I am finding it interesting listening to my mother spin the incident that happened just over a week ago. Initially, she was completely on my side realizing that my sister was completely irrational. A couple of days later she decided that it was not my sister’s uncontrollable rage that was the issue. Instead she was going to demand an explanation about the fact that she did not shower, nor brush her teeth or hair for 3 days. While I agree these are important issues which are certainly symptomatic of deeper problems, it is her rage that needs to be addressed. I have made a suggestion that my mother call Kathy’s doctor to alert her but she believes she can’t.
As the days have progressed I have listened to my mother blame all sorts of other things like:
- There were too many dogs
- We slept too late.
- I worked.
- Kathy was upset because Deb and I celebrate our anniversaries and valentine’s day
- It was George’s fault (my sister’s husband) because he expects Kathy to do everything for him.*
- Kathy doesn’t like her hair.**
I find myself continuing to re-frame this for my mother. In my mind the problem is an untreated mental health issue. In my understanding of mental health issues I believe she has untreated bi-polar disorder. This has been exacerbated by the zyban she was put on because she wanted to quit smoking (which my mother also things was one of the many ‘reasons.’ She has also started drinking again. My sister had stopped drinking and had actually been doing much better. Alcoholism runs deep in my adoptive family. My sister also has a serious gambling addiction. My mother recognizes that Kathy is much better when she goes to the casino.
All things said my sister is sick and is still acting like she is five years old. Unfortunately for me the assault has brought up every little thing about my childhood to the fore front. The re-traumatization has now been made worse with information my mother gave me tonight. Apparently she was in the next room and heard what was going on. She said she was afraid to intervene.
Most of the abuse I suffered as a child was from my brother. My mother was powerless to stop it. She was not there when it happened. The stuff with my sister was different. She was younger and she was mean. From age 7 on, I was responsible for making sure the house was clean and for cooking dinner every night for my mother. My sister made things much harder. There were many fights. Too many fights to count. My sister would attack me and if I fought back I got in trouble because I was older, bigger (read fatter) and I should know better. I was stuck in an untenable situation. I couldn’t fight back and I still had to endure attacks. Things escalated the older we got to the point of knives being thrown at me by her.
Right now I am angry. I am especially pissed off now that I know that my mother could have stepped in and didn’t. But I guess I should not expect that she could change her behaviour anymore than my sister can. I cannot believe and I am really pissed off that at 45 this has been foisted on me. I have done my work. I have done my time and I have chosen to live in a different way. I thought I had my boundaries in place and could trust that I would not be subjected to an assault. Really, we are all adults why can’t everyone behave like one?
Many people have asked why I don’t just refuse to see my family anymore. After much thought I have come to the realization that it is not within my value system to do this. I am loyal. There are situations where I will and have removed people from my life. I did refuse to have contact with my older brother. The rest of the family followed suit.
Over the next couple of weeks I will be seeing my counsellor. I need to deal with the flashbacks – which I will do by keeping busy and concentrating on things. I also need to figure out some strategies for dealing with the revisionist historians in my family – especially my mother.
*This whole situation is rather scary. While it is true he is reliant on her she also reinforces his child-like behaviour. She uses baby voices (when she is not yelling at him and insulting him). The man spent 30 years as a college professor in criminology, he was well-known and respected by members of the criminal elite (I am not saying that is a good thing) – all in all, not a stupid man.
**She has coloured it black and, according to my mother, once you go black you can’t go back. I told my mother that is easy to fix – use temporary black dye that washes out until her hair grows out.