A Turning Point, Part 1

If you read this post then you know that there has been trouble brewing in my relationship with Vengeful Mother for a very long time.  What follows is a re-visitation of what brought that trouble to the fore:

In September of 2004 I was halfway through my third year working for The Company that Created the HMO (just ask ’em) and I had been working as an “Assistant Project Coordinator.”  This was a title that was very much a misnomer as, I hadn’t coordinated any projects.  I was really a lot of things.  I was in charge of safety training for the building.  I had oversight of our Janitorial Contractor.  I was the de facto supervisor of my office when the Facility Services Manager (Douche Bag) was out, I was the guy that everyone came to when they had questions or concerns or needed information.  I was “the man”.  I had been told by Fantastical Engineer that, if The Company that Created the HMO had such a job title, I’d essentially be the Assistant Facility Manager.

Douche Bag had been working on promoting me, but there were some issues that were complicating things.  The promotion he was trying to give me was to “Project Coordinator” (logically).  Only problem was there was a $10,000+ difference between my salary and the minimum salary of that position which meant a 24% raise, which was not going to happen.  At the time it was looking like my choices were to accept the promotion with a 10% raise which would make my salary more than $6000.00 less than the minimum (and I’d never catch up) or they’d attempt to put the promotion through with a 15% raise and  be only $4000.00 short.  But, there was no guarantee that raise would be approved and then they couldn’t resubmit it for 10% meaning I’d been screwed out of the promotion entirely.  In retrospect I realize that might have been the best thing but at the time it certainly didn’t seem that way.  When all was said and done, I was promoted to “Project Specialist” which was in intermediate step that DB didn’t even know about, and I received a 14.5% raise that put me into the appropriate salary range for that position.  Before that happened I was really praying for something to come through and looking for support.  I’d had previous conversations with Vengeful Mother about it and wanted to fill her in on what the developments were.  This conversation took place, via instant message on September 15, 2004:

Self: So the latest is, I get 10% now, I’m still eligible for a merit increase at the end of the year and in march the position gets reviewed and I get bumped up whatever amount to get me to the minimum.  Nothing is definite yet.  Nothing is in writing yet.  But that’s what it looks like.  With the paperwork he’ll (Douche Bag) be submitting a 90 day action plan and goals for me to accomplish in the first 6 months.  If for any reason the position doesn’t get reviewed and bumped up, he can give me an evaluation and another 10% raise.

Vengeful Mother: Sounds like something we can get into agreement about.  Of course you can count on me to say this but…  At the same time you should be plugging the leaks in your blessing dam by getting into church and beginning to tithe and give and so forth.

This is an old song and dance and I just couldn’t take it anymore:

Self: Yep.  I know I can count on you.

VM: Do you understand that I’m right?

Self: What do you expect me to say?

VM: I expect you to answer my question.

Self: Well, I know that’s what we’ve heard all my life, but honestly?  I haven’t seen a whole lot of proof of it.  Not just in my life.  In yours too.  And in Dead Beat Dad’s.  And in CPA Sis’s.

VM: Is the Word of God proof enough?  If nobody else in the world manages to get it right (but many have), it doesn’t change the Word of God or His faithfulness.  We could argue all day about what you’ve seen with your eyes and experienced in your life – But the bottom line decision you (and every one of us) have to make is whether you will take God at his Word and move forward accordingly.  It’s very hard to believe God for His blessings on our lives, when our hearts condemn us because it knows we are not wholehearted in our pursuit of serving Him.  You’re an adult now.  You’re responsible before God for your own life.  Not for somebody Else’s.  As for me, I will never stop seeking to do better at it.  To overcome the things in my background and my subconscious and whatever else is involved that hinder me from victory.

Self: That’s not what I’m saying.  And I’m not saying it’s not true.  But the fact is, I’ve grown up watching you right your tithe check every week.  And at the same time I watched you struggle every day to make ends meet.  I’m not saying that tithing is a bad thing but when it comes down to $50.00 to either get you through the week or give away and never see again and struggle the rest of the week…

VM: I know what you’re saying.  The bottom line question remains the same.  And it isn’t to me you have to answer it.  It’s before God and in your everyday life–

Self: You’re the one that insists on asking me on a daily basis.

VM: What you don’t understand is that, without that tithe, we would have gone under long ago.  You have to decide for yourself.  I’m only trying to remind you.  Redemption is an ongoing process that happens every day of our lives for as long as we live on this earth.  The degree to which it is able to work for us is the degree to which we cooperate with the process by seeking to understand and do the things God has laid out for us in His Word.  I love you and I want to see the best in your life.

Self: Well, what you don’t understand is that I’m working on it every day.  I’m trying very hard but it’s not an easy proposition.  And you really don’t help me.

VM: “Working on it” and “trying very hard”, are so much easier when we put ourselves under the teaching of the Word.  That’s why I want to see you go to church.

Self: You don’t seem to realize though that when you say things like this you make me feel inadequate.  Like you have no confidence in me or in the job you did in raising me.  And that’s a set-back for me.

VM: Dont’ be silly.  You KNOW I have confidence in you, and you know I believe in the way I raised you.  Just put that nonsense aside and understand that putting you in remembrance, as the Apostle Paul put it, is a thing that is good for you.  We all need it, and we are all to do it for each other.

Self: No I don’t.  I never have–

VM: Well you should.  I’ve told you many times.

Self: I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say to that.  Words are one thing.  Actions are another.  You wouldn’t let any of us go to our Senior Prom’s because you felt like the point was to “put young people in the mood.”  But you couldn’t accept that you had raised us better.  You’ve been unsupportive of every potential degree choice I’ve ever had, because you didn’t think I could do it and stay faithful.  You were critical of my choice to live in San Francisco because of the gay community.  And this conversation that we’ve had part of over and over again.  You can say you have confidence but you don’t show it.  You have no idea how much that hurts me.

At this point she had to take a phone call at work and by the time she returned to me I was away from my desk.  When I returned she had signed off her IM but I found the following message waiting for me:

VM: Well.  I’m really sorry you feel that way.  I’m telling you now.  You’ll have to believe me or not.  The choice is yours.  But you do need to forgive and forget a lot of things.  That much is obvious.  You can’t keep nursing grudges and hurt feelings.  They just get bigger and bigger and more and more crippling over time.

And you need to try and see my side of it as well.  It would be much easier for me to not be concerned about you if I knew you were involved in things that build you up spiritually.  You’re no different from anyone else.  The fact that I’m concerned about you is no reflection on you personally.  NO ONE can remove himself from spiritual nourishment and not suffer from it.  And the simple truth is that the Word of God commands us not to neglect “the assembly of [ourselves] together” especially “as [we] see the day [of the return of Christ] approaching.”

It isn’t fair for you to try to say that if I have confidence in you I have to believe that there’s no way you can fall prey to the things that Satan has in place to trip you up or rob you of God’s blessings.  Or to say that if I admonish or remind you of these things it means I don’t have confidence in you.  Neither of those things is true.  I love you.  I have great confidence in you and I’m constantly amazed at your abilities and things you do.

I e-mailed the following response to Vengeful Mother knowing it’d go over by a Lead Balloon, which was, in fact the title of the e-mail:

First of all, you need to understand that I’m not holding any grudges.  I suppose I can understand why you would say that, but that’s no the case.  When I gave the examples I gave, it was simply that, giving examples.  I learned a long time ago not to make sweeping generalizations (especially within this family) without supporting data.  As far as “forgive and forget” goes, I don’t even know what that means.  Forgiveness is a choice and I’ve made that choice over and over again with a lot of people in my life for as long as I can remember.  Forgetting on the other hand doesn’t make any sense to me.  One can’t control what they can and can’t (or do and don’t) remember.  I always assume that scripture to mean that you don’t hold it against someone.  In practical application, I suppose that makes sense, but the reality is that if you pretend it didn’t happen (as is what that scripture implies) than you just leave yourself open to be hurt and taken advantage of over and over again.  So how do you “forgive and forget” but still guard your heart and yourself and not be abused?

You said, “It would be much easier for me not to be concerned about you if I knew you were involved in things that build you up spiritually.“, which in and of itself is a criticism.  You went on to say, “You’re no different from anyone else.  The fact that I’m concerned about you is no reflection on you personally.”  I’d have to disagree with that.  I know you can’t talk to everyone the way you talk to me.  People who aren’t your children and obligated to let you say whatever you want, wouldn’t have it.  At least not as constantly and relentlessly as it has been with me.

NO ONE can remove himself from spiritual nourishment and not suffer from it.”  How in the world can you make the assumption that I get no spiritual nourishment?  You don’t know what I do, or how I spend my time.  You don’t know what I read, or how much time I spend praying or how often I listen to praise and worship music.  And you certainly don’t know where my heart is or how I feel.  The fact is that I do read the books I got at Rhema.  I do read my Bible.  I spent more than a year reading the Bible cover to cover with no interruptions.  I’m not ignorant on the subject.  And I often listen to my RS&B CDs as well as other Praise and Worship CDs.  I’m not saying that’s a substitution for going to church, but as far back as I can remember I haven’t gotten any more out of going to church than I have out of these activities.

And I’m sorry, but it isn’t fair for you to say to me that, “It isn’t fair for [me] to try to say that if [you] have confidence in [me] [you] have to believe that there’s no way [I] can fall prey to the things that Satan has in place to trip [me] up and rob [me] of God’s blessings.”  Because I didn’t say that.  But if you had faith in me, you would assume the best of me instead of assuming the worst.  And you wouldn’t feel the need to constantly make comments and assumptions.  Or, at least you shouldn’t.

What really upsets me about this is I don’t know how to make you understand.  You have no idea the kind of power you hold over me.  It’s hard for me to believe it myself, but it’s true.  You affect everything I do.  My first thought is always, “I wonder what Mom would think”, or “I should tell Mom about this.”  But much of the time, “what Mom would think” is negative.  You don’t realize that I have lived my life for you.  And I know you won’t believe or understand it, but it’s true.  My whole life has been about making you happy and getting your unconditional love and approval and support.  I’ve waited and waited for that, for you to realize it and give me what I need, but it just doesnt’ happen.

That doesn’t mean I don’t believe you love me.  I know you do.  And I know you did the best you could raising us.  I don’t fault you for that in any way.  But just like you don’t know my heart, I can’t know yours.  All I can go by is your actions and your actions have always said that you don’t have faith in me and that you don’t have faith in the job you did of raising me.  If you did have faith in the job you did of raising me, you’d trust that I know what’s right and be a person you could be proud of.  And by the way, just for the sake of clarity, I’m not talking about your confidence in me and my abilities on a physical level.  I’m talking about your confidence in me spiritually and morally.

The thing that bothers me the most about this whole thing is that after having a heartfelt discussion about myself and my feelings and emotions, you simply disregarded them as invalid and proceeded to do the same thing that I just finished telling you was hurting me.  The simple fact that I said, “You have no idea how much that hurts me” should have had some impact.  But it seems you’re more concerned with believing that you’re right and “knowing” that you’re doing the best thing, than you are with how much I need your love and support, not by way of telling me what I should be doing or where I fall short, but by showing with your every action how much you love me and believe in me, just the way I am.

It saddens me to think that I have laid all this bare for you, and I think I know that you will not believe or accept it as accurate.  I wish I knew just the right thing to say to make it so that you will.  But when it’s all said and done, I guess all I can say is, I’ve told you the truth.  I’ve told you how I feel and what I need.  Beyond that I don’t know what to expect.

More of this riveting (I’m sure) story to follow.

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