It can be so easy this time of year to get sad and nostalgic about family. I know it is for me, at least at certain times. I’ll remember something my mom used to do as a tradition, or just in general. I was triggered by the smells of baking brownies in my own kitchen the other day and it took me back.
I don’t always need a trigger and there are times I just begin to remember things and I miss my mom. The birthday card she sent this year doesn’t help either and is still with me. She wrote something that was really a guilt trip. But I have to wonder if she even realizes that’s what it is. I really wonder if she is aware of the fact that what she wrote is actually a manipulation.
To be honest and at the risk of sounding like I’m still trauma bonded (which I am to a point) I really don’t think she understands this. And I’ve spent time feeling badly for her, somewhat guilty for putting her through my absence and a bit sorry and sad for her. Not that I think I’m something special, but she also wrote some other things to indicate that she misses me.
But then I realize, it’s not my job or responsibility to teach her. I’ve pointed things out in the past. I’ve spoken to her about similar things and still the same old behavior. I even thought about writing her a letter explaining everything as to why I need to stay away and would still like to work through things. But then I remember other things that indicate she’s not open to it.
Whether she says she gets it or not doesn’t really matter, because her actions have proven otherwise. It’s her job to learn her words are manipulative, not mine to point this out to her. It’s frustrating though, and even confusing, but I’ve had conversations with her before that end up being disregarded. So really, I’ve already done my part. How many times can I explain myself?
I explain what the problem is, she says she understands, I can even sense her softening. Later in the same conversation, she says something that clues me in to the fact that she doesn’t get it. I let it go because it doesn’t register or I freeze and don’t know what to say. Next day I attempt to address it. She gets annoyed and asks why can’t we just have a light conversation? And I get hurt, feel guilty and ashamed and feel like the problem is all me again.
This outline happened within a conversation we had before I agreed to help take care of my father while he was dying. One reason for my apprehension about that is, I was afraid of my brother and sister. I’d been psychologically abused as well as physically threatened by both, but the more recent incident involving physical threat was with my brother.
I explained it all to my mother and she seemed to genuinely understand. She said things that made me feel good about me deciding to confide in her. Then after I’d made a few points, I’d said, “It’s not my fault that everyone is walking on eggshells. I walk on them too.” (Eggshells: this was continuously brought up by my sister in reference to me. Basically as far as my narcissist sister is/was concerned, I am the one who is scary to approach. I guess that means that she thinks she is a perfectly reasonable human being.)
My mother responded, “Yeah, I don’t think it’s your fault.” And just as I was breathing a sigh of relief, she said, “I think it started with you, but I don’t think it’s all you now.”
I froze and said nothing. I figured she was most likely referring to when depression set into me and my behavior became severely different in many ways, including chronically angry, periodic rages and a lot of quiet depression and sleeping.
That quote in red was said when I was 47. I began showing signs of severe depression before the age of 20.
But STARTED with me??? The eggshells started with me??? She must have had a momentary lapse of memory. All the abuse my father inflicted upon me. She doesn’t think that this treatment of me had something to do with the depression I suffered, my anger, my lashing out and explosive anger? And she’s no innocent either. She allowed it to happen and emotionally neglected me in many ways. That’s a lot of shit to forget and put on me.
The next day after I’d had time to think about the remark my mom had made about it having started with me, I attempted to address it. That’s when she’d said, “You know, it’s so difficult to have a conversation with you. Why can’t you just call me and say, “Hi, how are you?”
It doesn’t occur to her that I was the child. That anger and reactive behavior had to come from somewhere. That we all walked on eggshells around my father. But I was the one who needed to get over all this shit.
PTSD and DEPRESSION
I had no clue back when the depression started, that I was actually having symptoms of PTSD. I became reactive. I yelled and screamed a lot, especially when my sister started borrowing stuff of mine and not asking. And not just borrowing my shit but ruining some things too. She’d borrowed a favorite blouse one day and got nail polish down the front of it.
She was not reprimanded by my mother or father and she wasn’t told to replace it. I’d find things missing that I wanted to wear that day and she’d have already taken them without my permission.
One day I hit a ceramic light switch-plate out of anger after some conflict between my sister and me. I think it might have even been an incident where not much conflict really took place. If I’m not mistaken, she and I had been in the bathroom together, me curling my hair and her putting on make up. My curling iron came unplugged and the plug fell into the sink.
My sister said, “Careful.”
I said in a snotty ass voice, “There’s not even any water in the sink, there’s nothing to worry about.”
She said, “I was saying it because I was worried about you. Saying careful you don’t hurt yourself.”
I immediately felt like shit after that. But I don’t remember acknowledging it. I was in deep with this depression and I was just feeling resentful and angry all the time about everything and not knowing what. My sister and I had been close when we were younger and we had lost that along my way to depression. I was frustrated and confused. I wanted that back but didn’t know how to go about it. We’d just moved not long before that incident too and that was really hard on me.
I had not seen the new house before we’d moved in and was not at all emotionally ready to move. I went to work one morning from one house and went home to another house.
My sister seemed to think she was in charge of this new house. Since she’d gone with them to look at the house to begin with, she’d picked her room, which was the bigger of the two she and I had to pick from. And being the oldest, I was used to having the larger of whatever the choices were. The rules had changed.
One day, my sister left a note in the kitchen informing no one that she uses her towels “thrice” and whoever is throwing them in the hamper, please stop. Obviously she knew it was me since the two of us were the only ones using that bathroom. Instead of addressing me directly (which became a very toxic pattern in years to come) and looking me in the eye, she felt the need to leave a note addressed to no one.
I needed room for my towels too, there being just one rack for them. But there was no mention or consideration of that.
I remember seeing this passive aggressive shit in the kitchen after she’d left for work. My father was standing there next to me and he laughed, thinking it was funny. I failed then and fail now to see the humor.
I should have turned to him and said, “You find it funny that your two daughters’ relationship is in the toilet? You know you are responsible for this. You are the one who have developed these narcissistic personalities in your kids and they are afraid to confront each other with issues and problems that should be dealt with face to face and resolution reached. But this. (thrashing sister’s letter in my hand) This is what you created instead. You and mom need to mediate this shit. You need to help us resolve it so that we can hash things out. Yep, it’s something that you should have fucking done when we were kids so we could be ready to do it now as young adults. But you didn’t. You neglected to a lot of shit. But I want a relationship with my siblings so you are going to help fix this now and do things you should’ve done when we were kids.”
Another time, my sister decided that since we had a dishwasher that we didn’t need a dish drainer and got rid of it. And my mom, whose kitchen it really was, said nothing.
These are two examples of a life time of shit and build up to my sister’s behavior and our rift.
So my reaction (punching the switch-plate) was likely frustration of so much chaos that had gone on for so long, as well as a reaction to whatever had just taken place. I wish I could remember the events surrounding that act of what was essentially self-harm, but they just aren’t clear.
After punching the switch-plate, it broke and shattered all over a section of the wood floor in my bedroom. I drew so much blood from the area near my pinky’s knuckle that I probably should’ve had stitches. I still have that scar.
Both my sister and mother came running to see what had happened, and my sister immediately said, “Are you OK?” as she held my hand in hers.
Depression and my Sister
When I became depressed I became withdrawn, angry, resentful and all around miserable. My sister and I had been close when we were small and stayed fairly close throughout my high school years, despite the almost 6 year difference. So when it comes to past incidents and finding clues as to where the rift was and where it began, it was most prominent and obvious concerning my sister and me. That being said though, they seemed to happen insidiously as well as obviously. Some might say these incidents were normal sibling rivalry. Maybe some of the fights and arguments were normal to have had. Some clearly were not. Most of the problem lay in the absence of resolution and our parents teaching us how to do that.
One particular thing that sticks out in my mind that I wish I had been truly present for my sister for is when she was afraid of being pregnant at a really young age. She ran into my room and gave me a big hug as she cried. She explained what had happened and what she was afraid of. I was speechless. I myself had not had such a fear up to this point and had no idea what to say or do. I was not there for her.
I wish I had taken her by the hand and said, “Let’s go, we’re going to planned parenthood.” At that time, even without a car, that was possible. We lived in a town where so much was in walking distance and PP was one of those places. I still kick myself for that one.
Later, I used this against her when I got angry at her and said screamed something about her having sex at such a young age.
I apologized later but the damage was done.
I would not consider my brother and I as being close as children. In fact I was his bully. Things calmed down in that area once I was in high school. Plus by the time I was beginning to go through the depression, he was already 17 himself. He had his own busy life and was barely ever around. I can’t speak for him but I don’t think my withdrawal effected him quite as much as it did my sister. In fact I’m not so sure how much he really noticed what was going on with me, which is totally understandable at that age and given our past relationship.
This is more about my brother’s skewed thinking as an adult and the reason behind a rage attack I endured from him one night while he was in my house.
My brother had a double standard for my father and me. My father had no idea how to be a parent. He was treated like crap by his father. His brother was favored (who became an alcoholic incidentally) and so our father, according to my brother, deserved a break. It was excusable that our father did what he did to us. But it wasn’t excusable that I was almost 50 and still angry about it.
Agreement with an abusive family is nothing to them:
I gave in to the guilt, shame and ultimatum each family member put upon me when it came to manipulating me into caring for my father while he was terminally ill.
An agreement was made and weeks down the road when it was time to follow through with certain parts of the agreement, specifically pertaining to my time ‘off’ when it doesn’t fit someone else’s schedule. These people could not take no for an answer and so their solution is to use emotional manipulation, shaming and guilt tripping. My mother also used avoidance when it came to reminding my sister. She just kept her mouth shut instead of standing up for me. (But she calls me for my sister when sister whines about something she finds unfair or wants me to do something that I’ve already said no to.)
When my father was dying, he needed quite a bit of help, including having someone fix his meals. As time went on, he got really wobbly on his feet, and someone needed to be there whenever he was awake.
During a conversation I had had with my mother, a conversation following my attempt at addressing her claim that the egg-shell walking among the family started with me, she said that she’d help out with my father (who she had been divorced from for years) when none of us ‘kids’ could or would be there.
The agreement was that I would have Fridays (the day I had therapy) and Sundays for myself, to take care of things in my own life. It was agreed on by everyone involved. One weekend, I was supposed to not need to go on Saturday also, and ended up going anyway after my sister asked me to, because my father would need breakfast. It was supposed to be “just until the Home Health Aid got there at noon.” But knowing the way things work out with my family, I had a bad feeling about it to begin with.
When I got there, my father was fast asleep but I made us both some scrambled eggs anyway. When he woke up I gave him some eggs and he didn’t want them. He had a little yogurt instead and went back to bed.When he got up a little while later, he said to me nervously, “I don’t need anyone to cook anything for me for breakfast, I like to just get myself some yogurt and sometimes go back to bed.”
I thought to myself, “What a fucking waste of time for me to be here. I was specifically asked (more like directed) to cook this fuck-head breakfast when I arrived at his apartment. Now he’s telling me this. And no one is here to hear his words. So I feel tossed around and used. I feel like I just made a trip over here for nothing.”
When the HHA showed up, my initial feeling was relief. I was more than ready to get out of there.
But then she mentioned she didn’t have a car. It was my understanding before I even went over there that this fucking inept fucking excuse for a home health aid was supposed to go get groceries that day.
I was already stressed about being there and going to the grocery store on a Saturday made things much worse for me. Not to mention my irritation at this woman showing up without a car, knowing full well she had errands to do for my father that day.
So I went, but not before letting someone (mom) know this woman is showing up without a car. Of course she didn’t think it was a big deal and said something like, “Just go get the groceries.”
Because you know, my time isn’t worth anything. I should’ve said, “What are up to mom, how ’bout you go get the groceries on a Saturday at noon.???”
I finished the grocery run, got back and my father looked at the bags and gave a weird exasperated/disgusted look, while his cousin sat at the dining room table with him. She’d shown up while I was out. I think my father thought I went to the wrong store as he caught a glimpse of the bags. I didn’t and I’d gotten every last thing on King Fuck-Head’s list.
Another errand needed to be run to the drug store, but I needed to get out of there, and the HHA said she’d take care of it when her husband got there, even though it would be past her time to be there. So I put the groceries away, and pretending nothing was wrong, I said hi to my second cousin, gave my father a kiss on the cheek and got the hell out of there.
In a normal and healthy reality, I would have loved to visit with my father’s cousin too. But I was done. I was not about to sit there and pretend that everything was fine when I was exhausted and feeling just like the doormat I was.
That same day, I had a cat to feed for someone who was away and while I sat at their house, I talked to my sister on the phone. I informed her that the HHA showed up with no car and I was the one to run to the grocery store. I also let her know I was annoyed by it and that a HHA needs to show up with a car so she can do the job she was being paid for. Apparently though this chick could do no wrong and my sister wasn’t fazed.
Sister mentioned needing someone to go over to my father’s for lunch the next day.
I told her then on the phone, with my mouth, that I was not going. That I had a difficult time there that day and that Sunday was one of my days to myself.
I could hear her mutter/whisper on the other end, “I’m not going either.”
I said nothing but now thinking about it, WT actual F. It was Sunday. I’d bet her fat fuck of a husband was home and she could’ve done it. But she’s the entitled princess and simply wanted to run the show from atop her throne. FUCKING CUNT!
On my way home from taking care of the cat, I called my mother and let her know that my father needed someone to go there for lunch as per my sister. Instead of acknowledging our agreement, she said, “Well, I’ll talk to your brother.”
Wait, what? My word holds no weight. It was like standing in front of her, saying “hey, I’m here” and she was looking over my head at someone else and waving to them as if I wasn’t there.
Later that night, my sister text messaged me asking me to go see my father for lunch the next day, which was Sunday. This, after me telling her how stressful my visit was that morning and this, after knowing full well that the agreement was that on Sunday, I was not going over there. This is how much she takes my feelings into consideration. But I expected it.
I texted her back and told her No.
She couldn’t leave it alone though and texted back, and after she asked again, telling me it would only be for an hour, I said, “No. Mom said she’d do it, get in touch with her.”
I knew it wouldn’t be just an hour with my father, I had, that very day of chaos, to tell me that. In fact those same few words were used in the request to go there that morning, “It’s only for…”
No way, after that day, was I going back the next day. I can’t believe she even fucking asked. Little entitled bitch asking everyone else to go see this old dying abuser fuck.
Hey little narc sister, I got an idea. Get the fuck off your ass, call off work, find a sitter and go the fuck over there your own damn self. Whatever it takes right? That’s what you expect me to do so you should step the fuck up and practice what you fucking preach.
I heard nothing after that until the next day when I called my mom, who was driving on the turnpike. She got annoyed with me when I asked her where she was going since she didn’t offer it up when I called.
Get this shit: She simply said, “I’m driving.” Passive aggressive fat fucking bitch. Wow! I had no advocate. Not even in my mother.
I forget what exactly was exchanged after that but she did eventually tell me she was headed to my father’s. And she was sure to say it with a tone that insinuated that I should’ve known what she was doing.
I’m pretty sure that a healthy mom would just directly answer the question in the first place. Actually a healthy mom would call me and say, we got this, I’ll go over for lunch. Instead of leaving me hanging. And if she hadn’t called before I’d called her to double check on the situation, she would’ve said, “Sorry I didn’t call to let you know before this.”
I asked then about my sister. “Is she mad?” (I know pathetic. This is the fear I’m talking about.)
“No, she’s just frustrated.” (She’s frustrated. smh)
“That you wouldn’t go instead of me driving all the way down there?”
I said, “Did you mention the agreement?” (Apparently with my mother’s attitude, she’d also blown it off, since on this day, keeping such an agreement wasn’t convenient for her.)
She replied, “I didn’t want to go there.”
I froze as usual and said nothing. It was Sunday, one of my days off according to the agreement. My mom had agreed to go when none of us three ‘kids’ could or would. I said to her, “It wouldn’t be just an hour” thinking about the day before. And since I’d talked to her the day before, I figured she’d get what I was saying and how I was feeling.
“It will be just an hour…..” She went on but I don’t remember what she said. I couldn’t believe that my mom was behaving as badly as my siblings.
My mother lived only about fifteen minutes more away from my father than I did. I don’t know if my family forgot that I no longer lived in the same town we grew up in and so didn’t take into consideration that my trip over there to my father’s wasn’t that much less for me than it was for my mother. Either way, doesn’t matter since it was a fucking agreement.
Next day when I showed up to my father’s apartment, I found a note from my mother telling me the stuff she did and then claiming to love me. I thought, “BULLSHIT,” tossed the note and never mentioned it. I couldn’t believe she could treat me like trash on the very same day to later claim her love for me in writing. What a joke. Only I didn’t find it the least bit funny.
To add more insult to injury, remember the part where I said that my father didn’t need anyone getting him breakfast?
Well the following week, my brother started cooking him eggs and bacon every single fucking morning!
And take a guess at who gobbled it right down like a pig.
Because of all I went through with my family during my father’s illness, I have no desire (most of the time) to have anything to do with my siblings.
But I tend to think and feel differently about my mother more often. So when sympathy for my mother creeps in and I think about seeing her, I remember this shit, and the desire to talk to her let alone lay eyes on her, goes away.