A pregnant woman makes the shocking decision to block her ninety-three-year-old grandmother's phone calls and refuses to allow her into her life.
Family dynamics are complex, especially when the situation is complicated with a history of abuse. A woman found herself faced with the decision of cutting off contact with her elderly grandmother, whom she feels is part of that toxic environment.
To many, blocking the phone call from a frail nonagenarian would be unthinkable. What could make this woman take such a drastic step when her grandmother is at the end of her life?
Ideal grandmother | Source: Unsplash
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN
Grandmothers are universally thought of hand-in-hand with sweetness, homemade cookies, love, and wise understanding. But Gail's grandmother, Silvia, does not fit the usual grandmother profile, not at all.
Gail was raised in Silvia's chaotic home, born to her youngest daughter. At the time of her birth, Gail's mother, Kate, was already addicted to drugs and abusive relationships.
Could a frail, destitute old woman deserve this treatment?
Sad child | Source: Unsplash
Kate had been abused sexually by one of Silvia's boyfriends from a young age. Her mother, who considered her a "rival" for the man's affections even though Kate was just 12, added physical and emotional abuse to the mix.
All of Silvia's children, including her oldest daughter, who had been born severely disabled, suffered from abuse and exploitation to some degree. It was all "normal," and when Gail was born, she became part of the hideous pattern.
Proud graduate | Source: Unsplash
ESCAPE FROM HELL
Abandoned by Kate, by the age of 16, Gail had fallen victim to the household's culture of abuse, but she was determined to escape and make a new life for herself. Gail finished high school while supporting herself and went through intense therapy.
Bright and talented, Gail won a scholarship to a prestigious Ivy League school and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Master's degree and an offer to remain on as a teaching assistant and work on her Ph.D.
Getting help | Source: Unsplash
After 20 years, Gail was happily married and pregnant. Her impending motherhood led her to contact her family, and she was plunged back into the toxic whirlwind once again.
In the intervening two decades, nothing had changed. Her aunts and uncles were all addicts, and her disabled aunt, who still lived with Silvia, was ailing. Gail's grandmother was neither interested nor impressed with her achievements.
Having a baby | Source: Unsplash
The news of her pregnancy was greeted with scorn by Silvia, who told Gail she was too old "for breeding" and that the baby would probably be "not right in the head" or disabled.
Gail, an adjunct professor, was criticized for working for a living. In the same breath, Silvia boasted that her 17-year-old granddaughter's much older "baby-daddy" was forking out a fortune in child support every month.
Toxic phone calls | Source: Unsplash
A DEATH IN THE FAMILY
A few months after Gail reestablished contact with her family, her disabled aunt passed away, which meant that Silvia lost the state subsidy she lived on. She immediately phoned her grandchildren, telling them she was counting on their support.
Silvia called Gail and complained about her cousins, accusing them of stealing from her in an attempt to set the family against each other to her benefit. Despite her age, Gail realized, her grandmother hadn't changed.
Grieving grandmother | Source: Unsplash
Every phone call from Silvia left Gail in tears and feeling like all the progress she had made in her life was worthless. One day, after a particularly unpleasant conversation, Gail made the difficult decision and blocked her grandmother's number.
Gail had believed that she was strong enough to contact her family and not be affected by its toxicity, but experience proved her wrong. Was she justified in taking such a drastic step?
Could a frail, destitute older woman deserve this treatment? Abusive families are their own special hell, and few escape their trauma. If you liked this story, read about a man who threw his son and pregnant girlfriend out.