I’m not quite sure what normal is, but it definitely doesn’t apply to my family of origin. To have a normal week or month would be one where dysfunction took a break. It would be a month where my mom did not have to worry about my sister’s alcoholic adventures. Normal would be positively extravagant.
My sister has been staying at my mom’s house for a visit. These visits are tremendously stressful for her because she will harbor the ideas of guilt of what she should be doing for her mom, but her ideas of what she could be doing rarely turn into action because she becomes quickly overwhelmed. My sister and my mom can’t get along but they have this relationship where they can’t leave each other alone and I often play odd man out.
I went to visit, a bit of a drive from where I live. I thought we would have some lunch and that would be it. As soon as I get there, I can see my mother is struggling to keep up with being able to live alone. I don’t know that she takes her meds appropriately. Any suggestions of what could be done to make her life easier are instantly shot down.
At this point my mother is angry that we have confronted some of the issues that she struggles with. She takes her anger out on my sister who has been drinking during her stay with my mom. Now I more than anyone understand the anger and frustration with my sister’s drinking. The things my mom says though are unspeakably cruel. She calls her a slut multiple times, she says she wants nothing to do with her and that she(my sister) is not her daughter any more.
At this time my sister’s normal reaction is to bolt. She usually ends up in a bar somewhere. This time she tells me she can’t take her life anymore, she is depressed and wants to get help.
So we go to the emergency room and work our way through the system to see what can be done. Her blood alcohol level is sky high. The staff asks her lots of questions and her answers sometimes vary. A physician asks her about the quantity she drinks each day. On this occasion she says her drink of choice is wine(she drinks anything). Once she tells him she drinks two glasses of wine. Another time she tells him she drinks a box of wine a day. “A box?” he says, puzzled, but then moves on. I’m not sure the physician knew boxed wine was an actual thing.
My sister is directed to a treatment center eventually where she currently withdrawing from alcohol. I hope it works. Earlier in the week she had attended an AA meeting where she met a man who gave her more alcohol and tried to assault her.
I’m not sure what the answers are. I pray that this time she can gain peace and sobriety.
Everywhere she goes she always can connect with the seedy side of town. In her hometown it is the dividing line where old money sits across the street from the very poor. Nestled nearby is a “charming” historical district with many bars.
In the seedy side of town the golden rule does not apply. The predatory and the opportunistic easily find the most damaged of society. Sometimes it is hard to tell the predator from the prey.
In the dim light of night she looks attractive. If you look closer though you can see her smudged mascara, dirty fingernails and unwashed clothes, and you might turn away.
She mostly seeks her own type, those who cannot say no to another beer. She seeks validation and affirmation that she is still something. She doesn’t care the price she pays as long as she gets her fix for the night.
Not content to sit at home and fall asleep after one too many drinks, she comes alive in the night. For just one more night she can tell a sympathetic stranger her tales of woe.
In the hot blinding daylight of summer, life is just too harsh to face. Better to sit in the dark air conditioned bar where no one cares if she is sober or drunk.
My mother is aging and she needs more help. She is trying to bounce back after a hospital stay. In our own way we are each trying to help her. It is scary to travel on the interstate to see your mom so much you barely remember your trip, you are so busy thinking of all of the family drama.
My sister wants to make this a contest. She has done so much, according to her. She perhaps has done a little more than me, but I want to scream YOU ARE GETTING PAID by mom to help out. I don’t expect to get paid, but I sure don’t appreciate your martyr complex when you keep leaving that detail out.
Sister says she has been spending hours upon hours cleaning. I’m not sure where those hours were spent as the kitchen sink, the refrigerator, stove all have a coat of scum on them. Perhaps a coat of scum that my mother just does not see anymore or doesn’t have the energy to care about. Maybe my sister doesn’t clean her own kitchen…who knows. So while she has a temper tantrum, I clean the kitchen. My sister has trashed the part of the house she is staying in. Hopefully when my sister picks all her crap up from the floor, my mother won’t notice that a room that had stayed pristine over the years now has a stained carpet. WTF.
There is a weird dance between my sister and I. She has been lashing out at everyone and anyone because she feels left out. She is mad that her life choices have put her in a place where she is in a financial mess, so god forbid anyone have more opportunities than she does. Yet she seems to forget that between the three of us, my mom, my sister and I, it is I who have been left out. Whether my sister and mom are getting along or not, they have always been in constant contact….not so for me.
I’d like to think my sister is staying sober. Even if she is sober, it seems like her brain has changed over the years in a way I no longer understand. She is paranoid about hurts others have inflicted on her, but seems to have almost no memory of her behaviors.
You would think after decades on earth together, we would have this family thing figured out.
There she is, my sister, whatever she does she consumes my mother’s attention.
Somehow it is silly, isn’t it, to think my mom could change her ways for just a day, and perhaps see that her other daughter might need her mom in some way.
I’m a grown woman. I should know better by now. I’ve been caught off guard by a difficult situation. I need someone to talk to. Why though at this point should I feel an ache that this person should be my mother?
All of my mom’s energy is yet caught up again in my sister’s addiction. In a conversation the other day I gave my mom an inch and she took a mile. A mile to talk about my sister.
I wish my mom’s mind could slow down for just a minute to see past the world of my sister’s life.
You said you had an important appointment in Dover
with your Uncle Grover
I guess I was supposed to wake you up, Mr. Clover
Don’t blame me that you were hungover.
Sometimes I want to turn a bit of real life into something to write about. This is as far as I could get with this one.
My own dad has been gone for almost one third of my life. I think of him often at this time of year. In my mind he is a tall quiet guy, waiting for something….what that might be , I am not sure. After my dad passed away it struck me how similar my dad and I were…I wished I would have realized this when he was still alive.
I came across some old census records from when my dad was a child. It is hard to picture him as a child. He was the youngest in his family. His family had lived comfortably before the Depression came along. When my dad was born though they were struggling. From what I gather my paternal grandfather never bounced back after this, either economically or psychologically.
I sense my dad knew from a young age he would have to make his own way through life. He started working at a young age. Later he would join the military and finish college. After that he would meet my mom. I admire that he took time to serve in the military. He’d always taught us to be respectful of veterans. He’ d always wanted to make sure that we were aware of dates such as the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in which US military personnel had lost their lives.
My father always struck me as an old soul. Perhaps it was because I sense he didn’t have many years of a childhood that was carefree. He had very old fashioned beliefs especially in terms of religion. He was extremely intelligent in certain respects, but in navigating relationships with people, there was always some awkwardness.
Beyond the quiet intelligent man that the public saw, he had another side. His other side was controlled by alcohol. While it was entirely the alcohol that made my dad sometimes difficult to get along with, the alcohol sure didn’t help. Why did he drink..who know, I can only guess. I’ d always thought there was an element of depression and anger that he was trying to manage. Along with that I also thought there seemed to be a ghost of sadness that haunted my dad’s side of the family. This ghost was only hinted at though, people just weren’t open about the it struggles with mental health.
Despite my dad’s inner struggles, I always admired his work ethic. He didn’t want to stop working. He had already become sick, and his death would only be a few months away when he finally quit his job.
While I never talked about it with him, I always suspected my dad and I both had a strong need for quiet. Sometimes our shyness made it difficult to communicate with others. Our words sometimes tumbled out in a way that seemed awkward to others. I’ve really tried to work on this especially in the past years.
If I could go back in time I wish I would have tried to her to know my dad better. I wish I would have been able to figure out how to let down some of my own walls and get my dad to do the same.
My sister is down in the dumps. When I talk to her on the phone it is hard to know if she is sober or not. I’ve written before that she has a long history with alcoholism. Her partner is someone who also struggles to stay sober. He does nothing to make her life better but she would never admit that.
She’s is tearful. She is broke. She can’t do this or that because she is broke. Sometimes she wants to argue. Other times she wants to blame her past and current relationship with our mother. Our father though was the one with the alcoholism, he is dead though, and I think my sister just wants to pick apart my mother.
My mother is far from perfect. Conversing with my sister though, I just can’t go down the road of blaming my mother for all of my sister’ s present day problems. I suppose I have lost my patience.
I wish I knew how to help my sister. Nothing will change until she can get herself sober. After that she needs to change what she can. I’m perhaps amazed that my sister wants to blame where her life is today on our mother. She can’t look in the mirror and see that is the repeated bad choices that she has made that have brought her to where she is today.
Looking in the mirror and taking ownership of the bad along with the good is difficult. I know because I struggle with truly owning the bad along with the good at times as well.