Matthew Michael & the Case of the Curious Mother-In-Law
Have you ever made a wrong prediction? If so, what happened?
Hi Just Curious,
There’s no sugarcoating this one. Yes I have, and it was awesomely bad.
Here’s what happened: I was in Utah on a business trip and wound up bedridden with a bladder infection. In search of some holistic healing, I went to a new age bookstore and got a psychic reading while I was there. (No particular question in mind, that day. Mostly, I wanted to avoid holing up in a hotel room watching daytime TV.)
When the reader said I had two children waiting to be born, I explained that my boyfriend Fred and I didn’t want any children... to which she replied, “Fred’s not the father.”
I knew in my heart that she wasn’t wrong. Fred and I had been falling apart for awhile. You’d think that living together for six years in a 300 sq. ft. NYC studio would have highlighted the fact, but given the alternative of being homeless, I’d proceeded with blinders on.
Fred and I continued living together for the next six weeks, as I searched for a new home. Meanwhile, I was chatting online with a cute former co-worker named Finn. Back in my Los Angeles days, Finn would hang out in my office, flirting with me in his cranky, Old Man Flanders kind of way.
I’d only been to Finn’s office once, after a gossipy co-worker pulled me aside and whispered in her whiny, Long Island accent, “Oh my god. Did you hear that Finn’s mom died? Don’t say anything. He doesn’t want anyone to know.”
Stunned, I walked over to Finn’s desk and asked him if he needed anything. (Without mentioning his mom, of course.)
“Why?” he demanded, as if I were a loitering kid on his front lawn.
“Oh…nothing.” I said, admiring his bravery in the face of his grief.
So Fred and I were still living together; Finn and I were emailing occasionally, with absolutely no sexual innuendo, but I was crushing on him a little bit…
And then I had The Dream. I was holding the sweetest, most docile baby boy, with brown hair and brown eyes, like Finn’s. As I rocked him, he said, “My name is Matthew Michael. I’ve been waiting to be born to you for awhile now.” That’s when I felt the booming voice of an older woman standing next to my bed. She said, “And I’ve been waiting, too!’
Grief causes us to do bizarre things. It doesn’t matter whether we’re mourning the death of a relationship or a loved one. It’s a strange fucking place. And for whatever reason, when I heard the disembodied voice of a woman standing beside me, I concluded that it was Finn’s dead mother insisting that I bear her a grandson.
Go ahead and take a moment to let that sink in.
I’ll just be sitting over here, feeling like a total dink for ever admitting it.
At the time, it didn’t even make sense to me, but I went with it. Rather than trying to overanalyze the situation or judge myself, I just let myself be who I was (a hurt woman in the middle of a common law divorce) and where I was (on a mission to give birth to my dead future mother-in-law’s grandson).
Needless to say, I went into therapy. There I talked about my vision of Finn, our child and his deceased mother, rather than talking about the death of my relationship with Fred. Even though Matthew Michael and Finn’s mother were very real to me, I admitted that I was disassociating from my breakup by focusing on this “phantom” pregnancy instead of dealing with reality.
For the next six months, my disposition was eerily similar to that of James Stewart in the movie “Harvey.” I openly acknowledged Matthew Michael and his nana to my friends, family, co-workers, even Fred. The only person who didn’t know about them was Finn.
I prefaced the news with an email about his mom:
“Remember that time that I came into your office shortly after your mom died to ask if everything was okay?”
To which he replied: “What are you talking about? My mom’s not dead.”
It turns out, our snidely co-worker lied to me to see how long I could keep a secret. (Guess what, bitchface? Ten years is your final answer.)
So yeah, that happened.
I guess the point of the story is to make peace with yourself; wherever you’re at, whenever your find yourself there.
Thanks for the walk down memory lane, Just Curious. Sending happy thoughts to you!
Originally published in Connect Savannah