Over Lent, Father shared a series of homilies focusing on the Seven Deadly Sins. Each week, he focused on a different one. This is the same… exactly the same.
Shit I can’t do:
Date Without Being a Jackass
Cook on the Stove
Express Sympathy Appropriately
Manage Heartbreak Without Humor
Drive… At All
Share Important News Like a Normal Fucking Person
At the moment, I’m caught up on that last one. I’ll cover the others at some point, if I don’t get distracted and decide there’s other shit I want to discuss, because that’s how blogs work.
Where was I?
When I was five-years-old, my Gramma had this warm, sweet, cuddly little kitten named Calamity.
Hahaha. I’m just lying. It was really an under grown chupacabra and it ate souls. Regardless of the hellfire coursing through Calamity’s veins, though, my Gramma liked this stray enough to claim it as her own… sort of… it’s difficult to cage that sort of creature in anything but a circle of salt. My dad, however, has always been one of those redneck men who thinks it’s funny to tell stories of cats dying. Yeah… that’s a thing, here in the Midwest.
At the time, my brother was just like any eight-year-old boy, hero worshipping his dad while running around barefoot on an acreage, shooting things with a blow dart gun, after having handcuffed his little sister in a field. So when my dad jokingly (says he) told Bo to shoot Calamity with a blow dart… he did… and she crawled away to die. Yes, someone please tell this story at my next wedding.
So a few days after the demise of Calamity, my Gramma wondered where she’d gone. She asked my parents and my brother and they swore they didn’t know. It really was a shame that she’d run off. Then she asked me.
Me: “Dad told Bo to shoot him with a blow dart, so he did.”
A few years later, a neighbor’s un-collared and often unfed dog kept killing our chickens. One day, I came home from school, all alone at eight-years-old, because that’s totally safe, and found my rabbits inside-out all over the back lawn. You can spread pet rabbit pretty thin, y’all. I called my mother in hysterics and then just a week or so later, the neighbor’s dog met with my daddy’s gun and he buried him the back field… because my father is Jed Clampett.
A week or so later, one of the neighbor kids asked if we’d seen his dog.
Me: “Yeah, my dad shot him and buried him in our field.”
Bo: “Shut-up, Belle!” :silence: “She’s kidding.”
My dad was within his full legal rights to kill this dog that was trespassing on his land, so despite the threats, there were no consequences… for everyone except me. Yes, that’s right. I got yelled at when my eight-year-old brother went full-on Dexter on my Gramma’s cat. I got yelled at when my dad tried to start his own Hatfield-McCoy feud.
As I got older, though, I naturally developed the ability to empathize with people appropriately and recognize the importance of breaking significant news in a personal and serious manner. For example, at 18-years-old, I needed to get on birth control and wasn’t sure how to go about doing so with my insurance. So, one afternoon, I sat my mother down and had a serious heart-to-heart, explaining that I had made the adult decision to protect myself.
No, no. I was really helping her clean up dog poop in the backyard and blurted “I’m having sex now and I need to get on birth control.” Roseanne handled that topic better than yours truly.
As the Hometown minister warned during our high school sex-ed class – I shit you fucking not – sex led to pregnancy… three years later. My ex-husband wasn’t working… still. I was just shy of my bachelor’s degree and working at the movie theater, living off financial aid and prayer (which is not so tasty). This was not good news. How to tell my dad? I KNOW! I’ll go to lunch with him and tell him then.
Dad: “So what do you want to eat?”
Me: “I’m pregnant.”
So that’s out of the way. Now how to tell everyone else…
Belle is… seven weeks pregnant today.
Then, as I’ve mentioned previously, I lost the baby. It was heartbreaking, physically painful with no medication at the end of my first/start of my second trimester, messier than those Lifetime movies ever said, and absolutely terrifying since I was all alone. So I called my Gramma and my dad. I told my mother when she showed up unannounced. I texted my brother, since we weren’t very close. It wasn’t perfect, but it was personal… enough.
So that’s out of the way. Now how to tell everyone else…
I lost the baby. I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want your apologies or to hear your awful miscarriage stories. Just leave me alone.
A little over a year later, I’d had enough of the stealing, the lying, the pet abuse and murder, the make-believe jobs… you know, marriage.
Wait. Shut the front door! That’s not how marriage works?!?! Wha…?!?!
So, I told my ex-husband he needed to leave… and he said no.
Over the course of the next few months, I continued to tell him to leave, often loudly, occasionally with projectiles.
Ex-husband: “We never have any fucking food!”
Me: “Then maybe you should GET OUT.”
At this point, I probably should’ve reached out to someone, told my family what was up, let my daddy bury the bastard in the back field… but nah. I suffered in silence. Finally, I threatened to call the police, on Jay’s advice, and my ex-husband left. He kept sneaking in and taking things, but I didn’t have the emotional capacity to deal with that, so I still called it a win. Then I filed the paper work two weeks later.
Chad: “You seriously need to tell your family.”
Me: “I will… eventually.”
It was two weeks before Christmas, when I finally got up the nerve to tell my Gramma. I lay on her bed, staring at the ceiling, while she watched the news. Neither of us had been talking.
Me: “I’m getting a divorce.”
Gramma: in an almost bored tone “Are you really?”
Me: “Yeah… like I filed the paper work already.”
You see! That is why emotion freaks me out. She wasn’t mad. She fully believed me. She was glad I was leaving. She just understands that feelings are for the inside.
Voicemail: “Hey, Bo. It’s Belle. I just called to tell you I’m getting a divorce. He wouldn’t work. I couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t want you to be disappointed in me. Love you.”
text conversation with my mother
Me: “I filed for divorce.”
Mother: “Do you need anything?”
Me: “I’d really like that Fossil purse for Christmas.”
Then the most epic of all. I pulled up to my dad’s house, knocked on his door.
Dad: “Hey kiddo. What’s goin’ on?”
Me: “I’mgettingadivorce. I’msorryIruinedChristmas.”
Dad: “Do what?”
Me: “I’m getting a divorce. I’m sorry I ruined Christmas.”
Since then, there have been numerous breaking news faux pas.
Me: “Do you like memoirs?”
Gail: “Yeah, sometimes.”
Me: “I do. I really like biographies too. I did shots with Chad and let him feel me up last night. I just really like to read another person’s story, ya know?”
Gail: silence… “Yeah. I’d love to hear another person’s story, too.”
Me: “I just woke up on my grandma’s patio after passing out from the heat.”
Gail: “WTF? Seriously?”
This particular incident was accompanied by an “I need a ride to the E.R.” text message to my step-mother a couple of days later, when I couldn’t stop vomiting from the concussion.
Over the years, I’ve just accepted it. I am never going to be able to tell anyone anything important in a grown-up manner. There will one day exist the “Honey, I’m pregnant” text message. It’s actually become a running joke.
conversation with my female cousin Mick, the baby of the family
Me: “Well, if you ever do decide to join the Air Force to be a pilot, just remember, the best way to break serious news is via Facebook. ‘Mick… just joined the Air Force. Love y’all.'”
Mick: sitting next to her mother “Yeah… I think that one might get me into a lot of trouble.”
Me: “Well, yeah. That’s why you ‘lose your phone’ that day.”
When Gail was raped and couldn’t figure out how to tell her boyfriend a couple of weeks later (he’d been out of town), I suggested a cake with the words “Your girlfriend was raped” on it. The guy’s had enough bad news. Why not give him a cake, too? Do you have no compassion at all?!?
I also suggested a barber shop quartet… and wrote the lyrics, which did make Gail laugh and that was the whole point. Duh. She’d just been raped, yo.
“Your one and only girlfriend was ra-a-aped.”
I give the best fucking advice.
Sidenote: This incident will also be covered in the topics “Express Sympathy Appropriately” and “Manage Heartbreak Without Humor.”
The fact of the matter is, of the Shit I Can’t Do, several share one foundational issue. Emotion is horribly uncomforatble and should be hidden like the last fucking horcrux.