Friday, February 23, 2007


I don’t usually bite my tongue over much. But I have a family member who has had me biting my tongue for most of her life and for no other reason than I have wanted to keep peace between me and the old people. I have, however, come to a point where peace may well be damned whether I bite or not.

As children we had imaginary playmates, fictional friends that may have disappeared as quickly as they revealed themselves. As teens, it became a joke between sisters that this family member was still playing with her imaginary friends, pretending they were real. And though we laughed behind cupped hands, there was something sad about a young woman who had no true friends or friendships to speak of.

This exceptionally bizarre behavior continued into adulthood and to this day, no one in the family has ever met any of the female friends or boyfriends that this person continually talks about. The men she has claimed to love or care for have typically gone by single syllable monikers with no known addresses or social security numbers. Mysteriously, folks were always away or unavailable to attend family functions or participate in our gatherings and activities. Her birthdays and graduations were missed and family dinners conveniently ignored or disregarded. The last time, the boyfriend of two years who allegedly lived some thirty miles from my Carolina home couldn’t make the half hour drive for Christmas dinner to meet the family because he was working late. Nor could they ever spare a moment to stop and say hello when they’d be passing through on a road trip.

We all ignored the strangeness for a very long time, and then one day I’d had enough. There was something disconcerting about her spending time with men who had no faces any of us could recognize. I imagined her disappearing into little jars in some freak’s refrigerator and I told her so. I envisioned trying to describe her associates to the police and not having a clue that anyone could follow. I told her that no matter how dysfunctional she believed our clan to be, we really were not so bad that she couldn’t bring her friends home to meet her family. Suddenly there was no more talk of boyfriends or female friends that shared her space and time.

And then came Fred. People knew Fred. Fred actually existed. And Fred apparently had bedroom skills that sent our girl right over the edge of what little sanity she ever had. She regaled a parent with story after story about all that she and Fred shared. Fred did this and Fred did that. She never told the rest of us anything, choosing to keep tales of her and Fred to herself as they got to know each other better. While all of us were celebrating her real relationship with a live human being, Fred was doing some celebrating of his own. Celebrating that clearly did not include our girl.

Fred was seen recently celebrating the birth of a new child. Celebrating with photos of the baby, the girlfriend, the new house, and a new car. Three of us have asked about this strange turn of events. Three of us have gotten very different answers to the same question. One was told that she and Fred really weren’t that serious. Another giggled as she claimed Fred was just a sex thing. The parent was told that folks are lying on Fred. That Fred claims to have never had any children. That we are all just trying to sabotage her chance at happiness.

I’m not biting my tongue any more. Girlfriend needs a serious reality check and some professional help as well. The old folks have come to her defense, wanting to believe that she would not purposely deceive them so. That most of her life couldn’t possible have been imagined. So peace be damned because I’m tired of pretending that imaginary friends are actually real and relatives aren’t acting like complete and utter fools believing the crazy crap our kin is spewing.


Anonymous said...


99.9% of the time I agree with your outlook on things, but this is one time I'm going to have to step out the box and say "oh, no you didn't?!"

You see, I can relate more to your girl more than you in this. I've made some bad life choices - but they were MY choices to make. Although, my family seems to think they have a right to have an opinion in the matter. When I get into a new relationship, I do keep my significant other away from my family because I'm tired of the ridicule and jokes (that I'm not suppose to know about.) It's almost as if these people who claim to love me so, can't wait to see me fail, so they can all giggle and tell each other "told you so."

If your kinsmen's behavior is not hurting anyone but her - and she seems okay with that - why not just leave her alone. After all, you have you own life, but God gave her that one.

Deborah Mello said...

I would normally agree with you wholeheartedly, which is why I've been biting my tongue. I understand that mine is not an easy family to please and so I have supported the choices my girl has made for her life. However, I also understand that things now are clearly not what she would like others to believe as evidenced by the litany of lies we've all been told. And though her choices may well be her choices, I have no doubts that in certain situations, maybe not this one, but at some point, she would be better served to allow that family in to advise, guide, or just be a shoulder for her to lean on. Her choosing to continually do this alone and be alone concerns me because she doesn't have to be. She may well choose to be and I don't have any qualms should she say so but she's not and its evident that she is hurting and as annoying as all of us may well be, we love her and care about her well being. I am of the opinion that someone needs to come out and say so instead of continuing to coddle the behavior that has gotten her to this point.

We all make bad choices. It's the nature of life and love and all that goes with it. But we are all better served to learn from the experiences of others. Sometimes though we might not realize it. And even will all the advice in the world, we may still make bad choices but I personally would rather do so knowing I was well informed and supported than not.

But tell me, please, although I get keeping a new relationship under wraps in the beginning, isn't there some point when you would want your family to share in the happiness you claim to be having? After years two and three and in one case with my kinfolk, after year six when they claimed to be thinking of marriage, don't you think somebody should have met somebody, at least once? Because we didn't and her choice or not something about that just doesn't seem right.

Anonymous said...

I understand your intentions are good, but in situations like that you have to always be careful not to impose your ideas and values on another. Maybe she does not value the family's support or advice as much as you do. Maybe, she is content to live in her own delusional world, and would see your help as nothing but interference. Like I said before, if she is not hurting anyone then she should be free to live her life her way. You may not agree with her life, but it's her life.

And by bringing what you see as her deficiencies or strange behavior to light you may end up pushing her farther from you and your family.

Deborah Mello said...

Your points are valid and respected. I do however fear that her delusional world may very well be more harmful than any of us truly know. And it is hurtful to know that someone you love and care for has no faith that you will support them, no matter what their obstacles. Her mother's pain and concern for her child's well-being may not be physical but it exists, it hurts, and it continues to endure.

If telling her things don't have to be this way pushes her farther away, so be it. But I would feel much better doing something and having her tell me to leave her the hell alone and stay out of her life than to not do anything at all. It may very well be a bad choice on my part, but hey, I've made them before and I'm certain I will probably make them again.

If nothing else, telling her how much she's loved will hopefully open the doors for some communication, and help, if she wants it. Whether she chooses to
believe it comes from a good place or not will then be totally on her.