Monday, November 30, 2009

When the cat is away...the mice will be jerks

It’s been a year and half since my mom passed away and I’ve seen some pretty sad, ugly and upsetting things unfold since her passing.

My siblings, who have always been dysfunctional at best, have become even more so. We saw each other on the first Christmas after mom passed but since then, things have become pretty crappy.

This Easter, one of them decided they didn’t want to participate in any sort of family dinner. I organized dinner with the other one and it was okay. After Easter, the one who boycotted asked if s/he was missed and if anyone asked about him/her. Really. Looking for attention, much?

This Thanksgiving (it’s in early October in Canada), after a summer full of dysfunctional behaviour, I decided that I wasn’t going to bother trying to organize dinner. I am always the organizer and sometimes wonder if my siblings just accept my invitations out of guilt or actual interest in seeing me. I made no efforts and guess what happened? Nothing. We didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. Nobody called each other. It was like the holiday didn’t happen. It really saddened me.

About a week after Thanksgiving, the Easter-boycotter called me and lamented that we didn’t have Thanksgiving. S/he said “if you had invited me over, I would have come”. I flipped out at this point and recalled how s/he boycotted Easter and said I was sick of cr*p like that and that’s why I didn’t bother trying to organize anything.

So here we are, a month before Christmas. Now, it’s the other one’s turn to boycott. S/he told me a few weeks ago that s/he’d rather “skip” Christmas this year and perhaps just go out for dinner sometime in the weeks afterward. S/he said that s/he would just rather not deal with all the stress of the day and just go out to a restaurant and eat and leave. I was a bit surprised by this statement and replied that I was happy to host Christmas as I had always done and all s/he had to do was show up. S/he replied that s/he was going to try to go away with the spouse and kids for a few days over the 25th so to go ahead with whatever other plans I have and not count on them. But somehow, this sibling still wants to have dinner “at some point” after Christmas? For what? So their kids don’t miss out on gifts from Auntie Citygirl? Mind you, this sibling pulled this a few years ago and their big plans of going away failed and they ended up at my place on the 25th.

This has bothered me for weeks. I am absolutely sick over it. I am so tired of holidays being so hard for us. Holidays weren’t perfect when my mom was around but we at least held them. Everyone wanted to see mom on holidays so we all had to co-exist for the day and it was actually fine and we’d end up having a good time. Even last year, despite it being a crap year, we got together at my house and it was ok. But now, it seems like all bets are off. The cat is away so all the mice are free to be selfish jerks who can do whatever the hell they want with no regard for anyone else.

I tried explaining this to my DH a couple of weeks ago when I was (once again) crying about this. Both his parents are still alive & well so they organize holidays and no matter what, he sees them and his sibling. As a non-member of Club O, he just doesn’t get it and gets frustrated to see me upset about it.

I said that once your parents are gone, it’s really up to you and your siblings to see each other and continue to be family. If you choose not to do this, it’s up to you! Nobody is around anymore to make you get along with your siblings (or at least tolerate them). You answer to no one. You are nobody’s child anymore and you can do whatever you want without any repercussions. It’s the evil rebel that used to come out when your parents weren’t looking – but now, you don’t even have to look over your shoulder or feel any guilt!

One of my siblings hurtfully pointed out to me that s/he has a family – the spouse and kids – and THAT’S their family now. So what do your siblings become? I think it’s especially hard for the siblings who don’t have kids or a significant other. They’re pretty well alone and still consider their siblings family.

My DH was totally annoyed by that sibling’s statement. As hurtful as the statement was, I also explained to my DH that although my mom had Alzheimers and it took her mind and eventually her life, we (the children) were also affected by it as long-time caregivers. After 16 years, a toll has been taken mentally, emotionally and physically. It has affected us in different ways and perhaps permanently changed our personalities, sometimes in negative ways. I know that I feel broken in ways and although I’m doing much better overall, I fear there is a chunk of me is irreparably damaged. I encouraged my DH to have patience with my siblings and me as we’ve been through a lot and that nobody is perfect. Rich advice eh? Do as I say, not as I do!

I actually talked to my best friend about this one night on the phone. She’s been my friend for 20 years so she has seen this situation every step of the way. She was very sympathetic and noted that it’s hard to lose someone, grieve and move on under average circumstances but this was like grieving for 16 years. I cried a bit and agreed…it was like my mom died a bit everyday for 16 years. My friend also pointed out that she’s experienced things in her life that she feels that she’ll “get past” but never fully recover from; it’s like a scar is left behind.

I also talked to DH about not letting my siblings level of involvement in my life dictate whether I’m happy or not. I think I cling to them a bit because they’re all I have left for family. I also used a couple that we’re friends with as an example to follow: both of their sets of siblings are dysfunctional and not really part of their lives. Mind you, their siblings are living in another province so they’re geographically distant from them but they are also definitely not chummy with them. Each of them have one sibling that they don’t even talk to. Does this bother them? No! They have their life here and what their siblings do doesn’t affect their happiness.

So, where to go from here? I’m not sure. I know that my DH and I should create our own holidays and not depend on my siblings to make or break things. We spend time with DH’s family but that pulls on my heartstrings that I wish I had family to spend time with too – his family is ok but they’re not my blood.

There is something to be said about the bond of blood relations, no matter how whacked they are.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lock the door when you see elephants running towards your house

I had an odd dream the other night that I’m still thinking about.

I was walking in my old neighbourhood with my mom and it felt so real. Everything was exactly as it was years ago – it’s amazing how many details were in this scene. I could see every single house as if I was really there. It was fall and leaves were rustling under our feet. The breeze was cool and I could even smell my mom’s familiar scent.

We were walking home from the grocery store and got stopped in our tracks by a person repairing their fence. The sidewalk and half of the roadway were closed off and this person had all sorts of heavy construction equipment and people working on his fence. As pedestrians, I’m not sure why we just didn’t walk on the other side of the street. Anyways, a friend from school and her mom came along and we chit-chatted a bit with them (as we used to) and noted how interruptive this person’s work on their fence was. Even my friend and her mom were crystal clear.

We finally got home and my mom sat down in the living room while I went to the kitchen. I looked out the kitchen window and there were elephants running towards the house! Terrified, I ran towards the front of the house/the living room to save my mom. When I looked back towards the kitchen, the elephants had made their way into the house and were roaming around (somehow, they had decreased in size to fit in the house). I thought to myself “why didn’t I lock the kitchen door? that would have kept them out”. Moral of the dream: Lock the door when you see elephants running towards your house!

Seriously, I dream so vividly sometimes, it’s almost like having a “visit” from my mom. I was telling my friend about this dream on the weekend and ended up tearing/choking up so much that I couldn’t go on.