My mom called me on the phone to chat a few days ago, and the first thing she asked me was if I’d bought anything fun with the money she’d sent me for my birthday. I told her that I’d snatched up 2 new pairs of cute shoes for cheap on eBay, and when she sounded underwhelmed, I added that I’d bought some expensive lipstick with the money my grandma had mailed me.
“You should call her,” mom said. “Thank her. No one ever thanks her. She’s always wondering if you kids even get her cards.”
“Maybe I will,” I said and then added, “I wonder how she feels about my divorce.”
“Oh, she gets it,” my mom said.
“Gets it? She’s okay with it?”
“Oh yeah,” she said. “She said she never really knew your ex-husband that well anyway. I just told her he had a girlfriend, and that was enough for her.”
I sighed. Again with the line “he had a girlfriend.”
I’ve told my mom a hundred times that we were polyamorous, that I had partners, too, that our open marriage had nothing to do with our split. The decision was based on incompatibility, differences in values, financial strain.
But, without fail, no matter how many times I reiterate this fact, she summarizes my discussion of my failed marriage as, “He had a girlfriend.”
As though that came anywhere near describing the level of dysfunction and pain in that relationship.
I myself formally dated 3 women and 2 men over the course of our open marriage and made out with and went on dates with twice that.
And yet, she summarizes it all with “he had a girlfriend.”
Effective communication is impossible playing by her rules.