband call our bishop. He then shared his concerns. He explained how we felt largely overlooked and unimportant. I still feel rather unimportant and overlooked, at least in the workings of our ward. It has been that way for me for the last 10 years. It was only after that call that my family started to receive some help. We were then offered some meals and a few girls were brave enough to come and help out.
I do not feel like I can freely ask for help. It is also difficult socially with these women. They socialize together outside of church. But not me, except on rare occasions. I don't think I will ever fit in with a certain group of women. Generally, I will visit with some of the older sisters at church. They are always loving and accepting. I appreciate that ... words cannot express the depth of my appreciation for their unwavering love and kindness and acceptance.
What I find the most difficult is the fact that when my husband and I attended BYU, it was easy to make and maintain friends and to socialize. Then we moved out here to California. It was different. Now, some of my closest friends are NOT members of our church. They accept me with open arms and an open heart. I am loved and appreciated regardless of the social drawbacks of my family. I know that my son is difficult to be around. It is difficult to understand his behavior and his speech. Sometimes it is scary to witness his outbursts. But, above all he is a child of God and needs love. And moreover, our family needs love, understanding and support.
Maybe I have things all wrong and could be "schooled" a bit. I would love to have your input if I have inaccurately portrayed things or viewed them differently. Maybe you have a differing perspective than I do. I welcome any and all comments.