Friday, July 19, 2013

We're not homeless anymore... and family shit...

Looks like we are approved for the house in San Antonio/Converse.  We're not homeless anymore.

I just talked to my mom, who had some bad news for me.  One of my uncles was just diagnosed with leukemia.  His wife has Alzheimer's Disease and is no longer able to care for herself.  Apparently, my uncle's leukemia is "intermediate".  I don't know what that means in terms of his prognosis.  His daughter just had a baby a couple of weeks ago.  Lots of major life events going on there.

My mom told me that my eldest sister just visited and they discussed how they would be handling my parents' bodies after they die.  Both of my parents plan to be cremated.  Mom says she is leaving her body to the state of Virginia to be used in a medical school.  My dad's brain is slated to be studied at Harvard University because he has lewy body dementia and Parkinson's Disease.  And both are going to have cardiac checkups next week.  I listened to all of this stuff rather stoically.  I mean, it's inevitable that they will die... and it's good that plans are being made.  But talk of cremation led to talk of what she wants us to do with their ashes and apparently, my older sister made some comment about the four of us getting in a boat and scattering the ashes in some body of water.

Mom then said she doubted the four of us could stand to be together long enough. I kind of laughed wryly about that, because it's true.  But then she said she was upset that we aren't close or even really "friends".  And she seemed to blame me for that, because I generally decline family gatherings.  I don't mind seeing members of my family one or two at a time.  But when we all get together, it all turns to shit quickly.  I have witnessed and been a part of that for a long time.  I simply don't want to do that anymore.  So I avoid gatherings.  I think they're all kind of pissed at me, too, because I voiced how I feel about these issues rather than just sweeping them under the rug the way we always have.

Mom also kind of berated me for not visiting her during this last month in North Carolina.  She also berated me for not being closer to my sisters and... very surprisingly... not inviting my eldest sister over for dinner while we've been in North Carolina.  It seems that she blames me for the fact that we're not all close.  She reminds me that my sister, Sarah, keeps wanting to have a family reunion.  I am not interested in having a family reunion because they never go well and I always end up in tears afterwards.  Let me put it this way.  If they wanted to get together, that would be okay with me.  I just don't want to be part of it.  The reason I don't want to be part of it is because every single time we get together, there's some kind of fight.  I've tried to explain this to them, but I usually end up being ridiculed or told I'm being too sensitive.  My family thinks I purposely distance myself from them...

It's funny, though, because I can remember my sisters having lives when I was a teenager and a young woman.  They lived in far away places and didn't visit often.  One sister was in India for several years.  Another moved to Colorado and then Minnesota, where she's lived for over twenty years.  And yet I'm getting shit because I'm moving to Texas and won't be "close" anymore.  I was close for over thirty years and used to visit often.  When I was younger, I used to enjoy seeing my sisters.  They treated me like I was a brat.  There were many times when I was made to feel like I wasn't welcome.  There were many times when I called my family trying to bond or looking for support and was made to feel like I was imposing.

To my mother's credit, she did say that she doesn't judge me for not visiting family more.  She said my dad is my father... but she's afraid he will soon no longer recognize me anymore.  To be honest, when I saw him in 2010, I had doubts that he remembered me all that well.  I saw him on two occasions last year.  It wasn't like we had really deep conversations.

Maybe it seems selfish for me to feel the way I do.  I just know that I went through a lot of shit with my family... and I dealt with the brunt of my dad's shit for years.  I know that until I was in my late 20s, I felt like I was crazy.  I cried at the drop of a hat and would get embroiled in some of the most ridiculous arguments with my sisters and my parents and then it would spill all over my other relationships to the point that people literally thought I was crazy.  Now that I'm away from that, I feel better.  I feel sane.  But after talking to my mom just now, those old emotions are coming back and I'm feeling like shit.

This is not the way I want to be with my family.  But it's not only up to me.  I can't be the one who always swallows the shit for the sake of family solidarity.  I did it for years and ended up seriously crippled by depression.  I think if I said this to my family members, they would dump on me and tell me I'm wrong.  They would claim I'm being selfish.  Is it selfish to want to preserve your dignity, self-respect, and emotional stability?  I usually leave our family gatherings feeling just awful.  It hasn't just happened one time.  It's happened repeatedly.  The last time it happened was at my grandmother's funeral, when one of my sisters told me she always suspected my mom conceived me with someone else.  

Maybe that sounds like I'm being "prideful" as my husband's ex daughter would put it, but honestly, I went through some serious emotional havoc and it feels good not to be upset all the time anymore.  I feel upset right now.  I used to feel like this all the time and now it's generally only when I have these kinds of conversations with people who are supposed to be my loved ones.

I'm sorry I'm not close to my family, but I'm not sure exactly what it is that people expect from me.  Do they just want me to show up and be who I was when I was clinically depressed?  Or can they accept that I'm a grown woman now and don't necessarily enjoy being treated like a child?

*Sigh*  At least we have a home now.


James Taylor gets it.

7 comments:

  1. I have a very similar situation in that I do not speak to two of my siblings because they are jerks. My mother used to talk to me about how she wished we were closer, etc. I finally had to tell her the subject was off the table and we would not be discussing it. I've had to repeat that a couple of times here and there over the years, but I think she's basically gotten the point.

    Shared DNA does not mean you must submit to emotional torture. If it makes you feel badly to see these people, stop doing it and stop allowing others to try to make you feel bad (see above about topic being off the table). If your mom continues, let her know you will hang up when she starts in on you and then do that.

    Sanity beats "family obligation" every time.

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    1. You're right. My siblings probably aren't as bad as yours are. I don't feel the need to stop talking to them altogether. I can easily handle one at a time. But I don't want to have a "reunion". They always go badly. I don't remember the last time we were able to be together for more than a couple of hours without fighting. I can't deal with all three of them at the same time... or really, I can't deal with the #2 and #3 at the same time. #1 is above it all, mostly, and 13 years older than I am.

      #3 and I fight more lately... she is really sanctimonious and treats me like a child. Last time we were all together, I left #2 at my parents' house because she threw a huge temper tantrum (she had gotten a ride with us). She didn't speak to me for a year. Can't say I didn't enjoy the silence. She used to be really bad about using me.

      But I do agree with you. Sanity is worth much more than "appearances" and getting along for the sake of getting along. I seriously felt like crap for about two hours after that phone call. And I had called her to see how she was doing.

      Thanks so much, Lawfrog.

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  2. I wouldn't say my siblings are any worse than yours are. Everyone has their individual breaking points and things they can/cannot tolerate.

    I've had a sibling who has pulled the whole "Dad thinks you might not be his" thing on me too. That sibling happens to be 12 years older than me so I can relate to the older sibling thing too.

    I also have a sibling who throws temper tantrums too. And both of these people have engaged in criminal activity, immoral behavior, lying, etc. I decided quite awhile back that I just can't have that in my life. I don't hate either of them, I wish them well, but there is no way on earth I could ever trust them in any way or share my life in any meaningful way with them so there's no point to trying. I've been happier without them in my life.

    All that is to say that you have to decide what is good for you. Not for your family, not for you and your family together, but for you as an individual. They will not change in the ways you need them to. You only have control of you and if phone calls and being with them makes you feel badly, then let go of thinking you have to put up with it/be with them.

    Don't eat salmonella, it makes you sick! Same thing here - don't trigger the mental pain by exposing yourself to the toxins.

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  3. Oh lordy... About five years ago, I posted on Gather.com about my shitty sibling relations... A few months ago, someone responded to that very old post, commiserating with how I felt. I think a lot of us have sibling issues.

    What makes it worse for me is that my father's family is awesome, even though that is where the alcoholism comes from. My dad had eight brothers and sisters, seven of which made it to adulthood. Everybody has their problems, but they always manage to look so good when we're all together. And though my parents never divorced, I have these sisters who are much older. They were supposed to be done when they had my sister and then I crashed the party.

    I want to remind my mom that I went through therapy for several years. But I didn't go through therapy just because I had a problem. The problems came from somewhere. And I have learned how to deal with the problems so that my life is significantly better. I am not willing to go back to the way I used to feel. I don't sweep stuff under the rug anymore and I don't put up with shit from other people, even if they are "loved ones". And I don't want to spend time or money on "vacations" that turn out to be traumatic.

    I love my family, but life is short. And you are absolutely right. There is no need to expose myself to known toxins. I finally escaped that shit years ago and I just don't want to go back. I told my mom that it's not just up to me to change. If we are to get along, it has to be a group effort. They can't just expect me to swallow shit for their sakes. It has to be a mutual thing. We all have to grow up.

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    1. Thanks for the support, my dear JaneBond462.

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    2. AMEN!! Good for your for recognizing this. I can't tell you how many people never get to that place. I know many people who keep getting angry/bitter/sad about people and their actions. I just want to shake them and say "Move on. Just move on. It's not going to change, it won't get any better. Let it go, make peace with that so you can have peace."

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