Tag Archive | Family

Mom’s assets

The lawyers sent me a list of mom’s assets. Her life savings all in black and white. A cold, horrible itemized list, reducing her life to a dollar amount.

She worked so hard and died at 68 with barely any savings, no hope of retirement. So sad. 

I can’t quite explain how this list makes me feel but I would like to try. Renewed grief at seeing her name next to the word deceased. Anger at the lawyers, at the legal necessity for all of this due process. A different anger, a sad anger at my brother that still won’t talk to me. A deep pain, sadness perhaps, this longing, this hole, this emptiness that washes over me and chokes my breath out as I cry. I want a family. Yes I have my children but they don’t fill this aching hole. 

I had a major accomplishment in PT today. I used the one machine without my weak leg shaking, first time ever it just went smoothly. Everyone cheered for me there. That didn’t fill the hole either. I wanted to call my mom and tell her too. 

But all I have  of her is this dreadful bank statement. And so many mixed up memories. She wasn’t always good to me, but she was trying.

And that was her true asset. 

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Torn up

My youngest brother ended his silence to me. Sorta. With a letter from his attorney.

This brother still has not spoken to me directly, does not return my texts.

I had asked Hubby to try calling him when we first found out my mom was sick, when my anxiety left me unable to dial the phone, but he never found the time. I asked Hubby many times actually. Each time he said yes he would, but never did it. I don’t know why.

So now I am left with an emptiness. My brother wants to be named executor of my mother’s estate. He wants me to waive my rights to it and sign that I agree he be named.

My oldest brother told me not to sign it. This makes me sick. To be in the middle and he won’t speak to me. Oldest brother says he is trying to get all of the money for himself, like he did with dad. Said he told him he is the only one that deserves it. That I lie about my childhood and only hurt our parents. That they were good parents, both of them, and that the two of us are ungrateful for the idyllic childhood provided for us.

Ummm.

So youngest brother never said these things to me, but he is not speaking to me at all, so I’m inclined to believe oldest brother.

I can’t believe my relationship with him might be worth a few thousand dollars. He can have it. I’ve never cared about money. I’ve never tried to hurt anyone.

But I want to do what is right by oldest brother, and he wants a neutral court appointed executor. So I guess I won’t sign anything. I don’t have a clue about probate and all this legal stuff except what i googled, and my limited trust in oldest brother.

I hate this stuff.

I just want to get in my underoos and have my youngest brother fly me around again. I want him to look me in the eyes and see I am in a world of pain. I want him to know that no matter what he thinks of me, I wish only peace, health, and happiness for him. Because I love him and I’ll never stop, no matter how much his silence hurts.

But love does not equal trust. Especially not in my family.

I Ground My Kids Because I Love Them

My kids are all grounded today, meaning they can’t play with friends or use any electronic devices. They are stuck at home without TV, phone, video games, or computer because they did not complete their assigned chores on time yesterday.

I have a rule now that no room should get messier than what 15 minutes of cleaning can take care of. I do not demand perfection at all times, creativity can sure get messy, but my oh my do they turn into piggies if I don’t monitor. So once in a while I set a timer, and tell them all to work together to get a room back in order, and if it isn’t better after 15 min, then they each get grounded. This helps them realize they can’t get everything out at once, if you use tape and glue, put them away as soon you are done, if you build a blanket fort, they have to get folded or put back on the bed before getting out something else to do.

Yesterday my living room was a disaster. I had started sorting socks on the couch, and someone bounced them all off onto the floor and in between the couch cushions when I left them unattended. They had Easter candy wrappers absolutely everywhere. Blankets were on the floor and every surface. Dirty socks were mixed into the clean ones now. Backpacks were lying upside down, with the contents half in and half strewn about the room. Shoes were in and under the blankets. Snack bowls were stuffed in between couch cushions. It looked more like the aftermath of a college frat party, just missing the red solo cups and mislaid undergarments.

I asked them to tidy it up. Nothing happened.

I turned off the TV and asked them to tidy it up. Nothing happened.

I stood with hands on my hips and said get going now – They started wrestling on top of the mess.

I set the timer for 15 min and set go! They knew I was serious now and got to work.

I also help them during the 15 min, by picking up items myself and by giving them directions like I see a mashed up cracker over there that needs vacuumed, or that book needs to go in your backpack. When the timer went off, the room was mostly better, but a sticky lollipop stick was still on the floor and a few others things. And so they are all grounded today. If more had been overlooked, more days would have been added. I tell them the garbage should not have been on the floor in the first place, so if they leave so much that it takes longer than 15 min to clean up, that is a huge problem.

Are my children miserable or angry today? Not at all. They are happy, singing, playing together, creating lego universes and cardboard rockets. How could this be?

Because I ground my kids because I love them – and they know it. When I set limits and keep my word, when I use my authority to teach them responsibility, when I teach them to work together to make our home a nicer place – everything is right in their world.

  • If I threatened to ground them and then didn’t – They would think my word means nothing.
  • If I didn’t care how our house looked – they would think I didn’t care about them either.
  • If I didn’t teach  them to be responsible – how will they ever learn?
  • If I withdrew my love or used cruelty, if I didn’t give them a chance to right their wrong, if I didn’t guide them – they would feel unsure of themselves, feel they could never do anything right, and learn to stop trying or try to be perfect.

I have never been grounded, in my entire childhood. I never had a curfew. I never had assigned chores. I never had consequences that fit the wrongdoing. I never had anyone show me how to tidy up, it was expected to be perfect at all times or I would be worthless and unloved, or maybe have a pet taken away or hurt. Nothing was right in my world. I felt like I was put in charge and expected to know what grownups knew – and then harshly punished for mistakes –  but mistakes were never clearly defined and could differ from day to day. I felt anxious ALL of the time, never knowing if I was doing anything right. No one to help me make decisions.

Well, I am grown up now. I am starting to feel like I am in charge, and some of the anxiety is slipping away as I continue to grow stronger and trust myself. Just in time to give true leadership to my children who will need me to show them the way more and more each year.

I am listening to them right now, chatting to each other, using their imaginations, happy and content. My girl is singing songs from her choir quietly to herself while she builds. The boys are busy creating the ‘rules’ of their own kingdom, how the magic powers work when you touch the red lego or enter the green doorway. And that the toilet takes 6.1 gigawatts of power to flush so they need to install power generators.  (remember we watched back to the future a week or so ago?) I asked why so much power is needed, they send the waste is transmitted to a different time, take that dinosaurs!

I love my family and I take my job as Mom very seriously. (Yes sometimes I want out, because sometimes I don’t think I am enough for them) I am honored to be able to guide these amazing kiddos and so happy that everything is right in their world. I pray for strength to continue to guide them, and acceptance of my own mistakes as I do. But my mistakes are made out of love, never cruelty, so I know we’ll be ok.

(I just heard one say we better see what chores we have to do today so we don’t get grounded tomorrow too. YES! Lesson learned!)  Today is laundry. The younger ones get all the stray laundry from the floor into the baskets. Oldest carries the dirty laundry to the basement. I run a few loads. We all sort it in the living room, and then each kiddo takes their own clothes to their own dresser. That way they know where everything is in the morning and I don’t have to do it all myself. The whole things takes a few hours as we wait for it to wash and dry, but only about 5-10 minutes for each step.

 

so hard to go home – triggers everywhere

Holidays and dysfunctional families. It seems to me that every family has some level of dysfunction, but only a few are truly toxic or unhealthy. It impossible to have so many different beings, different ages, different personalities in one room without some conflict or clashing.

I am still working on enforcing my newly found boundaries and each holiday brings an onslaught of new decisions as I keep myself safe and also expand into the uncomfortable to keep growing.

I had a strained, but not terrible time at my inlaws for Easter. I had some honest conversations with them, which was nice, being able to be me there. I spoke of my AF’s poor health and did not have to feign much sadness over it. I only spoke of it because they asked about him. But some of the other conversations could have been from “Mean Girls'” with all the back stabbing and two-facedness going on. My FIL thinks my SIL kids are overweight, ridicule them and blame SIL completely. They offer all kinds of ways to fix the problem  – but not to her face. Then they attack her for making the family late to this gathering because she always has to go overboard with her baking. MIL said she doesn’t need anything fancy, just wants the grandkids to get together. She made her feel guilty for having to hold ‘dinner’ past 12:30. No time was ever given to us, no time is EVER given to us, but whoever is last is late and made to feel guilty. As soon as SIL re-enters the room, the topic is changed. I chose to stay silent for that one. (I did ask SIL later about the fancy breads she baked, they were all done the day before, and she was not the reason they came later, but that’s an entirely different story. I asked her why she worked so hard – did she enjoy it or did she feel she ahd to go overboard to be ‘supermom’ or get inlaws approval? She said she truly enjoys baking and feels happiest in the kitchen and the only time she allows herself to get creative is for holidays.)

I can’t argue every out of line comment. I’d wear out in less than an hour. Besides I needed strength to battle the next ones.

Next they asked about my brother, who has been in the divorce process for over a year now. His wife left him and the kids and is living with her boyfriend. They speak of her like a less than human whore. What she did was heartbreaking, but she does not deserve their judgment, they didn’t live with my brother or grow up in her shoes. MIL said something like, “well your brother better hurry and make that divorce final or she may decide she is bored with the boyfriend and want to come back home.” Then FIL said “can she go stay with her parents?” I said “no, she is happy with the boyfriend, and she would never go live with her parents, because she hasn’t forgiven her dad, and her parents are divorced, he was an angry drunk that used to beat her and her sister, and her mom is a messed up piece of work. I remember the bruises in high school, and she basically lived at my mom’s house all during high school”

Thinking that was the end of it, until FIL said, “Well you know some women like that. ”

The whole room was silenced and open mouthed.

“What do you mean?” I said. He said, “Some women get off on being dominated, some men too, and they do crap to get themselves beaten.”

I said, “you obviously don’t know what you are talking about, and should go read 50 shades to see how domination works. Her dad would drink and beat anything that came in the room, and then would hunt them down and beat them if they didn’t come in the room. He was mean and scary and hurt his entire family. No one wanted it or made it happen, he was out of control. None of those girls deserved what happened, it was not their fault.”

FIL said, whatever, MIL told him to shut up, he sounded like an idiot. I felt very sad.

What happened in that generation of men? FIL is a good man. He has never hurt his family. And yet he believes that most men hurt women ‘for a good reason’. I was done, I can’t change his mind. No more energy wasted that day, I went off to work on the computer and avoided any more conversations.

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Next day I was thinking it would be nice to see my own mother. I hadn’t heard if my family was gathering for Easter, they still keep me out of the invitations at my own request. I don’t want to feel obligated or hurt them when I’m not up to going. Not yet. So I called my mom in the morning and said we were going to a park near her house and would like to stop over for short visit. I told her what time and made sure she had my cell number.

Now it was gorgeous sunny, 70 degree day and we went to a state park with amazing cliffs, ledges, and huge stony outcroppings. I had not been there since I was a child on a school field trip. I could not believe as we pulled in that I remembered the path I took with my friends almost 30 years ago. It was such an amazing feeling reliving a HAPPY childhood memory. And even better seeing my kids having just as much fun being mountain goats, exploring mini-caves, crevices, and climbing the rocky path as I did. I was thrilled to discover I had enough strength in my weak leg to do some easier climbing along with them. I couldn’t keep up, but they would go ahead, find a great scenic spot to rest and wait for me. It was pure joy. Exhausting – yes for sure, we were all sweating tired and hungry at the end of it.

So we eat our picnic lunch, and head to my mom’s house. We get there and my brother that lives with her says she is not home, that everyone is having Easter dinner at my other brother’s house. So decision time. Do I go over there?

No one had called me. I later found out she had emailed me this information, even though she knew I was going to be out all day, not at home checking emails. I thought maybe I could do it and we started driving towards my bother’s house. As we got closer, the panic grew. I started shaking, and picturing the room and the lock on the door that used to hold in my AF. He’s only been gone a month or so. I did not want to gather in that house, see the marks on the wall where his scooter scratched everything, see the missing door lock, see any sign that he used to live there. I decided it was too soon and we headed home, knowing it would be impossible to make an escape with the kids with us. If they saw the cousins on the trampoline, how could we leave?

So I got home to another series of emails from my mom. Sigh. Old habits, she had to lash out a bit because she was hurt that I did not visit her.

First email: Sorry I missed you. (That’s all it said)

Next email: If you let me know you were there I would have driven to meet you alone.

Next email: We had a nice dinner at your brother’s, salmon and chicken on the grill. the kids all played on the trampoline and swingset. I got to see all of my other kids and grandkids at least.

Next email: Here’s a photo of my cousin’s Easter gathering, all of her kids came to see her.

I did not respond to any of those emails. They were meant to hurt me and cause guilt. I am the only child that did not come to see her. I’m keeping her grandkids from her. Even her cousins get to see all the grandkids. Yes I get the point. I felt a prick of pain, but I only allowed the point of the sword to touch me, I did not allow it to plunge too deeply, because I know better.

I think I need to start with lower pressure, non-holiday visits. It is just too triggering and difficult still. But I hate keeping my kids away from the cousins. One day, it will happen. I am not rushing this one.

I asked Hubby why my brother with schizophrenia is not given guilt trips for staying home. Hubby said, “He avoids all social situations, and for you it appears you are only excluding them, so it hurts them.”

OH! That made sense. I am functional in every other social area now, I only avoid my mom and brothers, and their houses. I feel afraid of them. Too much I can’t control. Too many triggers and memories still floating around. I do love them though, and I appreciate that they don’t hate me, and mostly support my decision to avoid them. They want me healthy, but they also want me to join in the family fun. And maybe these events are not scary anymore, without AF in attendance. I don’t know.

All I know is I’m all good, I think I made the right decision this time, and will take the next step when I feel prepared for it.

 

 

 

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Letting go of mistrust and strings

After a migraine induced nap yesterday afternoon, I woke up in the best mood. I keep finding myself in this very comfy state of mind these days, where I am happy to be me. It is so foreign, and takes me by surprise every time still, but I am beginning to recognize it much more quickly, as it occurs in between the anxious thoughts. I seem to be settling on this balanced state more and more often, and only swinging through the dark and anxious places. They still exist, but instead of living there and visiting the good mood, I am living more in the good mood and only visiting the bad ones.

Once the visual aura was gone, and the head pain reduced to a dull ache, I awoke to my kids happily playing in the sandbox outside my window. Their happy voices drifting in to me like birdsong. I saw the clock and realized I had to sort out dinner, and that hubby was still gone, working late tonight. I wasn’t sure what to make when kiddos came in with an idea, could we have pizza and movie night since we had no school and work today? Yes that sounded lovely.

Pizza arrived just as hubby came home, with his arms full of a fresh bouquet of oriental lilies. He said they were too pretty to pass up. I have the same variety growing in my garden, but they won’t show their pretty faces outside until mid July if I remember correctly.

Now I have to document this here, but I don’t want to give this too much thought or power. I had some ugly thoughts and doubts rolling through my mind when I first woke up. I was attacked with a barrage of ugly mistrustful thoughts, like that hubby was not actually at work, was out at the bar, or even out with a girlfriend. My first thought with the flowers was not how pretty, but why are you giving me these? Do you feel guilty? It added on to my first train of thought. Then hubby was so distant, almost cold, because he was returning from over 12 hours of very hard work. He was smelly and tired and in no mood for hugs or talking. He was happy to see pizza, that he didn’t have to worry about dinner. He stopped for beer and also got the flowers, and my favorite ice cream.

I did not hold on to those thoughts. I let them come in and see me, and I quickly tossed them in the trash.

I can’t control the creation of these thoughts. I am programmed not to trust, and even more so when someone is kind and thoughtful to me. Now here is where it gets tricky though. I am also programmed that I don’t deserve good things, and that people are only kind when they expect something from me. So I was sadly confused that he offered me flowers and ice cream and wanted no attention or affection in return. He wanted to give me a gift for no reason and then go rest. This confusion had me feeling abandoned for a moment, and wondering what I did wrong. I hate typing this. I hate admitting this.

At least it only lasted for a moment. I acknowledged the feelings, and then let them go. I didn’t owe him anything, and he didn’t owe me anything.

I started the movie – Back to the Future – and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the first time my kids had seen it, and the first time I had seen it in over a decade I think. I realized that in 1985 I was 9 years old when I saw it the first time, and how cool my kids were about that age now. I was a little uncomfortable with all the swearing in it, but firmly told my kids I expected them NOT to repeat those words, and gave them all the ‘I’m serious’ look. We also discussed movie stunts, and that no real bullets were used and no one was actually hurt or shot. And that if they ever saw a real gun, it could have real bullets, and they are never to touch it. I sneak in these lessons all of the time.

They finally learned the meaning of the word ‘awkward’ when Marty’s mom was flirting with him in the past. And when George punched out Biff for taking advantage of Lorraine in the car, well, I told them that is one of the times it is OK to hit someone, to protect someone else from getting hurt. They didn’t completely understand what was going on, but clearly knew Biff was a bad guy, and a bully.

They loved the movie so much that they asked to see the next one last night too. We had a sleepover in our own living room, kids brought down pillows and blankets and we stayed up til midnight watching the 2nd. I let them sleep downstairs together.

We watched the 3rd movie in the series today, they didn’t want to wait. I love that they picked up on the messages loud and clear, that you always have a choice to change your future – even without a time machine, it matters what you choose to do. Marty McFly showed this so well by finally not giving in when the creeps calling him chicken. It doesn’t matter what others think about you, you need to do what is right for you.

I had no idea so many life lessons were in these movies or how much I could enjoy watching them with my kiddos, seeing their surprised faces and pure joy when Doc was still alive each time, and especially when the steam train, converted into a time machine, sprouted wings and flew away – the were actually cheering out loud!

 

Enforcing boundaries

Anyone lucky enough to have grown up in a healthy home, not an abusive one, has this beautiful gift (many beautiful gifts actually, but only writing about 1 today) of personal boundary knowledge.

Reaction of two people whose personal space ar...

Reaction of two people whose personal space are in conflict. See also http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:PerSpa1.png (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Up until a few years ago, I was not aware I had any boundaries. Growing up less than human removed my sense of self before I was ever able to establish one. I never knew I had the right to personal space as a child, there was no such thing. It wasn’t something I wished for either, because I never knew it could exist.

Both of my parents regularly violated my emotional and physical boundaries, it was my norm.

A few years ago I finally had enough knowledge, strength, and belief in myself to push away my still harmful parents. Yes, at age 35 they still had a hold on me. I am not ashamed of this, it is a simple fact. Several events came together to wake me up and release me from my delusional prison, way too many to list right now, from my earliest posts.

I realized quickly that I had to push away my AF completely. He had no remorse. He will never admit to being anything other than a perfect father, he says his only problem was he loved me too much. (did you just vomit a little? I did)

At the time, I also pushed away everyone from my family of origin, until I could sort out who was safe and who was not. My brothers respected the line and did not cross it. But my mom? At first she was outraged at the change. She was not able to step outside her bubble of perfection yet, her beautifully handcrafted world based on denial and lies. Every time I drew a line, she pushed it, and was often able to cross it. Until I built up enough strength to enforce my boundaries. The first time I kept her out, and me safe, was a huge victory. I was no longer helpless and powerless and it felt so good to get out from behind my protective fortress.

It took years, of her pushing, and me pushing back. It became an expected cha-cha, back and forth. Tiring? Yes, you bet. But worth it? Yes, unbelievably so. For something near miraculous happened. She stopped pushing. She let me take the lead and only came as close as she was invited. I didn’t answer every email or phone call. I stopped calling her so often. Weeks would slip by without her influence, and I started forming my own opinions, seeing the world with my own eyes. Once outside of her bubble, I allowed myself to be imperfect.

And then the miracle happened. At age 66, she popped her bubble. A series of events became undeniable, and brought out her mama bear instinct, and showed her she had a self as well. My AF had also removed her own sense of self, we were all hurt by him, wounds cut clear through our souls. You may recall the wedding from last October, the one with not one, but two pedophiles in attendance. Two pedophiles invited and warmly welcomed into the family celebration. Two pedophiles permitted access to dozens of cousins and nieces. I lost it that day. I could no longer play nice, and had an outward display of rage and loudly warned my brothers and mother of the harm of these men, and left the wedding. I said I could not control who they invited, but I could not be a part of it. I allowed my mother see my fear, my anger, and above all, she saw my pain.

For the first time, she saw my pain, and could not deny it. The magnitude was unbearable and changed her world. Why had I kept that hidden for so many years? Because I thought I had to. Because I didn’t know how to express it. Because everything was locked up deep in side of me.

Since that day, my mother has been changing. The lies have stopped. We have real conversations that include the ugly stuff, not all unicorns and rainbows. I still keep her at a safe distance, but I have noticed that her pushing is less like pushing these days, and more like polite requests.

I made a choice last month when I was in a severe PTSD crash of depression and suicidal, to let her know about it, after the worst had passed. At first she reacted badly and started calling and emailing constantly, and trying to get me to go back on meds.  I recognized that she wanted to help, not to control, and so I told her,

“I know you are trying to help, but my therapist and I don’t feel I need medicated at this time. The crisis has passed. If I weren’t coming up out of this, then yes I would seek out other measures. If you continue to push me like this I will have no choice but to push you away and keep you at a safe distance again.”

Her response did not come immediately. But I was overjoyed at her response, oh yes I was. She changed her tune, said she loved me, that she is there for me and asked if it was snowing. She backed off. She did not retaliate or manipulate. I dare say she understood. She had just slipped into bad habits for a bit there because she was fearful. I have to allow her to make mistakes, just as I now allow myself.

I felt powerful too. I know understand I have this power to enforce my own boundaries with everyone, all of the time. Relationships take 2 people, and the line is different with each person. I’m starting to understand this delicate social dance. Sure wish I learned all this as a teenager like so many do, but hey, I’m a firm believer of better late than never.

It is never too late to make a choice, make a change, and make it better.

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Love Saves Me Every Time

I talked to my Mom and she was supportive and loving and helpful. I spoke freely about my suicidal thoughts over the past few weeks. She listened to me and I felt completely understood. She said she has been listening to my brother, the one with schizophrenia that lives with her, as well. She is not running away from the truth, she is standing strong for her kids.

I am completely blown away by this. She has been on her own path towards becoming authentic, and I am so proud of her. She is helping all of her hurting children now.

I am turning a corner here. I have had loads of rest, time alone and time snuggling too, trying to be gentle on myself and my family. I told my kids how much my back and head were hurting and that I needed extra time in bed. My 8 year old asked if he could read to me while I was in bed. He came up so gently, not to bump me much, and read “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” to me.  When the story was done, he lay there next to me, giving me the biggest hug, and whispered that he would never wish to be anyone else. It was all I could do to hold back tears at his act of love. (In the story, Sylvester had wished to be a rock, to avoid getting eaten by a lion, and remained a rock, all alone for a very long time. I had never thought much about this story before, how it models my own life. How I turned myself into something for my own survival, and how alone that had made me. I could go on with the parallels, but I’ll let you do that for yourself)

I am starting to think ahead again, starting to look forward to events and make plans for a future that include me in them, alive and smiling.

I felt the love. And love saves me every time.