Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My husband, my hero...

So last night, after a day of fretting and ruminating over what might happen next week, Bill told me that he plans to have my back if anyone gives me any crap during our USA trip.  I wouldn't expect anything less of him, though he's generally very gentle and non-confrontational.  It was important to me that he said this directly, though, because talking to my immediate family can feel a little like crazy making.

I was wrong to bring up the past while talking to my sister the other night because she will not take responsibility when she says or does hurtful things.  I take pains to take responsibility when I know I've truly hurt someone, but I will not take 100% of the blame when I am not 100% responsible for something.  What we talked about the other night was an incident that occurred at Christmas time in 2003 that changed my life.  I was trying to be positive when I brought it up-- I thought she might have matured enough to discuss it.  I was wrong, though.  What I got from her was more of her claiming to be an innocent bystander and a "victim".

I'm not going to rehash Christmas 2003 in this post because it's a painful memory.  My sister told me to just "let it go".  Maybe she's right.  I should just let it go.  I should probably let her go, too.  Because she seems to be intent on discounting my feelings and not hearing or respecting me.  My purpose in bringing up that incident was intended to be positive, because that fight turned out to be very constructive.  I had finally had enough shit from my family, so Bill and I just decided to leave and go home, where we could celebrate Christmas in peace and sleep in a bed instead of a foldout couch.

We did leave my sister stranded at my parents' house.  She absolutely deserved to be left there.  While the fight that pre-empted her being left was not her fault and didn't involve her, her insane behavior when we told her we were leaving absolutely warranted her being left without a ride home.  And besides, even if the whole thing was my fault, it was still my car she was riding in...  I don't remember her giving us gas money or even offering it.  I didn't ask her to pay, either, which means that I was truly doing her a favor.  When you ask for a favor, you should understand that it's a favor... and if you act like an ass or throw a temper tantrum, you run the risk of having said favor revoked.

In the months preceding that dramatic incident, this particular sister used me on several occasions.  On my 30th birthday in June 2002, I spent the day driving her to doctor's appointments.  She couldn't drive herself because she had taken Valium.  At the time, she was a bit phobic of doctors and the Valium helped calm her down.  I was happy to help her out, though Bill and I did have dinner reservations early that evening.  We needed to rush to get back to her place so we'd be on time for our reservation. My sister decided she needed to stop at Applebee's first-- she said she wanted to pick up food to take home with her.  I pulled in and instead of getting take out as she'd promised, she gets a table.  It ended up being okay, but only after I rushed us back to her apartment when she was finished.

In May of 2003, she asked Bill and me to drive our parents to her graduation at American University.  I doubted she really cared about us being there.  I think she just wanted us to shuttle the parents around so she didn't have to worry about it.  While what ultimately happened at that graduation wasn't her fault, it did turn out to be a horribly traumatic experience for me.  My dad, who at that time was probably suffering from early dementia, ended up humiliating me publicly.  Memories of that incident were still fresh in my mind at Christmas 2003, when I had my big fight with my two middle sisters.  Naturally, I got blamed for the whole thing.

In July 2007, our grandmother died.  My sister hung around me the whole time.  I had brought my dogs with me, but was otherwise alone because Bill was in Iraq.  One night, we were in my hotel room talking and my sister said she thought maybe I wasn't our father's daughter because he was nastier to me than he was my other sisters.  She brought the fact that I don't look like him and we apparently had a neighbor who resembled me that mom supposedly liked.  Imagine just attending a funeral for your beloved grandmother-- your father's mother-- and your sister makes a comment about your potentially not being related to her after all.  I never actually believed what she said, though I did think it was pretty toxic that she said it, especially at Granny's funeral.  And I guarantee that if I mentioned it to her today, she'd get very angry and somehow make her nasty and offensive comments my fault.

Now... I understand that I am not perfect.  I know I have a temper.  I know I can be obnoxious and annoying.  I know not everybody likes me.  But I am tired of being the one who gets dumped on.  I'm tired of being involved in conflicts and feeling afterwards like it was all my fault.  I'm tired of people feeling like they can say anything they want to me.  Before I knew Bill, I had no one on my side.  But he's been there and he's witnessed a lot of this stuff, which helps me realize that I'm not insane and imagining things, which is what people have proposed in the past.

So yesterday, after thinking about the whole phone call with my sister-- two hours of her going on about our family and being weird and culminating with that conversation about Christmas 2003, during which time my sister chastised me for bringing it up and told me to "let it go"-- I've decided there will be no drama.  I bet she wants me to let it go because she behaved like a perfect asshole and an ingrate.  She tried to manipulate Bill into getting me to change my mind about going home early.  When that didn't work, she threw a massive temper tantrum.  My other middle sister later told me that they thought it was funny that I'd left her there, even though I was very upset about having to do that.  When I told her that our other sister had said she thought the incident was funny, she claimed our other sister was being "toxic" because she didn't think it was funny that I had finally stood up for myself.


This is how I felt when I left my sister at my parents' house...

I don't know who to believe.  It probably doesn't matter.  I have been around both of them long enough that both stories are plausible and both sisters are toxic people.  Honestly, though, who cares?  I now see that event as a positive thing, even though it was painful to go through.  I learned how to be a lot more assertive and less willing to take abuse from other people and that was my only point in bringing it up.  I thought she was mature and evolved enough to hear what I had to say, but I was clearly wrong.

I am determined not to deal with that during this trip to the United States because I don't plan to come back to the US again for a run of the mill family gathering.  I will probably come home when our mother dies.  Other than that, I likely won't... and we could be in Germany for awhile.  This may be the last time I'll see some of the people in my family.  Moreover, it takes two to tango.  If I don't engage or don't make myself available, there can't be any fighting.

Friday night, which is when we have our big party, I am going out to dinner with Bill.  We'll have a few courses and some wine.  Afterwards, we'll go back to our inn, lock the door, and go to bed.  There will be no family drama.  I have decided.  And Bill, God bless him, will back me up on this.      

2 comments:

  1. obviously no two families are exactly alike, but there are similarities. One thing i've seen in my own extended family is that when there are predominantly female siblings, there seems to be more drama. It seems to blance things out more if it's closer to 50/50 gender-wise, or maybe even if there are more males. the ses dynamcs would be altered sufficientrly, though, if the brothers have dominant wives. that could make things even more dramatic, I suppose.

    My father has two brothers and seven sisters. it's a regular telenovela. In some ways it's made worse by the fact that my mom and my uncle steve's wife , bothe= just sisters-in-law, are the ones who call out opeople o their bullshit, such as when Uncle Mahonri steals. the sisters fight amongst themselves about all sorts of petty non-issues, but ignore all the real issues such as theft, child neglect, money mismanagement, etc. theynn think they;ll all get rich when my grandfather passes on. I'm not sure the church lets it work that way for the higher ups. I think you get lots of nepotism in terms of callings and may yourself be a gA ond=e day, and you get access to church-owned vacation propertirees and all while your opersonal old geezer is alive, but I'm not thoroughly confident much money will be passed down to the offspring. It will be interesting to watch, especially since I have no vested interest in the matter.

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    1. Yeah. I can remember my two middle sisters fighting over underwear. I think family can be wonderful and shitty all at the same time.

      As for the whole inheritance thing, that subject turns my stomach. It is really very sad what people will do to each other over money.

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