Releasing the past in order to find myself

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

So, How Did it Go?

First, and foremost, I want to thank all my blogger friends for reaching out, offering support, extending comfort, and checking in.  I have no doubt that this support helped me maintain my strength and boundaries through the weekend of narcs.   I also want to apologize for the next post, as it may not be as coherent and linear as I would like.  In fact, most of my posts are a bit rambling (and I often shudder at the grammar and spelling errors I see when I reread them).  But, I like to write from the heart and not over-think them too much.  And I've committed myself to not worrying about perfection and presentation, but rather just content and honesty.  So, sorry if any of that has made my posts difficult to understand.

NSis never showed for the party.  I never believed she would.  She lives quite a distance away, has no "vacation" time, and if she doesn't work, she doesn't get payed.  So, I knew that the suggestion that NSis was coming was purely an attempt by NM to stir up drama and put focus back on my NSis.  To highlight who "really" needed the family attention at the moment.  And it was clear she felt that that person was not my young child.  Regardless, one less narc to worry about.

NM was relatively well behaved.  She didn't start out the weekend with her usual "I'll show up whenever the hell I feel like it" attitude, and actually let me know their expected arrival time.  She is ALWAYS texting me when I go to her home and demands hourly check ins so she can see where we are.  I never minded giving her a time we would arrive.  But I didn't like tracked.  But when she was coming here, she would refuse to answer my texts and wouldn't tell me at all when she was coming.  Or she would grossly over estimate, and show up three hours earlier.  Anyway, she was considerate this time.

She only brought up my sister once.  Well, OK, not only once.  She slipped in little comments here and there.   She took a video of my kids and sent it to NSis's phone.  She said I should send NSis a copy of a photo I took.  She always likes to proclaim how important my kids are to NSis.  How much NSis likes them.  Really?  Could've fooled me.  But I can see this triangulation for what it is now.  Anyway, the one time she brought up NSis and her cancer, it went like this:

NM:  I talked to your NSis today on the way down.
Me:  Oh.
NM:  She said to tell you "hi".  (Translation:  guilt, guilt, and more guilt.  See, NSis is thinking about you.  See she cares about you.  She said to say HI!  Isn't she wonderful?!)
Me:  Oh?
NM:  She really would like you to call her.  (Translation:  you are being a huge, selfish bitch by not calling.  You really need to be the "bigger person"-a NM favorite phrase.  She needs you.  You are not performing your duties)
Me:   Oh.  Well, you had told me that she didn't want to talk to family members about it and she hadn't called Dad and...
NM: (interrupting me)  Yes, but she REALLY wants you to call.  (Forget what I told you before.  She's waiting for your call.  You need to reach out to her.  You need call.  You haven't taken her bait, so I'll repeat what your obligation is to your sister.)
Me:  Well, she can always call me...
NM:  (interrupting again) Well, it's really between you two.  I don't want to be in the middle of it.

At this point, NM scampered away as I tried to continue the conversation.  She had said her piece.  She, of course, wanted to be in the middle of it.  That's why she brought it up.  She wanted to be in the middle of it, but not have me say anything.  She was all on NSis's side and blaming me as usual.  And when I tried to explain my boundaries, she ran away.  It was probably for the best.  I don't owe her an explanation for what I do.  It did make me sad, momentarily, that with my close relative's death and my son's birthday and everything else, that all she can see is what is important for NSis.  Same old, same old I guess.

NM didn't say another word about it.  She did make some sly comments about how her "anxiety" was finally wavering.  She tried to get Estepdad to agree with how "strong" she is.  She pushed and pushed the issue with him until he finally told her "I'm not playing your little games".  Yay, step dad!  I almost wonder if he hadn't felt a little encouraged himself.  He and I and DH had refused to play her games all weekend.  I didn't rise to her bait.  I didn't argue.  I didn't turn negative.  When she brought up the same old stories over and over, I listened, nodded, and changed the subject.  When she threw out that we cater to stepdad, but not her, I politely disagreed.  In a way that she couldn't argue back with.   I was so proud of my strength.  I was so proud that I didn't let her under my skin.  It actually was a relatively pleasant visit.  It gave me hope.  Not hope that she will change, or we will have a relationship.  Just hope that I can do this and she won't run my life anymore.

She did try a couple things with my son, which pissed me off.  She always brings gifts for when she arrives.   When DS asked if she had gifts for the party, she said "Nope.  You opened them.  You wanted to open them, so now your done.  That's all there is."  She sat there watching him squirm.  Watching his discomfort as he tried to figure out if she was kidding or not.  And if she had been kidding, she sure didn't let on.  She was as cold as ice.  Of course, she thinks she's funny.  I did not.  I immediately jumped in.  Assured my son that grandma had gifts for the next day.  That she shouldn't tease him like that.  Other than this incidence, she behaved herself with him.

The party was a whole other story.  I had been so busy preparing for the narc attack from the front, I was not prepared for the narc attack from the rear.  BIL and SIL are selfish people.  Spoiled brats who always run on their own schedule and own time.  They use my in-laws as their personal nanny.  They require constant help with their children and act very put out when they are totally responsible.  They are entitled and childish.  So, when my in-laws should up with the kids, instead of BIL and SIL, I wasn't surprised.  It upset me that my son's aunt and uncle blew off the party, but I wasn't surprised.   NMIL bounced up with the kids, saying that BSIL (for short) had shopping to do for a big vacation they are taking without their kids.  She said they'd show up later.  So, as everyone sat around watching me set up the party, the littlest kid started getting into things he shouldn't.  I removed him, twice.  I sat down to feed my kids.  The other parents and my in-laws dropped off two more kids with me to eat.  So, here I am, hosting a party and feeding four toddlers.    Awesome.  No one could get the littlest to eat and the all assumed someone else was doing it (BSIL), so he kept getting into food I'd stashed under the table.  I removed him, again.   SIL jumps up to the littlest kid and says "oh!  it's OK, it's OK".  You'd thought I beat the kid instead of kindly removing him from the stash of goodies.  This was my first inkling that something was wrong with her.  While she's never the most pleasant person, she's usually friendly enough.   Neither she nor BIL acknowledged me at all.  The whole party.  They never said hello or anything else for that matter.  Their kids kept disappearing.  I didn't feel it was my responsibility to look all over for the park for them, so I just going with my schedule (I wanted the three remaining kids to be able to go and play, so I was trying to get the food/cake/presents done).   SIL kept reappearing and disappearing.  You could see her coming, causing a HUGE dramatic scene without saying a word (it really was impressive to watch how much attention she could command just by stomping around...that is, if it wasn't at my kids party.)  BIL disappeared before the cake and never showed back up. And this guy's usually Mr. Life-of-the-Party.  It was all so strange.  Finally, SIL stomps up to my son as they are playing, and coldly says Happy Birthday, thanks for the invite, and that she's leaving.  Neither one of them said a damn word of good-bye to me or DH (this is DH's brother-his "closest" brother).

The whole thing infuriated me.  I was appalled at their childishness.  I was irate that they would distract so much from their nephew's party.  I was appalled that they couldn't put aside whatever the hell was up their asses, in order to celebrate DS.  I was confused.  Had I done something?  Was SIL mad that I had disciplined her kid?  I didn't feel I'd done anything wrong.  Someone had to do it.  I was kind to the child.  I have a right to ask him to not get into my things.  Was SIL mad at DH?  She was very rude when DH said hello.  She has some issue with him but will not talk about it with him.  Sometimes she's nice to him, sometimes she's hostile.  You never know what you're going to get.  DH has confronted her before.  She always claims to not know what he is talking about.  How convenient.  Why had BIL been such an ass?

We continued on with the party.  Towards the end, I started cleaning up.  I cleaned up the ENTIRE party by myself.  Three adults sat around and watched as I packed up, made a million trips to the car packed a block away, and loaded it all myself.  The literally sat on their asses and watched.  Only my step father helped me carry the heaviest stuff (DH was with my kids).   I was annoyed, but NMIL pushed me into pissed off.  She had sat watching me.  When there was one small box left, she came up and offered to help.  I look around at the empty grass.  I told her that I'd finished.  She said "But Oh!  I'd like to help!  What can I do?!"  WTF lady?  Are you blind?  You sat two feet from me.  Watched me haul it all out.  And THEN offer to help.  And I guess you could chalk it up to be inattentive (I don't, but I guess you could).  Or her being exhausted by the relatives illness and death.  But here's the thing:  she did the exact same thing to me at my other child's party three months ago.  She sat around and watched me set it all up.  She watched me clean it all up.  She then asked to help.  And when I told her it was done (look around lady, do you see any food?  or tables? or garbage?  What the hell do you want to help with?)  she kept insisting she wanted to help.  She must think I'm a fool.  Well, someone's a fool, and it sure the hell isn't me.

And a little more about NMIL's behavior at the party. She never offered to help me set up either.  Instead, as I'm laying out food, she makes a huge deal about some dog poop and needing to pick it up.  Asking me for a napkin and then grabbing at my things.   She made a big deal about not being able to find the garbage (it was two feet away).  She made it sound like she was inconvienced by the lack of garbage.  She covered for SIL and BIL, making excuses (I call it lying) for them.  She went around the party and explained in detail the last moments of the close relatives death.  How hard it was.  The medicine the used.  The pain this person was in.  How she hoped the mortician could do something with the corpse.  I was disgusted.  Not only was it completely inappropriate to be sharing this information with  people, she was doing it at a child's birthday party.  It was clearly her chance to bask in the glory.  She can't make conversation about anything pleasant, she she trots out the garbage.  And makes herself look like the kind martyr to boot.  Ick, ick, ick.

You'd think this would be the end of it.  Ship everyone home and continue on.  But we had the funeral with BIL and SIL.  And you know what?  SIL was as sweet as punch.  Acted like nothing had ever happened.  I would've called her ass out but refused to disrespect the close relative.  This was not the time or place.  I just ignored SIL, stayed as far from her as I could and remained distanced.  BIL never said a word to me.  Didn't say hello, goodbye, or anything.  Avoided me completely.  That's his M.O.  Just ignore everybody and everything until he thinks it's blown over.  DH had gone over the night before and said they'd been the same with him.  His conclusion, and I think it's right, was that SIL and BIL were fighting.  This infuriated me more.  That they couldn't put aside some marital squabble to focus on their nephew.  That they had to attract all the attention to themselves and make a scene.  That they couldn't suck it up for two hours.  I was livid then and I'm livid now.  And this isn't the first time they've done this.  At DS's 1st birthday, they showed up two hours late because they were mad at my in-laws.  SIL showed up last year, but then had to leave because she'd forgotten something.  They are always late to almost everything we do together (we don't do much together anymore as a result).  BIL blows us off if he finds something better to do.  He is enmeshed with his family and tries to dictate how DH and I run our home (who's invited over, when, how we interact with other relatives).  He's a gossip and been called out on it, but refused to see his blame in it.  The only good point, if you can call it that, is that DH really got to see him for what he is this weekend.  And as a side note:  When I rushed into the church (I drove with my kids by myself) a bit flushed, and was standing with the family preparing to enter for the service, NMIL leaned over and whispered a joke about how someone was teasing someone else about facial hair.  I was stunned.  And saddened.  How freaking inappropriate!  This was the only thing she said to me.

So, there you have it.  That's my weekend.  Sorry for the long, probably over-detailed, post.  I was exhausted at the end.  Completely depleted.  But I feel better today.  I feel "wholer".  I feel more confident and strong than I have in a long time.  I'm starting to feel grown up.  Baby steps, but still steps.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Today's the day

Well, today is the day.  NM arrives in T minus 6 hours.   I feel strong.  I feel prepared (mostly).  But I'm anxious.  And nervous.

I learned last night that NSis really has been diagnosed with a very early stage cancer.  It makes me sad.  She is a very young woman.  She has been dealt some very bad cards in life.  She has struggled to live a normal life.  But she has made horrible choices.  She chooses to take no responsibility in life.  She uses and throws people away.  She has pushed people away over and over, which has left her alone.

Alone, except for her family.  And so, as sad as I am about her diagnosis, I can't help but worrying about how this will effect me.  That makes me feel selfish.  This diagnosis has given her and NM something tangible to grasp onto.  Something to hold over my head and try to beat me with.   Something to push off anything of concern or importance in my life.  My life will never take priority, because NSis will always have this as a trump card.  It will permeate and muddy all of our future conversations.  It will be the pulpit upon which NM gives her "family" sermons.  It makes me sad.  And tired.  I know what I have to do.  I'm going to give her what I can, and then keep going in my life.  I can only support her in the ways she allows me too.  And I can not carry her weight when she carries none of it herself.  I am not her mother.  I am not her friend.

NM will  be here for the weekend.   At the end of the weekend, I have a funeral to attend (not one that NM will go to).  It will be a long weekend.  And in the midst, I'm attempting to celebrate my son.  Attempting to celebrate the miracle that is his life.  To be joyful and present and there for him.

Wish me luck.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lessons in Anger

I've been doing a lot of thinking about anger lately.  Obviously, I've been feeling a lot of anger lately.   Anger is such a new and scary emotion for me.  So many blogger friends have pointed out that anger is a good thing.  It is a sign that my boundaries have been violated.  It is a signal from my body that I don't feel comfortable with something.  It is a sign to myself to change something.  And I agree with that. It has pointed out some very specific problems to me.  And I haven't felt a vengeful anger.  My anger, although a result of certain people, is not directed back at anybody.  I'm trying to find ways to release and express anger in healthy ways (anybody know of any healthy ways to express anger?).  All of this thinking, however, got me thinking even further.  Why is this so damn difficult for me?  Why can I not feel anger?  Why does it sometimes come washing over me in crashing waves?  Why does being angry frighten me and make me feel so out of control?

I have a young son.  When he becomes angry, I've worked hard to teach him how to express it in appropriate ways.   I've worked hard to not dismiss his anger, allow him to feel it, and to let him know he is safe.  I've read that anger can be a scary emotion for a child.  And that's when it hit me.  In my personal experience with anger, I'm still a small child.  No one held my hand or comforted me or taught me appropriate ways to express anger.  I'm still a  four year old girl in my coping abilities with anger, afraid it will swallow me whole and I won't be able to control it.  Not only did they not teach me how to deal with it, they instilled that I shouldn't even feel anger.

When I was younger I was never allowed to be angry with my parents (or really anyone).  I say allowed, because that is the feeling I get when I think about it.  And I can remember very, very few times I even ventured into anger.  My parents got angry.  My dad, in particular, could be very angry.  His anger frightened me and was unpredictable.   It was intense and often out of the blue.  My sister had a similar temperament.  And when she was angry, she was violent.  She was out of control and vengeful and lashed out at anyone in reach (usually me.)  

I remember getting angry with my dad once.  We needed to move my bed for some reason.  I was 16 or so at the time, and had a delicate, glass collection of things set up in my room.  I had suggested we move it.  He was rushed and said it would be fine.  Well, surprise, he started crashing into my things knocking them to the floor.  I began to get angry and said so.  He yelled back.  He told me I was ungrateful.  That he didn't give a shit about my things.  That I shouldn't have them there in the first place.  I reminded him that I had offered to move them.  This did not help the situation.  I don't remember the exact outcome, but I remember I was not happy and that there was no apology.

In my child-mind, I was trained to believe that anger equaled disrespect.  To be angry with my parents (even if done in a respectful way) was disrespectful, disloyal, rebellious, and not allowed.   My being angry pointed to a character flaw.  My being angry meant that their was something wrong with who I was.  They never related my anger to the incident at hand, but rather to me being a bad person.   Only bad, disrespectful, horrible, miserable children became angry with their parents.

As I grew up, I rarely expressed anger to anyone.  When I tried to confront my mother when she treated me disrespectfully as an adult (and again, I always started in a respectful manner), she would become enraged.  She would turn it around on me, dismissing the incident at hand.  She would say that I wasn't really upset about what she was doing in the present, but about the divorce.  And I was never allowed to be angry about the divorce, either.  Because if I was angry about the divorce, that suggested to her that she was wrong (which I never suggested) and she couldn't be wrong.  So, by some weird game of logic, she had not only dismissed my present anger, but any anger I'd felt in the past.  It often was baffling for me.  I actually am a reasonable debater, but arguing with her was like arguing with the wind.  Things would just fly out of nowhere.  If I pressed the issue, she would attack my character.  Again, she would link my anger to my character flaws.  To me being a bad daughter, not appreciating her enough.  Because if I appreciated her and respected her, I could never be angry with her.  And if that didn't work, she'd start bawling.  Go all over dramatic and "I"m a bad mom" on me.  Pinning my anger to her was impossible.

I struggled so much in my twenties to be assertive and express anger.   I struggled to be assertive with my MIL.  But she often attacked me in a similar way.  If I suggested that I felt her behaviors were not OK, she would become defensive and snippy and loud.  One time, in my early days of pregnancy we had gone out to dinner with all of my in-laws.  I had stood up to go to the bathroom and I'd instantly felt inspected.  Like I was a pig, up for show in the ring.  When I came back, MIL and SIL started discussing my growing belly, but not in a thoughtful way.  It was more like I was an object instead of a person and  I was becoming upset.  When my FIL stated he hadn't even noticed, I made a remark thanking him for not making me feel like a piece of meat (although I was a bit more tactful).  To this, my MIL snarked "WELL, I guess WE are the RUDE ones on this end of the table!"  I remember feeling so unsafe in expressing my feelings.   I felt cowed.

And as I started to think about all of this today, I linked a new emotion to my anger: vulnerability.  When I express or feel anger, I feel vulnerable.  I feel open to attack.   I do not feel comfortable expressing anger to hardly anyone, as I feel it points me out as weak.   Even with my DH.  I always worry that my anger will lead to some sort of abandonment.  That if I choose to be anger or express anger (and I struggle with even feeling I have a right to these feelings) that it leaves me open to love being taken away from me.  To being judged.  To being left alone.  To being out of control.  To being unsafe.  To being seen as a horrible person.

It seems so ironic to me, as I write this.  Anger is vulnerability and weakness to me, and I would guess that for most narcs, being angry makes them feel powerful.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I'm angry again.  I'm angry with my FOO and I have no where to put it.  If I call them out on their shit, there will, at best, be no resolution.  At worst, I will get a full on assault for being a horrible, uncaring sister who isn't their for her family.  I'm angry that no one has decided to call me and give me the truth about what is going on with my sister.  I've gotten lots of contradictions and half truths.  I've gotten lots of excuses.  I've been heaped upon by NM with mountains of guilt.  Guilt for not being there for my sister.  Guilt for not being there for my mother.  Guilt for not wallowing in theses new found predicaments.  For not crawling in the hole with them and cursing god.  For continuing to live my life.  Guilt for having a life, when poor sister is so deprived, and a lone, and not blessed with the "fortunate life" that I have.

I'm angry that when I'm supposed to be celebrating my son, when the focus should be on this precious child, they are determined to steal the attention back from him.  That, even if all they've claimed is true, they couldn't lay it aside for this child.   I'm angry that they are coming at me with both barrels blazing.  That they are ready to take me out for my trespasses, and the collateral damage of my child concerns them not at all.  That they are willing to use a weekend set aside for my child, to demand the attention for my sister.  To try and make HER the center of attention.  To want to create a place of refuge for HER, at my home, on a weekend reserved for my child, so that my sister can feel better.

I am so tired of all of this.  I knew things had been too quiet.  I'd been allowed to much free space to roam.  But I never, ever, suspected that this would be the result.  I never suspected that I'd be put in such a position that there is absolutely no way for me to win.  That I'm, once again, cast in the role of horrible sister/daughter.  Blamed for all and focus of all negative emotion.

Sometimes things are so bad, that I don't even know where to begin to draw boundaries.  They've trampled on me and stomped on my life so much and I'm so far in a hole, I don't even know how to start.  I don't know how to not be in the place that I am anymore.  They have instilled so much fear and guilt and chaos in my life that I don't know how to move beyond it.

I want to live a life that doesn't exist in the extremes of emotion.  I want to live a life that allows to be happy in the little things.  I don't want to live in chaos.  I don't want to be so swallowed by them, that there is nothing left for my kids and husband.  I want to just be fucking normal.  I want my kids to have a loving aunt and a grandmother that sees them as magical.  I want to stop being sucked dry.  I want to stop being saddled with their every burden.  I want to stop wearing their problems.  I want to be me, not the person they need me to be.  I want to be healthy and at peace.  I want to quit living in this goddamned soap opera. I just don't know how to get of the ride exactly.

All of there shit is piled on top of my own shit.  Financial issues.  Health issues.  Marriage issues.  Nothing horrible, but things I'm working through.  Things that I've done a damn good job of putting into perspective and dealing with in small bites.   Remaining positive and trying to see that things will work out how they are supposed to.  I've done well finding some health in my own life.  But I can feel them clawing at me.  Pulling me down, draining me.  They are locked in a pit and their fingers rake and claw and pull me down, down, down.  And in those moments (or lately days), it's hard not to let my own life crash down on top of me too.   When all my energy is being sucked out by them, I have little left for myself.  Or my kids.  Or my husband.

And so I'm here and angry.  Angry for me.  But really angry that they are sucking away from my little boy.  Stealing his limelight.  Stealing his mother's attention from him.  Stealing his chance to shine and celebrate his life.  And I'm angry that I am struggling to stop it.  That I just may be the coward that is allowing them to do it to them.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tidal Waves of crap

So, there has been no progress with NSis, other than to say that she has been avoiding her immediate family like a champ.  She's been vague and contradictory in her statements.  She has been telling everyone she is "just too tired to talk about it anymore" and that's why she won't answer or return phone calls.  This, I find ironic, considering she hasn't really talked to any of us at all about it.  We are all still as confused as we were to begin with.

To add to that, a close family member is very sick.  DH had to find out about this in a round about way, too.  And I wonder why no one could pick up the damn phone to call him instead of making him hunt around for information.  He finally got a hold of his mother.  And one thing she said stuck with me.  They got to discussing my son's upcoming birthday party.  Usually, I'm pretty good about sending out invites and letting everyone know ahead of time.  But this year, I got tired of everyone just sitting around expecting me to take care of it all.  They all know the 2 weekends the party might be, and if they needed more concrete plans, they could call and ask (or wait for the invitation).  Anyway, when DH told NMIL the weekend, she said "Oh, I'm glad you told me because we had plans already."  I found this to be passive-aggressive in itself.  Kind of a little, "took you long enough to tell me.  You're lucky I can even make it because we have a busy schedule. blah, blah, guilt, blah, blah, passive b.s."  And as a little side note, NMIL makes a huge deal of her grandkids.  She will drop anything at anytime to do anything for them.  I think this is good in little doses, but a bit weird in a constant, obsessive way.  And when it comes to the party in the past, she always acts surprised that I'm having one.  Although, I have them every year.  She never makes any attempt to reach out, offer help, find out the plans, or figure out a birthday gift on her own.  She expects us to give her ideas for gifts, then always screws it up somehow and expects us to fix it.  For a very competent women, she sure struggles with ordering things online.  Anyway, last year she made a huge deal about not knowing where the party was going to be.  I told her her husband would know.  I suggested googling it.  I ended up sending a map to EFIL (because he is more familiar with our town and I thought the map would be more meaningful to him.)  Well, when they showed up at the party, she makes a loud statement about how they had to follow BIL because they didn't know how to find the place.  Whatever.  Back to the situation at hand.  So, DH tells her the weekend.  And she says "Oh, it's not the next weekend?  I'll be in town babysitting that next weekend for (cousins)."  To me, this reeked of passive-aggressiveness.  To me, what she's saying is "oh, not next weekend?  Because that would be better for me.  Then I wouldn't have to cancel my plans.  And then I can trot the cousins over and look like the awesome grandma I know I am.  And I can pretend I'm the mom again doing things with the kids.  And it'll give me something to do with the kids while I babysit.  So, can't you change it to accommodate me?"  Maybe I'm reading a little too much into it.  But I know that my gut isn't totally wrong.  That she's trying to plant little seeds in DH head without having to directly ask.  I mean who says "Oh, not the next weekend?" as a response?   Where would the confusion be?
I tried to point it out, as gently and tactfully as I could.  I made sure that I had the conversation right before I brought up my point.  He was offended.  He believed I was over-analyzing the situation.  He said that that wasn't how the conversation went, that for me to take everything as word for word transcribing and base my assumptions on that was off base.  That he couldn't remember the exact words and wasn't sure if that's what she said.  Sounded like damn excuses to me.  Typical excuses of why she didn't mean it, or I misheard, or I was reading into things.  I tried to explain that people don't just spit out words for no reason.  That, almost everything someone says is meant to communicate  to (manipulate?) someone.  But, I dropped it.  I had told him my thoughts.  It wasn't going to do any good to go round and round about it.  But sometimes it can be so frustrating.  I hate that she can whisper little things in people's ears and they don't even recognize that she's doing it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

NSis's Greatest Hits

I've written about my relationship with my sister before.  How we grew up, the triangulation, a basic story line.  But I wanted to write out some specific incidents so that I could look at her behavior in totality and not just individually.  Usually, I'm pretty good about doing this with people.  But DH made a very good point in relation to one specific event and a light bulb went off.  I realized how much I excused of her, how enmeshed I was with her, how much she manipulates, controls, and hurts me.

When DH and I moved into our new home, my sister, her boyfriend, my dad and his wife came to visit within days.  It was very stressful for me.  We had been working towards moving in for a year and it kept getting pushed back, until the two events landed virtually on top of each other.  I was a little sad that DH and I wouldn't even get to enjoy the first few days "settling in" but I thought it might be a fun, little "celebratory" way to break in our new home with family.  It wasn't.  NSis and her boyfriend arrived with gifts and flowers and were very thoughtful and helpful.  But it went down hill quickly.  My dad implied that the "gifts" my sister had brought had taxed her financially.  And that I should offer to pay for the food she had brought.  This was the first sign things weren't going well.  Here I was, cooking and entertaining 4 adults (with lots of beer to boot) and I knew that I was being labeled the bad guy for not "chipping in" on her gift.  Then,  NSis's boyfriend started getting on her nerves.  They started to fight.  She complained to me about him, and (in a lapse of judgement) I sided with her (I would later be characterized as being "rude" and making him "uncomfortable").  He was a whiny, lazy man sitting around letting me wait on him and complaining about the meals I served.  He complained that he hadn't gotten to see enough of our town (I hadn't even unpacked in my new home), that he wanted to go out barhopping, on and on.  Then, one night after we had all gone to bed, they get in a screaming match.  One thing led to another and he hoped in his car and left NSis here.  Left her 600 miles from her home.  And didn't look back.  She wakes me up in the middle of the night crying. I spent an hour at 2 in the morning, listening to her "vent".  It was all one sided and she was just spewing at me.    I'm sure I was expected to drive her back home but I couldn't and didn't.  She had to figure it out herself.  DH pointed out yesterday, that I had just moved into a new home.  I had the a lot on my plate.  But she must have felt she wasn't getting enough attention and created some drama.  It was horrible and draining.   Oh, and she ended up getting back together with the douche bag too.

When my sons were born, she promised she would come help.  The first time, she cancelled out last minute. I had expected that from her.  I had texted family around 5:30 in the morning about DS arrival.  She had been awake (having a crisis) and called immediately.  She was happy and excited.  She then asked if I'd called my Dad.  I told her no, that I was waiting until around 6, so that I didn't wake him up so early in the morning.  I didn't think it mattered if I called then or in half an hour and I thought it would be nice not to be woken up early in the morning.  Well, NSis took it upon herself to call.  She told my mother she "felt he deserved to know"  (and oh, the irony considering our current situation.).  She completely stole my thunder.  Making the announcement of my son to my father before I could.  She completely ignored my wishes and did what she wanted to garner attention for herself.   She was a mess when my next son was due, saying she was so worried about taking care of my older son (not that she would be doing it herself.  NM and DH were here).  But as usual, it was all about her.  I thought however, that maybe NM and NSis would cancel each other out in the situation and I could have a nice birth.  When my second son was born, she never said anything about coming.  She just acted like she'd never offered at all.  BUT, she had a crisis with her work, changed jobs, had to move out.  Her life, as usual, was in turmoil.

When it comes to my kids, NM always tells me they are the "light of NSis's eyes".  How much she loves them and cares about them.  Well, she's failed to acknowledge them the last several holidays and birthdays.  For my son's last birthday, she didn't even acknowledge it had happened.  She called several days later but never once said anything about it.  She did talk about how she was struggling, her love life, her moving life, her emotional state.  Never once said a damn thing about it.

She used to call all the time late at night, drunk, and sobbing.  She was always having a horrible problem that she needed to talk to family about.  Needed her family to support her.  It didn't matter that I had to work in the morning, or was up all night with an infant too, or had a family to take care of.  All that mattered was that SHE needed me.  I started turning off my phone.  I told her to quit calling me so late.  I told her that, unless it was an emergency, to not call.  She said she respected that.  But one night, I got a long message detailing what an asshole I was.  What a horrible sister I was.  That I was a snob, living my "perfect" life, and that I could never understand what she goes through.  This is a theme with her and my mother.  The have both said, and implied, that because she is "less fortunate" and I am "more fortunate" in life, that I should give more of my emotional life to her.  That I owe it to her to help her out.  That it is my job to help even us out.  NM gets angry if relatives send me Christmas cards but not her.  She feels they are leaving her out.  I feel  that they send me cards because I maintain relationships with them.  She ignores all of the relatives.  NM feels that I should overcompensate for NSis in life.  That it is my job to bridge life's little speed bumps for her.  That I am blessed with a husband, and home, and family and that she, the less fortunate, should be excused from reciprocating in any way.

When we are together, NSis often expects me to pay for everything.  She often pays one bill.  And then, she must figure she is "good".  She never offers again.  She always orders whatever the hell she wants and expects us to pick up the tab.  If she comes along on activities, she must feel that we should pay because she is doing us the "service" of joining us on our activities.  Activities she can't afford, and if we are rude enough to go some place with our kids she can't afford, we should pay.  She can be very generous at Christmas (well, used too) but then complains endlessly afterward how broke she is.  If she does anything for me, like buy gifts for my kids, she holds me hostage on the phone while she picks them out.

I won't even go into my wedding.  But, long story short, she did every thing she damn well could to start drama, make me look bad, and cause chaos with in the limits of trying to look like the "thoughtful" sister.

She has crisis after crisis.  Medical issue after medical issue.  And she is not responsible for any of it.  She is just the recipient of the short end of the stick.  If I listed out all of the things that have happened to her, just in the last five years, none of you would believe it.  She continues to socialize with horrible people from her past, but then acts like she can't help them contacting her.   She does nothing to try and improve her lot in life (aside from talking about it) and then expects that we should all rally around her.  She drops me if something (or someone) better comes along.  She is so concerned about herself that she rarely, if ever asks about me.  She never acknowledges my husband.  And if she does, she often is annoyed and pissed off at him.  She can become volatile and violent.  I have been, and continue to be, afraid of her rage at times.   She tells me I am a horrible sister, snobby, unwilling to help.  She always tells me she misses me, but makes no real effort to connect with me.  She acknowledges nothing in my life.  She expects me to prioritize her above my husband and kids.   She has never been happy for me for anything I've done.   She expects that if she is not happy, that I should not be happy.  That if she is having a crisis, then it is my crisis.  That if she is going through something, I should drop everything, fall to the floor sobbing for her, and spend every moment finding ways to help her.

I stand at a fork in the road with my relationship with her.  I can not go on like this.   NM thinks I'm too weak to handle things like this.  But in reality, it's the narcissism that I can't handle.  The drama, the chaos, the secrecy, the fishing for sympathy.  The implied obligation, the guilt, the fear of their retaliation should I not support them as they want me to.  The panic mode they send me to.  I will not subject my kids and family to this anymore.  I have to force myself to remember that life does not have to be this damned hard, ALL OF THE TIME.  I'm tired of being held hostage.

In and Out of the FOG

The F.O.G. (fear, obligation, guilt) is eating me alive.  I am struggling.  Struggling in my desire to protect myself, my family, my life from being swallowed by the chaos of my sister's life.  Struggling to put my new found skills to use.  Knowing in my head what I should do.  But feeling in my heart and stomach and body such an ache.  Such stress, and anxiety, and hurt.

I finally sent my sister a quick email.  I didn't want to call.  I didn't want to play her games, listen to her sob, knowing that it was all a bunch of unloading.  I know that she has either not called, or talked little with, my parents.  She still hasn't communicated with me at all.  Which is crap.  She needs to be an adult.  I'm tired of chasing her around, throwing myself at her, desperate to have her let me help her.  So, I emailed.  I told her I had heard she had health problems (because no one still knows what the actual diagnosis is and she STILL hasn't made a follow up appointment, even with NM on her back).  I told her to let me know if she needed anything.  That I was thinking of her.  I felt good about the message.  I wasn't playing into anything, but felt I was extending myself to her, but wasn't wading into the pool of crap.   She responded with "I am.  I would like a friend."  And that's it.  I don't even know what to do with that.  She still didn't address anything directly.  I'm sure that there is anger and annoyance and b.s. in the reply.  I'm not sure what effect she expected the reply to have on me.

This was my one really "fun" week of the summer.  My family knew that.  I have had to fight them all for it over and over.  I doubt that this is too much of a coincidence that it is dropped on me now.  I don't have the time or the energy or the will to devote anything to this.  This week was supposed to be about my family.  Having fun with my kids.  I feel attacked by this.  And I'm sure my FOO would say I was being selfish.  And how could I just go on with my life when they are struggling so (this is a theme in my relationship with them).  I feel guilt.  Guilt that I'm not calling.  Guilt that I am happy in my life.  Guilt that I let their toxicity seep into my life and that it makes me stressed.  And angry.  And that I am less patient and tolerant and available for my kids.  That is effects the type of mom and wife that I am.  That I feel guilty for even thinking about myself and how this effects me.  That I struggle with what a "healthy" family member's obligation to all this would be, compared with my feelings of trained obligation.  That a lot of me just wants to ignore it and hope it all goes away.  But that in doing that things would be irreparably changed.  That it is taking a big step.  That I'm angry.  That I'm struggling with my feelings at all.  That I often feel just the "fight or flight" feeling.  Like a chicken with my head cut off, panicked, and I'm struggling to remain calm.  Struggling through the constant emails and texts and implications that I'm not doing enough.

I'm just struggling and sinking and trying desperately to stay afloat.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Henny Penny

Sometimes I think my FOO lives in an alternative universe.  A universe where everything is miserable and horrible.  Where creatures lurk in every corner waiting to jump out and grab you.  Sometimes I don't even know if they are sane.   It seems like the only reality they have is laced in drama and chaos.  That they are addicted to the drama to feel alive.  

No wonder I have felt crazy for so many years.  I'm like Alice in Wonderland, trying to make sense of nonsense.  Trying to rationalize and explain pure craziness.  I'm like an observer to Henny Penny as she runs around claiming the world is ending.  Wondering how she can make the leap to the sky falling from being hit in the head.  Wondering how every few months, a new crisis looms on the horizon.  How we've never, ever, ever had a normal fucking relationship.  How they've never had a normal fucking day.  How everything is so up in the air all the time.

I see them screaming, panicking that the sky is falling and there is nothing I can do.  I am expected to run, screaming, and flailing too.  And less than this is seen as cold and disloyal.   Telling them that I can't live in a perpetual state of chaos is too stressful for me, makes me a weakling.  It is my weakness, not being able to live in the bullshit.  A way to make me out as not as strong.

But how many people have real hardships.  Real struggles and live life still.  How many people face reality and keep going.  Not push it down or minimize the struggle, but just keep going.  Just keep living.  Why must the world stop.  Why must we live in a state of "numbness" in my family?  Why must it always be so damned, fucking difficult?  How can they not see the absurdity of it all?

I am so tired of this bullshit.  I'm tired of my extended family looking at us like freaks.  I'm tired of trying to explain away the unexplainable.  I'm tired of late night phone calls.  I'm tired of getting worked up over the possibles.  I'm tired of living in perpetual chaos.  I'm tired of being "cold" and "heartless" for not responding to every little (and every big) drama.  Of not giving the "right" response and being hounded for it.  Of being pushed and pulled and used.  I'm tired of trying to explain to DH why I put up with it in the first place.  Of feeling, somehow, I need to apologize for having a "normal" life.  Like I somehow am a stuck-up snob because I just have "normal problems" to deal with and my problems can't compare to the drama of others.  Of the implications I should feel guilty for not being "unlucky" and having all the chaos of my FOO.  That I owe them more because I haven't been burdened like them.  Tired of feeling like shit and it effecting my kids because it taxes me so much.  Tired of being a crutch instead of a human being.  Tired of never being able to explain to others what the hell actually goes on in my family and why they are so fucking crazy.  Because really, what sister doesn't support and love and call her sister with cancer.  Who doesn't reach out and do all she should?  Who doesn't do all she can for those who love her?  Someone who has never been loved back.

Crying Wolf

*This post has been edited from it's former self which was loaded with grammatical, thematic, and spelling errors.  In my rush to get it all out, I didn't bother to re-read it and I thank all of you who stumbled through the garbled version I first posted.

You all had warned me.  Told me to be on the lookout.  I had said it was too quiet around here, still in it's quietness.  And you all warned me that  they were just bidding their time and would ramp it up.  Well, today it hit.

I got a call from my Dad this morning.  If you remember, this was the week he was supposed to visit.  I was sure that he was calling to tell me he was coming anyway.  Or that it was bad news.  Either way, it couldn't be good for him to be calling bright and early in the morning.  I let it go to voice mail.  The message was worse than I had expected.   He had received a call from my Aunt saying that my sister had cancer.

I was dumbstruck.  How this Aunt knew my sister had cancer was disturbing as she could've only got the information of FB.  The fact that neither my Dad or I knew nothing about her having cancer was disturbing.  He had tried calling her but got no response or call back.   I was away from home when I got the call, so I stressed the whole way back.   Rushing to get to my computer.   Nothing on FB.  I emailed mom.  She called immediately.  I hadn't wanted to talk to neither her nor my sister.  But I figured I might as well deal with it.

Mom started in with 20 questions about where my Dad was.  Every question she asked, I responded with "Why?  What is going on?"  Again and again, is he home, where is he, exactly WHERE is he?  Why?  I responded.  Where he is at is none of her damn business.  Then she lets loose.  Detailing that my sister had gone to the doctor and been told she had something "like cancer".  Or something that could be cancer.  Or something.   She didn't have any specifics.  But the crazy part is, that this was SIX MONTHS AGO and NSis hadn't been back to the doctor since.   She didn't have any money.  Or was afraid.  Or couldn't deal.  It was all so fucked up.  She had "let it slip" in a conversation with my mother three days ago.

 NM and my conversation was insane.  It wound around to how NSis and her (newly) live in boyfriend are fighting.  And NM had "confronted" him but saved what she really needed to say if she needed to confront him "to his face".  She's all tough and mean, I guess.  What exactly she confronted him on is up in the air too.  I guess because he's an ass (which I think he is) but so is NSis.  She is no picnic to be in a relationship with.   They've only lived together for about two months and this has been the second or third fight where she's kicked him out, or he's not come home, or the drama has reached a fever pitch.  It's ridiculous.  And NM is all in the middle of it.   Telling him that he doesn't need to be supportive of NSis, she doesn't need him,  she has her family.  I really don't know how the conversation about NSis's cancer turned into this.  And back to the cancer.  I argue.  I think it seems fishy.  NSis had posted on FB, late at night, that she has cancer.  Friends and family were upset (understandably).  Who the hell tells everyone about cancer on FB?  Least of all their immediate family?  What the fuck is that?  NM and I go rounds about how NSis always has crap and drama in her life (big drama, ALWAYS).  How this seems sudden diagnosis seems weird to me.  That something is off.    And what was the actually diagnosis, again?  Well, this time NM is certain that  the NSis actually said the words cancer.  That isn't what she said in the beginning.  Then we go rounds about how NSis needs to grow up, and NM needs to butt out of her life and let her grown up.  And NSis needs to make her own doctors appointments and take charge and communicate like a grown up.  NM states she is going go get NSis to sign a privacy waiver so NM can talk to the doctor too.  Awesome.  Then, we have some brief, teary, moments where NM bitches about my Dad and his lack of support for his daughter and how horrible this is for her to go through "alone".  And how she agonized over calling Dad and having to tell him about it.  I took the reigns and said not to worry, I'd call him.

By this point, I was angry.  Shaking angry.  NM said she hadn't wanted to tell me because she didn't want to stress me out.  Apparently, I'm too fucking fragile to deal with this.  Well, it's not the damn cancer I can't deal with.  It's all the drama, and the crap, and the lies, and the bullshit.  It's not even knowing what in the hell is going on.  It's having to call my dad to say that no one knows what is going on.  It's the "bait" that's laid out, so that NSis can feel important while everyone scrambles to call her.  Her holding all the cards.  And I don't know.  Maybe she is sick.  That would be horrible.  But I'm so tired of stressing about "could be" and "maybe" and "possibles".   I'm so tired of the secrecy and smoke and mirrors.  I'm so tired of everyone getting all worked up when no one has anything concrete to get worked up over.  And, frankly, this is nothing new.  There is always some fucking crisis going on.  And yes, they are real crises, but a lot of them are of my sister's doing.  She's always getting robbed or held up or hit by a car or in an accident or beat up by a boyfriend or in a fight or losing her job.  Mom says she has "bad luck".  Really?  How can someone be that damn unlucky????  She's been going around dealing with a lot of the stuff from our childhood lately.  She's been slipping into bad habits, talking to old assholes she shouldn't, drinking too much.  She's always in trouble with money.  She's very bright and a hard worker, but is always getting "screwed" by her employers.  I've spent years with knots in my stomach.  Years dealing with late night phone calls with her sobbing.  She often is sick and has hospital bills.  It's all been too much.  Especially since it's all one way.  There is no return.  There is no support back.  There is no concern or respect for me.  If there was I wouldn't have had to hear THIRD HAND ab out her cancer!!  All I can say  is that I'm so damn angry.  And I'm sure I am a cold-hearted bitch to my NM and NSis.  I'm sure I'm supposed to be doing more, crying more, devastated.  Problem is, I don't even know what I'd be crying about.

I called my Dad, who is on vacation.  We talked about it.  At least he is a voice of reason.  At least he sees through the bullshit.  He can be a selfish ass,  but he is not careless and insensitive and blinded by the bullshit.  He figures he tried to get a hold of her and did his part.  She can call him back now.  He's tired of the games too.  He's tired of my mother's games.  He's tired of her accusing him of not helping out more.

It's just all so fucked up.  I just want to lead a normal, drama free life.  Who has a crazy-ass family like this?  Why is it always such turmoil?  Why is it so fucking difficult?  I know that no life is perfect or that you don't hit rough patches.  But, Good Lord, I feel like we are always on a road with potholes the size of craters.  I'm getting off this damn road.  I don't know what my next step is.  I sent off a quick email to NM, when she inquired how it went with my Dad.  I haven't called my sister.  I don't really have anything to say.  And frankly, if she wants to tell me something, she can call me.  I can support her and be there for her, but I'm not going to chase after her and profess my undying love.  And if this wasn't the millionth time this has happened, I could be more understanding.  If I was told the truth, I could help.  If NM didn't inundate me with weekly reports of the sick and dying, I wouldn't be so calloused.  It's all just so sick.