Dispatches from the Swamp – The Oh my God Edition!!!

Lots of surprising news here today.

First of all it rained! Not much but enough to wet down the dirt in our driveway. It is really quite abnormal for us to get much in the way of precipitation in July and August. I liked it. However it cause a little traffic mayhem because the roads get slick when the water mixes with the oil on the roads.

In good news, we found out that Clio does not have cancer. What the vet thought were lung tumours they now thing was fluid in her lungs. She does have an enlarged heart and she is not able to move fluid out of her lungs effectively. So she will go on to lasix and fortekor. I have heard from a good source that a dog can live a long time with a crappy heart. Let’s hope this is how it works out for Miss Clio.

In predictable news, my sister has had another blow out…this time at my mother. My mother left the house during the worst part of it but regardless it sucked big time for her. My sister then left to go back home – a 3-hour drive, half of which is through some pretty bad highway with lots of deer at 8 pm. Given that she is driving while raging my mother is pretty worried about her getting home ok. However she is not concerned enough to attempt to do anything. I had a long talk with my friend Joe who is a therapist and pretty much has a Ph. D in psychology. No one is really prepared to do anything, including me, so I guess we wait for whatever to happen happen. I have decided that I am staying far, far away. Oh and my mother had a cigarette. I knew that was coming.

Rant – the Heatwave Edition

I hate the heat. It was 34 freaking degrees in Vancouver. To make it worse our office is not symmetrical when it comes to heat and cooling. Some of the rooms get way too much and others don’t get enough. What this means is that in the winter I freeze because everyone is hot and in the summer I roast because everyone else is freezing. I have a fan and a space heater but today was really bad. It was 26 degrees in my office and just about as warm in the common area so I kept going and turning it back on. I fear it is going to be a very long summer.

My mother is coming to visit. I told her in an email that I picked up a really nice prime rib to put on the bbq. I was told today that she does not like prime rib that it was my father who liked it and in fact, just seeing it on a plate ‘nauseated’ her because of all the fat. She does concede that it is the fat that makes the roast so good but she can’t stand it Unreal. I cannot win. Thank goodness I told her beforehand. It would have been really gross if she had puked on her plate.

Still on the mother unit. When we were kids my mother used to say; “If I had it to do over again I would raise dogs.” Over the years, like any kids, my sister (the raving lunatic) and me have reminded her of this statement. The other day she was telling me that she is not really a dog person. I challenged her on this pointing out that she has always had a dog and reminding her of her oft said words. The next day when I called her she laid into me about ‘constantly’ throwing this up in her face and why couldn’t we (me and the sister unit) remember the good things she said. Then she said, which is really indicative of her, “I haven’t felt like that in a long time.” Then, to add insult to injury she tells me that she never brings up things from the past. I calmly informed her that no one was innocent when it comes to bringing up crap from the past. She told me the next day that she had said the same thing to my sister about ‘that’ statement and that she yelled and screamed at her and hung up on her. I resisted the urge to point out the contrast in reactions between me (who apologized) and my sister who freaked. She went on to comment about how the sister unit is ‘just like that.’ Again I resisted.

Of course what is a rant without one about driving. I need an answer to one thing. Why is it that people pull in front of you and then don’t do the speed limit? This usually happens in the left-hand line and on the Mary Hill bypass. Today there was a semi beside me when another car pulled in front of me. They both basically boxed me in all the way to the highway. I got caught at a light but then caught up to them again. What a freaking pain in the ass.

If anyone has any interesting or sarcastic insights about the pressing issues in my rant have at it in the comments!

The Spin

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.

My 45th Birthday

Today is my 45th birthday. I can hardly believe it. I thought I would feel old at 45 but the truth is that I still feel like I am 10 years old. Part of this might be due to the contact with my family lately. My sister called today. I did not answer the phone. I had no intention of listening to her crap today. My mother told me I should call her back after all, in my mother’s opinion, Kathy had reached out and made the first move and I should call her back. I told her I would not be calling her back as I did not really want to be yelled at on my birthday. Normally I would not defy my mother but I did today. I told my mother that until my sister gets help I will not be calling her. She called again, Deb answered and told her I was in bed.

Deb worked so hard to make my birthday good after what happened at my family birthday party. She made me a lovely 3 layer cake with whip cream and mandarin oranges. Exactly what I wanted. Plus she got me some very thoughtful gifts. Knowing how much I love my tea she got me a new glass tea pot and a lovely hand-painted mug. She got me all sorts of fancy loose teas which I will completely enjoy. I commented that I needed a bigger purse – only once and she found me one with a really long strap – just the way I like them!

I am very lucky and I so grateful for my partner and our furry family. Everyone is loving and I am enjoying every moment of cuddling and love I can get. The one thing I have learned in 45 years is that it is important to mark and celebrate the everyday occurrences that enhance our lives. It is these little things that give us the energy to get through the hard days. We also live a life of kindness. Being kind as much as possible creates more of those moments that are central to living life.

Today, the good things far outweigh the bad things. I am in a place in my life where I can control, to a certain degree, what happens to me. I can also control my outlook and to pass around the kindness. Setting boundaries that protect me and my family from toxic family of origin members will be done. Maybe I have learned more than I realize.

Blown away

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!

1 day to go…

Today has been different, not great, but different. At least with my sister here some of the pressure is taken off of me which is always a welcome break. However my sister reacts very strongly when she becomes the target. We just have tomorrow to go. I am going for a massage so that will help for sure. Keeping it short as I get crap for being on the computer too long.

Kirby is home! He is continuing to do well. Thanks to Angelina for posting pics to FB. I will post below.

The boy looking good!
Handsome, handsome boy!
Is that food coming?
Laughing boy
Happy, happy boy!

Things I will never understand

My Mother. She tops the list of things I will never understand. She has quit smoking which is great. Now she is trying to badger my sister into doing it as well. It is not a pretty sight. She has been riding her to set a quit date and telling her how to do it. My sister has started to get mad at her* because of this behaviour. This is not surprising as my mother’s personality is such that if she is suffering then everyone should also suffer. When we were kids, if my mother was up we all had to be up. If she was in a pissy mood then she made sure that we were also in a pissy mood.

Yesterday I was talking to her and she told me that she had been out with my sister (Kathy) all day. They had gone shopping etc and when they got back to the car she asked Kathy to light a cigarette so she could smell it. Then she asked her for a cigarette and Kathy said she did not have any. She relayed all of this to me and I became concerned because she has just dropped down from 21 mg of nicotine to 14 mg. I suggested that she may have dropped down to abruptly and that perhaps she needed to add some more nicotine to the mix. I have been very supported of my mother through this process. I have given her tons of support, advice and listened to her vent. I am invested in seeing her succeed as the results will not be good.

After arguing with me for a while about why she thought she didn’t need more nicotine she told me it was a test for my sister. I said exactly what kind of test – to see if she would give you a cigarette? My mother said no. After going around and around this she finally said it was a test to see if she was still smoking. Yes, you read that right. My mother asked my sister for a cigarette to determine if my sister was still smoking. I could not believe it.

Finally, I said to my mother, I have a really good way for you to find out if she is smoking. My mother got all excited and squealed for me to tell her. I said why don’t you phone her, wait for it, and ask her! You know use your communication skills. If you want to know something ASK!!!

I deserve a freaking medal for having survived this fucked up family!

*And for good reason.