Releasing the past in order to find myself

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Celebration Memory

Several years ago, I was spending some holiday time with my in-laws.  We'd been together for several days. My family had decided to come down to this resort for a couple of days too to spend time with me.

My sister's birthday had been the day before.  My family had taken us all our to dinner to celebrate our birthdays, as our birthdays are one right after the other.

The next day, my family left.  NMIL decided she wanted to celebrate her son's birthday.  His birthday was a week away.  It was my actual birthday.  It was very clear at the dinner that the it was to celebrate BIL's birthday.  She ordered him a special dessert (oh, and get Jessie one too).  Sang Happy Birthday to him first (then they sang to me).  Made a big deal out of him.  And then tacked me on too.  And it was my actual birthday.

Birthdays are not a big deal to me (well, my birthday isn't.)  Having a sibling with a birthday so close to mine and being after the holiday season, my birthday has always kind of been just one more celebration.  NM was relatively good about trying to make it special for me.  But after everything else, my birthday was like trying to drink when you have a bad hang over.  Your heart's just not in it.  Plus, NSis and I had to share things a lot.  Sometimes, I got the second half of the cake.  A lot of the times, we got similar gifts.  So, I watched her open her (my) gifts, and then had to wait a day to open mine.  But I was used to it.

The dinner with NMIL really pushed me over the edge though.  With NSis, I was at least always treated as equal in the celebration.  Having NMIL make someone else MORE important than me, celebrating someone else, and begrudgingly celebrating me too ON MY ACTUAL BIRTHDAY made me feel like shit.

It's all those little things that just add up over the years.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas you all!  I hope you are having a wonderful holiday.  And that the narcs aren't hassling you!  Here's hoping Santa brings you everything you need in the New Year.

Love, Jessie

Friday, December 21, 2012

For my Peeps. Happy whatever makes you Happy.


“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”

Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Cleaning

My house is immaculate at the moment.  Perfectly clean.  My son vomited a ton on my living room floor the other night.  But my house smells like a rose.

SHE is coming tomorrow.  My MIL.  And I hate that I've made the house perfect.  That I can't stand to have a thing out of order.

She's not a clean freak.  In fact, she's a slob.  Sort of.  Maybe more of a semi-hoarder.  She cleaned her kitchen once after a remodel and declared it "organized".  Nope, it was clean.  It was nowhere near organized.  I have a favorite story of how I went to a her house one time.  My SIL had gone through her fridge and "cleaned it out".  Lord knows what she threw out.  But several hours later, I went to get some salad dressing.  I looked at the expiration dates.  They were SIX YEARS OLD (notice I said "they".  There was more than one).  No lie.  My husband was in high school when she bought these dressings, and we were our of college at this dinner.  Gross.  Like I said, I can only imagine what SIL threw out.

She stores stuff.  And keeps stuff.  And has piles of things.  She's not really messy.  She's pretty clean.  But she washes her bathmats with her bed sheets.  She is more interested in the "end" than the "process".   As long as it's done, it didn't matter how it got that way.  She washed my clothes (without my permission: no one washes my clothes) once.  Not only did shit shrink, but my BILs helped themselves to some of it.

So, this lady, a somewhat tidy, but not organized and clean person puts me on edge.  And it pisses me off.  I shouldn't care what she thinks of my home.  Her position of expertise is compromised to say the least.

Yet, she will come to my home and find fault.  When she came to my brand new, month old home, she noticed that the chandelier still had the stickers that told what light bulbs to buy.  I'm sure it's a federal law to remove these stickers, unless your a homeowner, and all she could notice was that they were still there.  In my new, beautiful home, that's what she saw.  Around the same time, one of the things she noticed is that I hadn't watered my plant.   The thing had just moved, was adapting, and was a bit droopy.  But she felt the need to notice.   A couple of months ago, I left a huge pile of clean, but not folded laundry on my dryer.  EFIL "noticed" that for me.  EVERY little fault they can find, they point out.  I'm damned if I do, damned if I don't.

When my son was born, her perfect, long-desired grandchild was born, she pointed out he had her MIL's "unfortunate nose".  How is a new mom supposed to take that?  She also pointed out he had his mother's "broad forehead".  DH didn't understand why that was rude.  I figured referring to anything about a woman as "broad" was rude.

My SIL, whom I'm working on a post for (wife of BIL, whom I recently glorified in blog form), is the same way.  If I don't have every damn thing in order, she has to point it out.  Several years ago, I'd come back from a three week trip in Europe (backpacking).  I was exhausted and piled all the souvenirs on the table.  SIL "dropped in" and sputtered about how I must be organizing...or something...because surely I wouldn't have such clutter in my home.  This is the same SIL who avoids inviting me over because she doesn't think her home is clean enough for me.  Can I say projection?

I don't want to appear perfect.  I do like my home to be clean and clutter free (in the public places, you should see the closets) when people come by.  I don't want towers of shit falling on them and I don't want them to feel like they need to disinfect themselves after using my bathroom.   And frankly, I'm not down with a ton of clutter.  But I'm not a nazi.  I'm not a clean freak.   But I feel if I falter at all, it'll be lauded as a weakness.

My MIL has "worried" over lots of things my SIL does.  She tells me (or DH) about how she had to clean SILs "whole house" when she had her baby.  Or how SIL has planters warts.  Or really, really intimate details about SILs labor and the....ummm..... "nature of the terrain".  Yuck.  She tells me how she doesn't like her stove or doesn't like how they parent (not that she would be "that MIL"-her words-and say something to them).  So, I know if I slip up, the whole damn family will know about it.

I'm trying not to care.  Trying. But sometimes it's fun to be "perfect" and fuck with her that way too.

Christmas Card

I got a Christmas card from my MIL last night.  And I was annoyed.  Big time.  It seems so stupid.  So insignificant.  I'll bet I'm reading into the thing too much.  But something about it just pissed me off.

It was a gold card.   Very "old ladyish".  Very religious. The kind with some artistic rendition of The Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus.   I think it was one of those cards, that when purchased, some money goes to some charity.

Inside, she included two pictures.  One of the family, posed for a "family reunion picture" at a family funeral.  Taking the picture was a minefield of chaos.  Lots of chickens with their heads cut off.  MIL shouting "just take the picture!  Keep snapping."  No one was arranged.  The lighting was horrible.  Plus, it was a really difficult day.  As they organized the photo, I was pounding a Chardonnay at the bar.   MIL's sister, the photographer, says, "don't you want to be in the photo?".   I knew there was tons of time to make it out, as the chickens hadn't run around enough yet to settle into picture mode.  In most of the pictures, me and my family are squished in the back.  You can hardly see us.  But MIL is grinning wildly in the front.  In a blazing white dress, surrounded by "her family."  The second photo is a shot of her and FIL, cuddled up.

Not an unusual card.  If it came from anyone else, I wouldn't think twice.  But the thing is, I recieved this Christmas card as a follow up.  As in, she received my card, complete with a bunch of pictures of the kids (I sent them to all the grandparents.  Few of them take pictures of my kids.).  So, she got my card, dug some card out and sent me a card with her pictures in it (she referenced my pictures in her card, so I know she got ours first).  It just felt phony.  And, hell, I don't know what the right word would be.  I just felt wrong.  She sent the card purely because I sent her a card.  For no other reason. She added the photos because she has to mimic me.  She's done this to me before.  It feels so "tit for tat".  OH, Jessie did this, maybe if I do it too, she'll look favorably on me.  She'll have to like me!  She'll think I'm nice/kind/thoughtful.  It didn't feel genuine or authentic or something she wanted to do.  Most years she states "Thanks for your card, Jessie!  I didn't send out cards.  I was busy.  I just didn't have time."   Which, as I write it doesn't sound bad, but is so classic her.  She can't give me a compliment without somehow also negating it or justifying and excusing herself.  Can't she just say "thanks for the Christmas card." and leave it at that?  Why does she have to be in every conversation?  (That's rhetorical, I know the answer).

It irritates me too that she can't just let anything be mine.  It's almost like when she quit trying to "convert" me to her, she changed tactics and thought she'd pretend to be me.   This mirroring and mimicking she does of me, drives me nuts.  I can't just have anything be mine.  If I send pictures, she sends pictures.  If I say I don't like to bake,  she suddenly remarks how she no longer bakes, sort of kind of.  I get lots of praise for how pretty my Christmas packages look, so she somehow figures out how to wrap a gift so it doesn't look like a monkey did it (I know it's petty, it's not about the gifts, it's about her suddenly changing to be more like me.  It's creepy to me.).   She changes her hobbies, eating style, extracurricular activities to "fit in".  And it annoys me that she thinks I'm so stupid that I'll think better of her because she wraps a few gifts (still not well, I might add, just to be bitchy because I'm feeling that way) or sends me a photo of her snuggled up to her husband in the picture perfect picture of "true love".

She wrote in the card how she "can't wait to see you!".  A visit she finagled (she can't manage to get us gifts during the TWO other times-sometimes three-that she sees us during the holidays.  She has to have a 'special time' to drop them off.)  She shows up tomorrow.  I'm trying to not be annoyed.  I wish I could change my attitude.  I wish I could be more gracious.  I wish I wasn't already dreading her.  But I am.  Fuck.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Phony

My BIL is the type of guy that everyone thinks is the "nice guy".  He graduated with a degree in religion, has a nice home, always seems like he is Mr. All American.

But I think it's all for show.  I think that the only things he does is to boost up his image of himself.  He's only interested in doing things that add to his image.   He fancies himself as easy going, generous, thoughtful, and kind.  But he always "gets something" out of the exchange.  He thinks that he is the very model of what a human being should be, and if you are somehow 'different' from him, than you are lesser.  He's not really cocky or egotistical, but he is completely self absorbed.

I've seen him take advantage of everything that comes his way.  I've seen him use people to make his own life easier.  His MIL has lived with him off and on for years, taking care of his kids, cleaning his home, yet he still bitches at times about her.  He will accept anything he can get from his own parents.  I guess yes, technically, they are offering, but he never thinks about what is really the best thing for everyone.  He's a people pleaser and will sell others out to look like a nice guy to someone else.  He's done this to me for years.  One night we invited him and his wife over for a BBQ.  As soon as dinner was done, he was trying to leave.  Because he got invited to another party and wanted to make an appearance.  To look good.  I was offended.  I cooked all this food, fed the ass, and then he was going to bolt because something better has come up.

He is MIL's favorite flying monkey.  When I first met DH, he was the one that attacked me (as I felt it to be) for not having similar religious views.  He was never interested in hearing how I felt.  He only told me over and over that I was wrong.  That I was going to hell because I didn't "believe".  He is a firm supporter of the family enmeshment.  He believes, and pushes, everyone to believe we all have no personal boundaries and it is all for the good of the family.  My home is expected to be open at all times to anyone else in the family.  He and DH got in a huge fight two years ago, because BIL called to chastise DH for not allowing their other brother to stay here (other brother called last minute, demanded to stay here, and was flat rude in my opinion).  It was NONE of BIL's business, but he felt the need tell DH he wasn't being a good family member.  BIL firmly believes that everything DH and I have should be up for the taking of others.  That as we are "better off" (read: work our asses off, never had family handouts, and budget our money) we should help the others.

BIL likes to be the "hub" of the family.  He likes to think of himself as the glue who holds everyone together.  He doles out advice to his little brothers, gets involved in their personal relationships and finances.  He spreads gossip...Oh, I'm sorry, he tells people things out of "concern" for them and because he feels others have a "right to know".  He preaches family unity and spending time together and chastises DH and I for not spending enough time with their parents.  It is clear to me that he blames ME for the lack of closeness between DH and his parents, that he feels I don't treat his parents how I should (which means, how HE treats his folks), and that I am a barrier to family unity.  He can not stand if we spend time a lone with my in-laws and calls and insists on being involved.  The irony of how he pushes us to spend time with them, but then tries to horn in on that time drives me insane.

He offers up his home for family to stay at and it really annoys me.  That sounds stupid even writing that.  And I had to think long and hard as to why that bothered me.  The thing is, he invites people to stay because he likes to look like the good guy.  It feels, to me, like he's trying to score a point.  Like BIL, one point for being a family team player, and Jessie loses a point for being a bitch and not being like me.  (And again, if I DO offer people to stay or do anything, he tries to horn in).  And while BIL has these guests in his home, he doesn't actually spend time with them.  With my in-laws, he often dumps off the kids and go has date night.  My MIL cooks and takes care of their kids and takes them out to eat.  There is BENEFIT to him to do it.  Today, he has invited over my younger BIL and his wife to stay.  But they don't spend time together.  BIL and his wife leave and do their own thing, leaving younger BIL alone at their house.  And BIL's MIL does all the cleaning before and after they stay.  And they don't feel obligated to cook or have meals for them.  See, for me, when I have guests, I like to spend time with them.  And I do all the cooking, and provide food, and I clean up before and after they come.  But I'm a horrible person.

BIL seems to forget that for the 10 years before he moved here and bought a home, my house was the "family hub".  That I threw birthday parties, and big dinners, and BBQs.  I had everyone stay at my house, set up Christmas gift exchanges, and was the family gathering spot.  He seems to forget that in the three years since I've lived in my new home (and when I started keeping track) he and his wife have been invited over to our home between 5-10 times for drinks, BBQs, sledding with the kids, and Christmas gift exchanges.  Guess how many times this ass has had me over to his new home?  Maybe 2.  Once for a BBQ with a ton of other people, and once for his kid's birthday.  I have not been invited to his home in almost THREE FUCKING YEARS.  Yet, I'm the bad guy.  He and his wife choose to go luggage shopping and then have a lovers' spat at my son's birthday party and so really didn't spend anytime with us.  They left their kids with the grandparents and took off, without saying a WORD to me.  Then, he ignored me for three months afterward.  Literally, ignored me every time he saw me.

When discussing an idea his mother had to own a family vacation home (ha!  that's a laugh.  No one has the money to have a second home), BIL has said numerous times that if it was "just the brothers" they could own a joint property no problem.  But with sister-in-laws involved, there would be problems.  When I've pressed him on what the hell he means by that, he says oh, you know, things just would get complicated.  And he doesn't get AT ALL that is an insulting, if not blaming, thing to say.  It's clear to me that "the sister-in-laws" in his mind, are outsiders and not invested in "family unity".

The guy just pisses me off.  He thinks because he is a "religious" man that he is above reproach.  That he leads a wonderfully example of life.   He thinks he is "all about family".   He takes tons of handouts from his parents, his grandparents and parents paid tons of money towards his college (much more than DH got for college), his parents pay for things for him STILL (like memberships to things), take him out to dinner, watch his kids all the time.  When we used to go on family trips, he and his wife mooched off my in-laws by driving with them and sleeping in their hotel room.  They were never expected to pay as much for these outings as DH and I were.  DH and I don't accept handouts, don't ask for anything, and don't expect anyone to take care of us, but us.  BIL still seems like a child, who can't take a shit without asking his mommy how to wipe his ass.

 I really could care less what he does.  The thing is, it feels what he does has a direct correlation on me.  Like, in order for him to look like the good guy, I some how have to look like the bad guy.  For him to score points for something he does, he has to point out all of us who don't do what he does.  He makes himself the gold standard, condemns others for not being more like him, but then sabotage you, should he feel threatened that he won't look like "the good one".  He has low self-esteem, and that he does have comes on the backs of others.   He has to be admired and appreciated and seen as righteous and kind and good.  And it has to be by comparison.  And I'm the person he compares against.  I'm the dark to his light.  It pisses me off that he feels he has just as much right to my home, my life, my things as I do.  That I, as DH's wife, and he, as DH's brother are of equal status.  That, because in his mind, my home, my possessions are DH's mostly, that he should be privileged to them as much as me.  He doesn't ask to borrow DH and my things.  He never thanks me.  Once, when DH and he were coming back from a trip, I invited him to stay for dinner. At the end of the meal, he thanked us both for it.  DH said "I didn't do anything.  It was all Jessie."  BIL responded "Yes, you did, you work and payed for it."  (I also worked outside the home at the time.)  DH said "No, actually this is meat that was given to Jessie.  She really did it all.  If you want to thank anyone, thank her."  BIL sputtered and argued and continued to insist that he needed to thank both of us.  I can't figure out if he just couldn't admit he was wrong, or if it just pained him too much to give me gratitude.  And it's not the thanks that bothers me, but the fact that he, under NO circumstances, was going to give the credit to me.  He's a phony.  He flashes cheesy grins in photos.  He always looks like a toothpaste ad.  He gets into shape to go on vacation.  He likes to be popular.  He likes people to admire him.  He hates to lose.  He'd rather not play the game, if he can't be the best.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Lonely in a Crowded Room

I'm feeling desperately lonely and depressed lately.  I just can't seem to shake it.  I feel at any moment I could burst into tears.  So, I finally allowed myself a nice hot shower today, away from the kids, hoping to just wretch it all out.  But nothing came.  I feel blocked, or numb, or walled up.  I'm trying so hard to figure out what in the hell I'm feeling, but I can't even stumble on what to call it.

It's interfering with my life.  I've been an awful, irritable wife lately.  I'm crabby and bitchy.  One of my fleas, given to me by my mother, is that I can be critical.  For no reason at all.  Just spit out snarky comments, finding negative things to say about my DH.  Most of the time, I've reigned them in, managed to keep them in my head and not spit them out.  But a few have escaped.  And then I feel even more awful.  Because I don't mean any of them.

I'm short with my children.  They can feel my grouchiness and fatigue and stress.  It shows up most with my oldest son.  And he mirrors it back to me with his own grouchiness and short temper.  I wake up with desperate anxiety that they are growing too fast, that I'm missing out on creating memories, that I am being swallowed up by time.  And when I waste precious moments with sadness and temper, I hate myself.

I have told two of my close friends that I am struggling.  One ignored me.  The other sad, oh, that's too bad, hopefully we can get together after the holidays.   My husband tells me that lots of people care for me.  I think they enjoy having me in their corner, playing their cheerleader, being their in a pinch, supporting them, being an armchair therapist and sounding board.  But when I turn around, not one of them is in my corner.  I'm a bucket with a hole in the bottom.  And no fresh water to fill me up.

Another friend stopped by recently.  He talked to me and my husband about how two of our other friends are struggling.  How he hoped we could reach out.  Help push one friend into therapy.  I was a bit amazed.  How he could so easily see these other people's pain, yet as I sat in front of him, he saw nothing.

Few people do.  Maybe I'm just that good at hiding it.  Maybe they don't want to see it.  I think it's a little of both.  

We weren't invited to a friend's Christmas party the other day.  DH had been excited about it, and I think it upset him when I pointed out that we weren't invited.  He (and another friend) were sure that there was a mistake, but as it dawned on him that we were probably left out, I felt he was sad.  Although he's not blaming me, I'm sure that he can't help but wonder what it is that got us left of the guest list.  I can't help but think it's me.  The hostess doesn't care for me too much.  To be honest, I don't care for her much either.  She "offered" up her opinions of me and my MIL's relationship one time, based purely on second hand facts and offered me up an scolding in the end.  Without ever ONCE learning about my side of the story.  Not that I would've told her anyway.  It was none of her business.  Anyway,  I find her constant pushy opinions off putting.  Regardless, they like my DH (and we are all technically family), so I was saddened by it all.  I sometimes feel like an anchor weighing my husband down.

He's a social butterfly.  He loves people and going out and talking to others.  I'm a bit more reserved.  And I know that my recent concentration on expecting others to treat us well has pointed out some huge gaps in our friendships.   I know that sometimes he gets angry at the messenger, instead of the assholes that haven't been real friends this whole time.

I worry that I will fail my kids, not teaching them how to have good friendships.  I worry that they will be lonely too.  That my recent crusade is keeping them from other friends and family and isolating us.

I want so desperately to enjoy this time of year.  My kids are so excited.  I actually completed a lot of my holiday prep.  So, I'm just left to sit around and think.  And it's not been too good for me lately.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Chaps my Ass

Sometimes NM can really just get on my nerves.  It's not because she is hurting me or being a vindictive or vengeful.  It's because she's been so fucking annoying.

I just got a forwarded email from her.  It was clearly sent to me and my sister.  Normally, I delete these forwards.  They are most often those "wisdom for those who have none" quotes or save-your-soul symbolic analogies.  You know, deep thoughts for the not-so-deep narc type things.  Or, during the political season, they were often offensive trash.

So, anyway, against my better judgement I opened it up.  It was a passage from a book describing family Christmas traditions and how this particular family's favorite tradition is handwritten "love letters" to each other that they open on Christmas morning.  Lovely.  How nice for them.  I'm sure that for these people, these thoughtful, hand written expressions of love are meaningful and held dear.

But what the fuck am I suppose to get out of this forward.  What is her subversive little point?  That all she wants for Christmas is some letter of "love" from me.  Some written expression of how much I love her and think she's fabulous.  What a joke.   Let's not even go into the fact that I actually USED to do this.  That I've written many a hand written letter, short stories about and dedicated to her as a child, poems, thoughtful messages in cards.   All seemed to go unnoticed at best and were criticized or minimized at best (you told other people these things about me, she said once when I'd written a more public version professing my admiration of her).  Or maybe the hours I've spent hand making gifts or putting thought and time into constructing gifts with my son for her weren't enough "expressions of love".   I suppose I am clearly a daughter who has missed the point, the "true meaning" of Christmas, who really only needs to express my "true love" for my family at this sacred time.

My other thought is that she is trying to play the "bigger person"  and resolve the differences between me and my sister.  Trying to look like the long suffering mother, pained by the estrangement between her daughters, only wishing they could put down their petty grudges, if only for the holiday season.  This pisses me off on so many fronts.  I mean, lets all pretend that, before this, everything was perfect and we were all happy and close.  Yup, sounds good.  Or how about we allow mommy to be the healer and bring us "back together".  And really why does mommy want us back together?  To relieve some of the stress off mommy?  To give her a "break" from the chaos that is my sister?  To give my sister her cheerleader, rescuer, and coach back?  It sure as hell isn't for my benefit.

The sanctimonious nature of this forward makes my skin crawl.  The presumptions,  looking-down-on-us-sinners attitude, the pitying nature of it all makes me want to wretch.  Thanks for the reminder NM about the true nature of Christmas.  About how I'm suppose to make LOVE the center of it all.  How I'm supposed to be reminded that family is the most important thing.  That expressing our love and caring for each other is important.  This little fucking email has TOTALLY changed me mind, slapped me upside the head with it's obviousness, and allowed my heart to grow three sizes today!!

I suppose this could all be just an email.  Just another one of those wisdom bearing emails NM seems to love.  But I doubt it.  Two months ago, she started in on me about giving ideas for my kids.  We emailed back and forth.  I got an email late last week.  The subject line read "Panic".  For fuck's sake.  Dramatic much?  The panic was because she "all of a sudden" realized she needed to order gifts and didn't know what to get.

Seems 'tis the season to amp up the drama.  And send letters of love.  Geesh.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Know What It's Not

PrePost Update : No news on the NSis front.  I haven't had contact since Thanksgiving.  I texted, in response to a text from her, that I needed some time to collect my thoughts and then would have a discussion with her.  She told me that she "respected that".   So, I'm still working on my letter to her, trying to figure out what the hell I want to say.  And as a side note, NM has been quiet.  Very quiet.  Something's stewing in her brain, but I'm unsure what.

So, I've spent a lot of time researching this narcissism thing.  I know the signs.  I understand what it looks like.  I understand what it feels like to be an ACoN.  I understand what a healthy family is NOT supposed to be.

The thing is, I don't know what the hell it is supposed to look like.  What does a healthy family look like?  What does a healthy sibling relationship look like?  I assumed that it would be the opposite of what I had.   I've found it's not that simple.  I'm sure for some of us, it would be the opposite of what they grew up with.   But for me, it's not like that.   I've come across so many ways that a healthy family and an enmeshed/narco-FOO look the same.  I'm struggling to find the dividing line.

I'm struggling to find what a healthy sibling relationship is supposed to be.  How supportive are you supposed to be?  When do you know it's enough?  When do you think it's too little?  I don't have a lot of good role models.  DH and his brothers had an enmeshed or unilateral relationship.  He says he has always felt like the "adult" in the relationship.   Often, the relationships (including with the SILs and between the SILs) has been managed and directed by my MIL.  She likes to assign rolls...and rules, and regulations, and standards.    I told my on NM, recently in fact, that DH and I often feel like we are adults and our siblings seemed so much younger than us.  People who depend on us, expect us to pay for everything, treat us more like parents or older relatives than like contemporaries.  She became stiff and seemed offended and seemed to imply with her tone that I was being a snob or something.  She said something to the effect that that was ridiculous and that as everyone got older, age didn't matter and you all just relate on an "adult" level.   But not one of our siblings relate to us on an adult level.  I've never felt like we were "equal" (and I don't mean that in a snobby way, just that the relationship seemed out of whack.)  I find it ironic that NM could recognize how adult siblings should act towards each other, but didn't see that it wasn't that way at all.

How do you have a close family without being enmeshed?  I see so many, so many, families around me that seem more enmeshed than close.  DH grew up in a "close" community.  They pride themselves on being "family oriented and dedicated to their community".  But something strikes me about it as off.  Lots and lots of people from that community drink far too much.   Lots of people stay stuck in the community and never leave.  And those that do, get sucked back in.  I know that feeling part of the community is good for a lot of the people, but when does it cross the line of becoming unhealthy?   DH looks around and sees a lot of families just like his.  Weird, a bit crazy, but everyone assumes they are "close".   I see DH's family as having an undercurrent of anger and resentment, just below the surface.  I don't see brothers whom are really close and supportive and there for each other.  I see brothers who take from each other because that's what family does, and expect to be granted whatever they ask for.  Brothers that don't acknowledge each other's birthdays (DH only recently quit, after years and years of his brothers' ignoring his birthday).  I see one sided relationships and entitlement.  I see brothers that show up when it's convenient   Which, sometimes, should be how it is right?  They shouldn't have to jump every time someone else in the family says jump, but they should help out sometimes when another needs it.  I don't know.

I want my boys to be close.  My MIL already started pushing my son and his cousin to being "friends".  Lots of relatives make statements assuming they will be close.  It annoys me.  Let the kids grow their own relationships for fuck's sake.  And I want my boys to develop their own relationship with each other.  But I want to encourage them too.  Encourage them to be nice and kind to each other.  I think siblings make good people to "try out" socializing on.  To practice.  But is that wrong of me?  I think it's good for my older son to sometimes assume responsibility for his baby brother; it's good to learn to care for others.  But I don't want him to think it's his job.   I don't want to excuse his baby brother for things, and lay the "you're older and should know better" business.  But I want to make sure I don't let him skate either.  I love that my younger son always makes sure he gets his brother's water bottle too when he get's his own and takes it out to him.  I like him to be compassionate.  But I don't want either one to always have to be worried or care for each other.  Again, with my niece, my in-laws have stated that it'll be great that my son can protect her from boys when she gets older and "watch out for her".  This pisses me off.  Why should she be his job?  I don't want him getting into trouble over her.  But I do think it's good to stick up for your family at times.  Again, I don't know.  I'm just struggling.

What does a healthy relationship with siblings or parents look like to you?  What kinds of things can I encourage between my sons?  What should I avoid?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving

Damn.  I thought I was going to make it through the day.  And it's been kind of a rough one.  I'm having one of those days.  Not a bad day.  Just a pissy day.  Hormonal day.  Sick and tired of being sick and tired day. Mad at myself because I can't pull my ass out of a funk for my kids day.  Mad because my husband's heading out for three days day.  And he needs a break.  And I shouldn't make him feel guilty for it.  But I'm annoyed.   And sad.  And just pissy.  And I've been short with my kid.  And I've been sad.

No in-law drama.  My parents-in-law are hosting my husband's cousin for the day.  I find the fact that they are hosting my husband's cousin and his wife, who live two states away instead of us ironic.  Sure, we could go if we wanted to.  But inhaling the dog dander for hours on end would be the death of me.  So, I guess that's out.  My BIL and his wife life half a mile away.  He texted that he has cooked a huge feast.  They didn't invite us.  But then why would they?  They have lived in our town for four years and have never invited us to their home for dinner or drinks or anything (except one BBQ with a bunch of other people and one birthday party).  So, I'm not surprised.  I know.  I don't invite them either.  But I'm fucking tired.  I've invited them over.  And over.  And over again.   They come, they eat my food, the let me wait on them.  And then they leave for better plans.  Or they don't show up.  Or they forget to thank me for slaving away.  Or they forget to talk to me.  So, there's that...

Talked to mom and dad.  Same old, same old.  NM was OK.  No drama.  Relatively nice conversation. Dad was grouchy.  Bitched about gifts for Christmas.  "We are all getting to be adults, right?", he says.  Because I guess Christmas is only for kids.  Neither of them brought up my sister.

I was waiting for her.  Waiting for her to do something.  At 4 p.m.  I got a short "Happy thanksgiving." text.  I responded with the same.  She called me.  I didn't answer.  I didn't want to, but I was also in the middle of cooking.   She called my husband.  I didn't even know she had his phone number.  Then she texted "please don't be mad at me."

DH laughed when I told him.  He knew.  I knew.  But damn, I couldn't shake off the sucker punched feeling.  I couldn't stop the tears.  All I can hear is her voice when we were little girls.  Please, Jessie, don't be mad at me.  The same voice she used when she'd figured out she'd pushed me a little too far.  The voice of a little girl who is scared.  A child begging me to not leave her alone.  It killed me.  It is my weakness.  This is the chink in my armor.  That fucking voice.  That little girl, with the big brown eyes.  The sad, sad little girl.

You know, I know, it's not that fucking simple.  This isn't a sibling squabble that will we can just "let go and move on from".  I can't just not be mad at her any more.  To be fair, I'm not mad at her now.  I'm just so god damn tired of this shit.  So FUCKING TIRED OF IT ALL.

I can't even write about this all without tears.  I hurt for her.  I hurt for me.  I know that she misses that "big sister" she "needs".  I am sad I can't be that for her anymore.  I'm sad I can't rescue that little girl.  It's like I can see her.  Big brown eyes, dimpled cheeks, sweet and round and little on an island.  Begging me to not be mad at her anymore.  And I can't do a damned thing about it.  Because she's not a little girl anymore.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Same old, Same old

I texted a couple of time with my sister.  It was an exercise in futility.  She just continued to be passive-aggression and vague, trying to bait me into looking like the bad guy.   I decided that it was useless.

I'm still working on an email for her.  I'm really struggling with it.  I've determined that I will not be laying out all of my boundaries and getting into the meat of the relationship.  I want to state clearly that we can not continue with our relationship as it is.  That I will no longer be drawn into her drama (the ever present, soap opera worthy, murky, nasty drama that consumes her life).  I also want to state clearly that she needs to treat me respectfully.  That means being considerate of my FOC, my obligations to them, speaking to me in ways that aren't attacking and aren't abusive.  That she at least feigns slight interest in my kids, my life, and the fact that I exist and have a life when I'm not on the other end of a phone line helping her with her myriad of self-created problems.

Anyway, I'm still working on it.  I plan on sending it after Thanksgiving.  I do not feel like dealing with her on Thanksgiving.  I'm also interested to see if she will contact me before that.

She has not emailed, texted, or called.  I did however, receive a phone call from her area code at 2 a.m.  My guess is that it was her boyfriend.  He was either calling to tell me she is in a nasty state because of me and wanted me to "fix it" or he was calling me because they were fighting, she was out of control.  I've heard tale that he has done that with my mother.  My mother is out of town, and I'm sure not answering her phone as much as usual.  When NM is out of town, she tends to be less worried and concerned about her daughter's plights (as she should be, but as with most narcs, as soon as she's back and bored and needs some attention, her daughter's plights consume her again).  So, I'm sure boyfriend did the next best thing and called me.  It's ridiculous to me really.  These are two people in their 30s and 40s who have to call their family to solve domestic disputes.  When I heard the phone ring, I got up and immediately turned of the phone.

When I went back to sleep I had a dream that a news reporter was doing a story in the field behind my house.  He told me that they had discovered that the mayor had built concrete containment units behind my home and that he was filling them with toxic materials.  Although the mayor claimed the materials weren't toxic and/or were being contained so they wouldn't leak, it was clear that the toxins were leaching into the soil.  I immediately panicked.  It was clear that my babies had been drinking, bathing, and playing in toxins.  I knew we had to move.  I knew we had to sell our house and get out of there.  I knew that we would take a huge loss on the house (I mean, who wants to buy a house next to toxic sludge) but we had to get out of there.  It doesn't take Freud to explain this dream.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Taking a Moment to Breath

I got a text from my NSis today.  Actually, two.  The first said "I don't understand your blow up at me.  If you want to cut me out of your life, fine, but if you'd like to talk, give me a call, or send me a text or email."  The second text said "Hope you are well."

My stomach dropped and I instantly felt anxious and sick.  I recognized this feeling as one that I feel the majority of the time when dealing with my sister.  I never look forward to her calls and they always feel ominous to me, and have felt this way long before the recent incident.  I also realize that she is very good about setting me on the defensive and making me feel that I need to rush to defend myself and deal with her. Thank God, I spent some time thinking about it, because my thoughts now are so far from my initial gut reaction (that is:  I need to defend myself, she's accusing me, she's feeling cut out, I need to correct this and work through this).

I've become quite the apprentice of my friend Jonsi, and I need to do a little analysis here, in her style.  As Jonsi pointed out, it is amazing that one little text can be so loaded.

"I don't understand your blow up at me."  Let me remind you all of how the "blow up" went down.  I was on the phone trying to get a hold of my father and husband.  While I did see her calls coming through, I was attempting to gather my thoughts before talking to her.  I did not realize that her calls where actually coming through when I hung up after not reaching my father (I called three separate numbers for him) and my husband (twice).  While I was not answering her calls purposely, I was not hanging up on her.  When I finally did answer her call, her first words were "Why are you hanging up on me?"  I don't have to tell you her tone was aggressive and harsh.  When I told her I wasn't (as I tried desperately to catch my thoughts and not feel like an animal backed into a corner) she interruped me "Yes, you were!" As  I tried to remain calm, she again became aggressive.  Everything I said she countered with an aggressive accusation against me.  The last being that I hadn't been there for her the last month.  That she has been having a horrible time and I hadn't been there for her.  She was escalating and as I tried desperately to even talk, I felt steamrolled by her.  That is when I "blew up" and told her I wasn't going to be dealing with her verbal assaults and hung up.  I'm sure it shocked her, as I rarely "blow up" but I can't imagine that she "doesn't understand" why.  I think what she is saying is that I had "no right" to blow up at her.  That I was in trouble and needed to take my punishment from her.

This "blow up" statement also places the responsibility SOLELY on me.  There is not even a hint that she has done anything wrong.  I think she has been angry at me for awhile now, but she had nothing to pin me on, and this has given her the opportunity to "call me out" so to speak.  It also makes her look like the victim.

The second part of "if you want to cut me out of your life" is completely ridiculous.  I haven't cut her out of my life.  I have not returned one phone call from her since this event (in which she didn't leave a message, and I've been sick, and she called at a completely inconvienent time for me).  The last thing I said to her was that I wouldn't talk to her if she was going to be verbally abusive.  At first, I felt badly that she thought I had cut her out of my life.  Not because I felt bad for her, but I guess I felt exposed.  I had never said I didn't want to have contact with her.  And ironically (and I didn't think about this until hours after the text) she cut me off of her FB account.  This was clearly a move to hurt my feelings, as she doesn't use the account at all.  Frankly, neither do I except to share photos with my extended family and to keep up with them.  But it was clear that my unfriending me, she was "opting" out of information about my life.  So, how the hell am I cutting her out of my life?  And she clearly doesn't seem to concerned about that.  "Fine"?  That's all she has to say? And then she lays the responsibility of communication again squarely on my shoulders.

So, what I see, is someone blaming me for the whole fall out, placing responsibility on me for fixing it, painting herself as the "bigger person", completely ignoring the big picture of how this went down, and someone who has made me out to be the transgressor.  I also find it suspicious that this is the most she has contacted me in the past six months.

I am going to respond to this text.  I plan to say to her that "I am sick.  I will email you when I've gathered my thoughts on the manner."  And then I plan to email her.  I'm not sure how much I want to go into things with her.  Frankly, I suspect this is a trap.  I feel that she is not interested in maintaining or fixing our (non-existent) relationship.  I wonder if she is trying to pull me out so that she can vent her anger on me.  I wonder if I should first send out an abbreviated email to feel out the situation.

I do think that it is important to her that I lay down my redefined boundaries to her.   I do think it's time that she knows I will no longer tolerate being dragged into the gutter of her dramas.  She needs to know that I will no longer be there to solely support her and that I expect an equal relationship with her.  She needs to know that I will not allow this chaotic and disturbing behavior around me, my kids, or my husband.  She needs to know that I will not be chained to supporting her whenever and wherever she sees fit.  I will expect a relationship in which she also shows genuine care and concern for me and my family.  She will no longer be allowed to treat my kids and my husband with such little regard.  I will not be her call girl to go to to solve all of her problems.  I expect her to start taking responsibility for her own life.  I want her to know that I do not feel that my being there in the past was helpful to her, and actual was harmful to my mental well being.  I know longer want to live in fear of her phone calls and visits, as I know they will wind up in pure madness, negativity, and attention getting for her.  I truly have no expectations that she will respect my boundaries or be willing to redefine our relationship.  She wants me to go back to being her "second mommy" and I can't do that.  So, I need to say this for my piece of mind.

I need to choose my words carefully, as she is a master of twisting things around.  I am also fully aware that she will share my email with many people, most notably, NM.  So, it is important I protect myself and not lay myself out too much on a limb.  This is not a person whom I've ever had a close relationship with.  She's like a "tamed" Tiger.  I never know when she'll snap and rip my head off.

I had to ask myself today why I want to maintain a relationship at all with her.  To be honest, I'm not really sure.  Part of me feels like, somewhere, is one of the few people that I've felt I can be my "weird" self with.  There is a part of her that knows me better than anyone else except my DH.  She, in the past, has been one of the few people that I can, somewhat, be unguarded with.   I also have felt that cutting her off completely would complicate matters significantly for me, as to how it relates to my FOO and extended family and I'm not ready to deal with that yet.  As I see my sister rarely, maybe once every year and a half, it is possible to keep her at a distance.

So, friends, thoughts?  Ideas?  Word phrasing?  Words of caution?  I'm accepting any and all advice on this. I need to be very careful about what I say and I need your input.  If you feel more comfortable emailing me, that would be great too.  Thanks before hand for and and  all of your help.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Leave a Message at the Beep

My mother has been sending me lengthy, detailed, but confusing messages about my sister.  They are very lengthy.  They contain lots and lots of information, but very few things that I can pin down.  Most of what she has communicated me has been inconsistent with previous statements.  I don't know if she is telling me bullshit, passing on bullshit from my sister, or a combination of both.  I suspect it's a combination of both.  I still have no actual facts or concrete information to help me draw some conclusions about the real nature of sister's medical condition.  Frankly, I've kind of enjoyed being in the dark.

So, on Thursday night, I got a lengthy email detailing a new procedure.  Once again, at the end there was a same tag saying she hoped I was doing OK.  I've actually been quite sick.  Very, very sick.  She knew that.  Normally, I would've been getting texts and calls to check on me and lots of urgings to go to the doctor.  You know, general engulfing behaviors.  But nothing this time.  I didn't respond to the email.

Yesterday in the late afternoon, she called and didn't leave a message.  Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't generally rush to return phone calls to people when they don't leave messages.  My assumption is that, if you don't leave a message you are calling to bullshit.  Or that it wasn't anything.  If you want me to call you back, then leave me a message telling me to do so.  And I will.   But I resent that she assumes that I should call her back just because I see her name on my caller ID.   She has complained before that my aunt didn't call her back after calling her several times over two days.   I asked if she left a message.  She said "NO.  But you would assume someone would call you back after several times of seeing you called."  All about you much?

Last night, (about three hours later), I got an email that said "I tried to call you today.  Is everything OK with you?"  I didn't reply right away.  Later in the night, I replied back that I was sick, not feeling well, and having been resting and sleeping (I only replied to stop her from escalating in phone calls).  I got a message back almost immediately that said she was sorry I was sick, detailed a "crisis" in her life, and then added "hope you feel better at the end".  Oh, and she said she thought it was unusually that the virus was lasting so long. With anyone else, I wouldn't think twice about this.  But projection is NM's middle name.  I've recently suspected that she thinks I lie about things.  Recently I watched her testing out something I said by trying to "catch me" by asking my husband questions.  And I think she thinks I'm lying about being sick.  I kept thinking, why the hell would she think I'm lying?  I'm not a liar.  Why is she acting like I am?  Simple projection.  She thinks I'm lying because she does.  She creates 'excuses' for things to get out of things.  She says she's ill to cover herself.  It pisses me off that she would think I'm fabricating illness just to get out of calling her back.  But I guess it's par for the course with a narcissist.  They naturally assume everyone stoops to the same levels they do.  It's not about her perceptions of me, but her perceptions of reality.

Anyway, I haven't heard from her today.  But I did get a phone call from my sister.  She didn't leave a message.  I don't think I'll call her back either.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Sucker Punched by Bullshit

I had a lot of titles swirling around in my head for this post.  My favorite: Go Fuck Yourself.  Because I'm more than a little pissed off today.  I'm more than a little angry.  And maybe, as many of you pointed out, this might just be the final kick in the ass I needed.

A couple of positive points first.  A big thank you to Quercus Garryanna (which by the way is a bitch to spell ;).  I did look up what it means though . Very fitting!).  She asked me today in an email if this narc stuff gets better.  That little question stopped me for a minute.  It helped pull my head back up beyond the murk.  And I want to thank her for asking me that.  Because, really, I do think it's better.  In years past, a situation like yesterday would've sent me into a death spiral.  I would have been teary and depressed and mopey for days.  I would have been anxiety ridden and panicky.  I would have felt overwhelmed with sadness and guilt and feelings of obligation.  I would have felt an overwhelming urge to call NM and NSis and talk it out for hours (not really helping, but fulfilling their narc supply needs).  I would not have been able to be angry in an appropriate way.  Today, I am angry.  But not in a screaming and yelling and throwing things, unhealthy angry way.  I can be angry and sit with it and feel it and not be scared of it.

I also want to thank all of you for reading and offering your support yesterday.  It is amazing what you all have given me: much needed reality checks, kicks in the pants, validation, and support.  Oh, and a couple of virtual beers at the ULB Bar.  I actually don't drink beer, but I do love a good whiskey.  So, I got a hefty does of virtual whiskey last night.  Thanks.

OK.  I'm angry.  This post is going to be all of the place as I have no real direction and so much has happened to process that I may just have to jump from one place to another.

I'm angry with my father.  It has nothing to do with the situation at hand.  But, in hunting him down to give him the news, I discovered he's on vacation.  For the second week in as many months.   I do not begrudge him a vacation.  But as some of you may remember, he made demands on short notice this summer to visit me.  He demanded one particular week and I learned later that the week he picked had to do with him running away from something he didn't want to do.  And when I told him he needed to pick another week, any other week (and I had already told him that this week was out) he refused to come at all.  He told me at the time that he doesn't like to "plan ahead".  Which I guess is fine.  But I have lots of other things in my life and if you can't try and be reasonable so be it.  BUT, these two particular vacations have been planned out for almost a year.  So, yeah, he doesn't want to plan ahead if it is for me.  So, I'm angry.

I'm angry with my sister.  Aside from the obvious verbal abuse she unleashed on me yesterday and the shame and blame she dumped on me, I'm angry because she is being deceptive.  I do not know exactly how deceptive she is being and about what, but she is being deceptive.  And she is doing it in order to control people.  My father left a voice message last night that NSis is NOT having surgery now.  You read that right (and I'm sure most of you are not shocked by this), but the HUGE FUCKING ISSUE is no longer an issue...for now...but could pop back up.   She still is not being forthcoming, but in the endless stream of emails I've received to NM, what I can pick up is this (and keep in mind, I can not verify and of this, and nor do I necessarily believe any of it):  NSis's doctor called yesterday to tell her that "oops.  There may be other options."  NSis said she panicked when she heard the initial news-that former test results were wrong-and scheduled the surgery because she just wanted to get this over with.  But now there are more options.  And she's going to be meeting with the doctor.  Confused?  Yeah, I would be too, except all I hear is blah, blah, blah, pay attention to me.  And that's all that matters.  Blah, blah, lies, blah, blah, ME!!  I'm angry that NSis won't grow up.  I'm angry that NSis blames everyone but herself.  I'm angry that NSis expects everyone to drop everything to attend to her and her imagination.  I'm angry because she is covering her vagueness and bullshit by saying she's "trying to protect everyone" and doesn't want anyone to worry about her.  She bitches and complains about no support, but she won't let anyone support her.  Aside from her treatment of me, she's been no better with my parents who have actually BEEN trying to be supportive of her.  They've called, sent flowers, sent money, offered to visit.  All of it has been refused or taken and not acknowledged or appreciated.

I'm angry with my mother.  I'm angry that she calls me up and cries on my shoulder like a child.  I'm angry that she gives two shits about the effect that it has on my life.  I'm angry that she has called repeatedly and emailed over and over. I'm angry that in the emails she has said "I'm not making excuses for her BUT" and then goes onto to excuse all of NSis's behavior on hormones and stress and sadness.  I'm angry that she thinks I'm delusional enough to forget that NSis has ALWAYS behaved like this, for years and years and years.  And that this is not new.  I'm angry that my mother created this little clusterfuck, waters it, feeds it, feeds off of it, and then complains about it.  I'm angry that she complains to me about how fucked up it is and then chastises me for agreeing with her.  I'm angry that in most of the emails today and most of the conversations of yesterday, she talked about how much it EFFECTED HER.  She actually said, "it's hard being the mom."  Well, I bet it fucking is.  I'm angry she's used this to unload more of her medical dramas on me.  I'm angry that she's sat around waiting for a moment to zing me to get back at me for not caring enough about her.  I'm angry that twice now she's randomly inserted the phrase "Yeah, your sister says 'Just because I don't have her (Jessie's) fairytale life..." and then trails off.  This comment is inserted in the most moment.  The first time she said it, it caught me off guard (having a conversation with NM is like a game of "Whack a Mole".  Before I can even respond to one statement, she pops up in another area.).  Yesterday, I tried to pin her down on this statement.  I asked her how in the hell that statement was even made.  She said "I know, it is weird."  I said, no, what kind of conversation where you having that the was her response?  And what was the end of that response?  And what did that mean?  I told her I refuse to feel guilty because I have a normal life.  I asked her what was the point of saying that?  NM hemmed and hawed and changed the subject.  I'm guessing that this little statement was more about NM communicating HER feelings towards me than my sister.  Although I'm sure sister feels that way too, that I'm some snob who has disregarded her family, NM feels that way too.  NM is jealous and spiteful and angry that I have continued to lead my life (and gasp! Be happy) despite the "hell" they are going through.  If I'm not in a puddle on the floor, calling and checking on them, I'm a stuck up snobby bitch.

I'm angry that NM has used this opportunity to bomb me with her chaos (I'm currently no longer responding to these stupid emails).  I'm angry that she sends me these emails that detail how my sister's night went, that she got a good night's sleep, that NM had a heart-to-heart with NSis about how NSis is feeling.  Oh, and then she tacks on a "hope you are OK" bullshit line at the bottom.  Gee, thanks for the bone.  I'm angry that I know she CHOOSES to be this way.  She makes chooses to put NSis first, well, herself first, and me last.  I'm the bottom on her fucked up pyramid.  I'm angry that my NM believes all the bullshit she spews.  That she knows the truth.  That she knows NSis is fishy.  But that she covers for her, makes excuses for her, and defends her at every turn.  And she expects me to eat everything she serves up.  I'm angry that she enables NSis at every turn and calls everyone else lousy human beings for not being like her.  I'm angry that she described herself yesterday as above this drama that NSis creates.  That she identified herself as "calm, and collected, and (some other bullshit that implied she was serene and thoughtful)."  Apparently, she forgot she was talking to her daughter.  That I don't need her to label herself for me.  That I would never buy the bullshit labels she's created for herself, and see them only as further proof of her disillusionment.  That she is not cool and collected and peaceful.  That she is spiteful and passive aggressive and quietly bides her time until she can enact revenge by beating you in the back of the head when you aren't looking.  That she is no example of moral high ground and wisdom and serenity that she keeps trying to tell me she is.  She's so desperate to have people admire her for her good character, yet she has none to admire.

I'm going to have to think about all of this for awhile.


Post Update;  I just noticed my sister deleted me from her friends on FB.  I guess that speaks loud and clear to me.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Shaken but not Stirred

I'm shaking and crying and upset as I write this.  Fucking narcs.

My NM called today.  I let it go to voice mail.  I waited to listen to it.  I assumed she was calling to see how I was feeling.  Nope.  Her voice was shaky and it was clear something was wrong.  So, I called her back.

Her story was that my sister had called.  Her boyfriend was moving out.  There was drama and chaos on the phone.  And then NSis comes out with the fact that the follow up test for her cancer were wrong.  The lab had called and they had "made a mistake".  And she was going to have surgery to remove her uterus on Thursday.   Apparently,  the boyfriend just found out about this today too.  Hard not to miss that coincidence.  NM was heading home to make airline reservations, but Nsis was refusing to have her come out.  NSis said that if NM came our for the surgery she wouldn't answer the phone.  NM is destraught and crying.  She says that NSis is trying to protect everyone and do things on her own and didn't want to burden anyone.  But NM doesn't think NSis should do this on her own.  Nm says she's having her own health problems.  I ask "like what".  NM says, oh, well, like my blood pressure (this has been an issue of months now).  And her doctor put her on an antidepressant and she was at the hospital with an anxiety attack.  And she dissolves into tears again.  I believe NM's emotion.  I do think she's upset.  But it's all weirdly placed emotion.  NM asks me if I think she should call my dad.  Funny, because she's never asked my permission before.  NM becomes confusing to talk to and I offer to call my dad (who also hasn't spoken to my sister as she's been verbally assaulting him lately).   NM initially refuses but then thanks me for being willing to call him as she gets off the phone.

So, I try to call my dad at three locations.  And I try to call my husband.  And NSis is trying to call.  I haven't been able to formulate my full reply to her text from yesterday (see two posts back.)  I take a few minutes to gather myself.  I take a few minutes to bide some time.  I answer the next time she calls.  And she lets loose on me.  She snaps immediately asking why I'm hanging up on her (I really thought I had her on the other line. I didn't know that I was hanging up on her when I disconnected from my calls).  I tell her I wasn't and try to discuss it with her.  She yells at me for not responding to her text yesterday.  I tell her I haven't been able to. She interrupts and assaults me for not "calling her back" for the past two months.  I try desperately to remain calm.  I explain I did try to reach her but that she responded with vague statements.  I say that I understand she's having a hard time.  She launches into a tyraid about her recent problems and how I've not been there at all for her.  I tell her I will not allow her to verbally assault me like she's been doing to my dad.  "LIKE DAD, huh?"  She snarls.  Oops.  I should've stopped at verbal assault.  She screams at me some more.  I again tell her I will not listen to her assault me, but that I understand she's having a hard time.  She screams at me again for not being there.  And I lost my shit.  I scream back that she's never once been fucking there for me.  Not once.  "OH YEAH!  I'VE NEVER BEEN THERE!"  And I hang up the phone.

I felt sucker punched.  I was shaking so badly I couldn't stand up.  I sobbed uncontrollably.  And I sat in the feeling for a moment.  No one should make me feel like that.  And I decided I was done.

I called my husband and told him the story and calmed myself down.   Then, I called my mother and told her that I am uninterested in further communication from my sister until she gets some help.  I explained what had happened and that I would not be involved with some one like that.  That I can take stress, that I can support people, that I'm not running from anything, but that I will not allow someone to abuse me like that anymore.   I explained that the actions of my sister in the past few months have been childish, unstable, and inconsistent   That  I can not piece together the truth from what she's said.  That she has been sneaky, deceptive, and inconsistent with my parent's too, which leads me to question the truth of what's going on.  That I will no longer play these games with her.  NM seems relieved.  She seems calmed by this.  WTF?  She agrees with me.  She says she understands.  She says that she wouldn't want to deal with it either.  That NSis has been calling and assaulting her (I might add that NM told me in the first conversation that NSis had contacted my grandmother and had an "emotional" conversation.  Huh.)  She tells me that I've done nothing wrong in the situation.  She has an appointment (this is actually legit) and has to go.

During my time on the phone, Nsis called me back four more times.  I got two voice mails.  I told DH that I will not be listening to them, and that he'll have to erase them for me.  He suggested that I text her back that when she wants to have an adult conversation with me that I'll listen.  But I don't fucking think so.  You can't have an adult conversation with the mentally deranged.

Gifting narc supply

The holiday season is upon us.  There are so many things to "look forward" to in that respect.  Not only do we have all the stresses and challenges of "normal" people, but our FOO love to ramp up the chaos at this time too.  I've been wanting to write this post for a long time now.  I'm not exactly sure why, except maybe to get it off my chest.  Something to look at and see the patterns.  Reminders of what the hell I'm trying to get away from.

My NM makes gift giving a chore for ME.  She requires that I provide her with lists.  Registries if you will.  I am expected to provide a long list of choices ranging in style and price for all the members of my family.   She wants to "shop" from the list.  Often times, the choices I've supplied for my kids are "not special enough".  She wants for her gifts to be the best and most enjoyed gifts my kids get.  She over does it and over spends.  And even when I do provide the list, she often picks out something on her own anyway.   I hate providing the list.  Not that I mind supplying ideas.  But she requires a ton of choices.  I've told her that my kids only really want two or three things and by supplying a long list, I'm almost guaranteeing that they won't get what they really want.  Most of the ideas are extraneous stuff I've thought up to round out the list.  She also won't supply me with a price range.  "Just give me stuff in all price ranges and I'll choose what I want!" She laughs, as if I'm making it all too difficult for my own good.  She also wants an exclusive list.  She wants a list that I don't provide to my in-laws, my father, or my kids' aunts and uncles.  It is so exhausting and trying.  I finally told her recently that I would provide one list for everyone.  This annoys her.  She wants to be the one to get the gifts my kids love the most, wants to be original, wants to make it a big deal.  She just doesn't want to do any of the work.  She often tries to out do me and my husband (or worse, Santa).  Then, we are expected to have huge reactions.  And tell her how thankful we are over and over and over.  And my kids are expected to LOVE the toys, and only those toys forever.

My NSis, when she does gifts, is just as annoying.  She also demands ideas.  Then she calls me up while she's shopping and spends hours of my time discussing what she's looking at at the store.  I mean, it is for my kids after all, so I'm expected to put in my time too.  She also calls me panicked about other people's gifts.  She stresses, she debates, she talks to sales clerks, all while I'm on the phone with her.  She is a last minute gift buyer and she visits her stress onto me when she has to rush to the post office.  And when she has to pay extra fees.  And then, during the month of January, she complains and complains about how broke she is.  How much money she didn't have to spend...on me.  I've tried to desperately to get her to not buy me anything.  Fortunately, last year, she finally listened.  I did still get the phone call as she AGONIZED over what to get her boyfriend (whom she could afford expensive gifts for, just not for her family).  I could've cared less.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I don't expect gifts.  In fact, it wouldn't bother me at all to not get a gift.  It's just the blatant disregard for my feelings.  How she makes it my problem.  All of my FOO complains endlessly about getting me and my family gifts.  What a pain it is.  How much money it costs.  Blah, blah.   I don't want gifts that cause people such strife.

My MIL really takes the cake with gift giving though.  Now, I'm going to point out.  Most of these gifts are not horrible by themselves.  I'm sure in the right context with the right person, the gifts she gives me would be appropriate and appreciated.  I guess, for me, most of these gifts feel like bribes and manipulations.  It's all for show.  Even the way she gives the gifts becomes about attention and competition.  I love to gift wrap.  I like a nice glass of wine, a holiday movie, and a quiet room to wrap in.  I'm careful and, one thing that NM did teach me, wrap the packages well.  I love to embellish them or come up with creative ways to wrap them.  I do it because I like to.  I do it because I like giving someone a pretty gift.  I don't do it to get attention.  MIL used to make TONS of comments about how well I wrapped gifts, how she bragged to her friends about how her DIL (notice it's still about her) wraps the best gifts.  She is a horrible gift wrapper.  They always looked like a man with all thumbs taped it together (not be judgmental  just to give you a mental image.  I don't really care what the gifts look like that are for me).  Anyway, pretty soon, she started making her gifts wrapped to me be more and more ornate and carefully wrapped.  I could tell she spent a lot of time wrapping them.  Maybe I should've found it to be an endearing gesture.  But I didn't.  I found it to be weird. Competitive.  Like somehow, she thought it would impress me.   For about two years, I made beautiful gift baskets for people.  I painstakingly picked out things I thought would go together.  I wrapped them carefully.  I made them for weddings, birthdays, Christmas.  So, guess who started putting baskets together?  You got it, NMIL.  It's completely her MO to copy whatever I'm doing (that makes me feel like a school girl to write, but it feels like school girl behavior.  And it makes me feel like she's trying to copy my identity   To morph into everything I am.  There is nothing I have or do that she doesn't try to emulate too.)

MIL also asks for ideas for my kids.   She uses gifts as bribes for my kids.  She's flat told me she does and she was proud of it!  She loves to tell my son she has a gift for him, but then not give it to him until we leave.  I spend most visits fielding his questions as to where it is while she keeps his attention on her.   These gifts are never particularly thoughtful, just something to fill a space.  When my son turned 1, she asked for ideas for his birthday.  I proved the idea for her.  She and FIL spent the first hour of the party putting the damn thing together (in another room from the party while we waited).  She then pranced it out and proceeding to brag about what a wonderful gift she had bought.  It's bad enough to brag about your gift, it's even worse to brag about something that wasn't even your idea.

MIL's gifts to me have never been about a desire to gift me with something she thinks I would like.  They are about serving her agenda, about making her look good, or about getting something she wants in return.  For example:

MIL likes to get "pat" gifts.  Meaning she picks a particular thing and then each year you get the same thing just a different version.  Right now, it's cook books.  Every year I get a cookbook.  For several years, it was the little Christmas houses.  She wanted me to collect them like she does.  She kept telling me to decide which collection I wanted.  I told her over and over I didn't want them, I didn't have room, on and on.  It feel on deaf ears.  One year she bough me four to start with.  And then she bought one each year.  Not even ones that I particularly liked or that would relate to me.  Just houses she found on the discontinued list.  I know I threw a wrench in her plans when I started requesting particular ones.  And then, when DH told her to stop, we had too many, that really messed up her holidays.

She once bought me a book about how to be a good Christian wife.  I am a feminist and while spiritual, not particularly devout Christian.  I was newly married at this Christmas.  I should've tossed it in the trash, but I was trying to be a good DIL.  The book was so offensive, so anti-woman, so from the 1950s I almost laughed.  I couldn't get past the first few chapters.  I asked her if she had read the book.  No, she hadn't.  I wondered why the hell she would give me a book she knew nothing about?  I wondered where my husband's copy of "how to be a good husband" was?  I wondered why she thought I needed to be a good Christian wife?  I wondered why the hell she felt I needed a book about how to be a good wife at all?

She used to get me a stocking filled with deodorant,  mouthwash, and generic toothbrushes.  While these might be good gifts for a broke college kid, they reeked to me of laziness.  They were all generic and travel size.  Just filler for the sake of filler.  DH said she used to buy this stuff for him as a kid at Christmas all the time.  I thought, what kind of parent fills their kids' stockings with shit they should be providing their kids anyway?  DH and I also got a crow bar once (stuffed into one of her "pretty baskets") that they had found on the clearance table.  When I laughed, FIL snapped that "everybody needs a crow bar."

Back when my BILs' used to buy me gifts, it was clear that she was behind all of them.   It made me feel so cared for that they all just had mommy do their shopping for them.  One year I got 4 bottles of the same lotion.  I could've taken baths in the shit.  One year i got a hat and scarf set; except one brother gave me the scarf and MIL gave me the hat.  It was emblazoned with a beer logo for a brand that I don't drink but DH does.  One year a BIL gave me a Christmas ornament that I suspect MIL just re-gifted.   It was such an odd ornament to give a 20 year old girl (it was a ceramic old lady's purse) that I couldn't imagine why they would select it for me.

MIL had me try a glass of wine from a winery she liked.  Apparently saying that I liked the wine to her, meant that the winery was now my favorite winery of all time.  When you go to wineries, you often get a cheap, complimentary glass with your tasting fee.  MIL gave me one of these cheap glasses and gave the other to my SIL, because I "loved" that winery so much.   At least I fair somewhat better than SIL;  MIL just duplicates whatever she gets for me and gives it to SIL.  If there is any way to give even less thought to a gift than she gives me, it's to give gifts to someone that you picked out for someone else.

Once, when DH and I were broke and first married, she bought us a stereo receiver.  I still don't know what the hell it did, but I do know that we were expected to buy the speakers that went with it ourselves (for $200).

When I got married, MIL bought me a pair of "sexy" (read: somewhat trashy) underwear to wear (on my wedding night?).  She ended up giving all her DILs a pair of underwear at their bridal showers, but since I didn't have a bridal shower, she just gave them to me right before my wedding.  I was so grossed out.  I mean, nothing makes a girl feel sexier than wearing the underwear MIL picked out for you.  And the thing is, I don't think she really picked them out for me. I think she picked them our for DH...because she wanted a grandkid so badly (she was on my ass constantly).  It grossed me out.  She also bought me an old lady night gown just like her's.  Because she didn't "felt badly" for me because of what I chose to wear to bed.  I wore a t-shirt to bed because that's what I liked, not slinky, silky nighty with embroidered flowers on it.

She often picked out gifts that she actually wanted, but couldn't bring herself to buy for herself.   One time it was a carved (expensive) decorative bird that she'd seen at some art show.  I told her repeatedly that I didn't want them.  I knew she would expect me to display them (she had even told me where I should display them).  Another time it was an antique pair of Victorian lamps.  She had asked me what style I was going to decorate my new home.  One look around my house at the time would've told her that I was not into brass, and Victorian, and antique.  But she is.  And she told me how much she loved the lamps.  How they'd be perfect at my bedside.  And, uncomfortably, she offered them to me in front of my SIL, who couldn't help but look hurt.  By this point in my marriage, I was getting better at speaking up for myself.  I told her no.

MIL loves to give gifts that she gets something out of.  Once, when we asked for a gift certificate to a hotel DH and I liked, she gave us a gift certificate to another place.  Because we "go to the other place all the time" and because she wanted us to check out her new place and tell her if it was worth going to.

She used to give DH one ticket of a pair of season tickets to a sports team every year for his birthday (another pat gift).   She and FIL also had tickets right next to his.  I was required to pay for the other ticket.  I never understood why.  Why not just give us the pair for Christmas?  Why not give it to me for my birthday?  I suspect that she didn't want to upset her other sons by gifting the ticket to me.  Or that she didn't want to pay that much money for my gift.   But really, who else was going to go with DH?  It felt like she forced me to pay for that ticket...or half of a gift she gave to him.   And a gift that she got benefit out of because we spent 7 weekends with her.

It wasn't uncommon for her to give a gift that required that we chip in.  She told me for years that she wanted to go on a cruise with all her kids.  This sounded like hell to me.  Not only did I not want to spend my very few vacation days (I used to want to spend them seeing my FOO, whom I rarely got to see) on a trip that I didn't select, I didn't want to go with the in-laws.  The thought of being trapped together and being forced to do everything together (rarely did anyone ever do anything without each other) with a loud, argumentative family made my toes curl.   Well, one Christmas she announced to the whole family that she would be buying us a cruise the following January and to schedule the time off.  She said she would be paying for the cruise, but we would have to pay for our airfare and our travel money.  Maybe this would be a nice offer for some families.  Like if they all got to discuss it and decide on it together.  But I felt ambushed.  Everyone else was SO excited (although none of them had the means to pay for anything.)  DH and I were saving for our first home (among other things).  We did not have the extra $1000 it would've cost for airfare (and if I did, I wouldn't have wanted to spend it that way).  I told her that we didn't have the money for airfare.  She snapped that it could be DH and I's Christmas gift to each other.  I explained that DH and I don't spend $500 on each other for Christmas.  She snapped then we could drive.  It is a two day drive from our home to the cruise line's port.  We would've had to pay for gas, parking fees, and a hotel for two nights.  That didn't seem any cheaper.  I was appalled that someone would spring a "gift" on me, expect to pay for half of it, and decide what my gift to my husband would be.  And in the end, SHE would be the one benefiting from her "family" vacation.  Thank god, it fell through.


Monday, November 5, 2012

What the hell does she want?

NSis just texted me.  I had a feeling this was coming.  I noticed she's been baiting me on FB lately after deleting her account.  Posting things to let me know that she's back on FB.  I've been ignoring her.

Well, she just texted "I haven't heard from you in awhile.  Are you mad at me?"  What the hell?  Um, no?  What does she expect me to say?  After all this crap and drama lately, you're going to put the responsibility on me for NC?  I really have no clue how to respond.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bad Days

I'm having a bad day.  I'm not sure exactly why.  I know I'm depressed and sad and teary.  I'm tired and overwhelmed.  I feel like I have a lot to do but no energy or desire to do anything.  I'm irritable and cranky.   I'm being extra hard on myself today.  I'm questioning everything from my mothering to my goals in life to what the hell the point of any of it is.

Yesterday, a friend (I'll call friend EP) had texted DH a few weeks ago asking our plans for Trick or Treating.  Last year, we had plans for BIL and EP and their kids to come to our home and TorT.  Both BIL and EP had asked if they could come over, we hadn't invited them.  But we were happy to have them and their kids over.  Since I had a small infant at the time, we had told BIL and EP that we planned to go out early and while still daylight.  This plan had been in place for a week.  A few days before hand, BIL called twice to see if "things were still on".  I found this suspect, as he usually doesn't double check plans, but didn't think much of it.   On Halloween, DH came home to tell me that no one was coming.   Apparently,  EP and BIL had called each other earlier in the day, discussed how they didn't think the time I'd set to leave would work for them, and made plans with each other at EP's house.  They THEN called DH to cancel on us.   I wouldn't have cared if they had cancelled.  I understood it was difficult for them.  What bothered me is that no one said a thing for a week (both later claimed that they had not spoken to their wives and their wives put the ax on things.) and then the called each other and made alternative plans with each other, before the blew us off two hours before we were supposed to meet up.  I felt it was all suspect.  I fired off two texts to BIL and EP about how I thought it all seemed like b.s. and convoluted.  BIL (surprise) ignored me.  EP and I exchanged heated texts about the incident.  He claimed it wasn't intentional, apologized, and moved on.  Although, I was angry, I felt that I'd at least gotten to speak my piece.

I was surprised this year when EP called to ask what our plans were for TorT.  Of course, (and especially given our recent silent treatment status), BIL didn't ask about our plans at all.  But EP was coming.  DH explained that we are die-hard TorT people.  We'd go out early and be out late, but they were welcome to come if it worked for them.  EP said he'd be there as long as his work schedule didn't change.  By mid-afternoon, DH hadn't heard from EP and was going to call him.  I convinced him not to.  I told him that EP needed to be responsible for communicating with us.  It is not our job to call and double check everything with them (and everyone) all the time.  I want to let other people do some of the work in the relationship.  So, the appointed time came and went.  No friend.  No phone call.  Still no phone call today.  He just completely blew us off.

And today I'm a bit pissed off.  After the huge fiasco last year, I would've thought he'd been more respectful.  It just all seems like such bullshit.

I struggle with friendships.  I don't trust anyone really.   I have lots of friends but I often feel like the relationships are one way streets.  I have friends (and family) who love for me to host parties.  They love to invite themselves to my home.  I can't tell you when the last time someone invited me and my family to something.  I can't tell you the last time someone hosted me in their home.  I get lots of "I miss you!  We should make plans!!" but they don't ever call to make plans.  They always seem to put the responsibility on me.

DH has been pressuring me to go out with girlfriends.  I get the impression that he thinks that if I went out with a couple of friends that I would "feel better".    He likes to have a lot of friends.  He has a lot of friends.  He seems not to get that, yes, I need time for myself, but it doesn't always have to be with friends or at a "girls' night" in order to feel better.

And the truth is that I don't really know how to be friends with girls.  DH also has some fucked up distortion that I was a loner and an outcast as a kid.  That wasn't true.  I actually had a lot of friends.  I had a few close friends.  I tended to feel responsible to spend time with my family, to always be with my family, so I probably didn't hang out with others as much as I could've.  But I always had friends.  I made (and still make) friends easily.  I just don't know how to sustain any sort of relationship.  I was screwed over A LOT by my "friends" in the past.  I found women to be gossipy and catty and two-faced (and I realize not all women are, but the ones I found were.)  And then others just wanted too much of me.  Too much phone time, too much neediness, too much of me.   I always seemed to find friends who made me feel demanded of my time.  Or else it was all one sided.

I'll admit, I'm lonely at times.  I spend all day with my young children, deprived of adult conversations.  I wish I could just let go and have fun and talk with people.  But I feel like every time I  give someone the benefit of the doubt, they shit on me.  I feel like I'll be overwhelmed with demands and expectations.  I feel like they will take more than I can give.  I don't think I can be a good friend back.   And I sometimes feel so overwhelmed with my home and my kids and my crap that  I can't commit any more of myself to a friendship.  I really don't have anything else to give.  I barely have enough for myself at times.  It's a really unfortunate paradox for me.

Emotional Puberty

When my parents got divorced, I was 14.  I used to think that I got stuck developmentally at 14, because of my parents divorce.  That at 14, I was thrust into being an adult and I never got that chance to discover who I really was.  At a time when I was supposed to try out being a grown up, while still having the safety net of family to fall back on, I was unceremoniously tossed on the high wire without any net.  My childhood was over.  I didn't get to have a rebellion.  I didn't get to try on new identities.  I didn't get to figure myself out.  I just got to be an adult.  I think, now, that I would've gotten stuck in this stage regardless of if my parents divorced. I think I that the outcome would have been the same for me.  Because I didn't get stuck there due to the divorce, I got stuck there because of my parents.

I believe I always was expected to behave older than my age.  To be mature and responsible.  I was never allowed to be childish or immature.  These things were punished greatly.  I was rarely able to just be a kid, in the sense that my parents accepted my behavior as just typical childhood development.  And when my parents divorced, I was thrust into a world full of adult things I couldn't understand and were never explained to me.  It was chaotic and dramatic and scary.  No one stopped to make sure I was OK or understood or knew that anyone was there for me.  I grew up quickly.  I became an adult.  I took care of myself a lot (even more than before).  I knew I didn't have anyone to fall back on.  I became even more responsible than I had been.  Super responsible, that was me.  I didn't depend on my family at all and I was given minimal help through my teens and early adulthood.   I looked the part of perfect, responsible adult.

But, somehow I was arrested emotionally.  I ticked all the boxes of being an adult (thanks Kara, for that phrase) but I didn't feel like an adult.  I felt like a little girl.  I had a friend who always complimented me, told me that she was impressed with me, my style, my home and implied I had such a great sense of self.  I knew she had to be delusional.  When I looked at her, she always seemed like a grown up.  She was always put together, stylish, dressed like a grown woman.  If I even tried to dress like that, I felt like an impostor.  A little girl in her mother's fancy necklaces and boots.  Even after I got married, had my own children, owned my own home, started a career, had been out of my parents home for over a decade, I still felt like a girl.  And I'm not talking "child at heart", loving life in a child-like way feelings.  I felt insecure and unsure about myself.  I lacked any ideas of who I was or what I wanted to be.  I lacked any self identity.  I didn't know how to gauge my own feelings.  I felt like a ping pong ball emotionally, bouncing in reactivity to everything in my life.  I felt out of control and helpless.

I have felt recently like I've gone through emotional puberty.  I feel like I've suddenly found a safe place within myself to grow up.  I can't really explain where it is all coming from, but I suddenly feel more grown up and in control of myself than I ever have.   I noticed I have a new understanding with myself that it's OK to just be me, and if they don't like me that's fine.  Not everyone has to like me.  This has to be coming from all of this work I've done lately.  And I have to say I really like it.  I like been accountable to myself and myself only.

 I still have lots of work to do.  But I think even that is a big step.  To be able to look at myself and see what I need to work on.  I need to quit thinking I can fix everything or help everyone.  I have to quit thinking that everyone has to like what I do.  I have to quit feeling responsible for other's feelings.  I have to quit worrying so much about what everyone thinks of me.  I need to allow myself to let my emotions settle before I fully respond to things.  I need to continue to learn about myself, identify "me", and decide who I want to be in this world.  I need to not be so hard on myself.  I need to accept myself for who I am.


And on a side note, one of the reasons I was most angry with my mother related to this.  When she divorced my father, she was very busy with her own life.  I took on responsibilities beyond my years, took care of myself, picked myself off and dusted myself off.   When the "newness" of her new family wore off, she came back to me (several years later) and expected me to revert back to the child she had abandoned.  She wanted to come back in and play the role of engulfing mother.  She wanted me to be helpless and need her and look up to her.  She wanted me to revert to a younger age.  I can not tell you how angry this made me.  Not only was she unwilling to acknowledge that I'd changed, grown up, and moved on, but she wanted to erase it all for her own selfish needs.  She wanted to play the good ole narc-forget game and go back in time.  She wanted me (and still wants me) to remain a child forever.  A needy, helpless child who needs mommy to guide and protect me.  She still does this with my sister.  I see my in-laws doing it with my sibling-in-laws.  They all want to remain the savior to their children forever.  And consequently they have not grown up at all. As I've reached this new stage in my development, it makes me sad for my siblings that they will remain in this creepy frozen state forever.  Frankly,  I think NM is stuck as a child too.