Wednesday, September 22, 2010

It's all in the family...

What’s been going on… Hmm… Aside from being stricken with a hideous case of strep throat, what also appears to be some sort of ear issue (dizzy and bumping into things) and a very painful sinus, things are as they usually are; thick with family drama.

I am finally officially my brother’s legal guardian. I got the appointment papers last week. I also became the payee of his Social Security benefits. My mother did not do the required reporting as his payee, and his benefits were withheld for a year, and so he got a huge check this week of his year’s worth of withheld money that I have to spend down pretty quickly. Giving part of it to his residence for room & board will only take a small chunk of it; and he doesn’t drive, doesn’t need furniture… so I am now undertaking the most macabre task of arranging a funeral package for him so his needs are covered when the time comes. I may also buy him a Wii… you’re allowed to get them things like that … so I thought some new clothes, some school supplies for his new day program and some little chatchkes for his personal space—maybe some bed-linens and towels and stuff too. I’ll figure it out. It’s funny how surprisingly hard it can be to spend money when you are focusing only on needs and not wants.

It’s amazing how a little care can change things. He looks *so* good. His hair is cut and neat, he is shaved, clothed in clean garments, he is fed well, and he is making eye contact again… occasionally engaging himself in what’s going on around him; he hasn’t done that in forever. My mom has ingratiated herself to the caretakers, and they adore her. It’s hard to sit there and listen to her say things like: “Oh, I haven’t had a full night’s sleep for 37 years! Since John was born!”… I wanted to retort: “What are you talking about? John was in an intern school from when he was really little until he was seventeen… you hardly saw him at all… I won’t mention what you did when he was home the occasional weekend…” But I did not. I just bit my tongue, as I do very often when Mom is doing her Mom thing. I wish I could see her through her own eyes sometimes… I’m sure the image would be something like this:

St. Mama bears her cross as her ungrateful scourge-daughters pelt her with stones.

Lately, my sisters and I have been clashing. I have been building up a backlog of annoyance with them. One sister can’t stand to be in my mother’s company for more than an hour; and she must always be so with another one of us in tow… if she had to be alone with my mother, she wouldn’t. However, she’s been liberal with her advice about how to deal with my mother, despite that her involvement in the family pretty much non-existent since she was old enough to bolt. I’ve been stressing out about the mom situation, and my brother’s situation and my job, my husband’s 27% cut in pay and subsequent financial problems, and my complete lack of free time or escape, and I have been criticized for my… yes… my negativity. My response is, hey, you with the permanent pass from these things… STFU. My response, which was in my usual style, honest and forthright and yes, abrasive and blunt, has naturally upset her. She is on facebook as we speak typing passive-aggressive status updates and comments like no tomorrow. Ugh. Whatever. My other sister gets dragged in a lot, and the two elder gals are closer, so they tend to gang up on me. Recently, I confided in the second sister, saying something fairly harsh about the first sister, and the second shared that with the first, thus escalating things unnecessarily. First sister is lucky I don’t tell second sister the stuff *she* said about second sister’s relationship issues; that would be very cruel and damaging. But damn, she is pushing me. It’s sort of irritating when you can’t say stuff in confidence when they can do it constantly to me. Damned women!

I am perplexed by the whole concept of family, honestly. I know all these people who long to spend time with their family, who love to be in large groups of them… the idea of holidays fills them with glee. In my mind, they are crazy! Me? I don’t like having family most of the time. Because mostly, my family doesn’t treat each other like family. They give their friends and acquaintances more weight and importance in their life than their own blood; they say acid, rotten things while smiling at you serenely, and create all hell of crap behind your back whenever they have a chance. For instance, back in March of last year… when things were going awry in my marriage, I phoned my eldest sister weeping… I was devastated, and I needed someone to lean on pretty badly. My eldest sister answered the phone, I told her what was going on, and I started yammering through my tears. She interrupted me, and said: “Hey, Feffy, can we talk about this later? I have friends from BAS (High School) here, and we’re just leaving for the beach…” I stopped mid-sob and balked. Seriously? Did she just blow me off for a beach trip with old High School friends? Yep. She surely did! You can have no idea how much that hurt. It still cuts deep to this day. It made me feel so very unimportant to her.

My family has been a source of constant and great disappointment to me from early childhood; a fountain cascade of broken promises, being patronized, and being invisible. I’d stumble over myself to do stuff for them, but when I need some emotional support, they turn away. But occasionally, when we sisters get together (never just the sake of spending time together; we always together to fulfill some other stressful obligation that eventually leads us to stress out and bicker…), we have moments of incredible fun. I mean super, incredible, hilarious fun. It’s the sort of thing I think other people long for when they think ‘family’…. For us, that fun, that sense of connection, it’s so sporadic and rare… but there are these brief moments of bliss that give me a taste of what it *should* be… and it makes me sad that it hardly ever is--all because we are all so broken by our upbringing.

With all the turmoil these past two years, with Daddy fading and getting sick and being neglected by my mother, eventually dying… dealing with the aftermath of the move, trying to figure out how to keep my mother’s health at some level where I’m not forced to deal with more crises because of her ineptitude, and figuring out a future for my little brother, who’s always been just a fixture in all of these things… it’s been a freakin’ nightmare. I have dropped almost all interests… stopped sewing, stopped doing anything social, just existed in this really super-exhausted fugue, instead of finding support in my sisters, I’ve found the opposite. One sister wants to wash her hands completely of any responsibility and doesn’t want to even hear about it… the other, well, the other tries to fix things by going about it the wrong way… and playing games with the both of us. All this passive-aggression and bitchiness takes its toll. I wish we could just be sisters, and that they were there for me as I have been for them when they phone me in crisis. Like my husband with TSD, I have this hope they’ll figure it out and we’ll be real sisters to each other… not just someone who meets you for obligatory things.

Anyway… I’m done fighting with them for now. It’s sort of pointless… but sometimes I think they really need to hear it; whether or not anything I say sticks or if either of them really cares what I think. As long as I do my job, keep Mom-related-drama out of their hair, that she doesn’t spend too much of Daddy’s nest-egg, and make sure the brother they have doesn’t require anything from them, they’re happy. It’s good to know I’m good for something.


Jody said...

you are a Good One. Your brother will thrive under your watchful eye. Your sisters will do what they do and perhaps one day you will all find a way to be together as 'family' and content. For today, KNOW that you are doing a good job. BRAVO.

the Goodwife said...

Family is so difficult. Know can't control them and their behavior, only you and your reaction to it. I've been there and it isn't fun. It took me 33 years to figure out all I could handle was me and my little family (ie hubby and daughter) and they (meaning my extended family) were just going to have to learn to solve their own problems or else pay a therapist! It's been much easier since then. Here's wishing you the best and some stress free relaxtion time.

Cowgirl Helen said...

Deleting my comments now?

Hungarican Chick said...


Cowgirl Helen said...

Why? All I did was tell the truth. Nee said nothing to me. You spilled your own beans. No harm, no foul. I am over it. You have the right to your anger, etc.

Hungarican Chick said...

Umm... suuure, you happened to post a FB update that was pretty much verbatim what I grumbled to Nee about... Must've come from the mysterious ether. Not buying it. Doesn't matter. You're entitled to be snarky about my grumpies... so whatevs. I didn't spill anything that wasn't alreayd spilled.

Did the thin mints at least turn out?

The Dreamstress said...

Awww sweetie. My family can be difficult, but I do feel really lucky sometimes.

I hope that things brighten up for you soon. Focus on the things you love. Buy your brother the fanciest linens you can get your hands on, spend time doing things you love.

And come visit me :-)


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