Unlike many people, I never make New Year’s resolutions. To me, they are a waste of time and rarely successful. Instead, I set goals and make assessments about my life all year-long. I find this to be far more successful than deciding to make some huge life-changing activity because it happens to be the beginning of a new year.
I believe the theme for 2011 is going to be about self-care. I will continue to examine ways in which I care take others and not myself. I have been a chronic caretaker almost my entire life. It started when I was 7 and was my mother’s ‘rock of Gibraltar.’ I looked after my 5-year-old sister and dodged the attacks of my 14-year-old brother.
As my life progressed, I always seemed to attract damaged people who needed help. I think, in hindsight, it gave me a mission and the satisfaction of helping other people. As my counselor has pointed out, I was a caretaker with my family, most of my jobs have been caretaking and I have done it in my personal life as well.
Many years ago I learned to stop maintaining friendships that were one-sided. I have had several of these over the years. One example was a friend I had in Calgary. Her son was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. I phoned her everyday for 18 months. I cooked for her, Deb mowed her lawn and some of my other friends stepped up to entertain him with Star Wars toys. I did this because I knew she needed support. She would often lament about the friends who never called after her son died. What broke that friendship for me was when my dad was dying of leukemia she never called me once. She knew he was dying and she could not even pick up of the phone and say anything to me. For a friendship to work, there must be input from both sides. If that is not going on, we will not be friends for long. If I start to see that the relationship is all about me caretaking then it is not a friendship in my opinion.
My family is another major area where I care take. I have already cut my sister off. I really have nothing to say to her. She is extremely immature and full of negativity and I don’t need it. My mother is also very negative and seems like to make me feel bad about myself. I am not fooling myself into believing that her words will not have an effect on me. I know they will. After all, we all want our mothers to love us and support us. I know I am not going to get that from her. I need to accept that fact and try not to need anything from her – much easier said than done, sadly.
I look forward to enjoying life with my partner. I cherish the special time I spend with the dogs. I love those moments when you have a real connection that touches your soul. I love cuddle time and I love the feeling I get when we are all snuggled in bed together. These are all things that energize me and make me feel cared for and valued.
Even though it takes a lot of energy and thought, I am going to continue to blog daily during 2011. I find it cathartic. I also enjoy having an outlet for stuff I want to say. This year will be an interesting one politically her in BC as we will see 2 new leaders installed in both of the main political parties. It should be a lot of fun for a political junkie like me!
 That is how she identified me when she divorced my adoptive father. Hands down the best thing she ever did.
Well just when you thought it could not get worse, look out Virginia cause it can. My sister is psychotic. Actually, I think she gives psychotics a bad name. Yesterday was bad. She was slamming around the house ostensibly upset because apparently I time our visits to coincide with my birthday so I ‘always’ get the birthday party. She felt that our dogs were in the house all the time and hers were outside. We won’t bother to belabour the fact that hers are unsocialized 150 pound Bull Mastiffs who cannot be around other dogs because they will attack. Apparently she failed to notice that her dogs had run of the house for several hours because ours were outside and down in the bedroom with Deb. Apparently the poor little mastiffs get cold and the Piper and Sawyer don’t? The thing is that she is incapable of raising issues like an adult.
Today things escalated into an all out physical confrontation. She threw things at me, purposely got in my way and tried to puff herself up to look bigger. I was able to get by her but only barely. She is seriously an unbalanced woman. She was yelling, screaming and swearing at me the whole time. I told her she needed to see a psychiatrist. She put her fingers in her ears and said “la, la, la….”
Apparently my mother took my side and my sister was mad about it. When she got back home she phone my mother and yelled her at more. Who yells and screams at their 73-year-old mother?
Needless to say this has all been very triggering for me. This was my childhood growing up with her and my older brother. I may blog more about this at some point. Not today though…
Now, right now, I have a loving partner and 2 great dogs and we are in a hotel room after 4 nights in twin beds. We gots lots of cuddling to do!
We had a busy day today. We had a specialist appointment for Deb today which took us out to UBC. All things are fine. This appointment brought out an interesting facet of our relationship that we are not always aware of.
We both have different ways of relating to the world. Deb is way more emotional and I am more intellectual. I am the ‘event memory’. If something happened or, in this case, medications changed, I am the one who knows why. Any event that impacted our emotions like a family crisis, Deb remembers the event. It is interesting that we complement each other in these ways.
Today at the appointment, the doctor started to ask Deb questions. Deb does not really retain information about her medication. She knows when to take it and how much but she rarely knows what it is for or when she was started on it. So the doctor starts to ask her questions, she struggles a bit, and looks over to me and I start to answer them. The doctor stops me because he wants to observe how Deb can respond to the questions. It is really hard for me because she misses key pieces of information and I try to remind her without him knowing that I am doing it.
When I am sick or it is my appointment Deb is an amazing advocate for me. She makes my life way easier. When I am in the hospital she takes care of me – which the nurses love. She makes sure I get what I need and want. She is amazing.
When we go to her appointments I know that she has trouble synthesizing the information. I go so that she doesn’t get run over by the medical professionals. We also want to make sure that we understand the information so it is best that I go because I work on that level.
All of this confirms that we are meant to be together and that we make a great team! I love you Babe. Now onto my double-scope next week. Yippee fucking skippy.
PS: Stay tuned for parts 3 & 4 in the computer shop saga…
It would be an understatement to say that this was the worst visit we have ever had to my mother’s. I am pretty sure the reason is because my sister was there. My sister is miserable and she hates her life and she tries to bring everyone else down around her. Even my mother, who has the people skills of a gnat, noticed that everyone was ‘walking on egg shells’ because of Kathy. She goes out of her way to bring people down by insulting them. She does not dare do it to my mother. Although, ironically, after my mother said something snarky to me Kathy told her to be careful with what she says as ‘her words can hurt people.’
All this lead in to discuss one of the most hurtful things ever said to me by a member of my family. After I had spent 6 or so hours fixing her fucked up laptop she said thank you and then added: “We wondered for years if you would ever be of use.” Be of use? WTF? I was so completely stunned by her comment that I could say nothing. As I thought about it I became increasingly angry. This comment from a woman who’s greatest educational achievement was to barely graduate as a legal secretary. She got a job at a real estate law firm then screwed something up so badly that it cost them $50,000 and they fired her. She waitressed for a year or two after that and has not worked in over 10 years. I could go on and on about her and her screwed up life but there is no point. I realized that while Deb and I have grown, changed, dealt with our issues head on – she has not. She is still the 5-year-old girl, who I had to look after when I was 7, who came home from grade 1, took all of her clothes off and proceeded to watch TV and who refused to go back to school. She has the same coping skills now as she did then – have a temper tantrum and yell and scream if you don’t like what is going on.
The other favourite pass time they have when I visit is trying to push my buttons by saying extremely racist things – this visit was no different. However, *I* was different. I was affected by a post by Melissa McEwan at Shakesville which basically said being an ally is about always standing up and challenging racist, classist, homophobic, transphobic etc views. She goes on to argue that it is the ultimate expression of privilege to decide when you will say something and when you will not. I chose to be a real ally this time and to challenge the racist vitriol that spewed from my mother, my sister and my mother’s gardener (who we really liked and now we are not so sure). I won’t go into the details of the discussions as I will not give my voice to their racist comments. I chose to handle it differently this time and instead of telling them that they were wrong I told them that I choose to be respectful of other people and what they were saying was offensive. They didn’t get it, I didn’t expect them to but I could not let it stand. I also did not care if the atmosphere became very uncomfortable for a while either.
During this visit it became very clear that my mother and sister are stuck. They do not challenge themselves to grow and change. I am more forgiving of my mother as she is 73 but my sister is only 42. It is really very sad. I now know that nothing she says to me is rooted in the reality of 2009. We are still back in 1972, where I am the older sister and she is not going to do what I say. The interesting thing is I really have nothing to say to her about how she lives her life. It is not my business and she would just get mad at me if I ever said anything anyway.