Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Up and Down

My emotional state has been all over the map since October. Two months ago I was told that my son was dead. I had not seen him in eight years. I had talked to him on the phone maybe three times in those eight years and had exchanged letters a couple of times. Our relationship was strained. He seemed to embrace a lifestyle that I not only disapproved of, but didn't really understand. He was addicted to heroin and was participating in a methadone clinic at the end of his life. I suppose my lack of understanding comes from my non-addictive personality. I have never smoked and never been dependent on alcohol. I like being in control of myself.

That is not to say that I am always in control. I am not a control freak and don't want to control anyone other than myself. But, even that is not always possible. Just as when my mother died; I can't control when a wave of grief will knock me off my feet. I try to remain standing, but am not always successful. Today has been a really down day. Seems to me that I have been hit from every side today.

Tomorrow morning I will board a plane and wing my way to Minnesota. My children need me. They were unable to attend the memorial service for their and need to achieve closure. My girls need me the most. Happens to coincide with Christmas, this trip and because the airline I am flying has free luggage I have spent the day stuffing presents for the little ones into the two pieces of luggage I am allowed. I am sure that I will no doubt forget something, but there are stores in Minnesota.

I should be in a festive mood and I am looking forward to seeing my children...... but, one phone call absolutely did me in today. And I was the one to make the call.

Have you ever known someone that made you feel like you were not as ..... I can't find the right word, I want to say good..... but that doesn't encompass it. Like you aren't deserving of their attention is as close as I can get in words. My husband has only one sibling, a sister, and she has always given me the impression that I never quite made the cut, so to speak. Nothing she would ever lend voice to and it is intangible, nothing overtly critical, but it is there. I am not the only one to have felt it.

No easy camaraderie between us, no particular sense of family other than the obligatory communication. She only calls my husband's cell phone and in the almost 6 years we have lived here, other than today I have only spoken to her on this phone twice. When our son died my husband made several attempts to call her and finally just left a message. I sent her an e-mail and after two weeks she responded saying she had been so busy and that she was sorry to hear that Bobby had died. No personal phone call, no inquiry about any services....... nothing. I wasn't particularly surprised or even bothered by it until today.

Today she called because she needed us to help with the cost of her mother's prescriptions. She called her brother, not me. I overheard his side of the conversation and asked about it a few hours later as he was getting ready to go to work. Off-season is always tight for us and with the unexpected expense of our son's burial expenses we find that we aren't able to send the amount needed. I offered to call her and try to find other avenues of help.

Having worked in a pharmacy before I know that there are samples tossed each month by doctor's offices due to expiration. They sometime bring them to pharmacies to dispose of. I suggested this and to look into some free programs that are offered by the pharmaceutical companies. My suggestions were not well received and she then went on to say that she felt that we weren't providing enough financial help with my mother-in-law. It escalated and words were spoken that probably were better left unsaid. We could then continue the superficial relationship of before.

Seems she was upset that we went to Georgia and only spent a few hours with my mother-in-law as opposed to the two nights spent at my Dad's house after spending two nights at our cousin's house. We stayed there because of the close proximity to the service. Given the fact that I had not heard from her after learning of my son's death, I guess I assumed her to be disinterested in the details. Apparently I should have notified her with the information about the service. I honestly thought that she would know about it from talking to her brother. I was dealing with a lot and said as much and went on to say that although I knew she didn't particularly care for my son that I was still grieving. To this she said "don't even go there" and hung up.

I was more mad than hurt and chose to vent my frustrations to my buddy (to whom I can say anything). I was going on with my chores and the phone rang........ love of my life wants to know "what the hell is going on". She told on me!!!!! No she didn't! She left messages on his phone, so I gave him a brief description of the phone call and let him go....... he was at work, after all. And as far as I was concerned it was over and I was done.

She called back to apologize. She was having a bad day. It might have been alright had she not taken on her condescending tone and told me that she knew how I felt. I lost it and told her that she did not know how I felt and furthermore did not care how I felt; that she didn't even know me and had never cared to know me. Yeah, I was mad and should have edited my thoughts before they became words. She then told me that it was the other way around and that I had always found fault with her family and with my mother-in-law. She was mad. In that state she proffered the apology again. I told her that I couldn't talk and then I hung up.

Food for thought. I suppose I need to search my memory for these transgressions that I seem to have committed against her and her family. Not tonight. My head hurts and my heart hurts. I thought that it would become clear to me with the writing, but the fog is not lifting.


Yaya' s Changing World said...

Oh, Kathy, I am so sorry. Its more than can be expressed when there is tension between in-laws and I so wish there were some way I could ease that strain for you.

Go to your children and grandchildren and sup from the love holds your family together. Then, when you return, or sometime later, perhaps you and your sister-in-law can find the way to uncover what has kept you apart for so long.

My heart is with you and my arms are wrapped warmly around you. You are greatly loved. I do hope that you can have a Christmas that is more less stressed and more comforting than your life has been of late. Hugs, Yaya

Yaya's Home

Rae said...

I have never been able to understand how one individual can talk down to another with an air of being better. You have been through a heartbreaking, tragic loss and it seems so wrong for your SIL to treat you this way. I probably would have reacted just as you did. You should not feel any guilt over what happened. Keep your chin up and focus on what is really important now - the family that really needs you.

Yaya' s Changing World said...

I also wanted to mention that I have One Lovely Blog Award for you over at Yaya's Home
~ Yaya

SkippyMom said...

Only another parent that has lost a child can know how you feel. Unless your SIL has lost a child her words fall hollow.

The responsibility for your MIL's medicine is on her and your husband, not on you and for her to call and speak to you is unconsciounable [sp?], especially in light of what is occuring right now and her lack of acknowledgement of your circumstances. [I am getting mad just writing this, sorry]

That you offered her alternatives [for the medicine] shows you care and illustrates that YES! it is a slow time for you and TLOYL. She should know better, but has to first bitch AT you and then bitch TO TLOYL, her brother. That is ridiculous.

Let her know I said High School ended a long time ago and to get over herself.

You have done absolutely nothing wrong Kathy. You are a bright, intelligent, hardworking woman that many [of us] admire and are happy to call a friend.

I didn't have my first child for 39 years, but I had her for three days - and I still miss her [22 years later]. It may not be the same, but it is a darn bit closer than what your SIL has experienced [if I read your post correctly]. The loss of a child, no matter the circumstances pales most of life's other experiences.

Sorry, this is long - but I am angry on your behalf and worried about you. It seems for every step you take you are getting knocked back and I don't want that for you.

Best wishes for a safe flight and a peaceful Christmas. Please email me?

Alix said...

Kathy... I wish I had some words of comfort, but family dysfunction and weirdness is a cross I also bear. I am extremely familiar with the cold shoulder treatment and have only gotten to the place recently where I can toss it off and remind myself to consider the source.

On the bright side, you two were communicating. It may have been difficult and strained, but you got some stuff off your chest and she knows she doesn't have you to kick around anymore. Good for you. You spoke your mind and hopefully felt empowered by that.

I'm sorry you are dealing with so much emotional turmoil. I'm here stretching my hand across the miles to join yours in friendship.

SJT said...

Kathy....once you see your kids and grandkids, it will all be ok. Hope I get to see you too while you're here. There is a lot of love waiting for you here.

Kathy G said...

So sorry to hear about all the drama. Sometimes the best thing you can do is remove yourself from it as much as possible.

BTW, you might try finding an Al-Anon meeting. It's for anyone who's been affected by the disease of alcoholism...or drugs.

scarlethue said...

Lord do I understand, as I'm sure you've seen on my blog lately. All I can say is time makes it easier, and as soon as you feel clear headed again, call her up and see if you can patch things up. It's the only way to get past it.

ellen abbott said...

What a bitch!

I'm sorry you had to deal with that, especially now (and by now, I don't mean christmas). I'm sure it is a good thing to scrutinize our own behavior but if others have noticed the chill then I suspect you are not too far off base.

Hang in there, enjoy the loving warmth of your kids.

Pat said...

I thought you would feel better, reading about your son, opening up about his life and all, and then when I read about your sister-in-law, I got so angry!

For what ever reason, it seems that there has never been good blood between the two of you. Life is too short, as evidenced by the recent loss of your son. Move on, forget your SIL. Have fun over the holidays with your kids. Your husband doesn't talk to his sister very often. I would be civil, but that's it. You offered to find other solutions to the medicine problem and she didn't want to listen. I'd wash my hands of it.

The Good Cook said...

I am going to keep you and your SIL in my prayers. Sounds like there's a lot of anger on both sides. For now though, pack up those bags and go visit your children and grandlittles. Bask in love and life.

Happy Holidays and safe travels.

otin said...

There are some people and family relations that are just not meant to be. Sometimes it is just best to admit that two people should never try to interact. My Mother and my SIL are living proof of this. Do not let her get into your head and cause you to stew.Have a safe trip and a Merry Christmas!

Missy said...

So sorry you are delaing with that on top of everything else. What a pain. Funny how you both think the other doesn't like you...I've had that happen to me before. Still, no excuse for not calling regarding your son. That just seems cold. Hang in there Kathy. Better days are a comin' they say. (When my Dad died, his sisters got mad at my Mom because he was buried in a shirt that had a little fray on the collar-as if she didn't have enough to deal with-just like her being mad where you stayed....that's just crazy!)

deborahjcolburn said...

Sorry the day didn't get any better, but you are with your children now and I am sure you are all having a wonderful visit. See you soon...

Masala Chica said...

Kathy - I am sorry. For your loss. Stupid family members who are never considerate is something that I think everyone deals with to some extent - but to have to deal with that crap now when you need support and love is just not acceptable.

I am so sorry. I hope that you find solace and love from the rest of your family. Take care of yourself and ignore the petty individuals who should worry a little more about showing some humanity and kindness at this time in your life.

Teresa - in the Middle Side of Life said...

I had to read this - and then go do other things before I could post. I want to throttle your SIL. Some people just really get on my nerves and I think that she is right there with them. Ugh!

It sounds like she is a very self-centered, self-serving individual. Doesn't it just amaze you how one person in a family can be a jewel and one in the same family a rotten apple? My husband's family is like that, too.

I know you're safely in Minnesota now visiting your kiddos and the grands. Have a pefectly wonderful time and don't waste a minute on the mind of your SIL.

Best wishes to you and yours - Merry Christmas!

Karen said...

Kathy, I'm sorry to hear about all this unnecessary hurt that's been heaped on top of you, especially now. We don't have the same SIL, do we? In the beginning, I looked at her as another sister, but since have been shot in the heart (and the back) and by golly, sometimes you just have to be realistic about what the relationship is and isn't. You're a good person. Let her be the stinker if that's what she wants. Life's too short to spend time on people who make you feel bad.

Nancy said...

I'm so sorry, Kathy. No one can know how you are feeling unless they have experienced the same thing. I hope by now that you are with your children and having a nice time. I have a sister-in-law that I will never be close with. It is just the way it is sometimes.